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The Art of Fiction by John Gardner

The Art of Fiction (1983)

by John Gardner

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Duties, responsibilities and the author's obligation to tell the truth

The Art of Fiction - Notes on Craft for Young Writers
By John Gardner

One of the most interesting things about this book is how attitudes have changed in regards to what it means to be an author.

The Art of Fiction - Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner, was published in 1984, long before the advent of online platforms that make self-publishing free and easy to any and everyone.

This is not your "How to Write a Novel for Dummies" and Gardner definitely would not have supported "everyone's right to publish" as proclaimed by many indie authors and the entire self-publishing industry.

Gardner felt that aspiring to be an author was almost akin to a "higher calling" and required rigorous study and practice. As well as hard work and sacrifice such a career choice came with duties and responsibilities.

The most important of which is telling the truth, and not just getting facts right, but making sure your fiction is believable and not perceived by the reader as a lie. Foremost it must "affirm moral truths about human existence".

Good fiction according to Gardner "creates a vivid and continuous dream" for the reader.

Though the book contains good suggestions on craft they're not presented point by point but rather embedded within the text. That means enduring a lot of with Gardner's rather academic, elitist attitude.

Is it worth it? Definitely - if you're serious about becoming an accomplished author. ( )
  RodRaglin | Nov 20, 2017 |
Subtitled 'Notes on Craft for Young Writers,' this excellent resource will resonate with writers of any age. Gardner's passion for his topic is palpable; he draws from his own works as well as contemporary and classic novels to show the artifice behind "profluent" fiction. ( )
  DellaWanna | Nov 1, 2016 |
Not his best but still great writing advice. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I'm reading Gardner's "Grendel" right now and I'd say the man knows what he's talking about. Even though this book made me ashamed to be an autodidact, it also gives grand encouragement and good direction. If you liked Stephen King's "On Writing", you'll like this. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
There is some stuff in this book that is quite good and compelling, but it is ultimately soured a bit by the fact that Gardner is rather convinced of his own genius. By this I mean, he's quite full of himself. This makes it a very annoying and even infuriating book to read at points, though there is much reward to be found in sticking it out. I recommend reading this one over a span of time, in pieces, rather than in one sitting, to allow time to really reflect on what you wish to take from it, as well as to be able to plow through the tougher parts. ( )
  TiffanyAK | Jan 1, 2015 |
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To all my creative-writing students, and to all my fellow teachers of creative writing
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What the beginning writer ordinarily wants is a set of rules on what to do and what not to do in writing fiction.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679734031, Paperback)

This classic guide, from the renowned novelist and professor, has helped transform generations of aspiring writers into masterful writers—and will continue to do so for many years to come.  
John Gardner was almost as famous as a teacher of creative writing as he was for his own works. In this practical, instructive handbook, based on the courses and seminars that he gave, he explains, simply and cogently, the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner’s lessons, exemplified with detailed excerpts from classic works of literature, sweep across a complete range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence. Written with passion, precision, and a deep respect for the art of writing, Gardner’s book serves by turns as a critic, mentor, and friend. Anyone who has ever thought of taking the step from reader to writer should begin here.  

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A guide to creative writing examines diverse facets of writing technique, and contains analyses of works by writers from Homer to Mark Twain.

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