Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

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Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.  

John Gardner's brilliant distillation of famous lectures and notes for the fiction workshops.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It will fascinate anyone interested in how fiction gets put together.  For the young writer it will become a necessary handbook, a stern judge, an encouraging friend... In the first half of the book, Gardner investigated just what fiction is.  In the second half, he treats specific technical matters. The Art of Fiction is filled with lecture counsel, wise encouragement." -John L'Heureux, The New York Times Book Review

"A densely packed book of advice to all writers, not just young ones... It is serious, provocative, and funny, and I recommend it to anyone who cares about literature."- Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe

"He lays out virtually everything a person might want to know [about] how to say it, with good and bad examples and judgments falling like autumn leaves in a November storm." -William McPherson, The Washington Post

"The next best thing to graduate workshop in fiction writing. Drawing on examples from Homer to Kafka to Joyce Carol Oates, Gardner unravels the mysteries of plot, sentence structure, diction, and point of view." - Book-of-the-Month Club News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679734031
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1991
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 111,668
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

John Gardner was accorded wide praise for his works of imagination, of criticism, and of scholarship.  He was born in 1933 in Batavia, New York.  Among the universities at which he taught are Oberlin, San Francisco State, Northwestern, Southern Illinois, Bennington and SUNY-Binghamton. The Art of Fiction was completed before his death in 1982.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful Craft Book

    I read this for a class in MFA program. I really appreciated Gardner's advice on the craft of writing. He gives good examples of his statements and has the ability to lead you through his tenets with an engaging voice and an interesting style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2002

    Good Lessons Disguised in Bad Writing

    I don't doubt that John Gardner has a lot of useful things to say. However, his approach is more scholarly and snobby than practical and digestible. Sure there are lessons to be learned here, but part of being an effective teacher is to know how to get your point across. My mind drifted as I sifted through his long-winded, sometimes downright boring writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2000

    'Walden' of Literature

    The Art of Fiction is a book for, as John Gardner writes, serious literary artists. Though it is within reach of the casual reader interested in observing a dissection of the art of writing, it spurs the serious writer to explore and learn all aspects of craft, to read again and again so as to not miss a word (my copy is falling apart). The book belongs alongside 'Narrative Discourse' and Tolstoy's 'What is Art?' Like 'Walden,' The Art of Fiction is layered with wisdom.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2000

    The Best

    This is dense and meticulous read, but if you're serious about fiction writing, I'd recommend this highly. I keep coming back to this resource again and again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2000

    Some good info but dense and hard to read

    This book is not, in my opinion, written that well. It is dense,wordy, sometimes pompous and intimidating,too. At times, it seems to be putting down young writers. I made myself read it since I've been hearing that it's a classic for years and finally got to some good stuff in it--i.e. don't put yourself between the reader and the story or say things like, 'Mary saw...'--just tell us what she saw and make it more direct. But there is far too much to wade through!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2000

    for the true writer only

    john gardner takes his intended audience seriously as writers. this book is not the typical 'where to find story ideas' and 'point-of-view' type of writing manual but rather it digs deep into what it takes to carve out a novel or any piece of fiction. highly intellectual and serious, while maintaining a reverance for the beauty of this art

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