- Create your FREE Amazon Business account to save up to 10% with Business-only prices and free shipping.
Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers Paperback – June 4, 1991
Enhance your purchase
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.
Inspire a love of reading with Amazon Book Box for Kids
Discover delightful children's books with Amazon Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1, 2, or 3 months — new Amazon Book Box Prime customers receive 15% off your first box. Learn more.
Frequently bought together
Special offers and product promotions
"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
From the Inside Flap
- Publisher : Vintage; Reissue edition (June 4, 1991)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0679734031
- ISBN-13 : 978-0679734031
- Reading age : 14 - 17 years
- Item Weight : 7.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.18 x 0.62 x 8.03 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #74,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Part II covers the common pitfalls and offers technical advice. Style and structure are covered, with especially good lessons on diction and proper sequencing of signals in the test (stimulus, involuntary reaction, voluntary reaction--which may be thought of as cause & effect and is explained in greater depth in Dwight V. Swain's book as Motivation-Reaction Units), with solid explanations for why mistakes here harm the fictional dream and why it is important to get it right. Also covered are the "clumsy writing" mistakes such as characters looking in mirrors to shoehorn description into the text, as well as melodrama, which relies on cheap sleight of hand in writing as opposed to real drama. I loved the section on vocabulary, which explained the problem with writing-by-thesaurus while emphasizing the importance of expanding ordinary vocabulary that include more uncommon words (such as technical architectural terms like "lintel," which, while uncommon, are a benefit to writing) as well as brand names.
What this book will do:
- Give you a good overview of fiction
- Help you understand what fiction tries to accomplish, why, and how
- Explain the common clumsy mistakes and how to avoid them
- Provide you exercises
- Entertain you with Gardner's engaging writing voice (so it doesn't feel like a manual)
What this book won't do:
- Help you understand nonfiction and how to write it
- Cover the common mistakes in-depth
- Give you genre-specific advice
- Cover anything related to self-publishing
- Explain the business of writing
- Take the place of critiquers, beta readers, or editors
This is a great intro to writing craft book. It should, at the very least, help you understand what you're trying to do and identify your weaknesses so that you may find more narrowly tailored resources to help you. I find myself referring to the passages I highlighted quite often, both in the paperback and the Kindle version.
FWIW, the Kindle version is now searchable. When I first bought it, it was not. The search function is a *great* help.
What can be said about Gardner that hasn't been said yet? One of the best books on writing about writing that I have read. Comparable to Stephen King's, On Writing. Yes, it is that good. In Part I Gardner lays out a compelling treatise about the genre of fiction, what it is and why it is important. In Part II he discusses the how-to of writing good fiction, where he talks about common errors, technique and plotting at length. One of the benefits from reading The Art of Fiction is that it gives the reader a crash course in literature, who many of us that come from a Science, Technical, Engineering and Math (STEM) background are sorely lacking in. This said a writer who has grown up in the sciences, or engineering, or business worlds will find this book very useful in "catching up" a bit to our friends who have read all of classics and can retell significant scenes as though they were there. Again, this is a must (must) read for ALL writers, not just fiction writers.
Although John Gardner was barely an average sort of novelist, this book remains the finest book on writing fiction ever penned.
Top reviews from other countries
So, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf.. all these people were what - bad writers? Really?
I wouldn’t recommend this to any aspiring writers. I’m a Published Author and it put me off. God alone knows what it would do to someone who’s just starting out. Also, for a book on fiction teaching authors to have clearly presented ideas - this book seems to have been written by a scatter brain.