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The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  558 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In 1958, by popular demand, Ayn Rand gave an informal course on the art of fiction to a group of friends and acquaintances in her own living room. Using only a few handwritten notes over the course of twelve sessions, the legendary author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged covered in comprehensive and provocative detail all the essentials of writing and reading fiction ...more
MP3 Book, 6 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published January 1st 2000)
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Austin James
Apr 04, 2011 Austin James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-books
It's really hard for me to give Ayn Rand 5 Stars because I really really dislike her. For one thing, I think a lot of the things she says are absolutely off the wall crazy (and that's being nice)... I still question whether or not most of her adoring fans have ever actually read her books. All in all, I find her to be one of the most narrow and overrated authors of the twentieth century. But I'll tell you why I enjoyed this book: It challenged me - And that's what a good book should do.

I found s
Mar 13, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Fiction writers, Fans of Ayn Rand, Former Fans of Ayn Rand
Teaching creative writing again this semester got me in the mood to do more research for my students, so I read this quick one for them before we started our fiction unit. I would not recommend it for anyone who has a weak stomach for Rand's philosophies and her ego, but if you're okay with both then you'll do fine. That's not to say that you won't still get annoyed by her saying that all non-objectivist art isn't really art, comparing her own writing to Hugo and Tolstoy, and dissing Kafka (amon ...more
Nov 19, 2009 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is based on private lectures given by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, author of "Atlas Shrugged", "The Fountainhead", "Anthem", and "We the Living". It is an amazing guide to learning the principles of how to write fiction and dispels the arbitrary myths commonly taught about how the mind works when writing. A fascinating read recommended to both readers and writers seeking a better understanding of the books they read or how to become a professional author.
Jan 24, 2015 JJVid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing, writing
Rand offers ample reason to dislike her. She claimed to be the best author alive (at the time), claims to be better that Victor Hugo & Dostoyevsky, and says this claim is not a subjective claim but is objectively based. Her confidence exudes vanity, her modesty nonexistent, and her book was fantastic.

"[The purpose of writing is to objectify values.] In this sense, every writer is a moral philosopher." p23
"The more struggle a story involves, the better the plot" p33
"Make it as hard as possibl
Rand is sure full of herself.

Okay, so she does make some valid points about writing. There is good advice in here. But you have to wade around all of Rand's self-righteousness to find it. I used to think that Rand was just self-confident, but now I realize that she's sort of wacko. There are some claims in here (like how all religion is delusion, or how she belittles H. G. Wells), that I blatantly disagree with.

So I tuned out a little. Audio-read this really quickly while on subway trains, and d
Dec 27, 2015 Alok rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ayn Rand has clearly come out as one of the most prolific, brilliant, forthcoming writer with strong sense of likes and dislikes in the field of philosophy. Her likes for capitalism, individualism, objectivity and extreme dislike for collectivism, state interference, marxism is visible in each of her novels whether it is fictional or otherwise. The art of fictions is a collection of her class room coaching which she gave about the title of the book. Insightful, deep driving with examples and do' ...more
Katrina Sark
Jan 25, 2015 Katrina Sark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
p.2 – What is colloquially called “inspiration” – namely, that you write without full knowledge of why you write as you do, yet it comes out well – is actually the subconscious summing-up of the premises and intentions you have set yourself.

p.3 – To describe a sunrise, you must have stored in your mind clear ideas of what you mean by “sunrise,” what elements compose it, what kinds you have seen, what mood you want to project and why, and what kinds of words will project it. …you have to know wh
Jun 24, 2014 djt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not knowing a lot about Ayn Rand, I saw this book on B&N's online store and bought it because I thought it would be helpful. While it was somewhat helpful, overall I found it to be a definite disappointment in content. Although it's presented as a writer's/reader's instruction, it contains so much about her philosophy of Objectivism, which is simply advocating a completely "me first and only" world. Her views promote a world of selfishness, without compassion, or concern for others. She very ...more
Jody Scott-Olson
So far, it is difficult to focus on the instructional purpose and content of this book. In the first several chapters Rand offers readers little more than examples and explanations of her own brilliance. If the stated objective of this book doesn't emerge at the forefront in the chapters to come, I will be forced to extract value from my copy by using it as kindling to warm my feet and toast marshmallows:)
John Roche
Feb 24, 2014 John Roche rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is like reading the Nietzsche of writing guides: her ego is large, her points are sharp, and you will need to wrestle with her if you disagree with any of her positions.

Some of her terminology seems off. Sometimes she uses the term romanticism when I believe she means naturalism, and then she uses the term naturalism when I believe she means realism. Perhaps the terms weren't so precisely defined back then? After all, the naturalists, like Faulkner come a bit later.

This book
Jan 24, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-tools
Ayn Rand confuses philosophy with technique.

When she says "do this", she is usually giving excellent advice on technique. The philosophy manifests as "don't do that because it's not real writing". Specifically Rand states that the only fiction she cares to read shows her "people and experiences she wants to see". Satire, escapist fantasy, horror, and black humour are all dismissed.

On the other hand I thought her discussion of subconscious writing was inspired. Rand rightly points out that the
Mark Nenadov
Jul 22, 2011 Mark Nenadov rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
However, there is a pervasive arrogance that is not only distasteful but calls the integrity of the work into question. She tries to stuff everything into boxes.

Ayn thinks she is the best novelist she knows. And it shows.
Dec 31, 2014 Meryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-books
Rand is an unusual personality, and her strong opinions make this book a very interesting read. There is a lot of good advice, but told in the 'this is the only way to write' style. Worth reading.
Sandy Lender
Apr 23, 2009 Sandy Lender rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terry Goodkind told me to buy and read this book.
So I did.
Now I recommend other writers do the same.
Dec 22, 2011 Irena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-audio-books
This book contains some useful advice for aspiring writers, but the pompous self assurance of Ayn Rand and her self-invented "objectivism" philosophy made me sick, more than once.
She considers herself a romanticist and goes out of her way to prove that her "romanticism" is endlessly better and deeper than "naturalism" of such second rate and shallow (in her opinion) writers as Lev Tolstoy and Sinclair Lewis. Her hatred of "Anna Karenina" is on the verge of obsession. She also uses Victor Hugo a
Nov 07, 2011 Cherise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, read-in-2011
I believe this may be the most insightful book about writing that I have ever read. Ayn Rand is not about to accept any of the common cop-out explanations for writing: "Well, it just turned out that way." "I felt like doing it like that." "It seemed right." She declares that everything you write is because of some premise you hold in your head, whether you realize it or not, and that the key to good writing is to learn how to identify and shape those premises as you wish.

Her understanding of pl
Ali Ünal
Oct 29, 2015 Ali Ünal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She is definitely something. There is no fat in this book, but flesh and meat. No excess, no nonsense. She doesn't fuck around with this book. Yes, she sounds like a nutcase most of the time (especially boasting her success as a novelist and giving her books as examples) but boy does she give what you want from a theory book. There are a lot of things you wouldn't agree with but that is the very reason why you should read it. Very distilled, very slender and very efficient book.
Jonathan Giles
Sep 07, 2015 Jonathan Giles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not an Ayn Rand fan, per se -- I haven't read any of her works -- but this book was quite enjoyable and, unto itself, provided more information on the art of writing than anything else I have read. Very illuminating, and if you get past her personality and her forceful nature as to how to write, you can actually learn a lot about writing fiction. Very enjoyable. Highly recommend.
Jul 11, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little tedious and constantly comparing herself to Victor Hugo. I guess I should have expected it from Ayn Rand.

The only message I took with me from this book: Make your abstractions concrete. Every scene, every character, setting, paragraph, sentence, verb, and noun must give life to the abstractions you're trying to communicate.

Got it. I think most of this comes in during revision, though, because I can't imagine how someone can balance all of the aspects of a novel while making their abstra
Jul 16, 2014 Dj rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting 'advice' but for someone hugely into objectivism, it's very subjective, and spoiled by the constant bragging and self reference. I am the best writer, my way is right, and if you try to follow my rules you still won't be as good as me. Hmm
Matīss Gricmanis
Mani nepārsteidz Rendas uzskati par literatūru un dzīvi, bet izbrīna, cik tie ir līdzīgi mana mentora priekšstatiem. Literatūra ir idejas izklāsts caur atbilstošu sižetu. Sižetu virza raksturs, kurš iemieso konkrētas vērtības. Lai izstrādātu ideju, sižetu, raksturu, tos ir jādefinē. Skaidri izteiktas definīcijas palīdz neapzinātajai prāta daļai izveidot radošus risinājumus.

Man nav spēka pret šo iebilst. Renda neņem vērā, ka literatūra un mākslai ir forma, kuras kvalitatīva izveide var būt daudz
Anna Smereca
Not knowing a lot about Ayn Rand I’ve decided to read one more book for “young writers”. This book is formed as a series of home lectures in her own home during the late 1950s. And this book is a transcription of tapes. I can’t say I didn’t like it at all, BUT the most annoying thing in this book is that Ayn Rand thinks she is the best writer…
Brett Anderson
Nov 07, 2013 Brett Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
If you are interested in improving your fiction writing and you liked The Fountainhead / Atlas Shrugged, you should read this book.

Even more than before, I'm looking forward to reading We the Living now that I have read Rand's own reflections on the writing of fiction.
Howard Koor
Feb 12, 2014 Howard Koor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Essential for any serious writer.
Gabriela Vasquez
Great plot construction advise.
Bickety Bam
Jun 12, 2010 Bickety Bam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty good book for would-be writers. Whatever you think of Ayn Rand's philosophy, she was a successful screenwriter for many years and has a lot of straightforward advice as to how to develop plot and characters and how to develop your own writing style. She has some really good ideas on how to develop your thinking so that you can write better and more easily. Rand believes that successful writing is a result of productive thinking and that anyone can learn to write if they put the ...more
Jan 17, 2014 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Brownstone always offers up the shouted salvo "Keep it short!" every single time the monthly club meeting of Good News First is called to order. I'll miss Mr. Brownstone, largely because I have poor aim.
Dec 16, 2010 Nick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
I thought I might enjoy this book. I was wrong. In a span of three pages she bashes Stein, Wolfe, and Maugham for their plot structures and word choice in their writing. She goes on to bash Joyce and Tolstoy for their "nonobjective" and "naturalistic" style. However, she is not reluctant to glorify her own writing style and plot-themes (which at most times seem like bad soap operas). Her closed-minded and subjective views to art have really turned me off to reading anything else by her.
Jun 28, 2013 Jaqueline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was delightfully suprised by Ayn Rand's thought's on writing and unabashed praise of her own talent. I recommend it for its logical and clear purpose, the inventive and elaborate self aggrandizing, as well as the biting and sarcastic criticism of her contemporarys. I laughed out loud at times, something I can't say about anything else she wrote. I understand her work and philosophy with a greater clarity, and appreciate the charisma and vivacious personality of the woman.
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Alisa Rosenbaum was born in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg to a prosperous Jewish family. When the Bolsheviks requisitioned the pharmacy owned by her father, Fronz, the Rosenbaums fled to the Crimea. Alisa returned to the city (renamed Leningrad) to attend the university, but in 1926 relatives who had already settled in America offered her the chance of joining them there. With money from the sa ...more
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