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The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
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The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  486 ratings  ·  55 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
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Published February 1st 2004 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published January 1st 2000)
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Austin James
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
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Laura
Mar 13, 2012 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
JJVid
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
...more
djean
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
Christopher
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.
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
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
...more
Tim
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
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Mark Nenadov
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.
Meryl
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
Terry Goodkind told me to buy and read this book.
So I did.
Now I recommend other writers do the same.
Period.
Irena
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
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Cherise
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
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Mike
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
...more
Dj
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
Brett Anderson
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
Loved this book. Essential for any serious writer.
Gabriela Vasquez
Great plot construction advise.
Bickety Bam
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
Daniel
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.
Nick
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.
Jaqueline
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.
Jeff Yoak
I'm not an aspiring fiction-writer. I imagine that this book would be extremely helpful to someone who is. It provides conceptual frameworks for understanding fiction-writing that were new to me, and useful even in understanding and appreciating fiction. I suspect it will help me to better understand some of my reactions to things I read, and perhaps even to anticipate them. That would be really useful. :-)
Alex Fontanetta
This collection of lectures underscores Ayn Rand's brilliance as a writer. It provides insight into her own works as well as those of other authors. The topics discussed are relevant to most types of writing, but particularly to fiction. This book is for anyone interested in Ayn Rand and her works, for anyone seeking writing advice, or for readers who want to become better critics of the books they read.
Suzie Quint
The book, The Art of Fiction, is actually a transcription of a workshop Ms. Rand gave about the writing craft, so the voice is different from most writing books. There's a lot of comments directed at "you" but it's something I adjusted to quickly, so I don't think it will cause anyone great distress.

The full review is at http://suziequint.blogspot.com/2012/0...
Lorraine
You have to dig to find the gems. If you can get past her ego, there's some great instruction here. She is certainly not open minded and believes her approach to be not only the best way ...but the only correct way. She frequently insults other authors while picking apart their texts. If you're intolerant to this sort of thing, this may not be the book for you.
Nancy
In the 1950's Ms. Rand gave an informal course from her home to friends in her living room. This book is compilation of the twelve sessions she held in her home.
Wonderfully written and easily understood. Ms. Rand explores the elements of fiction: theme, plot, character and style giving examples from her own work and other classics.
Craig
I have never read any of Rand's work, but she believes that she is the finest writer of her generation, comparable to Tolstoy & Shakespeare. I don't mind an attitude like that; it is similar to my own. Besides, she offers sound, logical insight on why certain things work in good fiction, and why other things don't.
Alan Coady
Although universally pilloried for her take on life, this is a very clear text on what makes good theme, plot, characterisation, style - and how all these factors are linked together. The fact that she uses her own work as examples of the good and others as examples of the weak should be no surprise.
Jon Britton
Oddly enough, one of the worst writers in history gives some of the greatest advice to writers in history. If only she had followed her own advice, Atlas Shrugged would've been 300 pages, introduce its main character before chapter 25, and not contained a ham-fisted 50 page soliloquy!
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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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