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The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  738 ratings  ·  81 reviews
In 1958, Ayn Rand, already the world-famous author of such bestselling books as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, gave a private series of extemporaneous lectures in her own living room on the art of fiction. Tore Boeckmann and Leonard Peikoff for the first time now bring readers the edited transcript of these exciting personal statements. The Art of Fiction offers inva ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by New American Library
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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 ·  738 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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Austin Neaves
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ilyn Ross
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fiction writers and readers
Ayn Rand is an excellent teacher.
Sandy Lender
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Terry Goodkind told me to buy and read this book.
So I did.
Now I recommend other writers do the same.
Katrina Sark
Jan 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Jian Hou
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a collection of Ayn Rand's informal lectures to an audience back in 1958 conducted in her own living room. Given the extemporaneous (I love typing that!) nature of her lectures, this has been edited for this publication and fit into 11 chapters on the art of writing fiction.

I find some of the chapters particularly helpful and insightful. In 'Theme and Plot', she stressed the importance of a central theme that had to be tied to a plot. Events included in a book that has no purpose and do
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
One of the two most insightful books ever written for readers and writers of fiction. The second is "The Romantic Manifesto," also by Ayn Rand.
Zy Marquiez
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-reviews
Analogous to the Art Of NonFiction, the Art Of Fiction, by Ayn Rand details the core concepts of Rand’s writing repertoire, crystallized for all to see.

In the first half of the book Rand cogently creates very practical, and yet methodical approach that
narrows down on importance of the subconscious in writing, theme, plot and its development, climax, and characterization. The latter half of the book focuses on style from a variety of angles, all from her objectivist point of view.

Throughout the b
Marco den Ouden
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had read pretty well everything Ayn Rand had written during her lifetime but there are some of her posthumously published works I had not got around to. This is one of them. It is an edited transcript of a series of informal discussion sheld with friends and fans in her living room in 1958, finally edited and published in 2000. And it is a terrific addition to her works.

The book is an adjunct to her collection, The Romantic Manifesto, and is aimed particularly at those who want to write fictio
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Brett Anderson
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
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.
Mark Nenadov
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Haider Al-Mosawi
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An excellent resource for writers.

Ayn Rand looks at the philosophy of aesthetics, the psychological challenges of writing, and offers a ton of valuable nuggets of wisdom.

A very engaging book. And as the subtitle suggests: for readers as well. :)
Gabriela Vasquez
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great plot construction advise.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Ayn Rand gives focused advise on how to write. It is not how to start, but how to punch things up, how to show vs. tell, etc. Well-organized, easy to read, a great tool for authors.
Howard Koor
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Essential for any serious writer.
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The single most important book on writing I have ever read. It changed my writing and my life.
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, favorites
I still make reference to it when I write.
Oct 19, 2014 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.
Anson Cassel Mills
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Although there are flashes of insight in this guide, drawn from a series of taped lectures that Ayn Rand gave to a small group of friends and associates in 1969, I would not recommend the book to students. First, the book is dull—though I grant that any editor would have had difficulty making something readable out of an edited series of talks given decades previous. Second, Rand’s tone is humorless and insufferably arrogant.

Furthermore, some of Rand’s advice, especially about style, is actuall
Jun 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ayn Rand fans, writers
In this book, we get a glimpse into Ayn Rand's writing process, her views on literature, and ego. She gives insightful outlooks on literary devices and the art of crafting the novel and provides examples from her own works and those of others to back them up. Although I find it distasteful to compare your own works to those of others (most of them given as examples as to what not to do), I appreciate her use examples to back up her arguments.

Since this book is actually an edited version of an i
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good guide for on the fence writers who aren't quite sure in their abilities and need that little extra push to get to writing in earnest. I don't agree with everything Rand had to say (both here and in her other books), and her ego is unmistakably present throughout her guide. However, this is offset when one considers how incredible a feat it was that, when she came to the US, Rand was barely able to speak English. This feat is compounded by how she was able to produce three novels, a novell ...more
A.K. White
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book makes me want to re-read all of Ayn Rand's books which I read as a teenager. We The Living stands out in my memory as one of the best books I've ever read - time to read it again, I think. In The Art of Fiction, Rand holds back nothing, sharing her views with bold authority and confidence. She's not one to sit on the fence about her ideas and I find that refreshing. If you are a fan of Ayn, you'll enjoy this lecture on literature.
Nixon Sucuc
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reading this book has been an uplifting value on the esthetic aspect of my life. Now I am not just enthusiastic of the literature that I read, but also feel inspired and called to craft my own stories and put them on ink and paper.
I am so thrilled about a fanfic plot that I just developed while reading TAoF.
Thank you Ayn Rand, Tore Boeckmann and Leonard Peikoff for making this book possible!!!
Robert Everhart
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have not read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, but this book was difficult for me to glean much new insight. I read it was compiled from some small lectures the Author gave and possibly poorly edited. The thing is so full of rhetoric that I skipped forward through much of it.
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