Writing Books for Writers | The Art of Fiction

As books for writers go, John Gardner has produced a winner for both advanced and intermediate level writers with his offering, The Art of Fiction. The Art of Fiction is also a good companion piece to Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure, and Damon Knight’s Creating Short Fiction.

For anyone who wants to learn how to write a book, these volumesĀ  make a formidable trio that covers fiction from genre to literary. Gardner’s language use is a bit heavy as he is speaking to us from a prior time, and some beginners might find it a bit hard to read comfortably and still gain very much. Also, Gardner describes this book as being for young writers, but I’d think most of today’s youngsters would need a pretty large vocabulary to understand everything being discussed here. In this instance, I take the term “young” to mean young in experience rather than years.

That said, Gardner has managed to explain a great deal about story creation and the underlying process that readers pass through when reading works of fiction. It is important to understand this reading process in order to get the writing process correct, and it is an important part of learning how to write a book or how to write a short story. Writing fiction is an interesting occupation or hobby and it is full of ins and outs. Everyone can use some good tips and Gardner has many, including tips for plotting, basic structuring, technique, craft and most other aspects of writing.

There is also an amusing rant about types of literature that Gardner feels lower the standards of being an author. Gardner is also the author of On Moral Fiction, which will be reviewed another time. From the title, you can imagine that Gardner has some very definite views of how fiction should function and work. He lays many of them out in the Art of Fiction.

I’m giving this book:
4 stars overall.
3 stars for ease of reading.
4 stars for usefulness of information.

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