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The Art of Fiction

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  • Full Title: The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
  • Author(s): Edited by Tore Boeckmann, introduction by Leonard Peikoff
  • Year Published: 2000
  • Publisher: Plume
  • Publication Type: Commercial
  • ISBN-10: 0-452-28154-7 (paperback)
  • ISBN-13:
  • Description: This book is a distillation of a series of informal lectures on fiction writing conducted by Rand in 1958. The essays in The Romantic Manifesto were also based in part on these lectures, but this book has been edited to avoid much overlap with those earlier writings.
  • Cover Blurb:

    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. Now, for the first time, the edited transcripts of these remarkable sessions are available to readers and aspiring writers.

    In The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand discusses how a writer combines abstract ideas with concrete action and description to achieve a unity of theme, plot, characterization, and style--the four essential elements of fiction. She explains how the seemingly causeless phenomenon of literary "inspiration" is a function of a writer's conscious thinking; how to develop a voice of one's own ("You cannot borrow another man's soul, and you cannot borrow his style"); and why all works of fiction -- from great literature to detective stories -- express a specific code of values ("Every writer is a moral philosopher"). Here, too, are Ayn Rand's illuminating sentence-by-sentence analyses of passages from writers like Victor Hugo and Thomas Wolfe, illustrative rewrites of scenes from her own works, and fascinating rules for building dramatic plots and characters with depth.

    Clear, concise, and accessible, The Art of Fiction is an invaluable gift from one of our most enduring authors and an indispensible resource for all lovers of literature. (From a Plume paperback printing.)


Where an item is by an author other than Rand, the author's name is noted in parentheses.

  1. Writing and the Subconscious
  2. Literature as an Art Form
  3. Theme and Plot
  4. The Plot-Theme
  5. The Climax
  6. How to Develop a Plot Ability
  7. Characterization
  8. Style I: Depictions of Love
  9. Style II: Descriptions of Nature and of New York
  10. Particular Issues of Style
  11. Special Forms of Literature

Related Links

The following electronic texts are available for works of fiction discussed by Rand in The Art of Fiction:

Reviews, Criticism and Analysis

The following perspectives on this book are available online:

Additional keywords: Ann Rand, Anne Rand, Ayn Rad, Ayn Ran, Any Rand, esthetics, aesthetics, literary theory, writing style

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