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The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers MP3 CD – Jan 2004

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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; MP3 Una edition (Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786187204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786187201
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,027,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Offers a step-by-step study of the nonfiction writing process, discussing the psychological facets of writing, the roles of the subconcious and conscious minds, and developing a personal writing style. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Imroth on 24 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a remarkably brilliant discussion of the art of writing, concentrating on what Ayn Rand calls 'middle-range' articles: factual pieces that take fundamental philosophical principles for granted, which therefore belong mid-way between theoretical articles (academic papers dealing with abstract ideas and proofs) and journalism (reports of concrete events without theorizing).

I call Ayn Rand's discussion 'remarkably brilliant' because it is an edited recording of talks she gave to an Objectivist audience (followers of her personal philosophy), speaking from only a few notes. The coherence and clarity of what she said is therefore as remarkable as the wisdom and novelty of what she said.

Ayn Rand makes the case for writing as clearly as one can, with a good grasp of English grammar, and letting prose style emerge naturally. The key lesson is the idea of the subconscious mind being an automatic computer that is programmed by the conscious mind. We write with the subconscious and just as there are various techniques to help the subconscious work unimpeded, so there are techniques to order and clarify conscious ideas before they are automated in the subconscious. Practical advice follows, such as to leave a day to forget the actual sentences used before editing, not to correct as one writes, to stick to the outline and to ignore problems that will slow one down.

Altogether, a wise and profound guide to clear writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on 3 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
In this slim volume we have a fair presentation of Rand's personal advice to writing colleagues, as given in a series of 1969 meetings. She disposes of writers' block, self-doubt, self-censorship, and muddled thought as someone with long experience in facing these goblins. Of course her program is colored by the Objectivist philosophy, which is for her essential to independent thought. But the way she applies this to writers' problems is quite practical and probably cross-cultural. At times she shows hints of a "greed is good" ideology, which sounds slightly less prophetic these days. But then she plows ahead, delivering sound advice on writing style, organization, work habits, editing, selecting topics, or reviewing books, always telling the writer what is essential and what to ignore.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It reads of its' time. But the voice is so individual that Ayn Rand might only just have just finished speaking. She has her own philosophy, for sure, but then it just makes me wonder about all those other 'how to' books, and how they lack a personal philosophy, making them appear as if they are trying to appeal to the greatest number of writing wannabees, while really they lack concrete substance behind the writing of them. I read the first pages from the sample on Amazon, and I was hooked on her personal approach. There are no, what we no as 'sound-bytes' to tickle the wordly palette, just strong prose.
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By Rusty on 3 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
"Writing is no more difficult a skill than any other, such as engineering. Like every human activity, it requires practice and knowledge. But there is nothing mystical about it." - Ayn Rand. This book takes you through the steps from preparing the outline, polishing a draft, to developing and mastering your own style. This book is a must for those who wish to understand the fundamental principles, that underpin all good nonfiction works.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 36 reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Useful, practical, helpful how-to book for any writer. 1 Feb. 2001
By Betsy Speicher - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book takes the aspiring writer step-by-step through the process showing him how to organize his thoughts and communicate them clearly.

It is loaded with practical advice on how to choose a subject and theme, judge one's audience, apply philosophy without preaching it, create an outline, write a draft, and edit. Ayn Rand is empathetic and reassuring to a writer having difficulties and she offers solutions for problems of self-doubt, writers block, transitions, style, how to get ideas for writing, and many more.

Editor Mayhew has done an excellent job of translating Ayn Rand from the spoken word to the written page and has brought her passion for ideas and for writing alive again.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
The Art of Clarity and Honesty 22 April 2001
By Jean-Francois Virey - Published on
Format: Paperback
"You are not writing for the cause, for humanity, for posterity. You are writing because you *want* to write; and if you do not want to, you do not have to, neither today not ever. Remind yourself that it is all for your own happiness, and if you truly dislike the activity, do not try it. Writing is too difficult to do with a half-intention." - Ayn Rand.
Books that purport to teach you how to write abound, so why pick Ayn Rand's?
First, she herself was a master of the art of writing. And just as the unequaled excellence of *The Fountainhead* and *Atlas Shrugged* should make anyone curious to read *The Art of Fiction*, her demonstrated ability to combine logic with emotional power in countless articles is the best recommendation one could find for the present volume. *The Art of Nonfiction* is a reliable guide for the same reasons that books on martingales written from a trailer are not.
Second, not only was Ayn Rand an experienced and highly talented non-fiction writer, but she also had the kind of mind that enabled her to make sense of her ability. Just because someone can do something does not mean he can explain how he does it. Dogs can catch balls, but they are poor teachers of ballistics, and many writers, when it comes to explaining their art, are no better.
What makes Rand a first-rate teacher of the art of non-fiction is first of all her epistemology. The author of *An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology*, Rand developed a theory of concepts which she summarizes here in very simple terms: "only concretes exist... abstractions are merely a method of classifying concretes". Based on this theory, she formed her concepts deliberately and consciously, and she had an uncanny ability, best described by her student and heir Leonard Peikoff, to "oscillate" between various levels of abstractions, from simple percepts to the highest "abstractions from abstractions". Such a capacity she shows here to be essential to non-fiction writing.
Ayn Rand also laid the foundations for a science she called "psycho-epistemology", which she defined as "the study of man's cognitive processes from the aspect of the interaction between the conscious mind and the unconscious". This science is absolutely necessary to understand the process of non-fiction writing, which is essentially a collaboration between the conscious and the sub-conscious - the former dealing mostly with the outline and editing stages, and the latter, with the actual writing. The whole secret of Rand's writing technique is the skillful management of these co-workers in the writing process.
*The Art of Nonfiction* is a slim but dense and very well organized volume which will be of particular interest not only to professional writers, but to amateurs, from the student with a paper to draft to the techno-freak who wants his webpage actually to be, and not merely look, good. As for those whose opinion of Ayn Rand has been entirely shaped by about half a century of smears, they will be astounded by the clarity, the honesty and the benevolence of the woman they have been lied about for so long.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly useful 22 Feb. 2001
By Kevin W. Parker - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a much better book than I expected. Gone is the stern, hectoring martinet of rationality and free enterprise that one usually encounters in her articles. Instead, we have a conversation with a particularly astute and self-aware writer revealing how she goes about her business. In twelve chapters she covers the basic issues: choosing a subject, addressing one's audience, creating an outline, writing the first draft, editing, and so on. She has definite notions on the functioning of one's conscious and subconscious minds, which she delineates in detail. She even covers the issue of writer's block, which she calls "the squirms."
Overall, she endeavors to take the mystery out of writing, emphasizing that there is nothing mystical about it: If one can write grammatically one can eventually succeed at writing coherent articles through dint of practice and following certain basic principles, which she shares.
It's too soon to say just how useful I found this book, but it definitely has potential and is worth reading for its distinctive way of addressing writing.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Free your mind and the pen will follow 5 April 2001
By Nicholas Provenzo - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'll admit it-for a long time I lost my writing "mojo." I went from being founder and editor of a fortnightly student newspaper in my college days that could write in his sleep to, well, a non-writing mook.
Why? Basically I gave my brain an impossible order. I commanded it to write the definitive, great article that would answer all questions, assuage all doubts, conquer all foes, (and hell, shame all competition). Where others had failed, I would succeed. Sure, I knew better, but deep in the back of my mind, that's the order I gave myself. And now I have a great blank paper collection to commemorate that period.
"The Art of Nonfiction" has been key to helping me put an end to that self-imposed writer's block. Novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, in a series of informal lectures on non-fiction writing that have been adapted to make up this book, explains once and for all the thought that goes into good writing. With her trademark clarity, Rand covers all the bases, from choosing one's subject, to managing one's editing and style. She does this not in a way that reads like a "do this because" lecture that one would promptly ignore, but in a way that makes simple, no-nonsense sense. These are guides you'll follow.
If writing clear, persuasive essays is your aspiration, this book provides you with a practical blueprint. Happy writing!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Clear as a bell 8 Aug. 2005
By Jennifer Kerns - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As with so much of Ayn Rand's writing, she takes on an issue (in this case, nonfiction writing) that seems hopelessly complex, and then explains it with such clarity that you're left wondering what all the confusion was about in the first place. If you're stuck in your writing, even if you've never read anything by Rand before, this book is priceless.
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