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on 16 June 2017
I found this author very pretentious. The book has some useful reminders of grammatical rules at the start which I found helpful, but overall I found the author's writing style grating.
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on 29 April 2017
It's very, very simple: anyone who writes must read John Gardner's books about writing. And re-read. End of.
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on 10 November 2015
A must read for any aspiring writer.
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on 7 June 1996
John Gardner has created an excellent resource for aspiring fiction writers who want to know how to write well. Gardner is direct in his tone, providing his readers with upfront and honest advice about what makes good fiction writing.

Gardner describes fiction as a dream world into which the writer takes the reader. His ultimate advice is to always consider the flow of the dream, and to be wary of any pitfall that might awake the reader from the story. He discusses such issues as style, grammar, plotting, and how they are necessary and contribute to excellent fiction writing.

The book closes with a series of exercises, a set for groups and a set for individuals, that provide an excellent jumping point for developing the superior writing skills that Gardner tries to teach.

Gardner's ideas are important considerations for the beginning writer, and important refreshers for the established writer. If you want to learn how to write fiction, but only want to buy one book on how to write, this is the one.
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on 26 January 2017
As described, thanks.
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on 27 November 2013
Best book on fiction writing I've ever read. Clearly, no book will transform you into a great writer, but I felt this one covered everything. If you're serious about writing, or making a career of it, you probably won't find it that hard. Gardner's analysis is very thorough - from Homer to present day - and shows the many ways in which fiction does, or does not, work. It's intense at times, not easy, but again, if you're serious you'll get to the end.

I first came across John Gardner's name in a small piece by Raymond Carver, who, it seems, was taught largely by him. He's regarded as one of the best creative writing teachers America has ever had.

This book is great, but all successful writers are clear on one point, that you'll never be good without tonnes of writing practice. Without proper focus and instruction though, endless writing may lead nowhere. With this book, your writing cannot fail to improve.

J Gardner's 'On Becoming a Novelist', which deals with more personal aspects of writing, is excellent too...
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on 19 July 2013
This book could easily intimidate beginner writers rather than inspire them. Display of intellectual credentials sometimes seems more important to Gardner than clarity. The content could be a lot better organised, the book tends to ramble about. Some gems, but a lot of verbiage to wade through to find them. Left wondering why I should heed a man who didn't seem able to set his ideas out clearly.
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on 13 July 1998
As a writing instructor and literary agent, I am a regular visitor to writing reference sections. John Gardner's book is sometimes hard to read and follow, but it does explain the basics. And I haven't found any other writing reference book that discusses psychic distance (a very important beginner concept, *not* ESP!) and word rhythms (an advanced concept) quite as well as this one does. This should probably be the third or fourth book a writer should buy, after Stein on Writing, Getting the Words Right, and perhaps Valerie Storey's The Essential Guide for New Writers.
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on 16 June 2015
Plenty of great tips, and much wisdom about the art of fiction, set out in a clear way. Good for both writers and readers who don't write. Gardener gives plenty of (examples to illustrate his points and there's a particularly helpful section on 'Common Errors' in Part II, which also includes sections on Technique and Plotting.
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on 27 June 1998
Although there is much to be learned from Gardner's classic, when I've used this text in my college intro to fiction-writing courses, it doesn't fly too well. My students are put off by Gardner's insistence that the young writer is always male, and they usually haven't read many of the works to which he refers. Because Gardner is so exacting about what good fiction is, many students feel paralyzed after reading *The Art of Fiction*--they feel it's impossible to do anything even remotely correctly. But if you can get past those problem areas, then this book is a gold mine. The exercises are provocative and, yes, educational.
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