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Publisher's Summary

In 1958, and again in 1969, Ayn Rand gathered a small group of her friends and acquaintances and gave an informal course on writing. At once a fascinating philosophical discourse on the art of creation and an invaluable guide for the aspiring writer, these edited transcripts are a treasure that will challenge, edify, and illuminate the way to more powerful writing.

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. Here, too, are Rand's illuminating analyses of passages from famous writers, rewrites of scenes from her own works, and fascinating rules for building dramatic plots and characters with depth.

Also, listen to the companion text, Ayn Rand's The Art of Nonfiction.
©2000 Estate of Ayn Rand; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Ayn Rand is a writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Lois
  • Huntington, WV, United States
  • 12-04-09

Get Stein on Writing

First, let me say there are very good nuggets of information in this book. The problem is that the nuggets are hard to hear over her huge ego. 90% of this book is her tearing apart other people's work and never giving any examples of how it could have been done better. The book also gets political from out of nowhere. I'm sure there is good information here, but I struggled to finish listening to this book. If you want to listen to a book on techniques and strategies, I would suggest listening to Stein in Writing. Yes, Sol Stein has the huge ego too, but at least he gives examples to help the listener.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Arn Rand versus Sol Stein-Listen and Take Notes

I had to get past her ego as a great (if not the greatest) writer as she offered advice on how to write better by using examples of what she considered bad writing. They are really good examples of awful writing that somehow got published. I've already listened to Sol Stein on Writing and they do differ on opinions in certain areas, but they offer the same essential advice. I'm not a fan of either of her novels but she is knowledgeable about her field. I prefer Sol Stein as my writing instructor, but this is a decent and worthwhile listen. I listened a second time with pen and paper in hand to take notes.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mica
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 04-27-08

Chock Loaded

Another must for anyone with an interest in writing and Rand, truly one of the densest and most stimulating writers to this day. Just glance at the love and hate she inspires. While you will not be made into a little Ayn, you will gain insights into how she structures approaching writing fiction. Some of the text even delves into the motivations for writing. Her advice is poignant and delivered in her standard direct style. I highly recommend.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Nonwriters: The book will make you a better reader

The Art of Fiction gives writers (and readers) tools for thinking about how writing is done, and specially how Ms. Rand wrote. If you read her books, you will particularly find her insights to her own works very helpful. She is speaking of "romantic" literature as opposed to "naturalistic" literature, and shows the differences in the purposes of these types of literature. Much of the criticisms leveled at a book such as "Atlas Shrugged" can be understood in light of the specific type of literature that Ms. Rand wrote, and the purposes of such a type.

I read the reviews before I purchased the book, and find the criticism to be a bit strange. Yes, Arn Rand thinks she is a good writer, and shows examples of other writings that she deemed require improvement - one would expect as much given the purpose of the personal talks that she gave to a group of friends and interested acquaintances that were later edited into this book. The book is short and rather episodic, rather than flowing - again a product of the converting informal lectures into a book.

In any case, as someone who wanted to use the book to become a better reader, I found it very insightful as a reader in general, and specifically as a reader of Ms. Rand.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ocean
  • Portsmouth, NH, United States
  • 08-10-12

Pure Joy

I was thrilled to have stumbled upon this. To actually hear Ayn Rand's words as she expresses her thoughts about the art of writing. I'm not saying that I agree completely with everything that she says or that what used to work for a writer decades ago still applies today but definitely still amazingly powerful and valuable to be able to hear her thoughts and opinions. Loved every minute of it and will undoubtedly listen to it again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Didn't like it

I enjoy Ayn Rand's work, especially on audio. I have listened to Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead many times. Each of these are epic in scope (and volume, A. S. is over 50 hours!) I couldn't even finish this. I don't know if it was the narrator or the the style of the writing, which isn't strictly written as if she spoke it in a series, but from what I understood much was culled from other sources beside study groups. I waited a long time for this as it dropped from Audible for a while. It came back, I got it, and boy, do I ever regret it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dann
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 06-20-11

Talk about self-centered - MAN!!!

Gees, I guess according to A. Rand there's hardly anybody else out there that can write like she can. Yes she's good but she would be the type of teacher where every student would turn out a book strangely similar to hers. Sorry, but that's not releasing the imagination to run with good and individualized stories in my understanding of the process.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Barker
  • Seddon, New Zealand
  • 11-24-10

Not worth your money or time!!!!!!

I really feel this statement ("Not worth you money or time") may be the biggest understatement of all time - I found this lady very hard to follow. I had one very small aha moment amongst an AVALANCHE OF MIND NUMBINGLY BORING LISTENING. (AND I MUST STRESS IT WAS A VERY SMALL MOMENT) This lady has a very high opinion of her own writing but if any of her long excerts that she reads out as examples are anything to go on then she's really not all that. Its up to you but I would really reccommend saving your money on this one and highly reccomment that you buy and listen to Stein on writing. A FAR SUPERIOR BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough - FAR SUPERIOR!!!!!!!! (With Stein you will get the one small aha moment I got from Rand and many more to boot) PLUS HE WONT BORE THE PANTS OFF YOU!!!!!!

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Ayn Rand on plot structure

If you've ever struggled with writing plot structure in a novel, you will find Ayn Rand's discussion of plot structure most valuable. In this classic "period" piece, her comments on story structure still hold true. AR's discussion of selfishness-as-virtue is a little hard to take, but whether or not you agree with the philosophy of selfishness, the woman knows her craft as a writer. This is a discussion you'll want to hear over and over, as it is fascinating for writers and readers alike.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Learned a lot about the craft of writing

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, specifically to a writer friend. There are a lot of writing techniques provided, things to think about when writing or editing. It might be considered to be the basics of writing, but these are basics that are easily and often missed by writers, skilled and not.

What did you like best about this story?

The tips on writing, how to create the best storylines and descriptions while getting rid of things that detract from what makes writing good.

What does Marguerite Gavin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A straight forwardness about the skills one needs to be a well-rounded, good writer.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

How to craft dramatic scenes, how to create the best out of a plot, how to write the best descriptions. A great book to own for future references.

Any additional comments?

I didn't always agree with her absoluteness about some things, but it was mainly near the end, when telling about her personal preferences. These, she expressed as what's the best and what's not good. Being an apparent non-believer, she had strong opinions about what religious fiction writing portrays. I'd say the last half hour of the book was the least helpful. The rest, I got much out of and would listen to again.