Book Review: The Art Of Fiction by Ayn Rand | #SmartReads

TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
June 20, 2017

Analogous to the Art Of NonFiction, the Art Of Fiction, by Ayn Rand details the core concepts of Rand’s writing repertoire, crystallized for all to see.

In the first half of the book Rand cogently creates very practical, and yet methodical approach that narrows down on importance of the subconscious in writing, theme, plot and its development, climax, and characterization.  The latter half of the book focuses on style from a variety of angles, all from her objectivist point of view.

Throughout the book Rand speaks at length of the two types of writing that exist in her eyes: naturalist writing vs. romanticist writing.

Naturalistic style catalogues things, which often are inconsequential.  On the other hand, romanticist writing employs carefully selected concrete words in specificity to capture the essentials, what really matters, of a scene.

Rand juxtaposes the two, offering samples that precisely describe why in her mind one is superior to the other.  Moreover, after showing the reader the pros and cons of each style, Rand speaks at length about how to maximize writing while not overstating words.

Imperative as well is the importance of avoiding floating abstractions, choosing instead to gravitate towards making writing more concrete, more specific.  She also covers a few issues with style, for instance, narrative vs. dramatization, which was quite insightful.  Exposition is also covered, as well as flashbacks, transitions, and other notable points.

On the importance of style, Rand notes:

“What constitutes the heart of any style is the clarity of the thoughts a writer expresses – plus the kind of thoughts he choose to express.”[1]


“A good style is one that conveys the most with the greatest economy of words.  In a textbook, the ideal is to communicate one line of thought or a set of facts as clearly as possible.  For a literary style, much more is necessary.  A great literary style is one that combines five or more different meanings in one clear sentence.   (I do not mean ambiguity but the communication of different issues).”[2][Bold Emphasis Added]

More importantly, however, Rand elucidates on the importance of precision in writing:

“I never waste a sentence on saying: “John Smith meets James Brown.”  That is too easy; it is playing the piano with one finger.  Say much more, just as clearly, say it in chords, with a whole orchestration.  That is good style.”[3]

Anyone who has ever read any of Rand’s book knows that Rand’s novels function on multiple tiers, employing various layers of insights, just like a building features various floors that carry out different functions.  For instance, analyzing one of her passage from Atlas Shrugged, she points out how one passage had four purposes: a literary one, a connotative one, a symbolic level, and an emotional level.  The seamlessness of how Rand fuses multiple tiers of purpose is one of the many reasons Rand writing will always remain in the upper caste of the field/discipline.

Although not originally created to be a book, and was instead drawn from Rand’s prior lectures, this book impeccably allows readers to view writing through her unique eyes.  Likewise, the way in which Rand breaks down the purpose of every single thing she does is a breath of fresh air.  The tenets within this book will make readers ruminate upon a much more precise type of writing, one that functions on a deeper level.  Such profound depth and meaning is usually missing from most modern fiction books, which is a shame since much more could be achieved if people employed different skills.

The Art Of Nonfiction is a terrific read in its totality.  The book is a veritable treasure trove of insights.  Couple this book with such classics such as The Element Of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, gather a bit of inspiration with The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield, and sprinkle a bit of The Art Of Description by Mark Doty, and one has the veritable seeds for success in writing.


[1] Ayn Rand, The Art Of Fiction, p. 142.
[2] Ibid., 143.
[3] Ibid., 143.
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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His other blog, features mainly his personal work, while serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information nigh always ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.