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

ArtOfFiction
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]

Further:

“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.

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Footnotes:

[1] Ayn Rand, The Art Of Fiction, p. 142.
[2] Ibid., 143.
[3] Ibid., 143.
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If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
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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, BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com features mainly his personal work, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com 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.

Book Review: On Writing Well by William Zinsser | #SmartReads

OnWritingWell
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
May 22, 2017

“Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”
– E.B. White

“Writing is the geometry of the soul.”
– Plato

In On Writing WellThe Classic Guide To Nonfiction, William Zinsser writes an easy-to-follow no-nonsense approach into the core essentials of writing.

Providing a smattering of meticulous examples, On Writing Well does a lucid job of clearing up some of the confusion writers might have about style, methods, leads, endings, et al., while setting the foundation for a stronger individual repertoire.

In fact, regarding this, Zinsser speaks about the importance of everyone to have good writing skills given today’s newfound environment where a lot of communication takes place through the emails, the internet and so on.  This is crucial since most of us employ the tool of writing in a daily fashion.  Zinsser urges individuals to seek to sharpen their skill set in order to become better communicators simply by employing tenets  in this book.

As hinted to before, Zinsser also make incisive use of many salient examples throughout the book by breaking them down and suggesting some writing tips in cogent fashion.  Within these examples the author covers people, places, science and technology, writing within a job, writing about sports, and more.

Broken down into four parts, the book covers [1] Principles, where notions such as clutter and style are covered, [2] Methods, where leads and endings are covered, [3] Forms, where various forms of nonfiction are explored at length and [4] Attitudes within writing, which is self explanatory.  All parts offer ample insights, many of which would be useful to nigh all individuals nowadays, especially if you have to write anything on a daily basis, whether it is emails, memos, etc. and are new to writing.

To accomplish sound things in life, one needs an ironclad scaffolding upon which to set oneself in.  Writing well is no different.  The insights provided by this book will help those that employ them. Couple the tenets in this book with those of those within The Elements of Style, and one has the recipe for success.  Both have helped me quite a bit, as I hope they help you.

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This article is free and open source.  All individuals are encouraged to share this content and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, 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, BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com features mainly his personal work, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com 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.

Book Review: The War Of Art – Break Through The Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

TheWarOfArt
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
April 11, 2017

The War Of Art – Break Through The Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield is a very innovative way to look at the resistance individuals face when attempting to walk the path of a creatively conscious life.

Because resistance is something that we all face in one way shape or form [i.e. procrastination], this book is a book that stands to help everyone in their own unique way.

Pressfield minces no words in his apt definition of what holds creative individuals back:  Resistance.

Resistance is what leaves most of us feeling like abject failures after we’ve lost multiple bouts with it.  The paradox of this conundrum is that Resistance isn’t as untouchable as it might seem at first blush.  Yes, Resistance is the paradise of procrastination on the creative path, it is the ultimate obstacle, the veritable Darth Vader.   As such, resistance is the epitome of self-sabotage.  But, therein lies the key to this curious conundrum: self.

Maraudering deep within our darkest realm, Resistance is the ultimate enemy which seeks to slay every one of our hopes, and cast limitations into each and every one of our dreams.

As Pressfield points out:

“Resistance is a bully.  Resistance has no strength of its own; it’s power derives entirely from our fear of it.  A bully will back down before the runtiest twerp who stands his ground.”[1]

In other words, if the percipient individual – guided by the self – is to overcome this ruthless opponent, they need to face it head on.  As the saying goes, fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  Like the ego, it only grows when you feed it, so cutting Resistance of at the pass is crucial.  And this is where this book shines.

The War of Art is split into 3 parts.  In Part One, Pressfield shows a plethora of ways in which Resistance can be better understood.  Thereafter, Book Two features ways that the individual can tackle resistance in myriad ways, while Book Three goes beyond into deeper ruminations on invoking the ever-elusive Muse.  He also covers what separates amateurs from professionals, and an unorthodox – but refreshing – look at the artist and how the artist fits into the grand scheme of things.  The book yields more, but those are the core concepts.

As the author aptly notes, if Resistance couldn’t be overcome, the great works that humanity has wouldn’t be available these days.

If you are an individual who runs head on into Resistance daily – and who doesn’t? – or needs a healthy dose of inspiration, this book will definitely help you handle those in spades.  And if you seek to live a more creative life, whether by hobby or profession, then this is a must read.

Pressfield’s unorthodox approach to invoking the Muse is a breath of fresh air, and one that we can all relate too.  In his own words:

“When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication.  She approves.  We have earned favor in her sight.  When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings.  Ideas come.  Insights accrete.

“Just as Resistance has its seat in hell, so Creation has its home in heaven.  And it’s not just a witness, but an eager and creative ally.”[2]

After reading the book, my only regret was that the book was not longer.  That’s the sign of a good book.

If you want an active ally to accompany you in your personal battleground against Resistance and need a spark to light the tinder of action, get this book.
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Source:

[1] Steven Pressfield, The War Of Art, p. 99.
[2] Ibid., p. 108

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This article is free and open source. You are encouraged and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, 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 own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

Book Review: The Elements Of Style [Classic Edition] By William Strunk Jr. & Edited by Richard De A’Morelli

EO
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
May 3, 2017

As a preamble, what follows is a cursory juxtaposition between The Elements Of Style Classic Edition, which is the main book discussed, and The Elements Of Style 4th Edition.  Having purchased both within the last month, I thought it prudent to comment on some of the differences between both books.

The Elements Of Style [Classic Edition] by William Strunk Jr. and edited by Richard De A’Morelli is meant as a tribute to the work Prof. Strunk undertook over 100 years ago in creating this book.

This particular book features a forward by Richard De A’Morelli titled “Grammar & Style For The 21st Century”, instead of the one written by Roger Angell in the 4th Edition.  The former is eight pages long, while the latter is only two pages long.  De A’Morelli’s foreword sets the stage better in this book than the previous book, even if it’s garrulous.

In contrast, the “Introductory” within the classic edition is subpar when compared to the one written by E.B. White in the 4th Edition, which actually was more informative and amiable and even offered very practical advice, even if short and sweet.  The one great part featured within the Classic Edition edited by De A’Morelli is that the introduction features suggestions on which books writers ought to consider, which can be quite useful.

Curiously, the Elements of Style Classic Edition by De A’Morelli removes a few writing rules without noting why.  Although, the book blurb does mention that there are some rules which are now obsolete, and there are editorial notes which focus on that, the actual reasons are still lacking.

One significant improvement in the Classic Edition is that after each Rule is mentioned and examples are shown, it’s much easier to discern which are the good examples and which ones are not.

In both books, the first six rules are exact, although worded differently in the newer “Classic Edition”.  Thereafter, beginning on the 7th Rule, it begins to differ.  The newer Classic Edition edits rule number 7, and begins slotting latter rules earlier.  In the 4th Edition, Rule #7 is:

“Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of particulars, an appositive, amplification, or an illustrative quotation.”[1]

As a researcher and someone who writes often, this rule is quite useful and omitting it feels almost like the writer is being sold short.  A writer not knowing how to use a colon is akin to a soldier missing some of their equipment in the battlefield.  The Elements Of Style [4th Ed.] By William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White notes:

“A colon tells the reader that what follows is closely related to the preceding clause.  The colon has more effect than the comma, less power than the semicolon, and more formality than the dash.”[2]

The removal of that rule is almost akin to removing the comma or any other punctuation device.  Perhaps it’s not as trenchant, but it’s quite notable nonetheless because of the versatility the colon features.

Another rule omitted in the Classic Edition edited by De A’Morelli is the use of the dash.  Without writing a lengthy paragraph on this, the omission of this rule is almost as bad as the omission of the colon, and outright removes from the writer another tool they might employ in writing, a very useful one at that.

At least two more rules were removed, although can’t recall which ones they are.  The whole point of this is that there are at least two important rules that are missing, and that’s two too many.

My main issue with this book is that it removes certain rules and doesn’t even mention why.  The colon and dash by themselves are great tools for writing.  Omitting them with not even a mention is very glaring and leaves a lot to be desired.  Because of that, the rules from both books do not line up and cannot.

That said, De A’Morelli as an editor of the Classic edition of The Elements Of Style does an adequate job of staying above water and stating what Strunk Jr. had said different words, which could be useful to some.

Be that as it may, and even though the Classic Edition features a study guide, I still think the 4th Edition by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White is superior to the Classic Edition that is edited by De A’Morelli.  Don’t give me wrong, I am glad to own both, but I don’t feel like I gained much by the purchase of the latter book.  In fact, had I not know about the first book, I would be missing out on two vital rules, as shown above, that are crucial to the writing process, and which I employ almost in every piece.  That makes me wonder what else the editor might have overlooked.

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[1] William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements Of Style [4th Ed.] pg. 7.
[2] Ibid., pp 7-8.

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This article is free and open source. You are encouraged to share this content and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, 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 own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

300 Word Memories #1 – Growth

future
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 24, 2017

Earlier today it became known to me, through the expertise of John Taylor Gatto that decades ago Harvard used to require students in the liberal arts department to write 300 word passages in order to hone their writing skills.  The effect of this was phenomenal, and was noted years after this particular generation of graduates made their way into the workforce.

Gatto noted that those individual students who were exposed to such an idea and who were urged to execute it correctly found growth as writers that nobody could have even fathomed.

In small part, this idea can be corroborated by me, to a certain extent, through my work in reviewing books.

Nigh three years ago my skillset in writing reviews was average at best.  Although this fact was known to me, it didn’t deter me to attempt to grow as a writer/reviewer at the time.  Naturally, the only option that seemed reasonable at the time was to write more, and do more reviews.  At the time, admittedly, it seemed rather simplistic.  However, we all know how much we learned by doing, so it didn’t seem like it was such a bad idea.

Now, a handful of years later, it’s been quite the journey in being able to grow as a writer/blogger in many ways and be able to relate my ideas in a much more incisive and cogent fashion.  Realizing this a few months ago, it was rather inspiring because, having seen a few of my older reviews, it became quite apparent that not only my suspicion of my work being ‘so-so’ of the past correct, but my suspicion of growth through using the mirror of time – the past – also helped me glean some satisfaction in the fact that the hard work was paying off, even if at times it seems rather sluggish.

Having gone through this mental growth-spurt of sorts, am appreciative of having this obstacle be in my path, and in choosing to make it an opportunity for a jump off point, because it’s helped me grow in more ways than would have seemed possible in the past.

In any case, may the next obstacle opportunity on my path be sizeable, because the growth experienced from immense obstacles opportunities is much greater than that experience gained from smaller ones.

May you always be ironclad in your passions, and relentless in your resolve.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.