In 1958, by popular demand, Ayn Rand gave an informal course on the art of fiction to a group of friends and acquaintances. Using only a few handwritten notes over the course of 12 sessions, the legendary author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged covered all the essentials of writing and reading fiction. Now, for the first time, the edited transcripts of these remarkable sessions are available to aspiring writers and readers. Rand discusses how a writer combines abstract ideas with concrete action and description to achieve a unity of theme, plot, characterisation and style - the 4 essential elements of fiction. She explains why all works of fiction express a specific code of values, and provides fascinating rules for building dramatic plots and characters with depth. Here, too, are Rand's illuminating sentence-by-sentence analyses of passages from writers like Victor Hugo and Thomas Wolfe. Concise and accessible, this is an invaluable gift from one of our most enduring authors and an indispensable resource for all lovers of literature.