F Scott Fitzgerald – What Can Aspiring Writers Learn from One of the Greats?

Posted on Oct 16, 2023

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Studying the works and journeys of successful writers is not as precise as navigating a map, but it can provide valuable insight that can help one achieve literary success.

These accomplished authors have established their own writing styles, won over critics and gained popularity amongst their readership. 

Analyzing their writing styles, understanding how they construct plots, develop characters and employ literary devices offers great lessons and can in fact be like having mentors who impart wisdom through their books. 

Plus, by taking a deep dive into the life stories of successful writers, how they overcame rejections, nurtured discipline and stayed persistent, provides a blueprint for aspiring writers. 

It can help to cultivate a mindset of resilience and dedication, essential traits for any creative endeavor. 

In this article, we will be taking a look at one of the most famous and celebrated authors of all time; F Scott Fitzgerald.

This article on F Scott Fitzgerald contains:

  1. Who was F Scott Fitzgerald?
  2. Notable works by F Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Signatures of F Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style
  4. Writers similar to F Scott Fitzgerald
  5. F Scott Fitzgerald – What can writers learn?

Who was F Scott Fitzgerald?

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an influential American novelist and short story writer during the early 20th century. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fitzgerald displayed literary prowess from a young age, publishing stories in his school’s newspaper and excelling in academics. 

He attended Princeton University, although his focus was more on writing than studies, and he left without graduating to join the U.S. Army during World War I.

Fitzgerald gained prominence as part of the “Lost Generation,” a term he coined himself, capturing the disillusionment and loss experienced by the post World War I generation. 

He was known for his extravagant lifestyle, often chronicling the excesses and opulence of the Jazz Age. Fitzgerald’s marriage to Zelda Sayre, an icon of the Roaring Twenties, added to his appeal and influence.

While his literary success fluctuated during his lifetime, Fitzgerald’s works became synonymous with the American Dream and the complexities of the human experience.

His writing style, characterized by vivid prose and acute social commentary, left a long lasting mark on American literature. Despite facing personal struggles and financial hardships, Fitzgerald’s legacy endured, and he is regarded today as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.

Notable works by F Scott Fitzgerald

“The Great Gatsby” (1925)

F Scott Fitzgerald’s quintessential novel, “The Great Gatsby,” tells the tale of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby and his lavish parties for his unrequited love for Daisy Buchanan. 

Set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties, the book epitomizes the excesses of the Jazz Age. Through Gatsby’s pursuit of wealth, status and love, Fitzgerald explores the American Dream’s illusion and subsequent disillusionment. 

The stark contrast between Gatsby’s opulent mansion and the green light across the bay symbolizes the disparity between dreams and reality, offering a powerful commentary on societal aspirations.

“Tender Is the Night” (1934)

“Tender Is the Night” explores the complexities of love, wealth and mental health. Fitzgerald dives into the lives of Dick and Nicole Diver, a couple whose glamorous façade hides emotional turmoil and disillusionment. 

Against the vibrant backdrop of the French Riviera, the novel unravels the disintegration of the American expatriate community, painting a poignant picture of the Lost Generation. 

Fitzgerald’s narrative dissects the emotional price of success and the challenges of maintaining relationships amidst the opulence and decadence of the era.

“This Side of Paradise” (1920)

F Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel, “This Side of Paradise,” mirrors the post World War I uncertainty through the life of Amory Blaine. Semi autobiographical in nature, the narrative tells the tale of Amory’s experiences, struggles and relationships. 

It portrays a generation grappling with shifting social norms, materialism and the elusive American Dream.

Fitzgerald eloquently captures the evolving landscape of the early 20th century, reflecting both the chaos and promise of the time. 

Amory’s journey, shaped by love, intellectualism and societal expectations, stands as a timeless exploration of youthful desires and the quest for identity in a rapidly changing world.

Signatures of F Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style

Eloquent and Poetic Prose

Fitzgerald was known for his elegant and poetic language. His prose often carried a rhythmic quality, creating a distinct literary voice that enchanted readers.

Detailed Descriptions

He provided rich and detailed descriptions of characters, settings and emotions, allowing readers to vividly visualize the scenes and immerse themselves in the story.

Exploration of the American Dream

A recurring theme in Fitzgerald’s works was the exploration and critique of the American Dream, often portraying its illusion, materialism and its impact on individuals and society.

Social Critique and Satire

Fitzgerald used satire to critique the social norms, values and excesses of the Jazz Age. His works often highlighted the shallowness and moral decline of the era.

Deep Psychological Insight

He delved into the psychological depths of his characters, exploring their motivations, desires and internal struggles. This psychological insight added complexity and depth to his narratives.

Symbolism and Metaphor

Fitzgerald frequently employed symbols and metaphors to convey deeper meanings and themes. These literary devices added layers of interpretation to his works.

Exploration of Social Class

Class distinctions and social stratification were recurrent themes in Fitzgerald’s works. He explored how wealth, status and social mobility influenced characters’ lives and interactions.

Narrative Structure and Chronology

Fitzgerald often played with non linear narrative structures, using flashbacks and shifts in time to weave intricate and engaging storylines.

Writers similar to F Scott Fitzgerald

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway, a prominent figure of the Lost Generation, shares similarities with Fitzgerald in their exploration of disillusionment, the aftermath of World War I and the Jazz Age’s excesses. Hemingway’s concise prose and focus on themes like love, masculinity and the human condition align with Fitzgerald’s literary concerns.

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck, although distinct in style, shared a penchant for portraying the human experience amidst societal challenges. Like Fitzgerald, Steinbeck’s works often explored social issues, economic disparities and the American Dream’s complexities. Both authors captured the essence of their eras and critiqued the realities of their societies.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf, while differing in style and themes, parallels Fitzgerald in her literary innovation and exploration of the human psyche. Both were part of the modernist movement and sought to break traditional literary norms. Woolf’s introspective narratives and focus on character psychology resonate with Fitzgerald’s deep psychological insights into his characters.

What can writers learn?

Aspiring writers can draw invaluable lessons from the works and styles of F Scott Fitzgerald and writers akin to him. Fitzgerald’s eloquent prose, laden with poetic elements, underscores the importance of mastering language. 

Learning to craft descriptive, rhythmic narratives enhances the reader’s engagement and paints a vivid mental picture. Exploring the American Dream and social dynamics, much like Fitzgerald, enables aspiring writers to dive into universal themes that resonate across time. 

Understanding the disillusionment and complexities of the human experience, as depicted by Fitzgerald and writers like Hemingway, offers a blueprint for crafting multi dimensional characters and authentic narratives. 

Alongside this, the innovative narrative structures utilized by these authors, such as non linear storytelling or the use of symbolism, encourage aspiring writers to experiment with form and literary devices, resulting in creativity and depth to their work. 

F Scott Fitzgerald – Closing thoughts

Just as Virginia Woolf challenged literary conventions, aspiring writers can embrace originality, pushing boundaries and carving a unique niche. 

Ultimately, the multifaceted lessons derived from these literary greats encompass language mastery, thematic exploration, character complexity, innovative storytelling and a bold embrace of individuality; all of which are crucial elements in the journey to becoming a successful and impactful writer.

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