John Gardner Archive

Doughnuts Oozing Their Secrets: Emotion by Jo Ann Beard

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The scenes in my fiction that worry me the most, that I go over and over and that cause me no end of doubt, are the big, emotional moments. Falling in love. Getting dumped. The death of a loved one.

Serial, Timelines, and Fiction

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In "Route Talk," an episode from the first season of Serial, Sarah Koenig and her producer attempt to recreate the state’s timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee. As I listened, I was struck by how similar their exercise was to one creative writers perform.

Do-Overs: 5 Books that Tell The Untold Story

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Some of the best rewrites of classic stories come to us through the author’s imaginings of what the original doesn’t say. Through original work that transcends “fan fiction,” these stand-alone novels and plays work best when they have their own story to tell. Whether this is done through expanding narrative

Literary Blueprints: The Monster

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Despite the simple title, the Monster is perhaps one of the most complicated, shifting characters in literature, past and present. Much of defining the Monster means defining ourselves and our views of the world. No other character relies so much on perspective to explain who (or what) the evil

Retelling Tales: A Writer’s Guide

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So much of modern cinema and fiction revolves around the anti-hero and the sympathetic villain. Our culture seems to need our protagonists to be damaged or troubled in some way. It’s as if in some grand pursuit of Nietzsche’s rejection of absolutes, we can only accept shades of gray.

From the Slush Pile: Don’t Fall Flat

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Alfred Hitchcock says, “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”  That is absolutely true for the stories that are being passed on to editors. It is your job to tell the story but get rid of the boring bits. A reader wants to travel seamlessly from scene

THAT LIT, LIT LIFE (with global characteristics) 12 (of 14)

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32 years away from the city of Melbourne and I return to find it in a different “Australia.” For one thing, all the restaurants downtown were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian or otherwise distinctly “Asian.” Hidden somewhere down one street was a Greek restaurant, reminding me that 32 years ago,