John Gardner | On Becoming a Novelist | #12

“In writing short stories—as in writing novels—take one thing at a time. (For some writers, this advice I’m giving may apply best to a first draft; for others, it may hinder the flow at first but be useful when time for revision comes.) Treat a short passage of description as a complete unit and make that one small unit as perfect as you can; then turn to the next unit—a passage of dialogue, say—and make that as perfect as you can. Move to larger units, the individual scenes that together make up the plot, and work each scene until it sparkles.” ― John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist
John Gardner (1933–1982) was born in Batavia, New York. His critically acclaimed books include the novels Grendel, The Sunlight Dialogues, and October Light, for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as several works of nonfiction and criticism . including . On Becoming a Novelist. He was also a professor of medieval literature and a pioneering creative writing teacher whose students included Raymond Carver and Charles Johnson. When I worked at Bennington College in Southern VT I would often see him walking across the campus during the Summer Writing Workshops. Or when his white hair was flowing as he rode his beloved motorcycle on campus or away. – j.kiley

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