Rewriting “The Piano Teacher” for stronger scenes

Yesterday I came to the end of The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee. It’s an intriguing read, and highly suspenseful—but among other things, it has reminded me of John Gardner’s injunction that actions in a scene should nearly always be described in chronological order. This is a point of craft I regularly teach [...]


How to combine story and idea in an essay

Why write a personal essay? One reason is that few other forms allow a writer to combine story and idea, action and thought; in short, to not only relate incidents from your life, but to muse about the implications. The question is, how to do this so that it works? You might think that an [...]