Point of view

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 [...]


Writing Memoirs and Reportage: Camera, or Participant?

If you’re writing a memoir or other form of first-person nonfiction, you must decide from the outset: do you want to be a camera, or a participant? If you’re a camera, you’ll see everything that happens and relay it to your readers in great detail—yet at the same time, you’ll play down or even conceal [...]