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Contributor Archives: Jack Hart

Building Character: A Checklist

Copyright Jack Hart Newspaper folks talk a lot about getting people into stories. But all too often that means trotting out direct quotes from a variety of sources. True characterization taps an array of techniques that novelists and literary journalists use to bring human beings alive on the page. Characterization, unfortunately, isn’t often taught in [...]

The Comedy of Life

Copyright Jack Hart, 1999 The doctor at the Army base had a young corporal as his assistant to keep track of the paperwork. The young man was curious about the doctor’s affairs. He was always asking questions and one morning said, “In civilian life were many of your cases accidents?” “I don’t know,” the doctor [...]

Building Character in Three Dimensions

Copyright Jack Hart, 1998 We’ve heard it to the point of numbness: “Get people into your stories. Tell it in human terms.” Who’s to argue? Yup, human beings are more interesting than paper creeping through a bureaucracy. Yup, real human experiences bring abstractions to life. Yup, readers are endlessly fascinated with the peccadilloes of their [...]

Building Character: What the Fiction Writers Say

Copyright Jack Hart, 1998 Think of the great characters from fiction. Gustave Flaubert’s romantic and unfocused Emma Bovary. Mark Twain’s spunky Huck Finn. Larry McMurtry’s lusty Gus McCrae. Margaret Mitchell’s willful Scarlett O’Hara. Each is memorable because each is a whole person, carefully crafted with a volume full of specific actions, revealing words and individual [...]

The Art of the Short Story

Copyright Jack Hart, 1999 “It wasn’t by accident,” wrote Hemingway, “that the Gettysburg Address was short.” His 1932 letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, went on to lament every writer’s tendency to write too long, drifting beyond the story’s natural focus. He was, he admitted, as guilty as the next guy. “My temptation is always [...]