Sunday, October 15, 2006

more John Gardner

"Perhaps the besgt exercise for heightening one's gift for discovering such equivalencies is the game called "Smoke." The player who is It thinks of some personage living or dead and gives his fellow players a starting clue - "living American," "dead Asian," or whatever - then each player in turn asks a question in the form: "What kind of ___ are you?" (What kind of smoke, what kind of vegetable, what kind of weather, building, part of the body, and so forth.)

As the answers pile up, everyone playing the game finds he has a clearer and clearer sense of the personage whose name he is seeking, and when someone finally guesses the right answer,the effect is likely to have something like the power of a mystical revelation. No one who has played the game with even moderately competent players - people capapble of suspending intellect for the deeper knowledge of the poetic mind - can doubt the value of metaphor for the creation of vivid character."
(pp. 32-33, On Becoming a Novelist)

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