• Never mow the same grass twice: Improving faster as a writer

    February 16, 2020 by

    One of the most important writing lessons I ever learned came, surprisingly, from my college trumpet instructor. “Michael,” he’d say with a heavy sigh, pulling off his glasses and rubbing the lenses with the bottom of his shirt. “You know I hate to mow the same grass twice.” It was a phrase he used a lot, in… Read more

  • Describing your Character: The Power of a Single Detail

    December 28, 2019 by

    Alexander has red hair and hazel eyes. His cheeks are fuzzy with stubble. He wears a button-down shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his forearms. On his wrist is a watch. These details build a picture in your mind of a man named Alexander. But what they don’t do is make him feel like… Read more

  • How to improve the flow of your writing

    December 21, 2019 by

    When writing a story, your prose can often feel jumbled. Muddled. Disconnected. Like it just doesn’t flow. And for a long time, I never knew a clear, tangible tactic for fixing that problem, except by feel or by trial and error. Then I learned a simple, but effective trick for improving flow: Go from the known… Read more

  • The cure for a boring character? Let them surprise us.

    December 14, 2019 by

    It’s perfectly possible for a character to be well-crafted, but painfully boring on the page. They may be nicely drawn. (Sal had wispy blond hair, knotted up in a bun with a mechanical pencil, wire-frame glasses sitting askew on her nose, and a Metallica sticker on her phone case.) They may even have a clear emotional… Read more

  • How to Write Better Descriptions Using Negative Space

    December 7, 2019 by

    The Power of Negative Space A late spring breeze drifts through the open window of your studio, carrying the scent of freshly cut grass and faint cigarette smoke. You reposition your easel to better catch the light. Then, looking at the canvas, you dip your brush into black paint, and you paint the silhouette of… Read more

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