Mere Beauty

Capture beauty on the page and it will enliven the work.  Engage the readers’ senses with your expressive details, your moods and textures, and you’ve got him where you want him. But give him too much of a good thing, and he will soon slow his pace and skip down the page in search of […]

The Art of a Great Line

I emailed a writer friend to congratulate him on the short story he sent along for my read, and he responded with a single line: “In Errachidia on the Western Edge of the Sahara; typing on an Arabic keyboard/ Will call later in the week, back Wed/ Thanks” Now, that’s the work of a good […]

Too Much Chocolate in your Garage?

I had lunch with a friend the other day who got to talking about his grandfather’s creative business prowess. It seemed that this clever grandfather had a Brooklyn warehouse full of chocolate just as the Depression hit, and it wasn’t selling. This required some alternative thinking. What did his customers want in these dire times […]

Flamingo a-go-go . . . fixing a mistake.

If you’ve never made a mistake, you’ve never tried anything. Artist John Brickels was reminded of this when he agreed to decorate a pink plastic flamingo for a fundraiser to benefit the local arts community.  He incorporated it into one of his clay pieces, thinking he could bring his artistry to bear to “overpower the […]

How is Information Acquired?

Tiny Grinnell College, 1,500 students, Iowa, has a tradition called 100 days, so named for the fact that it occurs one hundred days before graduation. It’s a party, held this past year in the Elks’ hall, where seniors gather for the express purpose of kissing someone they’d meant to approach these past 7 ½ semesters […]

Ask Questions

The creative person lives very much in his or her own mind. This is a mixed blessing. On the up side, it’s a working world and a lot of work gets done in thinking. On the down slope, there are limits to what you can get from within. To keep the balance, engage with others […]

The Most Important Skill for a Writer

For a writer, the most important skill is observation. Something has caught your eye, demanded attention. And when you return to your work, so begins the labor—sometimes arduous—to process the fruits of your observations. It isn’t easy to just observe, simple as it may seem. A good observer sees things that others fail to notice. […]

Give your Reader a Break

Once, I attended a meeting where Robert Bernstein, then president and C.E.O. of Random House, was handed a lawyer’s memo that was so dense, he refused to read it. “Where’s the white space?” he asked, not unkindly, and slid it back across the conference table. “Give your reader a break.” I felt bad for the […]

How to Court the Creative Spark

There you are, minding your own business, working, because you always work, even if it looks like you’re just strolling down the avenue, say—and zing!—two things come together, or something comes apart, or something drops in, lands in your very path, upsets the pushcart at the corner and now hot dogs are rolling all over […]

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