Stories are how we make sense of just about everything.

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Calm in a Crisis.

Thoughts on the Unexpected

in Writing & Beyond



Poets work to conjure a feeling, a recognition, an entire world, sometimes with fewer words than you can count on all your digits. And poet Robert Browning was the first to coin the phrase, “less is more,” in his 1855 poem, “Andrea del Sarto.” [From this same poem comes, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”] Browning, along with artists such as Mies van der Rohe, Phillip Glass, Mark Rothko, or Coco Chanel, all knew the power of less.

Understanding and embracing this concept will improve our picture book texts and prose. (Illustrators are off the hook – a picture is already worth 1000 well-chosen, jam-packed words.) Economy, however, is not the same thing as minimalism. Hemingway wrote in a minimalist style, which stripped a story to its essential, fundamental features and communicated it sparely. I’m talking writing distilled for strength. As in hootch, so in prose.

It looks easy. It’s not. One teacher asked us to reduce two pages from our novels to one. How? Few adjectives or tags, no adverbs, no filler words, one muscled word for two weak, flabby ones. Every single page was richer. Unquestionably better.

If we appreciate the miracle of arranging letters, sounds--words on a page and communicating meaning, how can we in good conscience squander this opportunity? Make each word a gem, a nugget or a booger.

Or, as Funky Winkerbean once said in his comic strip, “A storyteller’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a metaphor?”


The Creative Process: It's a Mystery

I'm a guest blogger on one of my favorite sites this week (June 29 - July 4), Through The Tollbooth. Check out this link for a random romp through the creative process and its mysteries.



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