Paragraph of the Day: “Sports fans are like bad lovers”

Here’s a great paragraph. It carries the reader along one cliche, only to upend it with a splash of cold truth: “Sports fans are like bad lovers, jealous and infatuated at the same time. I’d play professional football for free, they say. I would sleep in the parking lot to be the first guy at … Continue reading Paragraph of the Day: “Sports fans are like bad lovers”

Paragraph of the Day: Roald Dahl’s Last Words

From an excellent New York Magazine profile of one of my favorite authors from my youth: The endings of Dahl’s stories are almost always surprising, even when we know the twist is coming. This talent, it turns out, applied equally to the author’s own life. In a hospital, surrounded by family, Dahl reassured everyone, sweetly, … Continue reading Paragraph of the Day: Roald Dahl’s Last Words

Original or Important?

There are only a few things in life that are important. These tropes and archetypes recur and recur. This presents the artist with a dilemma–focus on the important things, and risk seeming derivative, or focus on being original at the risk of spending one’s efforts on the trivial. To me, much of modern art smacks … Continue reading Original or Important?

The Best Fiction Writing Advice You’ll Ever Receive

From America’s greatest living dramatist, David Mamet: “[Every scene] must start because the hero HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.” You can read Mamet’s entire manifesto here. One other tidbit I loved: “ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT … Continue reading The Best Fiction Writing Advice You’ll Ever Receive

Line of the Day: The Ascendancy of Democracy

“Democracy, and the political freedom it almost always strengthens, is the least worst form of government (a fact that even recalcitrant, anti-modern regimes in Islamabad, Tehran, and Berkeley grudgingly acknowledge in at least symbolic displays of pluralism).” —Reason Damn, I love a good Berkeley joke. Suck it, hippies!

How Fandom Killed Journalism (And Why It’s A Good Thing)

Journalism is dead. Long live fandom. Michael Wolff, an old-school journalist, provides the autopsy in his recent Vanity Fair profile of Politico, the site for political junkies and insiders: The granular and focused and O.C.D. nature of Politico’s view of the world changes the language. Laymen can’t enter this conversation, and the people who are … Continue reading How Fandom Killed Journalism (And Why It’s A Good Thing)

“And Then They Died”: The Inevitability of eBooks

Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson John Siracusa, a veteran of eBooks for the Palm Pilot (!!!), has a great piece in Ars Technica on “The Once and Future eBook.” It’s a fascinating piece, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a long-time fan of ebooks. Back in 1999, I even organized a panel on “digital products” … Continue reading “And Then They Died”: The Inevitability of eBooks

Speechwriting, Obama-style: History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes

Much has already been written about President Obama’s eloquence. As I listened to his inaugural address (on the radio, while driving), I was struck by the way he first courts, and then confounds rhetorical expectations.Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Obama uses this allusive approach to both evoke the … Continue reading Speechwriting, Obama-style: History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes

Speaking Is Not Writing (How To Speak Well)

The following is my response to a comment from Hillary on my recent on improving your message with my “Say It Badly” technique. I thought it was an interesting enough thought to deserve reposting. *** The difference between speaking and writing is like the difference between improv and scripted comedy. There is an immediacy and … Continue reading Speaking Is Not Writing (How To Speak Well)