Writing Inspiration At Iowa Arboretum

arboretumSignI took the guided tour at the Iowa Arboretum this month.

Joe McNally, horticulture project manager, hosted the adventure.

This wasn’t the usual point-and-recite canned ritual. Joe didn’t regurgitate memorized notecards or read endless signs.

Instead, he spoke from his heart. Along with stirring descriptions, clear down to each tree’s Latin name, my tour group got a bonus:


Bad tour guides are like many struggling writers. They fixate on the WHAT.

All that’s left out?

1. Why they care.

2. Why we (guests, or readers) should care.

Not Joe. He found ways to tell and show why these unique trees on the 40-acre site are worth knowing…and loving.

After the tour, I praised him on his expertise and skill at exciting others about trees.

He confirmed a hunch of mine, replying:

“I like what I do.”

Don’t tell your readers that. SHOW them.


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