Improve your prose with Math


Alright fiction writers, put down your pens for a moment and let’s talk math.

If you recoil when hearing the “M-word” or brace your index fingers into a cross at the sight of algebra or calculus books—you’re not alone. But according to Alex Nazaryan’s article, “Why Writers Should Learn Math,” writers  could improve their prose by embracing math instead of cowering from it.  Nazaryan states:

What ballet is to football players, mathematics is to writers, a discipline so beguiling and foreign, so close to a taboo, that it actually attracts a few intrepid souls by virtue of its impregnability. The few writers who have ventured headlong into high-level mathematics—Lewis Carroll, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace—have been among our most inventive in both the sentences they construct and the stories they create.

So if you feel your writing has become formulaic, try dusting off those old math books hidden in the shadows of your bookshelf; who knows, you might find an equation for more inventive prose waiting for you inside.

Pat Johnson is currently working on his master’s in Fiction Writing at San Francisco State University, and is the owner and editor of the satirical news website The New Porker. When Pat’s not reading or writing he’s likely squeezing a lime into a Tecate and headed to the dance floor. He also creates short films, documentaries, and sketch comedies. Pat is completing his first novel, The Virgin and Marilyn Monroe, and writing a book of Creative Non-Fiction short stories. More from this author →