Ghostman has it -- consistency is your friend. Try to stick to familiar film, chemicals and paper -- Mary Ellen Mark was once asked about film and said she always used Tri-X, nothing else, and she learned how to get the most from it. I've played the game of trying different chemicals and films in the past because someone says they give this or that better result, but have found that consistency is my own key to getting what I want from what I am using.

Let your prints develop longer. Imogen Cunningham discovered that if she let her prints develop a coupla minutes longer than the norm she got better blacks and whites -- and her prints are amazing.

I've read about split grade printing -- using different grades for different areas of the print ? - but never had the energy to try it. I find the key area of my print that I know will draw the eye, make that perfect as to exposure and contrast, and let the rest follow along. If those buildings in the background are a little flat, who's going to notice if the faces are perfect and drawing all the attention?

It's like what the cab driver told you about getting to Carnegie Hall, baby -- practice.

Also keep this in mind: Some nights you can't make a good print to save your life. Dunno why, but it's the truth. On those nights take a walk, file negatives, sweep out the darkroom, or just go watch TV. Tomorrow will be better.