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Write The Book

Burlington, Vermont radio show about writing. For writers and curious readers, featuring interviews with authors, poets, agents, editors, and illustrators. One of Writer's Digest Magazine's 101 Best Website for Writers in 2016 and 2017.

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#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Kristin Hannah, whose new novel is The Great Alone (Macmillan). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Kristin Hannah. She says her favorite trick for herself is to simply write the description of place until her characters have something to say. For example, she’ll sit and start to describe Alaska. Perhaps it will take two pages of description before she realizes what it is she has to say in that scene, and then she’s off and running.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Award-winning and best-selling author James Lee Burke, whose most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in Robicheaux (Simon & Schuster), a gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.  

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the work of James Lee Burke. Consider a human condition that is sometimes treated with contempt, and write about it with compassion. James Lee Burke does this with his depiction of alcoholics. Consider the roots of a condition such as addiction, gambling, prostitution, or petty crime, and write about it with compassion for those who suffer or are harmed by it, and respect for someone who is working to be liberated from it.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Kim MacQueen interviews Soto Zen Priest Brad Warner, author most recently of It Came from Beyond Zen! More Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen Master (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) (New World Library)

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This week's Write the Prompt involves a sentiment you can find discussed in Brad Warner's new book, It Came From Beyond Zen! The idea comes from 13th century Japanese Zen Master Eihei Dogen and is translated and explained by Brad in his book. I’m paraphrasing it here: Treating people right falls into four main behaviors: free giving, kind speech, being helpful, and cooperation. If you’d like to read Brad's actual translation and more analysis about these four ways to treat people, you’ll want to turn to the book. But if you can, take in the basic premise behind these suggestions, and use them in your work this week. Somehow try to infuse your writing, or maybe the actions of a character, with the ideas of free giving, kind speech, helpfulness and cooperation.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Author Rick Smolan, whose new book is The Good Fight: America's Ongoing Struggle for Justice (Against All Odds), co-authored by Jennifer Erwitt.

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This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today. Many thanks to Rick Smolan for providing some photographs from The Good Fight for me to post on the podcast site. (See below.) Have a look at these pictures, and then write whatever you might be moved to express. You can have a closer look by right-clicking (or control-clicking) on each image to open it in a new tab. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro  Signing of 19th Amendment to the US Constitution

Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro                                           1920: KY Governor Morrow signs 19th Amendment

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi  Photo Credit: Nuccio Dinuzzo

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi                                        Photo Credit: Nuccio Dinuzzo

Photo Credit: Doug Mills  Photo Credit: Johnathan Bachman

Photo Credit: Doug Mills                                               Photo Credit: Johnathan Bachman

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Author Melissa Fraterrigo, whose new novel is Glory Days (Univ. of Nebraska Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by Melissa Fraterrigo. Take out a story, poem or novel by a writer you admire and look at one page. Isolate words that are evocative or “pop” for you. List them. Then use these words to write a sentence that feels like an opening—and write your own paragraph or scene and insert it into this place. Feel free to continue adding words from your list to your scene. The objective is to use language in a striking way and let it prompt you to use vocabulary different from your own.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Interview from the archives with author Tracy Chevalier, about her 2013 novel, The Last Runaway (Penguin).

In The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier designed a hat after a cereal bowl she had loved as a child. For your new Write the Book Prompt, look around your house, find an object and create another (fictional) object based on what you've found. Maybe you'll base a chair on a painting. Or a dress on a curtain. (Ear tug to Carol Burnette!) Write about it, or include it in a story, poem, or scene.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, whose new (and debut, after some twelve nonfiction books!) novel is Radio Free Vermont (Blue Rider Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find an article in a newspaper or other news source and turn it to fiction, while retaining the underlying thematic point of the original journalistic piece.  

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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An interview from the archives - and from a previous radio station - with Mary R. Morgan, author of Beginning With the End, A Memoir of Twin Loss and Healing.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a person who is lost. Interpret the word "lost" in whatever way might help you as you work.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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English journalist, broadcaster and novelist Elizabeth Day, whose new novel is The Party (Little Brown).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by something Elizabeth Day said in our interview. Have a look at the details in a scene you are perhaps struggling with, and see if there are words that can come out, or one aspect of detail. Ask yourself, how would this sentence read if I just took out this word, or that embellishment? Often, as Elizabeth said in our interview, it’s the most cliched word. Think of it as taking off a jangly, loud golden bracelet.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Author Will Dowd, whose debut essay collection is  Areas of Fog (Etruscan Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Will Dowd, who suggests you begin writing about the weather, let your mind free-associate, and see where the winds take you!

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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