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Archive for May 25th 2009

Interview with Vermont children's novelist Kimberly K. Jones.

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guest, Kimberly K. Jones, who said that she works to better understand characters she’s having trouble with. If possible, she tries to find some point of connection between herself and a character she may find unlikable, one with whom she doesn’t feel like spending her time.

With this in mind, today’s prompt has to do with getting to know characters better, understanding who they are and what motivates them. First, think of a person about whom you aren’t writing, someone you know very well. Make a quick list of twenty characteristics specific to that person. He takes a walk at 6 every morning. He hates raisins and will pick them out of his food. He has a terrible fear of cats. Etc. When you’ve finished your list, go back and write a question relevant to your own fiction that might be answered by each of the points you’ve just made. Does your character exercise? Where and when? Is your character picky? Are there foods she won’t eat? Is your character an animal person? Might she have a great number of a certain kind of pet, or is there the chance she’d cross the road to avoid one kind of animal? Where was your character raised? Has she ever lost anyone close to her? How did that affect her? Then go through and answer these questions. Let each one raise new questions, if possible. Really get to know your character better. Perhaps she’s not likable because she lost her cousin and best friend as a child and has never again found someone to confide in. Even if that’s not the point of your story, the information can be there, behind the work, informing your writing and helping you find the point of connection that allows you to move forward with this character.

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what’s happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page. Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Vermont novelist Jim DeFilippi.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jim DeFilippi, who suggests trying what he calls “a George V. Higgins.” Rather than writing a particular scene head on, perhaps let the reader find out about an event in a secondhand way. Two characters who know what happened can talk about it after the fact, filling in detail and background through dialogue. Jim cautions that the scene should not entail one person recounting for the other what happened, but that the two characters should both understand the event and have a conversation that, in turn, informs the reader.

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what's happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page. Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with author of fiction and nonfiction, and director of the University of Iowa nonfiction program, Robin Hemley.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Robin Hemley, who has had great success using this exercise in his classes. Write about the first kitchen you can remember. Close your eyes. Spend about 15 minutes taking a mental tour. Go through the cupboards and the refrigerator, see the sink, look at the ceiling and the floor. What people can you recall seeing in that kitchen. What conversations did you hear or take part in? What smells do you remember? Do this slowly. If at all possible, consider trying this exercise in a group. Nominate someone to offer prompts to the others, working slowly and helping them to think of those not-quite-lost bits of memory that might send you in a new direction or enrich whatever you’re already working on.

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what's happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page. Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with international consultant and environmental journalist, Laurel Neme, Ph.D., author of Animal Investigators.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my guest, Laurel Neme. She mentioned her interest in keeping a scrapbook of milestones toward her success as an author, with letters of support from readers and mentors. She feels that having such a book to look at and reflect on could be a helpful tool down the road, when she might be stuck or even disheartened while working on a future project. So here’s your assignment for the week: as you work on a new project, consider keeping a journal of thoughts and ideas devoted exclusively to that particular endeavor. When  you reach a level of success with that work, turn the journal into a scrapbook. Keep mementos about the project in its pages. And keep in mind, a collection of rejections might well be followed by a single, important acceptance. Keep them all. Down the road, they might become equally motivating as you begin new projects.

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion: Keep up on what's happening with Write The Book through two new sites: the blog and the twitter page! Check them out: http://writethebook.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/writethebook

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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