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Archive for September 29th 2009

Interview with Novelist and Middlebury College Professor Robert Cohen

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with Robert Cohen. First, let me remind you of a sentence of prose from his latest book, Amateur Barbarians: "The room, the very world, seemed a vast expectant place, like a house in the aftermath of a party." During our conversation, Robert said, "Metaphor is a kind of muscle; the more you exercise it, the more it starts to flex on its own."  He also suggested that, in writing metaphor, it's important to find "the right cast of mind for a particular character." For example, in his novel, Amateur Barbarians, Teddy, the more conventional, middle-class character, is more likely to see the metaphor about the house than Oren, who has never settled down. As Robert explained it in our interview, Oren is "a renter, not an owner," so he'd be less likely to recognize or conceive of the metaphor about the house.

As you write this week, play with metaphor. And consider Robert Cohen's advice. Work to find metaphors that are apt not only for the material, but for the character whose perspective is being presented.

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

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 Writer Rowan Jacobsen

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard with Rowan Jacobsen. In his book, The Living Shore, Rowan talks about children at play being "powerhouses of creativity." He refers to the science essayist Lewis Thomas, who suggests that earliest language was probably developed by children. In his book, The Fragile Species, Thomas writes, "...it probably began when the earliest settlements, or the earliest nomadic tribes, reached a sufficient density of population so that there were plenty of very young children in close contact with each other, a critical mass of children, playing together all day long."

Today's prompt, then, is two-fold. First, try to let go of your adult sensibilities and get playful as you write. Because it is as children that we best access the possibilities of language. The second part of today's prompt is about oysters. Recall Jonathan Swift's words: "He was a bold man that first eat an oyster." Write about that person. What was his or her situation and state of mind, to be that bold?

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

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 Writer Doug Wilhelm

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard with Doug Wilhelm. The crux of this prompt is find out what you don't know. And the advice is really twofold. First of all, decide if you need to do more research in order to move forward with your writing. What don't you know that a book or a person or the experience of immersing yourself in a situation might teach you? Do that research before continuing with your work. The second part of this advice is to ask yourself relevant questions that aren't being answered in your work, and then free write. These questions may be closer to the heart of your project than simple research. For example, if your main character is an arsonist, you might need to do research on how to set fires. But you'll also need to ask yourself, Why is my character setting these fires? What is motivating him? If you don't already know the answer, then put the question to yourself and spend some time free writing.

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

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 Writer and upstreet Editor and Publisher Vivian Dorsel

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Vivian Dorsel. During our conversation, she mentioned an exercise that she likes (by Natalie Goldberg). A similar activity might be to try writing the words "I used to," on a page, then follow that with a ten-minute free write about something you USED to do. Then write "I'm going to," and write for another ten minutes about something you're going to do.

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

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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