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Archive for June 2010

Anne Trooper-Holbrooke, Coleen Kearon, Benjamin Malcolm, and Susan Ritz: four writers working to develop their craft.

This week’s Write The Book prompt was inspired by a comment made by one of my guests. Coleen Kearon mentioned her efforts to introduce more plot, more active scenes into her prose, and to pay attention to the amount of introspection she includes. She described this effort as a move toward plot and away from too much exposition. You may have the same problem. Or perhaps, yours is the opposite problem. If you're a poet, this might not seem like a useful exercise, but the bottom line is balance. Read over your work with an eye to what you use too much of, and how you might rectify that by introducing balance. First, identify the qualities you want to balance. Action and introspection, for example. Or dialogue and exposition. Character interaction and scene setting. Take markers and highlight the parts of your work that fit one versus the other quality that you're trying to balance. Don't judge yourself as you go, but just objectively highlight the differences. And then study your work with this new colorful enhancement and work to right the disproportion.

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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James Tabor, Author of Blind Descent, discusses cave exploration, writing, and  Curtis' "Eighth Wonder of the World" Barbecue in Putney, Vermont.

This week’s Write The Book prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, James M. Tabor. Next time you're considering getting up from your desk and walking away from your writing-against your better judgment-imagine yourself in a cave, two miles below the surface of the earth. Close your eyes, and consider what it might be like to have only the lights that you brought along, only the equipment that you carry on your back. Imagine yourself suspended over water, carefully making your way along the wall of a cave that has a 200-foot vertical drop. This is the sensation that can result in "The Rapture," the kind of panic attack that quickly becomes dangerous for cave explorers. Control your breathing, control your urges to flee. You can't just walk away. You have to finish what you started. Now open your eyes, feel grateful that you're no deeper than the last paragraph that stumped you, and keep 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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Nancy Means Wright, author of Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft, joins Shelagh Shapiro on Write The Book.

This week's Write The Book prompt was inspired by my guest, Nancy Means Wright, whose work in the theater has helped her as a fiction writer. She said in our interview, "When I write, I try to see the scene in front of me as if it's on a stage, as if my characters are up there." She tries to see how her characters react to each other, how they handle their props, how they look, and what they do. She tries to experience all the shadings of their voices and expressions. "On the stage," Nancy says, "You're always trying to find the focus and purpose of a scene." Try to do the same in your work. If you're writing a scene, try to understand its focus, its purpose. If you are writing about a character who is going through an emotional experience, try the system of accessing that emotion by recalling some experience of your own. This system of acting, developed by Constantin Stanislavski, may helps you empathize with your character's situation as you try to write about it. As Nancy said in our interview, "The act of trying to become your character is something that a writer can 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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