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Archive for September 2015

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Critically acclaimed and bestselling author Julianna Baggott, whose new novel is Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders (Little Brown).

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Julianna Baggott, who encourages her students to use “visualization” to move forward in narrative. She suggests that her students close their eyes for each. They can take notes in between each. Here are a few examples she offered, from which you can work. Either now, if you’re all set up to do so, or later, listen to these with your eyes closed, and try to visualize what’s happening, but missing, from each prompt:

  • A Man walks out of a house* He’s dressed very strangely* He walks to a car* Opens the trunk, looks inside* reaches in*
  • A woman is running, scared – where* She runs out of breath, falls to her knees. She hears a * looks up and sees*
  • A man is sitting on a park bench. By his clothes, we assume he works as a _________ . A woman sits next to him and says something that makes no sense to us but means a lot to him, “ -------------“
  • A woman is standing in a flooded basement – things float and are soaked around her* -- she finds a footlocker, wades over to it – reaches inside to find * 
  • A boy in pajamas is outside* -- alone. He hears * but ignores it and keeps heading toward a *
Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Daniel James Brown, whose award-winning and New York Times Bestselling Book, The Boys in the Boat, has been adapted for young readers.


This week’s Write The Book Prompt involves considering history as you seek ideas for your work. Browse an antique store for artifacts of a period that interests you. As you look around, keep your mind open to the characters who might have once held this book, had dinner at this table, stitched this tablecloth. Choose two or three objects from a certain period in time, and incorporate them into a story, poem, or essay. Try not to know ahead of time what aspect of 1923 or 1968 you plan to focus on. Instead, let the objects that you find surprise you with the stories they tell and the characters they suggest.

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

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

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Author Susan McCarty, whose collection, Anatomies (Aforementioned Productions), debuted at #6 on the Small Press Distribution fiction bestseller list. 

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Susan McCarty, whose inspiration for the story "Anatomies" came from the autobiography, Berlin Childhood around 1900 by Walter Benjamin. In it, Benjamin maps his life onto the places and spaces of his youth in Berlin. For instance, he writes about the hallway where the family telephone--which he describes as "an outcast," and "my twin brother"--was hung. He writes about the Tiergarten, a park in Berlin where he first experienced romantic love. Susan suggests that, as a prompt this week, you think about your own places and spaces and map some memories onto them, however small or insignificant-seeming the place, space, memory, or emotion. Limit yourself to 600 words for each memory/place. The point here is to make an active setting for your story, and to notice the way in which setting and plot intertwine to make each other. Susan also shared a link to Dorothy Allison’s wonderful essay, “Place,” in which, she talks about how place is not a backdrop for action, but an integral part of it. For further inspiration, Susan recommends checking out the great website Mapping Salt Lake City, curated by the poet and essayist Paisley Rekdal. 

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

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Interview from the archives with Evan Fallenberg, writer, translator and director of fiction for the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv. Author of the novels Light Fell and When We Danced on Water


This week's Write the Book prompt is to observe people in a public place - a restaurant, an airport, a library, a coffee shop - and make a list of people's gestures that you can later use in your work. Authentic, original gestures will enliven your work, so that your characters don't spend every scene fiddling with that same pair of reading glasses. 

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

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

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