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Archive for July 2016

A conversation with Douglas Glover, founder, publisher and editor of the online magazine Numéro Cinq

This week’s Write the Book Prompt, generously suggested by my guest Douglas Glover, is an "aphoristic mad lib." Doug began studying aphorisms early in his writing career, once he realized what they were and how they were used by certain writers he admired. This is from the Numéro Cinq website: “Generally speaking, aphorisms are terse, pointed sayings meant to provoke thought and argument. There are several basic types, but they often set up as definitions or clever balanced antitheses or even puns.” Doug recommends approaching the aphorism as a formal experiment. Decide which type appeals to you, and then sit down and write some. Don’t write just one; write many. Don’t spend too much time. Play with them, see what happens. Don’t think about what you mean ahead of time. The exercise is meant to be an act of discovery. After you’ve written some, play with putting them into thematic passages in your work. A few examples:

  • If you have a scene where a husband and wife are fighting, insert a love aphorism. “And what is love? An erotic accident prolonged to disaster." (Douglas Glover, "Bad News of the Heart") 
  • Have a scene where you want to compare and contrast two types of people? "There are two kinds of readers; the adventurers who glory in the breathtaking audacity and risk of a well-turned aphorism and the weenies who, lacking courage themselves, find it affront in others." (Douglas Glover sent this in an email “to a recalcitrant student.”) 
  • Here’s one that I wrote for a Numéro Cinq Aphorism Contest, back in the days when Numéro Cinq had more contests. “Truth prowls in mansions of wit.” 

So to start, just play around with these types:

1) The definition aphorism: 

_____ is _____.


2) The two (or three) kinds aphorism: 

There are two kinds of ______: the _______, and the ________.


Here's an article that Douglas Glover wrote about epigrams and aphorisms, in case you’d like to read more about this.

My previous interviews with Doug can be found here and here


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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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UCLA Professor Emeritus Ralph Frerichs, author of Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti (Cornell University Press). This nonfiction medical mystery explores how the greatest cholera epidemic in recent times arose in Haiti. The book follows French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, who conducted the investigation, and presents a case-study of how humanitarian organizations and their followers react when difficult truths become uncomfortable. 


This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to study a map, and write about what you see there, what you learn, what places you suddenly want to travel to.


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


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A new interview with Abby Frucht, co-author with Vermont writer Laurie Alberts of A Well Made Bed (Red Hen Press). 


This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Abby Frucht. She recommends considering an "invented collaboration." Write the first page of a story or the first set of pages of a novel. Choose a favorite author whose work you respect, who you feel you can learn from. Then pretend you've asked that author to write the next page (or equivalent number of pages) of your new project. Write their part, keeping in mind what you admire about their work, and see what results. Abby says this gives you license to choose an author from whom you feel you can learn. 


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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont author Richard Hawley, whose new novel is The Three Lives of Jonathan Force (Fomite)

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Richard Hawley. He recommends that writers learn a bit about Jungian archetypes if they aren’t already familiarthose universal, mythic characters that exist within each of uswhich Jung said are not just stories or structures, but are alive. They work on you, Jung would say. So read about archetypes, such as the star-crossed lovers, the hero’s journey, the hero’s miraculous birth... Find one that appeals and sketch or write a naturalistic in-this-world narrative in which that archetype is expressed. Use the architecture of the archetype to write a naturalistic narrative.


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


Music credits1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Novelist L.S. Hilton, whose new thriller is Maestra (Zaffre). And a new book chat with Claire Benedict about summer reads, 2016.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was inspired by Gary Lee Miller’s conversation with L.S. Hilton. Her book, Maestra, is, as the author puts it, brand heavy. She mentions that her character, Judith, finds herself in the world of new money, which doesn’t think about art in terms of aesthetics but only in terms of financial gain. Art and pictures, she says, are reduced to commodities. They of no more interest or worth to many of the characters in the book than a Chanel jacket or a pair of sunglasses. Hilton says, “It was about making a connection between the commodification of the self -- something that has happened to Judith as a result of social media.” This week as a prompt, consider how you, or one of your own characters, responds to brands and to the commodities of our society. Write a scene or poem about this, either in your own voice, or in that of one of your characters.


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


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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