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Archive for the 'Writing Craft' Category

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#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Kristin Hannah, whose new novel is The Great Alone (Macmillan). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Kristin Hannah. She says her favorite trick for herself is to simply write the description of place until her characters have something to say. For example, she’ll sit and start to describe Alaska. Perhaps it will take two pages of description before she realizes what it is she has to say in that scene, and then she’s off and running.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Award-winning and best-selling author James Lee Burke, whose most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in Robicheaux (Simon & Schuster), a gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.  

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the work of James Lee Burke. Consider a human condition that is sometimes treated with contempt, and write about it with compassion. James Lee Burke does this with his depiction of alcoholics. Consider the roots of a condition such as addiction, gambling, prostitution, or petty crime, and write about it with compassion for those who suffer or are harmed by it, and respect for someone who is working to be liberated from it.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Author Melissa Fraterrigo, whose new novel is Glory Days (Univ. of Nebraska Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by Melissa Fraterrigo. Take out a story, poem or novel by a writer you admire and look at one page. Isolate words that are evocative or “pop” for you. List them. Then use these words to write a sentence that feels like an opening—and write your own paragraph or scene and insert it into this place. Feel free to continue adding words from your list to your scene. The objective is to use language in a striking way and let it prompt you to use vocabulary different from your own.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Interview from the archives with author Tracy Chevalier, about her 2013 novel, The Last Runaway (Penguin).

In The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier designed a hat after a cereal bowl she had loved as a child. For your new Write the Book Prompt, look around your house, find an object and create another (fictional) object based on what you've found. Maybe you'll base a chair on a painting. Or a dress on a curtain. (Ear tug to Carol Burnette!) Write about it, or include it in a story, poem, or scene.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, whose new (and debut, after some twelve nonfiction books!) novel is Radio Free Vermont (Blue Rider Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find an article in a newspaper or other news source and turn it to fiction, while retaining the underlying thematic point of the original journalistic piece.  

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Author Will Dowd, whose debut essay collection is  Areas of Fog (Etruscan Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Will Dowd, who suggests you begin writing about the weather, let your mind free-associate, and see where the winds take you!

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Author and music critic Will Friedwald, whose new book is The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums (Pantheon). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to listen to Tiny Tim singing “Living in the Sunlight,” from the album God Bless Tiny Tim, which you can find a live performance of on YouTube, and write about it. It is a trip.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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2012 Interview with John Homans, author of What's a Dog For? (Penguin

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the lives of two men born on this date: martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, born November 27, 1940, and American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jimi Hendrix, born November 27, 1942. Both men had ties to Seattle. Hendrix was born there. Lee moved there to attend college and later opened a martial arts school there. Both men struggled to achieve success in their fields, and each finally achieved it before dying young, eventually becoming a legend in his respective field. This week, consider these men and their lives and careers. Consider their fortunes, good and bad, their determination and talent. And then either write about them, or allow their stories to inform the work that you’re doing.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont author Adam Federman, whose new book is Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray (Chelsea Green).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to look for inspiration in a cookbook. So, for example, in my kitchen I do have the cookbook by Salvadore Dali, which is titled Les Diners de Gala. In opening the book, I find many things. Recipes like Lobster with Black Pearls, Ramekins of Frog’s Legs, and Tripe of Yesteryear. Maybe you’ll open a more tame cookbook, and find an inscription from a friend, reminding you of a long-ago birthday or anniversary. Maybe you’ll be inspired by a photograph of a lamb chop with mint jelly. Or maybe a recipe for turkey with roquefort will inspire you to write about a family celebrating thanksgiving in France. Whatever you find, let it be the way into this week’s writing.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Grant Faulkner whose new book is Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo (Chronicle). Grant is a very busy man this week. He is Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which begins on Wednesday, because Wednesday is November 1st. If you aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is (as described on their website, NaNoWriMo.org): "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel."

As promised, I’m offering multiple Write the Book Prompts this week. And the next two are from Grant Faulkner’s new book, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo. These might be of particular value if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this November.

  • First, Set a Goal. Set a Deadline. “This is the big moment. Map out your writing goals-big goals and all the milestones that lead up to them. Pin a piece of paper with your goals over your writing desk. Tattoo them on your arm if need be. Set deadlines on your online calendar-with reminders. Form a strategy of accountability and enact it.” That is from Grant’s sixth pep talk, “Goal+Deadline=Magic.”
  • His seventh is titled “Embrace Constraints,” and it’s in this pep talk that he explains writing sprints. So here is one more for you: “Explore the creative power of limitations. Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes and push yourself to simply dive into your novel wherever you can. This strategy is similar to the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. Bursts of focus with frequent breaks can improve your mental agility.”

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion. And if you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, good luck! Go for it! And don’t forget that the organization offers lots of support at nanowrimo dot-org.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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