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Archive for the 'Writing Craft' Category

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A series of excerpts of past Write the Book Interviews with guests who have had some association with the Vermont Book Award, which will again be presented this Saturday, 9/23/17, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. 

Missing from these excerpts are two related authors: Thomas Christopher Greene, president of VCFA, which founded the award, and Tanya Lee Stone, one of this year's judges. I simply didn't have time to excerpt all of the interviews I wanted to! But listen to their full interviews by clicking the links on their names. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week! 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Bestselling Author Ann Hood, whose new memoir is Morningstar: Growing Up with Books (W. W. Norton & Company). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Ann Hood. It is based on an exercise with which she has had good luck, from the craft book, What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. The exercise is called write a story using a small unit of time. And that’s just what you do. Write a story and ensure that it takes place within the time it takes to bake a cake, or walk to school, or drive to the airport. Contain the story within a specific period of time in order to challenge yourself to fully craft a narrative arc without using years in your characters’ lives to develop that arc: a beginning, a middle, an end. An opportunity for your character to experience some change.

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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Nadine Budbill, daughter and literary executor of the late David BudbillVermont poet, playwright and author. We discuss David's life and work, in particular one of his last publications, Broken Wing, a beautiful Vermont allegorical tale about a rusty blackbird with a broken wing. A story of loneliness, survival, tenacity and will, Broken Wing is also about music and race and what it is like to be a minority in a strange place. With a brief conversation as well from Dede Cummings, whose press published the novel. (GWP

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to read some of David Budbill's work and let it inspire you in your own writing. His work was frequently included on the Minnesota Public Radio show The Writers' Almanac. Those poems can be accessed here.

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 Poet, Publisher and Book Designer Dede Cummings, whose new poetry collection is To Look Out From (Homebound Publications).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the conversation you just heard with Dede Cummings. Dede found the title for her collection To Look Out From, by researching the etymology of the name of the town where she was raised, Matunuck, RI. Matunuck, as we learn in the collection, is possibly a term that comes from a Southern New England Algonquian term meaning “high place,” “high point,” or “to look out from.” In your own world, is there a place name or otherwise relevant term that you hear all the time but perhaps have never investigated? Maybe you live in Winooski. Did you know that Winooski comes from an Abenaki term that means “Land of the Wild Onion?” Is your last name from a place you could research and learn more about? Do a little investigative work and then write a poem, a story or an essay that is inspired by what you learn.

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 professor of English and former director of the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Eric K. Goodman. We discussed his then-new novel Twelfth and Race (Bison Books).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write a poem, a scene, or a story in which race plays some role. Write without thinking or planning. When you finish a draft, set it aside and think a little bit about what you’ve decided you’re trying to say or portray before you revise. When you finish, will you show it to anyone else?

Do you find race a hard subject to tackle? Why or why not?

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.  

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Novelist Tiffany McDaniel, whose debut is The Summer That Melted Everything (St. Martins Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt has to do with the play of expectation that was central to Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything. Her characters are not always who we expect them to be. The young man who calls himself the devil commits acts of kindness. The older man whose name implies goodness and piety is not who everyone always thought him to be. In your own world, consider a recent misunderstanding - perhaps you underestimated or misread someone, or someone underestimated or misread you - and write about that experience.

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

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Acclaimed nonfiction writer Jean Zimmerman, whose novel, The Orphanmaster, was published in 2012 by Viking.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about an interaction between two people who do not share a common language.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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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Two interviews about one book: former and current Vermont poets laureate Sydney Lea and Chard deNiord have collaborated to edit a new collection, Roads Taken - Contemporary Vermont Poetry (Green Writers' Press: Dede Cummings, Publisher). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to go outside and listen to the sounds around you - be they from birds, frogs, peepers, or your neighbors around the barbecue - and write. 

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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Paula Martinac, author most recently of The Ada Decades (Bywater Books). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Paula Martinac. Observation + imagination = fiction. Paula’s novel The Ada Decades got its creative start when, on a walk in her neighborhood, she observed an elderly woman scurrying nervously into her bungalow. Raymond Carver said he got the idea for a story when he was on an airplane and watched the passenger next to him pocketing his wedding ring just as they were landing. Think about the action of a stranger that caught your attention; you observed it, but didn’t understand what it meant and will never know for sure. Let your imagination roam and “explain” the incident in a fictional narrative. 

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 Bill Schubart, whose new novel is Lila & Theron (Charles Michael Publishing).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to consider the following lines from Bill Schubart's essay "On Exigency," and to write from that point of inspiration: 

“There is an intrinsic self-reliance in those who see life’s exigencies as challenges to be overcome. Development in the person who feels victimized and overlooked by life becomes stunted since he is always looking outside himself for someone or something to blame.”

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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