Archive for the 'Writing Craft' Category

NH novelist Toby Ball, whose third novel is Invisible Streets, published by Overlook Press. 

This week I'm offering two Write the Book Prompts on the website. The first is to write about a move. (The Radiator moved last week - did you know?) 
The second is to write a poem or story using ten words that I've pulled at random from the pages of Toby Ball's Invisible Streets. They are: neighborhood, knock, tourist, gaze, exhausted, slump, artificial, masterstroke, grip,crack. 
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, now alums). 

Listen Now:


2010 Interview with Canadian author Douglas Glover, founder of the fantastic website, Numero Cinq.

Today's Write the Book Prompt is to write a paragraph about a character who finds a photograph on the street and comes to some sort of realization or new understanding.

Good luck with this exercise and please tune in next week for another!

Listen Now:


Interview from the archives with the poet Robin Behn. Three years after this interview, in 2011, Robin's collection The Yellow House was published by Spuyten Duyvil.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to ask a friend to put a difficult-to-identify object into a bag for you to then reach in, feel, and write about. Make sure it's a friend you trust. 
Listen Now:


Rachel Urquhart, author of The Visionist, published earlier this year by Little Brown.


This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was inspired by my conversation with Rachel Urquhart. Study your paragraphs for redundant or superfluous closing sentences. Rachel Urquhart did this in her final edit of The Visionist, and realized that these unnecessary wrap-up sentences closed many of her paragraphs. When Rachel mentioned it, her mother-in-law, who’s a historian and a writer, realized that she also did this in her work. Have a look at your own prose. Maybe you’ll find that you do it, too.

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, now alums). 

Listen Now:


Two Interviews: Jojo Moyes, author of One Plus One, published by Pamela Dorman Books, a Viking imprint; and Heath Hardage Lee, author of Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, published by Potomac Books, An Imprint of the University of Nebraska Press.

Today’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my second guest on the show. Heath Hardage Lee suggests that, when seeking new material, you look in your own back yard. Remember that she discovered Winnie Davis by happening to notice her portrait while her mothers’ friends were playing bridge. Likewise, be sure to look closely at your own city or community for material that is exciting or unusual. Often we miss what’s right in front of our nose.

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, now alums).

Listen Now:


Interviews with Vermont author Chris Bohjalian, whose new book is Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; and Sue William Silverman, whose new memoir is The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo Saxon Jew.


Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my second guest on today’s show, Sue William Silverman. (In our last interview, Sue and I discussed her book on craft: Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir, which has a lot of excellent exercises.) Sue says one interesting exercise can be to  get a photograph of yourself from another period in your life, such as when you were a kid, and write one paragraph that describes what you see in the photograph. Then write another paragraph about what was happening outside the frame of the photograph. For example, Sue looks at a lot of photographs of herself as a kid, in which she is smiling and looks really happy. Nobody would know she was "dying inside" at that time in her life. So she might write the first paragraph about the pretty young girl who is beaming from ear to ear. But then she might write a second paragraph about what's not taking place in the picture, which for Sue might be to write about growing up in this incestuous family—that maybe her father even took the photograph, so maybe he is forcing her to smile, to convey the idea that theirs was a happy family. Sue says this can be an interesting exercise in comparing and contrasting what else might be going on. You have a picture, great; but is it telling the truth? Or is there another truth that's happening outside the frame? 

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, now alums). 

Listen Now:


Interview from the archives with Kate Atkinson, whose latest novel is Life After Life. We spoke in 2011 about her most recent Jackson Brody novel, Started Early, Took My Dog.

This week’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by Kate Atkinson’s latest book, Life After Life, published in 2013. Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In crafting Ursula’s narrative, Kate Atkinson played quite a lot with time: the passage of time and the way events might change if lives could be repeated with changed insight or enhanced sense of premonition. This week, try to play around a little bit with time. Don’t necessarily have a character come back to life over and over, but perhaps present a single moment in time from various angles and perspectives. Or do something different with time - something unexpected and perhaps not quite chronological.

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, now alums).




Listen Now:


Write the Book's 300th (!) episode features an interview with Philip Graham, author of two story collections, The Art of the Knock and Interior Design; a novel, How to Read an Unwritten Language; and The Moon, Come to Earth, an expanded version of his series of McSweeney's dispatches from Lisbon. He is also the co-author (with his wife, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb) of two memoirs of Africa, Parallel Worlds (winner of the Victor Turner Prize), and Braided Worlds. Dzanc Books will reprint The Art of the Knock, Interior Design, and How to Read an Unwritten Language as ebooks this summer.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with the author Philip Graham. We spoke about the appearance of objects in written work. As Philip mentioned, his 1979 short story, “Light Bulbs,” chronicled how a couple coping with the “empty nest” grew to form relationships with the light bulbs in their home, almost as a substitute for their absent children. This week, as you work, consider the objects that show up in your work. In particular, pay attention to those objects that already exist there. Try to understand what they might be doing for your story, and how your appreciation of their existence might deepen what you’re writing.

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, now alums). 

Listen Now:


Interview from the archives with Richard McCann, author of Mother of Sorrows (Vintage 2006).

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt, in honor of father’s day, which was yesterday, is to write 500 words about a father and child. Use sensory detail and specifics to convey as much as you can about this relationship without using backstory to tell the reader all about their history, and without falling into sentimentality. 

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, now alums).

Listen Now:


Vermont children's author and bookstore owner Elizabeth Bluemle, whose latest book, Tap Tap Boom Boom, came out in March from Candlewick Press.


This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Elizabeth Bluemle. Write a paragraph using only words that have four or fewer letters. This is not an exercise in writing for children. Write about an experience. One that works very well, says Elizabeth, is to write about how you got a scar. Almost everyone has at least one small scar. The outcome might seem stilted at first, but it makes your brain work around itself and take pathways you’re not used to taking, to express something. Interesting things always come out of doing that. You are tricking your brain into discovery.

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, now alums).

Listen Now:



Loading Plays
329Episodes
Quantcast