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Archive for the 'Writing Craft' Category

An interview from 2011 with bestselling novelist Heidi Durrow, Author of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to imagine yourself on a rooftop. Look around; where are you? What city? What country? What do you see in the distance? Nearer by? Right up close, at your feet? What is the surface of the roof? Is it hard to stand? How will you get down? Is there a door, a fire escape, another sort of ladder? What can you smell on the air? Are you exhilarated, frightened, lightheaded? Who is with you and how do you feel about that person?
Good luck with this exercise, and listen 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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Award winning author and educator, Sharon M. Draper, whose latest YA novel is Stella by Starlight, published by Simon and Schuster. On the day of the interview, Sharon learned that Time Magazine had chosen her last book, out of my mind, as one of the 100 best children's books of all time. (She was in a pretty great mood, and we had a fun conversation.)

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Sharon M. Draper. You actually already heard her offer it; write every day, and write descriptions and scenes with specific detail. Look out the window. What does the sky look like, what do the trees look like? Not near a window? Write about something else near where you are: a person, a room, anything. Focus on descriptions and being specific in your descriptions. 

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

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Archive interview with Cathy Ostlere, Canadian Author of the memoir Lost and the recent YA novel in verse, Karma.

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt is to write about a friend you’ve known for a very long time, but imagine meeting that person now, instead of all those years ago. Would you have as much in common? Would you encounter each other in a very different way? What might happen?  

Good luck with this exercise 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). 

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An interview from the archives with Vermont author of fiction and poetry, William Lychack, whose books are The Wasp Eater and The Architect of Flowers.

This week's prompt is to write about New Year's Eve. It can be a true story, fiction, good, bad, epic, disastrous. Poem, story, essay - you decide! 
Good luck with this exercise 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). 
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Two interviews this week, with Vermont author and editor Angela Palm, whose new collection is Please Do Not Remove, and Vermont poet Malisa Garlieb, whose new book of poetry is Handing Out Apples in Eden. Both of these collections were published this fall by Wind Ridge Books of Vermont.

Today I have two Write The Book Prompts to offer, thanks to the generous suggestions of my guests, Angela Palm and Malisa Garlieb. 

Malisa’s is to write a personal poem using a mathematical concept or equation as the primary metaphor, as she did in her poem, "Long Division."

Angi’s is this: select an image of a used library check-out card. Use any combination of the card's features as the source of inspiration for generating a new work of prose or poetry. Perhaps you'll be inspired by a particular patron's signature, a date stamp, or the book's subject matter or author. Perhaps you'll be struck by the card's appearance or the accumulation or use or non-use. Let the image transport you to another time or place, and draft some ideas or a follow a single idea for 10-15 minutes. In revision and shaping of the draft, study the card again and allow yourself to do a little research that might further develop your initial impulses into a story or essay. You may quickly find yourself pages deep in a story you never knew you'd want to write. Angi shared these images of library cards for your prompt this week. (Open individually in new tabs for a better look at each):

Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another!

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Vermont poet and UVM Professor Stephen Cramer, whose new book is From the Hip: A Concise History of Hip Hop (in sonnets), published by Wind Ridge Books of Vermont. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest Stephen Cramer. He likes to assign this to his students, because it presents the challenge of describing something ethereal, like music, that doesn’t have a form that you can touch or see. You have to turn to metaphor a lot, and to a description from the senses. Words like “velvety,” “sharp,” and “bright.” So this week’s prompt is to write about music and see if you can use synesthesia - one sense expressed in terms of another - to launch your piece into some new, unexpected place. Lynda Hull’s poem Hollywood Jazz has at least two instances of synesthesia, if you’d like to read one that Stephen recommends. 

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

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J. Robert Lennon, whose second story collection, See You in Paradise, is just out from Graywolf Press.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest J. Robert Lennon, who is a teacher as well as being a writer, and who is working on a collection of writing prompts and exercises. He created this exercise after reading the book A Void, translated from the original French La Disparition (literally, "The Disappearance"), a 300-page novel, written in 1969 by Georges Perec, entirely without using the letter e (except for the author's name). The 1994 translation by Gilbert Adair likewise does not contain the letter e. As J. Robert Lennon pointed out to me, “there goes the past tense and every pronoun.” His exercise is this: write a one-page story about a funeral without using the letter “e.” You can’t use cemetery or grave or funeral or death or tears or dead or die. He finds that students will come up against a word they can’t use, then another and another, and the sentence becomes so terrible, they have to back up and do an end runner on the problem. Which is a great thing to do in any case. He says it often ends up being the best prose they’ve written all semester because they have to work so hard to write every single sentence.  
Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Virginia" - Starry Mountain Sweetheart Band (of which my guest, J. Robert Lennon, is a band member!) 
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Interview from the archives with Nancy Marie BrownVermont author of the bookSong of the Vikings, The Abacus and the Cross, The Far Traveler, Mendel in the Kitchen, and A Good Horse Has No Color.

Today's Write the Book Prompt, in honor of Thanksgiving, is to consider an early cooking experience (either one of your own, or a friend's or relative's) and write about that. My own might be the first time I cooked for the woman who would eventually be my mother-in-law. We were on a vacation in a remote but lovely place with terrible grocery store options, and when I opened the box of pasta (once I was all ready to boil it), it was full of bugs. But that's just me.
Good luck with this exercise 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). 


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Best-selling author Meg Wolitzer, whose new novel is Belzhar, published by Dutton.

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Meg Wolitzer, who says that dialogue can be troubling for writers. She says, “The more I read great dialogue, the more I realize that writers who let people talk and don’t just intrude are doing a great service in the book. Write dialogue with very little exposition, in which the reader has to figure out who the people are, talking to each other. There are so many clues in how we talk to each other. You don’t have to say, “Yes, Mother.” We can see that friends wouldn’t talk to each other the way a mother might." So there you have it. Write character conversations without intruding this week, and try to let the reader figure out who the people are, talking to each other in a scene of dialogue.”

Good luck with this exercise 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). 

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Robert Boswell, award-winning author of seven novels, including Tumbledown, just released in paperback from Graywolf Press

This morning, I reported to our local courthouse for jury duty. While there, I wasn’t able to do much in between the active moments of jury questioning and selection. What I ended up doing was watching people and making mental notes about their appearance, habits, and speech. So the Write The Book Prompt this week is to try to immerse yourself in a place with strangers, and watch them. See if your characters might learn something from these people: something about how to dress, how to speak, how to walk, how to use their hands. I imagine you’ll come up with new ways of presenting at least one of the characters you thought you already knew. 
Good luck with this exercise 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:


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