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Archive for the 'Writing Craft' Category

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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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Vermont Author M.T. Anderson, whose debut graphic novel was released in March: Yvain - The Knight of the Lion (Candlewick Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to re-imagine a legend, be it Arthurian, Shakespearean, Tolkien or J.K. Rowlian. Read part or all of a famous legend and write a poem, a scene, or a story inspired by your experience of what you’ve read. You don’t have to stick to the story, or even reflect it subtly. Just let it inspire you. See where it might lead to read an old tale. Here are links to a handful of possibilities to help you get started:

The Odyssey

Robin Hood

King Arthur

Romeo and Juliet

The Hobbit

A Vermont Legend about Ethan Allen

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 Vermont Poet Jane Shore. We discuss her 2012 book, That Said: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write a pantoum poem, just as Jane Shore wrote “Fortune’s Pantoum,” which she shared in our interview. Here's a link to a longer explanation of the pantoum, which comes from the site poets.org. Part of that explanation is this: "The modern pantoum is a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first."

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 Stephen P. Kiernan, whose new novel is The Baker's Secret (William Morrow). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Stephen P. Kiernan. The book he’s now writing involves the difficult task of describing art. Stephen recommends reading W.H. Auden’s "Musee des Beaux Arts," one of the best examples he can recommend of writing inspired by a painting. In this case, the painting is “The Fall of Icarus,” by Pieter Brueghel. Here's a link to the poem and the painting. Have a look, then find a work of art that’s unfamiliar to you, and write about it. Stephen says, having now done both for different projects, he finds writing about music easier than writing about art, because like narrative, music occurs through time. Both have movement, crescendo, culmination, completion… A painting is a moment apprehended that does not have 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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Award-winning and best-selling author Jonathan Lethem with his new essay collection, More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers (Melville House).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Jonathan Lethem. Writers are often encouraged to go out and eavesdrop in cafes and other places where people gather, in order to write down what they overhear and learn how dialogue works. Lethem suggests that we go out to watch people, but not so close that you can actually hear their conversations. Observe them talking to one another, and through interpreting gesture, expression, and attitude, write what you think they MAY be saying to each other.

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

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Author Robin Romm, who has edited the new essay collection Double Bind: Women on Ambition (Liveright). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Robin Romm, who teaches at Warren Wilson’s low-residency MFA in Writing Program. One thing she says she loves to do as a writer is--at the end of a day--to write lists of very specific sensory things that she ran across that day. So perhaps a shirt, a clip of dialogue, a person’s face, in no particular order. Not feelings or facts, but colors, sounds, smells, dialogue. So the texture of the couch, or the way the cat looked lying in the sun, or something the mailman said as he waited for you to sign for a package. Having these lists leads to other things in interesting ways and gets you thinking like a writer. Robin says that these snippets will help to get rid of abstract worry and thought and help to focus on scene building.  The sensory and the concrete almost always lead you into more interesting material in a way that intellect almost never does.

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 French Novelist Camille Laurens, author of who you think i am (Other Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from Camille Laurens' book, who you think i am. At one point, the character Camille, who is a writing workshop leader, suggests an exercise called “Changing the Premise.” Here is how it’s described in the narrative:

Camille suggested we work on the theme "Changing the Premise.” The idea was to take our own experience as a starting point, a disappointing, unhappy or tragic experience …  to imagine a different version, a new development, a possible ending, to invent a narrative that would reorient the actual course of our lives.

This week, our prompt is to do this exercise. Rewrite a moment in your life that was disappointing in some way. Revise it, and see where it goes.

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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British author Jane Corry, on her debut thriller, My Husband's Wife (Pamela Dorman Books). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Jane Corry. In fact, it was something she mentioned during the interview. Characters go through change in the progression of a narrative. To help you relate to the many ways in which a life can change, make a list of the larger events that have changed your life. Perhaps you’ll include births, deaths, and other lifecycle events. Did you ever experience an accident? A fire? An inheritance? Think about these larger events. Then make a list of the somewhat smaller things that have happened in the last month or even the last week. For example, if you missed a train, what did that change about your day? Did it impact some larger truth for you? What was the result? How might some similar events, small or large, change the lives of your characters?

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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