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Archive for the 'YA Fiction' Category

Writer and musician Tommy Wallach, whose debut YA novel, We All Looked Up, came out in March from Simon & Schuster.

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tommy Wallach, who says that, although a lot of prompts focus on description and sentence-level writing, he feels that the hardest part about writing is actually story. Tommy suggests sitting down and, in half an hour, writing out three-act structure plot with no description or dialogue. 

The three-act structure has to do with creating the beginning, middle, and end of your story. Aristotle wrote of exposition, rising action, and resolution. In cinematic terms, the three acts are setup, confrontation and resolution. Here’s a website that discusses three-act structure, in case you’d like to read up on it. It’s something I found on the Indiana University website, and it has a shark.

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).


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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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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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Children's and YA author Jacqueline Woodson, whose new novel, Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books) is short-listed for this year's National Book Award. 

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jacqueline Woodson. Choose an age between five and fifteen and write down everything you remember from that year of your life. Who were your friends? Where did you live? What clothes did you wear? What music was playing? What did you love; what did you hate? Write without lifting your pen until you can’t remember anything else, and then start making stuff up. 
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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Vermont author Alec Hastings, whose first novel is Otter St. Onge and the Bootleggers: A Tale of Adventure, published by The Public Press.

This week I have two Write The Book Prompts, generously suggested by my guest, Alec Hastings. In his classes, Alec offers his students prompts for their twice-a-week journal entries. He says, “I supplement the prompt with an anecdote that helps them see how even one word can be spun into many. For instance, before Thanksgiving, I gave table as a prompt. After letting my students give me blank stares for a moment or two, I launched into a description of my grandmother's kitchen, the cast iron cook stove with the hot water reservoir; the wood box; the bench with the lid that lifted and allowed boot storage beneath; the basketball-sized cookie jar shaped and painted like a ripe, red apple; the fresh baked bread and cookies that awaited us every day when my brothers and I returned home from school; the oaken, claw-foot table upon which meals were eaten and around which we gathered for conversation, dessert, and many a colorful tale; and not least of all, my grandmother, the heart of the kitchen and the source of the good smells, the good cheer, and the grandmotherly love that enfolded us all.” On the day that I spoke with Alec, he’d offered his students the prompt: Scary experience. So there you go, consider the word table, or consider scary experience, or both! And write.

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


Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)


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2009 interview with Vermont Author Doug Wilhelm, whose latest novel, The Prince of Denial, came out this month. 

Today’s Write The Book Prompt is to write a story or poem in which someone runs out of gas.

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 South Burlington High School students.



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Author Lewis Buzbee, interviewed at the request of a listener. (Thanks, Shannon!) We discuss his middle-grade novel Bridge of Time, published by Feiwel and Friends, and his nonfiction book for all readers, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, published by Graywolf.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Lewis Buzbee. He calls this "the memory thief," and it's a timed writing exercise. The memory thief is on his way to your house. You have just ten minutes before he gets there. You get to keep any of your memories that you manage to write down before he arrives. Anything you don't get on paper is lost to you. Write madly, without censoring yourself or taking time to edit. Lewis says that wonderful, weird images will come out of this prompt, and people almost always start in childhood.

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

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a former Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School graduates).

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Mary Casanova, award-winning children's author of novels and picture books, including Frozen, published by University of Minnesota Press. You can watch a trailer about the book here.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Mary Casanova. Write about an image that has haunted you.

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

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a former Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School graduates)

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2009 interview from the archives with award-winning poet Natasha Sajé.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to draft an essay for the New York Times Modern Love column. Their submission guidelines include the following advice: "The editors of Modern Love are interested in receiving deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood...any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading Modern Love. Ideally, essays should spring from some central dilemma the writer has faced in his or her life. It helps if the situation has a contemporary edge, though this is not essential. Most important is that the writing be emotionally honest and the story be freshly and compellingly told." So draft an essay for the column. Set it aside for a week. And then decide what, if anything, you might want to do with it. Revise and perfect it and send it to the NY Times. Or take the material you put into that draft and turn it into a poem or a story or a new aspect of another work in progress. Or maybe you won't want to take it further. But the act of creating that first draft is your prompt for this week.  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).

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Literary Agent April Eberhardt, who works with clients in both traditional publishing venues and e- and self-publishing venues.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a poem that includes at least six of the following ten words, which I've chosen by scanning through a back issue of a favorite literary journal:

Spear, Makeshift, Sporadic, Glue, Wrestle, Pull, Bargain, Tributary, Feast, Grainy

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).

Listen Now:


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