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Write The Book

Burlington, Vermont radio show about writing. For writers and curious readers, featuring interviews with authors, poets, agents, editors, and illustrators. One of Writer's Digest Magazine's 101 Best Website for Writers in 2016 and 2017.

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Graphic Novelist Brian David Johnson, author of MWD: Hell Is Coming Home (Candlewick). 

Brian David Johnson suggested a great Write the Book Prompt from his work in business journalism. Go to a Walmart or a hardware store, pick up any obscure part or item, look at where it is from, and then research that town; try to come up with a story that has to do with that place. 

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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Critically acclaimed Glaswegian crime writer Denise Mina, whose latest novel is The Long Drop (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Denise Mina. She says, if you don’t know what to write, start with the most explosive thing you can think of, and then follow all the shards.

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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Thirteen-year-old novelist Emily Rose Ross, the youngest author I've ever interviewed (and the youngest author ever to be signed by her publisher). Her debut novel is Blue's Prophecy (Title Town). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Emily Rose Ross. When Emily and Diane were half way through the editing process, they decided it would be a good idea to lay out the story of Blue’s Prophecy in such a way that the book’s motive and their goals were always visible to them. They went to Home Depot and bought a huge strip of landscaping paper. They hung it on the wall in such a way that, standing on chairs, they could write down information about individual chapters, about characters, about maps and other details. The paper kept them organized and helped them find the story arc. Emily says it helped them a lot. Her suggestion is that listeners who write do a similar thing with paper, or a whiteboard, possibly a bulletin board. I’ve also heard of writers who like to use sticky notes on a wall. All of which offers a unique new way to see your work and possibly help you plan next steps, solve problems, and stay organized.

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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New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff, whose latest novel is The Orphan's Tale (MIRA).

For today's Write the Book Prompt, Pam Jenoff kindly suggested that writers check out Nathalie Goldberg's "First Thoughts" freewriting exercise. I found a copy of the exercise online here, but investing in the original book,Writing Down the Bones, would be a good idea for any writer. It's a wonder, full of great ideas.

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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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 author Joseph Kertes, whose new novel is The Afterlife of Stars (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by our guest, Joseph Kertes, who has used it in his classes. He was once asked by a ten-year-old in his daughter’s class - where he led the after-school writing club - “How do you know if you’re a comic writer or a tragic writer?” He answered, "Well, I guess if you start writing and it’s funny, you’re a comic writer." Then he brought them this prompt, which resulted in both very sad and very funny writing outcomes.

My best friend in elementary school was born without a head. At recess, she ran like the wind.

So that’s our prompt for this week. Write in response to that sentence, and see if what you come up with is comic or tragic.

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

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