Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

 

dream.jpeg

 

Vermont Author Susan Z. Ritz, whose debut novel is A Dream to Die For (SheWrites Press).

In our live in-studio conversation, Susan generously shared the following, which is now this week's Write the Book Prompt: 

Pick up a box of buttons or bows or pieces of jewelry and choose two that are somehow different from each other. Think about the people who might wear or use these things. Write a scene where they meet somewhere - perhaps a café or park - and hold a conversation that begins: "Where were you last night?" Susan says her students have found this exercise to be a great avenue into scene, dialogue, and character. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 

him.jpeg

Vermont Author Chris Tebbetts, whose latest novel is Me, Myself, & Him (Delacorte Press). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Chris Tebbetts. He, in turn, first heard about this one through the writer Matt de la Peña, who suggests writing letters to yourself from your characters, explaining what you’re getting right or wrong about them. 

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

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

frannie.jpeg

Debut author Sara Collins, whose new novel is The Confessions of Frannie Langton (Harper).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Sara Collins. 

An older woman is angry  that a pair of teenagers keeps collecting rocks and shells from the beach on which she lives. Write a scene in which she confronts them for the first time. She never tells them why it distresses her so much nor do the teenagers tell her why it's so important to them to collect the shells, though the reader comes to understand. Write the scene first from the perspective of the old woman and then one of the teenagers.  

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

lifelines.jpeg

Author Heidi Diehl, whose debut is Lifelines (HMH). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Heidi Diehl. Think about an event or a time that has been important in your character’s life but does not appear in the pages of your story. Write two versions of what happened. One should be 3-5 sentences, and one should be a full-fledged scene, spanning a couple of pages. If the outcome sparks something that feels important to include, than you should of course use it. But, as Heidi reminds us, even if you don’t use that particular scene in your story or novel, it can be useful as an exercise. Exploring our characters’ histories can give us a sense of who they are and help us bring them more vividly to the page.  

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

fink.jpeg

New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award Finalist Ali Benjamin, whose new novel for young readers is The Next Great Paulie Fink (LBYR).

Write the Book Prompt: In her new novel, The Next Great Paulie Fink, Ali Benjamin includes short interviews between her narrator and some of the other characters to provide clues about who Paulie Fink was and where he might have gone. Consider writing an interview between two or more of your own characters, to find out what they are thinking, how they talk to each other, or possibly something important that happened to them which you might not have worked out yet. You may or may not be able to use the interview in your work, and yet it could very well be helpful! 

Good luck with your work, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

My apologies for the shifting sound quality on this one. We had problems on our end with the station's internet connection - something that is being addressed in the studio. Ali, thank you for your patience! 

Read Full Post »

friends.jpeg

Bestselling Author Jane Green, whose latest is the friends we keep (Berkley).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to think back on a relationship that once meant something to you, but is no longer a part of your life. Whatever happened to that friend, cousin, teacher, neighbor? What might you have expected? Imagine a life for that person and write about it.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

sparrows.jpeg

Kurt Kirchmeier, author of the novel The Absence of Sparrows (Little Brown for Young Readers).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Kurt Kirchmeier. Write a scene or a short story from the perspective of someone whose life is profoundly changed by an intimate encounter with nature. And to make it more personal, write it in first person.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

female.jpeg

New York Times–bestselling author Meg Wolitzer, whose novel The Female Persuasion (Riverhead Books) is now in paperback. 

For a new Write the Book Prompt, write a scene in which two characters meet for the first time. The main character has long idolized the other from a distance. In the scene, have that other person let down your main character in some way. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

* Audio excerpted courtesy Penguin Random House Audio from THE FEMALE PERSUASION by Meg Wolitzer, narrated by Rebecca Lowman.

Read Full Post »

risk.jpg

Author Rachel Howard, whose debut novel is The Risk of Us (HMH). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest Rachel Howard, and I can’t wait to try it. She says that it’s a somewhat arbitrary structure she came up with when she was teaching undergraduate creative writing at Warren Wilson College:

Write a lyric essay about one of the three great forces of life: sex, death, or love.  The essay should never name whether it is about sex, death, or love, or use the word. The essay will consist of the following sections:

* A pure description of a significant place from your past.  This could be a room, a street corner, the back of a car. Use as many concrete sensory  details as possible.  Ten sentences maximum.

* A character sketch of someone from your life.  Six sentences max.

* One short description of a song.  You may quote lyrics, but not use the words "sex," "death," or "love."  Three sentences max.

* One scene with dialogue.  Any length.

* One semi-obscure scientific fact that does not seem obviously connected to the rest of the essay (but which, metaphorically, is).  Four sentences max.

Rachel concedes that it’s an unusual exercise, but give it a try, and you may well be surprised at the experience. And after the exercise generates the rough draft, you can move sections around, and start breaking the rules to fit the emerging organic form.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

N.B. A quote about trauma that I read during my interview with Rachel came from the book Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors by Heather T. Forbes and B. Bryan Post.

Read Full Post »

hockney.jpg 

Catherine Cusset, author of Life of David Hockney (Other Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Catherine Cusset. When we remember something that we've shared with another person - a story or incident - very often, two very different stories might emerge from the two perspectives. Memory is not reliable, and so different people will remember events differently. With this in mind, write the same event or story from the perspectives of two people who experience it. These can be two lovers, two siblings, a parent and child, two friends; whatever you choose. Consider how each experiences a moment in time - and the sensory details each notices (what they see, hear, smell, etc) - then write two versions of the same story.

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

 

Read Full Post »

fire.jpeg

Author Steven Wingate, whose new novel is Of Fathers and Fire (Univ. of Nebraska Press - Flyover Fiction). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Steven Wingate. He calls it “The Endless Sentence,” and it is designed as both a loosening up exercise and a means of exploration. It requires only a timer and your favorite writing implement (analog or digital). You simply set your timer for five minutes and start writing, and everything is allowed except one single punctuation mark: the period. Steven explains that writers rely on periods instinctively to separate thoughts from each other. If our thoughts feel like they’re getting too uncontrolled or scraggly, we end one sentence and start another. But if you take that tool away from yourself, you’re forced to keep flying through your thoughts with less control than you’re used to. Steven argues that this is a good thing because it means freedom—which is essential, especially early on in a project when you’re looking for a narrator’s (or character’s) voice. When you remove the period, you slip beneath your own radar and do things that surprise yourself. This can lead you to a new understanding of characters and settings, or maybe even to self-standing flash pieces with intriguing musical or formal features (e.g., lists or recurring verbal motifs). Try this especially when you’re feeling stuck or when a writing day hasn’t gone according to plan.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

kitchen.jpeg

Author, Journalist and Critic Juliet Wittman, whose new novel is Stocker's Kitchen (Beck & Branch). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Juliet Wittman. In developing a new character, try writing a series of simple sentences about the person, to find out more about his or her life and nature. For example:

List_Exercise.jpg

As you work, you may find the sentences becoming more complex and interesting, revealing important information about the character and possibly about his or her situation, guiding you toward your story.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

O_F.jpeg

Vermont authors Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy, whose new novel is Once & Future (jimmy patterson). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guests this week, Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta. When they received notes from their editor about a section of Once & Future that, for one reason or another, needed a little work - perhaps not enough was happening in a scene - they would sit down and brainstorm what they came to call “the ten worst things that could happen to your character.” The first thing was always, "the character dies." Even if this was not the answer, Cori and Amy Rose say that you have to include ridiculous things as well as possibilities. The ridiculous things loosen up the other things that might actually lead to a solution.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

wolf.jpeg

Author Christy Stillwell, whose recently released novel is The Wolf Tone, which won the Elixir Press Fiction Prize in 2017. 

This Week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Christy Stillwell. In reading Warlight, a novel by Michael Ondaatje, Christy noticed the way the author was able to use his knowledge of navigation to create haunting and vivid scenes around barges and river work near London. She set herself the task of developing some area about which she has interest and some knowledge, and learning more in order to be able to do what she felt Ondaatje had done: turn his knowledge into haunting, recurring scenes. In order to do this well, some research might be necessary. In Christy's case, the subject matter turned to haying: the growing, baling and cutting of hay. This has always fascinated her, though she doesn't do this work herself. But she enjoys watching the swathers cut the hay, and seeing the people and machines working in the fields. Christy says her interest might have been even simpler: trimming hedges or mowing the lawn. So - what subject interests you, something you know well enough that you could sit and write two-to-three pages about it, and then file those pages away to perhaps use someday when your work will benefit from a lyrical moment? 

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

stars.jpeg

A conversation with the author Joseph Kertes about his novel, The Afterlife of Stars (Little Brown). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a mis-delivered Valentine. 

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 talent.jpeg

Senior Editor at the Atlantic and American Author Juliet Lapidos, whose debut novel is Talent (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to take a familiar theme and try to turn it sideways so a reader might see something new.

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

Music: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

hotel.jpeg

Author Lyndsay Faye, whose new novel is The Paragon Hotel (G.P. Putnam's Sons).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to put a character on a train and see where she goes. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 late.jpeg

Tessa Hadley, author of the new novel Late in the Day (Harper).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was mentioned during our interview. Tessa Hadley said she needs to know who her characters are, physically, in order to write about them. She has set an exercise to students in which they pair up and write physical descriptions of each other. So this week, write a physical description of someone you know well or at least can get a really good look at. Don’t let that person see the outcome of your efforts; Tessa says this last instruction--not sharing the outcome--is imperative, insuring that you will keep the physical description that you write honest.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

rest.jpeg

 

Vermont Author J.P. Choquette, whose latest is Let The Dead Rest

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by J.P. Choquette. It has helped her to use the "fifteen-minute method" of writing, rather than trying to squeeze her productive time into the "fringe hours of the day." Set a timer for 15 minutes, and write until the alarm rings. You'll get work done, and you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment. 

I'll just add that a variation of this exercise, "The Pomodoro Technique," splits work into short segments, separated by breaks. I've had a lot of success with this approach, as well.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

 weather.jpeg

Cai Emmons, author of Weather Woman (Red Hen Press). As I mentioned on the show, the book trailer is great. Find it on YouTube

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is based on a fiction exercise created by Cai Emmons for the 2006 book Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers, by Sherry Ellis. I’ve edited the prompt for our show, but Cai’s own language can be found in that book. It’s called “Braiding Time.”

Cai opens the exercise with thoughts on how our pleasure in reading fiction is similar to the pleasure of snooping. We get a peek into the lives, physical spaces, and thoughts of other people. And in fiction, it’s okay - we’re allowed to be there, snooping! In fiction, we get to go even deeper than we can in actual life. We see into characters’ emotions and reactions; we have the right to understand both what is happening to them, and how they feel about it. Much of the process of knowing a character is learning how she thinks; this exercise helps us develop that understanding through how she experiences time, which, Cai explains, is an intricate braid of three strands: present, past, future.

Here’s the prompt:  Choose a character to write about, one you want to better understand. You are going to write four paragraphs about this character. First, write a paragraph in which your character is involved in some ongoing action: cooking a meal, searching for something that’s been lost, getting ready for an evening out--something like that. The prompt works best if the character is faced with some conflict or problem to deal with.

Staying with the ongoing activity, write a second paragraph in which this character considers something that is going to happen in the future. In the third paragraph, write about a past event that your character is moved to recall due to some trigger from the ongoing action he or she is engaged in. Finally, in the final paragraph, use elements of forward- and backward-looking to help your character continue with or finish the action. Try to make the transitions between times feel smooth and uninterrupted.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

 save.jpeg

Award-Winning Author J.M. Holmes, whose debut story collection is How Are You Going to Save Yourself (Little Brown).

This week I'll offer two Write the Book Prompts, both of which were generously offered by J.M. Holmes. They are based on exercises by the author Bonni Goldberg, in her book, Room to Write, which Jeff (Holmes) recommends. 

First, an exercise for writing place: choose three different songs from different musical genres and play each, taking 5-7 mins to write a scene where this music is taking place in the background. Second, for fleshing out character: write about what the person's room looks like; what does s(he) have in the closet? 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

luck.jpeg

Bestselling Author Kristan Higgins, whose new novel is Good Luck With That (Berkley). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Kristin Higgans. You wake up in a strange room in a strange bed and there’s a stranger in the room. He knows you extremely well, and seems to assume you know him also. Write about what happens next.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

lake.jpeg

American Novelist and Poet Rosellen Brown, whose latest is The Lake on Fire (Sarabande). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Rosellen Brown: "Use questions and answers." She has found this an intriguing way to write. She offers the Mark Strand poem “Elegy For My Father” as an example. In the poem, Strand poses a question to his father, is given an inadequate or dishonest answer, and so asks the question again, to receive a more honest answer. He does this several times with many different questions. Rosellen herself used a questionnaire to format a story in her collection Street Games, offering both standard questions like name, address, but also crazy questions, like “Have you ever wished to die at the height of the sex act?” She has found it very fruitful with students.

[Also, during our conversation, Rosellen mentioned the site S for Sentence. Seems like another great resource to check out!]

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

unsheltered.jpeg

American novelist, essayist and poet Barbara Kingsolver, whose new book is Unsheltered (Harper).

Barbara Kingsolver is one of the reasons that I write. I loved Animal Dreams, her 1990 novel published by Harper Collins. After I finished that book, the voices of Kingsolver's characters would not leave me alone (in a good way). I recalled how much I love to write, and began to write a book of my own. Since that time, writing has offered solace, inspiration, satisfaction, and a sense of achievement. Reading her beautiful prose always inspires me to go to my desk. So today - sure, call it a Prompt -  I encourage you to seek out the work you love, read it again, let it wash over and inspire you. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

gift.jpeg

Evan Fallenberg, author, translator and faculty co-director of the Vermont College of Fine Arts International MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation. His new novel is The Parting Gift (The Other Press)

One of the reviews of The Parting Gift suggests that it compels us “to confront the parts of ourselves we’d rather not look at.” This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to do just that. Write something that will compel a reader to confront something that he or she would rather not.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 birds.jpeg

From the archives, an interview with Vermont Author Megan Mayhew Bergman. We discussed her first story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise  (Scribner). She has subsequently published a second: Almost Famous Women. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find a moment that you feel is lacking in your poetry or prose, and infuse it with at least two sensory elements--visual details or details of touch, taste, sound, or smell, to try to enliven that moment in your work. Then find another point in that same piece where you can somehow echo the sensory element that you added. For example, if you first added the taste of salmon, and this is something vital to your story, perhaps later a chair can be not just orange or pink, but salmon-colored. Don’t hit your reader over the head with something, but try to find ways to echo and repeat (important) images and ideas. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

vox.png

Christina Dalcher, whose debut novel is VOX (Berkley). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Christina Dalcher. She says it works to "denormalize" our expectations. Start with something universally known with an expected outcome, and do something unexpected. The best example of this, according to Christina, is Shirley Jackson’s famous story, “The Lottery.” When we hear the word lottery, we think of something won, something positive. But Jackson’s story of course turns this on its head. Christina suggests we all read “The Lottery,” or read it again, and then try the exercise of writing something that denormalizes or defies reader expectations.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

 odds.jpeg

 

Stewart O'Nan's most recent novel, City of Secrets, came out last year. In this interview from 2012, I spoke with him about his book The Odds: A Love Story

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write a scene between either platonic friends or adversaries who find themselves falling in love. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 snow_child.jpeg

Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Alaskan Writer Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child, published by Reagan Arthur Books.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider fairy tales, a genre from which Eowyn Ivey draws inspiration. This fall, CBS is airing a new show that takes classic fairy tales and turns them into present day thrillers set in New York City. Consider a tale that might be a favorite for you, and think about how this story might inform your work. Perhaps the witch in Hanzel and Gretel could help you develop your depiction of a person who works at a subway news stand. Or maybe you see a hint of the ugly duckling’s journey into adulthood when you work to recreate your childhood best friend. Reread one of these stories, and let it give you new ideas. Feel free, as you work, to recognize the cultural cliches that might by now be outdated, and change them, play around with them. Make the Beast a woman, Beauty a man. Because, why not?

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 the-bracelet-9781451669121_hr.jpg

Interview from the archives (and my old station, The Radiator!) with writer, nurse and humanitarian aid worker Roberta Gately, author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to turn on the television, find a drama, and write down the first sentence you hear. Use that as the first sentence in a new piece of work. Of course, if it's so unique that you'll later be accused of plagerism, go ahead and take it out after you've used it for inspiration. 

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

Music Credit: John Fink

Read Full Post »

Aesop.jpg

Vermont Author Sarah Ward, whose new novel is Aesop Lake (Green Writers Press). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Sarah Ward. In her writing, Sarah tries to fully depict villains as well as the “good guys,” whose stories always do tend to be fully explored. In the Harry Potter series, for example, what do we really know about Malfoy? Why is he—a wealthy, privileged boy with two devoted parents—such a jerk? Write the backstory of a villain. What drives him to be a bully or a sadist? What makes her so dark, so villainous? What are your villains frightened of? What do they want?

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

bell.jpeg

Suspense novelist David Bell, whose latest is Somebody's Daughter (Berkley). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt concerns part of the conversation you just heard with David Bell. We discussed writing conflict, and the fact that even the best relationships are likely to have some conflict. Some of that centers on regular, every-day problems. As David said during our interview, these might be “money problems or kid problems or work problems.” Sometimes marriage is just about getting through those kinds of daily issues together. This week, write a scene of small conflict. Something that might occur in any marriage or relationship, even a healthy one. Consider what causes the conflict, what each person’s position is, why those positions might be at odds, even if the ultimate goals are perhaps the same. Maybe two parents are concerned about a child’s lack of interest in school. Mom wants her daughter to do more extracurricular activities, while Dad feels she needs tutoring and a real focus on homework. Both agree they want her to be happier and more successful at school, both have her best interest in mind. But they argue over the best approach. What small issues might crop up to cause a disagreement in your scene? Keep the dialogue moving, and don’t forget to describe the scene as it would look to your narrator in that moment. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

 Bluff.jpeg

Michael Kardos, author of Bluff, published by The Mysterious Press.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from my interview with Michael Kardos. Take a hobby, something that you do and that maybe you know a lot about, and write a scene in which a character is doing that thing--your hobby--but it is not the point of the scene. It makes for more interesting possibilities in plot and execution. Your expertise (special knowledge, tools or implements, technical information) will come through and lend authority to the entire scene.  

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

Dion_TheDependents_HCsmall.jpg

Author Katharine Dion, whose debut novel is The Dependents, published by Little Brown.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from my interview with Katharine Dion. Something that has been useful for her, and is related to the kind of stories she is interested in telling, is to look around at situations that have on first glance nothing interesting going on: a situation or setup that might at first even seem boring. Then reverse that proposition in your mind. Assume the opposite: that something fascinating is going on in the situation, or between the people you’re observing. This will give you the chance to look again at something you initially chose to dismiss. We dismiss things for all sorts of reasons, Katharine points out. Either we are fearful of what we see, or we’re made uncomfortable by it. But looking again at what we might initially dismiss can offer unexpectedly rich material.  

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

hard.jpeg

UK Novelist Allison Pearson, following her huge hit from 2003, I Don't Know How She Does It (Anchor), with a sequel, how hard can it be? (St. Martin's Press)

This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from my interview with Allison Pearson, who says she likes to help readers feel the narrative pulse by adding a line at the end of each chapter that helps the reader along. “Would she get the car out of the river?” Offer the reader the reason to read on.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

gemma.jpeg

 

Interview from the archives with the author Margot Livesey. We discussed her novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a retelling of and homage to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to read a favorite short story and write something as an homage in some way. Either retell the actual story (careful not to plagiarize, of course), or write a poem, another story, a character sketch, or something of your own invention that honors the original. 

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

 

Read Full Post »

 circe.jpeg

Award-winning author Madeline Miller, whose new novel is Circe (Little Brown). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was offered by my guest, Madeline Miller. Inspired by an Ursula K. LeGuin exercise, Madeline has used this one in her classes. She says it’s about “the elephant in the room.” Write a scene that is about a major trauma without actually mentioning the trauma. For example, have two characters talk about a death that has just happened, but neither of them mentions it. This is the elephant in the room. It is never named, but the truth of it is there in the scene.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 Hiranandani.jpeg

Author Veera Hiranandani, whose new young adult novel is  The Night Diary, published by Dial Books.

This week’s Write the Book Prompt, which was suggested by my guest, Veera Hiranandani, concerns point of view. Veera says that people aren’t always aware of why they are using the point of view they’ve chosen. She likes to suggest to her students that they switch both point of view and tense, as an exercise, just to see how different their work might feel. So if you’re writing a piece in the third person past tense (“she went to the restaurant,”) try changing it to the first person present tense (“I go the the restaurant”) or first person past tense (“I went to the restaurant”), just to see how that feels to you. It can offer a new way of looking at your writing that can be really interesting, even if you don’t ultimately decide to use it.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

 eventide.jpeg

Swedish columnist and author Therese Bohman, whose new novel is Eventide (The Other Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt, which is really more of a suggestion for how to take a break and recharge, was suggested by Therese Bohman. She likes to leave her work from time to time and take a walk. For each novel that she’s written, she has created unique playlists of music to listen to, to keep herself energized for the specific work she’ll be returning to after the walk.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

frozen.jpeg

An interview from the archives with award-winning children's author Mary Casanova. We discussed her 2013 novel Frozen (Univ. of Minnesota Press).

This week's Write the Book Prompt, inspired by April in Vermont, is to write about a place where it is cold when it should be warm, or warm when it should be cold. 

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 Screen_Shot_2018-03-27_at_10_35_09_AM.png

Vermont author Jill M. Allen, who will be reissuing her self-published story and ballad collection: The Green Mountains Deep: Fiction About Disabled Vermonters by a Disabled Vermonter, with Onion River Press (from Phoenix Books)  in the near future. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to think about your own abilities and obstacles, and write about how they affect you as you make your way in the world. 

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

 faithful.jpeg

American novelist and short story writer Yang Huang. Her new novel in stories is My Old Faithful, winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction (University of Massachusetts Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Yang Huang. Alter the rhythm of your writing to jog your creative mind. First, work on a problematic scene by focusing closely on the language, painstakingly going over every word choice, until you make it work or realize this needs to be cut.

After a short break, return to the desk and write as fast as you can, hardly reading what you wrote. Silence the inner critic for the time being, and set your mind free. Write for an hour, until you slow down, or you want to read over the passage.

Sleep on it. Edit the passage next day and throw away any material you cannot use. Analyze the movement in your narrative. What have you discovered about the story and characters?

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

Sea_Beast.jpeg 

Prize-Winning Author Michael Andreasen, whose new story collection is The Sea Beast Takes a Lover (Dutton). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Michael Andreasen. Try to find an oblique angle - an odd vector of approach. Sometimes this is as simple as not starting in the place where you have the impulse to start. So if your charaters are in a room, perhaps begin in the other corner of that room. Describe the air coming in the vents, or something happening outside the window. Or maybe a sink in a nearby bathroom is making a noise. Move the focus someplace else. We have such an urge to get to the ONE thing we want to talk about, and talking about only that thing can become boring. A dripping faucet, or an unattended child spotted through a window, about to wander into the street, can ramp up the tension.

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

winter.jpeg

New York Times bestselling author Robin Oliveira, whose new novel is Winter Sisters (Viking).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider how it must have been to live before weather could be predicted: imagine how it would be to not know if your day would hold sunshine, wind, ice, rain. Write about unexpected weather.

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

Music by Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

 Points.jpeg

 

Upon his passing in 2017, Howard Frank Mosher was recognized as one of America's most acclaimed writers. He finished his final book, Points North,  just weeks before his death. On today's show, in celebration of Howard Frank Mosher, and with the permission of his publisher, St. Martin's Press, I'll read one of the stories from this last collection, "Where is Don Quijote?"

This week’s Write the Book Prompt, drawing from the last sentence of Howard Frank Mosher’s story, “Where is Don Quixote?”  is to write about "the one thing left in this world that you are certain of."

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

great_alone.jpeg

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Kristin Hannah, whose new novel is The Great Alone (Macmillan)

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Kristin Hannah. She says her favorite trick for herself is to simply write the description of place until her characters have something to say. For example, she’ll sit and start to describe Alaska. Perhaps it will take two pages of description before she realizes what it is she has to say in that scene, and then she’s off and running.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

robicheaux.jpeg

Award-winning and best-selling author James Lee Burke, whose most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in Robicheaux (Simon & Schuster), a gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.  

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the work of James Lee Burke. Consider a human condition that is sometimes treated with contempt, and write about it with compassion. James Lee Burke does this with his depiction of alcoholics. Consider the roots of a condition such as addiction, gambling, prostitution, or petty crime, and write about it with compassion for those who suffer or are harmed by it, and respect for someone who is working to be liberated from it.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

Author Melissa Fraterrigo, whose new novel is Glory Days (Univ. of Nebraska Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by Melissa Fraterrigo. Take out a story, poem or novel by a writer you admire and look at one page. Isolate words that are evocative or “pop” for you. List them. Then use these words to write a sentence that feels like an opening—and write your own paragraph or scene and insert it into this place. Feel free to continue adding words from your list to your scene. The objective is to use language in a striking way and let it prompt you to use vocabulary different from your own.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Read Full Post »

Interview from the archives with author Tracy Chevalier, about her 2013 novel, The Last Runaway (Penguin).

In The Last Runaway, Tracy Chevalier designed a hat after a cereal bowl she had loved as a child. For your new Write the Book Prompt, look around your house, find an object and create another (fictional) object based on what you've found. Maybe you'll base a chair on a painting. Or a dress on a curtain. (Ear tug to Carol Burnette!) Write about it, or include it in a story, poem, or scene.

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

Vermont author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, whose new (and debut, after some twelve nonfiction books!) novel is Radio Free Vermont (Blue Rider Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find an article in a newspaper or other news source and turn it to fiction, while retaining the underlying thematic point of the original journalistic piece.  

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

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

Read Full Post »

« Newer Episodes Older Episodes »

Play this podcast on Podbean App