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Archive for the 'Playwriting' Category

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Author, playwright and activist Diane Lefer, whose new book is Confessions of a Carnivore, published by Burlington, VT publisher, Fomite Press. Visit Second Chances LA to read Diane's interviews with torture victims in her local (Los Angeles) community. 


This week’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Diane Lefer, who says that writers sometimes forget to consider what their characters want at different points in their fictional lives. She likes to present a character’s emotional life, and not just the facts. The prompt, then, is to write, “When I was five years old, what I wanted more than anything else in the world was…” and finish that statement. Write it again, beginning, “When I was ten years old,” and “When I was fifteen years old.” Keep going with this. Choose the intervals of time that make the most sense for your age or for that of your character. See how the desire changes, and keep that in mind as you write.

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).


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2010 interview with Vermont playwright Dana Yeaton about his play, My Ohio, and writing for the theater.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to take a scene of dialogue between two or more characters and re-write it for the theater. Block it out, consider if the lines of dialogue that exist might need to be re-tweaked to make sense on stage. Think about your characters' movements; will they be different in a theatrical version?

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

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Best-selling author of fiction, essays and memoir, Anne Lamott. We discussed Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son.

Following the interview with Anne Lamott, a partial rebroadcast from 2008, with the poet David Budbill.

As we continue to enjoy National Poetry Month, this week's Write The Book Prompt is another poetry exercise. It's inspired by the work of my first guest, Anne Lamott, whose book, Some Assembly Required, has to do with becoming a grandparent. So this week, write a poem about grandparents. Being a grandparent, having a grandparent, or whatever else this prompt might inspire for 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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Vermont Writer and Writing Coach, Tamar Cole (tamarcole21@gmail.com).

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by a prompt that Tamar Cole has used in her writing workshops. She offers a word and then has participants write six lines about that word, or influenced by that word. So let's do that. In honor of Hurricane Sandy, the word for this week's prompt is STORM. Think about the word storm, and write six lines. Or more!

Good luck with this prompt and tune in 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 poet David Budbill, author of seven books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, and many more works. His latest book is Happy Life, published by Copper Canyon Press.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the work of today's guest, David Budbill. The following is one of David's new poems from Happy Life:

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My Punishment

I get up before the sun,

make a fire in the woodstove,

boil water, make tea,

watch the dawn come.

Then I get back in bed,

under the quilt,

propped up on my pillows,

read a little, drink my tea

and stare out the window

at the snow coming down.

.

Oh, this lazybones life!

.

Others rush off to work while

I lie here in silence waiting for

a few words to come drifting

over from the Other Side.

No wonder I never make any money.

I am being punished

for having such a good time.

~ David Budbill

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The prompt this week is to write a poem that conveys an aspect of your life that is joyful or pleasant, but also conveys the truth about an associated hardship.

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).

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Anne Trooper-Holbrooke, Coleen Kearon, Benjamin Malcolm, and Susan Ritz: four writers working to develop their craft.

This week’s Write The Book prompt was inspired by a comment made by one of my guests. Coleen Kearon mentioned her efforts to introduce more plot, more active scenes into her prose, and to pay attention to the amount of introspection she includes. She described this effort as a move toward plot and away from too much exposition. You may have the same problem. Or perhaps, yours is the opposite problem. If you're a poet, this might not seem like a useful exercise, but the bottom line is balance. Read over your work with an eye to what you use too much of, and how you might rectify that by introducing balance. First, identify the qualities you want to balance. Action and introspection, for example. Or dialogue and exposition. Character interaction and scene setting. Take markers and highlight the parts of your work that fit one versus the other quality that you're trying to balance. Don't judge yourself as you go, but just objectively highlight the differences. And then study your work with this new colorful enhancement and work to right the disproportion.

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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Nancy Means Wright, author of Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft, joins Shelagh Shapiro on Write The Book.

This week's Write The Book prompt was inspired by my guest, Nancy Means Wright, whose work in the theater has helped her as a fiction writer. She said in our interview, "When I write, I try to see the scene in front of me as if it's on a stage, as if my characters are up there." She tries to see how her characters react to each other, how they handle their props, how they look, and what they do. She tries to experience all the shadings of their voices and expressions. "On the stage," Nancy says, "You're always trying to find the focus and purpose of a scene." Try to do the same in your work. If you're writing a scene, try to understand its focus, its purpose. If you are writing about a character who is going through an emotional experience, try the system of accessing that emotion by recalling some experience of your own. This system of acting, developed by Constantin Stanislavski, may helps you empathize with your character's situation as you try to write about it. As Nancy said in our interview, "The act of trying to become your character is something that a writer can do."

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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Interview with playwright Dana Yeaton, whose new play, My Ohio, opens at FlynnSpace with the Vermont Stage Company on 4/21.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Dana Yeaton, who uses prompts and exercises when he teaches. He recommended a joint prompt, requiring two people. Each person will need a piece of paper and something to write with. You'll be writing two dialogues between what we'll call character A and character B. The partners are told (or together create) the first line for character "A." It might be, for example, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." Each person writes that line and then writes character B's response to that line. You then switch papers, and write character A's response to the most recent response written by your partner. Switch papers again, respond, and keep going. As the exercise unfolds, you'll create two dialogues, all from that initial line. Dana says that what's really fun in this activity is that each person has to respond.

There should be no talking. No planning, no plotting. Each time you switch pages, you'll find yourself once more in a new situation. What would be an interesting next step? What would drive this story? Watch out for impulses that take away from or sabotage the story. You don't want the first response to the line, "I wouldn't do that if I were you," to be, "What?" And if someone writes, "Here, then, you take the gun," the response shouldn't be, "That's not a gun, that's a pickle."

Within 6-7 minutes, you'll have co-written two dialogues. As Dana explains, this exercise is pretty open-ended, it's quick, and it produces two outcomes.

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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Interview with author Robert Vivian and Burlington business owner Norbert Ender. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Monday afternoon from 2-3 p.m. - a new time.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my first guest, Robert Vivian. In his work with students, he occasionally distributes postcards from small towns, and asks each student to write a note on that card to a fictional recipient. Look at the postcard and imagine you’re traveling across the country and you’ve landed in this small town. Use the postcard as a trigger and write to someone. It could be someone who’s wronged you in the past or it could be a beloved person. You might be writing this postcard due to a situation that you’re fleeing. “Dear Randy. Hello from the middle of nowhere. I’m in a diner. Icicles are hanging down from the roof.  I’m driving to Santa Fe. I have 20 dollars in my pocket. I can’t stop thinking about the last time we spoke…” Etc. Invent a situation and write. Let the postcard be a trigger, and lose yourself in the creative act. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink

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Interview with Rosellen Brown, award-winning writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, author of such books as Before and After, Half a Heart and Civil Wars. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Rosellen Brown. This exercise is also taught by Nicholas Del Banco in his courses at the University of Michigan. Take two classic books and have the characters from one show up in the other. Write a scene in which a character from Mrs. Dalloway appears in The Sun Also Rises. What might happen? Would Pip, from Great Expectations, be a good friend for Tom Sawyer? Would Mr. Darcy be attracted to or repulsed by Daisy Buchanan? This may seem a little silly, but writing playfully and having fun is better than staring at the blank page. Like all exercises, this one might help you to open your mind and discover new things about voice.

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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