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Archive for the 'Short Stories' Category

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

 

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Award-winning author Joan Wickersham, whose memoir The Suicide Index, was a finalist for the National Book Award. We discussed her story collection, The News From Spain (Vintage Contemporaries).

I love the way that Joan Wickersham was able to write seven stories that vary thematically but are all titled The News From Spain. Can you think of another context for this title? That’s this week’s Write the Book Prompt. Consider ‘The News from Spain’ as a concept, and write.  If you haven’t read her book, and so don’t know what contexts to eliminate, try that much harder to think of applications that might seem a little wacky or outside the normal frame. Or maybe go read her book!

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 author Megan Mayhew Bergman. We discussed Birds of a Lesser Paradise, published by Simon and Schuster. Since this interview, Megan has published another story collection: Almost Famous Women.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about the way light is coming through a nearby window.

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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A new interview with Christine Sneed, whose new story collection is The Virginity of Famous Men (Bloomsbury USA), just out this week.


This week’s Write the Book Prompt comes from our generous guest, Christine Sneed. Choose one of the following characters and write ten interview questions for him/her:


  • Someone who works on the housekeeping staff in a Las Vegas hotel.

  • Someone who owns 30 pairs of blue jeans.

  • Someone who runs a tow truck.

  • Someone who wants a famous face.


Now answer those ten questions in the voice of the character.

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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2011 interview with Joan Leegant, author of the story collection, An Hour in Paradise and the novel that we discuss in the interview, Wherever You Go, both published by W.W. Norton & Co.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a scene or poem or paragraph backwards. It can be a piece that you're stuck on, something you're trying to revise, something you've yet to attempt. Consider how you would normally go about writing it and write it "backwards." Let this mean whatever makes the most sense for you. Is your structure chronological? Change the flow of time. Would you normally introduce your characters in a certain order? Change that order. Would you setting begin indoors and move outdoors? Swap that. Write it backwards, and see if this opens up anything interesting 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 Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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