Archive for the 'Short Stories' Category

Burlington writer and teacher, Susan Weiss. Her blog is Publish or Perish... Which Will Come First?

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Susan Weiss. Begin writing a narrative either from experience or imagination-just a sentence or two and then veer off onto a tangent. Continue for another couple of sentences and again go off on a tangent. Do this a few more times and then try to bring the narrative back to the beginning somehow, to make it feel like a full circle. So, are you left with dizziness or a sense of closure?

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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Howard Norman, award-winning novelist of The Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and Devotion. His latest is What Is Left The Daughter.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by Howard Norman's work. At one point during our talk, he mentioned that the bifurcation of place in his novels creates multiple emotional counterpoints that appeal to him. As his characters move between two or more places, he as the author needs to reestablish their lives, or shift everything, and this can be interesting. He also said, "One doesn't sit around thinking about these things, except in ways that might be instructive." And so, to the extent that it might be instructive or interesting, your prompt this week is to consider introducing a second setting into your work. If you already have a storyline that takes place between two settings, study the work you've done and consider the ways in which you've created multiple counterpoints for your characters and their story. If your narrative takes place in a single setting, consider what might change for the work if you were to introduce a second place. It might not make sense, but think about it. See if this could create an interesting shift in your story, novel or prose poem.

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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Poet and Story Writer Nance Van Winckel, author of the poetry collection No Starling, published by University of Washington Press.

This week’s Write The Book prompt was suggested by my guest, Nance Van Winckel, who keeps a folder of visual art pulled from art magazines and turns to these sheets for inspiration and to offer a writing exercise to her students. Choose a picture from a magazine. The page can be of a photograph or a painting, of a person, a group, a landscape. Look at the page that you've chosen, and consider one of the following questions:

  1. What happened just before this moment in the life of the person or the persons in your picture?
  2. What is going to happen next week?
  3. In the case of a landscape, what's happening behind that building, around that corner, over that hill?

Begin writing. See where your magazine page takes you. As Nance points out, visual imagery can be a wonderful way to access the imagination.

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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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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James Tabor, Author of Blind Descent, discusses cave exploration, writing, and  Curtis' "Eighth Wonder of the World" Barbecue in Putney, Vermont.

This week’s Write The Book prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, James M. Tabor. Next time you're considering getting up from your desk and walking away from your writing-against your better judgment-imagine yourself in a cave, two miles below the surface of the earth. Close your eyes, and consider what it might be like to have only the lights that you brought along, only the equipment that you carry on your back. Imagine yourself suspended over water, carefully making your way along the wall of a cave that has a 200-foot vertical drop. This is the sensation that can result in "The Rapture," the kind of panic attack that quickly becomes dangerous for cave explorers. Control your breathing, control your urges to flee. You can't just walk away. You have to finish what you started. Now open your eyes, feel grateful that you're no deeper than the last paragraph that stumped you, and keep writing.

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 novelist Alice Lichtenstein, author of Lost, published by Scribner.

Write The Book Prompt: One of Alice Lichtenstein's initial inspirations for her new novel, Lost, emerged from a writing exercise. You heard in our interview that she was moved to write about Corey's experience after a friend suggested they write in response to the words: "Day of Fire." This week, consider a "Day Of" exercise. Not Day of Fire, necessarily, though if that brings something to the forefront for you, go with it. But consider the theme of medicine and health and come up with a "Day Of" idea. You might use "Day of Flu," "Day of Doctors," "Day of Needles," "Day of Blood." The specific label is up to you. Use medicine and health as the overarching inspiration, and come up with a "Day Of" idea that might inspire you to 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 South Burlington High School students.

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Interview with Vermont author Creston Lea, whose story collection, Wild Punch, comes out this spring from Turtle Point Press.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Creston Lea. He says that a useful activity for writers is to eavesdrop. Go to a bar or a restaurant and listen in. According to Creston, chances are, you'll hear something worth stealing.

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

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Interview with Poet and Short Fiction Writer David Jauss.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by work of my guest, David Jauss. As we discussed in the interview, David published an essay titled, "Remembrance of Things Present: Present Tense in Contemporary Fiction," in the March/April 2002 issue of the AWP Chronicle. Here is a quote from that article:

Whatever the causes for the prevalence of the present tense in our fiction, it is important that we understand its advantages and disadvantages, so we can better decide when to use it. Our principal concern as writers ought to be to choose those techniques which best serve the particular story we're writing...

As an exercise this week, experiment with tense. If you have a story or a narrative poem that doesn't seem to be working, see what happens if you change the tense. Consider the level of immediacy that you want to bring to the piece. Think, too, about how tense affects narrative introspection, and how it might heighten or detract from the overall theme, or sense of what you're trying to accomplish. As you study the piece, written in different tenses, you may find you have an instinctive reaction about which is the best way to go.

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