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Guest Post

Finding the Heart in Your Story

Today’s VCFA guest post is by Pam Watts:

I decided to be a writer after some minor success with my first book when I was seven. I took a year off from college ten years ago and blithely wrote my “first novel.” Ha.

Many critique groups, writing classes, and conferences later, my novel was going nowhere. But I was serious about this writing thing, so I found myself at Vermont College of Fine Arts. They gave me a scholarship when they admitted me. I thought I was Pretty Hot Stuff. I just needed to learn to turn a prettier phrase (but I thought my phrases were already fairly pretty). Again, can I say: Ha.

Reading As A Writer

Today’s guest post is by Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA graduate, Carmela Martino:

Carmela Martino

Most writers I know are avid readers. I have been for as long as I can remember. I read so much as a child that my mother often scolded me, saying things like, “You spend too much time sitting around with your nose in a book. Get up and DO SOMETHING!”

But I WAS doing something. I was learning how to be a writer. Without even realizing it, I was studying how writers use language, create tension, bring characters to life, etc. All that reading expanded my vocabulary, refined my literary tastes, and taught me genre-specific conventions. And the best part? My education-by-osmosis was not only painless, it was pleasurable.

How Food Can Fortify Your Fantasy

Guest post by JoAnn Early Macken:

JoAnne Early Macken

I took part in a memorable Vermont College of Fine Arts workshop led by Marion Dane Bauer and Norma Fox Mazer. A tip I heard during a manuscript critique has stayed with me since then. My notes say, “Ground in reality before you can take off into fantasy—Madeleine L’Engle: start with food.”

I studied L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to see what that quote meant. The book begins with Meg Murry in her attic bedroom during a storm, remembering a fight she’d had at school and worrying about rumors of a thief in the neighborhood. She goes downstairs to make cocoa and finds her brother Charles Wallace in the kitchen.

“I knew you’d be down,” he says. “I put some milk on the stove for you. It ought to be hot by now.

Props for Emotion: The Objective Correlative Unveiled

Today’s guest post is from Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA graduate C. M. McCarthy:

C.M. McCarthy

In an episode of Family Guy, main character Peter responds to someone calling him a “degenerate” with the following line: “A degenerate, am I?  Well, you are a festizio!  See, I can make up words too, Sister.”  I’m only somewhat embarrassed to admit that this quote popped into my head the first time I heard someone use the term “objective correlative” in a writing workshop at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  It didn’t help that the person said it too fast, leaving this abashed writer to ask, “What’s an object of Cruella de Vil?”

Time to Punk-Rock with Plot: Discovering Alternative Plot Types

Today I’m very proud to be kicking off a week of guest posts by graduates of the Vermont College of Fine Art’s MFA. First up is Ingrid Sundberg:

Ingrid Sundberg

“We can all agree that Aristotle is the granddaddy of plot. Aristotle’s goal-oriented or action plot is nothing new to shout about. In fact, at this very moment, we are all busy giving our protagonists goals (like saving their families from flesh eating zombies), building up obstacles of increasing intensity, crafting the perfect climax, an emotional resolution, eating zombie brains, blah, blah, blah…yes we’ve heard it before. When we talk about plot, 99% of the time it’s going to be Aristotle’s action plot that we’re referring to.

But is this the only plot available?