Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Exercise Book

Reviewed this fabulous book on National Radio Wednesday - you can listen to it by clicking on the player above (you need to jig the little dot on the left a little to get it moving for some reason).

Terrific exercises in this book for the beginning writer, for teachers of creative writing courses to plunder, and for established writers who want a pick-me-up. It's been put together by the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington to fund their scholarship programme.

I've already used some of the exercises with an adult writing group I'm running locally and had huge success with them - tried a few myself, and been excited by the results. Some of the exercises are old chestnuts, others are brand new, and range from the randomly crazy e.g. Hinemoana Baker's 'Remix Mashup' to get to a poem -- to a careful unlayering of writerly craft e.g. Laurence Fearnley's exercise on writing the Big Scene in a novel.

There are warming up exercises, exercises that 'steal' from other writers, memory prompts, script writing and performance exercises and much more. Something like 60 writers contributed from Baker and Fearnley to David Vann from the US. Highly recommended.

Thursday update: My heart goes out to Radio NZ staff as they mourn the death of their colleague Phil Cottrell murdered in the weekend. While I was doing the book review, Kathryn Ryan was handed the media release about two young men being charged with his murder. You can hear the paper crackling while I'm talking. She was visibly upset as she read it out after the review ended, but being a consummate professional she continued on with the show.

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