Good Writing Podcast

Good Writing Podcast

The Good Writing Podcast is a show for creative writers who want to nerd out on craft. Two friends, Emily Donovan and Benjamin Kerns, read their favorite sentences, paragraphs, and other short excerpts and present craft lessons and writing exercises for fellow writers.

Episodes

March 13, 2023 55 min

Emily has Ben read sections from Eula Biss's Having and Being Had this week because she knows he loves to think about capitalism. 

How can you come up with rules to how you write about a topic? Eula Biss sets out with constraints that make her essays both dreamlike and punchy.

Good Writing is a podcast where two MFA friends read like writers and lay out craft ideas for fellow writers to steal. Co-hosted by Emily Donovan and Benjami...

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Happy (belated) Halloween, Good Writing subscribers! In today's episode, we discuss Shirley Jackson's 1959 gothic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House.

What makes this "psychological ghost story" work so well? Subjectivity. The characters tell us their subjection version of the events, which leaves the reader to fill in the gaps with maximum spookiness.

Plus, we discuss a sentence that Ben called "a literary kickflip" and a terr...

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Dune is a weird book. Some might even say, a bad book. Emily does on this episode, and so does Ben (sort of). Herbert’s prose style is definitely stilted, but what Ben and Emily get into on this episode is the absolutely strange choice he’s made to write the entire thing in third person omniscient, and they try to figure out how thinking works in fiction.

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We love insights and character motivation on this podcast! 😤 But we also like scenes that move the story forward.

This week, we discuss the hilarious Milk Fed by Melissa Broder (2021) and how she introduces a therapist character who feels realistic while still creating all of the insights that we expect when a character goes to therapy.

A link we promised to include in the show notes: Listen to Danez Smith read their poem “Dear Wh...

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In this episode of the Good Writing Podcast, Ben and Emily discuss what it means to write an image that by no right can actually be seen.

Good Writing is a podcast where two MFA friends read like writers and lay out craft ideas for fellow writers to steal. Co-hosted by Emily Donovan and Benjamin Kerns.

Twitter: @goodwritingpod 

Email: goodwritingpodcast@gmail.com

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May 9, 2022 45 min

It's been 6 months of podcasting! Ben and Emily review some of their favorite prompts and exercises from the past 25 episodes of the Good Writing Podcast.

Listen to the full episodes clipped here:

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This episode of the Good Writing Podcast deals with the ethics that the writer must grapple with when writing, especially when that writing deals with people from the so-called real world with the help of Melissa Febos' parables.

Good Writing is a podcast where two MFA friends read like writers and lay out craft ideas for fellow writers to steal. Co-hosted by Emily Donovan and Benjam...

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Borges often looked to his work as an essayist and literary critic when looking for inspiration for his fiction, be it in the form of using that fiction to better understand writing or taking on the forms of non-fiction directly. While the first of these is inevitably touched upon in this episode, we focus more directly on the formal effort of "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" to discuss ways in which writers can take formal i...

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Emily picked up The Fellowship of the Ring and bought in hard. What makes the whimsical and meandering opening work so well?

Ben and Emily also discuss listener mail and workshop peer pet peeves.

Good Writing is a podcast where two MFA friends read like writers and lay out craft ideas for fellow writers to steal. Co-hosted by Emily Donovan and Benjamin Kerns.

Twitter: @goodwritingpod 

Email: goodwritingpodcast@gmail.com

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Author and editor John Trefry joins us to discuss (among many other things) the ways in which language itself has aesthetic value, the unknowable contours of spacetime, why writing without emotion can lead you to interesting places, and death metal. Read John's writing on the Neutral Spaces blog. Visit Inside the Castle here.

Good Writing is a podcast whe...

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Today on the Good Writing Podcast we are joined by flash fiction author Brett Bieble. Topics discussed include the ways in which flash fiction approaches "perfection," the advantages of brevity, the ways that stories utilize objects, and comma patrol.

Good Writing is a podcast where two MFA friends read like write...

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Texas poet Esteban Rodriguez joins us to discuss an excerpt from Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (1965). We talk about writing about stuff you hate and combining long and short sentence lengths for realism and momentum.

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John-Paul Hurley joins us to discuss an excerpt from Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth. How can writers make the readers feel lost in memories? We also discuss unlikeable protagonists.

Other links from this week:

Good...

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We always bring ourselves with us wherever we go, even into our writing. Even if we think that writing is about something completely other to ourselves, it is impossible for that wherever to escape whoever we are. Megan Boyle takes this to the farthest extent in her autofiction piece Liveblog in which she attempted to write down every single thing that happened to her over the course of a few months. The result is a deeply personal...

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The co-editors in chief of Alien Literary Magazine join us to talk about two of their favorite pieces from a recent issue. We talk about the magazine’s reading process and two elements of craft that made these submissions stand out: momentum and juxtaposition.

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Emily has Ben read an Anton Chekhov short story about a sad lady’s sad day and discuss occasion for story. Why is this the day that you tune into your character’s life? How can we as writers make a story feel complete?

On the way, Ben and Emily get derailed by a difference of opinion sparked by George Saunders’s analysis of the story. Should you consider the reader’s interpretation and anticipate the reader’s reaction to your story...

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We discuss Richard Brautigan’s novel Trout Fishing in America and the way he seems to have no interest in following any sort of rule when he’s writing. The phrase “Trout Fishing in America” can be anything; a character, a place, the phrase itself, or maybe even something more, something spiritual. Ben and Emily talk about why that’s cool and why it’s weird.

  • Trout Fishing in America (1967) - buy it h...
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How can we make sure our readers pick up on key information when our narrator is cagey or not willing to admit the full truth?

We look at how a master, Sofia Samatar, does it in her short story "Walkdog." It has both a reluctant narrator ("Emilybait") and a weird form ("Benbait"). We also discuss the "line" between "literary fiction" and "science fiction and fantasy."

  • Read Sofia Samatar’s short stor...
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Sentence length can be used to pull the reader into the text, and a long sentence can force them to stay there. Fernanda Melchor’s Hurrican Season presents the reader with a seemingly impenetrable block of text that keeps their eyes locked the page, even whenthey might want to turn away.

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The Good Writing podcast gets its mind blown by the author of Pearl Death, Negative Space, and Amygdalatropolis; B.R. Yeager!

We discuss Blake Butler’s 2014 novel 300,000,000 and how it uses a single page to break down the barriers between book and reader, author and audience, and maybe even reality and fiction

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