By Michael Martone
In honor of Michael Martone Day, here are two writing exercises from the "Bard of Fort Wayne, Indiana" himself:
Write a story. Double space.
Now make each sentence a stand alone.
Title each sentence. As if each were a story. (50 sentences. Fifty titles to the fifty sentences.)
In the end, collect the titles.
Arrange them as if they were a story. A story made up of fifty sentences.
In Which You Gloss
Write a story. Or take one of the stories you have already written.
Gloss it in the manner of old novel chapters. In which our Pip discovers he has a benefactor, etc.
Be sure that the gloss touches all the salient plot points, reveals the action of the piece, its moral.
Use the gloss now as the title of the piece.
Go back to the story and cut all the sentences dealing with the material now contained in the Gloss.
Michael Martone has written or edited over twenty books of fiction, nonfiction, essays, and short stories, including The Moon over Wapakoneta (FC2, 2018), Brooding (University of Georgia Press, 2018), Winesburg, Indiana (Indiana University Press, 2015), Four for a Quarter (FC2, 2011), and Michael Martone (FC2, 2005), a memoir in contributor's notes. His stories and essays have appeared in The Best American Stories, The Best American Essays, Harper's, Esquire, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Bomb, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere.
He attended Butler University and graduated from Indiana University. He holds an MA from The Writing Seminars of The Johns Hopkins University. He is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. Among his numerous awards, he received the Indiana Authors Award in 2013 and the Mark Twain Award for Distinguished Contribution to Midwestern Literature in 2016.
Michael Martone is currently a Professor at the University of Alabama, where he has been teaching since 1996. He has been a faculty member of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College since 1988. He has taught at Iowa State University, Harvard University, and Syracuse University. He lives in Tuscaloosa, AL.