Our Writer Of The Week is Barbara Dynes.
Barbara’s story, “Keeping Busy”, appears in Special 203, on sale January 20.
What I like about “Keeping Busy” is that the main character is an everyday guy trying to get by. How important is it to you to make your characters and their circumstances relevant to the reader?
Creating everyday people is very important.
“The People’s Friend” readers like to identify with the characters in a story, particularly the main one. If that person comes across like their friend or sister, they can easily empathise with him or her.
I like to think that my plots, with their solutions, might help readers find ways out of similar situations.
You are an established “Friend” writer. Are you still as enthusiastic about your writing as you were when you first began?
Yes, even more so.
Some authors write for sheer enjoyment, with no desire to get published, and that’s fine, of course.
But I like to think that someone out there — a reader I’ll never meet, living hundreds of miles away — gets pleasure, sometimes even comfort, from reading my stories.
Have you made any New Year writing resolutions?
Yes — to write faster!
I always take ages over every story, and would love to be able to speed up.
I do get the first (rubbishy) draft down quickly — so that I have something to work on — but the rewriting goes on forever.
I also write monthly articles for “Writers’ Forum” magazine, and I work in the same way with those.
Writing my book “Masterclasses In Creative Writing” had me wondering about writing a novel, but I think I’ll stick with short stories.
At my snail’s pace, a novel could take five, or even ten, years!
No-one likes a story rejection. How do you turn a negative into a positive when it comes to your own writing?
Ah, rejections; the bane of a writer’s life.
I still get them — don’t we all? But when a story is rejected, I force myself to think positively.
If I’m lucky enough to get criticism from an editor, even just one sentence, I can possibly rewrite the story for another magazine.
You can usually tell by the tone of the rejection whether the story is worth salvaging.
I always tell my students in Creative Writing classes to try not to get depressed over rejections.
Send the manuscript out to another editor as quickly as you can.
Then there’s still hope.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I’m lucky enough to have my own study and computer.
I might get an idea whilst doing something else, but that’s as far as it goes regarding working away from my desk.
There is no way I could work on a laptop in the lounge. Development of plots and the actual writing has to be done on the computer.
In my study, I face a blank wall, which helps. But our cat, Tess — named after Thomas Hardy’s tragic character, Tess of the D’Urbervilles — definitely does not help.
She sprawls on the computer keys, sending all the wrong messages!
P.S., What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
Constant market study. Pin-pointing the tone of the magazine you’re aiming for is crucial.
Another tip: always plot your short stories; know exactly where you’re going before you start writing.
That will give you the confidence to finish the story. It also saves a lot of rewriting.
Having said that, you’ll still need to revise . . . and revise . . . and revise yet again!
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