One of the great pleasures of writing is meeting other writers and I’m always curious about how they work. Today I’m welcoming Wendy Clarke to find how she goes about creating her fabulous stories.
I’m always fascinated by how other writers work because everyone has their own way of working. Are you a plotter or do you just start off and see where the story takes you?
When it comes to short stories, I am definitely not a plotter. I start with just the seed of an idea – a snippet of conversation, a line of a poem, a memory maybe. Once I have that starting point, I sit down and start to write. I write from all perspectives – male, female, young and old and I find that a character will just pop into my head and say, ‘This is my story’. Once I’ve got a decent amount of the story written, I usually take my dog for a walk and that’s where my missing story pieces are found and where all the strands come together. Writing the end is then simple. During the process, there’s not a single note or plan in sight.
Do you ever write yourself into a corner and have to scrap work and find another way?
No, I don’t think this has ever happened to me. Every one of the two hundred or so stories I’ve started have been completed. On the odd occasion when things don’t seem to be working, I usually just try the out in a different tense and that seems to do the trick.
How many drafts of a story do you do?
One only. I edit as I go along then, when my husband comes home, I get him to proof read it for me. I rarely change anything plot or structure wise once the story is written.
Which do you prefer first draft or editing and why?
Oh, the writing of the story, definitely. Especially if it’s a story that just flows and I can lose myself in it. Editing is just a chore!
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
Personally, the best piece of writing advice I was given was by my tutor, Anne Hamilton, from the online course Writing Classes. It was she who advised me to send some of my stories to the women’s magazines. If I hadn’t, I’d never (five years on) be doing what I am now and my three story collections (all stories previously published in national magazines) would never have been written. Without that advice, it’s possible I might not have carried on writing after the course had ended.
Do you think you’d be the writer you are now if you’d started writing earlier? How has your life experience contributed to your success?
Like a lot of writers, I really wish I’d started writing earlier. That way I could have taken advantage of the many magazines that still accepted fiction – now there are so few to submit to. The problem was, I didn’t even think about writing until after the school I was teaching in closed down and I was made redundant. The writing course was suggested to me by my brother. If he hadn’t mentioned it, I don’t know what I would be doing now. Probably not writing and I certainly wouldn’t have written two novels.
Short sharp answers
The Italian film, Life is Beautiful. It’s both funny and desperately sad.
Tea or coffee?
Am I allowed to say both?
You are given a travel ticket to anywhere, where will it be?
That’s easy. It would have to be a Greek island. Each year, my husband and I find a new one to visit. We just love the slow pace of life, the food and the scenery.
Advice to your teenage self.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself forward. No one else will do it for you.
Thank you, Wendy, for explaining how you write your stories, and as a planner I am in awe of your ability to work without planning them first!
To find out more about Wendy and her work you can visit her excellent blog wendyswritingnow.blogspot.co.uk or find her stories in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly.
Wendy has published three collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart, The Last Rose and most recently Silent Night and has just finished writing her second novel.