Interview with Winter 2016 Flash Fiction Runner-Up, Tricia Berry
If you haven’t read Tricia’s story, “Good,” click on through and see the world through the eyes of Annie, a girl who is struggling to find her way in the system.
WOW: What compelled you to enter the flash fiction contest? What other types of writing do you do?
Tricia: I made a decision at the beginning of this year to either enter a writing competition or submit to a respected journal, either print or online, at least once a month. For now, I write short stories and flash fiction. But who knows what I might write in the future? I’ve also written web articles, mostly about natural health.
WOW: With all of your experience writing, you’ve definitely clocked a lot of time rewriting various pieces. How did "Good" change between first idea for the story and final draft?
Tricia: I’d say the story developed, because the initial kernel was very small. The development was all about who Annie was and about her journey. It was about why she was in foster care in the first place, what her life had been like before which gives us a sense of what she’d lost, how long she’d been in the foster care system, how she’d changed in that time--and how she hadn’t. That was important too.
WOW: And you do give us, the readers, a lot of insight into Annie’s character. Flash fiction is such a tight form, but you work a lot more backstory into “Good” than I typically see. How did you decide what details to include and what to omit?
Tricia: Annie’s backstory pretty much came to me as I wrote “Good”. When I revised and edited, I didn’t need to cut too much of it. I tried to include what gave the reader a sense of who she was and where she’d been, where she’d come from, and what she cared about. I discovered these things about Annie as I went along. I saw that I wanted it to be clear that she had had parents who loved her, and whom she’d loved.
WOW: Can you share something about your writing process with our readers? What does your typical writing day look like?
Tricia: I wish I had a typical writing day! As far as my process goes, I spend a lot more time on revising, editing, and rewriting than on the original writing. I’m pretty sure this would be the case even if I were an inveterate planner or outliner, which I’m not. Every single time I go over a story I’ve written, I see something to do that might improve it. Part of the trick for me is knowing when to stop, I think.
WOW: What recommendations do you have to writers who have never attempted flash fiction but want to try it?
Tricia: Flash fiction is a lot more fun to write than I had imagined before I tried it. I thought it would be harder than it is, too. I love the challenge of telling a story in so few words. It makes you decide what’s really important, and that makes you dig deep, in spite of the shortness of the form—or maybe because of it.
It’s exhilarating to explore the moment of the story until you’ve got only what needs to be in it, and have chosen just the right words to tell it. The restriction of the word count somehow becomes, for me at least, liberating.
WOW: Thank you for giving our readers a look into how you created “Good” and how they might go about writing their own flash fiction. Good luck putting more of your writing out into the world!