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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Interview with Flash Fiction Runner Up, Heidi Scholes

Heidi Scholes graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and went on to have a wonderfully varied career. From driving a taxi to managing a technical writing department, it all encouraged her creativity.

She wrote stories and poems starting in grade school, but got serious a few years ago when she became active in an online writers group. While plugging away at a novel, Heidi sharpens her skills with short stories and especially likes flash fiction. Her poems have been published in an anthology.

This isn’t the first time that Muffin readers have encountered her work. Her story, Served Cold, won Third Place in the WOW! Women On Writing Winter 2016 Contest.

If you haven’t read Wishing, her entry in the Winter 2017 contest, click through and enjoy. Then come back so that Heidi can share her insights into the writing process.

Interview by Sue Bradford Edwards

WOW: What was your inspiration for Wishing? Where did the story start? With the character, the situation, the ending?

Heidi: I don’t know a single woman past a certain age, who doesn’t wish she were younger. As the years add up, some women accept the physical changes of aging better than others. I’ve had friends who have gone to great lengths trying to stave off the inevitable, and I was thinking of some of them when I wrote the original story about 4 years ago.

WOW: Your character's plans didn't quite turn out, did they? What about your plans? How did the story change during the writing process?

Heidi: Since that original version, I have tweaked and rewritten it many times - usually the result of getting good reader feedback. Character development and motivation, and the ending have all changed several times, only the idea has remained basically the same.

The challenge in writing any story is always to write a whole story, with a real character and a believable plot. The additional challenge of Flash Fiction is to do it in a very small word count. With that said, I doubt this is the last iteration for my story.

WOW: Your bio mentions that you are also writing a novel. Can you tell us something about it? Is it contemporary? A mystery? How does writing flash fiction help you hone the skills you need to complete this larger manuscript?

Heidi: My Novel. Stalled. I’m afraid my love of flash fiction has NOT been a help with the larger project, quite the opposite, in fact. Flash allows me to go off on tangents and flights of fancy instead of having the discipline to stick to one thing. That is probably more indicative of a personal character flaw than any intrinsic problem with writing Flash Fiction. But I know I will buckle down someday.

WOW: Multiple projects are definitely an issue for some of us. Let’s move away from that uncomfortable topic, shall we? You have a degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and have worked as a cab driver and managing a tech writing department. What drew you to these varied things and how do they feed into your work as a writer?

Heidi: I’m still an artist. The only difference is now I paint with words. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great experiences, through work and play, and all of it colors my writing. I learned a lot about people driving a cab because I came into contact with a wider variety of people than I would have ever been able to meet on my own. When I drove, we didn’t have partitions between me and the passengers and I think it encouraged conversation. I learned if I asked the right questions people would tell me their stories.

WOW: What an excellent job for a writer! What advice do you have for someone who is considering trying to write flash fiction? What is the most important thing you can tell them? What mistakes should they avoid making?

Heidi: I think anyone considering writing a flash fiction should just jump right in and do it. What do they have to lose? Absolutely nothing but a little time. And they might be pleasantly surprised with the result. I think the most important thing is to figure out your story (beginning, middle and end) before you start. Think of it as a road map.

The other important thing is be prepared to edit, edit, edit. In small word count pieces like Flash Fiction, every single word has to earn its keep, meaning it has to either move the story forward, or it has to show character important to the story. You don’t have the luxury of overwriting. And also be prepared to kill a lot of “darlings” – those beautiful little gems that you write and love but don’t add a whole lot to the story.

WOW:  Kill a lot of darlings.  I think we all need to remember to do that especially when we are writing short.  Dear Readers, check out our contest page for details about our next flash fiction contest!

1 comment:

  1. Sue--Thanks for doing this interview. Heidi--Your story certainly appeals to all women "of a certain age." When I got to the end of "Wishing," I was grateful for my wrinkles and my lumps. Perhaps there is something worse than getting old (besides dying)?


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