E.J. Runyon, author of the story collection, Claiming One, and the writing guide, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story also runs BridgetoStory.com a creative writing website. Her next book is a novel, A House Of Light And Stone due Oct 2014, and the upcoming writing guide, Revision for Beginners, is due out in 2015.
Welcome E.J. It is a pleasure to have you on Author Interview Friday. How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?
About 10 years, I’d say, collecting it all together. My short story collection got picked up the first place I sent it to. But the 17 stories had been written, edited, and polished since about 2001. That work led to Claiming One, being published in 2012 – by the first and only place I tried. They like me well enough that, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story was released next, and a novel will be out soon. Sara Jayne Slack’s baby, Inspired Quill, is a UK Social Enterprise program and that interested me much more than the idea of publication.
Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?
I may try Indy publishing one day, but so far things are via Inspired Quill. Online I have a few personae, none of which use E.J. Runyon as a screen name. So my first connection with Sara, my publisher, was through one of these forum nom de plumes. She mentioned her new press. I sent off my submission, agentless, without mentioning that we knew each other online. She had no idea what my actual name was anyway. Would I have submitted if Inspired Quill hadn’t been a Social Enterprise concern? I doubt it.
What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
(laughs) Read my latest book! No. I think you’ve got to put it all down first. Don’t spend all your energy polishing one scene or chapter. You’ll never get anywhere that way. No matter if you re-read and aren’t happy with it. Save the editing for when it all exists and you have an ending to consider. In Tell Me (How to Write) A Story I talk about highlighting what you want to edit, but holding off on the changes until you can look at a chapter or scene and see all those highlights. Knowing how often you do something– will help you stop doing it that way in the next scene you write. Editing means a writer is stepping back and seeing it all from a small distance; not cleaning up one step at a time.
Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Luckily, no. I’ve got no problem with hearing various voices in my own mind. Maybe there’s a bit of actress inside, willing to take on new roles. And I’ve studied the basic storytelling methods so that’s allowed me to stretch and try lots of different voices in my works.
Author, Jennie Nash was quoted on Writer Unboxed that she reads other novels to study structure. Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?
I deconstruct scenes from novels all the time. I’m famous for leading my coaching clients through doing that too. I’ve got whole classes on how to do a syntax deconstruction for bettering your own writing. There’s a section on that in my book too, you can follow how to do it step-by-step. Good strong syntax, when you recognize it, can be the road-signs to better writing. I try stealing as much as I can from writers whose way of saying things I admire.
Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
In 1996, it dawned on me that I’d made it to a place where my characters sounded like real people. The Narrator-voice I started with had receded to the background. I wasn’t using my words for telling, or explaining things to the reader. I think it was then that I realized ‘that way of writing’ was the storytelling ‘voice’ that people were talking about finding. Without that stilted sounding, overt describing, things began to sound right on the page for me. I knew I’d found it then.
Thank you for being with us today E.J. I am sure many people will want to log on to your creative writing website and look to your for some pointers. This writing business can be very frustrating and sometimes lonely. It helps to have someone like you in our “corner.”
Readers – here is how you find E. J. and her books
Tell Me (How to Write) A Story” Good, Basic Advice for Novices Ready To Write. By EJ Runyon