Interview with 2nd Prize Winner, Elizabeth Pratt
Where did you get the idea for your story? What came first, character or plot?
I usually start with a character that I think will be interesting, and I put them in a bad situation to see what happens. I thought of a young girl in a fading industry town, and the limited opportunities she’d have to find a brighter future. Then I gave her a weird friend who could help, and it took off from there.
What is your writing process?
I try to write every day, even if it’s just a long ramble or rant about life in general. I think it clears the spirit and gets ideas going, and often leads to odd turns of phrase or ideas that bring a character or situation to mind. I love to explore and try not to worry about the writing being choppy or chaotic because I can always come back and clean it up. The importan
t thing is to get the words down and tidy them up later. Much easier said than done, I know!
Pen and paper or straight to screen?
It depends- if I’m scribbling hurried notes and fragments of ideas, then definitely just pencil and whatever paper is available. I have way too many notebooks half-full of ‘notions’ and observations awaiting attention. But when I really get to work, I need to use a laptop as it makes it easier to write quickly with some form of organisation. I do find I have to disconnect from the internet when writing - I have the attention span of a moth and get easily distracted!
Do you have any writing heroes or favourite authors?
I love to read just about any genre, so it’s hard to narrow it down but for short stories I love JD Salinger, Raymond Carver, Penelope Lively and Flannery O’Connor. They pack a lot of story into a short form, and their characters are wonderfully flawed and real.
Do you have any advice for other short story writers?
I always advise reading as much as possible. It’s important to get a sense of form and what makes a story work, and I think that comes to you subconsciously while you’re enjoying a story. Write what you’d like to read, and don’t be afraid to go where the story leads. Timed prompts, no matter how odd, often lead to wonderful, free-range ideas that can be built upon. Writing as regularly as you can also helps establish your ‘voice’ and can let you relax and make discoveries about your style.
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