On the last Friday of each month, I like to share an interview with an author so we can get a glimpse into their writing approach and practice.
This month, I’m thrilled to share Glenda Thompson’s wise words about writing. You can find her answers below and you can find out more about her and her work on twitter at PressRattler , on Facebook at Author Glenda Thompson, or, soon, on her website. Glenda’s novel Broken Toys will be released later this year.
1. What aspects of writing are easiest for you?
Good question. I think character motivations are the easiest for me. My favorite word in the entire world is “Why?” Just ask my parents. I drove them nuts questioning everything. In college, my psychology courses were my favorites.
When I worked for a manufacturing company building single-engine airplanes and we had problem areas on the line, we would form Tiger Teams. Our sole purpose was to identify and fix the problems. We were taught to ask why, and when we had that answer to ask why again until we had gone five layers deep into the original why. I do this with my characters. It helps dig past the shallow into the root motivations.
2. What themes do you find yourself revisiting in your writing?
Personal responsibility pops up over and over again in my stories. I firmly believe that regardless of what type upbringing you had—happy childhood/horrible childhood, good family life/dysfunctional family life, have or have not growing up—at some point in time you have to take responsibility for your own actions. You must make choices. Those choices lead to actions. You can’t blame your actions on anyone else.
Most of my characters have horrendous backstories, but they learn they are the only ones who can control what they do. As my grandmother used to say, “You may not be able to control what happens to you, but you are the only one who can control how you react.”
3. Do you find yourself compelled to write or do you have to coax yourself into it?
It depends on the day. Most days, especially early in the process, I’m compelled to write. I can’t get through a day without putting down a new piece of information or another scene.
After the first draft though, I have to coax myself back to the story. It’s almost as if the characters have had their say and the initial excitement fades away. I get distracted by new shiny ideas. Did someone say squirrel?
4. What practical advice do you most often share with other writers?
It’s your story and no one can tell it like you can.
Yes, alpha and beta readers can help polish it and point out problems, but just because one person tells you a different way to word what you are trying to say or that they think such-and-such makes more sense, it doesn’t mean they are right. My take on beta readers, and I love my beta readers—you know who you are—is that sometimes they are dead on and I make the changes they suggest. Other times, unless multiple readers point out the same issue, I keep it my way.
As a writer, you have to stay true to your own voice.
5. What non-writing activity do you do that most helps you with your writing?
Definitely my photography. I’m a visual person. Taking photographs helps me see my surroundings from different perspectives. As a photographer I look at the composition from different angles. I tend to scan the edges and shoot from higher or lower angles. I love moving in tight for macro shots.
When I write, I visualize my scenes. They unfold in front of me like a movie. I use those same composition skills to look at the scene from a different perspective. I think it strengthens my scenes; adds details that I might otherwise have missed.