It’s a real pleasure to welcome our writing treasure on to my blog. I have Lynne’s book, ‘writing from life,’ on my bookshelf – and if I ever need inspiration it’s one I reach for. The other two, ‘ghost writing’ and Handy hints for Writers’ are also books of mine, that I treasure, and I’d recommend them all.
Lynne’s writing career began when she had a letter published in ‘Woman’s Realm,’ the same as me. Now she has a regular column in Writing magazine, and this month, for Halloween, she tells us how to cast a writing spell, which I will be doing of course. Over to Lynne:-
Q1. S/ Lynne, I’m a massive fan of yours because I like your style, and mostly your humour. What was the title of the first fiction story that was accepted by a Woman’s magazine, and which magazine was it?
L/I’d been writing humorous articles on family life for My Weekly but was desperate to get some fiction accepted and now I can’t remember what it was. (Actually, the articles were 50% fiction) I can be excused for the lapse in memory as it was over 30 years ago (and probably written in my school exercise book and illustrated using wax crayons as I was such a baby back then). What I can tell you was that My Weekly bought it. I had followed the pattern of a published story. The main character had a problem at the beginning of the day and solved it, through her own efforts, before bedtime. My first dozen published stories all had that day-long time-span. I’ve had over 400 published now and am currently all story-ed out and working on other things.
S/ How long would you say it takes you to write a typical woman’s magazine story?
L/ Anything from an hour to twenty years. Yes, some arrive fully formed and others sit patiently in my In Progress folder and have been moved from old computer to new, several times, and eventually the bit that was missing arrives and the story gets completed.
S/ I enjoy your column in writing magazine each month, for the variety of topics you cover, and the common sense advice. If anyone was thinking of becoming a columnist, what advice would you give?
L/ Don’t! Only joking. I enjoy writing my regular features. I do five each month under different names but I sometimes get nightmares. I dream of opening up a magazine and my regular page/column is blank because I didn’t get around to writing it. So, if you want a regular column and are lucky enough to get one then be prepared to work hard, think ahead and never miss a deadline.
S/ I think you’d make a great agony aunt. Is that something you would do, if the opportunity came your way?
L/ I would LOVE it. Not sure if the troubled people writing in would though. I tend to be one of the ‘shut up moaning and get on with it’ brigade. There’s so much to be grateful for in everyone’s life. My cousin once told me I’d led a Charmed Life which goes to prove that no-one knows what goes on in anyone’s life. I never forget that. Everyone has problems and some people can’t cope with theirs while I’m like a terrier and shake mine until they’re resolved, though some can’t be and I’ve learned and am learning to live with those. If I was to be an agony aunt I’d have to remember three things – 1. To be kind 2. To be sympathetic and 3. Not everyone is as strong as I am.
S/ Recently, you were the writer in residence at Creative Frontiers. Did they provide you with your own writing room, or did you mingle, and what’s the food like over there?
L/ They put me in a padded cell and force-fed me chocolate.
S/ Am I right in thinking you are a tutor for writing magazine? If so, what’s the most common mistake you see in fiction stories that would stop an editor buying that story?
L/ I’ve been a tutor for Writers’ News Home Study courses for 20 years now. Once I realised how long it was I started hinting about a gold clock. No-one’s taken it on board so far. I enjoy teaching students and have had many successes but some make the same mistakes over and over. I’d say the most common are Telling instead of Showing (if you’re not sure, go to my writer in residence workshops on Creative Frontiers and read all about it) and what I call Cinderella syndrome. That’s where the main character does nothing about their problems and someone else steps in (fairy-godmother) and does the solving for them. If I’d written Cinderella she’d had got off her backside, ripped down some curtains, made a dress for herself and hopped on a bus to get to the ball.
Thanks, Lynne for taking the time to answer these questions.
Thank you for asking me and giving me the opportunity to leave my WIP and do something different and frivolous. I like frivolous.
You can read more about Lynne and what she gets up to from the links below. She also has a monthly slot on Creative Frontiers.
Racing Start – a Kindle best-seller. Fast paced cycling fiction for 8-12 yr olds
Handy Hints for Writers – Compass Books
Writing From Life – How To Books
Ghostwriting – Aber Publishing
Thank you Lynne for a great interview. And glad you’re a fellow giggle blogger as well…