Today is the kick-off post for a series of four interviews, featuring writers who are not only working in the craft, they are teaching it. As part of my lead up to NaNoWRiMo, the next four posts will feature a different guest instructor who has kindly agreed to talk about the craft of writing.
I’m welcoming Northwest author, Lindsay Schopfer to the blog today. As a long-time fan of his books, and especially The Beast Hunter, I was curious about how he approaches his work.
CJJ: Are you an outliner or do you write as you think it?
LS: I like to think of myself as an organic writer, as I let the story grow naturally as I write. That’s the way that my mentor, Steve Charak, taught me. His mantra was “just get it down” and it’s served me well. Of course, it often means that I end up having to do extra revisions to make everything tie together in the end, but to be honest I actually prefer editing to first-draft writing, so it really works out for me.
CJJ: How many drafts did The Beast Hunter go through before you had it ready to publish?
LS: The Beast Hunter was something of a special case since it began life as an online serial. Each episode went through three or four drafts before being posted, and then the entire piece had to be reworked at least three times before I was satisfied with the novelization.
CJJ: A critical aspect of every story is the story arc. How has your experience in writing for the stage and developing screenplays shaped your approach to writing fiction for readers as opposed to viewers?
LS: You can get away with a lot of things in a script that you can’t do in a novel or short story. For example, all the setting description in a script is purely functional, it isn’t meant for the audience and will never be seen by anyone but the actors and crew. Also, interior description is almost totally missing in a script, unless you’re writing something with a lot of monologues and soliloquies. Because of this, I’ve noticed that I tend to write stories that focus more heavily on action and dialogue rather than elaborate set pieces or internal struggles.
CJJ: You have designed several role-play games. When you visualize an event and set it in a scene, do you see it through the character’s eyes, or through yours as GM/narrator?
LS: I’m still pretty new to the creative side of gaming. My primary experience in designing role-playing games has been developing a set of rules for a game that takes place in the world of The Beast Hunter. Currently, these games are hosted by myself and are exclusively for active members of my street team. When it comes to the storyline, I usually don’t have any specific scenes in mind for each gaming session. I’ll come up with a few instigating events, and then let the players chose where to take the story from there. It’s a lot of fun to share in the creative process in such a spontaneous way, and everyone seems to have a great time. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that some players will actually put themselves into more difficult situations rather than do the simpler thing, and I sometimes wonder if it’s their inner storyteller that wants to introduce conflict to the story, rather than simply “winning the game”.
CJJ: You are a musician. Does poetry come into your work? How does music shape your writing?
LS: You’re making me sound like quite the Renaissance Man! To tell the truth, I don’t think my music affects my writing very much. I recently started playing lead guitar in a band, but we’re just playing for ourselves right now. While I’ve dabbled with lyrics in the past, I prefer letting my guitar do most of the talking. I will say that I have some selective tastes when it comes to the music that I listen to when I write, but I haven’t seen much crossover between my musical and creative writing endeavors.
CJJ: You have a series of classes coming up in the South Puget Sound area. Can you tell us a little about them?
LS: I’ve been wanting to do more with indie bookstores in my hometown for a while now. Through a happy coincidence I happened to connect with the owner of Browsers Books in downtown Olympia, and we’re currently looking into doing some kind of regular writing class in the store’s upper room. On September 15 we’ll be hosting a free workshop called “Making the Most of Your Writing Time” to gauge local interest. My hope is to eventually have a regular class featuring a combination of my most popular workshops, peer critiques, and free-writing time.
CJJ: How can people connect with you as a writing coach and also with your online writing course?
LS: While I’d love to do an in-person writing class, I realize that most people who are interested won’t be able to come to it. As a result, I’m developing an online variant that works via Google Hangouts and Google Docs. I’m still working out the details on this, so if you have any ideas of what you’d like to see in an online writing course, feel free to let me know.
Lindsay, thank you so much for your candid answers. I hope My local area authors will seek out your classes, as I have found you to be an instructor with a sense of humor.
Lindsay Schopfer’s Author Central page at Amazon
Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @LindsaySchopfer
Next up we will have an interview with Northwest poet and author, Terry Persun, who has agreed to talk poetry and prose!