February 2018 Short Story Runner-up Interview – Brittany Miller

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Rounding out the top three from the public vote is the talented

Brittany Miller

Brittany Miller lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband, where she has been writing for several years. She has a collection of short stories available on Amazon, and her blog for both readers and writers is at www.writelikewind.wordpress.com. There you can find links to her Twitter and Facebook.

Congratulations to Brittany, her short story, They Come To Me At Night, came in third with the public vote, getting Brittany:

Brittany gave us an interview with her insights which may help you with your Blank PAge Challenge submission!

Welcome to The Blank Page Challenge top three interview, can you tell us a little about yourself?

My husband and I like to dance the tango, play video games and table-top RPGs, and we know American Sign Language. I love movies about as much as writing, especially science fiction. I don’t write full time, I poke it in whenever I can. I self-published a collection of post-apocalyptic short stories, and have a few new collections on the way. I recently started a blog where I share what I’ve learned about writing, behind-the-scenes info on new indie books, with a few events. I’m also getting started in editing, and offer ten free pages. You can find the details on my blog.

 How long have you been writing and are short stories a medium you’ve worked in before?

I have always liked writing, and have dabbled in it here and there while growing up. But I’ve been taking it seriously for about two years now. While writing a novel is one of my dreams, I’ve been focusing on shorts. Ray Bradbury said he wrote 1,000 short stories before he wrote his first novel, and Fahrenheit 451 is now a classic. I believe that all writers should start with shorts to really practice the craft.

What about The Blank Page Short Story Challenge made you want to get involved?

I think that writing competitions are fun. I’ve been in a few, although I didn’t win, and I’ve written a lot of stories from themes or prompts that never would have been thought of otherwise. They help you focus on one story and getting it as tight as you can when there’s a word limit. Also, a deadline can be a nice little push. (And it was free, which was definitely the deciding factor.)

Did you enjoy working with our prompt? Did you find inspiration easily or did you need to work on it?

My husband likes to give me ideas for stories, and a while back he said that I should start a story with the line, “They come to me every night.” I didn’t have anywhere to go with it, so I filed it away in my brain. When I saw the photo prompt, it came back to me, and I merged them together. Sci-fi is my favorite, and most of my stories have that kind of bend, and when I saw the picture, I thought of aliens and made up a story of why a person would be out there.

What was the hardest part of writing your story for the Challenge?

The ending. (Spoiler alert!) In my original ending, Jerry goes out there and sees something in the distance. We never know if it was aliens or not. Had he really saved the world? He’d never find out and no one would ever believe him. I liked the idea of the crazy getting passed on to him. While I like open endings, I worried that wouldn’t be satisfying enough. So I changed to what it is now. I could have used just a handful more words though!

Do you have a process or rituals for writing? If so, what sort of things do you do?

Not really. I have a playlist I usually listen to while I write. For some stories I like to write on paper, for others, I like to type. I often have a vague idea of where the story will go, but I like to jump in and see where it leads. The best part of writing is when you are surprised by what happens in your own story.

When we notified you that you’d made the top three, how did you celebrate?

I think that we went out and got yummy coffee. I do love a latte… Then I think I went and wrote some more.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to enter our next short story challenge, which starts on Monday 19th?

I would say that the single most important thing I have learned about writing is: make sure something happens. It’s so tempting to paint a word picture, or to have a character sit there and ponder on his life and how he came to be there (I still do it myself.) I think those stories can be good, but writing competitions aren’t the place for them.

So often I’ve seen the advice, make the character want something, and then make it hard for them to get. This can be so difficult in just one thousand words, but it’s a good exercise and will be interesting and engaging. Also, just keep on writing.

If you’d like to hear more from Brittany, check her out on Twitter, Facebook or on her website here: www.writelikewind.wordpress.com

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