Question and AnswerInterview with Linda Teneycke On-lineco-ordinator for Creative Writing 11.

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Questions

LT: What makes a good story?

MacIntyre:Character, plot, sense of discovery.

LT:Where do your ideas for stories come from?

MacIntyre: Media, friends, family – the ethers… everywhere, anywhere.

LT:Do you have a process you usually go through as you create astory? For example, do you begin with the character and build a story aroundthat person? Do you start with a conflict or problem and then place the character in the situation? At what point do you consider the setting for your story….or is your method for developing a story different each time?

MacIntyre:I begin stories both ways, but quickly distil it into character. Setting is whatever I need to make the characters believable

LT:How thoroughly do you think through plot before you begin yourstory?

MacIntyre:Not much – it’s what I work on most while writing.

LT:What makes a truly believable character?

MacIntyre:Balance.

LT:What advice would you give students about character development?

MacIntyre:Make sure they have minor conflicts in their major traits.

LT:What is the secret to writing good dialogue?

MacIntyre:Brevity and rhythm.

LT:How do you decide which point of view is best for telling yourstory?

MacIntyre:You’ve stumped me. I have no idea.

LT:Common advice for writers is, "Write what you know."What is your interpretation of this comment? Do you think this is sound advice?

MacIntyre:You can only write what you know, and if you don’t know it, you’d better find out because you can be sure that someone will know it and challenge you if you’re wrong. You cannot write believably if you don’t "know it." That includes SF and Fantasy – in which you literally create the reality you’re talking about – and therefore know it. It’s very sound advice.

LT:Do you consciously build such devices as theme, metaphor or symbolism into your stories?

MacIntyre:Sometimes, but not often. I usually add it after I have a draft. Or remove it. Theme is not something a writer thinks about. It comes after the story is created and usually from a teacher or critic. If a story is a meal, then theme is like gas – it always comes after.

LT:What should students look for when revising their stories?

MacIntyre:Make sure it’s got all its parts: protagonist, antagonist, plot, setting and climax.

LT:Do you have any advice for students who wish to become writers?

MacIntyre:Read more than you write. Learn how to live in poverty. Expect rejection from family, lovers and publishers. (This is not advice; it's a warning.)

Take care, Rod MacIntyre, 06/11/02,