How did she do that??

Today I’m welcoming back Fran Metzman on her blog tour for The Hungry Hearts, now available from Wilderness House Press.  I’ve been in an online writing group for several years now.  I picked a few of the questions we always ask our guests and picked Fran’s brain for answers.

1. How long was the process for The Hungry Hearts from concept to publication day?
I have been writing these stories over a period of about 15 years. Many were published in
literary journals that emanated from college and university journals. More recently, some were
published in online journals. Many of my stories have an eerie quality, not in a supernatural
sense but rather in the lengths people go to fill emotional voids. I’m more conservative than the
stories imply. I think in my next life I want to get more daring and edgier. Now I can do that
through fiction.

2.  Tell us about your editing process. Do you edit as you write or finish a draft and then edit?
I try to write right through a piece when I have an idea no matter how incomplete or
flawed. I do resumes on the main characters and try to develop a rough plot line. Then I return
for the hard work of editing. That editing process may change the piece dramatically or not, but
it is a necessary task. One short story may be edited ten or more times until I have made it as
seamless as possible. You want the reader to be compelled and pulled into the story and that
comes with self-critiquing and an outside educated person or persons reading it.

3. I know you’re in an in-person writing group. Do you like in-person groups or online groups better? Which do you prefer for critiques?

I have been in my writing group for approximately 12 years – an extraordinary length of
time for a writing group to stay together. At the time we started, I was already teaching a creative
writing workshop at Border’s in Marlton, NJ. A group of dedicated writers broke off and we
started meeting off-site. I’m a face-to-face person. I like a writing group in an old-fashioned
sense where you know the person, worked with them over time and trust them. That is not to say
you don’t trust online critiquing, it’s a matter of a bunch of people being together and feeling
comfortable with each other even though you know they are going to rip your skin off.
4. What kind of support structure do you have? Family? Friends? An editor with a bullwhip?
My family and friends are very supportive of my writing but my writing critique group is
my bullwhip. I try to keep friends and family out of being in the position to critique my work. I
think it puts pressure on them especially if they have to give you unpleasant opinions. It can
make them feel awful. My critique group is objective and the tough and that works.
5. What advice would you give to new writers?
I feel very strongly that potential or new writers learn the structure of fiction which is still
expected in pieces submitted for publication – even non-fiction. I find a lot of opposition to this
theory, but to me it is so important! It involves knowing pacing, inserting details, dialogue, inner thought, exposition and so many more elements. Knowing how much and at what point to apply
them is crucial. Once you have this body of knowledge under your belt there is no limit to the
experimentation you can indulge in. Knowing what makes seamless, excellent reading is first
and foremost and then you may insert passion. An outpouring of emotion is great but how it is
organized is what counts to make an impact. I know saying that writers have to organize how
they write emotionally sounds like an oxymoron but it is a truism. There is a balance readers
need so that they are not jarred out of the story. Writing from the heart is important but it can be
all over the place. You must know how to present tense situations so that your reader is not
overworked when they finish the piece if they finish. You want them to say ahhhhhh. What a
great read!

Thanks, Fran!  Best of luck with The Hungry Hearts and Ugly Cookies.  I’ll be looking forward to the next book!  You can catch Fran at her blog The Age of Reasonable Doubt.    Until then, here is the rest of Fran’s blog tour:

Tuesday, February 21st
“The Dream Between” by Robin Renee

Wednesday, February 22nd

“Literary Debauchery” by Krista Magrowski

Thursday, February 23rd
Return stop to “Welcome to Hell” by Glenn Walker


8 thoughts on “How did she do that??”

  1. I want them to say “Ahhh what a great read”

    What a nice thought. I think many writers write for themselves, and don’t really worry about an “ahhh” for anyone else. Writing for the masses is hard. I guess that’s why it isn’t all that easy to get published.

    Thanks, Fran and Becca!

    1. I’m of several minds on this subject. You should definitely write for yourself. After all if you can’t please yourself, why try for anyone else? You have to write for other people or your work won’t sell. But I think there is also the option of writing something nobody asked for or expected to like. If not for that third option, we would never have anything new or exciting, right?

    2. Hi all, I’m revisiting the blogs while the Virtual Tour is still on. I’ve had a bit of time to get thoughts together with a bit of distancing. I can answer more clearly now (hopefully). It’s tough for me to write for an audience and that’s why I’m always surprised when people relate to my characters. I don’t deliberately try to make them off-beat or traditional, but they tend to be a combination — except for the occassional descent into madness. So, I write the characters/plots that fall into my head and hope for the story to resonate with everyone. fran

    3. Yes, Jennifer, you’re right. When you write in your own voice (rather than copying one that has proven successful or commercial) it can make your writing off-beat and harder to get published. But I urge all to stay true to their own voice! fran

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