Writing a story is an art in itself. Creating the right setting, the perfect characters, plot, believable dialogue and conflict. With those blended ingredients are what makes a story impact the reader’s imagination, mind and heart. The most important aspect of story-telling is to draw the reader in your character’s world. How are the stories written to do this and how does one make it work? Today, award winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Scott Prill shares with us his expertise with us.
Stephanie: What are the steps in creating a setting for your story?
Scott: I have a beginning and an end in mind before I start writing. Filling in the “in-between” is what is fun and challenging about writing a book. As I create characters and scenes, additional thoughts for existing and new settings and characters follow.
Stephanie: There is a fine line between creating a visible backstory and a hidden backstory of your characters? What are the steps in balancing it out? What should you not do?
Scott: I am not sure if this answers the question – but I try and have twists and surprises in the story. It is fun to create a story where a reader thinks this story may be kind of formula driven and becomes comfortable – then, here is a surprise. If I do that a few times the reader now does not know what to expect – which is what I strive to do. I am very reluctant to discuss the plot and certainly the ending of my book to someone who has not read the book.
Stephanie: How much is too much conflict? And what do you do about it when it’s not working in the plot?
Scott: The response to these questions depends the author’s definition of conflict. In terms of conflict meaning violence, I think there is a fine line between too much and not enough. I do not think it is necessary to provide page upon page of gore when a less description will suffice in providing what I want the reader to think. Regarding the non-violent conflict – I think it depends on the author. Too much conflict can be distracting from the story line. Too little conflict and the reader may get bored. Conflict is inherent to a good story and makes it interesting. Finding the right balance is important.
Stephanie: What are the steps in creating believable dialogue?
Scott: I try and put myself in the place where the story is taking place. I image I am each character and also an observer. That allows me write what the character(s) is (are) speaking.
Stephanie: What is the advice you would give to a writer when they get stuck on a specific scene or comes across a road block in their plot?
Scott: My best suggestion is to put the book aside and take at least a day break. When you come back to the story, usually new thoughts or an approach to a difficult section will have hopefully entered into your mind.
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
Scott Douglas Prill was born in Iowa and received a M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa in 1977. His subsequent career choices have reflected a strong interest in natural resources. Since graduating, Scott has held positions as a limnologist and environmental consultant. He also has a M.B.A. and is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager. For the previous twenty-six years, Scott has been an in-house environmental consultant for the law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Scott resides in Bayside, Wisconsin with his wife, Marcie. He enjoys spending time with their three adult children and writing. Into the Realm on Time is Scott’s debut novel.
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Stephanie M. Hopkins