In November of this year, Marlin55 won the Creative Writing Grand Prize in the HubPatron of the Arts contest for The Agency, a short story with a splendid, cinematic feel. Marlin66 also won the HubPatron of the Arts Smashwords prize, and will have his work published as an ebook soon.
Read on for a peek at the Hubber behind the evocative stories!
First, congratulations on winning first place in the Creative Writing category in the HubPatron of the Arts contest! What inspired The Agency?
Thank you, Simone. There are so many talented writers here on HubPages and I feel honored to have taken part in the contest with them. I have to say that The Agency was influenced by a number of things. When I was a kid, I watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock and read lots of detective magazines, so I combined those with my love for old Hollywood, and threw in a little skill.
You include quite a few twists and turns in the story, and it is definitely more complex than most of the short stories submitted as entries in the contest- how did you construct the plot? Did you start with an outline and build around it, or just write?
I’m what I call a “fat writer.” I write everything that comes to my mind. I’ve never used an outline or note cards to write a book because I find it too constrictive. So, I am one of those writers that just writes. My plot is always derived from a central question to be explored. I actually got that technique from writing scripts and found that it works very well when writing books and short stories. The central question in The Agency is when Murdoch asked Frank Spencer if he’d won an Oscar for his role in the movie, Midnight to Nowhere. Every scene that followed was built around that question.
You mention that you work in film, which helps to explain the cinematic elements in The Agency. How much would you say your career influences your writing?
A lot. There are so many details to pay attention to so that you get your idea across on film. Film is not a piece of linear work. There are many hooks involved using sound, music and facial expressions and those hooks are staggered to bring you effortlessly from one scene to the next. Editing film has taught me to visualize a scene in my head and to know where to place the hooks. I use the same technique for writing hooks into the scenes of a story.
When you write a new story, do you have any particular process you go through? How long does it typically take you to finish something?
Yes, I write “fat” and then go back and do a lot of editing. The time it takes depends on the length of the manuscript and how involved it is. I wrote the rough draft for The Agency in two days, but then spent a week editing it.
What advice would you have for other fiction writers on HubPages?
Stretch. After you finish a story, start another one and write that story even better. There is always room for improvement for all of us. Don’t be afraid to experiment because there is no such thing as failure.
I would like to add one more thing. And that is a great big thank you to my wife. I would not have made it this far without her love, support, and her help.