2020 Writer's Games Winner
Individual Portion 1
The Writer's Workout conducted the following interview with Madeleine Pelletier in July, 2020. The Writer's Workout is represented as "WW" and Madeleine is represented as "MP". Interview responses are published as received.
WW: What made you want to participate in the Writer's Games this year?
MP: I heard about the Writer’s Games from an amazing writing community that I belong to. Quite a few people from that group had competed in the Writer’s Games in previous years, and several of them had placed. Their experience was so positive that I knew I wanted to try it out.
WW: Was there anything that you were worried or nervous about coming into this year's Games?
MP: This was my first time doing the Writer’s Games so I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to come up with a new story each week. My only goal was to submit something for each event. I didn’t even worry about placing.
WW: What kept you motivated to participate in each Event?
MP: I have a fairly competitive nature, even when I’m only competing against myself. I’d set the goal of submitting something for each event, so that drove me to keep going. I also found that getting feedback so quickly on each story helped motivate me as well. And then there was the writing community I mentioned. Several of us had signed up for this portion, so having a little cheering squad and knowing that we were all in it together really helped. In fact, at least one person from that group placed in the top five for each event so seeing their success was also good motivation.
WW: Did life ever get in the way during the Games? How did that affect your writing?
MP: Life always gets in the way, doesn’t it? There was a lot of stuff going on during this time, (tragic, comic, and everything in between) and I sometimes used writing as an excuse to step back from life and all its crazy. Writing actually helped me get a little perspective, and the story in the Practice Event was directly inspired by one of those sad life things.
WW: What was your favorite Event and why?
MP: I’d always wanted to try writing historical fiction so that’s what I did for JUST THIS ONCE, and I really enjoyed it even if it didn’t turn out to be literary gold. Conversely, I really didn’t like writing for WORLD BUILDING because it was so far out of my comfort zone, but I think it might have produced one of my better stories ever.
WW: Was there an Event that was more challenging for you than the others?
MP: CLICHE STORY was tough for me. It was the last event. I was running out of steam and I found the Event description really hard to work my head around. I was considering just skipping it, but then something came to me and I ran with it even though I didn’t think it was going to hit the mark. Much to my surprise, that is the one Event where I placed in the top 5.
WW: What inspires you to write?
MP: I love words and I love stories. They are just bouncing around in my head all the time. If I didn’t write, I’d probably go crazy!
WW: What genre do you normally like to write in? How did that help or hurt you during the Games?
MP: I’m not really a genre writer, sticking mostly to general fiction with a smidge of comedy, so a lot of these challenges were a stretch for me. And that’s one of the reasons I loved doing the Writer’s Games. I love a challenge, and this was definitely challenging for me, and I’m really proud of some of the new things I created.
WW: Whose work do you find most inspiring? Why?
MP: I love to read stories that take place in different cultures and foreign lands. Some of my favorite novels are by Amin Maloof, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Abraham Verghese, Salman Rushdie, Amitov Ghosh, Yaşar Kemal, and Murakami Haruki. I’m Canadian and so I also love to read Canadian authors like Margaret Atwood, Anne-Marie McDonald, and Mordecai Richler.
WW: What is the best advice someone has ever given you and who said it?
MP: Put more heart into it. Writing fun/amusing stories is great, but writing great stories requires you to connect with the reader on a deeper level. I’ve gotten that advice a lot, as I tend to gloss over emotions in my stories. It’s very hard for me to write about deep, personal feelings, to find the balance between ignoring them completely and over-explaining them in a very tell-y way. It’s something I’m working on, something that I consciously worked on during these games, and I think I’m getting a little closer to figuring it out.
WW: What advice would you give to people thinking about participating in next year's Games?
MP: Just do it! It’s intense but it’s worth it too get pushed out of your comfort zone and write new things.
It is the policy of The Writer's Workout to publish interview responses as received.