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Interview with Scott Masterson

How did you become a writer?

I always loved to write stories as a child. Homemade books, plays with friends, and as I got older, short films and screenplays. I ultimately became a writer for advertising, but I had stories and characters in my head that I knew my kids, and others like them, would love. So, I set out to get all of them on paper and bring them to life.

What inspires you to write?

I’m definitely inspired by my kids and the joy they get from great stories and interesting characters. But I’m also inspired by my own experiences, like exciting places I’ve traveled to, memorable people I’ve met, important conversations that I’ve had. I believe it’s best to start with an event or a concept that takes up a lot of real estate in your own memory.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

Personally, I almost always want there to be an “awww…” moment at the end. A warm and fuzzy feeling that makes you smile and confirms your love for the characters. From there, I basically work backwards, finding how they get to that place and how that payoff moment will either surprise us or work as a great punchline for the fun.

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

As a writer from the advertising world, one challenge that I’ve always faced was finding ways to simplify BIG ideas and enforce an economy of words in a narrative. As a writer, I’ve had to build that skill, because my instinct is to overexplain. But that training uniquely prepared me to write for children. Being able to construct a story, with complicated ideas, while maintaining a fun tone and keeping the language as minimal as possible is a skill I’ve worked hard to learn.

Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?

The protagonist in my story, TRADING UP, is a young boy in urban Guatemala. What I love about him is that he’s not only an idea guy, but he’s also a spontaneous doer. We all have ideas, and a lot of us never act on them or put off executing those ideas for later. But this character jumps right in. In this story, he sees a problem, has a fairly ambitious idea about how to solve it, and quite literally runs out the door to make it happen. And he never doubts it will work. While that is probably his most impressive trait, it’s surely one that will eventually get him into tricky situations or lead to failure. But knowing him, he’ll have an idea for that too.

What are your current/future projects?

As a filmmaker, I’m a big fan of writing dialogue. I also love reading books to my kids that are dialogue-driven because you get to create voices and be performative in your storytelling. With that in mind, I’ve been working on two different book series that tell stories through the recurring characters’ dialogue with each other. The first series follows two characters that engage in some big concept conversations about common social issues. The second features two different characters that are learning about sports and the lessons that come with playing them.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have a general routine when it comes to writing, but there are certainly comforts that I need to provide myself in order to feel creative. I need to find a place and time when I won’t be interrupted. That’s most important and very hard to come by with kids. But I have a hard time regaining momentum after any break in concentration. Then I like to listen to music (without lyrics), find a comfortable chair, and have my favorite tea. The goal is to be in a mindset where I don’t need or want anything else for a while, so I can focus on the story in my head.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?

I suppose I would tell my younger self to write more. I was always a storyteller and filmmaker and I would write when I had an idea that I wanted to execute, whether it was a film, a play, or even a pretend book as a kid. But what I know now is that writing, like many things, is something you get better at the more you do it. Sounds easy enough, but I feel like I always relied on whatever basic talent I had to just get me to a final product. I wish that I had written more things that I would do nothing with, just to learn and find my voice sooner.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

While I am not incredibly comfortable giving advice as a writer yet, I would only want to encourage anyone with a passion for storytelling to get every idea out of you. I assume others like me have a nonstop flow of ideas and excitement about those ideas. When it comes to myself, I know that most of them are bad ideas, but some of them have legs. I’ve learned you need to experiment with ALL of them, good or bad, and learn from them and try to problem solve where it’s necessary, follow your instinct when it takes you somewhere, and once you’ve exhausted all efforts, eventually say goodbye to ones that just aren’t singing. But I would say embrace the process and you’ll discover a lot about your stories and a lot about yourself as an artist.

What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?

If this is for people to reach out via the Metamorphosis website, you can direct them to my website or Instagram.


IG: @scottmasterson1


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