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Articles > Behind the Scenes with Tyler Hayden




Tyler Hayden (El Segundo, CA, USA) speaks about his experience in the 4th Annual Short Story Challenge.  His stories, "The Namuzu Line" (Action/Adventure) and "After the Talk" (Romance) helped him take home 1st place out of over 600 writers.



NYC MIDNIGHT:  Congratulations on winning the 4th Annual Short Story Challenge out of a very tough field of over 650 writers. What was your primary reason for entering the Short Story Challenge 2010?

Tyler:  Thank you. I really like to write, even more so to have written and the challenge is a great way to do both of those things. Itís a really fun experience.


NYC MIDNIGHT:  How did you get started as a writer?  Where are you now in your writing career and what are your goals?

Tyler:  I majored in Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, but my parents keep a story I wrote when I was in the fourth grade up on the wall. Somewhere between then and university, I mustíve thought I could be good at it.


While I do call myself a writer, I donít really have a writing career to speak of. I would be terribly grateful if anybody reading this would like to give me one. I would really like to write full time in some capacity. Selling a script would be great. I guess Iíd have to get an agent firstÖ


NYC MIDNIGHT:  Do you write on a regular basis?  What is your general approach for writing a short story, from idea to final draft?

Tyler:  I try to write everyday. I really should write everyday. Short stories are one of my favorite things to write because the process is pretty simple, and I donít have to postpone my feelings of gratification at having finished. Not to say the final product is any good. A question comes to mind, and if I find the question to be interesting I write it down, look at a little bit later to see if itís still interesting, then try and address the question in themes and build characters and plot from the theme that best fits or the exact opposite. Iíll start with whatever the mood is, and build the question from there. The questionís the important thing.


NYC MIDNIGHT:  You received the assignment of Action/Adventure, Underground in the 1st Round and Romance, Blindness in the Final Round?  Were you happy or disappointed with your assignments?  What genre(s) do most prefer when writing your own material?

Tyler:  I was really surprised by my assignments, which is my favorite part of the contest. Not knowing what Iíll have to write about, particularly the genre, is awesome. I hadnít written anything in romance really, but thatís a big part of the fun. Iíd be too worried about being melodramatic, which I probably was, but I still like the story I got out of it. I usually try to write comedic pieces. I try to make them comedic, I mean.


NYC MIDNIGHT:  How was your experience writing a 2,500 word story under the deadlines of the competition, 1 week in the 1st Round, and 24 hours in the Finals?

Tyler:  I really love the deadlines, which might sound weird. Itís a great motivator. It gives you a great excuse to focus on writing, which is what I should always be doing.


NYC MIDNIGHT:  Have you done any rewrites on your first and final round entries since the competition ended and do you have any plans for the stories?

Tyler:  I have done rewrites on the stories and the notes were a great help. I would love to do something with the stories. If anybody has any advice on what to do with them, I will gladly accept it. Please tell me what to do with them. Anybody. Thatís not a joke or sarcasm.


NYC MIDNIGHT: Do you have any ongoing projects that you are currently working on?

Tyler:  Actually, Iím on the second draft of a spec screenplay. I really love the story, but it is very hard to come up with a good pitch for it.


NYC MIDNIGHT:  What would be your single most important piece of advice to give someone looking to improve their writing?

Tyler:  I think reading is really important. Iíve fallen off in my reading and it definitely hurts. Also, writing everyday. I think thatís the only advice I can give with any real conviction.


NYC MIDNIGHT:  Will you be back to defend your title in 2010?

Tyler:  Yeah. Not so much in the belief that I can succeed in defending it. I just really enjoy the contest. Thanks so much for putting it on. 



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