I could spend many a happy hour here - the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.

LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Living Up to Expectations, I look at expectations from a character’s viewpoint.  What expectations do they have?  What expectations do others have of them?  How does their culture shape those expectations?  Does anyone challenge them and what are the results?

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

When Things go Horribly Wrong is something that, in a way, has to happen in every story, regardless of format.  After all where is the story?  It is in how the characters deal with the crises that have arisen for them.  What for them is drama, tragedy even is from the reader’s viewpoint pure entertainment!  Heartless lot aren’t we?!  So how does your character handle matters when everything appears to have gone down the proverbial spout?  How do they pick themselves up again (assuming they do – if they don’t, well that’s a story in itself).

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I take a lighthearted view at alternative titles for children’s classic fiction, list six and challenge you to come up with some in tonight’s post!  This came about from a photo from Quercus Books that I shared on Facebook earlier this week.  It showed new versions of Famous Five stories – Five Go to Brexit Island, Five Go Gluten Free and so on.  This photo has been one of the most popular things I’ve shared so I thought I would extend the idea a little.  See what I’ve come up with for my list and then see what you can come up with!

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The magical world of the imagination. Image via Pixabay

The magical world of the imagination. Image via Pixabay

 

Creative writing takes many forms, including blogging. Image via Pixabay.

DEDICATION IS WHAT YOU NEED

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

When I was growing up, one of my favourite children’s TV shows was Record Breakers, hosted by the late and much missed Roy Castle.  It would share examples of records broken and the editors of the Guinness Book of Records at that time, the Macwhirter Brothers, would share fantasic examples of people’s dedication so they could achieve this or that feat.  The closing theme tune had the marvellous words “dedication is what you need” and Dedication is the title of my post tonight.  Hope the following You Tube clip of the opening to Record Breakers brings back some happy memories for those like me who grew up in the 1970s.

My post looks at the dedication characters must show and I issue a challenge too!  Name a character you really love and look at the reasons why you like them.  Dedication to their cause (good or evil) will come up.  Try it and see!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

A short post here tonight (to make up for FWB tonight perhaps!) but this one looks at Your Life’s WorkBoth themes for FWB and TWAO tie in with my Chandler’s Ford Today post (more on that shortly).  In this post tonight, I look at what is your character’s life’s work?  What gets in the way of them achieving it?

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

I recently had the wonderful experience of interviewing Barbara Large, MBE, founder of the Winchester Writers’ Festival.  I don’t think it is possible to overstate just how much help and encouragement she has given writers from all backgrounds and genres over the years. In this interview (and the one to come next week), she generously shares inspirational writing advice, talks about some of her favourite authors and what was the hardest thing she had to do when organising the Festival.  A fascinating insight into a very rich and varied writing life.  I hope you enjoy it.  Below is a You Tube clip which sums up beautifully why the Festival is such a wonderful experience.

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I share details of my Chandler’s Ford Today post tonight, which is Part 1 of my interview with Barbara Large, MBE (founder of the Winchester Writers’ Festival as it is now known).  Part 2 to follow next week.

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The joy of writing does not need technology (at least not to start with!). Image via Pixabay.

YOU KNOW IT’S A BAD WEEK WHEN…

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

You Know It’s a Bad Week When takes a humorous look at what could make up a bad week if you lived in a fairytale world.  And if you’ve got the three little pigs thinking you know nothing about building materials, then you really are in trouble!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Reading Matters looks at whether, in your fictional setting, characters are free to read as they choose.  It also asks what does your character read for pleasure.

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

Just a brief note to say tomorrow’s post is part 1 of an interview with someone very special who has done so much to help writers over the years.  More tomorrow!

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I round up what I have been up to writing wise.

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What a library! Image via Pixabay.

What a library! Image via Pixabay.

Stories (and indeed most books of any kind) are magical. Image via Pixabay.

GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Getting Off to a Good Start discusses my love of Hemingway’s classic 6 word story exercise.  I also ask what would be a good start for your characters and how would they achieve that.  I know I need a good start for a new blog, article or story and do find Hemingway’s exercise an invaluable way to brainstorm ideas.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

No prizes for spotting tonight’s theme!  Again I discuss Hemingway’s writing exercise but in My Favourite Writing Exercise I give some examples of my efforts here.  For some reason I  usually end up producing 5 or 7 word stories rather than the classic 6, but the pointers for future story ideas are still useful.  I must try this exercise for non-fiction at some stage as the whole idea of the exercise (I think) is to give a starting point. I could see potential for using this to generate article and blog post ideas.

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More Hemingway here!  When I manage to get on to a theme,  I do see it through!

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Where many a first draft starts life. Old technology still has its uses! Image via Pixabay.

Where many a first draft starts life. Old technology still has its uses! Image via Pixabay.

Poets stand and stare and then write down. Image via Pixabay.

MAGICAL GOVERNMENT

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

The trouble with living in a magical environment is it would be only too easy for everyone to resolve arguments with magic and, basically, the most powerful would always win.  The realm itself would almost certainly be in a bad way as nothing can stand having too much magic go through it at one go.  So politics has to creep in – an accommodation has to be found.  And that is the theme of Magical Government.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

With You Must be Joking I go from one sort of joke – politics (!) – to another and ask what role does humour have to play in the fictional world you’ve set up?  Is satire allowed?  Who does do any joking in your setting and what happens if they break the rules?  There could be a comic tale or several and/or tragedies to write here.

OTHER NEWS

Last week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post on the Story Shuffle Project has led to some Twitter activity about it.  Many thanks to all who retweeted the link to the post.  And I am glad to say I have been looking at the edits on my flash fiction collection (couldn’t believe some of the silly, but easy to correct, errors I’d made but then that is why you need a good editor!).  I’ve also sent the edits back to the publishers.  So it has been a busy week already and it is only Tuesday!!

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I discuss poetry tonight and list one of my favourites from Pam Ayres.  Though I do find with poetry I can’t really name a favourite as so much depends on mood – mine and the poet’s!  What do you think?

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Poetry conjures up images and war poetry conjures up some of the most famous of all. Image via Pixabay (and I think one of the loveliest I've ever shared. Simple but stunning).

Poetry conjures up images and war poetry conjures up some of the most famous of all. Image via Pixabay (and I think one of the loveliest I’ve ever shared. Simple but stunning).

 

This statue I like... a lot. Image via Pixabay

A GOOD DAY IN THE MAGICAL WORLD

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

A Good Day in the Magical World looks at how this might be viewed through the  eyes of someone who is definitely junior in the magical rankings.  Do you agree with my list?  (I do love a good list!).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

What Your Characters Really Want speaks for itself really.  I discuss obstacles getting in the way of characters achieving their objectives and also those deep down wishes your character may not reveal openly.  (This could be due to knowing their wish is highly unlikely to be granted and they don’t want to seem foolish by being open here – I suspect most of us have known that feeling sometimes.  Also sometimes a character could suppress their own wishes if it helped someone they cared about so the question what does a character really want has lots of potential for future stories).

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I discuss film and TV music, having enjoyed a wonderful concert put on by Classic FM this evening (well put on for broadcast anyway).  And I share, thanks to Youtube, one of my favourite pieces.  Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is a good test of whether you’re human or not.  It is one of those pieces that must make you feel something. And if it doesn’t maybe it’s time the rest of us ran away from you terribly fast.

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Escaping with a good book is a fantastic idea. Image via Pixabay.

Escaping with a good book is a fantastic idea. Image via Pixabay.

 

 

Enough books to be going on with for now anyway.... Image via Pixabay

WORDS TO THE WISE

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

There are a lot of highly gullible characters in fairytales. Snow White is one of the worst.  Words to the Wise shares why I think that and also gives some handy tips, especially about food and drink related matters, which Snow White and Alice in Wonderland should have followed.  I also give advice on never putting yourself in a debt to a powerful magical being and what to do if you come across a dog that laughs and a cow that jumps over the moon (as there are certain things you should check out if you find yourself in this (admittedly unlikely) situation!  Always best to be prepared though!).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Character Reactions is a follow on to yesterday’s post when I looked at how characters treat each other.  The flip side to this, of course, is how characters react to the treatment they receive, especially if it is unjust.  Why do your characters react the way they do?  Previous experience?  Are they reacting in a way their society expects them to or do they fall apart?  If the latter, do they “get put back together again” (the way Humpty Dumpty would have wished he could have been!) and how does this happen?  How do your characters learn from their experiences?

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I discuss the variety of stories and books I’m reading on Kindle and in print and how reading widely across genres sparks ideas for writers.  The more you read (in and out of your chosen genre), the more you give your mind to feed upon and it is in that process ideas spark.  So if you want lots of story ideas, read widely!  (And it is huge fun and a great way of supporting other authors.  How can you know what you want to write without knowing what is already out there?  Inspiration also sparks from what is out there already.  It is your take on characters that makes your plots and stories original after all.  Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots is a fascinating read incidentally.).

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The world's most beautiful library perhaps? Image via Pixabay. But lots of lovely stories to read which may well spark off ideas for other stories. Only problem? Where to start!

The world’s most beautiful library perhaps? Image via Pixabay. But lots of lovely stories to read which may well spark off ideas for other stories. Only problem? Where to start!

Books are magical - image via Pixabay

WISHING YOUR LIFE AWAY

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

It is frighteningly easy for a character in a fantasy story to wish their life away – just go and upset some more magically powerful than they are will do the trick nicely!  (And there are so many magically powerful beings to choose from too).  In Wishing Your Life Away I look at a few other ways a character could end up having a very bad day indeed.  (It ends up being their last!).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

How Your Characters Treat Each Other explores well exactly that!  I also look, from history, at Margaret Beaufort’s (Henry VII’s mother) renowned piety – this in an era when almost everyone believed is very telling.  But something like that makes me suspicious.  What are you being so devout for?  Is that devotion being used to cover up something less pleasant?  (My experience is those who are genuine in their Christian faith don’t want to be seen to “show off”, it doesn’t honour Jesus.).  Conspicious displays of anything do make me query the motivation of those doing it.  Do you find the same?  And I ask what is the main motivation behind your characters’ behaviour(s).  Know the character, know the story!

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Tonight I give a round up of what I’ve been up writing wise in the last 24 hours or so.  I always like to have plenty to do – whether it is editing, writing new stories or blogs or what have you.  Good for the old brain if nothing else!

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Books are vital for learning as well as entertainment.  Image via Pixabay.  What do your characters get up to in your books?  What is their motivation?

Books are vital for learning as well as entertainment. Image via Pixabay. What do your characters get up to in your books? What is their motivation?

 

 

Medieval manuscripts were not always the easiest to read! Image via Pixabay.

FAIRYTALE AND OTHER FICTIONAL LIBRARIES

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I look at Fairytale and other Fictional Libraries in tonight’s post.  This partly ties in with my Chandler’s Ford Today post which went live earlier this evening.  More details on that below.  But in FWB I wonder about what your characters would read (sharing your character tastes and traits helps in building up well rounded characters after all). I also wonder about what stories and myths your characters would grow up knowing and how these affect them and the world they live in.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Learning from the Past continues the historical theme and looks at what is vital for coming up with a real story.  Answer:   a real story is in how a character responds to an event thrown at them.  The event doesn’t need to be particularly dramatic either.  How does a character respond to, say, a row with their partner/spouse?  Do they learn from it and rebuild the relationship or does a refusal to learn signal the end of that relationship?  Characters can learn from their own past, their family background or the past of the world in which they live but it is how they react, whether they learn or not, that is crucial to your story.  Personally I would get fed up pretty quickly with a character that doesn’t learn.  It is what they learn (and whether it is enough to deal with their current crisis) that is the interesting bit of the story for me.

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

I love posting articles about creative writing, history, and ideas that encourage the use of the library service.  Tonight’s post, The Story Shuffle Project, combines all three!

The project encourages local school children to write their own versions of the Sir Bevis of Hampton legend.  Sir Bevis is Southampton’s legendary hero – think James Bond on tapestries!  The stories are then put into a digital app, which can be accessed at the local library (that closest to the schools taking part in this project) using a special code the children are given.  I would have loved this at that age (7 to 11).  I loved codes and historical stories so what is there not to like about this?!

I hope all taking part in this project have a great deal of fun with it.

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I share the link with the above project.

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Tapestries told stories - the Sir Bevis of Hampton legends just being part of this.  Image via Pixabay.

Tapestries told stories – the Sir Bevis of Hampton legends just being part of this. Image via Pixabay.

The wonderful world of stories... Image via Pixabay.

WHEN STORIES CRASH…

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

When Stories Crash discusses two examples of how stories can go wrong (and end up crashing out.  I have had this happen to me only the once, thankfully, but in my case it was due to my not thinking the characters through properly.  Lesson learned there!).  The post also shares how, sometimes, stories can crash together as two fictional worlds meet.  There is a lot of fun to be had there!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Mood Music again looks at the role music can play in your stories.  Does it evoke mood and memories the way our music does for us?  Because music can inspire relationships, does anyone seek to control/stop/abuse that?

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I discuss my next Chandler’s Ford Today post which should be up after 6pm on Friday.  I discuss a new creative writing project designed to encourage children to write and to use their local libraries.  What is there not to like about that?!  More details tomorrow.

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Love this library. Mine is somewhat smaller than this! Image via Pixabay.

Love this library. Mine is somewhat smaller than this! Image via Pixabay.