This is kind of a catch up post on my Facebook items this week.  Will share my Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow where I have the first part of a fab interview with crime writer, Val Penny.  In the meantime:-

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If you could ask your characters, especially your main leads, just one question, what would it be? I think my question would be to ask what drives them. When I’m creating new people, I like to know what their main characteristic is and I then go back to find out why it is that particular one.

If a character is brave, what led them to discover they had that quality? There could be some interesting stories there. Also, are they really as brave as they think? Is the declaring themselves brave merely their own judgement or is it something others have said of them?

So one question will lead to others, which is how it should be and how you will really find out what your people are made of.

Microphone - image via Pixabay

Quizzing your characters can help you get the best out of them! Image via Pixabay

A blank page can take you anywhere writing wise, image via Pixabay

A blank page can take you anywhere in writing. Image via Pixabay.

One thing that has been true throughout history is the need for a good edit! Image via Pixabay

The joy of editing but a major part of my writing rituals is to always keep this separate from creative writing. Image via Pixabay

Shakespeare had his quill, modern writers have their laptops. Image via Pixabay.

Such a familiar look. Image via Pixabay.

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What is your chief factor in choosing the main character you have for your stories?

I love quirky characters but for me that in itself is not enough. The character has to have a certain amount of drive so that they are prepared to fight for what they want and/or to overcome anything their life throws at them. (Trust me, I tend to throw a great deal at my people, it’s fun and I’m just like that!).

I don’t like goody-goody characters, they never come across as realistic, and there must be at least some redeeming quality about my characters. I’m looking for something any reader can “root” for as they read my character’s story.


Typical of the main track at Jermyns Lane

What kind of journey will your characters go on? Image by Allison Symes


I love walking by water – so calming. Can also inspire how you create your own world. Image by Allison Symes

Good historical fiction will conjure up a sense of the world in which it is set - image via Pixabay

Or not as the case may be! My fiction is quirky!Image via Pixabay.


Let your stories have impact. Image via Pixabay

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I’m currently (and finally!) putting the finishing touches to what I hope will be my second book, which I hope to submit shortly. I sometimes think the hardest thing to make yourself do is to put the work aside for a while so you really do come back to it and read it, as if for the first time. It does pay to do this though. I find it is the only way to read the stories as if a reader would.

If you don’t leave enough time before coming back to the work again, you will find yourself still in “editor mode” and will want to change this word here, that word there and not because they really need changing. You need to give yourself time to switch off that “editor mode” and put it back in its box for when it is needed, which is after you have got that first draft down.

Reading the book as a reader would means no editing. Yes, sure, I make notes of anything I spot that I think might need sorting out but I do that as a totally separate task. Also, at this stage, I have already gone through that process so now it really is just a case of reading (and hopefully finding you enjoy it because if you don’t, nobody else will!).


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The trouble with writing flash fiction
Is it can cause a lot of friction.
Do you need fifty or seventy-five
Words to make your story come alive?
Bad luck to me here, oh dearie me
I do need one hundred words, you see.
But I understand this is okay
It is just the story format’s way
To have so many different word lengths
Meaning people can write to their strengths.
So dribble away at fifty words
I’ll drabble and be amongst the nerds
One hundred words it will be for me
Nothing less will do for me, you see.


The great irony is I’ve counted the words here as coming in at 99! (And I refuse to add “Ends” to make up the “ton” – that would be cheating!).

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One of my main writing frustrations is having lots of lovely ideas to work on but not having nearly as much time as I’d like to get on with them! But then I know I’m not alone in that.

I’m trying to focus more on mini-goals at the moment. I’ve made a couple of diary notes to remind me to submit work to X here and again later on. I have found if I write down plans, whether they are long term or short, I am more likely to achieve them!

Incidentally, flash fiction may be very short but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fast to write. They still need editing and crafting every much as a longer story.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is the one thing that makes you proud or ashamed of your characters and why? Is your hero secretly a bit of a wimp and you really prefer your villain? (You would not be the first writer that’s happened to!).

If you could give one bit of advice to your characters, what would it be and why have you chosen this? Does it say more about you than the character?

I like to have a reasonable knowledge of what makes my characters tick before I start writing for them but deliberately don’t fill in each and every detail. I want to have the fun of discovery as well as their story emerges.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I think there has to be balance in fiction. The reason for my book’s title is it does reflect most moods. I find I write funny tales for a while (I’ve always had a very soft spot for humorous fiction) and then HAVE to write something darker in tone as a contrast. So it was right my book should reflect all that I write.

Equally, I can only do grim in small doses (flash fiction is brilliant for that!) before I find I’m writing tales that are less grim, then funny ones again.

I think it is inescapable that fiction will reflect on you, the writer, to a certain extent, whether it is the moods of the stories reflecting your moods or whether the main character has your virtues or vices (or both!).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

This post comes about as a result of a conversation I joined in with earlier today online.

I don’t usually write a collection of stories to a specific theme but what I found with writing From Light to Dark and Back Again is that groups of themes emerged from the tales I gathered together.

There are the rough justice stories (Punish the Innocent), the creepy ones (Why Stop Now?), as well as the twisted fairytales (Collector’s Piece). Now given all stories reveal something about the writer, I’m not going into details as to what I think my themes make me! Probably best not to go there.

I find it much easier to write to a theme for an individual story for a competition. Not sure why that is, but maybe it is because I’m only committing to writing one tale at a time for such things.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What influences you the most when you write your own stories? I think with me it has to be the books from my past and my present. You do learn how a writer sets out their work, uses grammar etc, as you read their short stories and novels. You also develop a feel for the rhythm of the language used (and I know that has influenced how I do this, though that is a good thing).

With regard to characters, what influences me most is knowing all of them have to justify their places in my stories. They don’t necessarily have to be strong. Weak characters can be interesting as (a) they can become strong and you can explore that journey or (b) they betray a stronger lead character because you always apply the pressure where the chain is most likely to break.

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