Now there’s a combination!
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is called Networking Tips. Fellow Chapeltown Books author, Mandy Huggins, and I both share our thoughts on networking here and we hope you find the post useful. Many thanks to her for her pictures. Also a big thank you to Paula Readman for kind permission to use the picture of Dawn Knox, Paula and I which was taken at the Bridge House celebration event last December.
I remember being so scared of the thought of having to network when I was first starting out as a writer. It was really only when I realised networking meant talking about something I love – books, stories etc (generally, as well as my own) – that I relaxed. Can I talk about these things? Yes! The problem can be stopping me! (But that is how it should be. I don’t see how you can commit to writing as a long term love unless you are enthuasiastic about stories. Given the ups and downs of a writer’s life, writing has to be thought of as a series of hopefully achievable goals over a reasonable period of time. There are no shortcuts).
Facebook – General
Questions I like to ask of my characters from time to time include:-
What would you say was your best trait?
What would you say was your worst one?
What drives you and why?
I inevitably don’t use all of what I come up with here in the stories themselves but have found having a good working knowledge of what my characters are really like makes it so much easier to write convincingly about/for them.
It is worth taking the time out to flesh out your thoughts here before you write your story. (Scrivener is great here with its character and setting outlines in its short story “mode” but you can create your own template of things you should know about your “people” before you write their stories down).
I don’t always write directly to screen. Image via Pixabay
Books invite you into their world. Go! Image via Pixabay.
Even in the heart of a city, books can provide escapism. Image via Pixabay.
Great way to relax. Now where are those biscuits? Image via Pixabay
Let the ideas flow and let journeys encourage that! Image via Pixabay
The wonderful world of stories. Image via Pixabay
My stand at the Winchester discovery Centre event. Image by Allison Symes
Val Penny and I networking (!) at Swanwick in 2017. Here I’ve just signed my book for Val. At Swanwick in 2018 I plan to ask Val to sign her book for me! Image taken by Jennifer C Wilson.
Facebook – General
What are your writing “likes”? Some of mine include:-
Decent one-liners that make me laugh.
A story that shows me motivations or stresses characters are under that I might not have considered before. For example murders are committed for serious reasons and to what appears to others to be trivial ones. Yet a good story will take you into the mind of that murderer and show why the trivial reason isn’t trivial to them.
Good, sharp pace with quiet bits in between giving me good background on the setting and characters, knowing said quiet bits are gearing the reader up for the next big scene.
A satisfactory ending, which is not the same as a happy one necessarily. The ending has to be right for the story and the main character. It won’t feel right if the match isn’t there.
Characters I can rally behind (or metaphorically boo for) but either reaction has to be genuine. I don’t want to see the author’s hand making their characters act in a certain way. The characters’ acting has to be realistic for those characters.
I love getting to the end of a story or novel and in a sense wishing neither had ended. Always a sign of a well told tale! Going back over a story/novel and picking up the bits I missed first go around. This is particularly true for a detective novel. I always miss some of the clues on the first read!
I like a happy ending where the hero/heroine has “earned” it. I also like to see villains get their comeuppance but again in a realistic manner. Villains generally are not going to fall apart. They can be caught out.
Every word to count… Funnily enough that doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be short but that each word is appropriate for the story being told. In P.G. Wodehouse’s stories so often he uses very long sentences (he’d never get away with it now!) but not a word is out of place and indeed especially when Wooster’s narrating the long-windedness is part of (a) the character’s charm and (b) the character’s characteristics!
Positive developments in characters, especially a character that goes on to make something good out of themselves.
I like pinpointing moments of change in a story and watching the drama unfold.
Feeling a slight sense of envy I didn’t write the story/novel I’ve enjoyed is a good sign – and nothing but a compliment to the actual author!
Books are the keys to knowledge. Image via Pixabay
The to be read pile! Image via Pixabay
Some very strange creatures are in books. Image via Pixabay
Stories are magical and inspire other stories. Image via Pixabay.
I’m not arguing with this one! Image via Pixabay.
Escape with a good book. Image via Pixabay.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
It is only in looking back at stories that make up a collection, you really get to see what influences came out. FLTDBA has a nice mixture of influences – fairytales, nods to films, Frankenstein, poetic justice, and Pride and Prejudice to name just some.
I guess this shows why you should read widely (in whatever format and including non-fiction) because you are feeding your imagination. What drives you to write the stories you do? Your own influences/thoughts. Why have you got those influences and thoughts? Almost certainly thanks to things you have read that rang true for something deep inside your creative self.
Books should keep you gripped and that is down to the characters. Image via Pixabay
Let the creative process flow! Image via Pixabay
Fiction is strengthened when backed by fact. Image via Pixabay
Paula Readman, Dawn Kentish Knox and I celebrate where our stories have appeared! Many thanks to Paula Readman for the picture.!
The joy of writing. Image via Pixabay.
Is the truth welcome in your fictional world? How does your community react to it?. Image via Pixabay.
Writing to screen. Am using smartphone more for this.
Learn a lot from author interviews be they in print or online. Image via Pixabay.
Libraries and bookshops are vital to encourage literary – image via Pixabay.
What fictional world have you created? What ways and rules have you set for your characters? Image via Pixabay.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
The right ending for a story is the one that is most appropriate for it. It doesn’t need to be happy necessarily. Indeed, quite a few of mine in From Light to Dark and Back Again are definitely not of the traditional happy ever after variety!
I remember being stunned when I first read Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. You expect everything to work out okay (after all, isn’t that how fairytales are supposed to turn out?) and then it doesn’t! And I won’t say more than that. No spoilers here. It does pay to read the fairytales. They’re often darker than people think and have more layers. The Little Mermaid is a tale of sacrifice when all is said and done.
A huge but lovely library. Image via Pexels
What a beautiful home for books. Image via Pixabay
Another beautiful library (this one is in Canada). Image via Pixabay
Could this picture inspire stories? Good fiction will take you out of the world for a while. Image via Pixabay.
Some of the strongest ideas have a simple theme. See A Christmas Carol as a classic example. Image via Pixabay.
Books are wonderful – whether in print or electronic, whether as audio stories or told by a storyteller. Image via Pixabay.
Stories reflect all sorts of moods. There is a story to suit everyone out there! Image via Pixabay.
Such a familiar look. Image via Pixabay.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
What do I most like about writing? Well, here’s a few thoughts.
Coming up with characters who spring to life and develop in front of your “eyes”.
Coming up with world(s) that fascinate you.
Coming up with villain(s) that fascinate you!
Coming up with hero(ines) that also fascinate but show why they are the good guys. They’ve got to have a good cause, literally.
Being able to write short length stories from flash to standard length (up to 2000 words) to novels to plays… the only limit is your imagination.
You can explore ideas.
You can discover ideas from the characters you develop, not just in terms of new story ideas, but you get to learn how your “people” think and why. Could it change how you feel about issues? Can be fun finding out!
Receiving feedback which helps you improve your work (this is not necessarily complimentary, though nice responses are obviously nice, but so you can see how well you “got through” to your reader).
Winning or being shortlisted for competitions is a huge morale boost.
Getting to talk about your work at writing festivals and enjoying hearing about others’ work. I love both aspects here. I think it’s like a kind of celebration of the work of the imagination.
Books invite you into their world. Image via Pixabay.
What writing triggers will help you create your new worlds? Image via Pixabay
Time to have another home perhaps? Good stories to be had here! Image via Pixabay
A wonderful palette of colours. Image via Pixabay.
Nobody gets their ideas right first go. Image via Pixabay.
There can be reality behind fairytales. Image via Pixabay (and image used as part of book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again)
Flash fiction for impact. Image via Pixabay
Simply stunning… image via Pixabay
Flash fiction can help you grow your writing skills for other forms of writing. Image via Pixabay.
I’m sure you must have come across at some point someone saying something like “it’s just a fairytale”. That phrase has always annoyed me. There is nothing “just” about a fairytale.
When examined closely, the vast majority of fairytales contain at least one element of truth in them (and often much more). Yes, fairytales do tend to follow character type but there is a lot of truth in those. What does the wicked witch represent? Those who are prepared to use the power they’ve got to control others or who are prepared to do anything to gain power. Who does the good fairy represent? Those who use their powers for the good of others. And that’s just to name two examples. We can all think of real life people who can fit into those categories so fairytales do reflect humanity as we know it.
Hans Christen Andersen showed that fairytales do not always have happy ever after endings. (While it surprised me the first time I read his The Little Mermaid here, I have a greater appreciation now of the truthfulness of his characterisation and the way the story does end). Fairytales can sometimes get across a certain amount of social commentary (again see Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Match Girl here).
So I do wish some people would stop being dismissive of fairytales. There is a lot more to them than may at first be apparent.
My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is all about networking. Fellow Chapeltown Books author, Mandy Huggins, and I share our thoughts on this and I hope you find it useful. But it led me to wonder what kind of networking goes on inside the world of our stories.
How do our characters meet each other? Have they known each other for years? What are the social networks in the worlds you’ve created? What happens to those who defy convention here?
Our stories won’t necessarily spell out all of that but readers should know why the characters are interacting the way they do. If they hate each other, that is bound to be a major factor in how your story develops and the reason for the hate should be shown. (I don’t think you can ignore the fact they hate each other, it must be what is driving your story. I can’t see how it would be otherwise).
Is there such a thing as an old boys’ network in your world? Who benefits or suffers because of it? Is there a class system and can people/beings cross the divides? If your world just has one major species, there should be some sort of hierarchy within it. How does this work?
My latest CFT post. Mandy Huggins and I discuss networking. Image via Pixabay
My flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books!
Mandy’s flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books. Image kindly supplied by her.
Mandy Huggins – reading is a great way to network with your readers. Image kindly supplied by Mandy Huggins.
Networking with readers at the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair in 2017. Image from Janet Williams, CFT’s amazing editor.
Setting the mood with music. Image via Pixabay
Let those ideas flow! Image via Pixabay,
The familiar sight of the writing desk, regardless of genre! Image via Pixabay.
Sound advice. Image via Pixabay
The keyboard beckons…