A nice mixture of moods this time I think!
Facebook – and Chandler’s Ford Today
What do cooking chocolate, zips that break too easily and roundabouts that are too small for purpose have in common? Easy peasy. They’re some of the items I’ve consigned to Room 101 in the latest part of this series. (I’m now up to No. 75!). I also share my thoughts on product name changes and fake news. So a nice mixed bag here tonight!
Facebook – General
What aspect of writing do you like the least? I suppose for me it would be the line by line edit for typos, grammatical errors etc, anything that I would call the technical side of writing.
Yet without that side, the chances of work being accepted do decrease given you have to present your work as professionally as possible. Anything that reduces a professional impression, such as weak spelling etc, will impact on your story.
The nice thing, though, is that if spelling, grammar etc are weak points, ideas like a writing buddy can be a real boon. (Going to good creative writing classes can help you make friends, get feedback on your work, including on this kind of thing, and help you find someone who might end up being your writing buddy!).
I also think there isn’t a writer anywhere without blind spots as to certain words/grammatical issues. My blind spots are “effect” and “affect” (I always have to double check them against the dictionary definitions to make sure I’m using the right one).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Do you prefer alien settings in your flash fiction or tales that are firmly rooted on to this planet? I like both, no real surprises there, but here are some advantages to consider.
The biggest advantage to having an alien world as a setting is you get to choose what that world looks like, how it is run etc. Only drawback would be is it is too easy to just keep on creating your world and never getting on with the story. So just stick to the bare bones of what your reader really does need to know.
The biggest advantage to setting a world here is that the background information we know already. You really do just to fill in relatively minor details such as what part of the world they’re in (can give your readers ideas about likely weather patterns and so on).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Although flash fiction by its nature might seem quick to write, it still needs careful crafting to ensure every word carries its weight and justifies its place in the story.
Yes, obviously, novels do take far longer and the joy of those is having the room for sub-plots and being able to characterise more deeply. Having said that, one of the great joys of flash fiction for me is being able to shine a sharp light on say one aspect of a particular character. That IS the story. Nothing more to be said. Nothing more needs to be said.
Goodreads Author Programme – Blog
Fairytales with Bite – Life’s Little Irritations
My current series on Chandler’s Ford Today is all about life’s little irritations (and is called 101 Things to Put into Room 101). From a fictional viewpoint, it doesn’t matter whether you write short or long fiction or, indeed, what genre you write in, but you can guarantee your characters will have more than their fair share of life’s “little irritations”.
So what are these and why do they rile your characters so much? Do some of your characters handle the trials of life better than others and, if so, why and how? What would count as an irritation in your fictional world that here on our own planet might be seen as a catastrophe or something your characters shouldn’t be wound up about at all?
Are the irritations you portray shared by other characters in your stories? Is there anything that the society/world you’ve created considers an irritation and how did it come to be seen this way? (There is always a reason for these things!). Answering all of these will help you flesh out your world and your characters better and that is always worth doing.
This World and Others – Ten Favourite Things about Characters
I do love a list! Ten favourite things I like about well portrayed characters include:-
1. Such characters show me something about my own nature (for good or bad!).
2. I can identify with the characters, sympathise even.
3. I will “root for” characters and “feel” their struggles, which is not quite the same as 2 above. For this, I have to really like the characters concerned. With 2, I can identify with say what a villain is up to (they’ve been crossed once too often and are now out for revenge), but I’m not going to root for them to succeed in their aims. I often hope ambiguous characters will not turn out to be villainous in the end or at least have motivations that are understandable. The best of these will do both.
4. You can “see” exactly where a character is coming from. That leads to empathy (which I believe can encourage empathy generally and that is no bad thing).
5. Characters will show you the world they live in and how they handle it. Is there something I can learn here? (That includes what not to do!).
6. For a character that’s set in a historical period, you can compare how they handle their situation and ponder how you would do so. (I love Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice but can see her situation as almost being prison like. For her not to marry Mr Collins, when it would have meant helping her family, was a brave thing to do. It would also be seen as selfish, especially by her mother. Here, I am so glad I have never faced something like that).
7. As a writer, you can put your characters through the emotional wringer! Heartless though that may sound, it is also huge fun – and it will be where your story really is. It is all in the conflicts.
8. Sometimes a historical character can change your mind about a period in time or a well known historical figure. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey did this for me with regard to Richard III and Henry VII.
9. Characters can show up injustice clearly. Think To Kill a Mockingbird here or something like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
10. Characters can say things you would love to say to others but for whatever reason rightly decide it’s best not to! And I’m not saying more than that….!