Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Many thanks to all of my guest writers for sharing their thoughts on my CFT Why I Blog two part series. Part 2 is up on site now – do see the link. It has been fascinating from my viewpoint to read the different takes on this. Comments, as ever, are very welcome in the CFT comments box.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Am planning to catch up on my flash fiction writing this weekend. Most of the week has been a non-fiction “fest” for me (not that I’m complaining. I’ve come to love non-fiction in a way I never anticipated. For one thing, I’d never anticipated writing it at all when I started out as a writer!).
For my current WIP, I’ve been trying out historical flash fiction – i.e. stories told from the viewpoint of a certain historical character. Good fun to do and another way of getting into the heads of characters, which is something I love doing.
I love finding out what makes my characters tick and to do this to someone who lived and died centuries before makes me look at why they acted the way they are known to have done. It also gives me a very good excuse to read my history books again – I really can call it research here. Not that I really need an excuse to read such books.
In cases where there is speculation as to what happened because nobody really knows, then I can have some fun suggesting what might have occurred or coming up with a viewpoint the character might have held.
Fairytales With Bite – What Fairytales Reveal
One reason I love fairytales is for their honesty. They call evil exactly that and have done with it. Fairytales are very revealing about human nature (and the pictures they portray via words are not always flattering).
For example, Cinderella is realistic in the portrayal of the stepmother and her daughters and their ill treatment of Cinders. Resentment, dislike, hatred even of anything not connected to blood kin does happen and more often than perhaps we would care to admit.
Then there’s the topic of pride and what that can lead to when unchecked. Go to Snow White’s stepmother for the tips there! Pride/vanity can and has led to people trying to destroy those better than themselves (and sometimes succeeding, sadly).
As for unrequited love, The Little Mermaid could tell you all about that. Anyone who has ever been a victim of bullying because they look different would sympathise with The Ugly Duckling.
A thought occurred to me recently as a result of a discussion I was having on Facebook about the left behind disabled child in The Pied Piper of Hamelin. It was asked whether we felt the child felt left out or had had a lucky escape. Opinion was pretty much split down the middle, I fall into the child feeling left out camp, but it occurred to me that Hans Christen Andersen was ahead of his time here in recognising the disabled can and do often feel left out and was highlighting that. Sadly, still relevant. I would like to think one day it wouldn’t be because we leave that “leaving out” state behind us.
In the meantime, I think we need, and will always need, the blunt honesty of fairytales showing up what we can be like.
This World and Others – What Your Fictional World Needs
A lot will depend on the scale of your story obviously. (One advantage of flash fiction is you need less! One advantage of novels is you can build your own world in a reasonable amount of detail). But I think for most situations your fictional world will need:-
1. A sense of what the world is like. In my flash fiction stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again, I only have the word count to give a fleeting impression, which is fine. It is just that the fleeting impression has to be strong enough to register with your reader. With a longer story, of course, you can show more but do beware of showing anything that is not absolutely critical to your tale. You don’t want to “info dump”. Just show your readers what they need to make sense of your story, whether that is one line, one page or what have you.
2. What your character is like. This is best shown in their actions, reactions, dialogue and thoughts. In my flash tale, The Outcome, I don’t go into a physical description of Becram, my alien lead, but I do show you his attitude! And for this 100-word story, that is enough.
3. A sense of how the world is run. For my unpublished novel (hope to be working to change that soon, watch this space!), I do show how the government is run. Terry Pratchett in his Discworld series worked out how Ankh-Morpork could operate based on how people got rid of their waste and then how the city was governed grew out of that. You need to pick a place to start to work out to yourself first and foremost how things would work. Then it is a question of working out just what your reader needs to know and which is just for you to enable you to write the story.
4. How needs are met. This can be done lightly. Again in my The Outcome, a few words indicate Becram comes from a highly technological society (so you can imply from that the basics such as food and drink supplies really are not a problem!).
5. Problems! It may sound ironic, but there is no such thing as a perfect world for real, yet alone in fiction, so give it problems it has to try to resolve. For example, does your world get on well with its neighbours? If not, why not? Is it your world’s fault or theirs? Have there been attempts to resolve the issues here?