TITLES AND PROMPTS

How easy do you find coming up with the right title for your story?

I can think of something suitable most of the time nigh on immediately but it is a question, when I am editing the story later, if the “something suitable” is good enough. Could it be replaced with something which will make more of an impact? Yes, it usually could be!

So I often change my initial idea but I find I have to have something to act as a peg to hang my story thoughts from before I write the tale.

I suppose the point here is be open to changing things. If at the end of the editing process, you’re not sure if the title is strong enough, then it almost certainly isn’t. Don’t be afraid to play around with different title ideas. (Often a better title idea will come to me as I edit).

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What kind of story prompts are your favourite? I’ve never used picture ones (though I must give that a go at some point).

My favourite is the opening line prompt. I spend some time working out who the lead character will be (if it is not apparent from said opening line). I also work out different directions a potential story could go in and then write up the one I like best.

I also think of the effect I want the story to have on a reader. Do I want to make them laugh, cry etc? Most of the time I go for the make them laugh route!

 

What do you like best about your favourite characters (whether you’ve created them or not)?

For me, they’ve got to have spirit and the integrity to do what is right (which is not necessarily what their society would consider right. Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice would have been expected to marry the odious Mr Collins).

A good sense of humour is also invaluable in making your characters appeal to readers. I’ve always loved Elizabeth Bennett’s wit and sense of irony and long thought of her being ahead of her time.

What is your favourite creative writing book? I’m very fond of On Writing by Stephen King but another favourite is How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. This also has the bonus of being funny!

I love books which can get their point across humorously, there is an art to it, and I find the message sinks in much better. I suppose this is why if given a choice between reading, say, a crime novel with humour in it or one without, I will always take the “with” option!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

DO WHAT YOU MUST

The monster sat down and cried
No matter how hard he tried
He wasn’t scary any more.
The awful brat showed him the door.
No chance of any street cred here.
He could hear the others jeer.
What to do now? Oh yes, he knew
It bent the rules, that was true
To hell with it; do what you can
He went to the adverts man.
It was a way to earn a crust
He would up and do what he must.
The irony was what he sold
In his world would be like gold.
Rare and only for the few.
Here, it went to anyone who
Had the ready money to pay.
He disliked it but had no say.

Allison Symes – 25th August 2018

And before you ask, yes, I loved Monsters Inc!

If a novel is a portrait of a world and its characters, then flash fiction is the equivalent of the old Polaroid instant snap!

I am revealing my age here by saying I can recall when the Polaroid was THE height of camera technology. For the first time your pictures came out immediately instead of having to take a roll of film to the chemists or where have you for developing. Yes, and for younger readers, it really was another world away in terms of technology compared with what we have now! Dinosaurs had only just stopped walking the earth etc etc πŸ˜πŸ˜‰

But instant snaps really do capture moments in time and that is precisely what flash fiction should do. Hone in on what matters and nothing else. The joy of flash fiction is the focus.

The restrictions of flash fiction force you to think about what it is you really want to convey through your story. This is no bad thing in and of itself. I’ve found that kind of thinking through has then carried on into other writing that I do, which has definite advantages.

When it comes to editing, I’ve mentioned before that writing flash has helped me locate those wasted words I use by habit and which don’t add anything to the tale, so they’re the first things I cut. I am finding, however, that more often now as I am writing the first draft, I am instinctively NOT writing those words at all. I hope that continues!

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Flash Fiction Favourite Pointers:-

1. Never forget, no matter what the length of the story, it still needs a beginning, a middle, and an end.

2. There should be conflict pretty much from the start as without that there is no story. You do have to hit the ground running.

3. Limit your characters. You haven’t got the room for subplots. I would focus on two characters or so though there’s nothing to stop you referencing another character as part of the story, as long as that is relevant to the tale. In my story Punish the Innocent, the two characters are the mum and daughter but the mum refers to others in the letter she writes to her daughter. This fills in backstory very quickly in this case and fleshes out why the mum has the attitude she has in this story.

4. Focus on what is most important only.

5. Let your readers fill in gaps. Just show them what they need to know and let them use their imaginations for the rest. From a reading viewpoint, that is the bit which is the most fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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