The Appeal of Writing

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It’s time for my monthly post on the Association of Christian Writers’ More than Writers blog. Many thanks as ever to SusanSanderson for flagging this up earlier today.

This month I share my thoughts on writing likes and dislikes and one of my favourite writing quotes from Elmore Leonard.

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What is it about writing that appeals so much? Is it the creating of your own world which you then populate with characters unique to you? Is it the actual story you devise? Is it the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve written a piece, edited it, sent it out to a relevant publication and it has been accepted?

Of course it can be all those things but, for me, it is the challenge of coming up with a story or a post that will appeal to an audience beyond just me and THEN...to keep coming up with more stories and posts!

I’ve found reading widely and, increasingly now, reading non-fiction too, sparks off all sorts of ideas that I explore in more detail later. Reading widely really does feed the mind. When you’re a writer, it does even more than that. It feeds your imagination. Ideas lead to other ideas and you come up with a lovely mix that is unique to you.

Do you work more productively depending on what day of the week it is?

I keep roughly to the same writing time for most days, when life in general isn’t trying to scupper me here (where possible I find ways to scupper it right back again!), but find I write more in the time slot from about Wednesday through to Saturday.

I don’t know what it is about Mondays and Tuesdays. (Sundays are a general wind down day and I tend to get more reading done so that’s okay).

I was sorry to hear of the death of Geoffrey Hayes of Rainbow, another part of my childhood gone.

Delighted to say I will be a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers’ Society meeting at the University of Winchester next Tuesday, 9th October. It will be nice to be back at Winchester again as I’m normally there for the Winchester Writers’ Festival and it is a long time until next June when it is on again!

I’ll be speaking about flash fiction (and why I think every writer should try it).

POSTER SHOWING ALLISON AS GUEST SPEAKER AT HWS OCTOBER 2018

Poster kindly supplied by Maggie Farran from the Hampshire Writers’ Society.

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A flash fiction story needs to create its own world whether it is in six words, 25, 100, or 500+. Your character needs to “dominate” that world in the short space of time you have to show the story to the reader.

I think this is one reason why I use a lot of first person for flash as I can get straight into the character’s thoughts and attitudes and get the story off to a cracking start. Well, I hope it proves to be a cracking start anyway!

I usually find if I can get get off to a good beginning, then the rest of the story follows nicely. Again, this is where first person helps as I find I want to explore that character’s thoughts and plans as I write their story. It’s a question of writing it all down and then cutting out what isn’t needed. I find there is always material to be cut out but also feel this is a good thing. I think you’re in real trouble if you find you have to add. Also, if lucky, some of the material you cut you may be able to recycle for other stories.

Flash fiction makes a great writing exercise, even if you don’t want to be published in it.

Firstly, the discipline of sticking to a word count is useful.

Secondly, when free writing to “warm up” why not turn the results of that into a flash fiction story? (I would go on to polish the story and see about submitting it somewhere).

The word count aspect comes in useful again because having a warm up exercise to take you to 500 words, say, means you then have to get on with whatever your main writing work is. The advantage of course is you then have a short piece you could submit somewhere if you wanted to.

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What is the most difficult challenge when it comes to writing flash fiction? Funnily enough, I find it isn’t the word count.

For me, it is, having chosen what impact I want the story to make on readers, deciding whether that impact is strong enough or do I need to beef it up further? Very difficult to judge that.

This is where things like reading at Prose Open Mic nights can be helpful. You literally hear the feedback as you hear your audience’s response to your story. Nervewracking and exhilarating all at the same time. Given this isn’t always possible, the next best thing is to put the story aside for a while and then come back to it and read it out loud so you can hear how it sounds. (Recording it and playing it back is even better).

Many thanks to Geoff Parkes for the image of me reading at this year’s Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Prose Open Mic night. Good fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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