Light and Dark

Facebook – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest CFT post is called The Light Fantastic and looks at light and dark in terms of fiction, mood, and vision (including photography). I look at how fantastic light is but why we also need darkness – and this is true for fiction writing too. Hope you enjoy.

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Had a lovely evening at the Dovetail Centre watching A Christmas Carol performed by the MDG Players. Review to follow on CFT on Friday week.

A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite stories and Dickens is one of the few authors to add something to the Christmas tradition. (The others include Christina Rossetti with In the Bleak Midwinter, Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander with Once in Royal David’s City etc, Charles Wesley with Hark the Herald Angels Sing etc and Clement Clark Moore with The Night before Christmas). Favourite version of Dickens’ classic for me is The Muppet one though!

Talking of stories, I am thrilled my Doubting the Obvious is on Paragraph Planet. 75 words including the title is a good challenge! Work to come in next few days on Cafelit too.

DOUBTING THE OBVIOUS Jemma knew monsters existed, the monsters knew they existed, so why did everyone else scoff at the idea and end up eaten by the things? They weren’t getting her that way. Jemma was prepared. She had her dart gun. She had a fire roaring in the forest clearing. Everyone knew monsters were attracted to the warmth. It meant food. An hour later one monster discovered that was true. Jemma was barbecuing him.

Allison Symes – Published on Paragraph Planet 22nd November 2018


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Really loved seeing the moon rising through the trees tonight, both at home, and on a late walk with better half and Lady. Lady has to have a clip on light to her collar, otherwise you really wouldn’t see her, so she goes around lighting up the world like a little Christmas tree. She’s not impressed by this – but I am! And it means I can see my dog!

I was impressed with the amount of light the moon was giving on the walk tonight. Absolutely beautiful. My theme for CFT this week funnily enough is light and dark in terms of mood, fiction, and vision (in every sense). It’s too easy to take too much for granted and the way the brain processes light is one of them.

As for light writing, I have a 75 word piece coming up online tomorrow. More details then but I will say my heroine isn’t afraid of the monsters in the dark! Mind you, most of my heroes/heroines aren’t but then that’s how I like my characters!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Light and dark is the theme for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Very appropriate given my book’s title! Do you enjoy writing and/or reading the lighter stories in a collection for do your prefer your tales on the dark side?

I love both of course. Much depends on my mood as to which I prefer at any one time. What I do know is the 100-word story is ideal for where I want to make an impact and also the simpler the theme the better. More likely to “deliver” on the promise of the theme set.

Contrasts are often used in fiction as they are a great way to generate conflict between characters or between a character and their situation. I’m reminded of magnets here – contrasts can either attract or repel!

Contrasts can also be internal within a character especially on things they would like to do and things they are actually able to achieve. (There can be some great comedy out of that scenario too! Think of all the comedy characters who’ve clearly thought more of themselves than they should have done and how they always fall flat on their face – in the famous Del Boy falling through the bar scene in Only Fools and Horses, that was quite literally too!).

There can be be the obvious contrast between light and dark between two characters or within one character. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde resonates as a story precisely because we can all identify with a character’s struggles to be “good”.

Looking forward to sharing latest flash fiction story to be published online tomorrow. I will say it is a 75-word one so that will give fellow flash fiction writers a big clue as to where it is appearing! More tomorrow.

I must admit one of my favourite writing sessions is when I have got “the bit between the teeth” and I draft lots ot flash fiction stories of differing word counts. I edit later and eventually submit them to different places. All good fun.

Another thing I love about flash is when I know I won’t have a lot of time for writing, there is always enough to draft a story or two here, even if they are just of the one line variety. Sometimes I expand those stories out when I DO have more time. Sometimes I leave them as they are (and I must try and submit some of these to the 25-word competitions, they’d be ideal for that).

Fairytales with Bite – Light and Dark

The Light Fantastic is my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post and looks at light and dark from the perspectives of vision (including photography), mood and fiction.  Light and dark are crucial to fiction.  If there is no dark in a story, there is no conflict, there is no drama, nothing happens for better or worse, and any potential tale here collapses.

Fairytales are full of the contrasts between light and dark in the way they portray their characters.  Fairytales are often grim and perhaps the antidote here has been what has become the “happy ever after” ending.  Light and dark have to be in the right proportions.  All darkness is just oppressive.  All light would be blinding.

Look at the light and dark qualities of your characters.  Are they in balance?  What weakness in your character really lets them down?  What virtue really makes them?  How did they develop these things?  Do they actively try to fight the weakness?

It isn’t always appropriate for a story to end happily of course but the finish must be appropriate.  I like to see stories end on a note of hope even if the finish is a sadder one.

This World and Others – Pointers for World Building

Some useful pointers for world building include:-

1.  Ensure there is some sense of how your world is run.  We may not need to know how it is done, we need to know it IS done, and your fictional world isn’t in a state of anarchy.

2.  Ensure your characters know what they need to know at a local level.  For example, if there are rules in the region of XYZ citizens can’t go out after a certain time at night, your characters need to know this.  Breaking such a rule could, of course, be a major part of your plot here.  If so, ensure your characters know the consequences of breaking the rules and what they are facing in doing so.  It all helps increase the tension!

3.  Your characters will, presumably, need to eat, sleep, find shelter etc so again there should be some sense of how your characters do this as they have their adventures.  Things don’t “just happen”!

4.  I like to see a general picture of how the different species interact with each other, including whether there could be any Romeo and Juliet situations where two “people” from rival backgrounds fall for each other.

5.  What is expected OF your characters by the world in which you’ve placed them?

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