Stories, Persistence, and Progress

Facebook – General

Making good progress on the novel. Really enjoying finding out what my heroine is getting up to again! My third volume of flash fiction is coming along nicely as well, though I need to group the stories better. I’ve found grouping flash fiction really well helps add to the pace of the book as you read through so it is worth getting right.

Not impressed with the snow and ice. Okay they’re hardly a surprise in the UK in February but I’ve got to watch it when I take the dog out as she doesn’t seem to understand Mum really doesn’t want to go downhill skiing so Lady can get to the park that bit quicker! Lady is generally pretty good on the lead unless she knows we’re near the park! Pleased to make the acquaintance of a 12 week old Labrador puppy this week who wanted to use Lady’s ball chucker as an outsized teething ring…

One huge advantage of being a dog owner is you get to meet all sorts of interesting characters…. four legged and otherwise!

Now how can I put them into a story I wonder…!

There is an advert about great characters making great drama doing the rounds at the moment. And it is true but it is also true the characters don’t think they ARE great. They’re just getting on with the job or situation they’re in. What makes them great is how they handle things and their persistence. They almost always need that to keep going.

So what drives that persistence? Look deep into what really motivates your characters. What will they absolutely NOT stand? Then make them face it!

You’ll have fun writing that and readers will love reading it!

Submitted flash fiction pieces over the weekend so pleased about that. I often end up submitting flash stories in batches. Mind, I often write them in batches too.

One of the pieces was based on a character study writing prompt in my writing diary for this year (which is proving to be worth its weight in ink just on the challenges from the prompts alone. I do love the way the prompts are varied. Keeps me on my toes).

Editing of novel going well and, looking ahead a little, am investigating publishers to approach with it when ready. Some publishers accept submissions from unagented writers so that’s almost certainly the route I’ll have a crack at. I’ve got a couple of non-fiction ideas ticking away in the back of my mind too so definitely no chance of boredom setting in!

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Glad to report there’ll be a couple of stories of mine on Cafelit over the next month. Will flag up more details nearer to the time of each. Have also submitted an entry for the Waterloo Festival writing competition, which Bridge House Publishing sponsors. Am also drafting a story for Bridge House’s own annual anthology.

I strongly suspect the writing prompts in my diary are going to generate stories for submission as well. I used to have the Mslexia diary but the new one I’m using has regular spots for To Do lists, Monthly Achievements, as well as the different writing prompts. There are plenty of pages at the back for notes too. It’s almost like a writing scrapbook but I like the format and will almost certainly go for it again. I find a writing diary helpful for keeping track of submissions but this one is helping me to produce more work, thanks to those excellent prompts. I just HAVE to do them (which of course is the idea!).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Which characters do you like writing about/for the most?

I adore writing characters who I know will make me smile.

I also have a very soft spot for characters with hidden depths whether they use those depths for good or ill.

That element of surprise is wonderful to write and I know when reading that kind of thing by other authors, those are always the most memorable parts of the stories.

Sometimes you can guess at the surprise to come, you pick up on the early hints; at other times you don’t guess, but in both cases, the story has you gripped. Job done on the part of the writer there!

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Stories are ultimately problem solvers. Your characters must have something they wish to achieve and there must be obstacles in their way. Often those obstacles are other characters of course who either want the desired “object” themselves or simply don’t want your hero having it!

The great thing though is the way the character solves the problem can be so varied and that will affect the tone of the story. A wisecracking character is going to tip the story into humour, a sour one into a crime one (another character will be totally fed up with them and bump them off by Chapter 5 – well, you now know what I’d do!).

The problem has to be sufficiently important for the character (and ultimately your reader) to care about the outcome. The character needs to be appealing to readers (though bear in mind there’s a reason the charming villain as a character works. Readers love them. There has to be a wish to find out what really makes the character tick).

And flash fiction? You do all that in as few words as possible of course!

Flash fiction can encourage word play especially where it can convey more than one meaning. That in turn saves a lot on the word count!

Below is a story of mine called Test Pilot. I appear to use the same word twice in the same sentence (that’s a sin for a start, isn’t it?!) but the meanings are very different.

The crash landings were becoming embarrassing. Nobody minded the odd accident. That happened to everyone but this one was going to mean the test pilot, if unlucky enough to survive, would be hauled before the Board of Inquiry.
Like all such Boards, there was a hell of a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork. Unlike most Boards, said bureaucracy was to minute in minute detail what happened to the late specimens who’d faced them.
And this latest Inquiry was going to play to a packed house.
The crash had been spotted by those pests of the universe – humans.
Nobody was going to forget the Board of Inquiry for Roswell.


Allison Symes – 4th February 2019

Hope you enjoy!


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Glad to say a couple of my flash fiction pieces will be appearing on Cafelit over the next few weeks. Hope to get more out to them in due course, naturally.

When writing a story, of whatever length, I have to be able to hear the voice of the main character and know what is their chief attribute. From that I can gauge what mood would suit the character best and I write the story accordingly.

Of course, the great thing with, say, a pompous character is that gives great possibilities for humourous tales. Equally a pompous character could work in a tragedy (either by being the character that causes the tragedy for others or by being the victim because their pomposity blinded them to things that others could see all too clearly).


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Goodreads Author Programme Blog – Series or Singles?

Which kind of book do you prefer reading? A series or a stand-alone book?

I love both. Really good series ensure each book in it DOES stand alone. Brilliant series ensure you have to read the others in it! Bit of a challenge there then…

There are books which I think work best as stand-alones and/or have had sequels/prequels which didn’t really work. Well, they didn’t work for me at least. I never did “get” the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies thing. Yes to the former, it is one of my favourite novels and a well written zombie book is fine too but to mix the two? Argh! Definitely not for me.

Of course a series author can’t know when a new reader is going to get into their books. I’ve never yet read a series from Book 1! I find the series, am gripped by the book I read and THEN look back at what else the writer has done and explore those works before going on to books beyond the first one I discovered.

The most important thing for me always is did I enjoy the book? And my answer to that is always down to whether I got behind the characters or not.





















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