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Hope you enjoy If It’s Too Good To Be True, my latest story on Cafelit. Loved writing it. (Oh and spot the typo! Made me laugh – and I hope the story does too…)
Do you have any writing regrets?
My main one is not starting to write seriously earlier than I did. Of course, on starting out, you have no idea how long it can take to get to publication standard. Knowing what I do now, I would’ve started at least five years earlier than I did!
My other regret is not discovering the joys of flash fiction sooner but the point is I have discovered them now!
Whatever writing regrets you might have, the important thing is to enjoy what you write. Go for writing opportunities that suit you. (The worst that can happen is your work is turned down. Then you can revise said work and submit it elsewhere).
B = Brilliant covers draw your attention
O = Original storylines
O = Opening lines entice you into the stories.
K = Kindle – so easy to carry – one device to hold them all!
S = Stunning plots keep you enthralled.
A = Action should keep you riveted to the tale.
R = Read, read, read. It’s what they’re there for!
E = Education? Yes, sometimes, but entertainment too.
F = Fiction or non-fiction? A world of choice!
A = Allegories and fantasies take you into other worlds.
B = Borrow from your library and support them too.
U = Underestimate the importance of characters? Never!
L = Live the lives of the characters through the narrative.
O = Oh my moments should keep you hooked.
U = Underneath the surface: how deep are the characters?
S = Story, story, story.
Well, I think that sums up what I love about books.
When did you decide you had to write?
I can’t say there was one particular moment for me. It was just something I’d been building up to doing for a long time (and my only regret is not plucking up the courage to start sooner. Yes, courage, as there is the tendency to think “who am I to think that I can write?”).
What I would recommend for anyone starting out is give it a go. You’ve nothing to lose. Try flash fiction. Try articles. Try longer stories. Play with words and have fun. It’s really important to have fun!
Later, on finding yes this form is my niche, then develop with practice and time the skills to be as good as you can get in that niche.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to just write for your own sake. It’s a great way to start and it was years after I started writing before I decided yes, I would see if I could be published. (Oh and success can take many forms whether it is getting a first publication credit or having a book out).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I’ve mentioned before I use well known phrases as a theme for a story. I also use them as titles. My latest example is If It’s Too Good to Be True on Cafelit. (I laughed at the typo. Conjures up some odd images but fun nonetheless!). NB: See link further up this page.
The great thing with this title is I will use it as a theme for another story at some point. It has a wide range of possibilities!
Many thanks to #AlyRhodes for her six-word challenge earlier. Good fun. I do like these. Good for focusing the mind. And, of course, you can take that initial idea and expand it out to longer flash fiction or a standard short story. My entry by the way was Tiny Dragon flees murderous girl. A nice twist on how things usually go in tales involving dragons and young women!
I am very fond of flash fiction collections (not just mine, honestly!) because of the wide mixture of stories you can have in them. You have those collections which focus on theme, those like mine which have stories of differing moods in them, others which stick to a set word count etc. I am currently reading 365 Stories, which was given to me by a friend, and is a flash collection of stories of exactly 365 words with one for every day of the year. Good range of stories in there too.
I sometimes write acrostics (which I guess can be a kind of flash fiction as long as there is a story unfolding line by line). I’ve just written one for Books are Fabulous (and aren’t they just!) on my author page. So how would an acrostic flash fiction piece work then?
I’d keep it simple, short and sweet to maximise its impact. (I think a one word acrostic would be best. More than that I think would seem gimmicky but you can let your imagination run free with a one word acrostic well enough!). For example, what could be done for the word “stories”? Let’s see.
S = Sarah knew today would be different.
T = Today she would deal with Bob for good.
O = Organising a hitman proved easier than she thought.
R = Risking everything on a stranger’s act was not something Sarah anticipated she’d ever do.
I = Involuntary shudders ran through Sarah as she recalled Bob’s abuse and violence.
E = Enough was enough.
S = Sentence of death was pronounced and would be carried out at 12.30 precisely.
Allison Symes – 18th March 2019
Am glad to share here a 100 word flash piece that appeared on the Association of Christian Writers’ Facebook page earlier today. The theme was worship.
‘Where the hell is that singing from, Sarge? The only thing for miles is rubble.’
‘It’s not from hell, lad. It’s that hymn my gran sang, How Great Thou Art.’
The sergeant cleared bricks, revealing tiles. ‘We’re on an old church. They were destroyed when religion was banned. Remember?’
‘Yes. What a fuss. The fuddy-duddies had nowhere to go on Sundays.’
‘Rumours say some meet in underground churches.’
The men looked down.The singing was coming up.
‘Nothing to report.’
‘Nothing here, lad. If we’re wrong, so what? Let them worship. They’re harmless. Shame our bosses aren’t.’
Allison Symes – 19th March 2019
The Role of Books/Stories
What is the role of books/stories?
For me, the primary role is to entertain and provide some escapism, especially when life is being particularly grim.
A good book will take you into its world and for a while that gives you a breathing space. Somewhere to just be for a bit before facing reality again. The benefits of that can’t be overstated.
I can understand real life stories and misery memoirs. I hope the writers found the writing of these to be enormously beneficial but this material is not something I can read.
I either want to escape into another world completely (via fairytales, The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Discworld etc) OR, when I want to get my teeth into non-fiction, I want some good solid history. I love history when it is told as a story (which is why I adore Simon Schama’s History of Britain series).
A good story, and this includes non-fiction told as a tale, should have a point to it but I’d like to bang the drum for stories “just” being entertaining. To me there’s no “just” about it. A story doesn’t have to be “worthy” to be of benefit.
A story does just have to live up to the promise of its opening lines. And that’s challenging enough!