A Good Writing Week

Facebook – General

Do you read or write (or both) outdoors? I don’t write outside. I much prefer being at a desk for that (and right now it is beautifully cool in the study so added reason to stay in! It also means I can turn up the volume when Beethoven’s 5th comes on and I avoid annoying the neighbours so win-win).

I read outdoors sometimes, there’s nothing to beat relaxing in a nice recliner with a book in hand unless it’s doing that, knowing you’ve got a long cold drink besides you too!

I cope with colder weather better than hot (as does Lady naturally). How do your characters react to their environment and weather conditions? Do they cope with anything that can be thrown at them weather wise or do they curl up at the sight of anything more than a fine drizzle?! If you’re writing fantasy or anything other worldly, what would be standard weather conditions in your setting? How does it impact on your characters?

Hopefully you’ll find some ways to deepen your characterisation answering questions like that.

A good writing week is when I can look back and see:-

1. CFT post written, images sourced, and appears on the Friday. (Only times it hasn’t appeared have been either because I’ve been away or ill and once there was a technical issue, which meant I had to post a day late).

2. Progress made on my projects, especially the novel.

3. I have either submitted work to competitions/markets or am drafting work to be sent in the near future.

4. My WordPress website round-ups have appeared on the Tuesday and Friday. I enjoy preparing these as they look like a mini magazine. I hope you enjoy them too!

It has been a good week! Do I get bored? No! Do I wish I had more writing time? Always.

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Asking questions is a great way to generate story ideas. The classic one is “What If?” of course, but Kipling’s honest serving men of What and Why and When and How and Where and Who are invaluable for outlining a story of any length.

For example:-

What are the stakes for your lead character?

Why have they got to go for the goal you’ve set?

When do they have to achieve their goal by? (The shorter the time frame the better as it means more pressure for your character).

How will they achieve their objective?

Where does your character live and what bearing does the setting have on their trying to achieve their goal?

Who opposes them and who helps?

You can adjust the above questions to suit your needs, of course, but answering these will give you an outline you can add to or change as you require.

 

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Thrilled to announce my humorous fairytale, What Goes Around, will be in the Bridge House anthology, Nativity, later this year. You can rely on me to share the link as and when I can!

Many congratulations to all of the 24 authors in the latest Bridge House book and a particular shout out to #AlysonRhodes, #PaulaRCReadman, #DawnKnox, #LindaFlynn, and #JamesBates.

I can’t wait to read all of your stories. They will be a wonderful ecletic mix!

Image below taken at a previous Bridge House event (and supplied by Paula Readman, who is on the right. Dawn Knox is in the middle).

It has been a busy few weeks with news of stories in The Best of Cafelit 8 and Transforming Being. I like weeks like this!

Paula Readman, Dawn Kentish Knox and Allison Symes and books - with kind permission from Paula Readman

Paula Readman, Dawn Kentish Knox and I celebrate where our stories have appeared! Many thanks to Paula Readman for the picture.!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am currently listening to the theme from The Incredibles on Classic FM (well I was at the time I wrote this on Facebook!). Loved the film and the music is so appropriate for it. A really good film score always stands out and hooks the watcher into the movie.

Favourite film theme? Hmm… Love The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, no surprises there. Favourite John Williams’ piece is Raiders March (though Schindler’s List is so moving). Very hard to pick out an outright favourite.

For flash fiction writing, it is the title that has to be our big hook in for readers. The title has to be appropriate and to serve the story well, just as film music must serve its movie well. So it is worth taking extra time to get it right but it’s absolutely fine to start off with something and replace it later. I often do that when a better idea occurs as I’m writing the story.

 

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Flash fiction, due to its word count restriction, works best with one character, possibly two (and there I would say that would work better with the longer forms of flash). You are looking for your character to have the strongest impact possible on the reader and having too many characters in such a short space dilutes the effect.

It’s another reason why I use first person a lot. I can get into the head of that character and they can reveal other characters for me/the reader. A good example of this is my Calling the Doctor where my character knows she is dying but it is not until the end she reveals who her doctor is. I don’t need to bring the doctor into the story at all. Do have a look at the book trailer as this is the story I chose to use on this and you’ll see why!

 

Flash fiction may be short, sorry it IS short, but it still takes time to edit and ensure the words you’ve chosen are exactly the right ones to make the maximum impact on a reader.

I usually get a first draft down pretty quickly. What takes the time is re-reading (often several times) and realising this phrase here could be sharpened up if I change one word here. Equally I need to look for those phrases where if I were to cut, something of the flow of the story would be lost. I always judge whether something should stay in on its impact on me (and therefore hopefully readers) and never just on the word count alone.

I see the word count as a guide. If something works better at 200 words rather than 100, then fine, the tale stays at 200! I’ll submit it for a different competition or market. You CAN over-edit. Mixing up what you write in terms of word count is not a bad thing to do anyway and gives you plenty of practice at writing across the range flash fiction offers. Nothing to lose there then!

Good news on the story front as my humorous fairytale What Goes Around is due to be published in the Bridge House Nativity anthology later this year.

It is wonderful when acceptances come in but behind them is a lot of hard work, even more rejections to get stories up to standards where they are in real contention for publication etc.

Even when that is the case, you cannot know whether your Story A or someone else’s Story B will fit the theme of the chosen anthology better.

So if a story is turned down somewhere, look at it again. Is there another market/anthology it could fit? All story writing is useful experience. What you learn as you write a tale (even if it is never published) is what you build on for the next story etc. You do learn, over time, to judge that a story of yours would suit Market X over Market Y. You learn to tailor your submissions too. That increases your chances of acceptance. Note I said increases!

There are no guarantees in writing and I guess that IS guaranteed!

 

Association of Christian Writers – More than Writers –

Legacies in Writing

Do you ever think about what your writing legacy is and, as importantly, should you?

I was recently at the Winchester Writers’ Festival and at the end of the Saturday courses, there was a lovely celebration held in the University of Winchester’s chapel for the late Barbara Large, MBE, who founded the event.

Not only was that a direct support to writers across all genres, she always found time to speak to writers of all levels, when she must have had a million and one things to do. She is remembered with much love, as you can imagine.

Easier said than done but encouraging others in their writing journey benefits them and you. Pixabay

None of us can ever know where our writing journey is going to take us when we first start. As with any road, there will be cul-de-sacs, the literary equivalent of potholes tripping us up, what we thought was a helpful road sign taking us in the wrong direction with our work and so on. (I’m not aware of any literary traffic wardens though!).

The writing journey is not always straightforward.  Pixabay

So we go into the writing life with our eyes wide open and seek to encourage other writers along the way as we ourselves receive encouragement from them.  We all know the heartaches of rejections after all, but we also know publication is possible. We also know writing for your own pleasure is as valid a thing to do but I also believe we can all leave a positive legacy behind. I think it is part of our calling as writers.

None of this can come all at once but are so worth striving for. Pixabay

The writing legacy we should leave then can be summed up as follows.

1.  Aim to write to the highest standard you can manage.

Improvement is always possible. It is always desirable too. Accept your first draft will not be great. My favourite quote on this comes from Terry Pratchett who saw first drafts as “you telling yourself the story”.

It’s then a question of extracting the gold from the dross – and there will be dross and more than you’d like. Shakespeare and Dickens faced the same. We will not be exempt!

Equally true for your writing but looking for continued improvement IS good to aim for.  Pixabay

2.  Be proud of your work. Ensure you enjoy it.

You are your first audience. Once published, you will want to keep on producing work to be “out there”. You must be able to enjoy what you write over and over again. Do mix up what you write.

I love writing short stories and blog posts as well as flash fiction, but whether you write one type of material or loads, you must enjoy it all.  That enjoyment comes through in what you write. Prose the writer has loved writing has an energy all of its own. I believe readers pick up on that instinctively.

It’s a pity we can’t award ourselves these every so often for our writing but look back and see how far you’ve come. Hopefully you will find encouragement there.  Pixabay.

3.  For you to be able to look back and see how your work has improved.

Working at the craft takes time. There are no shortcuts.

Determination to keep going is important too. Stamina is needed.  Pixabay

 

This has always struck me as sensible advice but the writing journey will have its ups and downs. The ride is rarely a straightforward and smooth one but it does help to know that!  Pixabay.

Writing challenges and stretches me and is so much fun.  It is also hard work. The two go together. Wherever your writing journey takes you, enjoy the ride!

Goodreads Author Blog – Changing Books

Which books stay with you as firm favourites throughout and which only last for a specific period in your life?

I wouldn’t give you a thank you for the old Peter and Jane books again (!) but would probably still enjoy the Famous Five.

The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, along with the classic fairytales, will always be favourites.

But the joy of reading is discovering new genres and authors. It has only been comparatively recently I’ve discovered the joys of non-fiction reading. It wasn’t as if I was particularly against it, I just hadn’t tried any.

Now it’s a regular part of my reading routine. (I like the Ben Macintyre books especially. Loved Agent Zigzag in particular). The best non-fiction uses great fictional storytelling techniques and should keep you as gripped as an epic novel.

Which books from your reading past would you change now? Which would you change them for?

 

 

 

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