Image Credit: If not otherwise stated, the images are from the marvellous Pixabay!
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I can’t say a particular story made me decide to write creatively. My journey into writing was a long one. I had always loved composition as it was known at school but I didn’t start writing seriously until I was 30.
It was one of those moments, having always loved books, that made me feel if I am going to have a go at storytelling myself, I had better get on with it then. So I did!
My only regret is not starting sooner as it takes far longer than you can anticipate to find your voice, develop confidence in submitting work, learning how to deal with the inevitable rejections etc. Then there’s the time needed for further development as you work out how to improve your work and so on (usually by trial and error and feedback), until that magical day when the first acceptance arrives. Well worth it though!
One of the joys of writing my Chandler’s Ford Today posts is sourcing the pictures (take a bow, Pixabay).
But the funny thing is themes that seem to be open can often prove to be the most difficult to find suitable images for. I have no idea why that is but it is happening again this week with my topic of favourites. Yes, I know. You’d think I’d find loads for that.
The great thing is I have learned to think laterally in looking for suitable pictures so know I will find images that can fit the post. And I suppose it is a good thing to make yourself think laterally too. (It can be annoying at times though!).
Where do you find the most fun is in writing a story? For me, it’s when I go into a character’s head and show a reader their thoughts and attitudes.
Why? Because If I show you a character who’s irritated, you will conjure up your own mental image of what such an irritated person could look like. I don’t need to spell that out and it saves a lot on the word count, which for flash fiction is crucial.
It also means I get into what makes that character tick so much more quickly and I really love that. I then know what I can do with them, what triggers will really wind them up and that’s when the creative sparks really fly.
Also, it’s at that point when I know what the character’s major trait is (often shown through their thoughts and attitudes), I know whether I’m going to love this character or love to loathe them.
Either reaction is fine as long it is the reaction I want to generate from that character. A character that makes you react is one you want to read about, even if it is just to find out if they get their comeuppance or not. (Confession time: I have been known to cheer to myself when a character who deserves that comeuppance gets it! I had a hard time NOT cheering out loud when Molly Weasley “deals with” Bellatrix in the Harry Potter story. Doing so with the book was fine but I didn’t want to embarrass myself in the cinema!😃😃).
I would far rather read (and write) about a character who I dislike but has purpose and I can kind of understand why they are the way they are than read or write about a character who does nothing for me whatsoever. I have got to react to the characters in some way. It doesn’t always have to be positive.
The writing journey is not without its ups and downs, but (a) this is true for everyone, and (b) if you can get something out of the downs, great.
In my case, many years ago, I was almost caught out by a vanity publisher. What good came out of that?
Well, firstly I wasn’t caught out! Secondly I joined the Society of Authors as a result of the very helpful advice they gave me when I wasn’t a member. To begin with I joined as an Associate but became a Full Member later once I had enough short stories published.
If you’re ever in doubt about an agent or a publisher, don’t hesitate to check them out.
If you are going to spend money on self publishing, get all the advice you can first, and ensure your money is genuinely spent on self publishing! That does NOT include selling you your own books (which is effectively what vanity publishers do).
There are reputable service companies for self publishers out there. Never be afraid to ask pertinent questions. The decent ones won’t mind answering them (and will be expecting them). If you’re not sure what to ask, go to the Society of Authors or Alliance of Independent Authors for advice on what to look for and what to avoid.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
When I started writing, I was unaware of flash fiction as a form. Am very glad I discovered it though! Mind, I don’t think I would’ve tried the form even if I had been aware of its existence then. Why?
Partly because I really didn’t know what I wanted to write. I wrote a novel. I wrote short stories. I have written the odd script or two as well. All great fun. The short stories were published eventually after many a rewrite and edit! The novel I’m working on again now and I hope to do something with the scripts at some point.
The important thing is to enjoy your writing journey wherever it takes you and not to worry about experimenting with different forms of storytelling. You will find the one(s) that really suit you and which you love writing. The fun bit is finding all of this out!
Most helpful tips I’ve used for flash fiction writing (and still do) include:-
1. Don’t have too many characters. One to two is best (especially for the 500 words or under type of story).
2. If a word adds impact, leave it in. Word count is important, obviously, but it is not the only thing that matters.
3. If a word does nothing for the story, take it out.
4. Be aware of what your wasted words are and cut them out on your first edit. You may not be able to stop yourself writing them (I can’t with mine) but they don’t have to go anywhere further than the first draft.
5. Always get your story down first and then edit.
6. Outline your character in as much detail or otherwise as you want before writing the story. You need to know enough about them to be able to write “their” tale convincingly. Only you can decide what is “enough”. For me, I have to know the major characteristic. Is the character brave, a wimp, humorous, as miserable as sin etc?
7. For open themed competitions, I’ve found it useful to set my own theme in advance and work to that. I find it helpful to set my own parameters here. It stops me going off at tangents that do nothing for the story or which could stop the story altogether.
Do I always know in advance what will work best as an opening or closing line for a flash fiction story? The really good lines can be used for either and I have sometimes deliberately written two very different stories, using the same line like this.
I outline my character and often as I do that it will become apparent where the line is likely to work best.
Take, for example, the line is something like:-
She was a clumsy clot.
I would almost certainly put that at the start of a story and then shows what happens to my unfortunate character. It is, if you like, the obvious way to write that particular line into a story. I would also think of it as a negative way to finish a tale. (It sums up the character but there’s no space left to show any redeeming features, which is why I would consider this a negative ending). Sometimes you want that, of course.
But my gut feel here would be to write a humorous tale that ends on a positive note, such as something useful coming out of my character’s mishaps which helps another character.
Writing exercise time… how about some lines to work on? But unlike the ones you might have been set at school, these should be fun, honest!
It’s up to you whether you use them as opening or closing lines. You could see if you can manage both. Good luck and have fun with these.
1. He would be extinguished if he didn’t get out before the candle burned out.
2. There were rats everywhere.
3. The temptation to go through the portal was just too much.
4. Less is more, she fumed, well I’ll show them.
5. The glittering gold couldn’t tempt him away from the mission but there was something that would.
Goodreads Author Programme Blog – The TBR Pile
How large is your To Be Read pile?
Mine hasn’t quite got to the point where I need scaffolding to keep the TBR pile upright but give me time…
I also have a considerable reading list waiting for me on my Kindle too.
The positives with this are:-
(a) I’m never going to be short of things to read;
(b) I have different things to read to suit my moods;
(c) It doesn’t matter if I want to catch up with reading at home or away – the Kindle takes care of the latter nicely enough.
The negatives with this are:-
(a) Being only too aware of the finiteness of time! There will never be enough time to read every book I want to!
(b) Having to get the scaffolding out in due course to prop up my TBR pile!
(c) It’s going to take me a while to update what I’ve read here on Goodreads!
I read most just before settling to sleep or, on a long train journey and I’ve finished what writing I want to do, I then switch to reading.
However large your TBR pile is, happy reading! Whittle it down gradually and then you’ll have room for more lovely books…!