Is It A Good Idea to Have Favourites?

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week – Is It a Good Idea to Have Favourites? – was an interesting one to write as I looked at both sides of the argument here.  I also look at favourites from a writing/reading viewpoint. I think I may have found my favourite “eyes” image from Pixabay here too!

Prior to writing this, I’d considered favourites as just something you have, whether it is for food, books or what have you, but, of course, the big danger with having favourites at all is that can make you unwilling to accept or try anything new.

From a writing viewpoint, that is definitely not a good thing. I wouldn’t be a flash fiction writer had I taken that view.

Anyway, see what you think and, as ever, comments are welcome over on the CFT page.

Image Credit:  As ever, the marvellous Pixabay! Captions over on CFT.

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What has writing done for me? This is by no means a comprehensive list though I admit I could probably bore for Britain on the topic!

1. Given me an all engrossing creative art. I’m not an arty person (though I appreciate photography, wonderful landscapes, beautiful sculptures and, of course, music) so to have something I know I can do and be creative in is, for me, fantastic. It confirms my belief there is an art for everyone. It’s a question of finding which is the one (or more) for you.

2. Increased my circle of friends no end and long may that continue! (It’s one of the best things about social media too – you can maintain those friendships, albeit at a distance).

3. The lovely thing with writing is when you go to conferences etc., you have an instant topic of conversation. You don’t have to explain why you write. People get it. Of course any snippets of information (e.g. competition news, scams to avoid, publishers to approach etc) are also incredibly useful.

4. Writing has stretched my imagination and given me confidence to try new forms of writing, such as flash fiction!

5. Helped me develop a tougher skin as I learned to cope with rejections. To be honest, they’re still annoying now when they come in (though these days it’s more often a case of realising you’ve not heard from someone for months), but learning to accept they are all part and parcel of the writing life takes time. It helps though. When you get to that point, it is easier to take them on the chin. It also helps to know you’re not alone.

6. Expanded my reading, both for research purposes, and entertainment. One of the joys I cherish is having a book shelf with my book and anthologies I’ve had work in and along side those are books written by people who are now my friends. Can’t put a price on that. Cheers me no end every time I walk past the shelf in question!

7. Well, I wouldn’t be a published author and blogger without writing, would I?!

Does it pay sometimes to look at what writing actually does for you? I think so. I like to use this sort of thing to spur me on. We all need that sometimes.

Happy writing!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Are there any topics in flash fiction (or my general writing come to that) which I deliberately don’t tackle? Oh yes.

1. Politics. What I DO write here is set up a mythical world and show some of the politics in that, where it is appropriate to the story to do so. This is particularly true for my longer short stories. Naturally some of those thoughts will have echoes with what we experience here.

2. Romantic love. Just not my topic, I’m afraid. Where it forms part of an overall story, I’m happy reading it, but for it to be the whole story isn’t for me. The story of Arwen and Aragorn as part of The Lord of the Rings works well for me and I like it a lot but it is the overall story with Frodo and the Fellowship that matters most.

Having said that, there is so much scope with flash fiction to cover a wide range of topics through the characters so do I feel the lack of not writing about these two? Absolutely not!

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Getting the mixtures of stories in a flash fiction collection, especially in terms of mood, isn’t always easy. If you’re working to a theme, that helps a lot. It can help keep you focused.

With FLTDBA I wasn’t working to a theme, as such. I graded my stories in terms of mood and then worked out where I thought they would best appear.

I didn’t want to end the book on a dark piece or start it with one so that indicated to me the title had to show some kind of “scale”. (Though one person’s dark story is someone else’s light horror so you can’t grade things to completely satisfy everyone. What matters is you and your publisher are happy with it when all is said and done!).

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When outlining a new story, I work out who the main character will be and what their major traits are and then what I think the mood of the tale will be. I love writing humorous stories but I also like darker tales, so it is a question for me of deciding what mood would suit my lead character best.

Sometimes it’s obvious. A dark character fits into a dark tale and so on, but sometimes a character will prove to have a sense of humour which I can use to lighten the darkness.

I know when I read stories with characters like this in them, I am more engrossed. There’s a kind of “well, they can be funny, are they really that evil” and you have to read on to find out. (Oh and generally yes they are and often use the humour to manipulate other characters but that’s another matter! What’s important is I have kept reading. The challenge to me as a writer is to produce characters that fascinate and keep a reader engrossed like that).

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Fairytales with Bite – Characters with Bite

My favourite types of character are those with bite (and I’m not a vampire fan either!). So what does with bite mean here? I adore characters who:-

1.  Say what they mean and follow up on what they say they will do (equally applies to villains!).

2.  Are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in (and can apply to villains too!).

3.  Have good, understandable reasons for their actions, even if you don’t agree with them.

4.  Are memorable. Some will have distinctive phrases but for me the most memorable ones are the ones with attitudes I remember and agree with or loathe. Whatever way it is, they stick in the mind, which is precisely what you want your characters to achieve.

5.  I love characters with a sense of humour (and even more so if they can laugh at themselves).

6.  I adore characters with courage. (Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee and a host of others).

7.  I love characters who fight for their own happy ever after, even if they fail. I loathe wishy-washy characters. I’ve got to feel the character has done something and that the story would be incomplete without them. If I feel why is this character in here then there’s something amiss.

What would you list as the attributes your characters must have?

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This World and Others –

Is It A Good Idea to Have Favourites?

Linking in with my CFT post this week, I thought I’d look at this topic from the viewpoint of our characters and how we create them. So do you have favourite characters of your own making and, if so, should you?

I must admit I can’t see how any writer can avoid having favourites amongst their characters. There are bound to be creations we prefer over others, simply for things such as we like Character A’s sense of irony, which Character B, noble as they are, simply doesn’t have. What DOES matter is that we are scrupulous about how we create our characters.

By this I mean when planning out characters, we should ensure each and every one of them has flaws and virtues. Each and every one of them must have good reasons for acting the way they are. Each and every one of them should feel real to a reader. No cardboard cut-outs here!

You, as the writer, have got to know what makes them all tick. You need to know what drives them, what would frustrate them, what would tempt them away from the path they’re supposed to be on, and how they handle weakness in themselves, yet alone in others.

A good sign of a “proper” favourite character is knowing you’ve created a character that for many reasons you dislike (e.g. you disagree with their attitudes) but have brought them to life in such a way your reader will be intrigued by them and there will be no sign of your antipathy towards them either. Good luck!

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