Writing for Myself and Perfect Days

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Facebook – General

Had a lovely time with visiting family today. Lady is very tired – good walking and lots of cuddles from more people than normal and her favourite dinner. Life doesn’t get any better for her…! Very much her perfect day.

Do you ever think about what would be the perfect day for your characters? Okay, I know. In your story, you’re going to put them through hell, love doing so, and therefore have no interest in working out what their perfect day would be. All perfectly understandable BUT… (you knew there’d be one!)…

Working out what a character would love will reveal to you more of their personality and how they are likely to take things when their desires are thwarted. Ironically, that will help you work out just how far you can push them until they reach breaking point – and that is when you can drop them right in it.

Have fun!

 

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The weekend has had what I call perfect autumn weather – crisp, dry, reasonably warm. It’s my favourite kind of weather. Lady likes it too. Am not so keen on it getting darker earlier but hey hum, you can’t have everything.

I always think of Keats’s “mists and mellow fruitfulness” at this time of year. It is such a wonderful summing up of the season. I don’t use the weather much in my stories. I tend to imply it with the odd reference to what my character is wearing. (If it’s a big coat it’s either very cold out there or the character’s a softie. You’ll soon find out from the story which is the case!).

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The joy of word play is exemplified in shows like Radio 4’s Just A Minute, but it is something most writers relish too.

I love it, when writing a lighter flash fiction tale, if I can come up with a pun which fits the story and is better than the original idea I came up with. Sometimes this is for the title, sometimes it is for the end of the story or for a quirky piece of dialogue. Great fun whenever it happens though I must admit it doesn’t happen nearly often enough for my liking but that’s another story (and my problem!).

Flash fiction writing has taught me to pick words with greater care because, of course, I want to make the maximum impact on a reader for the lowest word count possible. Playing on the double meaning of words is not only fun but helps enormously with this aspect of writing.

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I started writing purely for myself to begin with. I wanted to see if I could write a short story. Then could I do so again. Then could I write a short story in a different genre etc etc. It was some time before I decided to see if I could get the stories published.

I don’t regret that. To a certain extent any apprenticeship was served in all of those stories that (rightly!) never saw the light of day. Learning to cope with rejections was another step on the way. Starting to get positive rejectiosn was another huge milestone.

The writing journey is made up of steps. Publication is the biggest step I think but the journey continues after that. The important thing is to make sure you’re enjoying the journey!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When I outline a piece of flash fiction, I usually ask myself the following questions.

1. What mood would I like the story to be? (There are some competitions or themes where the mood is clearly dictated, but for open competitions, you get to decide this. I’ve always found it has paid me to think about this one way ahead of writing the story).

2. Who is my lead character and why have I selected them?

3. What is my lead character seeking? Do they succeed? How?

4. What gets in my lead character’s way and how do they overcome these things?

You can set your own questions for outlining purposes, of course, but anything that helps you to get to the nitty-gritty of what your story is about and who your character is will be of enormous benefit to you. I’ve found outlining like this has saved a lot of time (and stops me going off at unhelpful tangents).

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The one good thing about the nights drawing in is that should help me get more writing done. My main writing session is in the evening after we’ve taken Lady out for her evening walk and had dinner.

We will be coming back earlier due to falling light levels soon and Lady will have to wear her fairy light on her collar again. She’s not keen on it but she lights up the world like a little ray of sunshine (albeit a green coloured one most of the time) and it is the only way to see her in the dark!

What do your characters make of the dark? Do you have any that are scared of it and have to learn to overcome that fear? My characters tend to see it as more of a nuisance than anything else. (As does Lady!).

 

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I looked at favourite film adaptations of books in my last Goodreads blog. That doesn’t happen with flash fiction, given the form is far too short for that (though famously Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story. I think the standard length short story is the shortest material that could be turned into a film.).

I have expanded flash fiction ideas into standard length short stories (1500 to 2000 words) where the idea is one I really love and is up to being extended. But I don’t do this often as I’m busily moving on to the next idea most of the time. And I do relish the challenge of coming up with different ideas and characters. It keeps me on my toes!

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Flash fiction is a great outlet for those moments which are not long enough to form a standard short story or novel, but which still have interest and good characterisation. I’ve read many an excellent character study in flash fiction and you can learn a lot about how to portray your own characters studying things like this. (It’s also fun!).

The phrase less is more could have been written for flash fiction fans. You don’t always want lots of details for your characters. You want your reader to find the heart of the character quickly and focus on that.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Books Into Films

My favourite adaptation has to be Peter Jackson’s take on J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings – the vision conjured up seemed to match what I had thought when I first read the trilogy.

It was wonderful “seeing” The Shire. The darkness of Mordor was vividly brought to life too.

I’ve also loved the adaptations of Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, Hogfather, and The Colour of Magic.

I would love to see an adaptation of Men at Arms and Raising Steam.

I still don’t understand how you can get three films out of The Hobbit though!

Having said all of that, I am all for film adaptations of books as long as they stay faithful to the book. I don’t “get” changing endings, character roles etc. It makes it a different story to the one the author originally intended and I really can’t see the point of that.

What are your favourite adaptations and why?

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