Flash In The Pan, Meeting Targets, and Book Tokens

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all images are from Pixabay.

Facebook – General

Lovely day (over the weekend) having a family get-together. Weather held for just long enough too. Lots of laughter, happy memories of those we’ve lost, and mutual support. Gatherings like this are so precious.

What do your characters cherish most? What would their get-togethers be like? Is there anyone they absolutely would NOT invite under any circumstances? How did that come about?

Is there a character who would love to have get-togethers but has nobody to invite? Do they make efforts to break through loneliness, shyness etc? Are they successful? (I must admit for a story like that I would always prefer an upbeat ending).

Happy writing!

 

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Facebook – General – 

and Association of Christian Writers –

More Than Writers – Flash In The Pan

It was a real labour of love to write about flash fiction for the Association of Christian Writers’ More than Writers blog today. I looked at the benefits of writing it and what it has taught me. I’m afraid I couldn’t resist the pun of Flash in the Pan though!

Having said that, puns can work well as titles in flash fiction. You are looking for the title to do a lot of the work for you in setting mood and what is likely to come, especially for those competitions and markets where the title is part of the word count.

I like to mix up how I come up with titles to keep me on my toes. You can’t use puns all the time, it would be tiresome, but every now and again, they can add spice to a mix of stories.

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I used to love writing letters to friends when I was much younger. I like email and couldn’t imagine life without it. (It makes submitting work SO much easier and cheaper for one thing!).

But there was something nice about receiving a hand-written letter with your name all over it and you knew it was from Friend X. Guaranteed to brighten my day as I not only had the joy of the letter to read, I always anticipated the joy of replying!

I occasionally still receive a hand-written letter as part of my volunteer role for the Association of Christian Writers and those are a joy too. I suppose it’s the personal touch that really rings home here. Someone has taken time and gone that extra mile for me. (Thank you!).

How can we as writers go the “extra mile” to benefit our readers? My approach here is to try to make my characters as engaging as possible (even if they are the type a reader loves to hate! I like (silently) booing a “good” villain myself so want to make sure there is something a reader can really get behind here!).

I like dialogue to ring true (I rarely use any kind of accent in a story. Nor do I use old English for historical flash fiction. I always aim for clarity – and frankly old English isn’t always that clear. You just want touches to conjure up the old worlds for readers. So I may use the odd old word, I try to get my characters to speak in such a way it makes sense for them to speak that way – they are always true to their class – and above all I will show something of the setting. Those are generally enough details for the reader to pick up the right images. Then I get on with the story!

Whatever you write, thinking about what the reader needs from your characters I believe is very important. I’m looking to entertain others with my stories (I hope) so I need to figure out how to reach out to those I’d like to read them. After all they don’t have to read my work so I see it that I must go the extra mile so they might want to!

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Pleased to say I reached my target at Slimming World tonight. I don’t know yet if I’ll be aiming to lose more but this particular journey has been a long one. That’s okay. The writing journey is also a long one and that’s not the only similarity between the two kinds of journey.

1. You know the journey will take a long time and that you have to be in it for the long haul to make progress. That’s okay. Go into it with your eyes wide open.

2. There WILL be blips along the way (rejections, that block of cheese which somehow managed to vanish by itself!). What matters is accepting that and learning how to handle them. (Can you learn from the rejections? Can you try your story out somewhere else? Can you learn NOT to have blocks of cheese in except for special occasions and relish them more because it’s for a special treat?).

3. When success does comes (whether it’s a publication credit or a bigger weight loss than expected comes, sometimes ANY weight loss!), you will cherish it the more because you know the hard work that has gone into either of these. You really will have earned it. That is a good feeling.

4. There will always be someone who will, deliberately or otherwise, try to undermine what you are doing. (You don’t need to lose weight. You don’t want to submit a story THERE. Said unhelpful folk either feel threatened by what you are trying to achieve or really don’t realise what they’re coming out with is undermining you. Best advice? Ignore. Focus on what you are trying to achieve and Go For It. You have nothing to lose here after all. If you achieve what you would like or close to it, that’s fab. If not do you need to revisit your goal? Perhaps go for it in baby steps rather than try to do it in giant strides.). What you really need are people are constructive and can share helpful thoughts and comments. When you find such people, cherish them and naturally always try to be that way yourself.

Good luck with the writing. If any of you are also on a losing weight journey, good luck with that too. Neither are easy but both can be rewarding! (Naturally any food or drink in the Pixabay pictures are completely calorie and syn free!).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What things stop you writing? For me the biggest one is fatigue. So if I know I’ve got a particularly busy week coming up, I will draft a few posts and then upload them later. It takes any pressure off me, I still feel like I’m writing (which means the world to me), and I get things done.

It’s never lack of ideas or time, funnily enough, which is a relief. Fighting fatigue is best done for me by ensuring I get enough sleep, eat and drink well etc. I pay for it if I don’t do those things. It pays for writers to look after themselves here. It does help the creative spirit, especially since we are all in this for the long haul.

Happy writing and look after yourself!

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One of the frustrations of flash fiction I used to find was having a fabulous character that I wanted to do much more with, but I’ve said all that is needed to be said in their story!

One way round that? Linked flash fiction stories! The only thing to ensure is, however many other stories you do with this Fabulous Character in it, that each and every story is strong, stands in its own right, and builds that character over the series. It’s great fun when you get it right. Yes, you do need to know how many stories would be appropriate. Better to have only two linked but strong stories than six, out of which four are weak. You never want to come across as stretching an idea or character too thinly.

The nice thing with linked stories is I still get to enjoy the challenge of coming up with new characters for each story as the Fabulous Character won’t meet the same characters in each and every story. They’ve literally moved on to the next adventure and so will come across new people and challenges to overcome (or not as the case may be!).

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I love writing flash fiction using a closing line and working backwards to the beginning. It means I can come up with a humdinger of a closing line and then work out logically how my character(s) would get to that point. Agatha Christie often worked backwards like this.

But I think I have the most fun when I have a humdinger of an opening line. I like to work out different possibilities and then I go with the one I like best. It is never the first idea I’ve come up with either. This is where I find spider diagrams useful as I work out varying possibilities.

The important point though is to have fun writing. I think that fun does somehow permeate through to a reader. Certainly when I read, I pick up on the liveliness of a character portrayal, for example, and my first thought is inevitably something on the lines of the writer had fun writing that! Naturally I would like readers to think the same about what I come up with!

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The things I look for in a good flash fiction story (whether written by me or not) include:-

1. Impact. (Did the story have any?! Also was the impact what I think the writer meant me to feel? Was it the impact I wanted it to have on my readers?).

2. Imagery. (What images does the story/characters conjure up in my mind? What images do I think my story will give readers?).

3. For twist in the tale endings, did I see the ending coming or was the author able to keep me guessing? (Both are fine, funnily enough. The former shows the author delivered on what their story promises. The latter keeps me on my toes).

4. Appropriate use of words.A really well written story will make me gasp in admiration at the way the writer has used the language. They won’t go for the “obvious” either. I can learn from that (and do!).

5. I finish the story, having relished reading it. I then re-read it and can find something new in it that I missed on first read through.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Tokens and Gift Vouchers

Do you remember the book token? I was given a few of these when I was growing up in the 1970s and loved them. The thought of going to a bookshop and choosing something was so exciting.

Of course back then there were more bookshops to choose from. I definitely don’t see the reduction in bookshops (and indeed libraries) as something to be proud of, just the opposite in fact.

A £5.00 book token back then would certainly mean I could get two paperbacks (£1.99 each – those WERE the days!).

One of the earliest series I collected was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five as my local TV company (now sadly defunct) was bringing these to life on the small screen. Naturally the books were rushed out again with new covers linking in to the TV series.

These days it tends to be gift vouchers but I love those you can spend almost anywhere, including W.H. Smiths and Waterstones. I needn’t tell you where I spend mine after that, need I?!

The nice thing is I still have that sense of excitement about the prospect of choosing a new book. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that. Neither do I want to!

Do you remember where you spent your book tokens and what were some of your cherished purchases?

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