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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Just sometimes I write a CFT post where I have to stick to a very strict word count limit. I could go on at length about Why I Love History but that is precisely why I shouldn’t!
I’ve forgotten who it was who apologised to a friend for sending a long letter as they hadn’t the time to write a short one, but I know what they mean. (Whoever it was behind this comment would surely have made a great flash fiction writer – or at least had an appreciation for it!).
Captions over on the CFT site.
This is one of those posts where I HAD to set a strict word count limit. Too easy to go on at length on Why I Love History. I take a look at how history gets everywhere, I discuss the importance of remembering, and how fiction writers use history. (Just to name one example, there will be the histories of our characters that we need to know to be able to write about them, though most of this will not end up in the stories themselves). I also look at the joy of local history. Hope you enjoy.
Why do you write? I write because I have to and that’s it. I aim to be published as often as possible yet know there will be plenty of rejections to cope with too. The former is a joy when it happens, the latter is a pain, but that is the writing lot, which is fine by me. Ups and downs are part of normal life, so they’re going to happen in the writing life too. It’s working out how you handle them that’s important.
I just cannot imagine (literally!) not writing. It is my way of playing with words. I was (and still am) useless at art but words are my way of being creative. I think everyone has some creative instinct in them somewhere. It’s a question of finding what is right for you.
I love the challenge of creating new posts for Chandler’s Ford Today, short stories, and flash fiction. Particularly for the latter, the challenge is to keep on coming up with interesting characters that will grip a reader (and said characters have got to start by gripping me first!).
Writing is a great way to keep the brain very active!
Glad to report Nativity is now showing on my Goodreads page. Many thanks to the folks there for sorting that out for me.
I have had the joy of being published in other Cafelit titles though some of those stories made it into From Light to Dark and Back Again and naturally I’m going to focus on publicising that which is why is has a prominent place here!
Glad that I’m finally getting a grip on things like my Goodreads and Amazon pages though. It is easy to overlook things like that. (Also nice to find I’ve now had work in 12 books, including FLTDBA though there is one book missing from my Amazon page. I had a piece in The Shamblelurkers Return, a charity book edited by #MaritMeredith, many moons ago, which does show up on Amazon but is unavailable. It was good fun to take part in though! Many thanks, Marit!).
Nativity by Bridge House Publishing is a great example of several authors working to the same theme but taking many different takes on it. If you needed confirmation all authors have their own unique voice, anthologies like this prove it. I concede though it can take a while to work out what your voice is! I know it took me some time to do so. I think you know you’ve found what your voice is when you write in a certain way and know that IS the way for you to do it. When you can only write the way you do…
That doesn’t let you off the hard graft of editing and polishing your stories and articles to give them the best chance “out there” though. Knowing what your voice is and using it is just the start! But a reader should be able to read several pieces of yours and hear your voice through the way you present your characters etc.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I don’t often use adverbs in flash fiction. They don’t give me enough of an impact to justify their inclusion. For example, what makes the most impact out of these two sentences?
1. She ran quickly.
2. She ran as if the hounds of hell were after her.
Sure, the first one is economical in terms of word count but to me it is meaningless. When you run, you usually do it as quickly as you can for a start!
The second one, while longer, is much more promising. It conjures up much stronger images and I would definitely use this one. If I needed to reduce a word count down to say 100 words and this phrase took me over it, I would be looking to make cuts elsewhere in the text OR submit the piece to a competition with a higher word count limit.
Impact on the reader is by far the most important consideration when working out what to leave IN a story.
Top tips I’ve found useful for writing flash fiction include the following:-
1. Keep the pace taut. (Short sentences and paragraphs work wonders here).
2. Stick to one major character if your flash fiction story is sub-500 words. The idea of flash is to focus and limiting how many characters you have in your story helps enormously with that focus. The character themselves can refer to other characters – I use this technique a lot to show what my lead thinks of the others who are “off stage”. That in turn shows up what this character’s attitude is and as the story goes on, the reader should find out whether the character is justified or not in their stance.
3. Vary how you create your flash stories. I sometimes start with the closing line and work backwards to get to the start. Mixing up your methods here keeps things fresh and interesting for you and I believe some of that filters through to a reader.
Quick bargain alert: From Light to Dark and Back Again is on offer at Amazon. Paperback and Kindle versions are at the same price. If you know someone who likes quirky fiction… 😊
One of the things I would love to become true, if it isn’t already, is that flash fiction helps reluctant readers overcome that reluctance to read. After all, none of us started off by reading War and Peace, did we? Oh… that was just me not doing so then…😀😉
Children are encouraged to read and with the wonderful world of children’s literature out there, they have such fantastic choices. “Grown ups” (the jury’s out on me!) also have fantastic selections but I’ve heard people say at book fairs etc that they “don’t read”. That strikes me as being incredibly sad. They are missing out on so much.
But what can we as authors do to encourage people NOT to stop reading much later on in life? To see reading as every bit a valid form of entertainment as TV, cinema etc? Thoughts welcome…
Fairytales with Bite – A to Z of Fairytale “Rules” Part 1
This is what I think fairytale rules might consist of – see what you think.
A = Always Believe. The lead character usually has to!
B = Be Humble. Characters who are not tend to get their comeuppance.
C = Charity Welcomed. Think of the characters who have been kind to little old men/women who then turn out to be powerful wizard or fairy godmother in disguise.
D = Deserving. Characters who are considered to be deserving of assistance get it – Cinderella is the classic example of this for me.
E = Energy. The best fairytales are full of energy and zip along. There is not one dull moment, something all writers need to aspire to with their own work.
F = Fairy Godmothers. These turn up when needed. They always turn up to characters who aren’t expecting them. There has to be a rulebook about this somewhere…
More next time…
This World and Others – Setting Your Sights
When coming up with your characters, how much of the world you’ve put them in are you going to show to your readers? How much do readers need to know? How much do you need to know that never makes it on to the page but which is crucial for you to create your characters and their setting with conviction?
You need to decide whether it is best to set your sights on a tight focus – i.e. you show your characters living in one specific town, say. Or would your story be better served showing the complete world in which your characters live and the contrasts between areas in that world?
Only you can answer that one but it pays to set your sights as early on as possible and then focus on whichever route you’ve decided to go. If your story world has a major affect on how your characters act and react, then you probably do need to show the reader as much of that as possible so they understand why.