Facebook – General
Pleased to say the book trailer for The Best of Cafelit 8 has now been added to the trailers page on my website.
I’m also delighted to say a copy of the paperback is now on display at The Framing Shop in Hiltingbury, along with a copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again. Many thanks to Frith who runs the cafe there as there is now a selection of books by local authors in there. Naturally I hope to add a copy of Tripping the Flash Fantastic in due course!
Favourite moments in time include:-
1. Getting to the end of reading a great book and knowing you’ll enjoy it all over again when you re-read it. (You just know you will).
2. Getting to the end of a first draft of a story and knowing you’ve got the basics down. It’s now down to fine tuning it and cutting what you don’t need.
3. Getting that fine tuning and cutting done!
4. Hearing you’re going to be published. (That one gives a buzz which never fades away).
5. Coming in to a wonderful warm house after a cold winter’s walk with the dog and knowing you don’t have to go out again that day! (This is even nicer when you’ve got caught in the rain and can come in for a towel dry and a cup of hot chocolate. Naturally the dog just gets the towel dry!).
6. Discovering an adaptation of a favourite story actually works and hasn’t ruined the tale for you.
7. Your favourite piece of classical music comes on the radio. (Holst – Jupiter from the Planet Suite – before you ask).
8. You close down for the night, knowing you’ve got a lot of productive writing done. (That gives a great buzz too).
9. Swanwick Writers’ Summer School – the entire week. Enough said.
10. Meeting up with writer friends and picking up conversation from where you last left off, no matter how long ago it was you last saw them. (See 9 above).
One problem series novelists can have is coming to loathe their creations. Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously did so with Poirot and Holmes.
Now as a flash fiction writer, I’m always creating new characters so surely this problem doesn’t exist for me then?
Not exactly. I’ve still got to really love the character I’ve invented to write their story with conviction. I’ve only had two occasions where I’ve abandoned a story and rightly never came back to it again. Both times the character just didn’t grip me and well if they didn’t work for me, they weren’t going to work for anyone else.
I hadn’t put enough thought into these particular characters. I’ve got to know what makes them tick and why. I don’t have to like them, many of my characters I’d never want to meet in life (!), but I do have to understand where they are coming from. If I haven’t got that, I haven’t got anyone to write about!
One good thing about the cold weather is it increases your pace when walking the dog. (Not that Lady minds).
For story writing I tend to increase pace (when I need to) by:-
1. Keeping my sentences short.
2. Keeping my paragraphs short. (This also avoids having big blocks of text which can be offputting to a reader).
When reviewing my story I look for continual movement. What is my character doing? Why? When they are thinking, are those thoughts conducive to their attaining their goal or reveal things the reader needs to know?
By checking for this, I am also looking at the pace throughout the story. It should be building up towards the resolution.
When there are apparent periods of calm in the story, it should be that the character is about to be dropped right in it again by their creator!
Periods of calm don’t last long in a story. They can’t. Nothing happens. Boring for a reader. Equally boring for the writer. But a brief period of calm is fine. It enables both the reader and writer to get their collective breaths back, ready for the next event.
The important thing is to ensure there are no boring bits. The periods of calm should be used to show the reader something useful that connects with what has gone before and with what is about to come.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Pleased to share news that FLTDBA is now on display at The Framing Shop in Hiltingbury (along with a copy of The Best of Cafelit 8). It is great that venues like this are supporting local authors (and in this case encouraging all local artists of any kind to display work).
Many thanks to all who kindly commented on my CFT post on Numbers into Writing Will Go and it was great one comment flagged up the the annual children’s 500-word story competition run by Radio 2. I’m thrilled this competition is encouraging children to enjoy flash fiction writing. I hope it leads to more engagement with reading as well as writing. Good luck to all who take part in the competition.
Less is definitely more for flash fiction and I agree with the commentator who felt so much could be packed into few words. It is one of the things I love most about the form though my absolute favourite is because it has to be character led, I can set those characters in whatever genre and time period I like. (And I do!).
Five Favourite Thoughts on Flash Fiction:-
1. It really does have to be character led but the great thing is you can set those characters wherever and whenever you want.
2. If one word count limit size doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of others to try! I love the drabble (the 100-words story) but sometimes I feel a story of mine has more impact at 150 words and would lose out if I tried to force it to fit to a lower count so I don’t do so. I would submit that story to sub-250 words competition/market instead of a 100-words one.
3. I think it has great possibilities of encouraging the reluctant reader precisely because the format is not asking too much of said reluctant reader in one go. Once you can hook someone into reading, then the delights of longer stories and novels await (I hope!). I also find flash stories brilliant to read when I’ve finished reading a novel and am not sure which one to go for next from my TBR pile.
4. Flash fiction is great for reading on screen so it can “catch” those who like to do their reading that way.
5. From a writer’s viewpoint, it is easy enough to share flash fiction on websites, posts like this one, to show what you do. The best way to “sell” flash fiction is to demonstrate what it is!
I’ve never really used colour in my stories (other than for a brief description of something). I tend to focus on the mood of the story in terms of whether it is a light piece, a dark one, or somewhere in between. (One huge advantage of that approach was it made finding a title for my first flash fiction collection that much easier!).
Where colour did come in was in deciding what worked best for the book cover. I went for the green but had pondered over a deep blue. I am looking forward to thinking again about that aspect of things for my next collection (though I am already thinking about this and what could be on the cover. It’s not a decision to rush! It IS one to savour though…!).
I’m not sure how you could define a “purple” story anyway but maybe it would be fun to find out…
The one item I am most keen to get right in a flash fiction story is its ending. Why?
Well, nobody likes a story, of any length, that falls flat, for a start.
Also I love twist in the tale endings and these work particularly well for flash fiction. So I need to check the twist IS really a twist and that it is something which does develop out of the story. As someone once said, the clues are there…
I know if I can get the ending right and the beginning feels flat, I can change that beginning so it suits my super-duper finale.
Likewise, I’ve sometimes come up with a better idea for my title as a result of getting the ending right.
Books and Their Accompaniments
Is it possible to have too many book shelves?
No! Okay so you can run out of room to put up said book shelves, which is another reason I think to have at least some reading material on a Kindle.
End of problem (until your “shelves” on there fill up and you realise you’re not going to be short of things to read much before 2050 but hey it’s a lovely problem to have!).
The other book accompaniment I love is the good old book mark. Some of them are lovely and I enjoy collecting those issued by writer friends. Yes, I do put the book marks to good use too. You won’t find turned down book pages in THIS household (shudders at the thought…!).
I was delighted to find out thanks to a writer friend that a picture framing shop in our area, which has been around for years, is now displaying books by local authors. Naturally I popped along to put a copy of mine (From Light to Dark and Back Again) in there and a copy of The Best of Cafelit 8 where I have two flash fiction pieces.
The cafe area where this display is situated is lovely and the people behind this are keen to bring together local writers, artists etc. The idea of art as an accompaniment to books is one I love. After all, book covers are often works of art in their own right, are they not?
Oh and finally I do love pens with a book logo on. I hope to get some more done when my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, comes out.
But the best accompaniment of all to a book is a comfy chair and a cup of whatever drink you fancy!