Image Credit: As ever, unless otherwise stated, the images are from the marvellous Pixabay
Facebook – General
Full of cold at the moment. Not a happy bunny though booking my place for this year’s Swanwick Writers’ Summer School HAS cheered me up no end!
Also looking forward to the next edition of Writing Magazine because I love turning to the letters page, the subscribers’ news etc and see how many friends have got a mention in there! It’s nice to see the numbers going up!
Writing wise, I’m focusing on non-fiction at the moment though I have got short stories “brewing” ready for me to look at them again with a fresh eye. I find the time away from stories really useful, as when I do go back to them, I will see their strengths and weaknesses with an unjaundiced eye, but I hope to get back to these sometime next week. One I want to submit within the next couple of weeks.
Writing takes you away from the world for a bit. Just a pity it can’t get rid of the sniffles as well…
The advantages of having more than one project on the go:-
1. You never get bored.
2. If you get stuck on one thing, work on the other. Ideas for resolving the problem(s) on the first will come to you while you work on something else. One of the chief Murphy’s Laws for Writers, I think. I do know that this has always been the case for me.
3. You can work on smaller projects and see (hopefully) submission successes while still working away on a longer project you know will take longer to place even when you’ve finished writing and editing it.
4. You can try different kinds of writing and see what you like best.
5. When work has been submitted, you’ve always got something else to work on.
I’ll look at the disadvantages tomorrow.
Following on from yesterday’s post, now it’s time to look at the disadvantages of having more than one project on the go.
1. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. (My advice here is to plan things out as much as you can. When you know you haven’t got much writing time, use what you’ve got to get little pieces done. It makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something – you have! – and the great thing is you can polish these pieces up and submit them later. Also remember if you only have time for say a writing exercise or two, do them because you will get some useful material from them for later, which could feed directly into the projects you’re working on. Likewise, if you can only write a page or two for one of your projects, get it done. Those pages or two mount up over time.).
2. You can feel torn as to which project you should be working on. (It can help to set yourself deadlines here but be realistic. If you’re working on a novel, and say a collection of short stories or flash fiction, it simply IS going to take you longer to complete both but that’s okay. Work out when you would like to get these projects done by in an ideal world, then add time on given it isn’t an ideal world (!), and work to that timetable. Also accept life will get in the way sometimes so don’t beat yourself up if that happens. It does happen to everybody including those who do only work on one project at a time).
3. I can’t help but sneak in another advantage here in that I’m working on big projects which I know will take ages to complete but that’s okay. Meanwhile I’m getting short pieces written and out and building up publication credits etc. All of that will add to my writing CV when I am ready to submit the big projects later.
But deciding what works for you writing wise, and what YOU feel you can sustain long term, whether you work on one or more projects at a time, is key here. Key to getting things done. Key to you being happy with your output. Good luck!
W = When you get to invent worlds and people for fiction or present interesting information for non-fiction.
R = Really get to understand why characters are the way they are and, for non-fiction, discovering more about your topic.
I = Imagination fires up and triggers more story ideas and, for non-fiction, imagination helps you see connections that can trigger further blog posts, articles etc.
T = Time – there’s never enough!
I = Insist on carving out writing time for yourself, whether it’s for a short period or longer; you will feel better in yourself for having that time and others will benefit from your having the benefit of the writing buzz for a while too.
N = Never running out of ideas to work up as stories or blogs or articles.
G = Genre – plenty to choose from; there’s bound to be at least one to suit you.
Just some of the many things I love about writing!
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
My two favourite kinds of flash fiction stories are those which end on a punchline and make me laugh, or where the twist is so good, the ending take my breath away. Neither are easy to write but are so worthwhile to do. They’re the stories you remember the longest.
I’ve found when writing funny tales, it pays to start with the punchline and then work out what could lead to that coming out “naturally” from the character. It is far more convincing doing it that way. You don’t want the punchline to seem like it is a set-up.
One of the joys of flash fiction is the word count limit means having to leave the reader to infer things.
Now I have always loved “filling in the gaps” in novels and the longer short stories where I’ve become attached to the characters. You know the kind of thing – wondering what other adventures they might have had after the main story is over. On those grounds, I understand fan fiction, though I don’t write it. Nor have any plans to do so.
But where a story has real emotional impact, I find that impact is stronger precisely because the writer has not had the space to spell it all out. I can and do work that out for myself – and love doing so. The challenge for me as the writer is working out what a reader must know to be able to fill in the gaps successfully for themselves.
One of the things I love best about flash fiction is creating characters. I always like to look at what a character’s main trait is as that can be very useful for dropping them right in the mire from a great height should I wish to do so!
For example, if I have a character who believes they are brave, I could then put them in a situation where they have to prove they are (or discover they really are not! The latter especially could have comic potential).
It is when I nail down the main trait(s), I start to have a feel for the character’s voice. Someone who thinks they’re brave is likely to be boastful (well, they’ve got to tell someone else haven’t they? It”s no good thinking you’re brave if you can’t show off about it!). That in turn gives me ideas on how they are likely to speak and the kind of language they are likely to use.
There are many different ways in to character creation but I do like this one.
Creating a Flash Fiction Story
A strong character you can identify with and want to write about (readers will identify with them and will want to read their tale).
An idea as to what impact you want your story to have on a reader. This will affect the story mood and how you craft it.
Simmering in the back of your mind, an idea of which competition/publisher you will submit the work to and, of course, already know what their submission requirements/deadlines are.
1. Get the story drafted. (To paraphrase P.G. Wodehouse, it’s time to apply seat of pants to seat of chair).
2. Put aside a for a while and start drafting another!
3. Come back to your original story, read it through (and where possible out loud too so you can literally hear how dialogue etc sounds), and then edit.
4. When you’re happy with the story THEN worry about the word count. Check to ensure there are no wasted words in your tale (cut out things like very, actually etc).
5. Once done, if your story has a strong impact at 250 words but it would be weakened if you tried to get it down to 100, then leave it at 250 and submit it to a suitable competition/market.
6. Apply steps 2 to 6 to the second story!
Goodreads Author Programme – First Books
Do you remember the first books you read or had read to you?
I can’t honestly say I do though the Reader’s Digest Collection of Classic Fairytales does rank very highly in this list. I still have this two volume set, though the spines are “taped up” thanks to years of use!
The illustrations in these books are lovely and I spent many a happy hour poring over them as a kid. The stories are the originals from Grimm, Perrault, Andersen etc.
I do remember collecting the Famous Five series. Southern TV, as it was then in our ITV region, had adapted the series and paperbacks were reissued to link in with this. Have no idea what happened to those books. Do know they’re not with me now. I recall going to our local newsagent to buy the paperbacks (in the days when you did have independent newsagents!).
The first books I chose for my home after getting married came to me via the old Odhams collections. You paid a subscription and received one new book every month. I collected Agatha Christie novels (and collections of short stories), which I still have.
What is important though is those first books were never last books!!