Quizzing and Questioning

It’s not often I start a post using the letter Q (which is generally best saved for getting a high score in Scrabble!).

Image Credit:  As ever, images are from Pixabay or Pexels unless otherwise stated.

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Quizzing your characters can be great fun and often leads to you to finding hidden depths to your creations.

Sometimes you can find your characters are more shallow than you thought initially they would be but you can use that. Shallow characters can be used for comic effect. They can also be a pain in the neck to your lead character.

Work out what their place is in your story. Work out if there is a reason to their being shallow. Do they develop at all? If not, how do they help or hinder your lead?

Work out what you think you need to know about your characters. You should find that leads to other questions but the more you can envisage your creation, the better it is for you to write them into existence. Because you know them well, you will write about/for them with conviction and something of that does come through to your readers.

 

It’s my turn on the Association of Christian Writers’ blog More Than Writers. This time I discuss Feeding Your Writing. (For gardening fans, I will say now it doesn’t involve Baby-Bio, though I admit I love the image from Pixabay below. Given some of my flash fiction is fantasy based this is particularly apt!).

I share some thoughts as to how you can feed your writing and why it is so important. Hope you enjoy.

 

I’m going to be sharing Part 2 of The Chameleons Say Hello series for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. Their Spring Quartet production, due to be staged in April, is now off, unfortunately but understandably. The Ritchie Hall where they perform does not have a big stage. It is amazing what The Chameleons achieve given the limited space but it does make the 2 meter rule nigh on impossible to achieve. (I’m still in awe at the amazing set they built for Blackadder).

Do check out the interview later in the week and the previous one (there’ll be a link back in the post I put up on Friday). The interviews make for a great look at life behind the stage.

Being the nosey parker that I am, this kind of thing always fascinates me. The world of books can show you different life experiences, real or imagined. Interviews can also you aspects of life that you won’t experience directly but are fascinating to read about nonetheless.

And I hope it is not long, relatively speaking anyway, before The Chameleons get to entertain us again ON the stage.

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I’ve just discovered a new random generator – a random question one! I think I could have some fun with this.

Firstly, you could use the questions to help you develop your characters. Quizzing characters is a great way to finding out more about them before you write their story.

I’ve always found that this leads to better depth of characterisation. I need to know Character A loathes cheese because they were forced to eat it at school because cheese is somehow going to feature in my tale and it will be a major issue for them. Now that’s just a very random example but you see the point.

Secondly, you can use the questions as titles and/or themes.

Thirdly, get your character to answer the question and make that the story!

For example, one question that came up when I found this was:-

If you inherited or won a million pounds/dollars etc, what’s the very first thing you would do with the money?

Now there is definitely a story in that! I shall explore more of this generator. Really pleased to have found it.

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Following on from yesterday’s post, I did write a story based on the random question generator question I shared with you yesterday. Will polish and submit that in due course.

Having another look at the generator, I’ve found you can change category of question as well. That will be useful.

Another thing which will be useful from this is you can ask yourself WHY you have answered the question the way you have.

For example, the question that has come up tonight for me is “If you could start a collection of one kind of item, what would it be?”.

(In my case, books. I already have a good collection but that’s not a good enough reason to stop buying books! All I’m limited by here is budget and, for print books, shelf space! Oh and while I think about it, a big thanks to all of my writing friends for writing wonderful fiction. I’d always been a little bit lacking in reading contemporary fiction. Classics not a problem, contemporary was. Not any more it isn’t! One of my little pleasures in life is walking past my book case with my friends’ books on and even more so at the moment given I can’t see any of them for goodness knows how long. You good people know who you are! Well done and thanks, all!).

Now as well as answering that question directly for a character you’re creating, look at WHY the character would collect antique cuckoo clocks or whatever it is you have chosen. Are they trying to compensate for something they felt is lacking in their life? Are they fixated by time? What problems could that cause them? Have they a deep appreciation for the cuckoo (and yes the possibilities for a funny story are there!)?

So dig deeper. Answer the question. Then look at why. See what you come out with. There will be stories in the answers to the “why” question as well as to the “what” one! Try it and see. Have fun.

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Moving on from random things, which kind of writing competition do you prefer? One with a set theme or one which is open?

I love and take part in both but must admit I do prefer the set theme. It provides a framework for me to work to and I find that useful. It also forces me to think outside the box a bit more because I don’t want to go with a take on the topic that is likely to be a very popular one.

Whatever take I do use is something I want to be able to make unique. So, okay, there’s no new love story in the world for example, but that won’t stop them being written and rightly so. What is wanted is your unique take on a love story and your voice coming through and appealing to an editor.

Taking part and being one of the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition has been a joy due to this aspect. One theme. One maximum word count set for us all (1000 words so handily just counts as flash fiction!). Fifteen winners. Fifteen different stories and styles. A jjoy to be part of. An even bigger joy to read the collection of stories (and if you want to know more, do check out my Amazon Author Central page – the two collections to date are Transforming Being and To Be…To Become).

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At what point do I know if a story has come to life?

For me, it’s when I can anticipate the character reactions and actions based on the set up I’ve created for them.

If, say, I’ve created a character who is greedy, I can anticipate them carrying out some action which will help them satisfy that greed. (It doesn’t mean I have to like them OR their actions!). The anticipation should be realistically based on how I’ve portrayed the character.

Sometimes a character surprises me but it will still be in keeping. For example, my character could be greedy for money but what if they’re NOT keeping the money for themselves? What if they’re helping someone else or they’re being blackmailed?

Now that would change the course of the story BUT the greed still makes sense. The actions to satisfy that greed makes sense. It’s the motivation that will change what a reader thinks of the character and that is a good place for a surprise to come in I think.

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Goodreads Author Blog –

What Is It About Reading You Love The Most?

Hmm… could write chapter and verse on this one. I mean, where do you start? But here goes:-

My great love is characterisation so the success of a book to me is dependent on how well the characters appeal to me.

To be honest, much as I love Jane Austen, I’m not keen on Mansfield Park. I much prefer the more rounded Austen heroines in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion etc.

My second great love here is when the book makes me forget time and the world around me because I’m too engrossed in the world of the story. Now that is an undisputable sign of a great story.

I love it when reading shows me worlds I have not known, including right here on Planet Earth. Good non-fiction comes into its own here.

I love it when I discover new genres. I’ve always loved fairytales and still do, but finding the wonderful worlds of well written historical fiction, crime stories etc., has been fantastic.

I love following the development of characters in series novels. It is like catching up with old friends when you come across them in Book 2 etc and discover in this one they’ve married someone they weren’t dating in Book 1! (You’ve got to find out why, right?).

And, like so many writers, I’ve got a soft spot for quietly overhearing conversations (well, you never know when you’ll hear something interesting that could spark an idea for a story of your own!), reading dialogue in fiction is exactly like that.

Reading helps me unwind, entertains me, informs me – what is there not to like?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Times and Story Games

Image Credit:  As ever, images are from Pixabay or Pexels unless otherwise stated.

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For my CFT post this week, I discuss the interesting times we’re living in right now but I also share thoughts and tips on how to start creative writing. I also share a story game which is good fun to play and can be played by all ages!

Any writer will tell you that writing is therapeutic and fun. Inventing your own people and situations stretches you, is good for the old brain, and is a lovely art form for those of us who can’t draw for toffee, sew etc (and yes that does include me). To have a finished piece of work is fabulous. You created that story. The buzz of that never palls.

So have fun. If you’ve wanted to try creative writing but have wondered where to start, have a look at my post. And writing just for the sheer fun of it is a great joy to do. It is how most of us, who have gone on to be published, started after all.

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It was emotional joining in with the applause for the NHS tonight. Plenty of cheering going on round my way too. Well done, everyone. More appreciation for what is so easily taken for granted is always a good thing.

In other news as they say, and as a flag up to other authors with works out there, if you’re not registered with ALCS, check it out. ALCS is the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society run by writers for writers. Am thrilled to say I’ve had my first modest but lovely payment through on this. Many thanks to ALCS. If you’ve got published works out there, join them! (It’s free if you’re a member of the Society of Authors too).

Writing wise, am editing a story for a competition and hope to get that submitted by the end of the week. Email submission was always a blessing but even more so now.

Keep well, keep safe, God bless. Happy reading and writing. Support Your Authors. Go on, you know you want to!

One thing that is always in the forefront of my mind whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction is to keep the needs of my reader paramount. I have a mental image of who my ideal reader is likely to be and what they will like and naturally I then do my best to provide it – in terms of flash fiction, short story writing, and the blogging that I do.

One other advantage of reading well for writers is you have a ready made audience in yourself. You know what you like in a story. You know what you like in dialogue. You know what you like in genre and pace etc. You also know what you dislike in all of those things. So use that knowledge to help you tailor what you write. You won’t be the only one who likes or dislikes those things. That will help you hone in on who your ideal reader is going to be. You can then target your work much more efficiently.

Good luck!

 

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Hope to be drafting bits and pieces over the weekend. I draft potential blog posts as well as flash fiction and other stories. This has all proved useful when I’ve been pressed for time.

I hope to get a short story off for a competition tomorrow and then select a few others to have a crack at. It’s good to have something always on the go!

No chance whatsoever of boredom setting in, which is one of the things I love about writing. If I’m not writing, I’m editing and looking to make things better. That’s a challenge all by itself and it does me good I think to make sure I rise to said challenge.

Some aspects of editing are more fun than others to be honest but everything I’ve written has been drastically improved by the red pen. Nobody but nobody writes a perfect first draft first go. And I find there are always things I want to add in later to give extra depth to my characterisation, to make a scene make more sense etc. Those finishing touches make all the difference.

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When do I know a flash piece has worked?

Basically when it hits me emotionally, whether it is to make me laugh, cry, scream, or what have you. I think it is time for a laugh. Hope you enjoy the following. I’ve taken a different approach with this one. I’ve used an acrostic style but with the initial letter of the paragraph spelling out a word rather than the first letter of each sentence.

SPRING

S = Surprise, surprise! So good to see you! What’s up? You look like you’ve sucked a lemon marinated in vinegar. Have you?

P = Purpose? I thought it would cheer you up. And I know what I can do with my marinated lemons. Charming that is, I don’t think! I was trying to be nice.

R = Ring you first? Well yes I could have done but then there would be no surprise.

I = Intentions? No. Not to give you a minor heart attack. You are a misery tonight. See, I brought a box of doughnuts for us to share. Know how much you love them. See I was trying to be kind. Gavin won’t like it? Who the hell is Gavin?

N = Never again. You hate this sort of thing? Since when? And you still haven’t said who Gavin is! Is there something you should be telling me?

G = Gavin’s your Slimming World consultant. You joined tonight. And I know what I can do with those bloody doughnuts. Oh…

Allison Symes – 26th March 2020

(For #SianNdowora and all at SW in my part of the world with love).

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I don’t always know what length my flash fiction will be when I start writing it. This is particularly true when I use the random word/phrase/number generators.

For stories generated that way, I want to get my ideas down, hone and edit them, and then I see what I have left. When I’ve got the story as good as I can make it, I only then take a look at what the word count is for it. That will help me decide which market to send it to and of course markets and competitions have different requirements so there is a certain amount of automatic elimination here too.

For example, if a story works really well at 150 words, I’m leaving it there. I won’t be submitting it to the fabulous #ParagraphPlanet either given they want 75 words in total including the title. I would submit it to a competition or market which was for anything under 500 words, providing I was happy with that competition or market.

I can’t stress it enough but always check competitions and markets out. The reputable ones will be more than happy for you do to that. If a competition or market has FAQs, do check them out. Never be afraid to ask other writers either. This is where the support of writing pals makes a huge difference. You may not have heard of issues with Competition XXX but they may have done and you can check things out further based on what they tell you. I’ve had good cause to be grateful for people flagging things up to me.

Above all enjoy that story creation process. It is a wonderful thing.

Fairytales With Bite – Dodgy Magical Characters

Dodgy magical characters can range from the treacherous wizard to the sly underling who will always seize a chance to gain something for themselves, no matter who they sell out to do so.

Have a look when you’re outlining your story as to how they got to be like that, whether they have any regrets, whether there is any hope for them to be redeemed etc. The consequences of their actions should of course be played out in the story.

The possibility of someone being turned back from the dodgy path they are on increases tension and the reader’s interest. I’ve always taken more interest in characters where I think there is potential than in one where it is clear there is none whatsoever almost from the start. This is why I think Severus Snape is a fantastic character in the Harry Potter series.

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This World and Others – What Makes Your World Tick?

What is the driving force in the world of your characters? Is it local and/or national politics? (People are often affected by what happens locally than nationally, though at this time of the coronavirus pandemic everything and everyone is affected by what is going on. That is an unusual situation in the overall scheme of things though).

Do your characters ignore the reality of their created world and focus on what it is they have to achieve? Does that ignoring of reality affect the chances of a successful outcome? As well as thinking about what drives your characters, think about what drives their created world. You could use that to add extra problems and tensions for your characters to resolve before getting to their main purpose.

 

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Music and Books – Free Book Offer!

Image Credit:  Unless stated, the images are from Pixabay or Pexels.

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Music and books are going to be great boons during the current situation. They are marvellous comforts anyway but whatever you enjoy on either or both fronts here, I hope you have a wonderful time catching up on what you want to listen to/read.

Talking of which…

Would you like a free book?

Magnetism, a collection of short stories, edited by Gill James may be just the ticket for you here then. Just follow the link below and sign up to Scribblers Books, Books, Books.

Magnetism will not be on sale anywhere and it is a great advert for the kind of stories you will find published by Bridge House Publishing, Cafelit, and Chapeltown Books.

Authors included in Magnetism are #RogerNoons, #SallyAngell, #GailAldwin, #AlysonFaye, #PaulaReadman, #DawnKentishKnox, oh and one #AllisonSymes amongst many, many others. There is a lovely variety of styles and stories here. Do check it out.

Keep safe, keep well, God bless, be kind, and have a good read!

I can’t say I write for therapeutic reasons though there are plenty who do. What I can say is I always feel better in myself once I have written whether it’s 50 words or 500.

I feel even better when I’ve polished a piece of work up and submitted it somewhere. But the act of producing a piece of work and getting it as good as you can make it is so worthwhile in and of itself. Any results such as publication are a marvellous bonus.

Whatever your creative activity of choice is, enjoy. Particularly enjoy the side benefits. Creativity really is good for you.

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Having written a story, I put it aside for a while so I get some distance from it. If I don’t do that, I find I have two responses to a piece of work – what I’ve written is rubbish or is a work of genius (and neither is true! To be fair, I AM trying to work on the latter and will be to the day I put my pen down for the last time I suspect 😆😆!).

I ask myself certain questions when going through a piece and these include:-

1. Is the story making the impact on me I thought it would on a reader? If it doesn’t, it certainly won’t on said reader.

2. Do I HAVE to find out what happens to the character, no matter what? When the answer to that one is yes, that’s a very good sign. Where it isn’t, I need to look at why a character isn’t gripping me the way they ought to be. Tweaks here and there usually put that right. I then put the story aside again for another breathing space and then ask myself this question again. The answer should be yes for sure the second time.

3. Does every word (particularly for flash fiction) HAVE to be in the story? Have any of my infamous wasted words crept in? If so, out they go.

Happy writing and rewriting!

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I have the feeling some of my favourite “comfort reading” books will be making a reappearance on my TBR pile during this very strange time. Still if I can stick to comfort reading instead of comfort eating, I’ll be ahead of the game!

I think it is fair to say we are living in interesting times. I’ll be talking a bit more about that in my CFT post this week AND share some thoughts on story creation for anyone who would like to give it a go but has not yet tried to do so. The whole idea is just to write for fun.

The nice thing about the advent of flash fiction is you need not be put off by the thought of having to write thousands and thousands of words either. You don’t have to unless you want to! And writing IS fun especially when you remember the important thing is to enjoy it. Tidying up a piece of work can come later.

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Flash tales are short but they should pack a good emotional punch for their word count. I like to think of it as illuminating one specific moment in a character’s life. It has to be the single most important thing too, else why write about it?

I love reading flash fiction too of course as its great joy is being able to dip in and out of collections, sample different styles and mood of story, and have a good read in few words.

Whatever you are reading or writing (or both) right now, enjoy!

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Time to use the random phrase gnerator again. On offer tonight the phrase On Cloud Nine. Let’s see what I can do with that then. Hope you enjoy!

ON CLOUD NINE BY ALLISON SYMES
Well it is where I’ve been parked. Don’t ask me why it wasn’t Cloud 8 or 7 or what have you. Here I am sitting on Cloud 9 waiting for instructions.

I was told Cloud Nine is where trainee fairies go before being let loose on an alien world of their choice to do what good they can.

I was also told it was where they put trainee fairies our government thinks are clumsy clots and where they’re trying to limit the damage.

Of course they don’t tell the likes of me anything so goodness knows what the true story is – that fake news stuff gets everywhere I tell you.

I do feel daft sitting here twiddling with the star at the end of my magic wand. I’m itching to get out there somewhere to do something.

Ah! My trainer has just turned up. Tells me my itch to get out there to do something is the problem. Apparently I caused a mass over-production of pumpkins around Cinderella’s garden. Well, where is the problem? She needed plenty to choose from, didn’t she?

Apparently that’s not the point. The girl only needed the one. And there’s a limit to how much pumpkin pie anyone can eat.

Well that’s me told.

My offer to make the spares vanish was hastily turned down.

My trainer tells me they’re sending me to Earth. I’m to wave my magic wand where I see fit. Hmm… that sounds good and fun. I ask what I’m to do specifically.

I’m told to inspire a love of reading, writing and general creativity.

That sounds good but I thought the humans did that already.

Not enough, I’m told. They still fight and squabble. They need more creativity apparently.

Well that’s me set up for a good job for some time then.

It will be a lot better than sitting here on Cloud Nine. Wish me luck.

ENDS
Allison Symes – 22nd March 2020

Have as good a week as possible, folks.

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What do I look for in a character that will make me want to follow their story no matter what? (This applies to whatever type of story I read and/or write but for flash fiction, all of this has to be condensed of course). I look for:-

1. A character that intrigues me. They’re showing an attitude I like and I have to find out how things work out for them OR conversely I’ve got to find out where they’re coming from to have the attitude they do have. (Whether I still agree with their attitude is another matter but if they come out with good reasons for it, then that grips me and makes me keep reading too. And that is the key, isn’t it? How DO you keep a reader reading?).

2. Humorous characters. I ADORE characters with a sense of irony especially when it is directed at themselves.

3. A character with courage and determination.

4. A character who mucks things up big time but redeems themselves. (Can’t we all identify with that one?!)

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I mix up how I come up with titles as well as the flash fiction stories themselves. I often use one word titles. I sometimes use alliterative titles (for example Telling The Time in From Light to Dark and Back Again). As you know I sometimes use proverbs/well known sayings as either titles or themes (occasionally both).

But whatever type of title I use, it has to be a suitable “peg” to hang my story from. Occasionally I change a title as a better idea comes to me when I’m writing the first draft but this doesn’t happen often. I’m usually happy with what I had planned initially. I hope that means I’m getting better at what would work for a piece. I have learned to trust my gut instinct more over the years and it doesn’t usually let me down. This is where the writer’s voice comes in. You have to learn to recognise your own and trust it!

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Comfort Books

When times are tough, or your own situation is going through a difficult patch, what books do you turn to for some comfort and cheer?

Do you look to escape for a while via the printed word or does that aspect not matter as long as you’re reading?

I tend to turn to humour and this is where the wonderful books of P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett in particular come to the fore for me.

All of their work is capable of withstanding multiple re-readings and I usually pick up on gags, in-jokes etc., that I missed before. (I just do! I also don’t believe I’m alone in that).

After humour, I turn to crime – reading wise that is! I adore Agatha Christie but I enjoy contemporary crime too. (See Wendy H Jones and Val Penny for more on these, especially if you like your stories set in Scotland).

After crime I turn to history and that can be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I’ve enjoyed Jennifer C. Wilson’s Kindred Spirits series here as that combines a very different take on history with ghost stories.

By this stage, I’m usually looking for some non-fiction to get my reading “teeth” into and then I’m back to the funny works again.

Above all, I have a fabulous time doing all of this!

Whatever you read, especially now, enjoy. Take care, keep well, be kind, and God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixing Things Up

Image Credit:  As ever, the images are from the fabulous Pixabay.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today looks at why mixing things up is so important for writers. I share some thoughts and tips as to how to do so too. Hope you find it useful and enjoyable. I also look at the advantages and disadvantages of writing to set and open themes for competitions. (And good luck if you’re entering any soon!).

Mixing Things Up is the theme and title for my latest CFT post of course but it would also make a great theme for stories!

How would your characters mix things up? Would they do this out of maliciousness or from a sense of mischief? What would the consequences be for them and for others?

Asking what the consequences would be is a great way of developing your story outline! To quote Isaac Newton: “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.”

Good thought for story writing too (though I doubt if he would have thought of it that way!).

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Am loving listening to Danse Macabre on Classic FM as I type this (on 19th March 2020). This is the theme used on my book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again. I think of it as “my song”! 😆😆 See below!

I write with classical music on and find it relaxing. When I’m relaxed I find I write more. So that’s added reason to relax then! I don’t know quite what it is about classical music for it to have this effect. I do know other types of music simply don’t do the same thing – for me at least.

My post on CFT tomorrow will be Mixing Things Up and I will share some thoughts as to how a writer can do that and, just as importantly, why it matters.

 

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I’m glad the one-liner post the other day went well! The films were:-

The Italian Job (with the wonderful Michael Caine).

Carry On Cleo (with the wonderful Kenneth Williams. He had a marvellous narrative voice too).

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (With the wonderful Bob Hoskins). Bear in mind this film was made before CGI and he was acting to “air”. The cartoon figures were added in later including the anatomically impossible Jessica Rabbit!

It was great rediscovering The Great Escape a few months ago. Fabulous and true story, well acted, and a great score to it too.

Favourite film adaptation of a book for me is and remains The Lord of The Rings. No surprises there…

And my own favourite one liner from a story?

Probably “Still as I told Mother, if this is what I can do when I’m honest, just think of the possibilities when I’m not!”

For the rest see my Making The Grade in From Light to Dark and Back Again!

Allison Symes and published works

Allison Symes and some of her published works. Image by Adrian Symes

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Used one of the prompts in the Prompts book by Gill James to write a flash tale that I have now submitted. It was good fun to write.

My week so far has mainly been on non-fiction work so it was good to get some fiction writing in. That should be my main focus for the rest of this week now.

Will have more news on another book but will save that for tomorrow night’s FB posts. (Well, we all need something to look forward to at the moment, right?!).

 

The one thing I hope to come out of the current crisis is that people read more and keep the love of reading going when things eventually calm down again.

Reading is a wonderful way to relax and for writers it is the flip side of what we do. To write well, you need to read well. (It’s also a bit daft to say the least NOT to support the industry you want to be in so go on get those books in, you know you want to!).

I love flash for its immediate impact, the longer short story for being able to expand on characterisation, and the novel for depth of plot etc. And the great thing with reading? There’s no limit on what you can read in terms of genre, length, topic etc. So go on, get stuck in!

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Do you find it easier to write the ending of a story or its beginning?

I usually know when I’m brainstorming ideas whether a line I jot down is going to make a superb opening (I hope!) or a stunning finish. I then work out ideas from there and often use a spider diagram to help me get to the better storyline. (It is very rarely the first one I come up with!).

Sometimes the line can be open to being placed at either end of the story (and I love those). On my To Do list is to try to write two consecutive stories where the finishing line of one becomes the opening line of another. That could be fun to try (and good luck if you get to do that before I do! More than ever especially at the moment, it is important to still have fun and enjoy life as much as possible. Enjoying your story writing can be a key part of that).

 

Fairytales with Bite – The Downside of Magic

I’ve mentioned before that I like stories which show the downside of magic.

Firstly, something that powerful has to have disadvantages and would be prone to misuse/abuse (as with any kind of political power etc), though great stories come from exploring that.

Secondly, I love characters who use their wit and intelligence to get out of trouble in any genre and I want to see that in fairytales and fantasy too. Where magic is used, I want it to be appropriate.

I also believe there should be a downside to using it even when the intention is good. Something that powerful ought to have an effect on the user. For me, that’s realistic. I’ve always loved the section in The Lord of the Rings where Frodo offers Galadriel the Ring of Power because he clearly thinks the wretched thing would be best in the hands of someone good who would only use it for good (that’s my interpretation) and she reveals what that could mean.

What you don’t want is a wave of the wand getting characters out of trouble. Well, it’s not very interesting is it? Where a wave of the wand gets the character out of trouble but lands them right in it again in a different way because magic was used, now that is a lot more interesting to follow.

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This World and Others – Hobbies and Interests

So you’ve created an interesting world for your characters to inhabit. You’ve creating fascinating characters that will keep us glued to your book. Excellent!

Now think of rounding out your characters that bit more. What are their interests and hobbies? Why are they interested in these?

If your characters are on a quest, what interests have they had to give up so they can go on the quest? Is there any chance of them being able to resume that old life again? What are their attitudes to having to give anything up? What do they do in their down time?

I’ve always found when reading series novels that a character with interests is going to attract me more for the good simple reason that the character concerned has a rounded life and that’s what I want to read about. What they do about their main work in the story adds depth to them.

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Running Orders, Tech Issues, and One-Liners

Image Credit:  As ever, unless otherwise stated, the images are from Pixabay or Pexels.

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Have not long completed the first edit on my second collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic. It was good fun to do and eye opening too.

I had gone through my draft at least three times before submitting it and I still missed things! This is why it is important an outside eye does see your work. They will pick up on things you are too close to the work to be able to see.

Also if they come back with comments, it will help you to see if you really have got things across as clearly as you thought you had. (The answer to that one incidentally is sometimes no! And in those cases I rewrite. An editor’s eye can also help you realise what comes across as a bit clunky and therefore awkward for a reader to enjoy smoothly. So again rewrite time there),

There are no shortcuts but editing is what is going to make your work special so it is worth taking time over.

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It’s been a strange old week. I suspect next week will be stranger still. On the plus side, there is plenty of reading and writing to be cracking on with so I’ll focus on that. It is positive at least!

I’ve got a nice queue of items on my Kindle TBR list so will be trying to catch up on some of those.

Writing wise, I’m drafting a story for a competition which I need to finish. I also need to press on with my other major projects. And I do keep an eye out for interesting flash and short story competitions too. I like good writing competitions. They help me to “raise my game” which is never a bad thing.

Keep well, everyone.

 

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Apologies to anyone who is having trouble accessing the Chandler’s Ford Today sitetoday (16th March 2020). The technical side of things I leave to my lovely editor #JadeCloud and I have emailed her. Hopefully this will prove to be one of those irritating hiccups that can soon be sorted. I don’t know if it this is something at CFT’s end or whether it’s a browser issue. Will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I will look ahead to my post this week. I will be talking about Mixing Things Up as a writer and share a few thoughts as to how you can do that. I also look at the advantages (and otherwise!) of competitions with set and open themes. Post up Friday.

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What are your favourite one-liners? Mine have to be:-

‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.’
‘Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me.’
‘I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.’

(And if you want to play name the film, feel free!).

What do I like about one-liners in stories? Well, they pack a punch when well placed in a story. I sometimes use them to finish a flash fiction piece. They have emotional impact and a good story will have that, whether it makes you laugh or cry.

Great one-liners are memorable of course and it is always a pleasure to re-read them again when going back through favourite books. And you know those one-liners will have been through several edits as the author seeks to make every word carry its weight so what is left, well you know nothing could be added or taken out.

ALSO:-
Many thanks to #DawnKentishKnox for flagging up an access issue to Chandler’s Ford Today yesterday. Am glad to report the issue should now be resolved.

The auto renewal of the site’s SSL certificate did not happen. Goodness knows why. A big thanks to our technical guy for sorting that out and putting measures in place to hopefully prevent it happening again.

Meanwhile, I’m sharing the post Dawn Kentish Knox had wanted to comment on – the Local Author News spot I put up on behalf of #RichardHardie and #FrancescaTyer. Hopefully all well now!

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking because flash fiction is short, the editing of it won’t take long! Ahem…

Well, obviously it will take less time than editing a novel but you still need to apply care and precision, especially since the placing of a word in a flash fiction piece can turn the story round just on that alone.

My Calling the Doctor has the mood of the story changed by the last word (see trailer).

It’s also not just about editing for word count. You want to make sure your story works without all the bits you’ve put the red pen through. The story mustn’t feel as if there is anything missing.

The aim is for a reader to feel as if another word couldn’t be added to the story while, at the same time, being unable to think of anything that could’ve come out from the tale they’ve just read. Not an easy balance to get right but so worthwhile when you do!

 

One of my favourite stories in FLTDBA is Circle of Life because it is a poetic justice tale. I’ve always been fond of those.

It’s a theme I can turn to time and again as you never run out of dodgy characters who you can dole out suitable retribution to! You are just limited by your own imagination and if ever there was a challenge to keep stretching said imagination, that’s it, I think.

I’m also fond of funny poetic justice stories. You don’t necessarily have to kill off the miscreant though I suspect my crime writing colleagues would beg to differ!😆😆😆

One of the joys of fiction, of course, is you as the writer can always ensure justice is done to those deserving it. So go on, have some fun!

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If it hasn’t happened already, there will be loads of virus tales across all story formats soon! I won’t be writing any though. The market gets saturated very quickly.

It is far better to write what you would like to write to the best standards possible and find a suitable competition/market for it than to try to write to a trend. Trends are often gone by the time you get your story out anyway.

The only thing I hope might come out of our current crisis is that people, if stuck at home, rediscover the joy of reading but I would really rather they did that without this horrid or any other virus contributing in any way. Books are fabulous and should be treasured and loved and read and re-read anyway!

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Getting the running order in a flash or short story collection isn’t always as straightforward as it might appear. I look for impact on a reader here as well as from the individual stories themselves.

I like to group themes together (I think there is a stronger overall impact) but, as with chilli powder, you CAN have too much of a good thing here. (I once made a chilli with too much powder in it. I could’ve sworn there wasn’t much in it. I was wrong! Oh I was SO wrong…😆😆). So I tend to group 2 or 3 stories with a similar theme together but no more than that.

I write a reasonable number of poetic justice tales, to name one example. I’d group a couple of those together, then have a couple of say funny fairytales together, then some historical ones, then back to the poetic justice ones again. (I do like to think of my collections as “mixed assortments”. I’ve always loved those!).

It does pay to give plenty of time and thought to think about how you want your running orders to be. It will make the impact of your book that bit stronger and that is always a good thing.

Goodreads Author Blog –

Are Books The Best Invention Ever?

Daft question time, I can hear you say in response to this blog title! And you’d be right. Of course books are the best invention ever but… well, without literacy and encouraging people to read, those wonderful books we all love are left literally on the shelf, aren’t they?

How do we get people to read who don’t currently do so? I wish I knew the answer to that. All you can do as a writer is put your works out there, spread the word about them (and this is where supportive writing friends are brilliant), and hope people will take a look between your covers (ooh…err…. Missus), whether they’re electronic covers or the lovely paperback variety.

I have wondered whether people have lost confidence in reading. You know they finish reading at school and then that’s it. They’re not reading another thing. They’ll get their stories via film, TV, audio even, but not from the printed page. This is why I think supporting children’s authors is so important. They play a vital role in developing a future reading audience and keeping that love of books going. (And I still like reading YA, even though it has been a long time indeed since I qualified!).

I loved the James Garner Support Your Local Sheriff type films. We need at least three more. Support Your Local Children’s Author. Support Your Local Writers. Support Your Local Libraries.

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Behind The Scenes

Image Credit:   As ever, unless stated, most of the images were from Pixabay or Pexels. A big thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for their images. Also thanks to Richard Hardie for supplying images related to his and Francesca Tyer’s events for World Book Day.  (And yes it has been a busy few days!).

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today x 2!

Yes, count them, not one but two CFT posts this week.

First up, the start of a new mini-series.

I’m delighted to share a new mini-series on Chandler’s Ford Today. The #ChameleonTheatreGroupChandlerFord share interviews showing what life is like behind the stage. They share some fabulous insights into directing amongst other things in Part 1 (see link).

This series will run at intervals over the next few weeks. Many thanks to The Chameleons for wonderful material and the photos, as ever.

I’m looking forward to their next production, Spring Quartet, in April.

 

I’m always interested in behind the scenes looks at life, whether it is to do with creative writing or amateur theatre. So it is a joy to share a new mini-series on Chandler’s Ford Today where The Chameleon Theatre share their insights into life behind the stage.

Why the interest on my part? Well, partly it IS because I’m nosey (!) but that’s a good thing. Why? Writers have to be interested in what makes people tick. Knowing that helps us to develop convincing motivations for our characters and make their portrayal that much more believeable.

I’m also interested in behind the scenes looks because it opens up worlds that are new to me. That’s a good thing for increasing knowledge and understanding, I think. Understanding is also crucial in creative writing. You also get to understand yourself better I think.

And now for my second CFT post this week!

Am pleased to share a bonus CFT post this week. Every so often CFT has Local Author News slots. The last one was for me when I appeared on #WendyHJones‘s excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show talking about all things related to flash fiction.

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

Up tonight is a piece with news from local YA author, #RichardHardie, and debut Authors Reach novelist #FrancescaTyer. They share news of their World Book Day eventsrecently. Francesca’s debut novel The Firestone was recently published.

Hope you enjoy. (Oh and remember the best things you can do to support local authors you know are to go to their events where possible and review their books in the usual places).

(My normal CFT post link will be up tomorrow where I start the first of a mini series from #ChameleonTheatreCompany-Chandler’s Ford. They share insights from life behind the stage. More tomorrow).

 

My CFT post this week is Part 1 of a mini series which will be spread out over a few weeks. As you know, I often review plays put on by our excellent local amateur theatre company, Chameleon Theatre Company.

They have recently been putting together some mini interviews which give a fascinating insight into life behind the stage. With their blessing (obviously!), I have compiled some of these interviews and Part 1 will be up on Friday.

Many thanks to the Chameleons for their wonderful material and photos and I look forward to sharing this post and the others to come.

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What fascinates you most about a character?

For me, it has to be their motivation. I’ve got to know why my character thinks it is okay to act the way they are, especially when they’re the villain! It doesn’t mean I have to agree with them though…

The LEAST important thing for me is knowing what they look like, funnily enough. I find once I can hear their voice and know their motivations, physical appearance comes to me then. Mind, I’m not motivated by physical appearance myself. After all the best con men often wear a suit!

I love stories and books that “just” entertain. Yes, sure, I like those that give good messages too but there is a lot to be said for sheer escapism value, especially when life is more challenging than usual.

Let’s just say I probably won’t be reading much in the way of dystopian stories for a while. (It is definitely not a good sign when you can get your requirements there by tuning into the news…).😕

So how to go about being “just” entertaining? As ever, for me, it is all in the characters. I do enjoy setting up a character knowing I’m going to be throwing all manner of things at them to knock them right back down again (and ideally to make me and potential readers laugh). Okay, okay, nobody said a writer had to be nice to their characters. Indeed, it is better when we’re not as any crime or horror writer would also tell you!

I love those characters who deserve being knocked back a bit too. You know the kind of pompous character who needs bringing down a peg or several. The ultimate fall guy in many ways! (Well, they are for me).

For humorous prose especially I do need to get a sense that the writer enjoyed creating their characters. I believe something of that fun does come through in the writing.

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How difficult do you find coming up with a suitable title for your story?

I know I need a “peg” from which to hang my story so I always have a working title. Most of them don’t change and suit my purposes just fine. Sometimes though a better title idea will occur as I draft my tale and that’s fine too. I just swap to the better idea.

I’ve mentioned using phrases and proverbs before and I often use them as themes, but don’t overlook them for use as potential titles. I’ve used a few that way.

You can also see them as a way to get started on a story if, like me, you need some kind of peg to help you get on your way with a draft. I think I have a bit of a mental block over any story that doesn’t have a title to it! There’s some unconscious thought at play here which associates no title with no story. I can’t be having with that so I put in a title to get me started. Nothing is set in stone after all but that is a great thing about a draft. You know it’s not going to be the final version. I’ve found it helpful to take that attitude with titles too.

Fairytales With Bite – Wishes

One of my favourite things about fairytales is when wishes are granted. The greedy never get away with theirs precisely because they always ask for the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

I love that aspect of things. I was very conscious even as a kid there was so much unfairness and cruelty in the world. The idea of a fairy godmother turning up to put things right for their ill-treated goddaughter always appealed (though I still wonder why Cinderella’s one turned up so late in the day. Come on, she could’ve helped Cinders a lot sooner. There is only so much domestic drudgery that could be claimed to be good for the soul and Cinders had gone well past that point when her fairy godmother deigned to make an appearance).

So in the grand scheme of things, what would your characters wish for and why? You are their fairy godmother as you bring them to life on the page. So what attributes would you grace them with and why? What would your characters strive for and why?

Do you think your characters are worthy of achieving their objectives? They don’t have to be. Villains are never worthy but should have understandable reasons for being what they are. What do you want your characters to be and why?

If your characters are allowed wishes, how will these turn the story and in what direction? Wishes being granted but proving to not be all that the character wanted could make a good story too.

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This World and Others – World Essentials

For me, what I want to see in a created fictional world would be:-

1. A system of government (even if it is not the point of the story. There should be some sort of reference. For one thing, a reader would want to know if the main character was one of the governing or one of the governed).

2. What characters eat and drink and how those things are produced. A line or two is usually enough to convey that. When a character is on a journey, what food do they take with them? Where did they get it?

3. A sense of where the world is going. In The Lord of the Rings there is no doubt the world there is in turmoil and every part of that world is affected by it.

4. What your characters make of the world they’re in. They don’t have to like it!

5. How is transport organised? Does everyone have access to the same kind of transport? Is there a “them and us” situation here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyberlaunches, The End, and Flash Fiction

Image Credit:  As ever, Pixabay, unless otherwise stated. (Images of The Hayes, Swanwick were taken by Allison Symes)

It has been a fun few days as I was one of the co-hosts for Patricia M Osborne’s cyberlaunch of her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son. What follows is a kind of a report on that. Many thanks to Patricia for inviting me to take part. It was great fun – as a good launch should be!

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I’m looking forward to taking part in #PatriciaMOsborne‘s cyberlaunch for her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son, tomorrow evening. (I interviewed Patricia as part of my CFT series on What Books Mean To Me a while back and I have guested on her website as part of her blog and her 100 word challenge. We are both also huge fans of Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, not least because we met there).

This is the follow up to her debut book, House of Grace. Obviously more on that tomorrow but very best of luck, Patricia, and hope you have an absolute ball with your launch.

I had a great deal of fun with mine for From Light to Dark and Back Again. Cyberlaunches are a fab opportunity to celebrate books and support writer friends. Always worth dropping by!

One of the loveliest things about the writing community is it is so supportive and launches, cyber or otherwise, bring that out. And best of all they are fun!

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Many thanks to #PatriciaMOsborne for inviting me to take part in her launch of her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son. This follows her debut novel, The House of Grace.

A very good time was had by all at the launch and the lovely thing about online launches is that the calories in the cakes and drinks provided simply don’t count!😆

I am planning to hold a cyberlaunch for my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, when that is out later this year. Preparation is crucial for you as the writer to get the most out of it I think. It helped me to relax into the event and get a real party feel going.

(And it WAS a wonderful party at Patricia’s launch tonight too!).

Launches are important for the obvious reason of getting the news of our books out there, but they also help a writer to have fun with their book after all their hard work in writing and editing it.

Cheers to that!

And congratulations, #PatriciaMOsborne, for a wonderful launch for The Coal Miner’s Son. (I love that cover! Do check out the link to Patricia’s Amazon page, given above, to find out why I love it!).

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I always feel a sense of relief when I write The End for a flash fiction or short story. (I should imagine the sense of relief for a novelist is proportionately larger depending on their text length!).

I do know the hard work is shortly going to begin with the editing but there is that moment when you know you’ve got something to work with and that’s nice. It shouldn’t be unappreciated either. You have finished the first draft.

The great thing is nobody but you has to ever see that first draft. I know from mine what a good thing that is!

For competition entries, I always take at least a week (and usually a fortnight) off the official deadline to ensure I have time for any final tweaks and still get the piece off in good time.

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Hope to draft some flash pieces on my train trip to Birmingham today for an Association of Christian Writers’ event. It is a great form to draft on a smartphone!

The only thing I make sure of is to put plenty of story prompts on Evernote before I travel so I have more than enough to write up.

If I ever forget to do that, I brainstorm opening lines and then write them up. Of course sometimes what I think will be opening lines make far better closing ones, but it’s fun to find that out!

When I started writing short stories, I nearly always used the third person. For flash fiction, I still use that, but I’ve developed a great love for using first person. I love its immediacy. I can tak you right into a character’s head and I have my narrator for the story literally to hand.

Flash, due to its brevity, means you can’t have too many characters as you’d quickly fall foul of word count requirements.

For example, if you want three characters in the story, you’ve got to have at least one good reason for all three to be in there. How many words will you use to get those good reasons in?! And even if you manage that well enough, what room have you got left for the actual story after all of that?

So using the first person is a handy technique but that is all it should be. I make myself mix up first and third person usage to avoid falling into the trap of all of my stories sounding the same.

Good reasons to get a writing event if you can and that includes online events (so travel is not a problem!):-

1. You will make writing friends who will totally understand your addiction to writing (and it IS an addiction). They also celebrate your successes and commiserate with your woes and that is vital. The writing community is precisely that, a community. We take the “no man is an island” bit seriously!

2. Said writing pals will tell you about competitions and markets you had not heard of as no one person can know everything that’s out there. You will also share useful news on similar lines to them.

3. You will get a lot from the courses and talks you go to as well!

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Book trailers were completely new to me until Chapeltown Books produced the excellent one for From Light to Dark and Back Again. Yes, I know I’m biased… (am not sorry, so there!).

Flash is a great vehicle for book trailers since as a form it can fit into a trailer beautifully and give a useful free sample to potential readers. I prefer using the 100 words or under for this.

A sample of my flash fiction work. Job Satisfaction was first published in From Light to Dark and Back Again by Chapeltown Books in 2017.

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Stalls at Writing Events

I love writing events anyway but I particularly enjoy having a good nose around book stalls/book rooms at these things. Wild horses wouldn’t keep me away and all that…

It’s always a joy to see works by friends, as well as my own, on these stalls too. But they also prove to be good opportunities to have a look at works and authors new to you.

So go on, at the next event you go to as a writer, put your reader’s hat on too and see what you can find. Explore reading avenues new to you as well as enjoying favourite genres.

And for non-writers, one of the best ways to support author friends is to go to their events. The great thing is you are likely to come back with your next good read too! And that is always a good thing!😊

 

Landmarks, Flash Fiction, and Why Fairytales With Bite

Image Credit:  

As ever, unless otherwise stated, the images are from Pixabay.

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week is Landmarks With Meaning. I share some of those that have the most meaning for me but I admit some are a lot more scenic than others. I’ve found the landmarks which mean the most almost always tie in with special memories/family connections and that is how it should be I think.

I don’t just stay with my local area either and found an excellent example of photo editing involving an elephant and Big Ben but you’ll just have to look at the post (or the slideshow below!) to see that one for yourself! I share a few thoughts on cathedrals I’m particularly fond of too and one of them has close links to one of my favourite authors, Jane Austen.

Hope you enjoy the post and do share in the CFT comments box what your favourite landmarks are and why.

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What have I learned from the various stories I’ve read over the years (and there’s far too many of them to give you a number!)?

Firstly, you do take in how a story is laid out and that covers everything from punctuation usage to indenting (or not where appropriate). You get a feel for a publisher’s house style even if you’re not aware of it at the time. This is why it is important to read contemporary fiction as well as classic by the way. Styles change.

Secondly, over time, you work out what your tastes in fiction are and discover what you don’t like too. Funnily enough, the latter is useful. It tells you what you don’t want to happen with your own creative output. Work out what it was you didn’t like and why. Did the dialogue not ring true? Was it over complicated? Then work out what you would do about the piece if you had been writing it. What you pick up answering those questions will help you a lot when it comes to editing your own output.

Thirdly, you do discover what it is you like about the characters. I’ve always loved heroines who know their own mind (which covers a lot of ground, fortunately. I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Bennett, Jo March, George from the Famous Five, to name but a few). Work out what it is you like about your favourite people. What character traits would you want your people to have and why? When creating villains, give them good reasons to be the way they are.

There is always a back story. It may not make it into your main tale but you need to know why your characters are the way they are. You can also ask yourself questions about characters from your favourite authors. What made the writer develop them this way?
And you get a darned good read out of it all too!

 

I’m looking at landmarks with meaning for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I share a few of my favourites and why they mean so much. Link up on Friday.

In other CFT news, I will be sharing a mini series over the next couple of months or so, spaced out at roughly three to four week intervals.

Our excellent amateur theatre company, The Chameleon Theatre Group, have been sharing a number of mini interviews which make for fascinating reading at life on the stage and behind it. First post up for that will be on Friday, 13th March. Looking forward to sharing that with you.

Am off to the Association of Christian Writers’ event in Birmingham on Saturday. The topic is Effective Public Speaking. Should be interesting and useful.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It was lovely having another flash story on Cafelit earlier this week (Taking Time Out From the Day Job). I am very fond of humorous stories.

The main point I have in mind when I’m writing these is that the humour must arise naturally out of the situation I’ve put my character in. That is the only way funny stories work for me whether I write them or read them. You can’t force humour on to a character or the story. It never works.

But I always love those moments when a good line emerges naturally from what my characters are saying or doing. I love those characters who I know can drop themselves right in it (so often a great cue for humour) because I’ve outlined them well enough to know what they are capable of doing/saying so they would drop themselves right in it. It all has to seem seamless to the reader.

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When I don’t have a lot of time to write, I will often jot down what I think will make promising opening or closing lines to flash fiction stories and then write them up at a later date.

Where possible I will also add in a quick note or two as to how I think the story will go. For example, a line like “The thief realised they would not get out alive” seems to be a dead end line (in every sense!). I could make a note here to say this will be a closing line, mood of story = sombre or poetic justice. I could then add in a note to ask what the thief was trying to steal – fire from the gods.

Hmm… that was never going to work out well, was it? It does mean though, when I’m next at my desk with more time to write, I’ve got the outlines of a story already there, just begging to be written up and away I go.

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How do I judge if my own flash fiction stories are ready for submission?

Obviously I check for typos, grammatical errors, and my hated wasted words. (I do feel a certain sense of satisfaction in erasing THOSE!). But I ask myself some questions:-

1. Does the story make the impact on me I thought it would? Usually the answer is yes and I’m happy but sometimes I have to go on and ask myself something else.

2. If the answer is no, is the impact I have created BETTER than my initial thoughts? Sometimes it can be. I’ve sometimes written a piece where I wanted the impact to be that I had made people sympathise with my character. All very nice and all that but if I can make myself feel like crying in sympathy with that character, this is even better. It means the impact is deeper than I originally planned. There is literally more feeling, I see that as a bonus, always. People remember stories for how they feel about them (which is why childhood stories are so often favourites for people throughout life).

3. Last but not least, I put the piece away for a while, re-read it at least one more time (and often twice) and again ask the impact questions. I also ask if I could improve the piece any further and if so, how? When I get to the point where I can’t think of anything here, I send the story off.

Of course meantime, I’m also drafting other stories so I always have something to work on. I love drafting stories while I’m “resting” others. It helps with work flow rates no end!

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Fairytales With Bite – Why The Bite?

I came up with the title Fairytales With Bite as a way of showing that yes, I write fairytales but they are not twee. The original fairytales are anything but twee of course, indeed many of them act as warnings (beware the Big Bad Wolf being just one of them!), but a good fairytale should have bite to it.

I’ve always loved the fact most fairytales ensure evil does not triumph. Even as a kid, I was deeply aware the world is so often unfair. Fairytales were and remain a great way to escape that for a bit but they can still get a powerful message across, while being an entertaining story.

The Little Match Girl from Hans Christen Andersen is a stinging indictment on poverty and homelessness, which hit me hard when I first read it (and it it still does). But it is a phenomenally good tale. A good story, whatever its genre, should have the power to move readers, whether it is to make them laugh, cry, or scream, or what have you.

That’s where the bite comes in – and the good thing is you don’t have to include vampires in your story to get that bite in!

 

 

This World and Others – Stories In Other Worlds

What do I love most about reading stories set in other worlds? Well, they can reflect on aspects of our life here (which can be illuminating at times!). The way an alien society is run can reflect well or badly on how we do things here on Earth.

What should come through in such stories, and the ones we write, is being able to understand the characters in those stories and worlds, their actions and motivations and so on. Those basic elements don’t change much. Every species needs food, shelter, to be able to reproduce itself etc. We can understand what characters are capable of doing to ensure they have those things.

Societies need to be governed in some way so how would yours differ from what we know here? Why have you chosen those differences? Would you want to visit if you could?

Now I’m sure there could be some interesting answers to that last poser! If the answer is no by the way, do look at why. You may well be right to not want to visit the world you’ve created. What is the “message” behind that? If your created world is a heavily polluted one, say, you wouldn’t want to visit but look at why it is worse than what we know? How did it get to that state? Is anyone trying to do something about it? What obstacles are in their way?

There should be some cracking story ideas there. Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompts and Publication News

Image Credit

As ever, images are from the fantastic Pixabay, unless otherwise stated.

Facebook – General – and

Association of Christian Writers  – More Than Writers

My turn on the Association of Christian Writers’ blog spot, More Than Writers.

I’m on the 29th so that means I get every three Februaries off! 😆😆

Hope you enjoy the post and find it useful. Mixing up how you write stories is fun and keeps you on your toes too!

I talked about writing prompts in my monthly slot for the Association of Christian Writers today. As well as sharing some tips, I share a story I produced using one of the tips. Annoyed librarians may well like it… hmm… go on have a look then!😊

What I’ll add here is that I’ve found it useful to mix up how I approach writing a story. It keeps things interesting for me. It keeps me on my literary toes too.

By mixing up the methods, I avoid the dangers of becoming formulaic too. I don’t want any of my stories to sound the same to a reader after all. What I do want is someone to read my stories and spot my voice through them all, but to also enjoy each tale for its uniqueness. My characters are very different people after all. The way I tell their stories should reflect those differences too.

 

Facebook – General

Loved the finale to Doctor Who but that’s all I’m saying about that. It is nigh on impossible to say anything else without unwittingly revealing a spoiler so best not, I think. Give it a week and then I should be all right on that!

Well portrayed characters, for good or evil, will keep you glued, whether they’re on the page or on the screen. The challenge as a writer is to ensure the characters you create have that quality to keep a reader hooked. How do you make the readers care about what happens to your people?

Firstly, YOU’VE got to care what happens! Thankfully this happens rarely but I have come across instances where I’m bored with a character portrayal and I suspect the author became bored too.

Secondly, your character has got to have a problem that must be resolved somehow. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a life or death problem, though that is obviously a great one for winding up the tension in a tale, but the issue your character HAS to resolve must be something they can’t run away from. Their situation won’t improve until they DO do something etc.

Thirdly, your character mustn’t give up easily. When their initial attempt(s) to get out of their situation fail, how do they react? Do they learn from their failures? What gives them the break through to success?

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Facebook – General and From Light to Dark and Back Again and Publication News

Story time again. Hope you enjoy. A little humour at the end of a busy Monday is never a bad thing!

Taking Time Out From the Day Job is my latest tale on Cafelit. (I’ve written flash fiction tales with fewer words than the title for this one in my time but there you go!). I have every sympathy for my lead in this one.

It’s lovely having one of my humorous fairytales with bite up on Cafelit.

Taking Time Out From the Day Job shows what happens when a fairy decides to do just that.

Hope you enjoy reading it. I loved writing it but then I do adore characters like this one.

It is a real contrast in mood from my recent linked stories on Cafelit but now you know why my collection is called From Light to Dark and Back Again. It sums up what I write!

Just to say that #ParagraphPlanet archive stories at the end of each month and the February 2020 “lot” are now available. See the link.My Time Is Everything is amongst the collection here. #flashfiction #amwriting #75wordstories

Is it easier to write to a specific word count or write the story first and then work out what the word count would suit it best?

Hmm… I’ve done both. The discipline of working to a specified word count is a great one and keeps you on your toes. It really does force you to check that each and every word has to be included in your tale. If there’s anything that doesn’t carry its weight, out it goes.

When I am working to a theme or title (often generated by random word generators), I write the story first. I see what I have, edit it, and then decide on whether it would work better at 100 words or 200, for example.

However you write, have fun!

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