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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Those of us of a certain age will recall Ian Dury and the Blockheads thanks to the title of my CFT post this week – Reasons To Be Cheerful.
I am on a “cheery post for the time being” roll for CFT for the moment! Hope you enjoy.
And please do send in your own reasons to be cheerful. A bit of cheer goes a long way for us all right now.
Following on from my Reasons to Be Cheerful theme for Chandler’s Ford Today this week, what reasons could we have for the writing community specifically? Some thoughts:-
1. We get the joy of creating interesting characters and then dump them right in the mire. We then have the additional pleasure of working out whether they sink or swim.
2. Positive feedback from readers is truly wonderful. (We really do appreciate good reviews, folk!).
3. There is nothing to beat the buzz of knowing you’re going to be published whether it is online, in print, or both. That buzz does not fade over time either. How often can you say that about something?
4. Story creation occupies the brain, inspires the imagination (and the more you write, the more that happens), and is just a fabulous thing to do. And there are markets for it! Creativity is a major part of what makes us human and for someone like me who cannot draw, sculpt or what have you, writing gives me a creative outlet I can enjoy.
5. You get to explore ideas. You can “live other lives” through the lives of your characters. (Mind you, if you are a crime or horror writer, I wouldn’t take this literally!!).
Have been catching up on reading this week and that’s been a joy. It’s nice to get back into it again. I still don’t really know what that took a dip when the lockdown started.
Maybe my subconscious felt you can do one creative activity, Madam, but you’re not doing two. Well if that is the case, my subsconcious can pack its bags. Don’t want that happening again. I love reading and writing equally and that’s the way it should be.
I’m looking forward to sharing my CFT post with you tomorrow. It’s called Reasons to be Cheerful (and yes I am of that age who recalls Ian Dury and the Blockheads!). I’ll be sharing some positives. It is very much a time for the more cheery post I think.
I hope there is plenty of cheering for the NHS and key workers shortly! (This post was written on Thursday 16th April 2020. Oh and there was!).
Hope to get my flash fiction piece submitted later this week. Then time to pick another competition to try. It helps me “raise my game”. Anything that doesn’t get placed I can rework and submit elsewhere later on so I see that as a great way of ensuring I’ve got new material out and about somewhere.
Have been taking part in a friend’s book and author game today (my entries included Stormy Weather by Gail Force and Standing Upright by Ei Leen Right amongst others).
Fun and pun games like this are great for writers. Why? As well as being fun to do, it makes you realise how good or otherwise your vocabulary is to be able to find those puns! Another challenge to raise my game then! I’ve always had a soft spot for word games, I think most writers do. It’s great to play with the language and see what you can come up with. You can also use games like that to help get you into your writing session or as a way to wind down from one.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I’ve been talking about reasons to be cheerful tonight but for flash fiction writing, I find I have to set the mood for my lead character pretty much from the outset. There isn’t the word count space to allow for much in the change of mood.
I use mood (shown through dialogue or thoughts) to indicate the attitude of the character. You will know within a line or so what my character is going to be like in terms of attitude to others and so on.
The advantage of setting mood quickly is I hit the ground running with my stories. I take you straight into the action/setting.
The disadvantage of doing this is you are showing your hand as a writer immediately. So any surprises you want to bring in do have to come as twist in the tale finales that are appropriate to the character and the set-up.
But then that’s fine with me! I love reading and writing those kind of tales. It’s just that if you want to show lots of mood changes, you would probably be better off with a longer, standard length short story, rather than flash fiction. Flash has to show up THE single most important point of a character’s story. Anything that is not directly relevant to the story has to be cut out. The message here is then to focus on what you really need to get across.
Very good turn out for the NHS and key workers around my way tonight. Well done, all.
What can you learn from flash fiction?
1. What you really need to know about the character in it. A good flash fiction story will leave you with the feeling nothing more could be added to it. Also that nothing could be taken away. You will have insight into the lead character in well chosen words equally well placed. One word can completely turn the mood of a story.
2. What the story really is – with flash there’s no room for anything that isn’t relevant to the tale. This is why I think it is a great thing for all writers to do. Concise, precision writing is useful no matter what your main writing work might be.
3. What words give “value for money” and can carry weight for you. He raced uphill is far stronger in impact than he ran quickly up the hill and you save three words!
4. You will lose all fear of killing adverbs. No more “ly” words when a stronger word will do the work for you. No more she said irritatedly when you can say she snapped.
Whatever you are working on at the moment, have fun with it! I find flash great fun to write and having fun with your writing is vital. It helps keep you going.
One of the joys of loving stories is that this comes in really useful for you as a writer.
You can work out what it is about the stories and their characters you love. From there, you can try to work out how the writer achieved this. Is there something you can use there? If your favourite story has a feisty character, how has the author shown that? They won’t have just told you the character is like that.
Also it is the love of stories that drew us into writing our own in the first place so it is only right that we should keep that love going! We need to be inspired. Reading widely fires up our own imaginative powers so there you have it – the perfect reason to keep reading! But the better thing is to let that reading inspire your writing and you keep writing too!
Fairytales With Bite – Why Analyse Fairytales?
Analysing any kind of writing will help you work out what made a writer decide to write the story in the way they have. There is a lot to be learned from that.
You can also learn from stories you’ve disliked. Work out what it was your disliked and why. Then you know what to avoid in your own! Also work out what you like and dislike about the characters for the same reasons.
Fairytales are interesting to analyse because most of them have a message behind them. Work out how the fairytale gets that across without being preachy. How can you use that for your own stories? How do the characters illustrate the points made? Do they learn from the mistakes they make in the course of the tale? When wrongs are corrected, how is that done?
Fairytales are realistic about cruelty. There is no glossing over Snow White’s stepmother’s deeds, for example. But the reason for her cruelty is pure and simple jealousy, which remains such a powerful motivator. So look at your cruel characters and ensure their motivations are strong enough to justify, if only to themselves, their reasons for being the way they are.
Fairytales can also be tales of redemption. Would such a thing work for your creations?
Fairytales mainly have happy endings. Is a happy ending appropriate for your tale? How can you make that happen in your story without it being sickly sweet? Characters in fairytales generally deserve their happy ending. Do yours?
So just on these points alone, I think fairytales are well worth analysing for tips on improving your own writing!
This World and Others – What Is Important?
This is a good question to ask because it will depend on your characters. A character on a quest is going to think getting to their destination is the most important thing of all. A ruler will consider achieving what they want to achieve is the most important thing (for good or ill. A real test of whether a ruler is a villain is whether what they seek enriches them or genuinely helps those who they rule over! Same as here really!).
So you need to decide what your characters think are the most important things of all. Then you put problems in their way to stop them achieving their most important things of all. The story fires up when they work out how to overcome all of that, assuming they do.
You also need to decide what is the most important aspect to your story. Yes, especially in a novel, there is room for sub-plots but they should seek to serve the main one and never be an “add-on”. They should blend seamlessly into the main narrative.