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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
My post this week looks at why changing direction in writing can be benefical and why it is inevitable at some point. After all when you start writing, you cannot know at that point for sure you will always write short stories, say. You may decide to write a novella or a play or what have you.
I share some thoughts about my own changes of direction and flag up a new one but see the post for more on that.
Did you know what you wanted to write when you first began creative writing? Or was it a case of wanting to try different forms until you found the one you were most at home with?
It was those questions which led to my writing this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post on Changing Direction.
Writers are often urged to not give up and rightly so. Persistence does pay (it has for me) but it should also be said that it is perfectly okay to change direction if you want to do so. It was a turn of direction that led me to discover flash fiction after all. I hadn’t anticipated this at all when I began writing.
And so often writers will start by writing short stories, say, go on to write a novel, and then come back to the short form again.
The writing journey is not a straight line by any means. What it should be though is fun (at least most of the time!).
Facebook – General – Book Cover Challenge
I was nominated to take part in this on 5th June. I thought I would share my posts here (and again on my next post) as there are some wonderful books to share. If you haven’t read them already, do consider adding them to your TBR list. (I will repeat this post next time so all of the book covers are together). Oh and do check out the writing of the authors I nominate too!
I have accepted a challenge by Jane Brocklehurst to post seven books that I love, one per day, no reviews, just covers. Each day I ask a friend to take up the challenge, let’s promote literacy and build a book list.
Today I nominate Val Penny who I hope will join in the fun.
My choice today? The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Changed my opinion about Richard III. Is also a different kind of detective novel. A gripping read. Hope you check it out.
Facebook – General
It can sometimes be difficult stopping a story because you really love the characters and the setting and you want to keep writing but, of course, you can’t.
The story has to end at the right point for that tale. There has to be a point of change and we should see the results of that change. Literally end of story.
One advantage of writing flash for me is the fact I have to make myself move on to tackle the next 100-worder or what have you. The lower word counts with flash means I can’t have too long to fall in love with my characters and therefore face the temptation of extending the story out beyond where it should really go.
Do you have pet phrases you like to use in your stories? Or do you find yourself coming out with the same turn of phrase more than once in a story as if you are on “hit default phrase selection” mode?!
Writing flash does help against that given the need to keep inventing new characters and situations. What I DO have to watch are my infamous wasted words and ensuring I don’t start each story in the same way. (That is particularly easy to do if you use the first person. Every story starts “I, I, I” etc etc).
I think it is useful to be aware of things like this so you can look out for them in your editing.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
It seems such a long time ago that I took a change of direction with my writing and discovered flash fiction. Now there is one turning point I really don’t regret! And it has enlivened my reading too. Flash fiction collections are great fun to delve into (and ideal for a quick read when you haven’t much time).
Yes, yes, I know, I’m biased. Course I am. Go on check out some flash collections and see if I’m right or not then!
Do you work out your themes in advance of writing your story or does the theme arise naturally out of the tale you’re writing?
It has been a case of both for me. For example, I think I’d like to write a poetic justice story so I then plan out a character and a situation where that theme emerges.
The nice thing with that theme is sometimes poetic justice can have a humorous element to it (and I do enjoy writing and reading those kinds of stories).
There have been cases where I know who my character is and where they’re going plot wise and the theme then comes out of that.
Though in both cases I do like my heroes/heroines to have some fire in their belly. No time for wishy-washy characters here!😆]
I expect my characters to justify being created in that I WANT to write about them, there is no problem finding things for them to do or land themselves in or so on.
For my quieter characters, I want their trait of quiet determination to win through so it is clear to a reader that there is more to them than meets the eye. Any character like that intrigues me as I want to find out what that “more” is and I would hope a reader would feel the same for my people here.
What do I like in an opening line, especially for a flash fiction story? Some of the things I look for here include:-
1. An interesting situation or character that intrigues from the start.
2. Dialogue that sets the scene and, usually, indicates the problem the character has to overcome.
3. Internal thoughts of a character showing them in some sort of turmoil. My story, Rewards, has as its opening line: ‘”She must go,” Becky thought.’
I referred to this story when I was on #WendyHJones‘ podcast The Writing and Marketing Show a little while back.
And the reason I went for this as an example of an opening line to hook the reader immediately is because I would hope you would want to find out who the “she” is and why Becky thinks she has to go. After that you would want, I hope, to find out if Becky did get rid of whoever “she” is and how.
I think the ultimate “rule” here is that an opening line which makes me HAVE to find out what happens next means that opening line has done its job!
Now just to deliver on the rest of the story!
Fairytales with Bite – Character Motivation
Character motivations can cover a wide spectrum. There are the “obvious” ones of love, revenge, seeking justice etc but motivations can be more subtle than that – for example the wish to prove someone wrong.
What matters is whatever the motivation is, it is the be all and end all to your character, even if it seems to everyone else they’re making a fuss about very little.
A motivated character will do whatever it takes to get what they want and the important thing is to ensure your people are driven enough.
It’s not enough for a character to just want to stay out of trouble. But if your character goes to extraordinary lengths to stay out of trouble then a great deal of humour or tragedy can result from that.
What could be behind that? Maybe they’ve got a bet on with a friend to stay out of trouble for six days, say, and the friend has always been right in the past but this time our hero wants to prove them wrong and is determined to do so. They’re fed up with their friend being right all the time and finally want something to go their way.
There, the motivation is powerful enough and understandable. Your readers have to get behind your character to carry on reading their adventures after all. Naturally your character’s friend will know or be able to guess at their friend’s motivation here and will do all they can to scupper any chances of success.
Voila! Instant clashes and tension as you work out how your hero does or does not prove the friend wrong.
This World and Others –
Top Tips For When Writing Isn’t Working As You Would Like
It happens. You go through phases where writing is either difficult or simply isn’t working out as you’d hoped. Lots of submissions. Lots of rejections. Few acceptances. Do you wonder if you should keep going? Some tips I’ve found useful to keep me going during difficult times include:-
1. Read More. Feed your own imagination. Remind yourself of why you love stories and why you wanted to write any.
2. Remove the Pressure. Deliberately write just for your own pleasure. Make up complete nonsense. Have fun. (Later, if you can do anything with the writing, even if it is just the odd line or two makes it into a story, say, then fab. Even if not, you’re taking time out to play with words and again remind yourself why you wanted to write).
3. Look at Where You’ve Come From Writing Wise. How much have you written over the years? Can you list publication credits (online and in print)? If not at that stage, have you had shortlistings? Are you simply submitting more stories for competitions than ever before?
Remember you define what success in writing is. Yes, publication is the obvious goal but it isn’t the only one. Saying you’ll write 3 or 4 stories and then try and get them published later is a fine goal too. Look at what you’ve learned as you have written more. Have you learned how to improve your editing skills? Have you picked up tips on the way that are helping you write better now (I would be surprised if you hadn’t)? All of these are good and worthy things.
4. Find supportive writing buddies via online groups or in creative writing classes. We all need to be reminded we’re not alone. Others do understand our compulsion to write. Others understand the frustrations of trying to get published. You need that support. It can make all the difference during low times, creatively speaking.