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Facebook – General – and Publication News: Cafelit
Weather cooler again today – yippee! (Dog pleased too). Easier to concentrate and write too. Am preparing some blog pieces to send to various places in due course. As with the flash fiction, those are lovely to write during those pockets of time when I can only write for short bursts.
I forgot to share on this page the link for my latest Cafelit story, Sweet Dreams, (though I did share it on my book page). Hope you enjoy! This was a prompt from #GailAldwin in Gill James’ Prompts Book and it was good fun to write.
Now, without giving too much away, a favourite chocolate bar comes into this story. You’ll have to read it to find out why!
But it is useful to consider favourite and loathed things that your characters might have. Not only can you use those to add depth to your characterisation, you might be able to get short stories out of these things in and of themselves, as I’ve done here, thanks to Gail’s excellent prompt.
Oh and it’s a definite thumbs-up for writing to prompts set by others. They do make you think outside of your own writing box and that’s a good way to stretch yourself and what you can come up with as a result.
Hope you have had a good weekend and that the week to come is a productive and fun one. I did enjoy using the random noun generator (yes, there is such a thing!) to create a new flash story for my From Light to Dark and Back Again FB page yesterday. I will be using the noun generator again. NB. The story I created, Misunderstood, will appear further down under the FLTDBA again section. Hope you enjoy it!
You can set as many nouns as you want and even choose the opening and finishing letters. I just went for two nouns at random and the great thing with that is you could use these as a title, the theme, or just work them into the story somehow.
I see all of the random generators I’ve used (word, phrase, question, noun, and even number!) as an alternative method of finding story prompts. And the great thing here? You’ve got an endless supply!
Give them a go and have fun. See what you can create. Playing with words and having fun in this manner is a wonderful trigger for creativity. And I’ve always found once you’ve got a creative spark going, you want to keep it going and you end up being more productive than you might have been otherwise.
Also the stories you draft here can be polished and edited and submitted later.
I outline my characters as I’ve discussed before. What do I look for in said characters?
1. Basically a good reason for me to tell their story.
2. Go back to 1!
So what would count as a good reason then?
1. They have the qualities to overcome adversity even if they themselves don’t realise that to start with (and the best characters usually don’t). They don’t easily give up. They take good advice. They have the ability to recognise good advice when they hear it.
2. They are usually from a background that would make others consider them to be the underdog. I do love underdog winning through type stories and they are a mainstay of the classic fairytales too.
3. They have a moment of change they have got to see through, ensuring their lives can never be the same again. Stories like that are always fascinating.
4. They will often experience internal conflict as well as the obvious external type. Really gripping characters will have moments of self doubt (as we do) and that is what readers will identify with. It is then how the characters overcome that which will keep the readers reading!
I’d thought I’d share some favourite moments in writing (and as ever this is not the be all and end all of lists. Am sure you can think of some things to add here).
1. Knowing I’ve picked exactly the right word for whatever it is I’m putting my poor characters through. I’m even more pleased if this is in dialogue. Good dialogue has emotional “whoomph” and shows a reader how the character is feeling.
2. Knowing my first draft is completed and I now have something to work with. This is where the work begins for me. It IS all in the edit(s) – and yes, there is always more than one! Sometimes considerably more than one!
3. Knowing my first edit has significantly improved my original story and I am getting glimmers of how it can be improved further. Out comes the trusted red pen and away I go…
4. Reviews for From Light to Dark and Back Again (and a big thanks to all who have reviewed it).
5. Having positive feedback on my Chandler’s Ford Today posts as that shows the piece has engaged with readers well.
So over to you then. What are some of your favourite writing moments?
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Well, the weather certainly lived up to “from light to dark and back again” yesterday! There was one storm but it was cleared by about 6 pm with drizzle for the evening. Having said that, it has been a lot cooler today for which I am most thankful (as is the dog).
LOVED meeting via Facetime some of my Swanwick pals yesterday evening. Great fun. Better still will be when we can meet in person at Swanwick, God willing, next year. (I’ve never been one to take things for granted anyway, life can have a habit of getting in the way at times, but if there is one HUGE life lesson to come out of 2020, that is it I think).
One thing I did forget to do yesterday, but which gives me great pleasure to do now, is to share my latest flash fiction story, Sweet Dreams. This appeared on Cafelit yesterday afternoon but I hope you enjoy! A story to finish the working week with is always a good idea, is it not?!
I loved writing this. It was a result of a prompt idea in the Prompts book by Gill James with the prompt itself coming from #GailAldwin.
I’ve found a new random generator! I’ve sometimes used random word, phrase, question, and even number generators to trigger story ideas. And now I’ve found a random noun generator which could be fun. Let’s see what can be done.
I set the generator to trigger two random nouns for me. Nouns generated were “foundation” and “actor”. (Incidentally as well as choosing how many to generate, you can set the first and last letter of each noun as well if you wanted to but I like to keep things simple).
Now the nice thing with the generators is you can use what comes up as the theme of your story, the title, or ensure you use the words that are triggered in that story at some point. Or you can combine any/all of that. The important thing is to have fun with this!
So what can I do with foundation and actor then?
The actor frowned as he dug out the foundation for the new amateur theatre building. He’d been promised an audience. Sure he had one. They were all yelling unspeakable things along the lines of this being the hardest they’d ever seen HIM work. Not what he’d expected at all.
He expected the finest foundation all right. He expected it to be applied to his face as he gave the starring performance of his life, which naturally would then receive glowing reviews all over the country, and lead to bigger, better roles.
He guessed it served him right for daring to mention Macbeth on stage last week. HIs fellow actors told him it would bring him bad luck.
He’d laughed then. They laughed now.
Allison Symes – 15th August 2020
Hope you enjoyed that. I loved writing it.
Really loved using the random noun generator yesterday. Will definitely add that to my list of story prompt generators. You can never have too many of those! Okay, you need the time to write up all the ideas, I grant you that, but this is a dilemma every writer faces and has to find their own way of tackling.
Flash is an ideal vehicle for those lovely story ideas that are best shown quickly. My story yesterday, Misunderstood, worked best as a quick tale only. I often find my humorous tales work better that way. If flash has taught me anything (and it has taught me loads!), it is to never, ever pad your story out. If it works better at 100 words, keep it there. If it works best at 1000, keep it there and so on.
Have a good writing week!
You’d think a flash fiction writer would have no problems coming up with the blurb for the cover of their book, wouldn’t you?!
Now, okay, the word count is not an issue for me here. What can be tricky is choosing what HAS to be on the cover and what would be nice to have but is not the end of the world if it doesn’t make it. Inevitably it won’t! Why?
As with the fiction itself, only the crucial details can go on. You want every word to hook in potential readers so there can be no preamble, waffle etc. You have to be realistic with yourself as to what could be seen as waffle and cut, cut, cut.
I change the way I lead into a story as this keeps things interesting for me (and I hope in due time readers as well!).
Sometimes I will use a character’s thoughts. At other times I will show you the character doing something.
I try to get into the scene quickly so a reader picks up where they are nigh on immediately and there must be something about the character to draw their interest to ensure they read on and find out what happens to them.
In She Did It Her Way, Kind Of, I start with the line “Jane Westbrook knew it was too late to do anything.” Now that sounds like it might kill a story right from the start but what I planned here was that readers would want to find out why she thought this and whether she was right or wrong.
Curiosity about a character is a really good hook and one I enjoy using.
Goodreads Author Blog –Reading Acrostics
R = Riveting
E = Entertaining
A = Alternative Worlds
D = Drama and Dialogue
I = Imagination
N = Narrative
G = Genre Fulfilling/Crossing
All of the above are what I look for in a good read.
Regardless of genre (and I have a soft spot for those books which cross genres), I want the book to be riveting, entertaining, and for the drama and dialogue to keep me gripped until I reach The End.
I want to be amazed (in a good way!) by the author’s imagination. There can’t be a dull moment in the narrative either.
And yet some people still think writing is easy!!
G = Gripping
E = Educational
N = Nuanced
R = Readability
E = Enchanting
And again, regardless of genres, I want whatever I read to be capable of the above. Yes, fiction can be educational. You can learn from the mistakes the characters make for a start!
For me, nuanced means the characters have to be balanced. Nobody is all evil or all good. The only over the top characters I accept are Mr Toad in The Wind of The Willows and Cruella de Ville in 101 Dalmatians but they are written specifically that way and their characters wouldn’t work any other way. But those are rare exceptions to the general rule. Characters should be balanced.
At the end of a book I want to have experienced an enchanting time reading said book. I want something about it to transport me to its setting and to regret leaving it at the end.