Image Credit: Pixabay/Pexels generally. Pictures of my dogs are by me, Allison Symes.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share the link for a two-part series for Chandler’s Ford Today called Lessons.

In Part 1, I look at my favourite lessons in school and those I loathed. I discuss learning to drive later in life and how I’ve learned different things from my three dogs. All three have had great personalities but all have needed different handling. You are always on a learning curve with a dog!

In Part 2, next week, I will be looking at lessons learned from my writing life, which have not just helped with professional development, but with my life in general. Now over to you. Which school lessons did you love or loathe and why?

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I don’t know about you but I’ve always got plenty on my To Do lists (yes, plural!). It is my writing To Do list that gives me the most joy though. No real surprises there. (If anyone can find a way of making housework, doing the laundry etc., fun, they’d be on to a winner).

The order in which I tackle my writing To Do list does depend on what time I have available on which night. My overall goal is to get so many tasks done in a week to ten days. If I can tick off a fair few, I’m happy, With longer projects I break these down into more manageable tasks and ocmplete those over a couple of weeks.

It is a question of working out what works best for you.

My CFT post this week is the first in a two-parter called Lessons. This week I look at lessons in life. For Part 2, due out on 11th September, I’ll be looking at lessons learned from writing which have helped me in all kinds of ways and not just in professional development.

But back to this week’s post. I look at what were my favourite and loathed school lessons and how having more than one dog can teach so many different things based on their personalities, amongst other topics.

Lessons are an ongoing thing. I like the idea of never stopping learning. It keeps you on your toes and, if nothing else, that has to be good for mental health. I’m definitely all for that! Link up on Friday.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I talked about lessons in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week (and will be specifically talking about writing lessons next week). But the most important things I’ve learned is to be open to:

  1. The idea that story ideas can come at any time. I know where and when my main triggers for idea generation happens so I ensure I can either make a note on Evernote on my phone or I’ve got a notebook to hand. I lose fewer ideas this way.
  2. The idea there is more than one form of writing and it is perfectly okay to play with different writing styles.
  3. The idea you can’t know you can write, say, flash fiction until you do write it!
  4. The idea rejection is nothing to fear. It is never personal. You can usually learn something useful from it and that can help you with further writing projects.
  5. The idea that no writer is really in competition with one another even if we write in the same genre. We have unique voices. I can only write as Allison Symes. Anything else would be a pastiche, and not a very good one either, so I will write what I can write in the way that I write it. I will stretch myself and aim to keep on improving on what I do. That is where any competition lies. Can I write another story? Can I write it better than the last one?

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One nice aspect to writing is that ideas can fuel other ideas. One of the stories in Tripping the Flash Fantastic was inspired by a writing prompt idea I shared during the cyberlaunch of From Light to Dark and Back Again.

I shall have to see if I can do that kind of thing again for the cyberlaunch for TTFF! Mind you, it would be nice to come up with more than one idea I think. Otherwise the next collection will take forever to get together!

As with FLTDBA, the new book is full of characters, some of whom you’d like to meet and others you definitely wouldn’t. I’ve used a mixture of first and third person and there is a good representation of the word count spectrum. I hope to share the book cover in due course and am really looking forward to doing that.

Ideas don’t always come at convenient times. I tend to sleep heavily so having the old notebook and pen by the side of the bed in case I wake up “inspired” is a complete waste of time for me. Said notebook and pen would remain unused (and I never wake up inspired!), but I do find ideas will come when I’m out about. This is where I find Evernote on my phone handy. I can jot thoughts down and come back to them later.

It pays to work out when ideas are most likely to come to you. Do certain triggers such as time of day set them off? Or is it a question of needing to be out and about in the world and picking up story cues from there?

By knowing what your own personal trigger is, you are less likely to forget good ideas. Oh and they never come to order either! My other trigger is to be busy working on another piece of writing and then a great idea for another project pops up so I make a note of it and come back to it later.

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It has been an autumnal day here in Hampshire today. Sun, rain, a real dip in temperature, and my big cardigan is coming out of the wardrobe ready for regular use over the next few months.

Do you use the seasons in your writing at all? I mainly use Christmas given I have written fairytales based around Santa. No hiding the season there! But other than that, the seasons don’t feature in my writing much.

I suppose it is because I have always been much more interested in characters rather than in the time of year they happen to be inhabiting at the time of the story.

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Fairytales With Bite – Spot the Fairytale

C = Characters need to be believable, even if the world in which they live is not. (Maybe especially if it not!).
I = Instinct for what is right and wrong often plays a big role in fairytales. Think of the number of “old” people who turn out to be wizards or fairy godmothers in disguise who are looking for the right “lead” to get the benefit of their magical help.
N = Narrative voices can be animal voices in fairytales.
D = Drama plays a big role in fairytales. Think of the classic tales and what the heroes/heroines are put through.
E = Expect magic to play a role in the story but it will always be for the deserving. (The undeserving either get nothing or are humiliated in some way).
R = Romance can play a role. Most of the classic fairytales involve a love story but it is always a case of ensuring the right people get together here. And so often it is the underling that is the right groom etc. Think of Aladdin for example.
E = Energy. I’ve found fairytales have an energy and rhythm of their own. The Rule of Three often turns up. (Three sons – you can bet it will be the youngest one who will be the hero). You know that good will overcome evil and the pace of a fairytale is generally fast. The longer fairytales such as The Snow Queen are broken into sections to help try and keep that sense of pace.
L = Longing. The main character will inevitably be longing for change of some sort, whether it is to escape domestic abuse or to make their fortune.
L = Listening ability is important. The lead has to take the wizened old person seriously to do what they are asked to and then be surprised in a good way when said wizened old person turns out to be far more powerful than they thought.
A = Always expect an appropriate and usually happy ending!

This World and Others – Location, Location, Location

Which location have you chosen to use for your created world and why? What makes it different from Earth? What are the similarities? What is it about your location that enables your characters to survive in it? Could we do so?

Have you ever wanted to visit fictional locations? I know I have. I’ve always fancied visiting the chocolate factory in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I would definitely want free samples!

I’d also like the idea of exploring Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, especially The Shire, which looks charming. I’d give Mordor a miss. And I would go to Narnia the moment Christmas was restored and celebrated properly. Having said all of that, I’ve never fancied accompanying Alice down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

So what do you like about fantasy settings and why? I like the crossing of the ordinary with the magical. Youngsters still need schooling of some sort, regardless of what species they are.

What is it about your world that readers have to know and why does it matter? Answering questions like these will help you hone in on what is most important and it will be that and only that which remains in your story.

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