All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Many thanks to Richard Hardie for supplying book cover images and his author photo for my CFT post this week.
And below, from the wonderful Pixabay, a great example of what fabulous books should do – draw you in!
Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today
Delighted to share this week’s CFT post – Richard Hardie, Authors Reach, and Lockdown. Richard is a local (to me!) YA writer and Authors Reach is his publishing company. Richard and I chat about the challenges of lockdown he has faced both as an author and as a publisher.
Richard Hardie. Image kindly supplied by him.
This post makes a wonderful lead-in to my Launches in Lockdown series which starts next Friday. I will be chatting to other Authors Reach authors, writers from the Association of Christian Writers, Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, and from Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books.
Naturally I’ll be talking about my experiences of launching a book during these strange times as well.
Today’s post with Richard, as well as the series to come, offer I hope thoughts and ideas as to what can be done despite all the current difficulties. It is also good to know you’re not alone out there!
I must admit though the post I would love to write would be the one where I talk about going to live events again and setting up some of my own!
As they say, watch this space!
I’m currently drafting a flash story for a blog and this is an interesting combination of fiction with non-fiction. I’m sticking to a strict word count to meet the needs of the blog (though this is excellent for flash fiction writing anyway!) and I’m writing the story in the first person from the viewpoint of my lead character. I have a soft spot for them already! To be fair I do like most of my “people”.
Occasionally I write a story with a character I loathe but I still try to get inside their head and work out why they are the way they are.
Do I enjoy making them get their comeuppance? Oh yes! That is one of the perks of the writer’s job after all!
But the fascinating thing with characters is there are infinite varieties to them and, as a result, infinite storytelling possibilities. It is a case of us “digging for gold” here and finding those stories but the process should be a lot of fun.
Murky and damp day today, not that Lady worried. If she can get to the park and play, she’s happy.
Glad to say I’ll be taking part in two interviews in due course. Have got the questions in for one, am waiting on the ones for the second. It is great fun being on the “other side of the fence” for interviews! I also love looking at the questions I’ve been set and think yes, that’s a great one, it will draw me out.
The best interview questions always do that. You want a writer to share something of themselves and their work and what inspires them. Questions that draw people out are far more likely to achieve that than those where someone could get away with a simple Yes/No answer. (I’ve never seen the point of those kind of questions – where’s the fun in that for either interviewer or interviewee?!).
Oh and before you ask. Yes I do interrogate my characters from time to time. I don’t let them get away with simple Yes/No answers either!
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
The challenges of flash I think are:-
- Coming up with new ideas constantly for characters. (I’ve always found story ideas comes from the characters so as long as I know them well enough I will be able to write their tale).
- Working out whether a 100-word story (or drabble), say, is the best way to tell my latest tale or whether I would be better having a shorter or longer piece to do the character(s) justice. I resolve this one by writing the story, putting it aside for a while, then cutting out my wasted words. I then look at what is left and ask myself line by line is this one really necessary? Does it serve the story? It can be amazing how much can be cut out doing that as only a firm “yes” to both of these questions is enough for me to keep the line(s) in the story. And that is how it should be.
- Deciding whether to save the latest creation for a collection, or submit it for a competition, or save it for use as a blog post for me on my Facebook page, especially this one (!), or turn it into a story video and put in on Youtube. I sometimes deliberately leave a story as a text tale only for Facebook as I like to mix things up but must admit I have been having a lot of fun creating mini videos using Book Brush!
Still, those challenges mean I have no chance whatsoever of being bored and I like that!
Looking forward to sharing my CFT post tomorrow. I will be talking to YA author, Richard Hardie, about the challenges of lockdown he has faced as both author and publisher. Richard’s publishing arm is Authors Reach and some of the writers from his stable will be taking part in my Launches in Lockdown series for CFT which will start on 22nd January.
This is going to be a five part series, one of the longest I’ve written, but all of my wonderful guests share great insights as to how they’ve launched books during what has been such a strange period of history. We all hope the series will be a source of encouragement, given, even as things get better overall, “normal” life clearly isn’t going to return all at once. So thoughts and tips about managing online events will always be useful especially given the lack of physical book events will go on for a while (though hopefully only for a short while!).
Writing wise, I am more on the non-fiction side right now with two interviews to prepare for though I have drafted a flash piece for submission to a blog spot later on. The latter was interesting to write. As ever, I found getting inside the head of the character was crucial. Once I hear their voice and see where they’re coming from, the story then flows. It is my character’s story after all!
It came as a nice surprise to see a friend had shared my You Said story video the other day and there were fab responses in to it from that source. So many thanks, #JuneWebber, and to all who have kindly commented on this.
This poetic flash tale had to be written in the first person but I knew the voice of the narrator at once. Very much the voice of someone who has finally had enough of a situation. And I think I’ve conveyed that in this piece. Video up again below in case you missed it. It is good fun writing this kind of story video but I’ve found they work best when kept short.
Fairytales With Bite – What You Wish For
The well known saying “beware of what you wish for” is so true for us but it should be true for our characters too. It can be great fun making a character fall flat on their face when they so richly deserve it! But you do need to show the readers why the character deserves it so they can cheer along when the comeuppance happens!
Think about what your characters would wish for and why. Are their wishes reasonable? What stops them obtaining these? And where wishes come true, has that helped your character become a better person or has it ruined them? Getting all you want isn’t necessarily a great idea (and that’s equally true for us as well as our characters!).
This World and Others – What Does Your World Lack?
Is your fictional world self-contained or does it need to trade with other worlds? If the latter, how is this done? What does your world lack that it needs to buy in and could this be used to hold your world to ransom by a hostile power?
Does your fictional world learn to grow/produce the things it needs or, if this is impossible, what can they do to ensure they can’t be held to ransom by said hostile power?
How does your fictional world get on with others around it even when it doesn’t need anything from anyone else? Does it look to create stable relationships, benefiting everyone, or does it take an insular view on things?
How do the attitudes shown here affect the people who live in your created world? If your creation is insular, does it stop its people from reaching out to other worlds in things like cultural exchanges etc?
If your story is set just in the one world, the question about what it lacks is still relevant. A world will have a climate and that will have its advantages and disadvantages. How do your characters cope with this?
What can your world produce? What can’t it produce? Has the climate changed in any way over time? Was your world once able to grow wheat say but can’t now and how has that impacted society? (It would do too – no bread etc so what would replace that as a staple food?).
Jotting down your thoughts to questions like this can help you visualise your world more clearly and that in turn will help you “get it across” to a reader more clearly. You may discover hidden elements that will help you add depth to your story. If your world was once able to grow wheat but can’t now, how do the people in your world react to that?