All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
And one good question for all writers to answer is given below.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Am delighted to share the link to Part 4 of Launches in Lockdown for Chandler’s Ford Today. My guests this week are #PaulaReadman, #Dawn Knox, and #AmandaHuggins. They didn’t just launch one book during launchdown – oh no! They launched several! For more on why they chose the launches they did for their books, do see the post.
A huge thanks to everyone who has commented so positively on this series, whether directly on CFT or on my FB timeline. If ever there was a zeitgeist series for me to write, this is it I think.
Final part of this series next week. What has been lovely throughout has been the wealth of ideas and tips shared here. Many thanks to all of my guest authors for that but we all hope this will be a source of encouragement for those wondering how on earth they will hold their launches, given we can’t know when restrictions will be lifted etc. Do see this series as a good place to start for some very useful ideas to start you off!
Delighted to share a link to another great review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. This one comes courtesy of Big Al’s Books and Pals, an American book blogger site. Many thanks to Al and I am all for spreading the word about the joys of flash fiction on both sides of the pond!
As ever, I will put out the word for reviews for authors. Remember they don’t have to be long but they all help. And it is the best way I know of supporting other writers. So win-win there, yes?
Looking forward to sharing Part 4 of Launches in Lockdown for CFT tomorrow. All fantastic thoughts and tips throughout this series and Part 4 continues that fine “tradition”. And a huge thanks to everyone for the positive comments on the series so far – I guess those count as reviews!
Do see the link for the full review and once more thanks to Al!
Not convinced by my phone telling me it is 3 degrees out there. Certainly doesn’t feel like it. Still it does encourage a brisk pace when out with the dog. Lady not at all bothered by the cold (and is almost certainly the only member of the immediate family not moaning about it too!).
I’m preparing a couple of presentations at the moment – yes very exciting. Hope to be able to share more news soon. The writing life can be full of stages and there are times when you realise, yes you have just hit another one. I’m at that point now. All good fun!
I mentioned in my Writing Magazine spot (Subscribers’ News this month) that I discovered flash fiction by accident. It is also true that one thing in writing leads to another and it can be great fun finding out where these different steps take you. My short story writing led me to discover the joys of flash and what I’m working on now is as a result of my writing flash and being published in the form. The writing journey is not always a straight line route but it is important you enjoy the trip!
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Do I have favourite flash fiction tales of mine? Hmm… I do know I have more than one! It is like asking me to choose what kind of chocolate I like. There is no way I am going to stick at just picking one!
I am especially fond though of stories with a twist ending and funny tales that make me laugh. The latter often end on a punchline, which in a way is a kind of a twist ending I guess.
I am, I think, most proud of Calling The Doctor, where the mood of the story turns on the last word. See my book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again for that.
Having said that, the thing which drives me most as a writer is the wish to keep on improving on what I do. That’s a good thing. It means you’re not resting on your laurels (other green plants to rest on are available though I wouldn’t recommend opting for the holly!).
Also you are striving continually and that means when opportunities come your way, you are more likely to be open to giving them your best shot and who knows where that will take you?
It can be fun finding out though and bear in mind this is from someone who hadn’t even heard of flash fiction when I started out. I certainly didn’t expect to be published in it.
I am going to have news to announce soon which involves flash fiction and I am looking forward to sharing that as soon as I can.
If flash fiction writers had a motto, I guess it would be less is more! We do have to convey a lot in as a few words as possible but that also means we have to make choices from the outset. We have to decide what is relevant for a reader to know. The downside of that is not having the joy of subplots. You do need the longer story forms for that.
But what flash does give you is focus. It is exactly like shining a flashlight on one particular spot and seeing what you can see in that light. Because you can only see so much, the effect is more intense and the impact on a reader more powerful as a result.
Knowing that in advance means you can come up with suitable stories to make the most of powerful impacts. My own favourites are the funny flash tales. A short belly laugh at a tiny tale always goes down well with me. Something of that humour would be lost if it was set within a longer story.
Now I’ve mentioned using various random generators to trigger story ideas. There are some fabulous ones out there – verbs, nouns, adjectives, questions etc. The great thing with all of them is you can set your own parameters such as the number of words you generate. You can choose the first and last letters of the words you want generated in a lot of cases as well so if you like specifics, that is for you!
The ironic thing with having parameters (and this is true for flash fiction as a whole due to its word count maximum) is they can free the writer up to come up with better ideas.
You know you are working with limits so you have to think laterally to make the most of the limits you have. And it does encourage you to cut your wasted words. You want every word to count so you’re not going to leave any in unless it does add something valuable to your story. That alone makes your story stronger and it is a great writing practice to get into and will benefit every form of writing you are involved in.
Fairytales with Bite – When Wishes Are Not Granted
An interesting line of enquiry to follow for stories set in a magical world is to ask what happens when wishes are not granted.
How does the one making the wish react to that?
Does the fairy godmother, say, have phenomenally good reasons for not granting the wish that perhaps she can’t reveal (at least immediately)?
One good reason here by the way would be to force the person making the wish to find their own way to solve a problem (and it may well be that anger at magical help being turned down might motivate that character to find their own way and learn to manage on their own).
Politics can come into play to a certain extent too. If a fairy godmother was to grant a certain wish, would it land her in trouble with her boss and/or other magical species? If the different species are keeping the peace by agreeing not to use excessive magic, would the fairy godmother’s actions to help your hero/heroine/anti-hero/anti-heroine breach that agreement? What would the consequences of that be?
Interesting story thoughts there!
And don’t forget the possibilities of when wishes are granted that little bit too late.
Now this could lend itself to humour. Do we have an inept fairy on the loose, say? Who reins her in or helps her sort out her timings? Good fun could be had there.
But this would also lend itself to tragedy – for the main character and/or the magical being. Again good stories to be found.
It is worth asking the question “what if” for story planning. Spider diagrams or flowcharts can also be useful in working out what the best ideas. And always write up the one that grabs you the most. It is likely to grab your readers too and you will write the tale up with enthusiasm and that comes through in your writing.
This World and Others – Working Things Out
How do your characters work things out? Do they rely on their own wit and intelligence? Or are they smart enough to know their own weaknesses and find expert help as and when they need it?
Do they read? Are there libraries (and if so are they like ours?). Do other characters help your “stars” or do they get in the way? And are your characters savvy enough to know that a certain course of action might lead them into conflict with those far more powerful than they are? Can they avoid this? Can they work out better ways of doing things or how to overcome the risk of conflict?
As in real life, some characters will be planners, others will be pantsers. But what if you put your people in situations where they have to act differently from the way they normally would? For example, what if your typical pantser finally finds they do have to plan something out carefully to give them any chance at all of (a) success and (b) survival? How would they handle that? (Initially not well I would expect! But how do they get over that so they do what they have to do?).
As a writer, working things out I find incredibly useful. I like to work things out with regards to my characters first. Who are they? What are their major traits? What are their flaws? Nearly always ideas for stories spring up as a result of answering those questions. It can sometimes show me the mood the story is likely to be too. A pompous character is someone I am likely to put into a funny tale precisely to show them up (and have great fun doing so!).
But there are different ways to work things out for you as the writer and for your characters, It is a question of working out which method would work best for you, this particular character, this particular story.