All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.
Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good week. Weather all over the place here – it feels more like March than May right now.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post about Favourite Lines. Great to see good comments coming in on this already. Keep it up, folks! And do share your own favourite lines (but keep them suitable for a family audience, thanks!).
Do you find you remember a favourite novel or story by one particular line? I do. It can also apply to favourite shows. (Lubbly jubbly, anyone?!).
I also look at the role of catchphrases and repetition in helping favourite lines to become so well loved. Repetition is a strange thing here. Generally, we don’t want to repeat ourselves in our work.
This is especially true for flash fiction. I’ve got to make the most of my limited word count so am not going to want to waste words by repeating some!
But for catchphrases, repetition is unavoidable because they can’t become catchphrases without that repetition. The positive thing here is that the repetition leads to stories and books becoming well loved and cherished because we hone in on what we love best. And often it is what we remember the most clearly.
Just to say Favourite Lines will be my topic on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. I’ll be looking at the role of catchphrases and repetition (used in a good way) to help develop said favourite lines amongst other thoughts shared here. Looking forward to sharing that.
Many thanks to all who have recently signed up to my author newsletter. Welcome aboard, everyone! Do see my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more.
Am looking forward to Wordy Chat a little later this evening. Given I produced a flash fiction tale about a ping pong ball’s contents from the last one, it will be interesting to see what comes up in tonight’s chat!
Funny old day with the weather and still strong winds. I thought it was March that was meant to come in as a lion, not May. Oh well. Lady had a splendid play session with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and another pal, Coco. Lady came home happy but very tired – and I assume her friends did the same!
When I’m not writing flash fiction and short stories, I draft a lot of blogs. Some of these I use immediately but others I draft for use later. I know there will be times when I am short on time so having a blog prepared “good to go” is a useful thing.
Murphy’s Law being what it is, I find it often happens when I’m drafting a blog, I get some ideas for flash tales! So I jot the ideas down and come back to them later. If they still seem promising, I write them up. And yes, when I’m writing fiction, ideas will come for blog posts for Chandler’s Ford Today etc. So I just jot those ideas down and again come back to them later. Sometimes an idea which seems a cracker at the time proves to be a damp squib after some time away from it and coming back to examine it in the cold light of day.
So it always pays to have a notebook or something useful to jot down notes! And it pays to give yourself time to assess your ideas well enough. Distance away from them will show up whether these really are “goers” or not.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
When I talk about flash fiction one of the first things I stress is what it is not. It is not truncated prose. Each piece has to be a complete story with a proper beginning, middle, and ending. It is just shorter than the standard magazine type short stories you see.
But if you have ever completed writing exercises while on a course, in a writing conference etc., do take your notebook back out and have a look at what you jotted down. Could you polish those drafts up into flash fiction tales to submit to publishers and competitions?
It is also encouraging to see that if you do a quick web search, numerous flash fiction competitions come up. This is useful. This is how I found #FridayFlashFiction and I am delighted to say my latest story, Getting It Wrong, is now up on site. Hope you enjoy it!
Yet another lovely thing about flash fiction is it is easy to share on social media and can be a great way of giving “value” to those who follow your blog, postings on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. I’ve found with the latter the very short stories work best. (Basically 50 words or under. When I first started making the story videos, I did use some of my longer pieces but I think the impact is better with the shorter tales).
One other use for flash is in giving new life to those writing exercises you had a go at when going to (at the moment on Zoom!) writing workshops and the like. Polish your creations up and see if you can submit them to a market or competition. I use the Writing Magazine’s competition guide, which comes out twice a year, but also Mslexia have a directory of competitions in their quarterly magazine, which is always worth looking at.
I write a lot of my flash fiction in the first person. This hasn’t been deliberate. I certainly didn’t foresee that happening when I started writing flash fiction.
But there are times when I’ve come up with a character where I’m better off showing them as an “I” character. They have a strong voice. They want to make their voice heard and a name would not add to their qualities, could possibly detract from them. It can also be something that is not the most relevant thing about them. It is what they do and say that is.
When I do name a character, you can be sure that name is important to the story and my character portrayal. Sometimes I use a name to indicate the character is not of this world. I sometimes use it to indicate social status. And sometimes for my creepier tales, it is more scary to keep my character as an “it” or an “I” so you, the reader, wonder just what these creatures are.
Fairytales with Bite – Twists
Fairytales have often used twists but we now recognise these things as standard “ingredients” for a fairytale. For example the old crone or man who turns out to be a powerful witch, fairy godmother, or wizard in disguise and turn the tables on another, usually arrogant, character. Beauty and the Beast is a good example of this in that the beast’s curse was put on him due to his arrogance.
But when this idea first came out, it would have been seen as a twist in the tale. Old crones and old men are usually just that! The idea of them being powerful beings in disguise would’ve been a surprise.
The ultimate twist for me here is that fairytales generally do see wrong righted, justice done etc., when we know so often in life it doesn’t happen. (It is one of the comforting things about fairytales for me).
And usually the underdog does come out on top in a fairytale.
So the twists are there – given again, in life, it is far rarer for an underdog to come out on top – but they are hidden in plain sight so to speak.
When it comes to writing our own fairytale twists, a good thing to consider is whether an aspect of your character’s life is where the twist comes from. For example, if you have a character who has a talent for art, can the twist come from them using that talent to help someone or even turn the tables on that same someone who perhaps has humilated them?
A successful twist has to seem reasonable to a reader based on what they know about your character(s) and also the setting of your story. If it is a clear fairytale, then those standard ingredients (the tropes) will be expected and it will be a question of working out how you can use them to best advantage for your creations.
This World and Others – Differences and Similarities
One of the joys of reading fantasy and science fiction in particular is spotting the differences and similarities between the created world and what we know here. But take that idea further and look at the differences and similarities between the characters in those stories. Can you apply any of what you spot here to your own creations?
If in the fictional world, everyone has to have a certain amount of magical ability in order to be able to survive, can you compare that to our need to have a certain amount of money in order to be able to survive? Will your characters do anything to get the magical abilities they need? Are they driven by greed to get more than they need?
How do they treat those who are not as “well off” as they are? If they are at the bottom of the pile, what do they do to improve themselves? And does anyone rebel against the system because they can see the cruelties of it and want nothing to do with it?
Using the traits we know about ourselves is a fabulous way to create characters. Using what we know about our planet can fuel ideas for how you create a world that is far removed from our own as it can be a great place to start. We need oxygen. What would your fictional world need for your characters to survive?
Give some thought as to how sustainable your world is too. If it relies on magical energy, where does that come from? Is there any danger of it running out?
Great fantasy and science fiction stories can take what we know about this world and reflect it back to us in fictional worlds we love to read about. And you can use that thought for your own writing.
Late Running/The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball/Why Books are Special to Me. Along with a new video, I share flash tale set as a challenge recently which I used to illustrate a a Zoom talk I gave! I look at getting into a story and why books are special. https://t.co/b4S0HRkv9d— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) May 4, 2021
Many thanks, @Ruthleighwrites – love the cover here! https://t.co/T4KlqEmLrR— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) May 7, 2021
Favourite Lines https://t.co/aVVTjZxkeB Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post about Favourite Lines. Great to see good comments coming in on this already. Keep it up, folks! And do share your favourite lines (but keep them suitable for a family audience, thanks!). pic.twitter.com/AuGhgiT1zu— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) May 7, 2021