Finding Themes

Image Credit:-

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.

It has been a reasonable week. At least the summer has now turned up (not before time in the UK if you ask me!) and I share a new Friday Flash Fiction acrostic story too. (Screenshot of part of that story taken by me, Allison Symes. You’ll need to follow the link below to read the rest of it!). Screenshot of my profile page on CafeLit also taken by me, Allison Symes.

And whatever your writing/reading journey has been this week, I hope it was a good one.

All forms of fiction and non-fiction, short or long, will take you into different worlds and sometimes back and forward in time too


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Finding Themes, my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. Glad to see comments coming In already. Do feel free to comment on the CFT page.

I discuss some of my favourite themes here and why I find having a theme useful in story telling. I also look at spotting the underlying themes in stories and what the purpose of themes is for a writer.

Of course any writing competition which isn’t an open one gives themes for writers to try so it is worth practicing writing to a theme. The classic ones come up time and again and rightly so as these have powerful resonance.

There is never going to be a time without love stories, justice tales etc. We relate to these things at deep levels. Fiction reflects life and what matters to us after all (and yes even the fantasy ones do as it tends to the characters we related to based on our own experiences of life).

Hope you enjoy the post.

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Finding Themes, my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post, is up tomorrow. Do themes come easily to you? I have certain ones that I adore (justice will out, eventually is one of mine) but I find that my characters can dictate the theme. For example in my The Pink Rose from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my two characters, mother and daughter, make the theme obvious – love continues no matter what life throws in the way. (Also that simple ways of showing love are often the best).

Certain themes dictate the kind of characters that have to serve them. For example, a justice will out theme has to have an antagonist and a protagonist. Someone must have done something wrong for that wrong to be righted. What can vary here is the kind of people you use here. They don’t have to be all action heroes. Perhaps an older person (or other being of choice) finds a way of righting a wrong they themselves committed long ago and they finally want to make atonement.

Link up for CFT tomorrow. (Comments always welcome on the CFT page incidentally).

Another lovely day and Lady gets to play with her best buddie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Both of them had an excellent day! Looking forward to a refreshing swim tomorrow. You can tell the weather is hot outside when the pool water feels refreshing rather than perishing cold (though I think the latter is a ploy to make you start swimming quickly – it works too!). Had my hair done again today too – lovely job done as ever by Lisa from Snips.

Writing wise, I’m busy drafting pieces for submission in the next week or so and I am trying to keep at least a week ahead on my Chandler’s Ford Today posts. I have found that pays off, especially with my longer projects on the go. My CFT theme this week is, appropriately, Finding Themes. Link up on Friday.

I have got into the habit of drafting blog posts for a variety of places, including here, that I can schedule in advance or have to hand to share when writing time is limited or if tiredness is getting the better of me. (It does for us all from time to time!). This is a great use for those pockets of time when I’ve got time to draft something short and fancy writing some non-fiction in that time. (Naturally when I fancy fiction, I’ll be drafting flash fiction stories).

There is no one way to write that will suit every author. How can there be? No two writers approach what they do in exactly the same way. We are all inspired by different things (though there will be things in common too). What is the “secret”for an effective and efficient writer is to work in a way that you can manage and sustain and still find enjoyable after xxx numbers of years writing.

I can’t imagine writing on the fly, so to speak. I am one of life’s planners. What I do like is jotting down ideas that I can play with and write up later. I don’t have any preset ideas here as to how I’m going to write up those notes but ideas do come. I think it is the case the act of jotting down that note plants something useful in my subconscious I can draw on later. It is also a question of refilling my imaginative well regularly too (and the best way of doing that by far is by reading! What’s not to love about that?).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thrilled to say my New In Town, a new acrostic flash tale, is now up on #FridayFlashFiction. Many thanks for the comments that have come in on this so far – the feedback on this site is so useful. Like to think of this one as a cautionary tale. Hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2021-06-11 at 16-34-07 New In Town by Allison Symes

For the rest of the story, see the link!

I like to mix up the kind of flash fiction I write in terms of word count. Keeps life interesting! My favourite is the 100-worder (aka the drabble) but the advantage of the longer form (say between 750 and the 1000 words maximum) is that I can have more than one character in it. There’s even a little room for a minor sub-plot (but it has to be minor and serve the overall story to justify being in it).

Sometimes a flash story takes off and I end up with a 1500 words plus short tale instead but I simply edit this and then submit it to a diffferent market. Another lovely thing about CafeLit is they like tales of varying length too so do check them out if you like writing short stories and flash tales. There is a great mixture here.

My most recent one here, That Was the Week That Was, comes in at just under 500 words and spans a week in the life of my character. (Using a time frame for your story can work wonderfully for flash and short stories and I need to try and use this more often because it is an easy thing to overlook. Can help increase tension too as you read what happens day by day or hour by hour or what have you. Also there is a good structure built in with this kind of frame. You just need to decide how long that frame is going to be. In this case I knew it would be a week).
Allison Symes - Cafelit Profile page
I mix up the way I open a flash tale (or short story come to that). Sometimes I ask questions, which I then need to answer in the course of the story. Sometimes I make a statement which is out of the ordinary so readers have to read on to find out what is going on.

Sometimes I take a reader straight into my character’s head and that can be a fascinating, funny, or horrific experience, depending on the character I’ve written up and the genre of the tale. But what is common to all of this is that the opening has to intrigue. If I’m not intrigued by it, then a reader is unlikely to be.

And being intrigued enough to want to read on to find out what happens is the goal of any writer. Hook, hook, hook them in!

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Fairytales with Bite – Magical One-Liners

Potential throw-away lines from fairytale characters could include the following:-

Cinderella – You expect me to dance in glass slippers without cutting my feet to ribbons? Your wand is playing up isn’t it, fairy godmother?

Snow White – Of course I’ll have an apple with you, old apple seller. We’ve got to get our five a day in somehow, yes?

Goldilocks – What kind of bear has porridge for breakfast and lives in a house? Someone clearly hasn’t heard of the call of the wild then…

Sleeping Beauty – Time to wake up already? Can’t I just have another 48 hours? A girl needs her beauty sleep.

The Little Mermaid – Don’t let that fishmonger anywhere near me. I didn’t like the way he was looking at my tail….

The Snow Queen – It is never time to get the sunscreen out. We keep it chilled here. Mind, I do like ice in my drinks. It’s funny you should ask.

Hope you enjoy. (And I sympathise with Cinders here. I’d have been miffed to have gone out anywhere in uncomfortable footwear yet alone to a royal ball. Can you imagine the blisters on her feet the next day?!).

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This World and Others – World Building Favourites

When creating your fictional worlds, what aspect do you like best and why? For every type of story I write from the 100-worder upwards, it is the characters who intrigue me. I love inventing people (or those of other species. I’ve written a story from the viewpoint of a mother dragon in my time – well someone had to do so!).

Do you like the actual world building? I can imagine the great joy to be had in creating fantasy maps and the like – great fun to do I would have thought but given I’m useless at drawing (trust me Pictionary is not the game for me!), that one bypasses me completely.

I suppose because I am on the side of character in the great character -v- plot debate, it is no great surprise that I come in on the side of those who drive any story. It is the characters and what happens to them that we as readers want to find out more about.

But it is important to have fun with your writing, whichever aspect of it you like best. That fun and enjoyment helps to keep you going.

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