Crossing Fiction and Non-Fiction

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.

Many thanks to Wendy H Jones and Gill James/Bridge House Publishing for book cover images as part of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Images of me signing my contract re my contribution to a non-fiction book were taken by Adrian Symes. It is SO helpful having a significant other who can take photos like that for me! Not that easy to do it yourself.

Has been a hot week here in Hampshire. Have appreciated my swims this week. For once, the water felt refreshing rather than perishing cold!

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Local Author News – Allison Symes – Crossing Fiction and Non-Fiction as my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I take the chance to give an update on what has happened/is about to happen with my fiction and non-fiction writing.

This includes two books and writing for an American online magazine. So there has been lots going on over the last few months! And more Zoom talks have taken place, with another one due at the end of the month. I’ll also have further news to share later on in the year and am looking forward to being able to do that.

Mind you, I am looking forward to going back to the local theatre company next week and being able to review their shows for CFT again. Have so missed seeing The Chameleons in action on the stage, Their productions are wonderfully done.

Local Author News – Allison Symes – Crossing Fiction and Non-Fiction

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Another hot day. Another day of Lady taking it easy and cool.

Will be sharing what’s going on in my writing world this summer with my local author news post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up tomorrow. See above.

Writing for CFT has taught me so much.

  1. Writing to a deadline.
  2. Writing to a word count. (Up to 1500, as my posts are articles rather than blogs as such, here).
  3. Working out questions for other authors so the interview ends up being an enlightening conversation full of useful tips and advice for other writers.
  4. Coming up with ideas week by week.
  5. Thinking laterally where I need to for both article ideas and suitable Pixabay photos to illustrate my posts.
  6. Discovering what’s going on in my local area with things like The Chameleon Theatre Group and learning to produce reviews with interesting background information on the play being performed, its author(s), and often both.
  7. Working out what would be a good non-fiction story to write up for CFT.
  8. My responding to comments and engaging with readers has come on a lot since writing for CFT!
  9. Thinking about my target audience here and actively engaging with articles designed to entertain them (with the odd local news author post about me for a little publicity for yours truly).
  10. Learning to plan ahead, schedule my posts, and where possible write things in advance so I know I have post all ready at least a week ahead.

So a huge thanks to CFT editor, #JanetWilliams, for having the vision behind the website. The idea was to bring Chandler’s Ford people together and it has but it has gone beyond that. There is a reasonably sized writing community in and around our area so the magazine has been able to engage with that audience too. And I have had the odd gig from it – the Hursley Park Book Fair a couple of years ago where I met #HelenMatthews, whom I recently interviewed, and also getting to take part in other local book fairs. Will be so nice to have those back again but watch this space as they say.


Another sweltering day here in Hampshire but Lady and I are managing to keep our cool.

Just to say the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic is currently on offer on Amazon. To find out more head here – http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic

Looking forward to seeing The Chameleon Theatre Group back on stage for the first time in well over 15 months in just over a week’s time. Review to come in due course for Chandler’s Ford Today but I do like reviewing their shows. Over a year, there is a varied programme and every show makes for a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Good to see some normality back.

Chapeltown Books - consistency matters

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


I was chatting on here yesterday (see below) about titles being the first hook for the reader. The important thing is to make sure your fabulous title isn’t the only one. The story has to live up to the promise of its title for a start (otherwise you won’t get repeat readers).

So what you are also after then are an intriguing character, a cracking opening line ensuring your reader simply has to read on, and a satisfactory ending. The ending must suit the character and type of story. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending.

See what you make of my ending to my latest story on #Friday Flash Fiction called Missing. Is it happy?


Screenshot 2021-07-23 at 17-16-56 Missing, by Allison Symes

It was great talking to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group last night, all thanks to the wonders of Zoom. I took the topic of titles for this month’s meeting and looked at different ideas for finding inspiration for these.

Titles can do a lot of “heavy lifting” in flash as they can indicate mood and genre without you having to spell things out in the story itself. So it is well worth getting these right. I often find I come up with better title ideas as I write my tale though I need something as a marker or peg to get me started.

And from a writer’s viewpoint, the title is the first hook for your reader. You want to hook them right there.

 

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Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting online tonight. It is always a joy to talk about flash.

Once you get over the idea of the restricted word count, you find there is more flexibility with the form than you might think. Not only can you write across genres, there is the possibility of writing your stories as poetic tales, acrostics, in diary format – all sorts of things as long as you don’t cross 1000 words. All great fun to do too.

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Fairytales with Bite – Animal Transformations

Animal transformations often crop up in fairytales but usually because some arrogant so-and-so has annoyed a powerful wizard, fairy godmother, or witch in disguise and have paid the price for doing so. See Beauty and the Beast for more on that!

But what could your magical beings do if they could change into animals? What would they choose to turn into and why?

Is there a price to pay for being able to transform like this? One idea there would be to have the transformation weaken them in some way so they would think twice about using the skill. You could then force your character into working out when they should use it and what other ways they could use to get them out of a situation where the animal transformation might have been useful but is not worth doing because it costs them dearly.

And is there resentment from those who can’t do animal transformations against those who can? What kind of conflict could that lead to?

I suppose if I could transform I would want to be able to fly so I’d probably look at becoming a bird. (I know I wouldn’t want to become an insect – far too much risk of being eaten!).

 

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This World and Others – What Makes Your World Stand Out?

What makes your fictional world something you want to write up? What would its appeal be to a reader? What would they identify with? What would they find strange (or at least strange compared to life here on Earth which in itself can be strange at times!).

Is it the setting that grabs your attention or the characters? What can you do with the characters in your setting that you could not do if they were based here?

Asking questions is a great way of working out a rough template for your creation and to iron out any issues early on. It pays you to work out what you need to know and, as you write your first draft, jot down things you discover you might need to research later. For example, if your created world does not have water, what could your inhabitants drink instead?

And especially if you’re thinking of a series of books, it would pay to keep a “biography” of your world so you have to hand what you need to know when you draft Book 2, Book 27 etc.

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Talks, Flash, and the Character -v- Plot Debate

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. Images of Lady, of CafeLit 10 books, and my stories in it, and screenshots all taken by me, Allison Symes.

Summer weather, a mini heatwave, finally here in the UK. The dog and I are busy keeping cool.

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Facebook – General

Many thanks to the lovely people at #DundeeCityWriters for making me so welcome at last night’s Zoom talk. I spoke about short story writing as opposed to flash fiction this time. All great fun.

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. It’s a local author news post this time about yours truly where I give an update on what has been happening/is going to happen over the summer for me. And I am glad to share news on both the fiction and non-fiction fronts for the first time here as well.

Lady, you’ll be glad to know, is keeping well and as cool as possible. She’s generally as daft as the proverbial brush but not when it comes to weather like this heatwave a lot of us in the UK are experiencing right now. (I know, it’s July, it is to be expected, but I have no way of telling the dog this!). She drinks plenty, stays in the shade, and enjoys gentler exercise sessions away from the main heat. She can go back to her usual athletic running about when the weather cools. And it will.

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Pleased to be speaking later tonight to the #DundeeCityWriters. Zoom is a wonderful thing!

Great to see so many lovely comments coming in on my #FridayFlashFiction story, The Unpaid Shift. Many thanks, all.

Working away also on my author newsletter. That will come out on 1st August. I share news, tips, writing prompts, and exclusive flash stories here amongst other things. If that sounds of interest, head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com where you can sign up.

And if you head over to my From LIght to Dark and Back Again Facebook page shortly, you will find my latest YouTube video as well. See below!

(Lady keeping cool and drinking well. I’m drinking well but do feel as if I’m melting right now. But at least it is the kind of weather you expect for July!).

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Facebook – General – and Authors Electric

Pleased to share my post on Authors Electric this month. I talk about character -v- plot (and many thanks for the great comments which have come in so far).

I also look at a character I don’t care for much in this post even though I love the author. Mind you, this kind of thing is useful for me as I think about my characters. I do look at what I love and loathe about characters produced by other writers and I can learn so much from that. If a character is dire, I can examine why that is and try to avoid doing this for my own creations.

I also look at how a character makes me react and discuss series novels where a character can develop over time. I also name my favourite example of the latter as my top pick is a masterclass in how a character can develop over several books.

Screenshot 2021-07-20 at 19-35-10 Character -v- Plot by Allison Symes

 

Hope you have had a good day. A huge thanks for the wonderful comments on my The Unpaid Shift currently on #FridayFlashFiction. So enjoying writing the drabbles again. If you missed it, see the link.

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post next week which will be a Local Author News one from me where I have exciting updates to share.

Am also looking forward to sharing great author interviews later on in the summer. So plenty going on here.

But more immediately, I am looking forward to sharing my Authors Electric post tomorrow. This time I’m writing about the character -v- plot debate. Give some thought as to where you stand on that one and maybe pop a comment up when I share the post link tomorrow. See above.

Screenshot 2021-07-16 at 18-47-03 The Unpaid Shift, by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thanks for the lovely response to Self Defence, my latest YouTube video. These are great fun to write and produce. And they are a great way to use the mini-flash tales which are only a sentence or two. See below for video.

I was giving a Zoom talk to #DundeeCityWriters last night about short story writing but many of the techniques I use for flash I can and do use for the longer tales. For example, I have to have a rough template of what I am going to write and then off I go.

The main difference for a short story (anything over 1000 words) is I need to have some rough pointers for what happens in the central part of the tale so I avoid the dreaded saggy middle! (Not wanted in cakes. Not wanted in stories either!).

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Hope you enjoy my latest YouTube story video. It appears self defence can, in the right circumstances, apply to inanimate objects.


Thanks for the great response to my post yesterday about writing more in the first person for flash. I hadn’t anticipated doing this earlier in my writing career. I’m not sorry about the development as it had been a kind of writing I’d gone out of my way to avoid. Why?

Because all I could see were the limitations of it. You can only see through that one character’s eyes. Everything the character sees, hears, or could be reasonably expected to know is what you have to play with.

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What I hadn’t seen immediately was that kind of framework Is useful for stopping me head-hopping and in making me focus on the lead character. I can’t go off at a tangent here. That in turn encourages creativity as I work out what the lead character can see, hear, be reasonably expected to know etc.

I’ve also come to love the immediacy of the first person narrator.

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I’m writing more in the first person with my flash stories as it is a very easy way to “hit the ground running” with my character. I can literally take you right inside the “I” character’s head and show you their thoughts, actions, and reactions. I can’t “head-hop” either as I have to focus on just that one character.

But when I do have more than one character in a story (usually one of my 500+ word tales), I do work out who the lead character is and who the support will be. I still have to know whose story it is and why and what the role of the support will be. (Of course the support may do anything but support the main character but that’s fine. I just need a defined sense of who does what and why).

Goodreads Author Blog – Annuals

Did you use to get annuals when you were younger? Do you still get them?

I am fond of The Friendship Book (D.C. Thomson – those wonderful Dundee based publishers have produced this for decades). This is one of those books that is always on the present list at a certain time of year I won’t mention yet because we’re still in the summer. I refuse to think of the C word until the autumn at the earliest (and just wish the shops would do the same).

When my family was younger, they loved The Beano annual, and when we could get it, The Bash Street Kids one. They weren’t the only ones to read them either! I still have a soft spot for Minnie the Minx in particular. For anyone who might not know, The Beano is veritable institution amongst comics and again produced by D.C. Thomson and again going back decades. I think I’m right in saying it is well over 50 years old.

I’ve got no time for snobbery around comics, comic books, annuals etc. The important point here is they do get people reading (and the hope is of course they go on to read books with a higher text content later. My family did. What matters is getting that love of reading to develop and annuals and comics can be a great place to start).

I still like comics like The Beano. The world they take you into generally makes you laugh. And I count comics as much a part of the reading life as books.

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YouTube for Authors and The Magical Week

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. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. From Light to Dark and Back Again from the Swanwick Book Room all the way back in 2019 also taken by me. Can’t wait to be back at Swanwick again. I’ve missed seeing friends for the last two years. Zoom has helped a lot but it’s not the same as meeting up in person.

Nice sunny end to the week where I am, busy Zoom week coming up next week, and I share a new flash tale and some thoughts on how a fairy godmother might spend her week. See Fairytales with Bite below for more on that.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share YouTube for Authors, my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week. Many thanks for helpful comments in on it already.

I discuss how I use YouTube, share some thoughts as to what else authors can do with the medium, and why I think having a visual way of sharing my work is an advantage. What is also lovely is being able to add audio to YouTube videos. We all know the right music can enhance a film. It can do the same for the videos you create. See the post for more. Below is the video referred to in the post.

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Back to the will-the-sun-come-out-or-won’t-it-routine today. My old granddad was right when he said a British summer fell on a Wednesday afternoon. It happened yesterday!

Will be sharing my YouTube for Authors post on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow and hope you will find it useful. (Am looking forward to sharing further fab interviews here in August too but it is going to be a joy writing a review for The Chameleon Theatre Group once again when I go to see their show on 29th July. So looking forward to seeing their shows again – a little bit of normality returns at least).

Will be giving a talk on short story writing via Zoom next week and am looking forward to that. Plus I will be taking part in the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group, again next week and again on Zoom. (It is an excellent word to get out on Scrabble. I did so recently and was so pleased to get it out on the triple word score. It is a feat I am unlikely to repeat).

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This is more like it. Sunny and warm here in Hampshire today and Lady got to play with her two best buddies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and a lovely Hungarian Vizler. These two like to give me cuddles as well as play with Lady (and she doesn’t mind as she gets cuddles from their owners), they’re lovely dogs, but you don’t want to stand behind them when their tails are wagging at speed!

Writing wise, my CFT post this week is about YouTube For Authors, the idea for which came out of my interview with #HelenMatthews last week. I hadn’t anticipated using a visual medium to share stories even two years ago but I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy YouTube is to use. Also proof that networking with other authors can inspire writing ideas!

Busy preparing Zoom talks right now as well and have sorted out the project I want to take with me to Swanwick which I hope to work on while there. (One of the days is a quieter one where you can work on your own material and I found I got a lot done in 2019 when I was last able to take advantage of this).

Also looking forward to going out by train again and getting work done via Evernote en route. On a good trip to London once, I managed to draft three flash stories and part of an article for CFT on a trip that took about 80 minutes.
Also looking forward to being able to put two books of mine (From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping The Flash Fantastic) out in the Swanwick Book Room. Last time, I only had the one.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you enjoy my latest story on #FridayFlashFictionThe Unpaid Shift. This story is a result of a writing exercise I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group. Great fun to write up and I have every sympathy with my lead here for not wanting to work more unpaid overtime. Does he buckle? See the story for more.

Screenshot 2021-07-16 at 18-47-03 The Unpaid Shift, by Allison Symes

When I write a twist in the tale flash story, whatever its mood or genre, I always write the twist first and then work out different, logical ways of getting back to the beginning again. I want to make sure that the opening for the story is as strong as the great twist I’ve come up with and this is where I will use spider diagrams.

I work out different “what if” possibilities from that twist and then go with the one I like the best. It is always the one that makes me react the most whether it makes me laugh or shudder with horror. If it does that to me, it will make a reader react likewise (most of them anyway). Thinking with my audience in mind all the time ensures I cut out anything irrelevant. If it bores me, it will bore them.


Looking forward to waving the flag for short stories and flash fiction via Zoom talks I’m due to give this month. Also looking forward to waving said flag for flash via the Swanwick Book Room in August (and I hope there might be others from the Chapeltown stables there as well).

Looking forward to getting back to live events again but am grateful for the opportunities Zoom has given and continues to give. Flash on a small screen works well (and many thanks for the views and likes over on my YouTube channel too. I’ll be talking about YouTube for Authors for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week as well).

Youtube gives me a visual and audio outlet for my storiesScreenshot 2021-07-16 at 19-35-51 Allison Symes
Fairytales with Bite – The Magical Week

I thought I’d work out what a working week in a magical world could look like for your average working fairy godmother and the like.

Monday = Check client list for the week. Is there an ill-treated goddaughter on the list for visiting this time? (If so find out what her shoe size is and ensure it is unique to her. This will be useful for later. Also check out whether she can grow pumpkins. Not everybody is green-fingered so you may need to bring own stock in). Also get washing out but use magic to peg it to the line and keep any rain off for long enough. You have the magic. You may as well use it to help with the housework.

Tuesday = Pop along to local palace and ensure there are no spinning wheels anywhere. You want to cover all angles on the fairytale front here. That done, put a note in the diary to regularly check this as you know what the local witch is like and would not put it past her to wait until after you have done to smuggle one in.

Wednesday = Get rest of housework done using magic. Catch up with correspondence from those wanting you to turn up and help them. Sort into piles of Deserving and Not Deserving as Probably Being Greedy. Work out a schedule for the Deserving. Work out a schedule for paying a stern visit to the latter and warn them to change their ways. You don’t grant wishes like that. The wishes you could grant to punish them for greedy are not the ones they would want.

Thursday = A day for spreading goodwill and happiness with the aid of a magic wand. Your favourite day of the week.

Friday = Everyone clocks off early on a Friday and you are no exception though you do check all the clocks in your area are set to the right time. For some of your spells, timing (I.e. knowing when it is midnight) is crucial. See if you can sort out that dodgy spell you have on slippers. You still can’t figure out where the glass bit comes from but do know it’s a pain. You’re not in business to give work to chiropodists when people go to them moaning about damaged feet, having spent a long evening dancing in glass slippers.

Saturday = Time for some work in the garden (and to ensure you have pumpkins growing nicely in case others need them). Weeding is done by magic as it is boring but you do like to plant and prune things yourself. Meanwhile your magic wand is having its weekly recharge.

Sunday = Even a fairy godmother needs to put her feet up. Time for tea, gossip with fellow fairy godmothers via crystal ball, and cake. Lots and lots of cake. Magically produced as you are no baker. It is the first thing you use your newly recharged magic wand for. In your view, it’s a great cause.

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This World and Others – Places with Meaning

Most of us have places that have special meaning for us. Maybe it is where our loved ones proposed or where we spent our early childhood. So how about our characters?

What places mean the most to them and why? Where would they never visit and why? If they found they did have to go to somewhere they’d previously avoided, how did that work out? Was it as bad as they feared or was everything they had heard about the place wrong? How do they react to the latter?

Is there a special sacred places most of your characters would want to get to and is there an obligation for them to go? How do your characters travel?

As for the meanings, the same place can have different resonances for different characters. One might think Place X is wonderful, another may consider it as ugly as sin. Why do they hold the views they do? Does one of them change their mind and what does it take to get them to do so?

Plenty of story thoughts there I think.

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Balancing Fiction and Non-Fiction

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.

Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.

More publication news this week and Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, chats to me on her blog. More below.

Storytelling shows us so much about ourselves

Facebook – General

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday where I’ll be chatting about Youtube for Authors. I’ll share how I use Youtube and why I am finding it useful, creative, and great fun. Going down this route was not something I anticipated doing even three years ago.

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on the first of the month so if would like to sign up please head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com (landing page) – and a big welcome to those already aboard. You receive a welcome email on sign-up along with a link to a giveaway where I share flash fiction stories, a brief piece about flash fiction, amongst other things.

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Hope you have had a good day. Thunder coming in here. Lady okay with it, especially now we’re back at home, but I cannot think of an odder July, weather wise. Glad the weather is supposed to get better from tomorrow but I am not holding my breath!

Glad to say I will be giving a couple of Zoom talks later on in the month so am getting ready for those.

Looking forward to going back to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Will be wonderful to catch up in person with lovely friends I’ve not seen for two years, though am deeply saddened by news of those Swanwickers lost since we last met. The support from other writers here is amazing. It will be nice to be out and about on the train again too (and yes, I have renewed my railcard. I renewed it last year not long before the first lockdown…oops!).

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Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on my No More Miss Mousy story which is up on #FridayFlashFiction. Great feedback – much appreciated.

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. I’ll be talking about YouTube for Authors and the idea came from Part 2 of my interview with #HelenMatthews shared here on Friday.

Do you schedule your writing over the course of a week? I have a rough outline of what I want to see done by the end of the week but I can adjust this (and do) as and when the need arises. Friday of course is always CFT day, Sundays are usually when I prepare a flash tale to put up on YouTube and submit something to #FridayFlashFiction. For the rest of the week, I like to write a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and if I manage to do that, I feel it has been a week well spent.

Screenshot 2021-07-09 at 18-40-02 No More Miss Mousy, by Allison Symes


Two posts today as lots to share. I’ll start by saying a huge thanks to the lovely #ValPenny for hosting me once again on her website. Back in March I was talking about my writing journey and today’s post is an update. A lot has happened since March, mainly involving Zoom.

Am also looking forward to catching up with Val in person when we get back to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School later on in the summer. (I know – summer, she says laughingly but officially it is summer anyway). Will there be enough prosecco to go around I wonder… I’m sure we’ll manage!

Screenshot 2021-07-13 at 20-12-36 Zooming Around by Allison Symes


Secondly, I am delighted to say the July 2021 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now up on Amazon. I talk about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing. I am their flasher queen after all! Hope you enjoy the magazine. It has a lovely combination of features. Best of all it is free – what’s not to like about that?

Screenshot 2021-07-10 at 16-53-46 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021 eBook Publishing, Goylake, Howe, Hannah , Smith,[...]

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I cover a wide range of emotions in my flash tales and I hope that range shows the depths flash can reach, even with its limited word count. I believe the limitation on word count encourages creativity rather than stifles it because I have to think of better ways of getting something across to a reader to make the most of whatever word count I have chosen to write to for that story. My usual word count range is between 100 and 500 for the shorter pieces and 500 to about 750 for the longer ones. I do write right up to the 1000 words maximum allowed but don’t do this often. The fun for me with flash is keeping the story as short as I can while still having the maximum impact on a reader.


I always enjoy preparing my videos on YouTube but this one gave me extra enjoyment and I hope it does for you too. My favourite form of writing is what I call fairytales with bite which are often humorous and/or come with a twist in the tale.

Hope you enjoy Getting The Workmen In.


E = Editing is something writing flash fiction has taught me not to fear.
D = Driving me on to make my flash story as perfect as I can make it at the time.
I = Imagination comes into play even here as I work out how to show a reader what they need to see in as few words as possible.
T = Time – allow plenty of it for this, a good edit is not something to be rushed even in a 100-word story.
I = Instincts will kick in as you realise over time what your wasted words are and you start spotting your repetitions quicker – you know to cut these immediately and will get better at doing so.
N = Naming your weaknesses helps you to spot them and overcome them – I have to watch myself for my wasted words and unnecessary punctuation (am a sucker for brackets – see!).
G = Great editing will strengthen your story and help your flash writing have more “oomph” to it which will go down well with readers.


It is a joy to be talking about flash again in the July 2021 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads. I set the theme for flash stories for them and write a post around the topic I’ve chosen. Do check the magazine out. It is free and there is a wide range of lovely articles in there.

This time I’m talking about patience. It has taken me time to learn different techniques for writing flash. Also I can get my characters to show just how patient or otherwise they are so it is a good open topic. And I like those – it means stories can be taken in any one of several different directions and I love the freedom of choice there.

And I’m getting to wave the flag for flash fiction. Am always glad to do that!

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Balancing Fiction and Non-Fiction

I like to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction though I suspect my reading “see-saw” is tilted more to the fiction side of things. I am reading more non-fiction than I ever have and hope to keep doing this, especially as I am now writing more non-fiction than before too.

My non-fiction reading side is tilted towards history where I’ve always had an interest and I’ve loved many of the Ben Macintyre books. I love the development where non-fiction is using some of the techinques used in fiction writing to grab the reader.

Gone are the days are boring old big reference books. In are non-fiction books which have speed and pace and make you wonder what will happen next. I hope that development encourages more people to read more non-fiction. I know it has worked for me!

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Helen Matthews Part 2 and Publication News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Screenshot of my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction taken by me, Allison Symes.

A huge thanks, once again, to #HelenMatthews for supplying author and book pictures for her fabulous interview with me for Chandler’s Ford Today. Our conversation has led to an idea for next week’s CFT post too.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books (CafeLit 10 especially this week – screenshots of cover taken by me, Allison Symes) and Bridge House Publishing. It has been a busy but overall a great week with further publication news too. Like weeks like this!

 

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today


Am pleased to share Part 2 of a wonderful interview with #HelenMatthews on Chandler’s Ford Today. In this half of this two part series, Helen explains what drew her into writing domestic noir and shares her top three tips for writers amongst other things. Many thanks, Helen, for being my guest here and good luck with the writing.

Good news too – Helen has news of a special offer for one day only on Sunday, 11th July. See my CFT post for two useful links – one is to her author newsletter accessed through her website (which will also tell you about her books) and the other is to her Amazon Author Central Page. But save the date for the chance to pick up a bargain – it is for one day only.

Meanwhile and looking ahead to next week, an idea Helen “seeded” while we were talking is going to be the theme for next week’s post on CFT. I’ll share more about that later on in the week but hope it will prove to be useful to people.

Small World Syndrome – Part 2 – Helen Matthews

Hope you have had a good day. Changeable weather again here. Hard to believe it’s July. (Lady also not that impressed).

Delighted to see a fantastic review in for The Best of CafeLit 10. See screenshot below – just too good not to share. Well done to all my fellow authors in this lovely collection of stories, who I know will appreciate this review as much as I do. It is also good to see the book break through into the top 1000 of Fiction Anthologies (Kindle Store) – currently at 741 as I type this – would love to see it break into the top 500 – how about it, folks?

When I write a review myself I look for things to highlight and I will also point out excellent characterisation whenever I come across it as this is one of my great storytelling loves. Therefore it is always lovely to flag that up. I keep my reviews short, appropriately for a flash fiction writer I guess. I don’t review books I know, due to personal taste, I am unlikely to enjoy as, to me, that is not fair on the writer. We all have differing tastes after all.

But on behalf of all writers with books out there, I would put in appeal to write reviews. They don’t take long and they do help authors. It is one of the best ways people can support writers they know.

And talking of CafeLit 10, see what arrived late this afternoon. Always nice to open boxes like this one.

 

Looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with the lovely #HelenMatthews for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above. And something Helen mentioned is going to be the topic for my CFT post for the following week – more details nearer the time. Just to say when writers get together and start chatting inevitably ideas will bounce around and let’s just say I know a good cue for a CFT post or a flash fiction story when I hear them!

Currently working on some edits (and a potential further interview for CFT) at the moment so there is plenty going on with the non-fiction side of things.

Glad to say The Best of CafeLit 10 is now up on my Amazon Author Central page and also on Goodreads. As ever, folks, please review when you get the chance!
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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It has been a busy week but I was so pleased when my copies of The Best of CafeLit 10 turned up yesterday, a good ten days earlier than expected. I have two flash pieces in here – Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of the Day Job.

And to finish the week, please see the link for my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction called No More Miss Mousy. Hope you enjoy it.


Screenshot 2021-07-09 at 18-40-02 No More Miss Mousy, by Allison Symes

 

I talked yesterday about using dates or days of the week as a frame for your story. But there are other types of frame of course. A good one is a journey as you know that has to start and end somewhere. Basic story structure in place from the word go, there.

A frame I use a lot is where I know the ending in advance and I then work backwards to get to a logical starting point. Story frames are a bit like finding the corner pieces of a jigsaw – they give you something to work with and then you fill in the middle.

Ways in to a story are vital. I like frames and knowing my characters well enough. Once I feel I can get cracking on a story, that is precisely what I do but I have found taking a little time to work out how I am going to “do” this one pays off.

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Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Do you use days of the week in your storytelling and, if so, how? I have used dates before (but not tied these up to the actual days of the week) in my Losing Myself in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, which is a story told in diary format. For that the time of the year etc was more important than knowing whether a certain day fell on a Monday. But the calendar (and time generally) can be a useful framework for a story.

For flash, it would be pay to use a limited time frame given you’re not going to have the word count room to go on for too long. But you could have a story set over a week, say, and show what happens to your character on each day of the week without going over the 1000 words maximum allowed for flash. It would encourage a tight pace.

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Fairytales with Bite – Fairytale Acrostic

F= Fantasy setting maybe but reflects aspects of our nature, brutally at times.
A = Animals can often be smarter than the humanoids in a fairytale.
I = Imagination encouraged – what would you do with a magic wand if you could use one?
R = Real conflicts between good and evil reflect on our world too.
Y = Youngest will often turn out to be the hero or heroine, maybe because they’re more willing to listen to sage advice than their elder siblings.
T = Terrific tales, usually happy ever after endings (which we know we don’t get in life so perhaps these act as a comfort even for adults).
A = Action, reaction, cause and consequence make fairytales a gripping read and always fascination with worlds not like our own.
L = Lessons often learned as most fairytales do have a morality to them but get this across without preaching.
E = Expect magic, expect adventure, expect wrongs to be put right, except right to triumph, and expect those being cruel to not get away with it.
S = Splendid and timeless stories – it is amazing how, for example, the Cinderella story crosses cultures too.

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This World and Others – Communications

What are communications like in your created world? Is technology the same as ours, far more advanced, or does it not exist at all? How do your characters communicate with one another? Are there forms of communication only available to the elite and why do they keep these for themselves?

I can’t imagine a world without some sort of communication but the methods vary. Looking back at our own history, the invention of the phone and radio, for me, stand out as landmarks (given how far they can reach people. Radio, for me, had to be the precursor to television being invented. When you stop and think about it being able to talk to those thousands of miles away from you is pretty amazing so imagine how people reacted when they could first do this. We tend to take it for granted now).

So in your fictional world are there inventions which transform your society and how do your characters react to it? Are there any characters who loathe the inventions so much they want to destroy them because it threatens them in some way?

All interesting story ideas to explore there.

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CafeLit, Creativity Matters, and an Interview

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.

Screenshot of my stories on CafeLit and Friday Flash Fiction also taken by me and do check out both sites for fabulous tales.

A huge thanks to #PaulaRCReadman for hosting me on her blog this week, more details below. (Screenshot taken by me, Allison Symes, and do check out Paula’s blog).

Many thanks to #WendyHJones for supplying the book cover image for Creativity Matters.

Also thanks to #GillJames for supplying the cover for The Best of CafeLit 10.

As you’ll gather from those last three sentences, the week has got off to a cracking start! (Just a pity I can’t put in order somewhere for more of the same!).

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Facebook – General

Now, as promised yesterday, for news on the non-fiction writing front. I am delighted to now confirm my chapter in #WendyHJones’ Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing will be called Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories? It’s a great honour to be taking part and I am looking forward to being “between the covers” with a lovely range of fantastic authors here. More details to come soon.

And now I can show you the cover too!

It’s not been a bad start to the week, given my news on the fiction front yesterday!

Allison Symes - Contribution to Creativity Matters


Not one but two posts from me tonight. And exciting news to come on the non-fiction front tomorrow too!

But tonight I’m focusing on my fiction news. Now I mentioned yesterday The Best of CafeLit 10 is now out and the lovely #Paula R.C. Readman has interviewed me for her blog specifically about my contributions to this book.

A huge thank you to Paula for hosting me and I’m delighted to share the interview here. It was such fun to take part and always a joy to flag up CafeLit!


Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-15-21 Clubhouse Cafelit 10 Chat Allison Symes

More flagging up of the wonderful CafeLit tonight with my second post on this page tonight. I’m pleased to say my story, Choices, is now up on site.

This started life as a writing prompt I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group and it was such fun to write up. Hope you enjoy it. My sympathy is entirely with Jamie here.

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-19-54 Choices


Am thrilled to say The Best of CafeLit 10 is now available. I have two pieces in here – Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of the Day Job. (Am also thrilled to say I’ll have another story up on the CafeLit website tomorrow and am looking forward to sharing the link for that then – see above.).

A huge thanks to #GillJames and the team here for bringing out such wonderful collections of short stories. Many congratulations to the other authors who are “between the covers” with yours truly. Looking forward to hopefully being able to have a proper Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books celebration get together later in the year. Missed that so much last year cancelled of course due to You Know What.

 


Hope you have had a good day. It was good to get out in the garden for a while earlier. I would never make any claim to be a “proper” gardener but tidying up where I needed to was strangely satisfying.

A huge thank you for the wonderful responses to When Is Wednesday?, my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction.

The feedback on this site is so useful and much appreciated. This particular story resonates as it is one I have written drawing on direct experience of how dementia can be on people. (My The Pink Rose tackles the same theme from a different angle in Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Hard stories to write? In some ways, yes. I always feel the “punch in the gut” reaction to moving stories but I should. Stories, even the funniest ones, should make you feel something).

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-24-09 When is Wednesday by Allison SymesBookBrushImage-2021-7-2-19-2735

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thanks for the great response to my Spring story video on Youtube yesterday. (I plan to write a post for Chandler’s Ford Today soon about Youtube for Authors and a huge thanks to the lovely #HelenMatthews for seeding that idea. I’m looking forward to sharing the second part of a great interview with her on CFT on Friday. Writers talking to each other = bouncing ideas around and fab conversations! And I know a good idea for a CFT post or a flash fiction story when I hear it. These days, I’ve learned to take said idea and run with it).

Mind you, if my heroine ate all the doughnuts in my latest video, she wouldn’t be running anywhere!). See below for the video link. (Am just hoping my Slimming World consultant likes this one!).

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As well as my new CafeLit story now being live on site (Choices – see my author page for the link), I’m pleased to now share my latest Youtube video. Hope you enjoy Spring, another acrostic tale. I think my Slimming World consultant would appreciate this one!

And on a dull, wet Monday night here in Hampshire, sharing stories online to me seems a great thing to do! Trust me, it was dull and very wet!

Delighted to have further publication news with The Best of Cafelit 10 now available in Kindle and paperback. I have two stories in here and am honoured as the stories in these collections are voted on by regular readers of CafeLit. Thank you to everyone who voted for my two pieces Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of The Day Job.

I have some lovely tasks to do this week as a result of the book being out. One is to let Amazon know I’m a contributor and get the book up on my Author Central Page(Now done – see below!).

I also need to contact Goodreads (again now done, see below!) but the other task is to update my records with ALCS, the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Plus I need to put my own book order in but these are jobs I will really enjoy doing over the next couple of days or so. Now done. Books on their way! And do register with ALCS if you’re a UK writer with publications out there. More below.

To all writers with publications out there, don’t forget to register with ALCS. You get free membership with them if you’re a member of the Society of Authors but you can join for a one-off lifetime fee of £36.00 if that doesn’t apply to you. Best of all, you don’t pay the £36.00 immediately. ALCS take that from the first payment they give you as you receive your share of monies from copyright licensing. And you can earn money year on year via ALCS. Definitely worth doing!

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-35-17 Allison SymesScreenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-36-15 Author Dashboard


I mix up the moods of my stories as different characters face different things of course. Also Character A might be of the type to, say, not take a serious situation as well as they should do. Character B in the same situation might over-react to it. Both would be interesting takes on a story. What would make Character A “wake up” and do what has to be done? Can Character B be calmed down and enabled to resolve a situation (which they certainly wouldn’t do while over-reacting to it)?

My latest on #FridayFlashFiction is a moving one following a couple of light-hearted pieces by me on there but this is deliberate. Stories reflect life so naturally there should be funny ones, sad ones, and so on. What matters for any kind of story is the characters grip you and make you want to find out what happens to them. See above for story link.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Changes in Reading Tastes

How have your reading tastes changed over the years? My big love reading wise will always be fantasy (especially the humorous kind and you can’t beat Terry Pratchett’s Discworld for that) but I have also developed a taste for crime novels (on the lower end of the gory scale) and historical fiction.

I’ve also developed a taste for non-fiction and have enjoyed some of the Ben Macintyre books and London by Peter Ackroyd, books I wouldn’t have looked at only a few years ago.

Having a Kindle has encouraged me to explore more books too and I will use ebooks as a way of testing out books by authors new to me. I’ve also been reading more flash and short story collections. That of course is linked to my writing taking off in that direction. I want to read in the field I am in and am conscious I need to have a good reading diet of classic and contemporary fiction.

What is lovely is having books on my shelves (including the electronic one!) by writer friends. Becoming more involved in writing myself has led me to discovering what colleagues produce and I am reading more types of books and stories now than I’ve ever done.

So where has your reading journey taken you? Have you discovered a love for a genre new to you?

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Small World Syndrome – Introducing Helen Matthews

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.

A huge thank you to Helen Matthews for her author photo and book cover images.

It has not been a bad week and I have another story up on Friday Flash Fiction to share further down.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am very pleased to welcome domestic noir writer, #HelenMatthews, to Chandler’s Ford Today. This is a lovely case of small world syndrome as I met Helen some time ago when we were both at the Hursley Park Book Fair. I wrote a report on that for CFT too.

Helen and I had tables near to each other at the event and got chatting, as you do. We also met again at the Winchester Writing Festival. And recently we have been in touch again thanks to #writingchat on Twitter!

Helen shares some wonderful insights into her writing life in Part 1 of my interview with her. I love talking to other writers as I find people’s writing journeys endlessly fascinating and I always learn something from what others have found out along their way to publication and so on.

No one writer can know it all and it makes a great deal of sense, as well as being wonderful fun, to learn from each other by having a good old chat whether it is face to face or via an interview like this one. I share Part 2 next Friday. Meanwhile enjoy a good read!

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Publication News

Great news as the July edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. I’ve written a piece about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing. See Pages 56-58. And I loved the flash fiction stories that came in as a result of my setting the theme of Patience this time. Well done, everyone. Really enjoying writing for this magazine. (Amongst the other wonderful articles in here, there is a fabulous photo feature on mice – do check it out – it’s lovely!).


Screenshot 2021-07-01 at 20-08-25 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021


Halfway through the year then! (Did see some sunshine here today – not a lot but there was some – and Lady got to play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, so all is well with her world).

Many thanks for the great responses to Genres, my post on More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot yesterday.

Look out for Part 1 of my interview with #HelenMatthews this coming Friday, 2nd July, on Chandler’s Ford Today. Every writer’s journey is unique which is why I find chatting with authors in interviews like this endlessly fascinating. Looking forward to sharing the link on Friday. See above!

My author newsletter goes out tomorrow, 1st July. If you would like to sign up for it head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com New subscribers to my newsletter always welcome whenever you join!

Looking forward to my delivery of Tripping the Flash Fantastic due in tomorrow. I ordered these through Hive.co.uk and they will have taken just over a week to get to me. Best thing of all? I can nominate an independent bookshop to receive 10% of my order – I’ve nominated P&G Wells in Winchester (who are the booksellers for the Winchester Writing Festival too).

Incidentally, if you order any of the Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown books series via the Bridgetown Cafe online bookshop, you can choose who to go to as a link. I do sometimes use Amazon. I also use Hive.co.uk. I will add the books via Hive took about 9 days to reach me which is fine. I really like being able to give a percentage of my costs to an independent bookshop.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s a change of mood this week for me with my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. When Is Wednesday? Is a poignant character study told from the viewpoint of Rosie. Many thanks to all who have already commented on this story.


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Hope you have had a good Thursday. Am pleased to be featured in Mom’s Favorite Reads, naturally talking about flash fiction. Always good to chat about what a wonderful format for writing it is – and it stretches me in so many ways too.

I have to keep coming up with characters (but I love doing that). I have to think of impact on a reader all the time to make the most of the restricted word count so that makes me ensure I show and don’t tell. It also means I have no room for anything irrelevant. I have to find ways of showing you, say, a setting as the character sees it.

A character will not note, for example, the area they live in is poor because they know it is so why get them to say something that is to them self-evident. What you can do is get them to spot that, say, another property in the area has been boarded up and that will imply a great deal. Readers can and will work out the rest.

(With my reading hat on I absolutely love doing that. I don’t want the author to tell me everything. Just leave me the right clues so I can put things together. For me, that is one of the joys of reading).

Halfway through the year already – time for some reflection maybe? Maybe time to readjust plans for the remaining six months of the year maybe? Or will you be ticking things off your list and marching happily on to the next tasks?

Your characters could do those things too. Slice of life stories where characters often do reflect and adjust can work well in flash because you pare things back so all that matters is what matters to the character. Having a restricted word count from the word go makes a useful “frame” for your story.

And if your character is marching on happily, are they right to do so? Do they take others with them in their wake? Is anything or anyone going to get in their way and, if so, how would they overcome it, assuming they do of course?

I love asking what if questions. They are a great way to work out a story structure whether you’re writing to 100 words or 100,000. (Okay, yes you do get to ask and answer a lot more questions in the latter but good what if questions will make you want to find out the answers. That means your readers will want to find out too).

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Fairytales With Bite – Twists in the Tale

Fairytales can come as a shock when you first read them. I wasn’t to know when I first heard Cinderella and was feeling somewhat upset at her ill treatment that things were going to work out more than than okay for the girl! And I’ve mentioned before reading The Little Mermaid as Hans Christen Andersen wrote it unnerved me as being one of the first tales I read where there isn’t a traditionally happy ever after ending. (It’s also a fine example to me of an appropriate ending given what preceded it. You can learn a lot as a writer from reading the classic tales. I did here).

I also loved the fact the girl, Gerda, was the hero in The Snow Queen. I remember thinking the boy she set out to rescue, Kay, was a bit of a wet blanket. But I loved the idea of the girl doing the rescuing rather than just being pretty and having to be rescued.

Fairytales have a habit of turning things on their head.

I know now the way I could not do as a young child when I first came upon these tales that it pays to look out for the “bit part” characters. They are often crucial to the outcome of the story. The wizened old man is probably a wizard in disguise. The downtrodden characters are likely to end up being the hero/heroine. And of course I can use that kind of technique in my own stories but planting early on hints that there might be more to the wizened old man than meets the eye.

A well written story of any kind and word count is capable of being re-read many times and a writer looking for how the tale was put together should be able to pick things up to apply to their own writing. Such as where to place the clue that will lead to the twist at the end of the story.

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This World and Others – What do you like about magical worlds?

I suppose what I like most about magical worlds is spotting the differences between them and this one. (Not just in the use of magic as that’s a given. Often though magic can be symbolic for something else anyway – it can represent power, energy etc and we can compare the power and energy systems we have here with what we’re reading in the stories).

I also like to look at how the characters interact with each other. Is there a class system as we would understand it? Can characters improve themselves and, if so, how can they do this? Does magic help them or get in the way?

And when every character has magical ability, how is that controlled so they don’t end up destroying each other? Even in a magical world, there has to be some sort of control system which prevents that kind of disaster.

I like to see wrongs being put right (which is why I am so fond of the classic fairytales as that generally does happen – less so in real life unfortunately but then that’s why these stories can be a great comfort).

In a magical world, again, I’m interested in seeing how things are put right as it can’t just be by the wave of a magic wand. Where is the story/dramatic interest in that?

At the end of the story, I like to see the magical world and its characters have improved in some way. All stories pivot on a point of change whether magic is involved or not. In these kinds of tales, it is interesting to see if the magic is part of the change or not. Who resists the change? Who welcomes them?

As ever, it is all about character development for me.

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