All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. A huge thank you to Fiona Park for taking the picture of me book signing at Swanwick.
Has been a busy few days but am pleased to share a new story (Friday Flash Fiction) which was inspired by my using a random time generator. Yes, there is such a thing. Now if I could only use it to help me be in two places at once when I could do with that facility!
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Pleased to share Good Writing Topics, my latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at what makes for a good topic and apply this to fiction and non-fiction writing. I also suggest a few ways of picking good topics (so hopefully these ideas will give you a useful place to start). And I discuss some pointers for research too.
I mix up the way I approach my fiction writing because that keeps me on my toes, encourages me to think laterally and outside of the old box, and I do the same for non-fiction. Yes, there are certain tried and tested methods which are my favourites and which I use the most, but I make myself go another way every now and again precisely to trigger ideas and thoughts which would not occur if I stuck to my favourites all the time.
Good Writing Topics
Brrr… it turned cold today. Not that Lady noticed as she had a “puppy party” with several of her pals over the park today. All went home tired and happy. Job done there then!
I was chatting about random generators as part of the ACW Flash Fiction Group meeting on Zoom last night. I use these a lot as they are excellent ways to trigger ideas for stories. The story I’ve submitted for #FridayFlashFiction was inspired by a time generator. Yes, there is such a thing. Yes, I too can “manipulate time” although only for the purposes of a story!
You set parameters (I used 9 am and 5 pm) and how many times you want to trigger between them. I went for five and yes my story made use of them all. Hope to share the link to it once it is, hopefully, up on the FFF site. Good fun to write and a great way to make use of time in your stories too. Link to story, aptly called Clockwork, shared below.
Managed to get my flu jab today so well pleased with that. Lady wanted to come with me (well, after all I have to take her to the vet for her booster jabs!). Looking forward to the ACW Flash Fiction Group meeting this evening. Always good fun.
My topic for Chandler’s Ford Today this week is Good Writing Topics. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on what makes a good topic and developing ideas from them. Link up on Friday. See above. Ironically the topic itself is a good one as many threads can come from it (for example you could focus purely on fiction for this one or use it for non-fiction articles etc. Equally take a category you’re interested in such as history or fashion and think about how you could get stories or articles from that.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I was walking the dog with my better half earlier this afternoon when we overheard a wildlife squabble. You can’t mistake the noise. One of the parties was a jay, we didn’t get to see what the other annoyed creature was. All I could think of on hearing the racket was, if they were speaking in human languages, both of them would have been swearing profusely and calling the other all the names under the sun. There was just something about the tone of the noise which told me the bird language being used here was anything but polite!
So what has that to do with flash fiction? Simple.
You don’t need a lot of words to convey tone (and imply character attitude).
A few well chosen words will have depth to them. Telling someone where to go is vastly different between characters who are arguing and one character helpfully giving directions to another one because they’ve got lost!
So if you have two characters in an argument, think about what the reader needs to know. They won’t need to know all the ins and outs of how the argument started. You won’t have the room for that but you can drop hints in what the characters do say to each other and let your reader pick up the rest from context. And they will.
I love it when authors leave me enough that I can work something out for myself. It is a question of leaving the right clues so a reader can do that. I dislike it intensely when an author feels they have to spoon feed a reader and I am likely to stop reading.
Hope you’ve had a good day. When I name a character it is for specific reasons.
I want the name to indicate likely age. I do this in my story Identity from Tripping the Flash Fantastic with my character, Walter. Highly unlikely to be a young person’s name.
I want the name to indicate class/likely social economic background. This can save a lot on the word count! But someone called Charles is likely to move in upper circles unlike someone who goes around known as Chas. I’ve used this for a conman story where my character takes advantage of having a posh sounding name to fleece the unwary.
I often write about characters caught up in unexpected magical events so their having ordinary names helps emphasize the unusual circumstances in which they find themselves.
Also because I do write flash pieces set on other worlds, I can use my character names to immediately flag up this being is not from our planet.
And you can use not just character names, but the names of things like the shops they go to as ways of indicating their background.
Am off to the online Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting tonight. Interesting chat, exercises to have a go at, markets to hear about – what’s not to like there?! Networking for writers can take many forms and Zoom has helped enormously here.
Best bit of all? You will find out info useful to you. You may well be able to give useful info out to others. Nobody knows it all and sharing knowledge and tips is the best way to develop as a writer. Networking can also help you avoid the scammers out there. And I’m all for that!
Fairytales with Bite – Charms and Spell
C = Character casting a charm but will be it be for good or ill?
H = Have a wish or three but respect the giver.
A = Always respect the wish granters or
R = Risk humiliation at best and probably worse.
M = Magical people don’t always look like they are.
S = Showing humility in a magical world is always a good idea.
A = Arrogance tends to be punished here.
N = Not unknown for animal transformations to be the result.
D = Do you really fancy that? Hmm… choice made. Your life is changing.
S = Spending your life as a wild beast is not fun.
P = Praying your one true love will turn up but now knowing if they will.
E = Eternity – you know a thing or two about what that feels like.
L = Living an animal life is far removed from what you’ve known
L = Love cannot come quickly enough to rescue you.
This World and Others – Interactions
How do your characters interact with each other? Is technology, as we know it, available in your created world or is it far in advance of what we know? If your characters can use telepathy, are there any rules on how they can use it? If not, what would happen if someone “pushes the bounds” of what is acceptable in your world? Not everyone is going to want their thoughts read and could react badly (or will find ways to disguise what they are really thinking and that may well frustrate the potential eavesdropper here so how would they react to that?).
How does your world interact with other planets near it? How do the countries in your world react with one another? What political systems exist in your created world? Does politics get in the way of more positive interactions between individual characters and/or countries?
Interactions are not single things. One interaction will trigger another. Someone has to respond to it but it will be how and why they respond as they do that will keep the reader’s interests. How can you ratchet the tensions up here? Conflicts have to be realistically based.
Readers need to be able to see why Character A wants what they do and why Character B is determined to prevent Character A getting what they want. Also think about what the trigger for the initial interaction will be – the classic one is someone wanting something desperately enough to do anything to get it. How could you use that? What could you bring to the mix to make it unique? What if other characters don’t understand your Character A’s desperate need for whatever the object or objective is and actively get in the way as they think it will be in Character A’s best interests not to get it?
Plenty going on with Twitter this time as I was on Twitter duty for the Association of Christian Writers over the past few days. I share useful writing tips on these so thought I would share again here.
What do your characters make of the fading light of autumn and darkness of winter? Do they fear them or welcome them? How could that impact on their actions? Do they overcome fears or need others to help them overcome those things? pic.twitter.com/vQAjUFKrg9— ACW (@ACW1971) October 20, 2021
People have different fears and triggers. So should our characters. So making your character face up to something they fear is a great way to increase drama in your story. Of course they can face up and overcome or run away. What they choose will show readers so much about them. pic.twitter.com/0Vu0E9RVcO— ACW (@ACW1971) October 21, 2021
Characters can bury their fears too, as indeed can we. What would it take for these fears to re-surface? Do your characters know what these would be and take steps to avoid any chance of this happening? Would this make them look odd to others? If so, how would they handle that? pic.twitter.com/LBNxHQHCtZ— ACW (@ACW1971) October 22, 2021
Clockwork, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction https://t.co/UhY3fZO0Ad My latest tale on FFF was inspired by a random time generator. Yes, there is such a thing! Hope you enjoy this one. pic.twitter.com/beoMY04qCy— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 22, 2021
Good Writing Topics https://t.co/ur2jSpJYRH My latest CFT post looks at what makes a good writing topic and shares ideas on how to use these for fiction and non-fiction. I also share some thoughts on how to find good writing topics. Hope you find this useful. pic.twitter.com/DY2yqCx8oV— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 22, 2021