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.
Hope you had a good weekend. Mixed bag here – my dog, Lady, wasn’t well though she is a lot better now, thankfully and getting on with plenty of writing (which always cheers me up).
Facebook – General
I talk about random generators for my Authors Electric post on Firing Up the Imagination this month. I use a variety of these to trigger story ideas, title ideas, theme ideas and so on. I’ve even used a number generator to trigger numbers I either use as countdowns in my tales or house addresses where the action take space. Why not give them a go? They’re great fun to use and you can set your own parameters on them too.
Towards the end of last week, Lady came down with the same bug her best buddy, the Ridgeback, had. Glad to say both girls are now a lot better and were so pleased to see each other this morning.
Sent in another story for Friday Flash Fiction over the weekend and am looking forward to taking part in the ACW Flash Fiction group Zoom meeting on Wednesday. For my FFF story, I did something a little unusual – I repeated a whole line deliberately. I hope to be able to share the link on Friday but the reason for the repetition was that it added “oomph” to the storyline and to my lead character’s portrayal.
With the flash fiction word count being what it is (and 100 words for FFF) I would normally see repetition as a waste of words and I would usually find a different way of saying the same thing if that was justified. Often that kind of thing brings emphasis to a point without the need to repeat. But for this story the direct repetition was the correct way to go. I look forward to sharing the link later in the week and you can see what you think.
What matters is why you’re doing something like this and the reason has to be strong enough to justify it.
Hope you have had a nice weekend. It was lovely catching up with two lovely writer friends on Zoom last night.
I’ll be talking about Best Friends in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up on Friday. And I’ll be taking a briefer look at Animals in Fiction again for Authors Electric on Tuesday. Link above.
Many thanks for the comments coming in on Dodging by Numbers, my latest piece on Friday Flash Fiction.
I must admit, especially given what my story is about, I prefer painting by numbers, which is something I did as a kid. I also used to like I-Spy as a kid, both the game and the books on different topics where you got points for specific things observed.
Topics included things like birds, cars, butterflies, on a train journey etc., and I understand the books are still going strong. The idea of course was to encourage observation (and it kept kids quiet on a journey! I know as I was one of those kids!). Also it encouraged kids to collect books, another good thing!
But being observant is excellent prep work for creative writing. You spot things and story ideas occur.
Your observations encourage you to ask questions such as the classic “what if” and that is probably my favourite trigger question for a story. You can do so much with that one but it helps enormously to have an observant, inquiring nature as you’re more likely to ask the question and want to answer it. I can’t honestly say what impact the I-Spy books had on me for developing curiosity about the world around me but triggering interest is key to learning anything I think.
Hope you have had a good Saturday. It has been pretty cold again here but on the plus side, my winter jasmine is out, and I am beginning to see some signs spring is on its way. Won’t be long I hope before I see the first snowdrop.
Now what do your characters make of the seasons? Do they have a particular favourite? Are they at their best in one, say, and at their worst in another? How could that affect their behaviour and how the outcome of your story might play out?
If you have a character who loathes the long dark evenings of winter, what would it take to make them do something that needs doing as part of your plot? How would they make themselves face up to having to get on with the task in hand regardless?
This would be a good opportunity for your character to show grit and determination. It should also encourage reader sympathy. I have a lot of sympathy for characters who make themselves do what has to be done regardless of personal feelings, likes and dislikes.
Also working out what your characters like/dislike here gives you a chance to flesh them out more so you understand where they are coming from, even if some of this does not make it into your story. I have found the more I know my character, the better I can write up their story as I am writing about them from conviction. And I think some of that comes through to your reader.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
One great way to get “into” a story is to come up with a cracking opening line which gives your character a “do or die” scenario you know has to be resolved one way or the other by the end of the tale.
In my Decisions from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my opening line reads “He could watch the world end or jump on to the alien spaceship that encourages visitors.”. Decision time right there and then, consequences will have to follow whichever choice is made, and hopefully your reader is hooked to want to find out more.
And it is great fun, and a good use of time, to draft opening lines like that and come back to them later to write the stories up. You give yourself thinking time for one thing. Also if you find that promising opening line isn’t as good as you thought, and that is where the break away will help you come back and judge it objectively, change it to something you want to write up.
When I have moments like that, I then write up the new idea pretty much straight away fuelled by my own enthusiasm for the new idea that has occurred to me believing it will be better than the original one. Most of the time it is but I needed to get the original idea down first to help clear my imagination to come up with the better one! The old brain can be a bit funny like that but it does mean when you jot down ideas, you are “clearing the decks” ready for your subconscious to get to work.
It’s Monday (Blue Monday too). It has been a long day. It is story time then! Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – The End Is Nigh. (And if you, like me, find Monday especially tiring and busy, then the thought it is almost the end is nigh for this particular Monday is a good thing too!).
I discussed Reading as Therapy in my Goodreads blog this week but reading is, of course, so much more than that. See link here and further down.
Reading is vital to anyone wanting to write whether it is flash fiction pieces or a three volume epic because:-
- What you read inspires what you write. I love fairytales. So I like to write my own. I don’t want to write my version of Cinderella but I have written twists on that classic story. I like to write from a fairy godmother’s viewpoint etc but I needed to know the fairytales and how they work to be able to do that.
- You take in subconsciously how stories work, how dialogue is laid out etc so that helps you when it comes to writing your own tales.
- You literally see who the publishers are and what they are producing. Some authors credit their agents in books. So reading is a way of picking up information that might prove useful to you when it comes to submitting your own work.
- I read in my field (I need to know what else is out there and I will always read genres I love, including those I write in), and out of it. I widen my sources of inspiration thanks to doing that.
I’ve mentioned before I also mix up the kinds of things I read. I read short and long form, fiction and non-fiction, books, and magazines. It all counts. Best of all it is fun!
It is good fun every now and then to have a writing session where I jot down promising opening lines. I come back to them at a later date and if they still grab me, I write them up. A really good opening line can be a complete flash fiction story in and of itself (though you can still go on and write a fuller version of the story later if you wanted to do so).
And when you only have short pockets of time to write, why not draft this kind of thing? You are doing something creative. And your subconscious can “brew” on the lines you’ve come up with (which will help you when it does come to writing the story up). You may not be able to get to your desk for a bit. Fine. Let your mind start thinking up possibilities for those opening lines. You are thinking possible stories out and that is never wasted time.
Goodreads Author Blog – Reading as Therapy
Now there are certain things I see as therapeutic – chocolate, classical music, my dog, and, naturally, a good book or several. When the news is grim (as it so often is these days), a good book can transport you back in time, forward in time, anywhere on Earth (other planets are available if you like sci-fi), and can chill you, thrill you or make you laugh.
Books are wonderful. Doesn’t matter what format they come in either.
And when my own mood is low, reading a cosy crime (Agatha Christie) or something by Wodehouse or Pratchett or Austen is the very thing to help lift it. Books cannot stop my problems, yet alone the ones we see in the news day in day out, but they can transport us “somewhere else” for a while and sometimes that is all you need.
So yes I see the act of reading as a therapeutic art in and of itself and one major reason why I would love to see everyone enjoy books and reading.
liked Allison Symes's blog post: Reading as Therapy https://t.co/Vt6DK1kr2E via @goodreads I discuss reading as therapy this week. I don't just read for that reason but books are a wonderful aid for when the news is grim, as it so often is these days. pic.twitter.com/gfiYVHb1at— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) January 15, 2022
Authors Electric: Firing Up the Imagination by Allison Symes https://t.co/pz220wzDGp I share how useful I've found random generators in triggering story ideas for AE this month. Give them a go. They're fun too. pic.twitter.com/78RjrSQJnE— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) January 18, 2022