Best Friends in Fiction


Image Credits:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Image of Lady and myself taken by my other half, Adrian Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good week. This week has ended well as a still poorly Lady is now a lot, lot better and back playing with her pals in the park again.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Best Friends in Fiction, my latest blog for Chandler’s Ford Today. I take a look at the role of the best friend/sidekick character and nominate the one I think is the best fictional friend of all time. Take a look at the post and see if you agree with me. Nominations for your own candidate would be very welcome in the CFT comments box!

I also discuss why some stories simply wouldn’t work without the best friend character (and I am sure you can think of loads of examples. To name only one could you really imagine Wooster without Jeeves? I know I can’t. And while I know Jeeves is Wooster’s “gentleman’s personal gentleman” there is no question that the advice and help he gives Bertie is the kind of advice the very best kind of best friend character would give.)

Hope you enjoy the post.

Best Friends in Fiction

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Had a lovely time at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom last night. We were chatting about writing prompts and random generators amongst other things, both of which I love and use a lot. I like to mix up the kinds of prompt I use as that keeps me on my toes.

And if you are looking for ideas for prompts, I will flag up Prompts 2020, Prompts 2021, and Prompts 2022, all of which were produced by Gill James and with contributions from many Bridge House Publishing authors including yours truly. The link takes you to the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop page. But having a book of prompts to hand is a good idea as is using the different kinds of random generators. It all helps inspire the imagination.

 

Hope you have had a good day. Lovely highlight for me today was having a long overdue catch-up chat over a cup of tea with my editor at Chandler’s Ford Today, Janet Williams. (As ever, Lady thought any visitor has to be for her. It is difficult to convince a dog otherwise).

I’ll be talking about Best Friends in Fiction for CFT on Friday. So much wonderful fiction relies on the best friend/sidekick character and, as well as looking at what the best friend’s role is for, I nominate whom I think is the best ever friend in fiction in my post. Looking forward to sharing that. See link above.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of the standard working week (at least here in the UK) and it’s story time again. Am pleased to share Someone Like Her, my latest piece on Friday Flash Fiction. This story is a little unusual for me in that it is the first time where I have deliberately repeated a whole line. It is appropriate to do so for the tale and I think gives the piece a good rhythm.

Normally I would consider a repetition like that a waste of words, especially in such a tight word count. I would normally seek to say something similar in a different way if I needed some repetition for emphasis, say. But here I think the repetition works well. Comments always welcome here and on the Friday Flash Fiction page under my story.

Screenshot 2022-01-21 at 19-08-10 Someone Like Her, by Allison Symes

One huge benefit to flash fiction writing is, if you are pushed for time (and how many of us are not at times?), you still have a form of writing where you could produce something in ten minutes, say. Okay it will need editing later but all forms of writing need that so that’s fine.

I must admit I find it satisfying to produce a piece and not have to wait too long for a pay-off from it (and even when that pay-off is a turn down, I can edit the piece again and re-submit it somewhere). I’ve found it useful to save small pockets of time to draft future stories.

When I have more time, I can come back to those and polish them up, ready to submit somewhere. But it is so nice knowing I can use those pockets of time for something useful (and which helps me make the most of those longer writing sessions later on).

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What do I want a flash fiction story to achieve? Well, a lot depends on the story’s mood of course but whether I am trying to make a reader laugh, cry, or scream, it is all about the impact. My characters must make my readers care about what happens to them. There has to be impact. I want a reader to enjoy my flash pieces and feel that not a word could be added or taken away.

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Fairytales With Bite – Three Is Magical

The number three crops up in fairytales often. Three wishes. The youngest son (out of three) is the one to do well. And then there are the titles – The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, etc. In any story where something happens, then that same or very similar something happens again, I am expecting the something to be resolved on the third “go”. The Rule of Three is something we take in all the time while being usually unaware of it.

And there are good reasons for this. The first “occasion” sets up a situation, the second one repeats it where the character clearly hasn’t learned the lesson they’re supposed to have learned, but on the third time they have changed what needs to be changed so the situation is resolved, usually happily. The structure works.

A fourth “go” and the story would seem to drag on for too long. Resolving the situation in two “goes” would not seem realistic either given characters (and us!) need time to realise they’ve got something wrong, work out how to put something right, try something, it still doesn’t quite work out, but on the third attempt they’re there.

So three is a magical figure for fiction telling then. With fairytales, you can always arrange for your character to have three magical objects (naturally the last of these will be the most powerful). What matters here is how your character uses these things. Do they use the first one wastefully or greedily? Does this backfire so they are less greedy or wasteful when it comes to using the second object but are still not quite using magic honourably?

By the time they’re ready to use the third, have they stopped being greedy or wasteful and use the last object in a sensible way? Scene – action – reaction. Scene – action – reaction. Scene – positive action – positive resolution.

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This World and Others – Who Tells The Stories?

What form(s) do stories take in your created world? Is there a written/printed story tradition or is it oral only? Is technology used for storytelling or are there bards and the like telling stories the old-fashioned way? Are stories valued and accessible to all?

Or does your world prefer facts only and the stories told are those of past battles won etc? (It can be an interesting reflection on a place where it celebrates its victories but ignores its defeats. For that sort of world, I would expect there to be oppression, no freedom of the press etc).

Who tells the stories is an interesting question in another way. Who tells the storytellers what they can say? Does the narrative ever change? Does the narrative get challenged? And what would happen if your created world was made up to face up to the fact that one of their so-called great victories was actually a defeat and there has been an almighty cover-up?

Are there libraries and who can access these? If books are banned in your creation, which ones and why? Also is there a black market for the banned books (there often is for this kind of thing)?

Whose voices are represented by the stories being told? Whose stories are ignored or treated with contempt?

Answering questions like these will help give you a clearer picture of what your world is and its attitudes. It should then show you your characters’ reactions to those attitudes. Do they just accept it as it has always been that way or do they seek to change it?

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