Random Questions and Feedback


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. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Good to see the evenings slowly becoming lighter in my part of the world. It’s still January though… aka the month that goes on for what seems like forever!

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Facebook – General

So cold out there today in my part of the world – even the dog wasn’t impressed.

Had a lovely time talking about flash fiction via Zoom to an ACW-affiliated group last night. I do hope it leads to more people trying flash fiction for themselves – it is good fun, addictive, and helps you sharpen your writing skills.

Certainly I’m not afraid of editing thanks to writing flash and it also makes me think about the impact of my stories and characters from the start. Doing that means I am thinking about the reader’s needs immediately. It also means I am less likely to go off at unhelpful tangents which only slow stories down.

And it is the perfect format for those times when you don’t have much time to write. You can get something drafted in a few minutes. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what the editing stages are for!

 

Has been a good Monday for me – as busy as ever but I seemed to get more things done more quickly. I wish all Mondays were like that. Still you treasure the good ones you get!

I’ve used the same prompt (from a random question generator) to trigger two stories. One I’ve submitted to Friday Flash Fiction and the other one I’ll share on my book page shortly as it is the latest in my YouTube videos. The question generated was what makes you cry? Link further down.

Interesting one as you can take this in a tragic direction but there is a possibility for comedy too (which is the direction I’ve taken). And of course you can adjust it to think about what would make your character cry.

I love random generators. They really make me put my thinking cap on.

 

Have been enjoying a quiet weekend. I’ll be taking a broad look at Characters in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday. Have been spending time preparing pieces for different blog spots – plenty to keep me out of mischief anyway!

And I am also getting my author newsletter together ready for that to go out on 1st February. (Do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up – I share news, tips, prompts, videos etc here).

What is the one thing you like most about writing? I know it’s hard to say but for me that feeling of knowing you’ve created a piece of work that you can’t improve any more and someone else has accepted it – well, it is hard to beat that one!

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Hope you have had a good Saturday. Many thanks for the comments coming in on Someone Like Her my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. It is lovely receiving feedback from other readers on this site and I love reading through the other stories too.

What I find helpful in feedback I receive is in finding out what readers responded to – was it the character, the twist ending etc? (This is another reason why book reviews matter – it isn’t just the number received, it is what is said here as well).

And in giving feedback, I look to stress the positives, share what I think can be improved, and maybe make market suggestions if something obvious comes to mind. Sometimes a story you’re reading for a competition just calls into mind a possible market for it.

Am looking forward to giving a Zoom talk on Monday night too. So all go at the moment but in a very good way.

Screenshot 2022-01-21 at 19-08-10 Someone Like Her, by Allison SymesBookBrushImage-2022-1-25-20-3855

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in so far on Crying, my latest YouTube video. Much appreciated, always.  See video link below.

For a short story like this one, I nearly always go for using the first person. I can take you straight into my character’s head and show you their thoughts, attitudes and actions. I like to think of it as “hitting the ground running”.

The funny thing here though is I had barely used first person before writing flash fiction. I suppose for a short word count format the immediacy of the “I” character has more impact than it would do in a longer piece where its effect might be “diluted” a bit. I do know it works really well in flash though.

 

Pleased to be sharing my latest YouTube story called Crying. This came from a random question generator and the question that came up was what makes you cry? Find out here what makes my character cry. Hope you enjoy it.


I’ve never liked those stories where the description seems to go on for ever and ever, amen. Funnily enough I have no problems here with classic novels where the writers had to spell everything out for their readers (no TV, no film, no easy way of a reader visualising what London looks like etc).

But in this day and age where we can get a good idea of what a place looks like because of our experiences with TV and film, I certainly don’t want to see that kind of description in any kind of story.

This is where flash fiction comes into its own. It makes you focus on only the most important things that have to go into the story for it to make sense. Having to work to a tight word count means you have to make choices but it is all for the good of the story – and that is always a great thing. Regardless of what we write, we should always be focusing on what is for the good of the story (which is where that famous phrase about “killing your darlings” comes in I suspect).

(But if you do want a great read right now and one which is free how about following this link to Mom’s Favorite Reads?).

 

Am giving a Zoom talk on Monday night about flash fiction. Love talking about that. I also think it is a great form for people who don’t have a lot of time to write but know they want to write something! And you can. Over time you can build up another flash stories for your own collections etc. I remain convinced in learning to write to a tight word count, that skill will carry over into writing query letters, synopses etc that also have to “not go on for too long” and convey information to attract an agent/publisher quickly.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Best Friends in Fiction

With my other writing hat on, I blog including for a weekly online magazine. My current topic for them is Best Friends in Fiction but I realised it would be a good topic for Goodreads too. When a lead character and their best friend/sidekick character are well portrayed, it is a joy to read their adventures and the interactions between them.

Can you imagine Holmes without Watson or Wooster without Jeeves? So many classic stories depend on the best friend character – and across genres too. Think Sam Gamgee and his support of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. (It was literal support at some points too).

Characterisation has always been what makes or breaks a story (of any length) for me. I have got to understand where the characters are coming from, even if I disagree with their attitudes and actions. And for lead and best friend characters I have got to see why the lead has the best friend character they do.

Holmes is a genius but needs Watson to temper that but Holmes does recognise that. Watson knows he can never be as brilliant as Holmes but knows he has his own role to play that could not be fulfilled by Holmes. Can you imagine Holmes trying to narrate a story for the masses? Err… no I think!

Do you have any favourite best friend fictional characters and if so why have you chosen these? Mine is Sam Gamgee – you can’t beat the guy for loyalty and guts when it matters.

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