All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
A huge thanks to Geoff Parkes for the picture of me taking part in the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night back in 2018. (That does feel a world away – so much has happened since!).
Hope you have had a good week. Not been a bad one here and Lady has got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback pal a lot this week so all is well with her world. Am busily blogging, story judging, and drafting short stories at the moment – all fun!
Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today
I’m pleased to share Character Types in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today. I take a broad look at heroes, villains, narrators, and minor characters and their role in fiction. I also take a brief look at those with the power to help or hinder the lead character. Hope you enjoy (and by all means share some of your favourites of these kinds in the CFT comments box).
So sorry to hear of the passing of Barry Cryer. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue remains a favourite of my other half and I – and we adore Morecombe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, and so many other shows Barry wrote for.
I’ve always adored word play and puns so shows like this were always bound to appeal but I wonder if a love for creative writing can come from simply loving to play with words like that? Maybe it is a key ingredient (and even more so for anyone wanting to write humour).
I also learned a long time ago that if someone makes something look easy, whether it is writing of any kind or any other skill, that same someone has worked their socks (or other hosiery items of choice) off for years to get to that point.
There are no shortcuts but practice, being willing to learn from others, and perseverance are so important. Not at all glamorous or exciting but behind the writing there needs to be a certain amount of grit and acceptance you are in for the long haul and then you still keep on going…! But that is where the support of fellow writers is so invaluable.
Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Will be sharing Character Types in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See link above.
This will take a broad look at main character types (otherwise such a post could carry on indefinitely as could one asking for favourite characters. I will make a mental note to not write that one up when I get to the letter F as I am writing an “In Fiction” alphabetical series for CFT at the moment – you can see I am going to be busy for the next 20 odd weeks or so! Wish me luck when I get to Q and X!).
Am happily drafting a short story at the moment too and I hope to have a first draft of that done shortly. I will then rest it for a bit before coming back to it for editing. I do find the break away does help me see the faults and virtues of a piece that much more easily. I am really enjoying writing my lead character’s voice in this story which I trust is a good sign.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
My latest Friday Flash Fiction story is called Tears Before Lunch. This one was inspired by a question I chose from a random question generator – what makes you cry? I decided to get a character to answer that one and this is the result. Hope you enjoy it. (Also huge thanks for the fabulous comments coming in on it so far – the feedback on this site is amazing and so encouraging).
Hope you have had a good day and many thanks for a wonderful response to my post yesterday about having a stock of stories ready for use at Open Prose Mic Nights.
Whether you take part in these things or not, reading your work out loud is a great idea. If you stumble over dialogue etc., so will your readers. It is an oddity that what looks good written down does not always translate into something that is easy to read. But reading work out loud helps you spot that.
I used to record some of my stories on Audacity back in the day so I could play them back. Even easier to do it on Zoom of course which handily converts your file to an mp4 for you. And if you are taking part in reading events, you can play your recording back to hear how you sound to yourself. It is odd to hear yourself but it does show up whether you’re reading too fast, too slow, are clear enough or not etc.
The great thing with flash pieces of course is they don’t take too long to read out but it does mean you have to grab your audience’s attention literally from the first word.
I’ve mentioned before I have a stock of stories I use for reading at Open Prose Mic Nights, for author talks etc. It pays to regularly rehearse these and I also like to mix them up to keep things fresh and interesting. I also use stories I hope will make it into a further collection – I know I like a balance of old and new material when someone is reading to me so I do the same here.
Putting yourself into your readers’ shoes is a good idea for when you’re writing the story or performing it. Doing this when writing means you are thinking about what your reader would want from the tale and helps no end in keeping your tale relevant and to the point. Doing it when performing a story I’ve found helps me “project” the character’s voice better. It is their voice I want to get across to those I’m reading to after all.
Fairytales With Bite – Dark Days
One of the downsides to January in my part of the world is the days are dark (though towards the end of the month you do start to spot the evenings becoming lighter). In your fictional world, are dark days a seasonal thing, as we know here, or is it a part of your world’s geography that days are naturally short and extended periods of darkness is something that everyone has to cope with? How do your characters cope with those dark days?
From a historical viewpoint, does your fictional world consider a part of its past as “dark days”? Why? How have they moved on from this? What has got better since then? What might be considered to be worse?
What kind of “dark days” do your characters face and how do they get through these? This can take the form of that stage in the story where their quest is looking lost and all seems lost. It can also take the form of loss of confidence by a character in themselves and their ability to carry out the task they’ve been set. How do they overcome that? Who helps them? Who hinders them?
You can then take the idea of dark days several ways to create new story ideas. Good luck!
This World and Others – Seasonal Activities
What kind of seasonal activities take place in your created world? Is there a planting time and a harvest time, for example? Are there harvest celebrations? Does everyone take part in these?
What kind of holidays are held in your world and what are the purpose of them? Bearing in mind the Romans famously said that what people needed were bread and circuses, how does the government of your created world apply that principle? Does it work?!
Think about the geography of your created world too. A lot will depend on how much natural light is available for plant and food growth and seasonal activities will follow that of course.
But in the “down times” when things cannot be grown, for example. are there events specifically designed to get your people through those times? Something like a winter festival to give people something to look forward to (Christmas etc for us)?
Are there political seasonal activities everyone has to take part in regardless of their personal feelings on them? How did these come into being?
Again, plenty of story thoughts there I think!
Tears Before Lunch, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction https://t.co/AWIP4npAij Delighted to share my latest drabble on Friday Flash Fiction. This one was inspired by a question from a random question generator – what makes you cry? Hope you enjoy it. pic.twitter.com/Hu2cZVfmly— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) January 28, 2022
Character Types in Fiction https://t.co/t26HcPcMCD I take a look at heroes, villains, minor characters, and narrators as broad character categories in fiction. I look at what I expect to find in these. This challenges me to ensure I produce these qualities in my characters!. pic.twitter.com/7JWpuMf4Za— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) January 28, 2022