Spring-like Writing

Image Credits:-
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 hectic start for the week for me after a lovely and happy birthday weekend spent with family. Mind you, snow is forecast later in the week. Never let anyone tell you the weather in Britain is dull – it is anything but!


Facebook – General

It’s my turn on the Association of Christian Writers blog spot, More Than Writers, today. This time I talk about Spring-like Writing. What do I mean by that? Well, I take a look at the mood of our writing but also discuss the “energy” within a story. Hope you enjoy the post and many thanks to all who have sent in some wonderful comments already.Screenshot 2022-03-29 at 20-34-37 Spring-like Writing by Allison Symes

Hope you have had a good start to the week. As ever, it has been a hectic Monday here but at least there is only one Monday in any week! Had a lovely weekend with the family (Lady adored having everyone here) and I was back to story writing yesterday.

My latest More Than Writers blog for the Association of Christian Writers is out tomorrow, I’ve sent something off to Friday Flash Fiction, and I’ll share a new YouTube video on my book page shortly. See below for link. So not a bad start to the writing week then!

I look to complete certain things by the end of the week (such as two of my website round-up blogs on the Tuesday and Friday) and then work on stories and blogs around that. It means I know what I’m doing on each day and helps me ensure I never waste a minute of precious writing time.

I like to hit the ground running for my writing as well as getting my characters to do likewise. It keeps things interesting for me – and I trust for my characters too.


#Had a wonderful time with friends and family at my birthday do yesterday. Lovely to have a good chat with the fabulous #JanetWilliams, my editor at Chandler’s Ford Today. It’s been a funny week. I started off coming home from Scotland to having a big do and I could so have done without losing an hour’s sleep this morning thanks to the clock change!

Talking of CFT, I resume my In Fiction series this week with an interesting post based around the letter K – Kindness and Killing in Fiction. How can I get a post out of a topic where the title is such a contrast? Link up on Friday – you will have to wait until then to find out!

My author newsletter goes out next Friday as well (see my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for the sign up page).

Talking of my website, a big hello to all who have started following me here – it has been encouraging to see steady growth here.

And last but not least, there is an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic over at Amazon. Do check out my Author Central page for more details at http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent

Getting together with family and friends today so thought I would post early. How do your characters handle get togethers? Do they relish them or dread them? And who controls the events? Is your lead character really the one running the show? They might think they are but…

Get togethers are often the source of family traditions so which would your characters have and do they uphold them? Do they cherish them or feel they are being held back by them? For your lone characters, which traditions do they remember from the past and do they miss these? How do they cope with being lone characters now? There is a sense of loss implied here so your story could focus on that.

This is where our own life experiences can help us in crafting a tale. We all know loss. We may not know what it is like to live on an alien world but we can take what we know of life here and help our characters to come across better to a reader. Empathy matters.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Have had one of those days where I’ve run late all day. But the nice thing about flash, and something I especially appreciate during a busy day, is with its restricted word count, I can still carve out five minutes some when during the day to draft a story! Or jot down ideas for stories, possible titles and so on. Those quick writing times mount up and give me a store of things to come back to when I’ve got more time. There is nothing to dislike about that scenario!


It’s good to be sharing story videos on YouTube again after a brief break due to my being at the Scottish Association of Writers conference. Hope you enjoy A Scent of Sense. This story was triggered by a question which came up on a random question generator – what is your favourite smell? I thought it a good way to write a tale based on one sense and to focus on that.

If you’d like to check out some of my flash fiction, do visit my YouTube channel. As well as sharing mini stories there, you can find the two book trailers for From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic, here, both of which have a free story included in them. Hope you enjoy (and new subscribers to my channel are always welcome).

Screenshot 2022-03-29 at 21-21-11 Allison Symes - YouTube

Am having a family do today in celebration of my birthday. It will be lovely seeing everyone again and the weather is gorgeous. So am posting early. I’ll be resuming my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today next Friday. I also hope to get back to writing for Friday Flash Fiction this week. And I’ve a number of blogs to draft so I will be out of mischief for some considerable time!

Now there’s no reason not to use gatherings in your stories as long as they move your plot on in some way. What could your character find out at a gathering that will make them change what they do next? And could it change the outcome of the overall story?

If your character Is the shy type and a gathering of any kind would fill them with horror, how do they find out information they will need for their “quest”? And how would they handle things if they absolutely had to to go a gathering? Don’t be afraid to drop your characters right in the mire – this is where you find out if they will sink or swim and where you will find out so much more about what they are capable of, whether that’s in a good way or not.


Goodreads Author Blog – Celebrating the Booksellers

We should celebrate the booksellers, yes? If you’re lucky enough to have an independent book store near you, make the most of it! Even where you have a known chain, still support them. Where I am, we were lucky enough to have a lovely independent book shop as part of our main shopping centre but the owner retired (understandably) and now the nearest bookshops are at least five miles away.

One of the joys of going to a writing event, such as the one I’ve recently returned from, is there is usually a book stall connected to it. These are often run by a local independent bookseller so, as well as supporting the authors whose works you buy, you support these good people too. And it does make sense to support the industry you want to be part of!

Although online ordering can be convenient, I don’t want the physical bookshops to disappear. I think we would lose something important. Browsing through bookshop shelves is a far more pleasurable experience than trying to browse online!

So go and support your local bookseller. You know it makes sense.

Screenshot 2022-03-29 at 20-47-10 Celebrating the Booksellers


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At The Scottish Association of Writers Conference

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. I also took the photos from the Scottish Association of Writers (SAW) Conference. It was a joy to be north of the border for the SAW event. I had a wonderful time and the journey to/from by train was a wonderful chance to relax and get plenty of writing done so win-win there too!

The journey home

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share my latest Chander’s Ford Today post, At the Scottish Association of Writers Conference. It’s a real pleasure to report back from last weekend’s fabulous event. I also take the chance to have a look at the art of judging since, as well as running my flash fiction workshop there, I had the pleasure and privilege of judging one of their competitions, the Margaret McConnell Woman’s Short Story competition. I must admit I wouldn’t have minded winning the beautiful trophy myself!

And it was so nice meeting people in person whom I’ve previously only met thanks to Zoom as well as catch up with fellow Swanwickers (attendees of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School – we get everywhere!).

At The Scottish Association of Writers Conference

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Nice to get back to a good old swim today – perfect day to do it too! No flash fiction on Friday Flash Fiction from me for this week, hope to resume that next time, but do check out the fabulous stories on there. There’s bound to be something you’ll love (and for flash fiction writers, it is a great way to showcase what can be done with the form).

Will be sending out my author newsletter next week so if you’d like to sign up for tips, prompts, news etc., do head over to the landing page of my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more. I’ll resume my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today after this week’s post, which is a report on my recent time in Scotland.

I’ll be off on my travels again in June to run a flash fiction workshop for the Worth Our Weight in Gold celebration weekend the Association of Christian Writers are putting on to celebrate their Golden Jubilee. Looking forward to that especially since it will be at The Hayes, Swanwick, where I “swan” off every August for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

Plenty to look forward to then – and now on with the writing!

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Many thanks for the great birthday messages yesterday (22nd March). Much appreciated and it was a lovely day.

Something I found out just before I headed to Scotland for the weekend was that I will be having a story of mine out in The Best of CafeLit 11 later in the year. Very pleased about that (and delighted friends of mine will be in there too).

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be called At the Scottish Association of Writers Conference and I report back on my time there. Looking forward to sharing the link on Friday.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Nothing from me on Friday Flash Fiction this week (I hope to make up for that next time) but don’t forget to check the website out. There are wonderful stories on here and it is a joy to scroll through and have a good read. It is important to read well as well as write well and sites like this have a very useful purpose to serve in providing contemporary material for you to read. Enjoy!

I make a point of reading flash and short stories as well as writing them. I think it is vital to read in the field you’re in as well as reading widely outside of it. Inspiration for ideas comes from all manner of places including what you like to read so it makes sense to have a broad pool from which to fish, so to speak. Sometimes an odd line will strike you and ideas for stories of your own will begin to develop from the thoughts that have occurred to you as a result of reading that story.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re “just reading”. You are, in fact, carrying out vital market research and it is a lovely way to do it too, so there!


How do you make the most of a workshop? Notebook and pen or laptop or app where you can take notes is essential. I note down any markets suggested by the speaker (to check them out later and see if they suit me). I also listen out for specific tips – it is the detail I am after. I can then work out how to apply that to my own writing. And if there is anything like a checklist or template I can make use of, I make a note of all that too.

But best of all is the fact if a speaker sets a writing exercise, as many do, there’s nothing to stop you polishing that piece up and sending it out as a flash fiction piece later on. I’ve done that and had work published as a result. Always see any writing exercise you have a go at as a rough first draft and do give them a go.

The idea is for you to produce a piece of work you can work on again later. Even if you get to read it out at the time, don’t worry about how it will come across. Nobody’s expecting perfection. What they’ll be after is seeing how you took the brief because that can confirm to them they’re on the right lines.

If your exercise is to write a 100 word story set in any world, it won’t matter if you set your tale in Fairyland and someone else sets theirs on a rodeo. What matters is getting a story down any old how. They’ve seen/heard how you’ve done it. They know they’ve got something in their notebooks which could be read out. They’ll be reassured and maybe encouraged to read their work out too. You also get instant feedback from those around you here and you can use that to help you polish your story later on.


A huge thank you for the birthday messages yesterday (22nd March).

I’ve mentioned before that one thing I love about flash is the ability to set characters anywhere and everywhere. I was able to prove that point during my workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers conference last weekend. And it is something to make full use of – I love reading across many genres, so why shouldn’t I write across them too? You can do exactly that with flash with only the 1000 words beings the upper limit as your main restriction and even there, you can write across the spectrum. Some of my stories genuinely work better at 500 words or less so I leave them at that word count. Others need a little bit more “room” so I give them 750 or the full 1000 words treatment.

Flash has to be character led. I never liked reading lots of description. I always want to find out what the characters get up to and with flash you pretty much have to do that from the start. So win-win there as far as I’m concerned.


Fairytales with Bite – Character Traits in Fairytales

I use character traits as my major way in to finding out about my “people” and writing their stories up. I have to know what they are made of in terms of those traits to work out what their stories could be. #

Positive traits can fail at moments of stress (and those can make interesting stories as the character comes to terms with their failure – or not). Negative traits can be overcome especially with the help of other characters and the story is all about how that “overcoming” is done (and why).

Traits are a major feature in fairytales. The arrogant are punished and usually need some act of love/kindness to be redeemed from whatever spell they’ve had cast on them as punishment. Powerful magical beings often disguise themselves humbly to work out who is worthy of their support and who definitely isn’t and here kindness is definitely rewarded eventually. It is a trait that counts for something in fairytales.

So think about what character traits you want to see in your people. What matters to you here? If honesty is important, would you show that through a character who is honest or one who isn’t and they get their comeuppance for that? In your fairytales, how would you like to see magic used? To benefit the kind in some way? When those who are not kind somehow get magical benefits, will there be a price to pay for “bucking the system”?

In working out what matters to you, you can work out what matters to your characters and that will help you set up a good story structure. If your character has to be honest, your story structure will show how that honesty lands them in it, say, and how they get out of that.


This World and Others – Differences

Differences take many forms, of course. Differences in culture, language, what we find funny and so on. Most people have no trouble accepting others are different. But how does that work out in your fictional world? Are your characters tolerant or not? What would your fictional world count as “normal” or “different”? And does it react well to differences?

Fear can be a major motivator in the unkind treatment of others. If you dislike a particular trait, how would you act towards a character who has that trait in abundance? Would your character’s fear lead them to prejudiced treatment of others, for example?

If your fictional world is a monocultural one, how did that evolve? Was there ever a time when that wasn’t the case and, if so, what led to the removal or suppression of the other culture(s)?

How we handle differences can reveal a lot about us whether that is conscious or not. We can use that for our characters too.




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Books, Journeys, and a Conference

Image Credits: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Photos from the Scottish Association of Writers Conference were taken by me, Allison Symes

Facebook – General

Many thanks for the birthday wishes..I don’t feel a day over 56, which is just as well given that is what I am!😄

So good to meet people for real over the weekend and I’m looking forward to doing the same this coming weekend. Getting together with people does you good, I find, and I always learn something useful from others at writing conferences.

You do give each other’s creativity a boost just by sharing information you’ve found helpful. And it is even better when others share something you know you will find useful.

Am travelling home after a wonderful time at the Scottish Association of Writers conference. My congratulations go to the Council who organised this.

Trust me, anyone who has ever served on a council or committee will tell you that you can’t exaggerate the amount of hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

The bookshop looked wonderful and I can imagine the work behind the scenes just on that. I have a busy week coming up culminating in a family do to celebrate my birthday (22nd) and it will be lovely to see everyone again.

Writing wise, I will be working on my usual blogs etc and after this week I want to focus on getting my third flash collection together. I’ve got a good draft but I need time to sort out a sensible running order. That helps a collection to flow well and enhances a reader’s enjoynent of the book. It does take time to get right though.

Many thanks to all who came to my flash fiction workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers Conference today. It was a delight to share what flash is and how it can help with all forms of writing, as well as getting to discuss markets and look at different ways of getting into a story. It was great fun and I hope you found it useful.

I head home tomorrow. A big thanks to the family for manning the fort. I plan to write up my report from the conference for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Guess what my homework is on the train home tomorrow!

And it was a thrill to sign copies of my books too. I have had a lovely time and it is great to be back at in person events again.

Having a fab time at the Scottish Association of Writers conference. It was particularly nice to catch up with people who have been to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire, including those I now know via SAW but who I didn’t know when last at Swanwick. Connections spread!

Enjoyed the workshops by Ruth Leigh and Wendy H Jones. I’m giving mine on flash fiction tomorrow. The bookshop is amazing. Have I shopped? Daft question – of course I have!

I judged the Margaret McConnell Woman’s Short Story competition and announced my placings this morning. Must admit the trophy is lovely. See pic.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Birthdays give you a chance to stop for a moment and take stock of where you are. Many thanks for the good wishes.

I don’t often give my characters birthdays as that kind of detail is not what I need to know about them.

Mind you, there is always the possibility of using a birthday as a setting where something unusual happens. This can be anything out of the norm basically though what “norm” is can vary and you can have fun with that. Almost inevitably your character won’t though!

Going home is a great theme for stories of any length and it is uppermost in my mind as I travel home from Scotland of course.

But what could you do with this in a tight word count? You need to focus on one important aspect of going home only.

What means the most to your character here? Is their homecoming welcomed? If not, why not? Does the character get the welcome home they expect and/or deserve?

Glad to say the flash fiction workshop went well. I often read a couple of my stories during things like this as they show what flash is and some of what it can do. 

It’s a good idea to practice reading out your work and ideally playing it back so you can hear the story as a reader would take it in. Dialogue especially can look wonderful written down but doesn’t always read out well. If you trip yourself up, your readers will too.

By playing it back you can hear whether dialogue flows as well as you thought. Where recording and playing back isn’t an option, a trusted writing buddy/supportive writing group can be of enormous help here.

But I’ve learned over time for a story to work well, it has to flow naturally and reading out loud/getting someone to do that on your behalf is a good way to pick up on points where the flow is not as good as it could be.

Am looking forward to giving my flash fiction workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers conference tomorrow. There will be handouts. Also spreading the word about flash in conversations.

The short forms of fiction writing are an interesting challenge and I’m glad I rose to that challenge. It is an ongoing one as with every story I write, I want to make it better than the one before.

Goodreads Author Blog – Books and Journeys

This is an apt title given I am currently away at the Scottish Association of Writers conference and we are all busy celebrating books – reading them and writing them!

Books are great companions on journeys, of course. What holiday suitcase would be complete without them? These days I rely on my Kindle – no more worries about how many books I can fit in!😊

And each book is itself a journey. We follow the characters through their stories. For non-fiction the journey is in increasing your knowledge on a topic by the time you finish reading.

What matters is enjoying the trip!

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Journeys in Fiction – and For Real!

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Some photos taken by me, Allison Symes, from the Scottish Association of Writers Conference.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Journeys in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Am sharing from Scotland!☺

I hope to report back on the Scottish Association of Writers Conference next week.

But journeys can take many forms including internal journeys. I discuss this and more in my CFT post this week.


It’s double blog today for me as my latest Authors Electric post is out today. This time I talk about Coming Up with Ideas. Hope you find it useful.


Am on my way up to Scotland for the weekend conference of the Scottish Association of Writers. Looking forward to being on LNER again for the leg up to Edinburgh Waverley.

Meanwhile, am enjoying seeing the Hampshire countryside. And of course train journeys are the perfect opportunity for a spot of discreet people watching! I have used odd snippets of conversation overheard on train journeys to trigger ideas for characters and their tales. Waste nothing!

I was talking on Zoom last night about random generators and while preparing for that discovered new ones I know I can use. Win-win there! 

One was a historic events generator – could be useful if you use settings as your way into a story. The other was a world building generator with many separate elements also available as generators. Think character names, geographic elements to pick and choose etc.

The nice thing with all generators is you pick your parameters and adapt these based on what you know you need to know to start drafting a story. I find choosing two or three random things to generate at a time works best for me. Something amongst those items will trigger an idea and away I go. Limits encourage creativity.

I don’t know how I manage it but I always seem to time having a haircut with soggy weather! It’s the kind of talent nobody wants but someone gets… in this case, me!

Am looking forward to travelling north tomorrow for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. Hope to get plenty of writing done on the train via Evernote. I usually manage to draft some stories, blog posts etc – all useful stuff I know I can use later.

My posts here will be at different times over the next few days but my Chandler’s Ford Today post will be up as normal on Friday. Aptly I’m talking about Journeys in Fiction.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy Waiting – the story at least!☺


Looking forward to giving my flash fiction workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference this weekend.

Am currently heading north at a rapid speed enjoying the countryside en route.Finding your way in to writing a story or blog or article is vital. With my workshop I look at a couple of different ways to find that way in.

Shortly going to be chatting about random generators to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group via Zoom. Have a web search and see how many there are out there. There are more than you think and I found one new to me for the talk I’m about to give too. Hope to share more here later. 

Fairytales With Bite – Is the Best Help Always Magical?

Given magical power, as with any other kind of power, is open to abuse, I would say the answer to this one is a definite “no”! It’s also not the only answer to a problem.

Despite Gandalf’s magical powers in The Lord of the Rings, the others still have to fight Sauron etc. And it wasn’t entirely magical help that got Frodo to where he needed to be either. He and Sam still had to walk, still had to work out whether to trust Gollum or not etc.

And even in the classic fairytales when the fairy godmother turns up (albeit often somewhat belatedly in my view) to help the lead character, that same lead character has had to show themselves to be worthy of that help coming their way. Those fairy godmothers don’t get their wands out for just anyone, you know.

So self-help, the help of loyal friends etc is every bit as important as magical help – and I think that is how it should be too. You don’t want a story to hinge on a magic wand funnily enough. You want it to contribute but not be the be all and end all.

If a story can be solved by magical help alone, where is the story? Where is the depth of characterisation? You can show the latter through the friends coming to our hero’s aid. 

This World and Others – Resolving Conflicts

This kind of topic will always be topical, unfortunately, but for fiction purposes how are conflicts resolved in your created worlds? Is there such a thing as our conciliation services, the United Nations etc? Or are conflicts always fought out, literally?

Someone in your stories has to have the courage to be the peacemaker (or at least be the one who tries to bring about peace. It isn’t up to them whether that attempt is successful). What makes that someone set themselves up for, at best, being moaned at by both sides in an attempt to make them see reason?

Peacemakers and those who call out wars are not always the most popular people on the planet. What drives them to try to resolve conflicts? What conflicts form part of your back story and drives your characters here?And when conflicts are resolved,  how long does it take your people to settle back to normal lives again?

Now not everything will be back to normal again. There will be losses. So what are these and how do people cope with them? How do your characters resolve their own inner conflicts?

When conflicts are resolved, amongst the huge sense of loss there often is, what happens to your characters’ sense of hope etc? How and where does the future look brighter? There should be hope somewhere otherwise there is no “proper” resolution to your story – and without hope,  your characters and your readers will only feel despair that things haven’t been resolved properly. 

Travels, Flash, and Feedback

Image Credit:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Am about to go off on my travels again. Am doing a LOT of talking about flash fiction this week but it’s great fun to do!


Facebook – General

Busy packing ready for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. Plan to do lots of writing on the train journey. I just love Evernote for this. I still just use the free version of it but find it is enough for what I want to do.

I’ll be off again on my travels in June for the Association of Christian Writers’ Worth Our Weight In Gold Golden Jubilee weekend in June and I am due to run a flash fiction workshop there too. Won’t have to go so far for that one – it’s at my old haunt The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire where I’ll be back again in August for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

I’m getting plenty of use out of my railcard this year at least!

And a huge thank you to the History Writers last night for the wonderful feedback on my talk about historical flash fiction. Feedback is always useful and it is something I especially appreciate from Friday Flash Fiction too.

Now writing wise, when I’ve got editing to do, I block out periods of time to do it as I know I will need to focus. Those odd pockets of time that crop up now and again – ten minutes here, fifteen there etc – are best used for drafting something new or adding notes to something you’ve got in the pipeline.

I’ve discovered this over time of course but I am now better at suiting writing jobs to the time I’ve got available and that matters. It means I end up getting more done overall. Any spare capacity in terms of writing such as trips on train I just write as much as I can. I will find a use for this later. There’s always space for a spare blog column or more flash fiction stories. Little is wasted in writing. You can either find a home for it or learn from it (and ideally you do both).


Many thanks for the kind comments and likes in on my post yesterday about owing my love of reading to my late mother. I treasure the books I’ve inherited from her too! See below for earlier post.

Looking forward to talking to the History Writers group tonight about historical flash fiction and to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Wednesday about random generators.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be a timely one – Journeys In Fiction. So apt since I am travelling up for the Scottish Association of Writers Conference later this week! I plan to post on Friday as normal.

My posts over the weekend will be at differing times but I am looking forward to the conference very much and to reporting back on it in due course. Am also looking forward to catching up with writing friends and making new ones – that is the great joy of a writing event for me.


Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday and it is thanks to her I have my love of reading. She taught me to read long before I started school and reading was just such a natural thing at home, it still seems odd to me that there are those who don’t “get” reading for pleasure.

Whether you read the classics, contemporary, the big blockbusters, the flash fiction collections (well, I was bound to mention them now, wasn’t I?!), or are a magazine “fiend,” what matters is reading. From that love of reading came a love of creative writing.

Many thanks, Mum.


Many thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on Cherryade, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. I remember my kid sister and I going to the tobacconists at the end of our road, clutching our empty fizz bottles, ready to hand them in for money back. Ironically the fizz bottles came mainly from a wonderful firm called Corona – there are less positive associations with that word now! My favourite flavour was orangeade funnily enough.

The tobacconists also ran a sweet section – the old pick and mix types of sweet jar – so of course guess where my sister and I spent the refunds. Happy days – and I really enjoyed writing this story. Brought back great memories.

Screenshot 2022-03-11 at 09-56-02 Cherryade - What Not To Do by Allison SymesScreenshot 2022-03-10 at 20-01-14 Friday Flash Fiction

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to say the March 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now free to download on Amazon. I write a monthly column here on all aspects of flash fiction writing and I set a challenge too. I talk about random generators this time, something I’ll be talking about again via Zoom to the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group tomorrow. Plus there are a wide range of interesting articles, stunning photos, and much more more so do treat yourself to a FREE read.

Screenshot 2022-03-15 at 20-26-41 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine March 2022 eBook Publishing Goylake Howe Hannah Smith Melanie Fae Sylva Jones Wendy H Macleod Sheena Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

It’s Monday. Not a favourite day of the week for many including me so it is definitely time for a story! Hope you enjoy Alien Concept – am sure many of you will identify with this one.

I love writing across the genres with my flash fiction stories. It continues to be a great joy to write crime flash, historical flash, humorous fantasy flash and so on. I love reading various anthologies (short stories and flash fiction ones) and I love coming across a good mix.

And this is where what I have loved (and continue to love) reading influences what I write. I have to read some crime to be able to write a crime flash piece for example. The wider you read (and do include non-fiction), the bigger the pool you have to fish from for influences and inspiration. If that’s not a good excuse to put your feet up with a good book and a cup of tea/coffee, I really don’t know what is!


Am so looking forward to being part of the Scottish Association of Writers conference next week where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. Always keen to spread the word about this wonderful writing format! Have a busy few days coming up in the run-up to that as I’m talking about historical flash on Monday on Zoom and will be talking again about random generators for another Zoom talk on Wednesday. But I do know one thing – it will all be great fun! Flash should be fun too. The challenge of coming up with different characters and seeing what I can do with them is fabulous and keeps me out of mischief well enough!

Goodreads Author Blog – Drawing in The Readers

If there was a simple way to guarantee drawing in the readers, then someone somewhere would be a very wealthy person for selling the secret to that! Speaking with my reader hat on, I am drawn to a book by (a) its cover, (b) its blurb, and (c) if I have already read the author’s work. If it is someone whose work I know and love, then it is pretty much guaranteed I will go for their next one.

Out of the cover and the blurb, I have to say I think the latter is the most important. That has got to get me wanting to read more. Yes, sometimes, a good book cover will catch my eye and I will want to check it out but if the blurb isn’t up to scratch, I’m not biting!

Once I’ve got the book though I want the characters to keep me reading. I have got to want to find out what happens to them and to care about the outcome. I think you can only do that with realistically portrayed characters whose goal you can understand.

I also want my characters to be “worthy” of winning through in the end. I don’t want it just to fall into their lap, so to speak. I want them to contribute significantly to their success, even with the help of others. I think you should also be able to see why the others would help the lead character with their goal rather than just leave them to it.


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Imagery in Fiction – oh and Cherryade too!

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. I’m talking about imagery this time and share a new tale on Friday Flash Fiction, which is loosely based on fact. One of the great joys of any of the creative arts is they are beneficial to you as the creator and not just to those you hope will read your work, enjoy your music etc. And in troubled times that is so important. It may not change the world but it will change you – positively.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Imagery in Fiction my latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at how writers “paint images” with words, how I use this for my flash fiction, and look at the role of book covers.

Imagery matters which might sound odd for something so obviously text based but let’s just say you’re not getting a pink fluffy cover for a Gothic novel!

And writers have to select the details the readers need to know to make sense of the story and to help bring that tale to life in the readers’ minds. So you plant images created by the words you’ve chosen. I also look at how objects can be used to represent themes in fiction so when you see that object referred to in the text, you see that theme. And then there are the images needed for marketing – chosen to represent the book well “out there”.

So imagery crops up more than you might think. Hope you enjoy the post.

Imagery In Fiction

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I’ll be sharing my Imagery in Fiction post for Chandler’s Ford Today – link up tomorrow. See above.

Being a flash fiction writer means I have to choose my words for my stories with particular care as I am looking for the maximum impact in the fewest possible words. So I am thinking of those choice words and phrases that will conjure up the most powerful images in my readers’ minds.

But whatever length of fiction you write, this is a great habit to develop. It will make your writing more striking. Readers will remember the images you create that much better. Tight writing is taut, powerful writing. Choosing the details you need your readers to see is good fun and you only show them what is the most important things for them to know.

So images then have a purpose in our prose. When you know the basics you want to get across, it is then a question of asking yourself have I chosen the very best images to show your readers? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gone through my first draft and then spotted something that could be strengthened by replacing one word with a more distinctive one. Details matter.

Screenshot 2022-03-11 at 09-56-15 Imagery In Fiction - Chandler's Ford Today

Is it true that nothing you write is ever wasted? I think so. I can’t tell you how many rejections I’ve received in my time (and these days they tend to take the form of not hearing back from a competition etc). What did happen is where I could ask for feedback on my work (usually at a modest additional fee), I did that and learned a lot from the judge’s comments.

I’ve also found the more I write, the more ideas come to me (ideas have this lovely habit of sparking off other ones but you to have to learn to trust the process). And in writing story after story after story, you get better over time at figuring out what works and what doesn’t. You learn a lot from what doesn’t work, funnily enough.

And I can’t stress enough the importance of studying the market you think you might want to write for, whether it is a print magazine or an online one. For one thing, you will pick up on “house style” and for another, you get to see what they like and can work out from that whether your piece is likely to fit in.

You do want to be a square peg in a square hole!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-9-19-571Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with Cherryade, a flash acrostic. This one was great fun to write especially as it is loosely based on fact! Hope you enjoy it. And do check out the other stories on there. You’ll be in for a fabulous read. Perfect start to the weekend, perhaps?

Screenshot 2022-03-11 at 09-56-02 Cherryade - What Not To Do by Allison Symes


Don’t forget Friday Flash Fiction will have new stories up tomorrow. See above. I hope to have something in there but will report back on that one! Meantime, do check out the wealth of stories here. It will give you a good “feel” for what flash fiction is and can be. It is a great way of getting in contemporary reading in my field in as well so win-win there! And you can literally see what 100 word stories actually look like.

Now I deliberately mix up how I write my stories as you know. I love playing with acrostics, all dialogue tales, setting stories in the past, the present and the future etc. It keeps things interesting for me (and I hope readers).

What you don’t want to do, regardless of what you write, is to rest on your laurels. You need to keep striving to (a) write better, (b) discover new markets for your work, (c) to develop being able to respond to different writing challenges and (d) to get work out there.

Persistence pays. And when a story doesn’t work in one market, have another look at it, Maybe you can send it out elsewhere. I’ve done this and have had work published on a second or third go.

Screenshot 2022-03-10 at 20-01-14 Friday Flash Fiction

When I am writing to a specific word count, I tend to have the ending of my story in mind first. This is so I have a clear goal to aim for, of course, but also I then work out what “juicy details” I need to get to that ending. I select only the very best.

The ones that impact on me the most will have the same effect on a reader and I do have an Ideal Reader in mind all the time. It is a good habit to get into to think of your intended audience from the word go. I’ve found just doing that has stopped me going off at unnecessary and ultimately unhelpful tangents. These only get cut out in the edit anyway.

When I’m writing to a more open word count, I focus on how much can I “wring out” from my unfortunate characters! This is because with 1000 words to play with, I can give more depth and show you more of my character’s life as they overcome whatever obstacles I’m making them face. I may even be able to give them more than one hurdle to overcome. But when the character has done all they need to do, I stop, whether that story is at 400 words, 750 words, or right up at the flash fiction limit.


Fairytales with Bite – Using the Senses

Now in fiction, we are always advised to use all of the senses (where appropriate to do so naturally). It is easy to focus on what a character hears or sees. It’s easy to forget to use the sense of smell (which can evoke memories and powerful associations for your characters).

Touch is probably easiest to use for the romance writers amongst us but it can be easy to forget to bring that one in too. Having a character pick up a photo frame with their loved one’s picture inside it will resonate with readers. We’ve all done that. Taste can be brought in obviously for food and drink scenes but in your magical world, are there other senses which you could bring in?

Can your character detect when magic is about to be used, for example? What reaction does that cause in them so they can detect it? Do they generate it themselves when they are about to let fly with the magic wand? Are their “normal” senses heightened in an way in the presence of magic? How can you use these things to help or hinder your character in your story?


This World and Others – Cooking and Culture

One of the nicest ways of appreciating other cultures is to discover their food and enjoy it! Everyone needs to eat and drink after all. So can you use that element in your stories? Which cultures would you bring together? Which foods do they have in common? Which foods are distinctive to each one? How is cooking done in your stories? Is it as we would know it or by magic?

I maintain there is nothing as good as properly produced food and I would worry about whether magic could contaminate the food in some way. After all if you’ve just used your wand to turn someone into a frog, would there still be elements of that spell remaining in the wand when you then use it to whip up a souffle?! (You could get humorous stories from that kind of scenario).

Sometimes cooking can divide people as to the best way of producing a meal. In the UK, there are two ways to have scones with cream and jam. Some maintain that the cream must go on the scone first, then followed by the jam. Others insist it is the other way around and never the twain shall meet! So you could use things like that to cause division and conflict in your stories that your characters must find a way of overcoming.

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Anti-Scammers and the Three C’s

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
With the awful news going on right now, I think it is more important than ever to appreciate all of the creative arts – and avoid those who would scam you as a result of your trying to follow your dreams here.


Facebook – General

Many thanks for the wonderful responses to my anti-scammers post yesterday. See below. And do bear in mind there are plenty of sharks who try to lure in the unwary writer too. Never be afraid to check things out and organisations such as The Society of Authors and Alliance of Independent Authors should be your first ports of call for advice. This is also another advantage to joining in with writing groups, whether these are online or in person, because writers share what they learn from one another and that includes warnings about which so-called “services” to avoid etc.

It’s also a good idea to regularly read the writing magazines too as you learn so much from these too and check out websites like Writer Beware! This is an American site but the principles of what they expose for rogue publishers etc applies the world over and you will at least know what to look out for.

It was only when I had been a writer for a while I realised how much there was I didn’t know and needed to know but recognising that and then doing something about it like joining writing groups etc is a good first step into being more savvy about the do’s and don’ts of the writing life. Don’t be conned!

I’ll be talking about Imagery In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I look at writers using words to “paint” images with and the importance of book covers. One way or another, imagery comes into fiction a lot, even if it is not always obvious.

Will be giving a talk soon on historical flash fiction soon – looking forward to that and, of course, next week, I’ll be heading off to Scotland once again. I’m at the Scottish Association of Writers Conference from 18th to 20th March and will be running a flash fiction workshop there. Plenty going on then and I will report back from Scotland for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course.

Oh and a word to the wise – I am getting emails in from those who say they have a proposal for me. I bet they have too – how to check my email address is a genuine one and use it for phishing at best. Stay well clear of these things, folks. I delete immediately and then clear my delete folder immediately too. Never click on the links they send you.

Not sure whether this one is targeted at me because I’m a writer or whether it’s a huge mailshot and they only need a few people to respond to make money (and that is what they’re after – your money). Hmm… maybe there’s a flash fiction story or several in which scammers like that get scammed themselves. Something to think about!

Where do my ideas for stories come from? All over the place which I know is not exactly helpful. The point though is to be open enough to recognise something as a potential idea. My ideas come from things I have read, fiction and non-fiction, and from triggers such as the random generators I often use. Also overheard snippets of conversation can be the starting point for a story.

But what matters is recognising what I call the “aha moment” when I come across something and think yes, I could do something with that. And the more you read, the bigger the pool you have to fish in for ideas of your own. We all build on what has gone before.

What we do is bring our unique take to an idea or a theme and make it our own. Prompt books are always useful too. What I find matters is finding a way in to writing a story. And you have to love reading stories to know that you yourself want to write them.


Fiction has a variety of purposes as I’m currently exploring in my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today. Escaping from worries via a variety of genres or exploring the human condition or confronting evil head on via what our characters go through is all fine.

What matters is that fiction is truthful. It has to be to have any meaning. And for fiction to be truthful, the characters have to be true to themselves, whether they’re the best hero of all time or the worst villain.
This is why I need to know the major trait for my characters before I write their stories up. I can look at how and why they’ve developed that trait (and this is so often a springboard for further story ideas).

Major traits can tell me so much about the characters in themselves. If my character’s major trait is they like a good laugh, I can look at what has driven that. Is their life sad and they want to escape sadness at any cost so put on a jolly persona to cover that up? Is it their way of being accepted by others and what drives the need for that acceptance?

Also, I can take things another way and show how their good laugh helps another character or causes problems. All sorts of story ideas can come from just knowing my Character A will do almost anything to have a good laugh. And that is just one example of how knowing a major trait can trigger ideas. For me, that’s more important than knowing what the character looks like.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

In any story regardless of its length, there has to be conflict, character, and change – the three C’s! Without a character experiencing conflict, even if it is internal only, there is no story. There should be change. Did the character overcome or succumb to the conflict? Either way that is a change though one is obviously more positive than the other!

One of the lovely things about flash is I can have, as a story, a self-contained moment of change for my character which simply isn’t long enough to even be a short story yet is still insightful.

How your characters react to things tells you so much about them. How you react to the character’s reaction may well shed insights about yourself – fiction can be illuminating like that. Flash does it more intensively than any other form though so be warned!


You know I’ve written from the viewpoint of a mother dragon before, yes? (See my book trailer for Tripping the Flash Fantastic). Well, I think I’ve upped my game a bit here. See my latest YouTube video and see what you think. Hope you enjoy it.


Writing a short story, such as flash fiction, is not easier than writing longer work. Nor is longer work easier than writing shorter items. You need the idea. You need to get that first draft down. You need to edit it. And edit it again. You need to rest it for a while. You look at the story again, spot the errors you missed first go around (and we all do that!), correct those, and once happy submit the piece or save it for a collection. And you do this over and over again because you love the challenge of it.

As I’ve mentioned, I find I can get a first draft down quickly. It is the editing and crafting of the story, even my 100-worders, that takes the time. Rightly so too. I want to get every word right. Where I can find a better choice of word that gives more “oomph” to my writing, I will change to that word. And if I am writing to a specific word count, as I so often am, I then have to check I haven’t gone over that and adjust things where I have.

The one thing I have learned over the years is I’ve got to give myself enough time to follow things through thoroughly enough. But that’s fine. I’m drafting more pieces while resting others so I always have something to work on. No chance of getting bored and I love that too.


Just to flag up Amazon have an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See link for more.
I like the variety flash offers me. I can write across a number of genres, write my stories as acrostics, all-dialogue pieces, monologues etc., and I can choose my word count up to 1000 words.

My hopes for flash is that it will encourage the reluctant reader to dip their “toes” into the wonderful world of books and encourage people to write their own stories. Creative writing is good for you. And writers read so book sales go up! There’s nothing to dislike about that scenario!

But I hope flash brings characters to life for people. Those brief glimpses of a character’s life, I hope, will intrigue people to want to read longer stories, novellas, novels etc. Characters are the draw for readers. We need to know what is going on in a character’s life. You don’t necessarily need to write an epic to give that fascination to a reader.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

BB - Flash with a Dash for TTFF

Goodreads Author Blog – Realistic Characters

I’ve never been fond of characters who seem too good to be true. I love the characters with flaws and who change for the better. For any fiction, regardless of genre or length, I’ve got to be able to “get” where the character is coming from and why. I don’t necessarily have to agree with them though!

For my own writing, I like to work out my character’s major trait as all sorts of things can come from that. If a character is brave, are they reckless with it? If they like a laugh, what will they do to get that laugh from others? Plenty of story ideas there – and you can explore the idea of when things go wrong too.

So I like characters to resonate with me in some way. While I will always root for the hero/heroine to win, I want to see that the villain does have reasons to behave the way they are. Their objective has got to make sense. There is never any room for the pointless character. I suppose writing flash fiction with its restricted word count of 1000 words maximum has made me more aware of that.

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Human Behaviour in Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
In a horrifying news week, I think we need books and stories more than ever – they encourage empathy and the world could definitely do with more of that. Keep reading, keep writing. Stories matter. Truth matters. And stories share truths in a way that is often more palatable than “preaching”. My CFT post this week takes a look at that.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m pleased to share Human Behaviour in Fiction, my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. As I mentioned yesterday (see below), I think this may be a timely post. All human behaviour is mirrored in fiction somewhere and fiction doesn’t flatter. Fairytales, for example, call evil out for what it is and rightly so too.

Mind you, fiction does have to reflect us, no matter how fantastical its setting. We read to find out what goes on in the setting, we root for characters to succeed or fail, and this is based on what we know about how we behave.

Fiction gives us ways of exploring through characters what could happen in this circumstance, that one etc., and may well make us reflect on whether we would be as brave as Character Z or as cowardly as Character P.

Human Behaviour In Fiction

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I’m talking about Human Behaviour In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I look at how fictional characters reflect us and why the big themes, which matter so much to our humanity, come up time and again (and across different genres too). Link up tomorrow (see above).

Just sometimes a post is timely. This one might be I suspect. Not planned either – you can’t always avoid these things as a writer. There is a good case why you shouldn’t – writers need to be honest whether they’re writing fiction or not – and sometimes a theme you pick will resonate with what is going on in the news. There is little you can do about that but you hope the resonance makes people think. What you do need to do is be honest and sensitive.

And my post reflects on the fact characters have to be “true” to what we recognise in ourselves, which is why we root for the “good” characters to come through and be successful and why we want to see the villain fail.

Screenshot 2022-03-04 at 14-53-34 Human Behaviour In Fiction - Chandler's Ford TodayBookBrushImage-2022-3-1-20-258

Factors that can affect your writing include tiredness, low mood, and anxiety. Ironically, settling down and doing some writing, even if it isn’t much, helps lift my mood, takes me out of myself for a while, and I head off to bed happily having created something I will polish up and submit later on.

This is where writing flash is a great help because just writing 100 words means I have got a story I can knock into proper shape later. Incidentally I do focus on just writing in these situations. It’s the creative aspect I find most helpful here.

The creative aspect to editing is more challenging so when I just need to be kind to myself for a bit, I just focus on drafting something. And knowing now, in the way I didn’t when I first started writing seriously, it is absolutely okay to come back to something later, it is absolutely fine to accept nothing is going to be perfect on the first go anyway, helps enormously.

Just get something written. Be creative. Have fun being creative. Get yourself ready for the editing stage by being kind to yourself here. It pays off for later on too.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When I look at a draft of one of my flash pieces, what am I looking to improve?

The first thing I ask myself is whether the story makes the impact I aimed for it to have and is there anything that might weaken that impact?

The second thing I look at is whether the character(s) draw me in or not. Do I absolutely have to find out what happens to them? The answer to that one should be yes, of course.

The third thing I look at is whether I have chosen exactly the right words and phrases to convey maximum impact. I often find I can change the odd word here and there to strengthen things so I do!

Then and only then do I sort out typos etc which inevitably creep in and are the bane of every writer. (I’m a fairly fast typist so I know to expect the odd typo creeping in thanks to that alone!).



I’ve talked before about flash having more impact because of its very short nature (and for once I can justify the use of the word “very” there, it is one of my bugbear words to be cut out usually!). But that doesn’t mean the impact has to be blunt. It can be sensitive and thoughtful and this works well for character studies. My They Don’t Understand in From Light to Dark and Back Again is an example of this. Without giving anything anyway, this tale leaves you with sympathy for my lead character.

I will think ahead as to what kind of impact I want my story to have. That in turn points me to the mood of the story and the kind of character who would best suit that mood. For me, it is another way into writing a flash piece. And I like having more than one way in though the route I choose does then lay out how I approach the writing of the story.


I was talking over on my author page about how certain factors can affect your writing. But you can bring those factors in to play for your characters too. How does your character act and react when they’re tired or anxious? What decisions do they make in this state they wouldn’t usually have done? What are the consequences from that? And when your character understandably decides to take time out to be kind to themselves how do they do this? How does it impact on characters around them?


Screenshot 2022-03-04 at 20-01-39 (1) Allison Symes Facebook

Fairytales with Bite – The Stuff of Nightmares

What would count as the stuff of nightmares in your fictional magical world? Much would depend on whether your setting is a generally peaceful one or a war-like type. Also what one character would count as a nightmare someone else would dismiss.

So think about what your characters would consider as nightmares and then make them face it. Would your character sink or swim? Would they overcome the nightmare and never be bothered by it again? (I would consider that the best, the happiest and most logical ending to a story of this kind).

You can also use the nightmares you think your characters would have outside of the story itself. It would be a good way for you to find out what your character is truly made of before you write their story up. Do they use their nightmare to drive them to achieve a great deal or does it hold them back? Does their nightmare affect certain aspects of their personality (and therefore what decisions they are likely to make)?

When it is a question of facing a nightmarish situation, what traits do your characters possess to help them deal with this? It is crucial they don’t just cave in (where’s the story there?) but it does make sense to have them struggle and then come through at the end. Most of us would sympathise with that – don’t we all want to overcome our own nightmares in some way?


This World and Others – Peacemaking

Who are the peacemakers in your fictional world? Why have they been chosen for this role or do they find it thrust upon them? Why is the peacemaking necessary and how are the “hawks” overcome? (There are always plenty of those about).

I must admit I do despair at peacemaking sometimes being seen as “weak”. It isn’t. It takes great strength of character to get on with that demanding and often unappreciated work. So it would be realistic to have your characters feel that despair and then find ways to overcome it (and this is where loyal support from friends etc can make a huge difference too).

A positive story would show the rewards of peacemaking too. I like to see vested interests overcome when these are not good ones though you can create a conflict for your peacemakers to overcome here as different people will define what is good here differently.

As with our own world, there are times when a situation is black and white and it is a clear case of wanting the good guys to win through. Mostly though things are often shades of grey (I leave you to decide how many shades of grey there are!) . How do your peacemakers reconcile this to get the best possible outcome for as many as possible? That logically should be the objective here.

When writing a story like this, the need for peacemaking should be clear cut. Why the conflict arose should also be understandable. As in life, people don’t like things that seem to happen for no good reason. We can’t always avoid that in life. We should avoid it in our fiction.


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Making an Impact with Words – and Delia’s Choices

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.
When the news is so grim, and the impact from words can be dreadful, we need stories more than ever, I think.


Facebook – General

Am delighted to share the link to the brand new edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads for March 2022. As ever the magazine is a wonderful mix of articles, photos, puzzles, and, of course, stories.

My column this time is called Random Generators and I share some of those I use regularly as well as share a story I created using one. As ever it was a joy to read the stories submitted on the the theme I used here. I’ll be sharing the topic for next time soon on the MFR Facebook page.

On a separate note, I was thrilled to see someone I know from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School mention they were inspired by some of my 100 word flash pieces for Friday Flash Fiction and then submitted a piece themselves to the Swanwick newsletter.

Flash is great fun to write – and addictive too! There is always the challenge of can I write a story in 100 words, then 50 etc? And you find you’re never afraid of editing again, as thanks to the restricted word count, you do have to develop a robust attitude and not be afraid to wield the red pen.


Screenshot 2022-03-01 at 17-02-46 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine March 2022


One good thing about having the 29th as my slot for More Than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot, is that I get every three Februaries off! Am looking forward to blogging again on there next month.

Now I’ve been planning my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today for a while and this week I’m up to H. My topic is Human Behaviour In Fiction. It’s the kind of topic you could write a treatise about but I’m keeping it to one blog post.

And is it timely with all that is going on in the news? Possibly. It is odd sometimes how something you prepared becomes timely. It can sometimes happen with fiction too. Always sends a shiver down my spine when it happens to me.

Anyway, I’ll be looking at how human behaviour is both reflected in fiction and why it is the cause of fiction. Link up on Friday. Oh and I’ll be sending out my author newsletter tomorrow as well. Went out on 1st March but I share a link to the newsletter further down.

Am thrilled to be back on CafeLit once again with my story Delia’s Choices. This story is a result of the ten minute writing exercise set by #AnnmarieMiles at the last Association of Christian Writers Flash Group Zoom meeting. I set the name thanks to using a random name generator.

Those of us at the meeting all gave this exercise a go and shared the results. There was a lovely range of stories all based on one character called Delia. Writing to a set theme does produce varying results as we all have our individual author voices and those come through especially well when you’re all writing on the same topic. Hope you enjoy my effort here (and do let me know what you think of my Delia).


Screenshot 2022-02-27 at 16-09-25 Delia’s Choices

Many thanks for the comments coming in on Light of the Moon, my latest Friday Flash Fiction tale. Much appreciated.

I’ll be sending out my author newsletter again next week so if you would like to sign up for tips, stories, news etc., do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – would be glad to see you.

A big hello to all who have joined since the last edition and many thanks to all who follow me here and on my website.

Now what is the most important thing about any character, regardless of genre, length of story etc?

For me, they have to be relatable whether these characters are human, animal,some odd alien species or what have you. There has to be something I can identify with (though I don’t necessarily have to agree with the character)


Screenshot 2022-02-25 at 16-16-25 Light of the Moon, by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to get my author newsletter out earlier today. Do take a look (see link at https://mailchi.mp/5955992ab501/allison-symes-march-2022-newsletter-heading-north-again). If you’d like to sign up head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com.

And a big thank you to the lovely comments in on Blue Memories, my latest YouTube story.

Screenshot 2022-03-01 at 20-14-12 Allison Symes - March 2022 - Northward BoundScreenshot 2022-03-01 at 10-10-11 Your Swanwick Newsletter 1st of March 2022




It’s Monday. It’s story time. Hope you enjoy Blue Memories, my new YouTube video. I’ve taken a random object, a blue hanky, and based my tale around it. I’ve done the same for the one I hope will appear on Friday Flash Fiction later in the week. The moods of the two stories are different too. It’s good to mix the moods up and I am relishing getting two ideas out of one randomly generated item.

Flash fiction is the ultimate in the quick read but that doesn’t mean the stories are quick to write. I can get a first draft down in minutes (especially for the 50 to 100 word tales) but the crafting takes much longer. And for me a story isn’t written until it is fully edited and “out there”.

With the limited word count, I am always asking have I really expressed this in the best way possible? Is it better to have extra word count here because it gives more depth to a character and/or moves the story along, and if so (and the answer to this is nearly always yes), what do I cut elsewhere?

Equally do I accept the story is better at 150 words rather than 100? Often the answer to that one is yes too. So all sorts of things come into play when I am putting the final version of the story together and that takes time – as it should do.

What I want is the most powerful story in terms of impact on a reader in the fewest possible words yet to have the best characterisation possible within that limit too. I don’t want much, do I?!


I read flash collections as well as write them, as it is important to read what is in your genre as well as reading widely from outside it. Firstly, it is important to support the industry I am in and, secondly, it helps me to see what is out there in terms of flash and that in turn encourages me to up my game. I also have come to love flash, as you know, so it makes sense to feed that love by reading it.

Advantage to flash is setting characters anywhere

Goodreads Author Blog – Making an Impact with Words

One of the joys of stories and books is when the words flow, you have to keep turning the pages, and the language just hits you “right there” as it is so appropriate for the character or what have you. And the very best authors add words to the language too, Shakespeare being the obvious one there. There is more than one way to make an impact with words then – have some of your invented ones make it into the dictionaries!

As a flash fiction writer, with a maximum word count of 1000 words per story, I have to make an impact with words quickly. So anything that doesn’t add to my characterisation or moves the plot along gets cut out.

The joy of the novel is having a wonderful reading experience and looking back at that – reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time was a fantastic experience once I had finished the book. It was only by finishing it I could really appreciate the depth and scale of the work. For the short story and flash fiction formats, you get the “pay back” of impact that much quicker.

But the joy of reading widely, in whatever form or genre, is you take in words and their impact and you can learn from how other authors do this to improve your own works so other readers get the impact from your stories, your words.

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