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.
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.
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!
Facebook – 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?
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.
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.
Cherryade – What Not To Do, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction https://t.co/1m3EitlymI Am pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with this acrostic flash piece. It is loosely based on fact! Hope you enjoy it. pic.twitter.com/Fquh4IJlkj— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) March 11, 2022
Imagery In Fiction https://t.co/Dg2BU7RfT7 I look at how writers "paint images" with words, how I make use of this in flash fiction, and the role of book covers in my latest post in the In Fiction series for Chandler's Ford Today. Hope you enjoy it. pic.twitter.com/usVXwDxgJj— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) March 11, 2022