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. Photo below taken by Adrian Symes (though Lady still has work to do on her literary appreciation techniques!). Hope you had a good weekend and an equally good start to the working week. Lady is in good spirits as she has met up with her favourite dog pals this week already.
Facebook – General
For Chandler’s Ford Today this week, I’ll be looking at Writing Techniques in Fiction. Now that could cover several books but I’ll be taking a brief overview at things like show, don’t tell and speech tags amongst other things. It took me a while to get my head around the show, don’t tell one. Writing flash fiction helped me enormously there (and of course still does). Link up on Friday. (I think I’ve found a topic for the letter X but I’ll post on that next week!).
Am looking forward to resuming author interviews on CFT again later in the summer. More details nearer the time.
Will be off on another CFT works outing with my lovely editor, Janet Williams, when we go to see The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest production Hoovering the Edge, which we’ll be seeing later this month.
Hope you have had a good start to the working week. I wrote two flash pieces over the weekend which have specific times in them. Yes, there is such as thing as a random clock time generator! I’ll be sharing one of these on my Facebook book page (From Light to Dark and Back Again) shortly with the YouTube link. See further down. I hope to share the other one later on in the week. Good fun to do this. And as with all of the generators I use, you can set the parameters that suit you. Will be using this one again at some point.
What is it about a book or short story or piece of flash fiction that grabs you? As you know, for me it is always the character. I have to find out what they’re doing/going to do. What is it about non-fiction that grabs you given you don’t have a character as such? For me it is the narrative voice and a good opening hook. Questions are useful here as you know by the end of the piece some sort of answer has to be given and that is what keeps you reading. You don’t necessarily need to agree with the answer!
I’m a big fan of reading blogs as well as writing them and what I love most is the way you have a “compact” article in 500 words or so. Great way to take in useful information and tips quickly. For my CFT posts, I see these more as articles given I aim for 1000 to 1500 words a time (as any longer than that, it becomes a two or three part series. Beyond this word count it works better as a series and you can hopefully hook readers into wanting to read Part 2 etc).
If you want a great read, why not download the latest issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads? You will find a great range of articles, including my monthly flash fiction column. This time I talk about Flexibility in Flash Fiction.
I discuss why flash is flexible with regard to word count (bar the the upper limit of 1000 of course), genre, and the use of first and third person. I’ve taken advantage of all of those things and created a wide range of stories as a result. You can too.
Best of all, the magazine is free! Time to put your feet up then, have a good read and have a decent beverage to hand I think. (For me that will always be tea!).
And check out the stories which came in as a result of my flash challenge – great tales all of them but don’t just take my word for it. Go on, it really is time for a read!
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I sometimes write all dialogue flash stories which are fun to do. I love getting my characters to talk so this is a good format for me. I limit these stories to two characters only and I find most of my stories of this kind come in at the 200 words or under mark. The challenge here is to ensure the dialogue does tell a story and keeps the reader hooked. It can’t just be conversation for the sake of it.
The secret here is to have two strong characters with distinctive voices. Getting them to use certain types of words here can be a great way to tell them apart – one can use slang terms, the other doesn’t. One has a posher sounding name than the other (and I repeat names every so often as well).
Give it a go and have fun with it. You will find out quickly if your characters are strong enough to carry a tale of this type. If not then the conversation will fizzle out and there will be no story. If they are strong enough, you’ll have no trouble sharing their story in conversation.
A classic way in is to have one character want something and the other is stopping them but the conflict here still needs to be resolved via the dialogue only. So it would probably pay you to work out how that could be done first, then work out what leads up to it. The classic writing from B to A again which I use for twist and humorous endings too.
It’s Monday once again and time for another story. Hope you like my latest on YouTube. This one, called Deterrent, is based on clock times generated by a random clock time generator. Yes, really. Hope you enjoy it.
Flash fiction is a great format for those humorous pieces which stand alone well (but would not work if used to pad out a longer story. It would either seem like padding or would get “lost” in the overall story). My A Stitch in Time from Tripping the Flash Fantastic is an example of that.
This is another reason to love flash. It gives a vehicle for those tales which might not otherwise be told. For Open Prose Mic Nights, I like to have at least a couple of these funnier pieces in amongst the more serious stories. That in turn shows the range for flash – it can be funny, it can be tragic etc.
Whatever type of flash you write though, you do need to be able to get into your characters’ heads. Otherwise the reader won’t either. And it is the characters that readers want to find out about, whose story they want to read. You are your own first reader.
I like to keep an Ideal Reader in mind when I am going through my stories and to think about how this story would appeal, what would my Ideal Reader be likely to say to me about beefing it up where it is needed and so on. Having your audience in mind from the start has helped me not to go off on unhelpful tangents, which would only get cut out later anyway.
For the funnier tales, I have a fairly broad sense of humour so I try to aim my humorous tales to appeal to that kind of audience, someone like me with that kind of taste.
Many thank for all the comments coming on on The Big Day, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Much appreciated. This tale came about as a result of my deciding to write a story centred around an anniversary or a birthday. I knew cake had to be involved!
I also mentioned about a week or so ago that birthdays, anniversaries and the like can make a great structure for stories. Something happens at these events. You can also look at how your characters react to them, whether the events go well or not, and so on. Anyway, I took my own advice here!
Goodreads Author Blog – Story Collections
One of the earliest books I had (and still have) are the Reader’s Digest Fairytale collections. These are two huge books full of the classic tales by Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christen Andersen, and so on. You don’t want to drop these books on your foot is what I am saying here!
I spent hours as a kid looking at the wonderful colour illustrations and later reading and re-reading the tales. I loved The Snow Queen. For the first time I came across a girl as the heroine, the one doing the “derring-do”, and I loved that (and still do).
What I deeply appreciate here is the way people collected these old tales so we still have them now. Invaluable. I also appreciate it from the viewpoint that short stories are worth collecting – they so are!
My late mother collected the works of Dickens, I collected the works of Agatha Christie. Both Mum and I used a book club for these. (Mine was via Odhams Publishers but they set up an Agatha Christie collection kind of club and naturally I wanted the lot. Never regretted getting those).
What story collections do you treasure and why?
liked Allison Symes's blog post: Story Collections https://t.co/mF35FrLuI8 via @goodreads I look at story collections, including the collections of classic fairytales I had as a kid and still own, for this week's Goodreads post. Which collections do you treasure and why? pic.twitter.com/hEdE68vKSH— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) July 2, 2022
It’s Monday once again and time for another story. Hope you like my latest on YouTube. This one, called Deterrent, is based on clock times generated by a random clock time generator. Yes, really. Hope you enjoy it.https://t.co/QiJMOb4ftw— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) July 4, 2022