Short Form Writing

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many adapted via Book Brush to add on captions. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as are the photos from Swanwick in previous years. Looking forward to taking more photos of that lovely place this year!
Very hot again here in my part of the world but Lady is keeping cool. Probably doing a better job of that than I am right now! Off to my annual treat at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School tomorrow (13th August). So looking forward to it. Hope you are enjoying your writing. Getting together with fellow writers is always great fun!


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post which is all about something I adore – Short Form Writing. I look at the advantages and disadvantages of the short form and discuss working out which would work best for you. Do bear in mind the answer to that could well be both of them! I also look at how learning to write to a lower word count could help novel writers too. Hope you find the post useful.

Short Form Writing

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Two days to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School – hooray! Lady will be spoilt rotten while I’m away and mug me like crazy when I get back. It is what usually happens.

Writing Tips In Hot Weather: Do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up. Drink plenty of water. Keep water away from PC! Talking of which, keep your PC as cool as possible too (but definitely without the aid of water!). I have one of these wooden mounts for mine which comes in with a built in fan (and it is raised at the right level of me to work at so air gets in underneath as well).

My Short Form Writing post will be up on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. See link above.

Am happily progressing with my third flash fiction collection. And I hope one of the courses I hope to get to at Swanwick will also help me with a longer term project I’ve got on the back burner at the moment.


Phew, another hot day. Lady has spent a lot of it indoors, keeping cool. As have I. Hope you have too. Completed packing for Swanwick. That’s always a pleasurable task. Do need to pack up my laptop on Friday given I’m using it for a workshop but at least the rest is done.

Don’t forget my Chandler’s Ford Today post about Short Form Writing will be up on Friday. See above. Comments would be especially welcome from flash fiction and short story writers, also not forgetting those who write the non-fiction short pieces and fillers. Let’s celebrate the short forms of writing (especially as they often get people into reading and writing longer pieces. Nobody starts off with War and Peace for reading and/or writing after all).

I plan to post as usual while at Swanwick but times will vary. Am hoping to write up a piece for CFT on this year’s Swanwick in due course. Next big trip for me is likely to be the Bridge House Publishing event but that’s not until December. How quickly the time goes! Still at least it will be cooler by then! Meanwhile time to air this image again as it is still true!


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the comments in already on my latest tale for Friday Flash FictionNot Wanted. I use an unusual character viewpoint for this one – and the story is loosely based on truth too! Hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2022-08-12 at 09-10-05 Not Wanted by Allison Symes

One advantage of writing short form fiction is when the weather is hot as it is for so many of us right now, if you don’t feel like writing so much, you will probably still get enough done to make good headway on a story or piece of flash fiction. Harder to say that with a novel (though it can help there to think of it as progress on scenes you will need).

Mind you, I am not enjoying peeling myself of my chair at the moment. Added reason to take regular breaks from the screen I suppose. Not quite so much peeling to be done after a short session sat down as opposed to a longer one!

I’ll be talking about Short Form Writing for Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow so naturally I sing the praises of flash fiction as part of that. Comments are always welcome over on the CFT page. Link up tomorrow. See above.


Sometimes I deliberately don’t name a character. What I want you to know about them is their attitude to life and a name wouldn’t particularly add anything to how a reader would react to my character.

In my Enough Is Enough tale from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I have a character struggling with their weight. A lot of us will sympathise here. But it is the sympathy I wanted to draw out as a reaction from the reader. I also wanted to show what my character did and hopefully to have a reader rooting for them. Again didn’t particularly need the name there.

Where I do need a name is when I want to show age and/or indicate social status. I did do this in my Being Yourself where my character is a librarian. The name Jane Stephens came immediately to mind for this character. It’s apt, it should give readers a reasonable idea of what my character is likely to look like, and ties in with the job.

Two stories, one book, two approaches to naming or not but both appropriate to the stories.

Names can be used to indicate likely social background

Fairytales with Bite – Turning the Tables

T = Twists abound in the fairytale world.
U = Understand all is not as it might appear.
R = Reclusive characters are often more powerful than you might think.
N = Never challenge someone unless you are sure of your ground – being sure and being over-confident are not the same thing.
I = Intelligence and the capacity for revenge may well be hidden behind that withered face you despise.
N = Never assume age means loss of capacity – skills often improve with age.
G = Go softly through the fairytale world – you’re less likely to upset someone powerful that way.

T = Take time for find out about the world you’re visiting.
H = History repeats itself here too – and you can learn so much with some careful research.
E = Endings are rarely positive for the bossy, the boastful, and the arrogant.

T = That wizened old woman or man are likely to be powerful beings in disguise.
A = Arrogant attitudes are what they cut down to size.
B = By transformations you definitely won’t like.
L = Love may prove the key to setting you free but you will have to wait for this.
E = Easier not to get into trouble in the first place.
S = Save it would stop tales like Beauty and the Beast in its tracks, I suppose; but have no doubt, tables can be turned on you very quickly here if you upset the wrong kind. If you’re arrogant, you won’t even spot them until it is too late.

Allison Symes – 10th August 2022


This World and Others – Impact of Geography

Do you use your world’s geography in your story at all? How does its climate, terrain etc help or hinder your characters as they get on and do what needs to be done – or try to anyway?

This doesn’t just have to be for the quest tales. A simple trip to get advice from someone can cause a character no end of trouble if they have to cope with magically changing terrain, unexpected weather conditions and so on. What extra planning does your character have to do to allow for all of that? Does slowing down things to ensure they get the planning right make a difference to their success?

Wherever your characters live, geography (and how it changes) impacts everyone. How could you use that to add extra tension and drama to your story? Also cli-fi fiction (climate change fiction) is taking off – and is likely to keep doing so. Could you use changes in your fictional world to reflect on what is going on right here on our own planet?

How are trees, wildlife, weather patterns similar to what we have or are they something we could not know here on Earth? If you have a country made completely from sand, for example, you will need several ways to show how your characters survive in that kind of terrain.

Equally you could have another country which needs sand for its building materials so how could these two countries come to an arrangement or do they fight each other for possession of the sand?

Geography matters. It can trigger story ideas too.


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