Breaks (and, aptly, A Quick Sandwich)

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. Hope you have had a good week. Am off to lovely Northumberland for a few days shortly. Hope to post as normal but that will be time and internet connection dependent! Loved it here when I went before, as did Lady, and autumn is a lovely time to go, funnily enough. Beautiful colours.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s Friday once again and time to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This time I look at Breaks.

I look at this from the viewpoint of characters needing breaks too. A story which is all action with no gaps for characters (yet alone readers) to take stock and work out what to do next is (a) a bit too relentless and (b) risks your characters coming across as cardboard cut outs.

We all need time to work out what to do next when faced with a dilemma so a character not doing that will come across as being unrealistic. The trick though is to ensure the “break” is an interesting one and still engages the reader.

I share some thoughts on that here and look at breaks in shorter forms of fiction too. Hope you find it useful.


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Lady got to play with her best buddies, a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback and a Hungarian Vizler, and all three dogs went home tired and happy – job done! Busy packing for my break – naturally Lady’s case gets done first. Must not forget the toys!

Breaks will be up on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. See above. I look at how characters need breaks to work out what they’ll do next but the trick is to ensure these breaks are interesting enough to keep the reader hooked. I also look at breaks in shorter fiction and ask if there is such as thing as a lucky break for writers.

Now what fascinates you most about characters? I like to find out what mine can do when push comes to shove and those characters who are not so obviously likeable – well, could there be redeeming features in there somewhere?

I love poetic justice stories (which comes from my love of fairytales) but also tales where someone redeems themselves or is helped to become a better person in some way (my faith has an influence there – redemption or the possibility of it matters to me).

So naturally that comes out in my characters most of the time. Note I say most of the time. I do come up with characters I would loathe to meet in real life. It can be an interesting challenge to write their stories up as I still have to understand where they’re coming from to do them and the tale justice.

Why write those? Sometimes it is to see if (a) I can do it and (b) to explore a different perspective.

This is why you should never judge an author by their characters. Many of us will have characters we don’t like much!


Windy, wild, and the acorns are flying off my oaks. Suspect there will be some busy squirrels tomorrow gathering them all up. Suspect there will be some excited dogs including Lady wanting to chase the squirrels. I’ve heard a squirrel’s cry. It is quite harsh. I wonder if they’re swearing at the dogs in squirrel language? Could be!

I’m looking at Breaks for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up on Friday. Again see above. This was an interesting topic to write about as it made me think about why we do need breaks for our characters but still need to be able to keep our readers engaged with the story.

I’m busy wrapping up some blogs for later on in the month as I want to get those scheduled before I head to Northumberland. Scheduling is useful and I sometimes use it for tweets too. I will often draft blogs for different places well in advance of my due date and have found this pays. Nearly always there will be something I would like to change or add to before I schedule and that’s fine. I’ve given myself the time to do that.

Do you plan your writing time? I’ve found it useful because there are certain days of the week when I know I can’t write much but I always feel better if I get something done. So I use those times for smaller pieces of work yet have still been creative and productive. That matters to me.

May be an image of text that says "? Give yourself plenty of thinking time. Is your chosen topic giving you plenty of different angles to use to write to?"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday storytime once again. On Friday Flash Fiction this time is my drabble called A Quick Sandwich. Hope you enjoy it (the story that is and, if you’re having a quick sandwich yourself as you read this, that too!).
Screenshot 2022-10-07 at 08-58-14 A Quick Sandwich by Allison Symes

Ideas for stories can come from all sorts of places but for me, sometimes it is an image from a film I’ve seen that is the trigger for a new flash piece.

My Where The Wild Wind Blows from Tripping the Flash Fantastic is an example of that. The film influence here is The Wizard of Oz where the farmhouse crashes on the witch. So even odd scenes can be used to trigger flash fiction ideas. I don’t want to say a lot in these tales which is why flash is the perfect format for them.

So think about scenes which have stayed with you. Any possibilities of a flash tale told from the viewpoint of an alternative viewpoint looking on the scene with interest? Someone whose voice has not been heard?

You can have a lot of fun here – good luck!

Tripping The Flash Fantastic - by night

Sometimes I draft titles to use later on – it is a good use of those small pockets of time when you know you can’t get much done. It also means when I do have longer at my desk, I’ve got something to work up into stories. I find a good title can be a creative spark in and of itself in that I then need to think of the characters and plot line that can do it justice.

And it’s a good warm up writing exercise too – five minutes jotting down title ideas. They don’t have to be perfect. Nothing is on a first draft. But it’s a great way to get you stared on something and I find having the titles encourages lateral thinking. I am literally thinking now what can I do with this? I want to avoid the obvious so I dig deeper and I’m on my way to something which will be unique but fits the title. For competitions, this is invaluable. Judges like stories that stand out.

May be an image of text that says "LA ? Questions are useful for themes and titles."

Fairytales with Bite – Misfire Acrostic


M = My, that wand is on the blink again.
I = I only got it serviced last week.
S = Said it was fine for its age but was that wizard referring to my wand or to me?
F = For goodness sake, that wand has gone and blown up my daffodils.
I = I wouldn’t have minded that so much if it had taken out those dratted weeds as well.
R = Right, that’s it, I’m off to the shops and trading this thing in.
E = Except… except it has conjured up a perfect cream tea…hmm… maybe I’ve been hasty, I’ll go to the shops tomorrow.

Allison Symes
5th October 2022

Hope you enjoyed that. Acrostics are fun to do with flash fiction. Best for when the word you use is relatively short. (Can make an interesting writing exercise – why not give it a go and you can always use a random word generator to come up with the word itself to write to).

I also love acrostics like this for amusing little scenes of everyday magical folk like my annoyed fairy godmother character narrating the above.

This World and Others – Service Engineers

The above acrostic made me wonder about those unsung heroes or villains, the service engineers. Someone has to service the magical equipment out there.

Why call them villains? Well, I am a little biased here given I had one not turn up on me. Would that happen in your fictional world? What would the consequences be, especially in a magical setting?

And what could go wrong with the magical equipment? I suspect my story wand above simply had a mind of its own. Not sure any service engineer could sort that one out but what could they do?
Is their profession highly regarded or are they considered to be the lowest of the low – those magical beings who didn’t have the talent to do something better?

And what would happen to your lead character whose wand or other equipment did give out at a critical moment? How could they recover their position?

I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of their service engineer the moment they got back to the shop to complain but that could make for a fun story (albeit probably not from the engineer’s viewpoint!).


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