Writing Pitfalls

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Lady and I spent most of the week failing to duck the rain clouds but she did get to play with several of her friends. Am looking forward to running a workshop soon. Will be good to be out and about, writing wise, again.

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Glad to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I talk about Writing Pitfalls. I talk about rejections and con artists, writing, editing and stamina (all three things are crucial for writers), support networks, and competitions and trying again, amongst other items here. Hope you find the post useful.

Writing Pitfalls

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Questions make a great way into a story. For example, there is a great cartoon doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment where the punchline is a question – why are you here?

Now your story could be about a character who answers that question for themselves or for someone close to them. It could be an excellent title. I would want to know who the “you” is here and why this question would be asked of them in the first place. It could be a story about a character reacting badly to that question.

Maybe it is something which has haunted them and they decide to find their own place in the world to prove if only to themselves they have every right to be where they are. I hope to write something up on this question in due course myself but it’s a great open question to play with here, I think.

May be an image of ocean and text that says "Questions are a great hook A reader knows they have to be answered. Only way to find out how is to read the piece."

Lady had an excellent day today. Got to play with all of her girlfriends – it was a fab “puppy party”. We managed to avoid most of the wet weather today as well so consider that a win. Looking forward to sharing Writing Pitfalls, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up on Friday. See above.

Also looking forward to seeing the Chameleon Theatre Group put on their new show – Pinocchio – later this month. Oh yes I am! (Can’t help but wonder what topical gags will end up in that though – will find out in due course!).

Writing Tip: Every so often look up some of your earlier writing pieces. I do this and I can see why I wrote the pieces in the way I did at the time. I can also see what I would do now to “tighten” those pieces up further. This is a good thing. It brings home how much you’ve learned over the intervening time and I find this encourages me to keep on going and to keep on learning.

May be an image of text that says "Top Tips!"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s lovely to be back on Friday Flash Fiction. This time I share an acrostic story, Friends. Hope you enjoy it. (I find acrostics work best for shortish words).

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison SymesI’ll be looking at Writing Pitfalls for Chandler’s Ford Today this week (an overview). Link up tomorrow. See further up.

Pitfalls about writing flash fiction? Well, one is when you swear you’ve got the perfect 100 word story for a competition and find your tale really does need to be at 300 words!

If you find your story would lose something (characterisation, a good telling detail etc) if you were to cut your story back further, then leave it as it is and write another 100 word story instead. Part of the art of flash fiction is in knowing when to leave well alone and in knowing what must be in your tale. When you’ve got to that point, your story is done. You worry about the word count later.

May be an image of text that says "Flash fiction illuminates briefly it is a great form for a lighthearted piece. These often work best when kept short."

When I run flash workshops, I will often read a couple of my stories out and then break down how I wrote them. I’ve come across this technique in various author interviews I’ve read/listened to and always find it helpful. Having an outline (even if sometimes it is just a line or two) helps me to remember why I’m writing the story in the way I am and I find that useful too. It is too easy to go off at a tangent – have done this and where you’ve got a strict word count, you do have to focus.

Outlining makes me do that but it also gives me enough of a break down of my tale to be able to share when I want to share writing advice. And with flash stories, this can be done quickly. At events, I’m often asked what flash is and reading some out is a perfect demonstration. I often read stories out at home to ensure dialogue flows as well as I think it does etc. This is all useful “stuff”.

May be an image of text that says "workshop Writing workshops are great fun and Sơ much can be learned from them. Preparation is key- and not just for the speaker!"

Fairytales With Bite – Openings

How can you make use of openings in your magical settings? Well other than the famous starting line Once upon a time… there are other ways of doing this.

Think about openings for the beings who populate your world. As well as training schools for magical beings, what job opportunities await them? How do they work their way up the ladder? If your world keeps itself to itself, can openings be found to initiate dialogue with neighbouring worlds? Who would see the usefulness of being able to do this and “break the mould”?

If your setting covers up part of its history, what would persuade it that it would be better to “open up” and face the fact no world is perfect? Also have changes come into your setting since that history and are these positive or negative?

Even where characters and/or the setting itself is prepared to open up, there will be those who oppose that. Who are these people, what can they do to prevent such opening up happening, and how are they dealt with by those who see the necessity to be more open?

Opening can represent changes and not everyone welcomes those, sometimes for good reasons, other times definitely not. So how could you make use of the theme of opening in your stories? There are ideas to be explored here.

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This World and Others – Networking

When I was starting out as a writer, the thought of networking used to terrify me. It was only when I realised all it meant was talking about something I love (writing and books) with others who appreciated talking about such things I realised it wasn’t something to be worried about. Also when I realised writers have the perfect way into starting conversation (”what do you write?”), I lost my fear. I knew I had something to ask the person opposite me and it would get a chat going. And so it has proved!

How would networking occur in your fictional setting? Is it encouraged or not? Are there rules so you can only mix with certain groups? What kind of technology is available and how is that used for networking? Is networking only saved for, say, the creative arts sector?

What kind of colloborations occur as a result of networking? How does networking benefit your individual characters? Also think in terms of personal development as well s financial benefit here. Could a shy person, for example become less shy thanks to the right kind of networking for them?

Does your world network with neighbouring ones and how well does that work or otherwise? Does your setting have the equivalent of an “entente cordiale”?

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