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.
Another glorious week here and Lady has got to play with her best girlfriends (and her gentleman friend, a smashing Aussie Shepherd) so all is right with her world. Writing wise, I have got some smashing author interviews coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today, the first of which will be next week (9th June). So looking forward to sharing these. I always learn something from author interviews and it is a pleasure and privilege to conduct some!
Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today
Pleased to share To Outline or Not to Outline for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I share thoughts on what I find useful about outlining and also how you don’t need to plan out everything. Hope you find the post useful. Suitable for planners and pantsers!
To Outline or Not To Outline
Hope you have had a good day. Lady got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback pal today and to show off again in front of her Hungarian Vizler buddy. Lady has had a fab day! Mine has not been bad either – I loved my swim earlier today.
Also got my author newsletter out (do see link).
Pleased to say I’ll be running a workshop again in early July and am looking forward to that.
Writing going well, lots to get on with, which is how I like it. Hope to be sending in a competition entry next week and I’ve another draft to work on too.
Plus there will be author interviews again soon on CFT as I mentioned yesterday. Love doing those and it is a great pleasure to share them.
Looking forward to sharing To Outline or Not To Outline on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. (See above). The good news here is an outline can be what you want it to be. I just need enough to get me started on a piece. More on this later in the week.
Author newsletter out tomorrow. Author interview coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today on 9th June. More details nearer the time.
Making good progress on a draft of a story for a competition. I hope to be submitting this sometime next week. And I’ve come across another competition I’d like to have a go at so that gives the old brain box something to be thinking about.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Telling It As It Is is my latest flash fiction piece on Friday Flash Fiction. My character, Sarah, lives up to the title but… well see for yourself via the link. (A huge thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on this one already).
I’ve written flash stories as diary entries before now. (Losing Myself in Tripping the Flash Fantastic). I find I need to use towards the upper word count (1000 words) for these as I want to give a good selection of “entries”.
The other fun I have with this kind of story is being able to get the diary “writer” not to just reveal their story but what they think about other characters who they’re involved with. Well, diaries are often of a confessional nature, yes?!
With my story, I gave some thought about how many entries there were to be, over what time span, and how the diary would end. I knew there would be a twist at the end and I then worked out how to get to that point logically. I then filled in the “gaps”! Great fun to do and something I must have another go at some point.
It was fun inventing the character and their diary entries. For one thing, I had to think about why they might want to write something down for someone else to deliberately see which was the hub of this particular tale.
There is an offer on From Light to Dark and Back Again at the moment on Amazon. See the link to my Author Central page for more.
In both of my collections, I mix up the word counts of the stories so there are some at the 100 words count, others at 250, still others at 500, and some at the 750 to 1000 range. As with the mood of story varying, I did this deliberately. This is to try to give a good idea of what flash can do and be.
Also some stories genuinely work better at the upper end of the count. Others are best being “punchy” and kept to under 300 words.
Fairytales with Bite – Character Planning
Whether I write my fairytales with bite or other kinds of flash fiction/short story, I’ve found planning my characters to be so helpful. If I can picture them, so will readers and that is the point. What do I mean by “picture them”? Simply that if these characters could become real somehow, they would be believable. Readers should be able to imagine them being able to exist too.
Some writers need to know what their characters look like. For me that’s not so important. I like to know their attitudes, their main traits as so many things can come from those. For one thing traits have a direct impact on likely behaviour.
When I am writing about characters with magical abilities, I like to work out what they can do and what they can’t. I also like to know if they can improve their skills. While tales about magical schools have been done (!), they will continue to be done. It is what you can bring to the mix that will make your tale stand out (and it would have to stand out given the illustrious predecessors here).
If a character can improve their skills, I could write up stories about how they do so, their failures, their successes etc.
If they can’t, I’d want to look at why this is and what is getting in their way. Can they overcome the “system” to get the chance to improve their skills?
As for what magic they can do, there are story ideas on working out how the character uses these.
I would want some limitations on magical ability so the character has to use other methods to achieve their objectives. A wand getting someone out of trouble all the time isn’t going to keep the reader’s interest. It is what a character does when that isn’t an option which will grab attention and hopefully hold that attention.
This World and Others – Impact of Your Setting
Setting can sometimes act like a character in its own right. Think about The Hound of the Baskervilles, Wuthering Heights, anything by Dickens. You can’t imagine those stories being set anywhere else, right?
So think about why you have chosen the setting you have and how your characters manage within it. They don’t necessarily need to manage well. The setting can act as an obstacle.
Can your readers visualize your setting? What do they have to know about it to be able to picture it? Again, as with characters mentioned in Fairytales with Bite, I believe planning is necessary especially if you’re hoping for a series of books.
Planning things out will give you confidence in what you write. You know how the government works, you know how people are employed, you know how technology works, if there is any,. A lot of that won’t appear in your stories but you need to know it to be able to convey what you do need to show your readers. That includes the setting and an industrial society will look very different from a non-industrial one, just to name one example.
Think about whether your setting is prone to natural disasters and how that would be something your characters have to learn to cope with. But again a reader will need to know early on that natural disasters are possible within your environment, otherwise it will look like coincidence.
Think about what you need to know. From there you can work out what the readers needs to know.
AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL – ALLISON SYMES
Telling It As It Is, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction https://t.co/qdDDb0uS96 This is my latest flash fiction piece on FFF. My character, Sarah, lives up to the title but… see for yourself via the link. (A huge thanks for the fab comments coming in on this one already), pic.twitter.com/zo7XguWIvV— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 2, 2023
To Outline or Not To Outline https://t.co/H1HtJgfuJb Pleased to share my new post on CFT. I share what I find useful about outlining and how you don’t need to plan out everything. Post suitable for planners and pantsers! Hope you find it useful.https://t.co/H1HtJgfuJb— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 2, 2023