LIKES, DISLIKES AND SIGNS OF SUCCESS

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is the first part in a new mini-series by me called 101 Things to Put into Room 101. I cover 15 items in this post. See what you think – do you agree? What would you put into the dreaded vault of doom? Funny answers particularly appreciated!

The post was great fun to write and I’m looking forward to writing the rest of the series.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

We all have our likes and dislikes but what are your characters’ choices here? What is behind their likes and dislikes? Were they forced to accept (for example) a food choice and then the moment they were “free” rejected it? Have they taken a like or dislike to something because their people expect them to or, again, are they rebelling against that expectation?

All characters need to have strong motivations for their actions but this can also apply to their likes and dislikes too. After all, it will be those traits that will directly influence their action. Most people loathe injustice, for example, but that loathing will be intensified if they have ever been the victims of it, or know others who have been. Their dislike has been “focused” by what they have experienced.

Facebook – Cafelit and Chapeltown

Many thanks to Gill James for sharing this post on Facebook!

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Paula Readman, Dawn Kentish Knox and Allison Symes and books - with kind permission from Paula Readman

Paula Readman, Dawn Kentish Knox and I celebrate where our stories have appeared! Many thanks to Paula Readman for the picture.!

Lovely having an appreciative audience, pic taken by Dawn Kentish Knox

I read three stories from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for the picture!

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Gill reads from January Stones. Image by Allison Symes

Gill talks with Dawn and I at the BH event, image taken by Paula Readman

Gill talks with Dawn Kentish Knox and me. Image thanks to Paula Readman.

Fairytales With Bite – Character Likes and Dislikes

What are your characters’ likes and dislikes?  This topic has come up as I’ve started a new series for Chandler’s Ford Today called 101 Things to Put into Room 101 (the latter is, of course, based on George Orwell’s 1984).  Now I know the reasons behind my 101 things (which I’ll share over about 6 to 7 weeks) but what are the reasons behind your characters’ choices here?

Also listing said likes and dislikes can help enormously when outlining.  You should get a much clearer picture of who your characters are and what really drives them in just listing these things.  In the magical world, there is generally a massive dislike of human interference (which is understandable.  What we would do with such powers, given what we have done to our own planet and indeed to each other especially in times of war, is something that could be the stuff of nightmares).  In your created worlds, what are the common things most people/alien beings/even dodgy wizards like/dislike?  How was this consensus reached or was it forced on people?

Even relatively trivial likes and dislikes can tell you something about a character.  A character who loathes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage but can eat sweetcorn all day long if allowed to do so shows someone who can be picky (and who clearly has a problem with members of the brassica family!).  This could be exploited for comic effect or be used against them.  (An enemy poisons the sweetcorn supply possibly!).

This World and Others – Signs of Success?

One obvious sign of success for a writer is when their words pass into the language and become well known sayings.  Shakespeare is the obvious candidate for highest success rate here, though George Orwell must be unusual in that his Big Brother and Room 101 have been used to form the basis of TV shows here in the UK! How many writers can claim that achievement?  (Mind, what he would make of it is quite another matter, especially for Big Brother.  Room 101 has the saving grace of being funny).

I’ve started a new mini-series for Chandler’s Ford Today called 101 Things to Put Into Room 101 and I’m looking forward to writing the other posts to complete this over the next few weeks or so.  But it led me to think about what success would mean for a writer.

I think for Orwell it would be a question of getting his message about the evils of totalitarianism across well (as he does in Animal Farm as well as 1984).  I also think for most writers it would be a question of writing to the best of your ability and being published.  (Anything after that is a bonus!).

But what would your characters say were the important signs of success as far as they were concerned?  What is getting in their way of achieving that success?  Will they strive for that success at no matter what cost to themselves or to others?  What is the price they pay should they manage to achieve their goals?

Plenty of food for thought for story ideas there, I think.  Happy writing!

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Plans and Mini-Series

Facebook – General

Happily enjoying some of the latest Chapeltown publications on Kindle. That is the great thing with flash fiction – it is so easy to read on a screen (no matter the size of the screen!).

Am also drafting some challenging opening lines that I hope to create stories from soon. Sometimes this challenge leads to a longer story than expected (but that can always go to a short story – 1500 words+ – collection in due course).

I’d like to enter more competitions this year too as doing that is always good practice for writing to a deadline and if you are lucky enough to be shortlisted or win, then that does look so good on the old writing CV. You feel pretty good about it too!

One of the nicest things about writing is when you are well “into” it and enjoying what you are coming up with. You are your own first audience. If you don’t enjoy what you write, why should anyone else? Later, trusted readers who can tell you what does and doesn’t work are invaluable.

Happy writing!

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Facebook – General

One great thing about writing is it does give you a much deeper appreciation for the works of other writers, especially the classics. For a work to stand the test of time, it really does have to have something special about it, but it is highly unlikely the author concerned set out to achieve that. They would’ve wanted to write a good, entertaining story, for it to be published (and ideally sell in vast quantities too!).

I think you gain a deeper appreciation of the work that went into creating the story in question. I know I’ve learned that if someone makes something look easy (and that includes writing which is easy to read), I can bet that same someone has worked very hard for years to get to that point.

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Facebook – General

I’m starting a new mini-series on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Friday’s post will be part 1 of my 101 Things to Put in Room 101 so this new series will keep me out of mischief for a bit then…

Link to go up tomorrow. Had great fun writing Part 1 so am really looking forward to getting on with Part 2!

I don’t know how many writers manage to achieve the accolade of having parts of their best-known work turned into TV programmes but Orwell is one of the few. What he would have made of Room 101 I don’t know (it can be very funny, sometimes thought provoking) but I suspect there might have been some scathing comments about Big Brother! (And I could always add some of my own there!).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

How easy is it to find the right title for your book? Answer: not very!

I used the mood of the stories to get to the title for mine but the title for the one I’ve not long submitted was more difficult to reach. In the end, I picked the title from one of the stories that I liked best and went with that. Am I expecting changes to my MSS? You bet!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I know “luvvies” get their fair share of being mocked but the famous question attributed to them, “what is my motivation in this, darling?” is a great one for writers to ask of their characters.

Any character without a suitably strong motivation should be cut out. The good thing on that is their role might be a minor one but if it is pivotal to the outcome of a sub-plot, which in turn affects the way the main plot turns out, then that is good enough to justify that character and minor role remaining.

Motivations should be something the reader can understand, if not necessarily agree with. The main characters should, of course, have the most powerful motivations of all given they have the most to lose or gain.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I often use proverbs or well-known sayings and then see what I can do with them to create my stories. Flash fiction in itself is the very definition of “less is more” after all!

Sayings are a useful source of themes and can sometimes give you ideas for character motivation. (For example, revenge is sweet could lead you to work out why your characters would want to make that saying come true for them. You’d need to work out backstory here – who they want revenge against and why? How do they make revenge sweet? Does it work or backfire spectacularly?).

What sayings would you choose to use for a theme? (The great thing is you could base an entire collection around a well-chosen theme. We’re never going to run out of love stories in the grand scheme of things but there is always room for the well-written one that takes a different slant on it. Okay the problem after that is finding the right home for it but at least you know every writer faces that dilemma and it definitely isn’t anything personal).

Creative writing takes many forms, including blogging. Image via Pixabay.

Creative writing takes many forms, including blogging. Image via Pixabay.

What a library! Image via Pixabay.

What a library! Image via Pixabay.

I could spend many a happy hour here - the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.

I could spend many a happy hour here – the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.

The magical world of the imagination. Image via Pixabay

The magical world of the imagination. Image via Pixabay

A way into the magical realm, perhaps? Image via Pixabay.

The way to the magical realm perhaps? Image via Pixabay.

The perfect way to unwind. Image via Pixabay.

The perfect way to unwind. Image via Pixabay.