Characterisation Tips and Happy Hour

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. (Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay pictures).

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Screenshot from ALCS website taken by me for purposes of highlighting their work.

What kind of a week have you had? Interesting one here. I share my latest ACW blog about Characterisation Tips and a new story video, Happy Hour. The latter is one of those where I don’t want to meet the character and I invented them! Ho hum… More below.

CHARACTERISATION - Outlining is a good idea

Facebook – General

Really nice day weather wise today. Lady got to play with a couple of buddies today, the lovely Coco, who is a sweet Labradoodle, and Lady’s “gentleman friend”, a lovely Aussie Shepherd called Bear. Lady came home very tired but happy. The two dogs are happy to share their toys with Lady and she is happy to share hers with them (mainly I think because all of the dogs know the other will give their toy back so win-win here for everyone) so it was a great “play date”.

Many thanks for the lovely comments on my ACW post yesterday about Characterisation Tips and also to those who commented on my latest story video, Happy Hour. Links to both below.

Have sent in another drabble (the 100-word flash fiction type) to #FridayFlashFiction so happy with that.

I’m preparing a new Chandler’s Ford Today series which I hope to share more about soon.

And my new author newsletter will be out on Thursday. Sign up at my website (landing page) if you would like to receive! As well as news, I share exclusive flash fiction here (though I hope these will end up in a future collection) and writing tips as well as other interesting bits and pieces.

 

Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers – More Than Writers blog spot

It’s my turn on the Association of Christian Writers’ blog More Than Writers and this time I talk about Characterisation Tips. I do love a list and a list of Top Tips is always useful. Hope you find these handy.

Writing flash fiction has honed my characterisation simply because I don’t have the word count room for lots of description. But that’s no bad thing. My favourite parts of the novel, say, are where the characters interact in dialogue and/or action. I find descriptions useful background information but it is not that which draws me into reading a book. It is always the characters which draw me in regardless of the length of the story.

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Missed my hour’s sleep now we’ve gone over to British Summer Time. It’s not summery at all right now though the next week looks promising. Hopefully it will mean Lady and I don’t get a soaking this week. (Good for the soul possibly but never feels great!).

Have just had the delightful task of reading through my two stories for The Best of CafeLit 10, which is due out later in the year. Nice that there were only a couple of amendments to be made. Always feels good pressing the send button sending the corrections back to the publisher.

Looking forward to sending out my latest monthly author newsletter next week. If you want to sign up for this just go to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

I share a flash tale here, writing tips, as well as news so would be glad to welcome you aboard. As for my Chandler’s Ford Today posts, I prepare as much as possible in advance and then wrap up towards the end of the month so I know the newsletter is good to go.

Thrilled to see my piece, One of Those Days, went up on the #FridayFlashFiction website this week. I like the idea here of having a target of writing a 100-word story a week so it is ready for the following Friday when the latest stories go live. You don’t copy and paste (and where is the fun in that anyway? As a way to generate new material, I think this is great. Will be getting on and drafting more shortly!).

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Am looking forward to sharing details of a new Chandler’s Ford Today series soon. Spent a lot of last night catching up with friends from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and the Association of Christian Writers via two separate Zoom chats. Many laughs on both and all great fun!

Delighted to receive my payment from the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society on Thursday. Every little bit helps, as a certain supermarket would say. If you want to know more about ALCS, do check out the link at https://www.alcs.co.uk/about-alcs

Membership of ALCS is free if you’re a member of the Society of Authors but even if you’re not, the cost is £36.00 for lifetime membership and they take the money out from the first payment due to you. What’s not to like about that? If you’re a writer with works out there, definitely check this out.

Screenshot_2021-03-30 ALCS

Facebook – From Light To Dark and Back Again

Glad to see my video Happy Hour has gone down well though I wouldn’t want to meet my character in this one. Mind you, that’s often the way. I can think of several characters of mine I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near. I take the view if they give me the creeps in the way that is intended, they will do the same for readers, again as intended!

And nobody says an author has to like everyone they invent. (Think about it. On that scale, where would Stephen King fit?! Does he like any of his creations I wonder?!).

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Pleased to share my latest short story video Happy Hour (though you’ll need to see the video to work out who the happy hour applies to!). (I really liked the music track for this).


One aspect to flash fiction writing I love is it is easy to share on social media, especially if you stick to the 100-200 words mark. That means I get creative writing and marketing done in the same post! I like that a lot!

And of course flash stories work well for book trailers too. Book trailers work best when kept relatively short and a great way to keep people watching them is to give them a story! We all want to find out what happens at the end, yes?

Flash and book trailers – match made in heaven there I think.

 

Publication News

Delighted to say my piece, One of Those Days, is now up on the Friday Flash Fiction website. There’s a lovely mix of stories here and I hope to submit more here. See https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories and there are categories for longer flashes.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this one!

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/one-of-those-days-by-allison-symes

Goodreads Author Blog – Reference Books

Reference books are dipped into rather than read through as such, but they are invaluable. Other than my combined dictionary/thesaurus, my favourite reference book is Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. But I have to watch how long I spent with it. Looking up an entry can so easily led me into looking up others I don’t really need at that moment. The book is a huge, fascinating world of words and their origins. What’s not to like there?!

So which reference books would you not be without and why?

I think it is easy to forget this “section” of the non-fiction world. I know many authors would be lost without these books, myself included. It is not a case of using the nugget of information directly. Often it can be a case of looking something up and that will then affect what I get my character to do. That in turn has a direct result on the story outcome.

So let’s hear it for the reference books then!

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Times and Story Games

Image Credit:  As ever, images are from Pixabay or Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

For my CFT post this week, I discuss the interesting times we’re living in right now but I also share thoughts and tips on how to start creative writing. I also share a story game which is good fun to play and can be played by all ages!

Any writer will tell you that writing is therapeutic and fun. Inventing your own people and situations stretches you, is good for the old brain, and is a lovely art form for those of us who can’t draw for toffee, sew etc (and yes that does include me). To have a finished piece of work is fabulous. You created that story. The buzz of that never palls.

So have fun. If you’ve wanted to try creative writing but have wondered where to start, have a look at my post. And writing just for the sheer fun of it is a great joy to do. It is how most of us, who have gone on to be published, started after all.

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It was emotional joining in with the applause for the NHS tonight. Plenty of cheering going on round my way too. Well done, everyone. More appreciation for what is so easily taken for granted is always a good thing.

In other news as they say, and as a flag up to other authors with works out there, if you’re not registered with ALCS, check it out. ALCS is the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society run by writers for writers. Am thrilled to say I’ve had my first modest but lovely payment through on this. Many thanks to ALCS. If you’ve got published works out there, join them! (It’s free if you’re a member of the Society of Authors too).

Writing wise, am editing a story for a competition and hope to get that submitted by the end of the week. Email submission was always a blessing but even more so now.

Keep well, keep safe, God bless. Happy reading and writing. Support Your Authors. Go on, you know you want to!

One thing that is always in the forefront of my mind whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction is to keep the needs of my reader paramount. I have a mental image of who my ideal reader is likely to be and what they will like and naturally I then do my best to provide it – in terms of flash fiction, short story writing, and the blogging that I do.

One other advantage of reading well for writers is you have a ready made audience in yourself. You know what you like in a story. You know what you like in dialogue. You know what you like in genre and pace etc. You also know what you dislike in all of those things. So use that knowledge to help you tailor what you write. You won’t be the only one who likes or dislikes those things. That will help you hone in on who your ideal reader is going to be. You can then target your work much more efficiently.

Good luck!

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope to be drafting bits and pieces over the weekend. I draft potential blog posts as well as flash fiction and other stories. This has all proved useful when I’ve been pressed for time.

I hope to get a short story off for a competition tomorrow and then select a few others to have a crack at. It’s good to have something always on the go!

No chance whatsoever of boredom setting in, which is one of the things I love about writing. If I’m not writing, I’m editing and looking to make things better. That’s a challenge all by itself and it does me good I think to make sure I rise to said challenge.

Some aspects of editing are more fun than others to be honest but everything I’ve written has been drastically improved by the red pen. Nobody but nobody writes a perfect first draft first go. And I find there are always things I want to add in later to give extra depth to my characterisation, to make a scene make more sense etc. Those finishing touches make all the difference.

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When do I know a flash piece has worked?

Basically when it hits me emotionally, whether it is to make me laugh, cry, scream, or what have you. I think it is time for a laugh. Hope you enjoy the following. I’ve taken a different approach with this one. I’ve used an acrostic style but with the initial letter of the paragraph spelling out a word rather than the first letter of each sentence.

SPRING

S = Surprise, surprise! So good to see you! What’s up? You look like you’ve sucked a lemon marinated in vinegar. Have you?

P = Purpose? I thought it would cheer you up. And I know what I can do with my marinated lemons. Charming that is, I don’t think! I was trying to be nice.

R = Ring you first? Well yes I could have done but then there would be no surprise.

I = Intentions? No. Not to give you a minor heart attack. You are a misery tonight. See, I brought a box of doughnuts for us to share. Know how much you love them. See I was trying to be kind. Gavin won’t like it? Who the hell is Gavin?

N = Never again. You hate this sort of thing? Since when? And you still haven’t said who Gavin is! Is there something you should be telling me?

G = Gavin’s your Slimming World consultant. You joined tonight. And I know what I can do with those bloody doughnuts. Oh…

Allison Symes – 26th March 2020

(For #SianNdowora and all at SW in my part of the world with love).

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I don’t always know what length my flash fiction will be when I start writing it. This is particularly true when I use the random word/phrase/number generators.

For stories generated that way, I want to get my ideas down, hone and edit them, and then I see what I have left. When I’ve got the story as good as I can make it, I only then take a look at what the word count is for it. That will help me decide which market to send it to and of course markets and competitions have different requirements so there is a certain amount of automatic elimination here too.

For example, if a story works really well at 150 words, I’m leaving it there. I won’t be submitting it to the fabulous #ParagraphPlanet either given they want 75 words in total including the title. I would submit it to a competition or market which was for anything under 500 words, providing I was happy with that competition or market.

I can’t stress it enough but always check competitions and markets out. The reputable ones will be more than happy for you do to that. If a competition or market has FAQs, do check them out. Never be afraid to ask other writers either. This is where the support of writing pals makes a huge difference. You may not have heard of issues with Competition XXX but they may have done and you can check things out further based on what they tell you. I’ve had good cause to be grateful for people flagging things up to me.

Above all enjoy that story creation process. It is a wonderful thing.

Fairytales With Bite – Dodgy Magical Characters

Dodgy magical characters can range from the treacherous wizard to the sly underling who will always seize a chance to gain something for themselves, no matter who they sell out to do so.

Have a look when you’re outlining your story as to how they got to be like that, whether they have any regrets, whether there is any hope for them to be redeemed etc. The consequences of their actions should of course be played out in the story.

The possibility of someone being turned back from the dodgy path they are on increases tension and the reader’s interest. I’ve always taken more interest in characters where I think there is potential than in one where it is clear there is none whatsoever almost from the start. This is why I think Severus Snape is a fantastic character in the Harry Potter series.

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This World and Others – What Makes Your World Tick?

What is the driving force in the world of your characters? Is it local and/or national politics? (People are often affected by what happens locally than nationally, though at this time of the coronavirus pandemic everything and everyone is affected by what is going on. That is an unusual situation in the overall scheme of things though).

Do your characters ignore the reality of their created world and focus on what it is they have to achieve? Does that ignoring of reality affect the chances of a successful outcome? As well as thinking about what drives your characters, think about what drives their created world. You could use that to add extra problems and tensions for your characters to resolve before getting to their main purpose.

 

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