All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the pictures of me reading at the recent BHP event for my CFT post this week. Screenshots and most photos for my CFT post this week were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Bitterly cold weather all week here. Writing progressing well – am so glad it’s an indoor job! Looking forward to hearing some festive flash fiction over the weekend, including one of my pieces. It is a thrill to hear my stories on air.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Delighted to share my new Chandler’s Ford Today post which is all about the recent Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event. It was such fun to go to this and catch up with people. It was by no means certain it would go ahead and, of course, the last two years the event has been affected by Covid. Hope you enjoy my round-up. Already looking forward to next year’s one.
Lady had an unexpected surprise today – she got to play with her best buddy, the Ridgeback, who looked very fetching in her coat. Both dogs very happy to see each other.
Looking forward to sharing my next Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow. I’ll be looking back at the recent Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event. Always good to go to this. Always lovely to write about it afterwards! See above.
Also looking forward to hearing the Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM with Hannah Kate over the weekend. Festive flash is fun to write and wonderful to listen to – will share the link once I’ve got it. Hope this will be in the next post.
Coming up in the New Year will be another flash fiction workshop in January. I did get my competition entry in for the Writing Magazine Grand Flash prize. (You’ve got to 31st December on that one – 500 words maximum).
Hope you have had a good day. Still bitterly cold.
Characters have always fascinated me – in my own work as well as in what I read. I do want to know what makes them tick. I need to care about them enough to want to find that out. Often it can be an intriguing bit of dialogue or an internal thought that lures me into reading more. In that, I’m getting a snapshot of what the character is like. Attitudes show up in what they say or think. When I’m writing, I am thinking what it is about this character that would make a reader want to find out more? There has to be something!
I guess the lure of any well written story is wanting to find out what happens. That something happening has to occur to someone which is why for me at least characters are more important than plot. A great character will drive the plot. A good plot won’t be saved by a poorly portrayed character. Readers have to care about your characters (even if that includes wanting to see them fail. There is still care for the character there – you want to see them get their comeuppance).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Glad to report the December double issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now available free to download on Amazon. I took the topic of Fifty as my theme for this edition. I also set a double flash fiction challenge. Do check out how people responded to it. There are great stories here. (And the rest of the magazine is a wonderful read too but don’t just take my word for it – check out the link below.).
I was chatting about closing lines yesterday (see below) so I thought I’d look at opening ones tonight. I love to use an intriguing situation or an interesting bit of dialogue (ideally something that poses a question) so readers have to read on. I also like to set scenes as much as possible too.
One of my favourites here is from Where the Wild Wind Blows from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. That reads The Witch had just finished planting out her runner beans when the farmhouse landed on her head. No prizes for guessing the inspiration behind that one!
But what matters is having something that encourages your reader to read on and I find thinking about what I would like to read helps here. Having an Ideal Reader in mind and thinking about what they would want to see helps enormously too. I am writing for an audience so it makes great good sense to write with them in mind from the get go.
I love to end a flash tale with a twist or humorous ending, but not always. There is room for the thoughtful ending too. This works especially well for monologues but I did also use this kind of ending for The Pink Rose in Tripping the Flash Fantastic. This is a compassionate Alzheimer’s story and therefore the ending needed to be appropriate for that.
I also used the phrase “the pink rose” in the opening and closing lines deliberately. It was like a “circle” effect here which again was apt for this kind of tale. Knowing the characters well means I get a good idea of what kind of ending would be apt for them.
The one thing in common with a twist or humorous ending though is it would probably pay to write your thoughtful ending first and then work out the steps that led to it. I’ve done this. It is a good technique to help you ensure your story has the right internal logic to make it work.
Fairytales with Bite – The Underdog
The underdog crops up a lot in the fairytales. Cinderella is a classic example of that. She was not expected to “win”. She was expected to continue to be the kitchen skivvy. I think one of the classic fairytale tropes is that the underdog can win (and to encourage compassion for said underdog – encouraging compassion is always a good thing!).
Often in the fairytales the underdog is in that position through no fault of their own and usually due to the cruelty of others. So another message here is that cruelty will eventually fail (though I must say I find that doesn’t come as quickly as I’d like!).
An interesting thought for a story idea (or several) is what about the underdog who does deserve to be in that role. What have they done to put them into this position? Are they remorseful? Can things be put right?
As a matter of note, I always look out for the seemingly unimportant characters in fairytales. They do usually tend to end up being far more important than anyone initially thought and that’s an idea to play with in your own stories too.
I also love it when an underdog does a lot to help themselves get out of their situation and doesn’t just rely on a fairy godmother turning up. Much as I love the Cinderella story, I do query why the godmother didn’t intervene earlier to help the poor girl against all that cruelty going on. I wouldn’t have minded Cinders challenging her on that but maybe that was best saved for after the happy ever after ending. Cinders wouldn’t be the underdog then!
This World and Others – Species and Specialisms
Picture the scene. You’ve created a fantastic multi-cultural world. You’ve got a nice array of species. You’ve worked out how they get on with the others (or not as the case may be). You’ve worked out the politics and/or history behind all of that. You’ve figured out how basic needs are met and so on.
So think in more depth about what the individual species are and why you need them in your setting. What are their specialisms? Do they have to co-operate with others to get skills and other resources they can’t do/produce for themselves? Are there biological reasons why they can’t do these things? How does the need to trade with others affect the politics of your world? Can anyone upset the old apple cart here and, if so, how do they do it?
If you have species with specialisms, does that encourage tolerance in your setting or are those with “better” specialist skills resented? What would that resentment lead to?
Also what forms are the specialism in? Technology? Better ways of food production? What you are after here, I think. Are skills which are definitely needed and which others might have cause to envy or resent. Every story needs conflict and resolution. This could be another way into setting up some interesting conflicts.
Glad to report the December double issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now available free on Amazon. I took the topic of Fifty as my theme and set a double flash fiction challenge. Do check out how people responded to it. I thought the stories were fab!https://t.co/VSHVUgwk9g— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) December 16, 2022
Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event 2022 https://t.co/P6o5Rb6IHQ Delighted to share my round-up post about the recent Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event. It was great fun. For the last two years it was affected by Covid. Already looking forward to next year’s one.— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) December 16, 2022