All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Image of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night taken by Penny Blackburn. Thanks, Penny! Also image of writers including yours truly at Swanwick was taken by Cheryl Holland on my phone. Thanks, Cheryl.
Screenshots re Mom’s Favorite Reads taken by me, Allison Symes.
Strange weather again this week but am pleased to be expanding my non-fiction work. And there is a new story to share. It is so good to be writing 100-worders aka drabbles again.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Delighted to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post, Summer Here, Maybe? Given the weather this week, it is an appropriate title. (Still have central heating on in June… not good!)
I look at my writing plans, look forward to writing events, and discuss holiday reading. One lovely thing about books is they can help you escape from the cares of the world for a bit, so even if you’re not having a holiday as such, a good book and time to enjoy it can make you feel as if you have got away for a while, if only into the world of that book. (Yet another reason for me not to read too much dystopian fiction! When I escape into a book, I want to emerge feeling as if I have been refreshed and entertained, not plunged into doom and then face the news!).
I am also delighted to hear that our wonderful local amateur dramatic group, The Chameleon Theatre Group, are planning to be back later this summer. So hopefully that will mean a return to “CFT works outings” for my lovely CFT editor, Janet Williams, and I! And it will so be good to welcome the Chameleons back. They have staged wonderful shows.
Lovely chat with fellow dog walker in the park this morning. Her wonderful Hungarian Vizler is so polite. Whenever this Vizler shares water with Lady, she then gives me a huge lick as if to say thank you! (Lady’s best buddie, the Ridgeback, does this too). Lady, I’m afraid, gets her water down and doesn’t give another thought to it. What she will do is look up at me with happy shiny eyes after her playtime as if to say “Mum, that was great”. (Another good sign Lady has had a fab time is when she crashes out on the sofa – as she is currently doing).
So thrilled to be in Mom’s Favorite Reads this month. See https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2021/06/01/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-june-2021/ for more info. I’ve been wanting to expand my non-fiction work for a while so this is a great development.
(And of course preparing talks has been a new thing for me this year and that comes into this category too. All great fun to do, wonderful experience, and something I never anticipated doing when I started out. This is where it is wonderful that you don’t know where the writing journey will take you. There have been some lovely surprises along the way and this is one of them).
For your fiction, do your characters ever surprise you? Because I outline them before I write, I know what mine are generally capable of but every so often they can take me aback. I then look at my outline to see if I really did know my characters as well as I thought I did. I also look at the surprise they’ve given me (and it’s never without good reason) and work out what I can do with it. I also look at how that affects the earlier part of the story.
A “good” surprise (in terms of plot development) stays in. A “weak” surprise which doesn’t add anything useful but is merely an extension of the character’s personality stays out. I find better ways of showing the extension to the personality instead – and there always are better ways. Usually it’s because I haven’t been clear enough on something earlier on so that gets changed and beefed up accordingly.
Strange day today. Started off warm and sunny. By lunchtime it was raining! Have gone from bodywarmer to thick dog walking coat in a space of a couple of hours. Hope tomorrow is more settled.
My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is called Summer Here, Maybe? Given today’s weather my question here is not so inappropriate after all! But I do share positive things in this post and talk about summer plans and holiday reading amongst other things. I also look at my writing plans and am thrilled to say The Chameleon Theatre Group, our excellent amateur theatre company, are planning their return this summer. Am so looking forward to seeing and reviewing their shows again.
It pays every so often to take a little time out to work out where you are with your writing. Are you where you wanted to be? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but have never got around to writing?
Firstly, don’t worry if the answer to the first question is No. Plans change. You may discover new forms of writing, as I did, and focus on that. Also it is too easy to underestimate the time you need to find your writing voice and hone it.
Then there is the discovery of what works when submitting to this market, what works to submitting to that one and so on. One of the lovely things about writing is there is no retirement age. Have fun writing and if it takes you thirty years to get published, so be it. Your main focus must be on writing what you love to write. That love will help you keep going when the rejections come in and they will.
Secondly, if there is an area of writing you’d like to try, go for it. Do it for fun. Experiment. Have fun playing with words and if something comes from it, brilliant. If not, you will at least have the satisfaction of having given it a go.
And good luck!
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Thrilled to say my latest drabble, Gossip, is now up on #FridayFlashFiction. Hope you enjoy. This is one of those tales where the mood changes on two words – see if you can spot what they are! I love doing this kind of thing with my flash stories. Great fun and it is also a case of working out exactly where to place those “change” words for the best effect. It isn’t always right at the end of the story funnily enough. It isn’t here.
Thanks for the great response to my post about Transformations yesterday. I do miss going to the Waterloo Arts Festival and catching up with many Bridge House Publishing and CafeLit friends. (But I hope we can get to meet up later in the year and I am so looking forward to catching up with friends from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August).
Characters transform of course. That is the whole point of any story. There has to be change. Sometimes it is positive (Scrooge), sometimes it’s not. (Think about Marley with those chains on him for eternity. The only thing he could do was to try to help Scrooge. Marley’s realisation of the need to change came far too late).
But changes don’t always have to be the obvious “dramatic” ones. In flash fiction, changes can be more subtle. What your reader wants is to follow a character’s journey through from beginning to end and see how what character changed. In my character study They Don’t Understand the point of change for my lead here is in realising how one mistake made many years ago has led him to the situation he is narrating to us.
Changes also have to be reasonably realistic for your characters too. Unless set in a magical world, your lead character is unlikely to suddenly sprout wings and be able to fly out of trouble. (It is a good trick if you can do it though – it just wouldn’t make for a convincing story, even in fantasy. The ability to fly has to be signposted earlier on, you can’t just spring things on your reader!).
I was delighted when Transformations came out. This is the paperback/ebook compilation of the winning stories from the last three years of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. I was privileged to win three years in a row with stories in very different moods.
My Progressing is a humorous fairytale, The Professional is anything but funny but shows my character justifying what it is they do, and Books and the Barbarians looks at how emerging literacy changes a community. All great fun to write but so different in mood.
And I love that about flash fiction. All three of these tales are at the 1000 word maximum word count for flash but I took my characters in very different directions here.
Fairytales With Bite – Magazines for the Magical
I’ve been delighted this week to appear in Mom’s Favorite Reads for the first time with an article on flash fiction (and I share a tale here too). See https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2021/06/01/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-june-2021/ for more info. (You can also find out what role sharks play in my writing journey too).
But this led me to wonder what kind of periodicals might be found in a magical environment (as you do!).
Witch Wand – well there has to be a magazine dealing with magical equipment. If you’re going to show off with what you’ve got here, you want to have the equipment with the best reviews. This magazine will help a lot there!
The Best Spells for Arrogant Heroes – one for the fairy godmother or witch wanting to cut someone down to size. This is usually done by transforming said arrogant hero into an unsightly beast for a bit. So your average fairy godmother and witch will want a useful guide as to which spells would work best so to have all that info in an easy to read magazine would do the job nicely.
Wizard World – definitely one for the blokes and has a handy job adverts page for those wizards seeking apprentices.
Food and Drink – A Magical Guide. Useful for evil stepmothers to work out the best foods to use for poisoning purposes. Also useful for those wanting to plant edible things that a visitor to their world will want to eat or drink so they can get to the next stage in their journey. (Greedy girls called Alice will like that).
Wildlife Care – Useful for those fairy godmothers who like transforming wildlife into footmen, coaches etc. Will give advice on how to look after those creatures before and after their transformations (assuming they survive it of course).
This World and Others – Literacy
Is your fictional world literate? If not, why not? What does it do to be able to communicate and make its people(s) understand instructions etc if reading and writing are not options?
If it is literate, what is this based on? Texts as we know them or work that is written on stone tablets? Are only certain beings allowed to be literate? How is literacy taught and is there such a thing as fictional books in your world?
If you have a world that is trying to improve itself via literacy, what made them decide to do that? Are they making good progress?
If literacy is forbidden, why is this? Are there “underground” libraries or readers? Are books valued by the general population?
I know I appreciate literacy. I love history, both fictional and fact, and am well aware had I been born in medieval times, I would’ve been an illiterate peasant! I can’t imagine my life without books but that’s a good thing. But stories can be created by coming up with worlds and peoples where literacy is not a given thing.
What prompts do you use? I love opening/closing lines. Set middle lines are tough. Hey, I'm into my stride by then! Tip: draw a spider diagram from before the line and again from after it so you can work out what could lead to it and what could lead from it. Outline right there. pic.twitter.com/5koPe4C3qK— ACW (@ACW1971) June 2, 2021
I love writing prompts. Which are your favourites? https://t.co/fNgWmm6VPr— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 3, 2021
Non-fiction fans can use writing prompts too. One prompt set ages ago was to write a letter to your younger self. I did this for a post for the online magazine I write for. You could use that to create something fictional but I took it in a factual direction instead. pic.twitter.com/BJ3L3L2nKE— ACW (@ACW1971) June 4, 2021
Summer Time, Maybe… https://t.co/HEF5rxxEDB I look at writing plans, writing events later in the summer and discuss holiday reading in this week's post. Plus I look forward to The Chameleon Theatre Group's return to my local stage later in the summer. pic.twitter.com/kMogIH5T5c— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 4, 2021
Thrilled to say my latest drabble, Gossip, is now up on #FridayFlashFiction. Hope you enjoy. This is one of those tales where the mood changes on two words – see if you can spot what they are! I love doing this kind of thing with my flash stories. https://t.co/YrmadDTtsJ pic.twitter.com/02v2NFvnKW— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) June 4, 2021