Underlining In Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and one photo were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Mixed bag weather wise (hot, cold, windy etc). Will be having another story on CafeLit next week and am looking forward to sharing that. Working away on further workshop material too.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-24-19-428

Screenshot 2022-06-24 at 09-19-44 Underlining in Fiction - Chandler's Ford Today

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post on Underlining in Fiction. I look at how writers can stress points without seeming to repeat themselves. Also I look at where repetition, carefully used, can be effective too in underlining an important point. I give an example of underlining that I use when running workshops. (It’s also a good example of show and not tell).

I discuss how characters themselves can do the underlining, whether they are conscious of that or not, and why it matters to pick the right thing to underline.

For example, I want my readers to pick up on my themes from what I show them through what my characters say, do and think. I don’t want to have to spell everything out (for one thing I think that’s boring – I love working things out for myself when I read other writers’ books. I just need the right clues).

The best underlining is subtle. You want your readers to absorb things and work things out and to have fun doing that!

Underlining in Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cooler today though Lady, and her lovely gentleman friend, a wonderful Aussie Shepherd, were clearly happy about that as they ran around. It was a joy to watch them.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post (Underlining in Fiction) goes up tomorrow – I don’t know where the time has gone as I rapidly head towards the end of this series. Link up above.

I use a variety of ways to find ideas for my blog posts, as well as my fiction. Often the random generators (especially the theme and question ones) can be used to trigger ideas for a CFT post say.

For example this came up on the random question generator I often use – If you lost all of your possessions but one, what would you want it to be?

  1. I could invent a character here and get them to answer the question (and that would be the story. Nice thing about that is I’ve got a basic structure in place immediately too. Questions always need answering!).
  2. I could answer the question directly and frame a CFT post around it.

You get the idea so why not give the random generators a go if you are looking for non-fiction inspiration.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Another hot day here though Lady was pleased to see her best buddies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and a lovely Hungarian Vizler, today. Am looking forward to another swim tomorrow.

I’ll be talking about Underlining In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today – post up on Friday. See above. Am busy getting my author newsletter ready for July. Do sign up for tips, stories, prompts etc at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com.

Do you find it harder or easier to write much in the hot weather? I must admit I flag a bit but this is where writing short pieces is a bonus as I still feel like I’ve got something useful done and that is enough for me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s storytime. It’s time for Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy my latest – A Picture Paints a Hundred Words. Written in exactly one hundred words of course, barring the title.

Screenshot 2022-06-24 at 11-42-40 A Picture Paints A Hundred Words by Allison Symes

Getting into the head of your characters is vital in any fiction but for flash, with the short word count, it is essential to do that from the get-go. This is why I outline what I need to know about a character before I start writing their story up. I need to know what their reactions to any situation would be at once – I can then decide which situation I’m going to throw them in! It is great fun dropping your characters right in it.

I read a wonderful short story ages ago in The Oxford Book of Humorous Prose (compiled and edited by the much missed Frank Muir) where the characters come to life and berate their author. Very funny – and a teensy weensy bit scary for any writer I think!

Knowing your character’s basic attitudes (and why they have them) is a good way in here. Fleshing your character out means you are more likely to write their stories up with conviction because you know your character is definitely capable of this. You’ve already seen how and why they would be like this.

I’m convinced a writer’s belief in their character does come through in the story. Certainly I can sense when a writer has fun with their character precisely because I do the same thing myself with mine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I have fun sometimes having titles which are capable of more than one interpretation. For example in my story Serving Up a Treat from From Light to Dark and Back Again, I can take that in a lighthearted way or not, as I see fit. (Not saying which way I did though – do check out the book! Yes, I know I’m bound to say that!).

I also see this as giving my imagination more room in which to work. Proverbs and well known sayings come in handy here. And guess what I just found? Yes that’s right – a random proverb generator! Will take up less room than the old book of proverbs I suppose but this will prove to be another useful tool to use to trigger story ideas. Hope you have fun with it too.

20220624_195637(1)

Fairytales with Bite – Character Development

I am partial to character development in any story, regardless of what genre it is or its word count length. Indeed I don’t think you can have a story without it given something has to change and often it is the character that does the changing. Sometimes it is forced on them if they are going to survive. Sometimes they are happy to change. Maybe they have been waiting for the chance to do so and escape something.

In fairytales, I think this is even more important. I don’t think a wave of the magic wand should be the cure to all ills. Where’s the drama in that? Even when the fairy godmother turns up to help out, I still want the main character to have done something to merit that help and to still have problems to sort out after the wand waving!

To avoid the old problem of character cardboard cut-outs, your character does need to have some sort of back story which has a bearing on their story now but which they overcome. That is the kind of development I love to read and write.

So think about how your characters will develop over the course of your story. Where is the moment when they have to change and go on to better things? How do they make themselves face up to what has to change? Great conflict can come from a character’s internal struggle as well as external circumstances.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-24-20-530

This World and Others – Formative Experiences

One of my earliest formative experiences is that of my late mum teaching me to read before I went to school. Back in the day, she got told off for that. (These days they’d probably give her a medal). Apparently Mum taught me in the wrong way. Have I felt the lack? Not a bit of it. Am I grateful to Mum for giving me my life-long love of books and stories (and from there the wish to write my own)? Oh yes!

What kind of formative experiences have shaped your characters? What impact are they having on your characters’ lives now for the purpose of your story? I don’t always put such things into my stories but I need to know enough about my characters to be able to envisage what they would do and how they would react in any given situation. Knowing what drives them including formative experiences is so useful here.

Also bear in mind a society’s formative experiences as well. A society which has had to face continual threat of invasion is likely to have a reasonably strong military to try to counter that and/or seek alliances with other threatened worlds. So their attitudes towards diplomatic relations will be different from a strong, isolated kingdom which feels it has no need of anyone else. Their people’s views and attitudes will be coloured by things like that.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-24-20-1226

Twitter icon

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Flash Flexibility, Writing Workshops, and Supporting Other Writers

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. 
Hope you have had a good few days. Summery weather at last which Lady and I have loved. I have publication news too so it’s a good start to the week in that department too.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-21-20-4155

Facebook – General

Lovely day today and Lady is very happy because she got to “boop” her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback. Usually the Ridgeback boops Lady. For dogs, it really is the little things in life that bring them the most joy (oh and dinner of course!).

Delighted to say I can now reveal I will have another story on Cafelit on 27th June. Looking forward to sharing the link on that then. The piece comes from a homework exercise I set for members of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group.

Will be off to the theatre again in July with my lovely editor from Chandler’s Ford Today, Janet Williams, Looking forward to seeing the latest production from The Chameleon Theatre Group. Will review in due course. I should’ve finished my In Fiction series for CFT by then – wish me luck finding something suitable for the letters V and X! I hope my years of Scrabble paying might help here!

BookBrushImage-2022-6-21-20-2357

Hope your Monday has been okay. Busy as ever here though the weather was lovely. Glad to say I’ll have further publication news to share soon so that’s a smashing start to the week.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is about Underlining In Fiction. I’ll be looking at how to stress points to a reader without needless boring repetition and talking about planting the right clues. Link up on Friday.

Amazon currently has offers on the paperback of both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See the link.

Writing Tip Number 3,004 or something like that but one I’ve found incredibly useful: time away from a piece of work is crucial. You do need the distance in terms of time away from it so you can see where it has strengths and, more importantly, where it hasn’t!

With my judge’s hat on, I can spot those stories where an author has clearly given themselves enough time away from their story as they have then edited it effectively too.

The trouble with editing a story immediately is there tends to be two responses to it – this is a work of utter genius, no work needs to be done to this deathless prose, or this is a work which I really shouldn’t have bothered with, everyone will loathe it. Neither are true. The truth is your story will have promise but needs polishing up and sharpening to show bring its potential out.

Screenshot 2022-06-20 at 20-11-22 Amazon.co.uk Allison Symes

Many thanks for the comments in on Time Off, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Some smashing feedback, all appreciated.

Going back to my Authors Electric post yesterday on Writing Workshops, I can’t stress enough how important it is to support other writers (something Friday Flash Fiction does very well, as does CafeLit). Nobody produces a perfect bit of work immediately (and is there any such thing anyway? I can look back at my earlier stories and see immediately how they could be bettered but they were where I was at during that time of my writing life).

We all have to start somewhere. We can all improve on what we do. It takes time and practice. There are no shortcuts for anyone.And people remember those who support them. They also remember those who were unsupportive. Which would you rather be known as – a supportive writer or not? I know what camp I want to be in! (That thought is assisted by the old saying make your words sweet as you never know when you’ve got to eat them!).

18th June – Authors Electric
It’s my turn on the Authors Electric blog and this month I’m talking about Writing Workshops. I discuss what I love about these, whether I run them or go to them, and look at how old school pen and paper can come into their own at these things. Hope you enjoy (and I’m looking forward to running another workshop at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash has more flexibility than you might think. Yes, there is the word count issue but I’ve written stories in the first person, the third, as diary extracts, as well as setting my characters backwards and forwards in time. I’ve written fairytales with bite, crime tales, the odd ghost flash piece etc.

What influences all of this are the kinds of story I’ve loved reading over the years and which I continue to love and read. It really has paid off for me to read reasonably well and widely (I don’t think anyone can claim to be perfect here. Why would you want to be anyway? You want there to be other books and genres to discover after all!).

BookBrushImage-2022-6-21-20-3019

Many thanks for the views on my YouTube tale last week (or should that be tail?) – The Unexpected. But it is Monday once again and time for another video. Hope you like this one – The True Picture. I used a random verb generator which triggered the word picture and here is what I came up with for that prompt.

Sometimes I have an idea for what I think will be a flash piece but the story really does deserve a larger word count. So I simply write that piece for the short story market instead (and my stories tend to come in at 1500 to 2000 words for that). Sometimes what I think could make a good short story really does work better as a shorter, tighter flash piece. And that’s all fine.

It’s why it has paid me to ensure I have a foot in both camps when it comes to short form storytelling. What matters is the story is right for the character (and vice versa) and the story has a proper beginning, middle, and end. The story ends with a proper resolution to the dilemma the story is about and sometimes that will come in at a longer or shorter word count that you might have originally anticipated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I’m chatting about Writing Workshops for Authors Electric this month (see my author page on this – https://www.facebook.com/allison.symes.50) and one advantage to flash fiction here is these are easy to share when you want to discuss elements of story writing. They don’t take too long. They also demonstrate the points you’re trying to make. (And it’s another way of spreading the word about flash fiction so win-win there!).

I’ve found flash pieces are especially useful for demonstrating the old advice of show, not tell. Precisely because I don’t have the word count room for description, I do have to get my characters to show the readers what matters. And showing a point gets things across more clearly I find. I’ve been on the receiving end of that benefit many a time from workshops I’ve been to and have always appreciated that.

Screenshot 2022-06-18 at 20-05-37 (4) Allison Symes Facebook

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Covers

For a book to grip me, I have to be gripped by its characters, but the right book cover is what is going to get me to look at the blurb, the opening page, and then go on to buy said book. I want the cover to show me something of the mood/genre of the book, to be attractive, and to intrigue me enough so I do pick the book up in the first place. Not asking much. Hmm…. No wonder book covers are so difficult to get spot on.

My favourite quote on the topic comes from the wonderful P.G. Wodehouse who, in a letter to a friend, said “God may forgive Herbert Jenkins Limited for the cover of……… But I never shall!” Book title deleted here to protect the guilty. I highly recommend the Wodehouse books of letters by the way – there is a wonderful one edited by Frances Donaldson (Yours Plum, the Letters of P.G.Wodehouse which is where I came across this quote) and another which was edited by Sophie Ratcliffe (Wodehouse: A Life in Letters). Both are fascinating reads.

It is some comfort to me as a writer that even the big names didn’t/haven’t always liked the book covers they’ve been “given”. I’ve been fortunate here in that my small indie publisher has ensured I have had some input into my covers which is something I’ve appreciated.

The author ought to have some idea of themes etc that their book cover could draw on though, rightly, the publisher should have the final say given they know what has worked for them already and can drawn on that kind of knowledge one author is simply not going to have.

So then what works for you with book covers? I don’t like over-complicated ones. Indeed my Agatha Christie collection (good old Odhams Publishers) are simply red hardbacks with gold lettering – simple but effective. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has Gandalf striding out in bad weather and again works well (I know immediately this has to be a fantasy quest).

Screenshot 2022-06-18 at 20-24-23 Book Covers

 

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

What Keeps You Reading?


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos from the recent Golden Jubilee weekend.
Hope you have had a good weekend. It was lovely having a quiet one after a very busy and exciting one at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Think fun and hectic for that one!

ACW workshop info

Facebook – General

Free read time, folks. Do check out the most recent flash fiction pieces which came in as a result of my column Numbers in Flash Fiction for the June edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads. All great pieces and it is amazing how you can work in numbers into a story.

My article explains more about that but I would say the impact of a number with meaning to a character is greater in flash because the form of writing is so short. Where you can have fun is working out why that number has meaning and what that can do to the story outcome.

Screenshot 2022-06-14 at 11-39-46 Flash Fiction

 

Hectic day as always for me on a Monday but Lady and I did enjoy the lovely weather at the park earlier this morning.

It was good to get back to normal in writing editing and submitting a story for Friday Flash Fiction and another for my YouTube channel. I’ll share that over on my book page shortly. To check out all of my story videos, see the link below.

It is great fun creating these stories. I use Book Brush to make the video and then simply upload it via YouTube. The editor function there makes it easier to add a music track too. It’s a nice way of bringing visual and audio to a flash fiction tale.

Allison Symes – YouTube channel 

Screenshot 2022-06-14 at 20-40-58 Allison Symes - YouTube

Gloriously sunny day in Hampshire – hope it is lovely where you are too. Nice to be back in church this morning too after a month’s absence. I was away at the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend last week and before that I was under the weather with a thankfully mild dose of You Know What. So good to see everyone once more and the singing was lovely.

Writing wise, I hope to have some exciting news to share soon – all I can say now is it is workshop related. Looking forward to sharing more on that when I can. It is funny how the pandemic combined with workshops has led to me re-discovering the joys of PowerPoint! I didn’t see that coming.

Do you like film or TV adaptations of books? I loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson) and enjoyed Hogfather, Going Postal and The Colour of Magic, which were wonderful Pratchett adaptations. Tim Curry was superbly evil in the last one. Well worth checking out if you love Discworld.

AE - March 2022 - the creative spark
Hope you have had a good Saturday. Already a week gone since the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend – it was lovely to see everyone there. Now back at home listening to the main theme form Wallace and Gromit on Classic FM’s Saturday Night at the Movies! (And before you ask, I do appreciate some “cracking cheese” as does my dog! If you’ve not seen these wonderful animations do check them out, you’re in for a treat).

I’m back to my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I’ll be looking at The Rule of Three this time. Link up on Friday for that. And talking of that number, I thought I’d share three top tips here.

1. Don’t expect to write a perfect first draft. Nobody ever does. Shakespeare didn’t. Dickens didn’t. We’re not going to either but that’s fine. Getting things right is what the editing process is all about.

2. Take off about ten days from any official deadline. Why? It gives you time to go through your piece again and pick up on those annoying typos etc that you missed on your previous edits. Trust me, there will be something, there always is!

3. If you edit on screen, change your font, the font size, even the colour, anything to make your text seem different. When you come back to edit, it is more likely you will spot the things that need to be corrected. I’ve found that on paper, it is easier to pick things up.

With screens, it is easy for your brain to fill in the words you meant to put in but which you didn’t actually get to type in. Making the text different will help you spot those omissions. And you will need to correct the changes before you send the piece out as again it is a chance for a final read through to make sure all is well before submission.

Top Tips

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Time for a prompt. Not quite such a mad day for me, which I always appreciate Tuesdays for (!), but that led to me thinking what days do your characters dread/look forward to and why? Am sure there are stories to be told there!

If your setting is not of this world, what time elements does it use? Does it mirror ours or are their concept of days literally alien to us? And even in that concept, I’m sure you can think of a story where a character has a right rotten time of it and you then have fun trying to get them out of the mess they’re in.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-14-20-2615

It’s been a busy Monday so time to chill out with a new story on YouTube. Hope you enjoy my The Unexpected where magic is not of the variety my character expected. Find out how she was nonplussed here. (It is a tiny tale so you may need to play it through twice).

 

One-liners can make excellent opening lines for a flash piece, but have you tried using one as powerful closing line? When I write twist in the tale flash stories, or humorous ones, I will usually write the twist or the punchline first and then work out how I could have got to that point. Spider diagrams to work out different possibilities are useful here and I always go for the one that makes the most impact on me. I figure a reader is likely to react in the same way.

Trying to put yourself in the head of your Ideal Reader helps here. I try to work out what I think they would like and to ensure everything that is in the story meets the needs of said reader. A well edited story is one where you can’t imagine a word being taken out or added. Thinking of your Ideal Reader helps ensure you cut the waffle out!

I sometimes jot one-liners down for use when I only have a few minutes of writing time. Why? Because I am still doing something creative. I can come back to those one-liners later on and then decide if they’re going at the start of a tale or at the end of it. When I have a longer writing session, I have something to work with immediately.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-12-16-547

Last week’s ACW Golden Jubilee weekend was good fun and it was a joy to share my flash fiction workshop. Many thanks to all who came to it and for the lovely feedback. One thing I looked at was the benefits of writing flash fiction even if it is not your main writing form, I’ve found I’ve lost all fear of editing thanks to writing flash.

And so often at conferences you are set exercises to have a go at (I always set them incidentally!) and, in the time given, you’re not going to have time to write that much. The great thing here is (a) you can finish that piece off later and (b) even if the piece remains short, you now have a market for pieces like that.

There are so many more flash competitions about these days too – and don’t forget the online markets. A great way to get some publication credits too!

 

Goodreads Author Blog – What Keeps You Reading?

I don’t think there is any one answer to this question but it is a good one to make you think about why you read. For me, I can’t not read. I can’t imagine life without books and stories in my life and neither do I wish to! So the love of the written word in and of itself is one reason I keep reading.

The main reason though is because I am gripped by the characters in the stories and have to find out what happens to them. Only one way I can do that – read to the end! I rarely abandon a book but on the odd occasion I have, it is because I have lost all interest in the characters. Now that serves as a lesson for me with my own writing. I try and look at what made me switch off and try to avoid replicating that!

I don’t often read a book because it is “in”, the current flavour of the month etc. I have to be intrigued by the premise of the book and then by the characters to read and keep on reading. Life is too short to waste on a book which doesn’t grip me.

For a series I love, such as Discworld, having read one and loved it (Jingo was my starting point there), I had to read others in the series. Now that’s what every author wants to happen!

For authors new to me, I often read their works on Kindle first to see if their stories grip me. If they do, as does happen most of the time, I am more likely to get their paperbacks later on. But again they have to keep me reading.

So what keeps you reading? Have you stopped reading a book? If so, why?

BookBrushImage-2022-6-14-20-5912

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Travelling Workshops

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Photos for Chandler’s Ford Today post taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the screenshots.
Hope you have had a great week. I had a wonderful time at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Many thanks to those who came to my flash fiction workshop. It was so lovely catching up with old friends and making new ones. It’s great to be out and about again too.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-10-19-4427

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week about Travelling Workshops. I look back at the Scottish Association of Writers conference, and the more recent workshops I ran for the London Jesuit Centre and the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend.

Screenshot 2022-06-10 at 09-27-05 Travelling Workshops - Chandler's Ford Today

I look at the point of workshops, I discuss the value of writing exercises (whether I set them or do them!), and share my thoughts on why workshops should be interactive. Hope you find the post useful preparation for your next workshop!

Travelling Workshops

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you have had a good day. My Chandler’s Ford Today post about Travelling Workshops will be up tomorrow. See above. I then plan to resume my In Fiction series after that. Will be at the letter T for next time (17th June) so I am getting there!

It’s been a busy week since coming home from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend but it is always a better week when you happily get a publishing contract sent off to someone you’ve worked with before on many happy occasions. Also spurs me on to try and get another one!

A big thank you for the response to my rather long post yesterday. Just sometimes you really feel the need to say something, right? And I wanted to share that my writing journey has had (and will continue to have) setbacks. The writing life is up and down and I think over time you get used to that. I’ve found it has helped me appreciate the up times far more (and to not take them for granted).

One of the joys of writing for me, whether it is published or not, is having an outlet for creativity. For many years I sought to just write for myself. I wanted to prove to myself I could write and keep on writing. It was only when, with my confidence up a bit knowing that I could write, I stared approaching publishers etc. That was a huge learning curve in itself!

This is a good indication of why I say writers always learn. You have to learn from your mistakes so you can do better (and sometimes just being alerted to what the mistake is can be a great help. I found that when someone told me about vanity publishing).

BookBrushImage-2022-6-10-20-534


Shortly, I’ll be having the joy of returning a contract to my publisher for a short story to appear in an anthology due out later this year. It’s always a lovely thing to do but for many years, I despaired of ever being published. All I ever seemed to receive were rejections or, even more frequently, I just wouldn’t hear back. So what changed?

Firstly, I didn’t give up. Secondly, when I could get feedback on my short stories (some competitions offer this), I took it. Thirdly, I read plenty of writing advice (reputable writing magazines and websites etc) and tried to apply it. Fourthly, I gave myself much more editing time before submitting a story anywhere. All of those things put together made a huge difference.

The best tip is the last one though – write regularly and read regularly. It is the regularity that matters. You do kind of build up your writing “muscles” here. From reading, you can work out what it is about stories you love or dislike and apply those principles to your own stories. I dislike insipid heroines so am not writing any!

Yes, you do need some luck. But putting in all the work you can matters too. It is a bit like an apprenticeship here and every writer I know has had their fair share of set backs.

The positive thing about the rejections? They made me look at my stories again and sometimes I could find a way to improve them. So I did. I then resubmitted that work somewhere else and I have been published doing that. Sometimes it was a case of accepting I could do no more with this particular tale – time to write more.

And I found having a story “out there”, another one being written and rested ready for editing, and another one being drafted helped a lot. It still does. It means I always have something on the go. It pays not to pin your hopes on one story on the chance it will be rejected and that then crushes you.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-10-20-1043

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of a long week (well it will seem like an even longer one than usual after the Platinum Jubilee weekend!) and it is time for another story. My new tale on Friday Flash Fiction is Midnight Bells. See what Maggie thinks about bells and firemen here!

Screenshot 2022-06-10 at 09-27-17 Midnight Bells by Allison Symes

If you’d like to check out my latest column on flash fiction for Mom’s Favorite Reads, you can do here. It is great fun writing for the magazine (and a challenge too but writers need a challenge to keep their creativity firing on all cylinders, so to speak).

As with my blogs, I prepare material in advance and this does pay off. It means I’m not going to worry about deadlines as I know I’ve got the piece prepared. And I draft future blogs too. I inevitably use these on those occasions where I really don’t have time to write anything new. That pays too.

Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-38 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-13 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022

Great to see such wonderful comments coming in for On The Doorstep, my most recent story on Friday Flash Fiction Thanks everyone. I love inventing characters but sometimes one particularly “gets” to you. For me Mabel does that here. See what you make of her.

Screenshot 2022-06-10 at 20-22-49 On The Doorstep by Allison Symes

Fairytales with Bite – Celebrations

I loved watching the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee events recently (and I especially loved the Paddington Bear sketch – marmalade sandwich, anyone? Do look this up if you haven’t seen it – it’s good fun and quite sweet too). So all of that turned my thoughts towards celebrations.

In your fictional world, what would these celebrations be for? What food and drink would they have? What music? Can anyone take part or are only certain types allowed to celebrate? I loved the fireworks Gandalf produced in The Lord of The Rings but how would your magical world have a spectacular display like this? Would magic be used to produce it or would things be hand-made?

Is the whole of your society expected to celebrate when told to do so and what would the consequences be for those who do not take part? How do your characters celebrate when, due to their own circumstances in your stories they really don’t feel like doing so? How well can they cover up and pretend all is well?

Who would feel relief when the celebrations were over? That could range from the organisers to the security people who can now step down. So that relief can be for positive reasons rather than the obvious negative ones.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-7-20-5030

BookBrushImage-2022-6-10-20-3028

This World and Others – Commemorative Events

Commemorative events tend to be more sombre than celebrations, of course. So how does your fictional world remember important historical events? Do they actively remember to try to prevent future wars etc? Does your world have schools and how are younger members of your society educated about commemorative events, if so?

I remember being told many years ago by family what the meaning of the Remembrance Sunday/Armistice Day events was and there was no question of not watching or going to these. (My grandfathers both served in the war – one in the forces and later as an ARP Warden in London’s East End and the other in armaments in the Woolwich Arsenal – the latter was forever being bombed out).

Commemorative events are full of meaning and symbolism so how does this work in your fictional world? Can anyone pick up on the meaning of the symbols used? If anyone is excluded from taking part, who are they and why are they shut out? Do different societies in your world commemorate the same event but in vastly different ways and does this cause conflict? People don’t always like different after all.

How did the commemorative events come in to being and who was the driving force behind them? How did they persuade those in authority to stage these things?

Food for thought there I think!

BookBrushImage-2022-6-10-20-4112


Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Jubilees, Flash Fiction, and Publication News


Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and photos relating to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend taken by me, Allison Symes.
It has been a lovely few days. No Jubilees for ages and then two together – Her Majesty’s Platinum one (I loved the Paddington Bear sketch) and the ACW one.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-7-20-5030

Facebook – General

Funny old day weather wise here. June is being far from flaming in my part of the world.

I’ll be looking at Travelling Workshops for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I’ll be taking a look back at two I’ve recently run and share what I think the benefit of these things are. Link up on Friday.

Managed to get a story drafted for Friday Flash Fiction on my train home on Sunday as I came back from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. Polished that up on Monday and submitted it. Also drafted and then edited a story for my Youtube channel on the way home and I hope to share the results of that over on my book page shortly. Good old Evernote – a very handy app to have on my phone!

Screenshot 2022-06-07 at 20-52-43 From Light to Dark and Back Again Facebook


Hectic day after a wonderful and busy weekend away. Lady went bonkers, the way she usually does, when she saw me again last night. She went even more bonkers with her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, in the park this morning! Back to normal here then!

Delighted to come back to another acceptance of a story of mine, which I hope to talk about more later on in the year. Separately have had the contract in for my story for the next Bridge House Publishing Anthology. All exciting stuff.

What is especially nice is for a long time you get stories out there and then things tend to happen at once (or seem to). You get used to those periods where nothing seems to be happening and then make the most of those times when it is clear things are definitely happening!

The writing life really is a roller coaster.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-6-20-4623


Am on my way home from a fabulous Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Had a great time and it was wonderful to catch up with old friends and to make new ones.

I was especially pleased to meet up with #JennySanders because she often sends in stories for the flash fiction challenge I set monthly for Mom’s Favorite Reads. And talking of which I’m pleased to share the link for the June edition of MFR. Hope you enjoy.

Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-38 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022


It was lovely to see so many at my flash fiction workshop at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Many thanks for coming along and I hope people use the writing exercises to draft flash stories. Would love to hear news of publication successes later on.

It has been a fantastic day of celebration and writing here. Have loved catching up with friends and chatting in person to those I’ve enrolled for ACW membership or whose email queries I’ve dealt with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It may be a day later but we can still start the week with a story! Hope you enjoy my latest tale on YouTube – Ringing The Changes.

My post in this month’s Mom’s Favorite Reads is all about Numbers in Flash Fiction. I look at how I use these in various ways to create stories. Link to the magazine here – and do check out the excellent flash pieces that came in as a result. Hope you enjoy.
Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-13 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022

Had a wonderful time talking about flash at the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. I hope people try writing it as well as enjoy reading it. It’s an interesting writing challenge and I’ve found it has sharpened up my writing considerably and not just for my fiction work.

So pleased to be having a standard length short story in the next Bridge House Publishing anthology. Looking forward to finding out what the cover will be – and for The Best of CafeLit 11 also due out later this year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

It has been wonderful to share the joys of flash fiction at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. It was great to share stories and give feedback too. I’ve always found that element of things so useful at workshops.

Back home again tomorrow. Lady will wonder where I’ve been. As usual, Lady went a bit bonkers when I came back! Lots of cuddles and pleased to have ALL of her “pack” back!

Goodreads Author Blog – Sharing Stories

One great joy of stories is their share-ability. I’ve happily recommended books to friends and often taken up their recommendations to me.

When I run writing workshops, especially for flash fiction, I often share a couple of my tales and break down how I wrote them. I’ve learned a lot when other writers do this. We’re all keen to learn more about improving on what we do.

I base my recommendations to others on what I know of their book tastes but also if the characterisation is especially good. We all read to find out what happens to the characters after all.

Screenshot 2022-06-07 at 21-08-20 Shared Stories

Twitter Corner (2)

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

 

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Have enjoyed what I’ve seen of the Platinum Jubilee events (and plan to catch up on the rest next week. Why then? Because I’m off to a Golden Jubilee weekend for the Association of Christian Writers, where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. No Jubilees for ages and then two at once!).

BookBrushImage-2022-5-31-20-5845

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Settings and Simplicity in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at how settings can act like characters. I also wonder whether some authors came up with their settings first and then knew what characters had to be in them or if they came up with the characters first and then had to find the most appropriate setting for them.

I also look at how simple writing takes work and crafting but it is a joy to read and the reader has nothing clunky getting in their way. It makes a huge difference to the reading experience for them. I often wonder when I come across over-complicated prose, as I do sometimes, just what the writer was trying to hide or show off here. For me the joy of writing is about communicating with a reader and I want to be as direct as possible on that. I don’t see the point of doing anything else.

Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2nd June – Queen’s Coronation Day Anniversary

Loved watching Trooping the Colour and the flypast today. Fabulous weather. Great crowds too. I plan to catch up with the other events once I am back from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. Am off on my travels for that tomorrow.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow is all about Settings and Simplicity In Fiction. I look at how settings can act like characters and why simple writing isn’t as easy as it (a) looks and (b) sounds. One benefit from flash fiction writing is it has taught me how to spot my wasted words, what doesn’t add anything to my story, so I know to ruthlessly cut all of that on my edit.

And I have publication news too – I am pleased to say my story has been accepted for the Bridge House Publishing anthology due out later this year. More news as and when – am delighted to be included again. Congratulations to everyone else who received this lovely news too!

BookBrushImage-2022-6-2-20-1227

Two days to go to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. So looking forward to seeing everyone.

Next trip after that will be to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Looking forward to that too! Am getting good use out of my railcard this year. This is nice because I was the woman who bought a railcard two weeks before the first lockdown started in 2020 when nobody was going anywhere. Oops! Making up for lost time now though.

I will be putting my posts up as normal over the weekend but they will be at different times. Will be pretty busy during the day and evening so expect the posts to go up late. I do hope to write up about the weekend (and my time with the lovely people at the London Jesuit Centre recently) for a CFT post before long as well.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

So pleased to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy On The Doorstep. This was a joy to write and I was rooting for my character, Mabel, all the way through. This is good. The first person to care about a character should be their creator!

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/on-the-doorstep-by-allison-symes

Screenshot 2022-06-02 at 20-42-56 Friday Flash Fiction

One reason I outline before writing a story is to avoid the old saggy middle problem. Yes, it can happen in flash fiction too. I’ve found knowing my start and end points is a good way of avoiding that issue. I know where I’m heading so off I go!

How much to outline is up to each writer. I don’t fill in each and every detail as I want to give my imagination manoeuvre room, as I’ve mentioned before, but I do need the “pillars” of the story in place so I know from the start the structure is going to be okay. (Maybe without a good structure in place, that encourages the saggy middle to happen – just a thought).

I think it is a question of working out what you need to know before writing a story and that will differ from writer to writer as well.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-2-20-1818

Looking forward to sharing the joys of flash fiction at the ACW Golden Jubilee at the weekend. Talking about talking…! One good thing about flash is when you do use dialogue, you’ve got to keep it focused. I must admit I do enjoy getting characters chatting but conversational ping-pong is not the idea!

What I look for dialogue to do (including internal dialogue) is for it to move the story on in some way. If it does, fab; it stays in. If not, out comes the old editing pen. It has helped to be aware though that I do like conversational ping-pong. I love to hear my characters speak because to me that proves they are “real”.

But the overriding concern has to be does it help the story develop? That is my guiding light as to whether something stays in a tale or not, regardless ot the story length.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-1-20-2620

Fairytales with Bite – Clothes in a Magical World

When the thought for this topic came to me. I thought of two stories immediately. The obvious one was Cinderella – the rags being turned into that wonderful dress.

I also thought of the fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker – I do count shoes as clothes (well, if you’re going out somewhere, you need something on your feet!, but also because of how this story ends with the shoemaker’s wife sewing clothes for the elves in return for their kindness to her husband and herself. I also like this story because you get to see the elves being cobblers (and not just using magic to make the shoes etc) and you also see the wife sewing.

I could have thought of The Emperor’s New Clothes too but that is really a story about a pair of successful con artists when all is said and done!

So in your created world, what do your characters wear? What are the differences between species and/or classes here? How are the items made? Is there a manufacturing industry as such or does everyone make their own? Or are skills bartered? What equipment is used? I’ll take spinning wheels as a given!

In your stories, you almost certainly won’t need to go into a lot of detail here but the odd line here or there about who wears what, where they get clothes etc from will help your world seem more real to a reader. Having a character go to a shop (or your world’s equivalent) would be enough to show a reader how this works. I love little details in stories. They help me picture things and I won’t be the only reader who thinks that.

This World and Others – Material Matters

Tying in with Fairytales with Bite , where does your fictional world get its materials from, whether for clothing, shoe making or anything else? Can it produce its own or does it have to import some or all of what it needs? Where would it import from and have there ever been trade wars etc or have two societies been able to trade successfully?

When it comes to producing its own, what can it produce? Are crops (such as cotton) grown? What kind of people in your society would do things like that? Are they looked down on for doing manual work or held in high esteem? Attitudes to others have repercussions!

What does your fictional world value? We obviously value things like gold and silver but do they? In a world where that is common place, it might be treated with contempt. You don’t tend to notice the “every day” stuff.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Twitter Corner

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Pleased to share latest CFT post. I look at settings acting like characters and why simple writing isn’t easy writing. It is vital for good prose though!<a href=”https://t.co/llXyQpHphi“>https://t.co/llXyQpHphi</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1532659454084251648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>June 3, 2022</a></blockquote> http://a%20href=

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Hope you enjoy my latest drabble on Friday Flash Fiction. I was rooting for my character, Mabel. Hope you do too.<a href=”https://t.co/Q7WjxPCo5T“>https://t.co/Q7WjxPCo5T</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1532659994797154304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>June 3, 2022</a></blockquote> http://a%20href=

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions In Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend at the end of next week. I’ll be running my flash fiction workshop at that. Good to have some gloriously sunny weather in my part of the UK. The dog and I have been making the most of it!

WOWIG advert

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m pleased to share Reading, Rhythms and Resolutions in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Must admit I’m enjoying writing the In Fiction series. Only one more tricky letter to think about – X! Wish me luck!

In this week’s post I look at the reasons why writers should read widely. It’s something writers are often told to do but here I look at specific reasons why it is such a good idea. I also look at why making writer friends also helps with your reading “diet” – doing so myself has done wonders for mine!

I go on to look at rhythms in stories. Now these can vary depending on genre. Crime ones for example tend to have a fast rhythm to them, a reflective piece has a slower one, but all have to follow an internal rhythm we as readers subconsciously pick up on.

Occasionally I have read a story which hasn’t felt right to me and on looking back at it, this is because the rhythm of the story is wrong for the type of story that it is. Something feels out of kilter and it is nearly always the rhythm.

As for the resolution side of things, again a story has to have a resolution which works for it. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t always work out in practice. A resolution shouldn’t be based on chance. It should also be apt to the character and type of story. My post looks at this aspect of things too. Hope you enjoy the post.

Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions In Fiction is my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week – link up tomorrow. See above.

I’ll be looking at why reading is so important for a writer, how stories should have a natural rhythm to them (though the rhythm can vary on genre – crime fiction will always be faster paced than reflective tales, say), and why resolutions should tie in with and make sense for your character and setting.

Just over a week to go to the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Am so looking forward to going and catching up with people. I’ll be running my flash fiction workshop and I hope people will leave it either with a draft story completed and read out later in the day or with something for them to take home and work on further (and then submit somewhere. I would love to hear of publishing success as a result of this). Looking forward to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School later on in the year too.

Writing Niggle Number 1890 – why is it I can never find a pen when I want one? I know I’ve got them. I’ve got loads in fact. But are they ever to hand when I need to jot something down quickly? Of course they’re not! For almost any other profession, this would be one of those things but for a writer? We’re supposed to have pens on us!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-26-19-594

Blustery day today, more like autumn out there. Not impressed! Am grateful writing is generally done indoors.

Do you have any writing niggles? If you’ve got loads, which ones particularly bug you? Mine are:-

1. Phone going just as I am completing an edit and I lose my train of thought. Okay, I can ignore the phone, but that train of thought has been derailed and nothing is bringing that back quickly. It is as if I have to step right back to just before that wretched phone rang…

2. Manage to do that and am settling down to editing the next bit when guess what… the phone goes again. Worse, it’s one of those fake Amazon/Inland Revenue calls designed to part you from your money. I’m usually thinking unpleasant thoughts at this point. May ask one of my crime writer pals (you know who you are) to arrange something to deal with these people in their next novel so the scammers never bother anyone again. How about it, girls? You would be doing the world a service here, honestly.

3. Getting off to a slow start with my writing session, then the spark really gets going and I can’t type fast enough. Okay it’s great the spark gets going but I prefer an even pace throughout and would like that spark to turn up sooner! I’m good to go, it’s just that my brain isn’t! Have learned to accept you do just get days like this. What matters is I am writing something which can be improved at a later date but it is frustrating at the time.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-25-16-5910

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. This one is called The Heights of Equals and is based on a random generator which came up with “pet peeves” as a theme.

I chose one pet peeve for one character and created the story from that. It is also one where I have immense sympathy with my heroine here given I am also under five feet tall. Is it a coincidence I gave my heroine the same name as myself given this information? Err.. No! Hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2022-05-27 at 09-24-38 The Heights of Equals by Allison Symes

Really enjoyed the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Group meeting on Zoom last night. I set everyone a challenge too which I will also have a go at. Groups like this are great for encouraging you to write (a) more – if I do the challenge, I will have an extra story to my credit and (b) encourage people to write something short.

The nice thing with flash is you have a market now for small pieces. If time is tight as it so often is for most of us, five minutes is enough to draft something towards a complete flash story. You’ve then got something to carry on with the next time you’ve got five minutes spare. You can build up a story like that.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-26-20-512

I was chatting about writing niggles over on my Facebook author page and one that bugs me from time to time over flash fiction writing is when I’ve got an idea for a 100-word story and a competition/market to sent it to, but try as I might, the tale will end up at 150 words or so. I know now to leave it as it is and write something else for the 100 word market but it can be frustrating at times!

Having said that, this happens and it means I end up writing two stories so you could argue it increases my productivity.

Screenshot 2022-05-27 at 17-15-34 Allison Symes Facebook

Fairytales with Bite – Using Minor Characters

I’ve used minor fairytale characters in stories. Indeed my first published story in print was about the youngest stepsister to Cinderella and appeared in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology back in 2009. It is great fun to write fairytales from the viewpoint of other characters.

Minor characters should have a vital role to play in your story, even though they’re not on the “stage” for long. This could be anything from providing key information to unwittingly getting in the way and having to be “removed” in some way so the lead character can get on with the job they’re meant to do. It should be clear to the reader why they’re in the story. The story should feel as if something was missing if they weren’t in it.

A good way of flagging up whether a character is important to a story is to name them. Unnamed characters are generally seen as “walk-ons”.

In longer works, minor characters can have sub-plots of their own which should add something to the overall plot. Think about The Lord of the Rings. The lead story there is Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring of Power but there are many sub-plots including the role of Pippin and Merry. They’re not major in their own right (not compared with Frodo and Sam anyway) but their story adds something vital to the overall depth of that book.

Could your minor characters do the same for your story?

Always ask yourself what their role is to ensure there really is a place for them in the tale.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-27-17-2110

This World and Others – Layers

What layers does your fictional world have? I think of layers as dimensions to the fictional world created. For example. Do you focus on the political side of things with layers of government etc. Or do you focus on the creative side of your world with the layers being the various arts and industries supported by those arts?

What is the most important thing about your fictional world and how does that impact on your characters?

What layers are there to your characters themselves? What hidden depths do they have (or are they strictly shallow)?

I focus on characters for my stories so I want to know what drives those people. I need to know what their major trait is as that will give me a rough picture of what they are like.

Minor traits tend to back up the major one. For example, if a character is brave, are they also honest, direct in their speech and actions etc? Answering those questions helps me build up a composite picture of my characters and then I get on with the draft.

Working out what you need to know, what layers your world/characters needs to have for you to write convincingly about them, pays off. It can can save you a lot of grief in the editing.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-27-17-277

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Questions in Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good few days. I ‘fess up to one of the downsides of scheduling this week! Let’s just say I think most schedulers get caught out this way at some point and this week it was my turn!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-20-18-5937

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Now I’ve talked before about the virtues of scheduling blog posts etc. It is a useful thing to do but one slight downside is it can mean you get ahead of yourself a bit and I’ve realised I’ve just done that for Chandler’s Ford Today.

My post this week is actually called Questions in Fiction where I talk about using questions as a structure, as inspiration for themes and titles, and I look at questions for characters too.

Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 09-54-18 Questions In Fiction - Chandler's Ford Today

My Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions post will be on CFT next Friday, 27th May and will I hope to prove to be equally useful as I discuss why reading matters so much to writers. I will also look at rhythms in stories and how resolutions have to be suitable, even if not happy ones.

Apologies for the mix up but as ever comments on all of my CFT posts are welcome over on the website. (It has been a long week! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

Questions In Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you have had a good day. Nice to see some decent weather. Other half and I enjoyed our evening meal al fresco which was lovely and not something we get to do that often.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow covers Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction. Err… no! See above! As ever comments are welcome in the CFT box. This is always true though!

Talking of comments, many thanks for the comments in on my Authors Electric post yesterday. See below. I was talking about Why I Love the Short Fictional Forms. I love novels, novellas, short story anthologies, and flash fiction collections though I must admit I would like the latter two to have as much “status” as novels.

What every short form writer will hear at some point includes the following:-

1. When are you going to write a proper book?

2. Can you only do short stories then?

3. You must be belting out short stories all the time then because they can’t take you long!

4. Are short stories only for children?

5. Is there really a market for short stories?

Answers (possibly given to stop the writer from gnashing their teeth at the questioner):-

1. A short story or flash collection is a proper book. It still takes time to compile, edit, and proof-read.

2. No but I love short stories so that’s what I write.

3. I do write a fair few but each story needs editing and crafting and that takes longer than you might think.

4. No! Best example here is the original story of The Birds by Daphne du Maurier, which Alfred Hitchcock then turned into a film. Definitely not for kids!

5. Yes. It’s a question of knowing where to look. There are the magazines, including the online ones. There are the competitions. And then there is the indie press who are open to collections.

I feel better for getting that off my mind!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-19-18-5539

18th May – Authors Electric
It’s always a joy to blog for Authors Electric, especially when it’s on a topic close to my heart. This month I talk about Why I Love The Shorter Fictional Forms. I celebrate the wonders of the short story and flash fiction formats here.

One great aspect to them is you get the “payback” from a twist in the tale story, to name one example. that much more quickly. And I love going on from story to story in a collection too. In one book I can read a variety of moods and genres. Why should mixed assortments only be for chocolates?!

Screenshot 2022-05-18 at 08-51-06 Why I Love the Short Fictional Forms by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

20th May 2002 – Bonus Post – Mom’s Favorite Reads
Pleased to share a bonus post tonight. Here is an example of a column I write on flash fiction for Mom’s Favorite Reads. The magazine is FREE to download and, as well as the column, I set a writing challenge each month. Why not take a look, have a good read, and give the challenge a go?

Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 12-20-06 Flash Fiction

I like to start the working week with a story (YouTube) and I like to end it with one (Friday Flash Fiction). Seems like a good arrangement to me! Hope you enjoy my latest tale on FFF called Another Birthday.
Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 09-54-32 Another Birthday by Allison Symes

Titles can carry a lot of “weight” for flash fiction but I’ve found they work best when kept short. I like to use my titles to either indicate the mood of the story to come or to be open to interpretation so someone has to read the story to find out which direction I have taken it in. I sometimes subvert well known phrases (my Punish the Innocent is an example of that).

I also like using one word titles such as Expecting – the idea there is to raise questions in the reader’s mind. Who is expecting what? Are they going to be disappointed or thrilled?

So I do give some thought as to what I want my title to be/to do. For flash this is useful as in many cases, the title does not count as part of your overall word count so a writer can use that to good effect.

However, a ten word title to indicate mood etc isn’t going to work. As with the story itself, you want to have an impact on the reader and that works best when kept short. A long title will dilute the effect (and be harder for readers to remember).

BookBrushImage-2022-5-19-19-123

I love slipping in humorous one-liners into my flash stories sometimes. For example in my story, Rewards, from From Light to Dark and Back Again, I have the line “The mocking face of blue-eyed brunette, Gemma Alderson, who was endowed with a bosom that could knock someone out if deployed as a weapon”.

It was great fun writing that but I needed it to have a purpose too – I wanted to send out a specific image (and I so do there!). I could’ve just said that Gemma was big-busted and saved a fair number of words in doing that but it wouldn’t have been so much fun to read or to write.

So yes there is a time when you need more words rather than less in flash fiction but there should always be a specific purpose behind it. Here it was to raise a smile! Good enough reason for me!

Fairytales With Bite – Making the Most of Tropes

For my flash fiction, I can make the most of tropes to help me get the most out of my word count.

If I’ve got a fairy godmother character, I needn’t go into details about the magical equipment she uses, say. You will expect there to be a magic wand, probably a spell book, maybe some pre-prepared potions and so on. You will bring to the story what you know from other fairytales you have read. You will know what to expect. What you don’t want is for something to spill over into cliche.

Yet a fairy godmother character who turns up without a magic wand would seem odd to a reader. So you can use the conventions to your advantage here. You can work out what you don’t need to explain and what you can leave to your readers as they fill in the gaps.

And, yes, things like magic wands can act as a kind of a shorthand. Saves a lot of explaining on your part. Pick your “things readers could reasonably expect” carefully.

If you want to bring in a twist on your trope, such as my fairy godmother character hitting someone with her wand rather than aiming it at them, do explain why. Better still, get your characters to do it. There must be a good reason for the trope being used in a strange way.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-17-20-3640

This World and Others – World Building Acrostic

W = Work out whether you’re going to show the whole of your world in a story or just part of it.

O = Originality – what makes your world stand out? How is it different from ours?

R = Realistic characters are always vital. Just bear in mind in a strange setting, those characters can still be realistic even if, say, they are e a great big dragon! Their behaviour and attitudes should be reasonable for the world you’re in.

L = Limits are a good idea, funnily enough. Limit what your powerful characters can do and make them think of alternative solutions to problems.

D = Dreams – what do your characters want and what stops them getting it? Are their dreams/ambitions etc constrained by the type of world they’re living in?

 

B = Build in contrasts. Comparisons with things on earth bring home this is a alien type story.

U = Under your world – what lies there? All sorts of things are being discovered in our seas so what could be beneath current knowledge in your world? Could that have a major impact on them later.

I = Imagination. Have plenty of it! Use the right telling details to help us conjure up what you’ve created.

L= Lunches and leisure – how does your creative world affect them? Does everyone have to stop at a certain time? If so, what would happen on the odd occasion they couldn’t turn up?

D = Dig deep into your characters’ lives but also in to why this setting rather than one other.

I = Intensify the conflicts between certain people groups on your home planet.Look at how these developed. Then ideally come across people from both who will try to put things right. great drama there!

N = New scene, new paragraph. Keep things nice and tight. Drip feed information in throughout the story. Don’t go for big blocks of explaining. Those will be what readers skip.

G = Go for it! Have fun. Think about what you need to know to be able to write the world and characters up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Dragon of Wantley, Live Events, and the Writing Life

Image Credits:- 
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Company for supplying most of the images for my review of their recently staged The Dragon of Wantley for Chandler’s Ford Today.
Hope you have had a good week. Weather improving here. Hints of summer in the air too.

Screenshot 2022-05-06 at 17-04-28 The Dragon of Wantley - Chameleon Theatre Company - Review - Chandler's Ford TodayScreenshot 2022-05-06 at 17-04-48 One of Those Days by Allison Symes

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It is with great pleasure I share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post, my review of The Dragon of Wantley. This wonderful pantomime (loosely based on a true story) was recently staged by the fantastic Chameleon Theatre Company.

My lovely editor at CFT, Janet Williams, and I had a fabulous time and spent most of the evening laughing (a sure sign of a successful pantomime well performed). For more details and a good flavour of what went on, do check out the review. It is so nice getting out to live events again and being able to review them once more too.

(And if you’re in a position to support your local amateur dramatic company, do so. I’ve watched many gems performed by The Chameleons and discovered plays new to me and I look forward to that continuing. Watching a live performance is a fabulous way of taking in a story when all is said and done).

A huge thank you to The Chameleons for the great pictures for this post too.

The Dragon of Wantley – Chameleon Theatre Company – Review

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Looking forward to sharing my review of The Dragon of Wantley, the recent production staged by the Chameleon Theatre Company, for Chandler’s Ford Today.  See above. It has been lovely getting out to live events and reviewing them once again. I’ll resume my In Fiction series on 13th May.

Why did I start to write? Well, I’ve always been a reader. I loved what was known as composition lessons in English in school where I could invent stories. It just took me a while to realise I could carry on doing that as an adult!

What do I want from my writing? I want to improve on what I do, to continue having fun creating stories, and to be published as often as possible. I don’t expect to make my fortune (which is just as well!) but the moment writing stops being fun is the moment I will consider hanging up up my PC/pen. Writing has to be fun.

And creating something which is unique should be a joy (though it is also hard work and there are bound to be moments when any writer will wonder if the slog is worth it. I often find when I feel like that it is because I am tired. That is when I back off a bit and start being kinder to myself. Then the joy of writing comes back. I don’t think that’s a coincidence).

I know now as well in a way I could not know when I was starting that the writing life is a roller coaster. It helps to know to expect the peaks and troughs and this is all normal, It isn’t just me!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-6-19-4347

4th May!

Hope you have had a good day (Star Wars related or otherwise!). Am busy getting workshop material ready and looking forward to presenting both in due course. I love going to workshops too and always learn a great deal from them.

This is where my trusty notebook and pen gets a good workout too! The act of writing something down helps embed what you are writing down into your memory so there’s another reason to do it! Is there a writer out there who doesn’t have the dilemma of which notebook and pen combo to use? Oh well. It’s a nice dilemma to have.

I do sometimes read out a flash piece or two of mine when giving a workshop as I select stories which will back up the points I’m making. The nice thing with flash of course is that this doesn’t take too long. I think it’s easier to take the points made on board too.

So practicing reading out loud is a good idea too. The biggest thing I’ve had to learn to do here is slow myself down when reading. That also makes it easier for me not to trip over my own words.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-26-20-3335

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’m pleased to share my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. My One of Those Days is based on ideas triggered by a random noun generator this time. I generated two items – a waitress and a tiara. See how I used them here! Hope you enjoy the story.

Screenshot 2022-05-06 at 17-04-48 One of Those Days by Allison Symes

One of my own favourite openings comes from Helping Out in From Light to Dark and Back Again. This reads as:-

It’s not everyday you untangle Hanacrill, a fairy who, Merlin knows how, got caught in a Leylandii hedge but being a witch means being able to handle anything though I’m not meant to rescue fairies.

Why do I like this one?

Firstly, you hear the character voice clearly. You can sense the attitude!

Secondly, you’ve got a fantastical setting spelled out in only a few words (fairy, witch, Merlin etc).

Thirdly, you’ve got a situation which I hope makes the reader curious. Just why would a witch come to the rescue of a fairy? How did that fairy end up getting tangled up like that?

Fourthly, you have a named character who has to be important to the story somehow – and so does the unnamed narrator. They’re telling the story after all so they have to be “in on it” in some way.

Fifthly, you can sense the mood. There is humour here if only in the idea of a fairy getting caught up in a hedge.

If I was writing this again now, I would split the sentence after the word hedge. This is a long one by my standards and I usually prefer short and punchy lines. But this one does work and I do love lines which show a lot of information like this. No need for lots of description. You an imagine what a fairy might look like and do the same for the unnamed witch.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-6-19-5532
4th May – Star Wars Day!

When I’m reading a flash collection by someone else I’m looking for a nice mixture of story moods. I do like a good selection! It helps with the tempo of the book too. I like a nice mix of upbeat and lower beat stories.

Life is like that so I like my story collections to reflect this. It also means there will be a good mixture of characters in the collection. Some will serve humorous pieces better than others, for example. And I like to “meet” a nice range of characters in any anthology.

When I’m putting a collection together, I like a nice balance of characters and stories knowing it is what I would like to read (and other readers will feel the same way. Again I have my Ideal Reader in mind here.). I also like to vary the flash word count used too. I’ve mentioned before I think of my books as mixed assortments of stories so it makes sense to me to vary the word count element too.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-29-20-717 - Copy

Fairytales With Bite – A Wand’s Tale

Woe to the one misusing me.
Who thinks that by casting a spell
He can get out of and be free
From fetching water from the well.

Who using objects for his work
Means he can take things so easy
Magic is not meant to let you shirk
Life isn’t so easy-peasy.

So guess who then called the big boss
When things went so horribly wrong?
His Nibs won’t let anyone “doss”
He’ll make them sing a different song.

That young smart alec apprentice?
You should’ve seen him go bright red
It was all rather momentous
Hearing what the big boss then said.

He came up with a naughty word
Oh I blushed as the big boss swore.
The apprentice didn’t – he’d “heard”
It from the owner of the store.

Where our lad “worked” briefly last time.
Boss there sacked him with a rude mime!

Allison Symes – 4th May 2022

And before you ask, I do love the music and story of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-6-20-56

This World and Others – When Things Go Wrong

Hope you enjoyed the above. It was fun to write. Now things did go wrong for that lazy apprentice and he was taught a lesson.

When things go wrong for your characters in your settings, how do they learn their lessons? Was it something they did need to learn of were they a little bit unlucky? What kind of machinery etc exists in your created world and what are the consequences when that goes wrong?

For the rulers of your setting, what things could go wrong for them and what do they do to try and prevent this? Would this explain why they rule by dictatorship, for example?

Understanding where your characters come from is important. It will help you picture them better and write them up more convincingly because you will believe in them precisely because you do know where they are coming from. Readers will pick up on that too.

Of course things could go wrong in a humorous way too. How do your characters react to that? Do they find it funny? What would happen when one character did find something amusing and another one finds it to be anything but hilarious? How would that change the nature of the relationship between the two? What impact would that have on the rest of the story and would it lead to other things going wrong, which are not so funny?

BookBrushImage-2022-5-6-20-1318

twitter-corner-2

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Getting The Story Down and Hooks

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Weather still hot and cold (literally) where I am right now. I guess that’s a kind of bank holiday tradition in the UK!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-3-20-5019

BookBrushImage-2022-4-29-20-240

Facebook – General

Writing Tip Number 5085 (or thereabouts): When set a writing exercise or responding to a prompt, just get the story down as quickly as you can. Go with your imaginative gut here. You can tidy things up in the edits. It is what edits are for! (And yes there will be more than one).

I’ve mentioned before I always feel a certain sense of relief once I’ve got my first draft down. This is because I know I have got something to work with and improve. I’m not worried about the fact it will need improving. Shakespeare didn’t write a perfect first draft. Neither did Dickens.

Guess what? I’m not going to either! But that’s okay. What matters is having that something to work with in the first place. As someone wiser than me once said, you can’t edit a blank page.

Editing has its creative side too

Hope those of you who had a Bank Holiday today enjoyed it. It was overcast and cold today so we got the traditional weather associated with most UK bank holiday weekends!

Have loved the movie music special that’s been on Classic FM today. As ever, the theme from Jaws gave me the creeps. Am so glad I only ever swim in a swimming pool! Am still hoping the Pink Panther theme will come on. (Apologies for those of you who, like me, are of a certain age, as you too will now have an earworm on the go).

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be my review of The Dragon of Wantley, the latest production from the Chameleon Theatre Company. Link up on Friday. (Many thanks to them for sharing with me some fabulous pics – I look forward to sharing them via my post).

I’ve been using the old random generators again. I used the random noun one this time and chose two items – a waitress and a tiara, an interesting combination! I’ve used both for my story which I hope will be on Friday Flash Fiction later this week. I used just one of them for my YouTube video, which I will share over on my book page shortly. See below for link.Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 20-53-53 From Light to Dark and Back Again Facebook
Happy reading Sunday! Am glad to report the May edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out – see the link. For my column this month, I look at Objects in Flash Fiction and share how these can be used to create some great stories. It helps a lot that the reader can picture the object you choose.

The object I chose for this column was a silver teapot and I share my story here. But do check out the other flash pieces that came in as a result of the challenge I set. There are some wonderful tales here. And you can always make yourself a nice brew in a silver teapot while you enjoy a good read!

Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 20-57-08 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine May 2022 eBook Publishing Goylake Howe Hannah Smith Melanie Fae Sylva Jones Wendy H Macleod Sheena Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle StoreHope you have had a good Saturday. Spent some time in the garden. Lady loves it out there. Next couple of weekends will be busy so it has been nice to have a quiet one this time.

My monthly author newsletter goes out again tomorrow. Now sent but do sign up on my landing page! I’m planning to review the wonderful The Dragon of Wantley for Chandler’s Ford Today as next Friday’s post. I will resume my In Fiction series after that.

Many thanks for the comments in on Reflection, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. This is an object lesson in not being vain and/or greedy, literally an object lesson. Also it acts as a reminder to be careful about what you wish for.


Screenshot 2022-04-29 at 19-00-20 Reflection by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Bank holidays are lovely but they always make me feel as if I’ve somehow skipped a day all week. Throws the dog a bit too (suddenly wonders where everyone has gone!).

Now how do your characters approach holidays? Do they take any? Could your flash piece be a story about what happened on a holiday?

The nearest I’ve got to that I think is my Camping It Up from Tripping the Flash Fantastic where a vengeful fairy disrupts a camping site. Good fun to write.

Holidays are where the normal routines are suspended for a while so that in itself could lead to interesting story ideas.

Framed Flash Collections


It’s (bank holiday) Monday and time for a story. Hope you enjoy Putting on a Good Front, my latest YouTube video. Let’s just say my sympathy is with Marjorie. See what you think.

 

Hope you have had a good Sunday. The rain is back and the temperature has dropped again – welcome to a UK spring!

My latest flash fiction column is out in the May 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads. I talk about Objects in Flash Fiction this time. Yes, I do use a random object generator to trigger these.

The huge advantage of that is I don’t know what will come up so I “raise my game” to meet the challenge set by the object which has been generated. Making yourself think in different ways encourages creativity. I know I’ve produced far more stories due to doing this.

I like to have a mixture of ways into writing a story as it keeps things interesting for me (and hopefully for future readers too), stops me from falling into a rut, and there is always a challenge to be faced and dealt with. I love that. And I get to do my favourite writing thing all the time – invent new characters to write about!

Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 20-58-14 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine May 2022

 

Almost at the end of another month but at last the weather is warming up a bit.

I sometimes write poetic justice stories. As with the twist endings, I tend to work out what that poetic justice should be first. I want to ensure that is right. I can then ensure my character motivations tie in to it nicely and that the character on the receiving end of the poetic justice really does deserve it! Mind you, it is huge fun working that out!

Whatever my kind of story, everything in it has to make sense. A reader should be able to see where a character is coming from and to understand why they are the way they are.

Motivations need to be strong enough too. This is where asking “what if” helps a lot. I ask what if X happened, would I then really do Y or could I be talked out of it? Or if I was to do Y, what would be the X behind that? There has to be an X here! Characters won’t do things without good reason to do then, any more than we would, which is another way in which fiction reflects what we know.

Character Needs are everything

Goodreads Author Blog – Hooks

As a writer, I think about hooks a lot. I want different ways in which to “lure” a reader into reading my stories, of course. And with my reader’s hat on, I want to be lured into reading by a promising character, an intriguing opening line, a promising idea on the book’s back over and so on.

What I need to make sure of as a writer is that I deliver on my promise to the reader to give them a good read. And with my reader’s hat on I want to find out that character was even more promising than I thought, the intriguing opening line led me into a wonderful story, and the idea on the back cover was fulfilled. The good thing with the latter is that if the author delivers here, I am far more likely to want to read more of their works.

Hooks matter then but delivering on them is even more important. You don’t want the reader to feel let down. Neither do I, as reader, want to feel let down. In situations like that I am highly unlikely to read anything by that author again.

When I’m browsing books, I do turn to the blurb first and then look at the first few opening lines. If I like both, I’ll get the book. The hook has worked!

My favourite kind of hook is the intriguing character one because I want to find out what happens to them and that keeps me reading.

Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 21-09-40 Hooks

twitter-corner-2

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.