A Questionable Choice, Spoilers, and Characterisation

Image Credit:-

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.

Hope you had a good weekend. Weather continues to be strange for the time of year here. Oh and writing wise, one rejection and one acceptance this week!

The Writing Journey

Facebook – General


Enjoyed my first swim of the week today but it is the hardest one of the week to do! And I knew I’d tired Lady out this morning as she didn’t get off the sofa to come and greet me. It looked as if she’d just woken up as she looked at me as if to say “you’re back, then!”

What I love about writing (and I promise to keep this short, honest!):-

  • Inventing characters
  • Inventing things for them to say and do
  • Putting them in conflict with each other and/or their environment and enjoying the show as they battle it out! (I know, I know… I am a nice girl really, honest).
  • Editing my draft and almost feeling the story “tighten” up and be so much better than that first draft.
  • Submitting the finished story.
  • Being told it has been accepted or if I’m preparing a story for use on my website or Youtube channel, creating a video to go with it.

All great fun and now back to it!

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Hope you had a good weekend. Another blustery day in Hampshire today, Still feels like flaming March!

I found out yesterday the story I submitted for the annual Bridge House Publishing anthology didn’t make it. On the plus side a story I sent to CafeLit will be appearing next week! Will share the link when I have it.

I will at some point have another look at my BHP story and see if I can submit it somewhere else. I often can (and there is always the possibility of including it in a single author collection – nothing is wasted in writing. I’ve found I can recycle most things in some way and sometimes a story turned down in one place is accepted by another).

You never lose the buzz of being published so, yes, having a turn down is always disappointing but I’ve also been encouraged by all those times when I have been able to recycle a story elsewhere. So I know I can have a crack at that again. And there is always the next story to work on! There is always a next story!


My Chandler’s Ford Today post later this coming week will be on the theme of Understanding. (Couldn’t we all do with more of that in the world?). I look at how reading encourages empathy and why this is good for you. I also have a look at understanding how stories work. I’ve found learning this has helped me as I craft my flash and other stories. Look forward to sharing this on Friday.

Have discovered a one-star review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic but there’s no name or comment left with it. Does this mean I have “arrived”?! I know everyone gets them…! (I guess it gets my number of reviews up anyway! – Oh and yes please to anyone who hasn’t yet reviewed TTFF – reviews are always helpful. Thanks!).

Also a big hello to those newly signed up to my author newsletter. Good to have you aboard. Hope you enjoy the freebie (which you’ll find as a link in the welcome email). I share tips, flash stories, as well as news here on the 1st of each month – if you would like to sign up please head to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am working on a piece I hope to submit to an online magazine later this week – am loving writing it and reading back issues of the magazine too. Yes, I do always read copies of anything I am hoping to submit work to – how else will you get a feel for the style they want? And it is huge fun to do of course!

Hope you have had a good Saturday. Can’t believe the weather. More like March than May out there. Still Lady got to have an excellent run with a whippet, Milo, earlier today, and a good time was had by all. Lady can keep up with, and sometimes outrun, your average whippet. Yes, she is that fast. Equally fast at coming through for when she just knows it’s dinner time. Strange that.

One of the things I love about characterisation is when it is done well, you do feel as if you are inside that character’s head and can almost feel their pains, their joys etc. I’m currently reading a book for someone where they have got the narrative voice down so well, it almost takes my breath away and it is a sheer joy to read because of that.

A character that grips you is one that will grip the reader. Think about what kind of characters you like. What is it about them that appeals? Look for ways of reproducing that for when you plan out your characters.

If you like honesty as a trait, how will your lead character show that honesty? Is that honesty welcome or does it land them right in it? Think about the things that could come from that honesty – another character being honest back could tell your lead person truths about themselves they won’t like which could set off a chain of events.

If your characters don’t engage you, they won’t for anyone else. You do have to like your people, people (!), even if you loathe what they go on and do in your story.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


Many thanks for the great responses to my story video, A Questionable Choice. Also thanks to those who put comments up on my Youtube channel. If you’d like to subscribe to this the link you need is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

I usually create a story on a Sunday and upload it for a Monday. This is a great way of sharing mini-tales!

Screenshot_2021-05-11 Allison Symes


Pleased to share my latest story video, A Questionable Choice, with you. Hope you enjoy. (And a big welcome to my most recent subscribers too). As ever, I created this one in Book Brush, uploaded it to Youtube, and added a free to use music track. (Youtube have a great audio library and a huge thank you to Dawn Kentish Knox for flagging that up).


I chatted about spoilers for my Goodreads blog this week but another advantage to flash fiction is you can’t really have them here! The form is too short to stand such things. By the time you’ve skim read the story to work out what the spoiler might be, you have in fact read the tale!

One thing you can do with flash though is analyse your stories. Now you may argue surely the form is too short for that but I’ve found this isn’t the case. I still need to ask myself does this character work? Do they convince me? I also look at whether I’ve placed the lines (in some cases individual words – see my post from yesterday on this) in the right places to trigger the most impact on a reader.

I also analyse stories I read, of any length, to work out what made these work for me. I can then learn from that and apply it to my own fiction. I can do the same with non-fiction pieces and learn from that for my Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, More Than Writers posts etc.

Writing is good for you not just because it stretches you creatively, it encourages you to learn. Every writer learns from those who have gone before us and our contemporaries. What that should do is encourage us to “up our game” and produce even better stories, articles etc.

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If I have one favourite flash tale of mine, it has to be Calling the Doctor. See book trailer below! The reason I like it is because I change the whole mood of the story with the last word. And you can have great fun placing your words at the right places to create maximum impact on your readers. Had I used that last word for this story earlier on, it would simply have become a spoiler. (No spoilers here, thank you!).

This is one of those tales where I did know the ending first and worked backwards to get to a logical starting point. For those stories with twist endings and punchlines, I do think that is the best approach to writing them. It works for me!


Goodreads Author Blog – Spoilers

I have a simple attitude towards book/story/film spoilers – I avoid them! But almost inevitably there are times when, despite everything, you come across the wretched things.

Now do these stop you reading the book/story or watching the film? They don’t for me. I tend to then read/watch to find out if the spoiler did reveal everything or whether there were bits left unrevealed for me to discover.

When writing my flash collections, I need to give enough information away to hopefully get readers to want to check my books out but without telling them everything. It’s not an easy balancing act to get right.

So how much is too much information?

I don’t want to find out the endings, I really do want to find out for myself. I don’t mind being told something like there are plenty of surprises, one of the major characters doesn’t make it (because I then have to read or watch to find out who that was), but I don’t want name drops or to be told the ending is a miserable one. If the story has to end miserably, I want to find out myself and see that the ending is appropriate.

And if the ending isn’t appropriate for the characters and the story being told, I consider that a spoiler. A writer has to deliver on the promise of their story after all.

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The Joy of Photos – and Finding My Feet

Now there’s a post heading I hadn’t expected to write! All will be explained below…

Image Credit:

  • All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
  • Images from Scotland were taken by me for my Chandler’s Ford Today this week bar one. That was the one with me in it taken by Adrian Symes.
  • Images of me reading at Bridge House and Swanwick events taken by Dawn Kentish Knox and Penny Blackburn respectively.
  • Image of me signing a copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again for the talented and lovely Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, was taken by Jennifer C Wilson at Swanwick. We all missed Swanwick this year, cancelled due to Covid.
  • There! I think I’ve credited everyone I need to now! And a big thank you to all for the pictures. Appropriately my CFT post this week touches on the importance of photos!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Double bubble from me this evening. Firstly I talk about The Joy of Photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. The great thing with this post is I had no trouble sourcing images for this one at all! I share a few of my favourites, some of which naturally involve Lady, but also discuss the impact of photos on writers.

Not only is there the author pic we all need to have so people know who we are, but then there are the book cover images, book trailers etc. Without still images, there would have been no moving ones either. So photos are definitely something to celebrate.

Hope you enjoy the post! (Oh and I was thrilled to find the Feature Image for this post. Pixabay, my darling people, you came up trumps here!).

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Second post tonight and publication news. My humorous story, Finding My Feet, is now up on Cafelit. Hope you enjoy and that it makes you smile. Great fun to write and one of my favourite kind of tale – that of the fairytale told from a minor character’s viewpoint. It always makes for an interesting perspective! (Teaser below but do follow the link for the whole story).

Screenshot_2020-10-30 Finding My FeetFLASH - Ideas will spark others, something else I love flash fiction for - Pixabay

Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers

Well, they say you should write about what you know so I did! I talk about prep work for a cyberlaunch in my blog spot this month for More Than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers’ blog.

There is no ONE correct way to have any kind of launch, online or otherwise, but whatever you decide to do here, preparation is key. It really does pay off. See the post for more.

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As well as my story page on Cafelit, there is also a page for each of many of the regular writers here. I’ve just updated mine to include an update on my website details and naturally my book list!

And I’ll have a new story on Cafelit on Friday so am looking forward to sharing that (see above!). My CFT post about The Joy of Photos is also out on Friday. (Nice thing for that post is I sourced most of the pics from the ones I’ve taken earlier this year and I discuss why I like them. I also look at how photos play a big part in most writers’ lives).

I talk about preparation for a cyberlaunch in my More Than Writers blog for the Association of Christian Writers and will share the link for that tomorrow. Hope it will prove useful. (Again see above).

Idea for a writing prompt: take the same opening line, change just ONE word in it, and then use the line for TWO stories! I’ve done this in Tripping The Flash Fantastic with my tales, Mishaps and Jumping Time.

My opening lines here?

1. Going back in time had its drawbacks.

2. Going forward in time had its drawbacks.

I had a great deal of fun with this and I used the same lead character in both stories. I hope to write more linked flash fiction like this.

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From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to have another funny flash tale on Cafelit this evening. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cinderella story as this tale will also show!

But surely the story of Cinderella is so well known, it can’t bear any more re-tellings?

Hmmm…. no!

I love writing from the perspective of minor characters, indeed it is how I got into print with Bridge House Publishing over a decade ago now. And it opens up a host of new story possibilities simply because you can (a) invent your own minor character or (b) use one that is already in the canon of the story so to speak.

Have fun with these people. It is their turn to shine!

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Story time! Well, mostly. One thing I’ve been active with this year has been producing videos of me reading from my work and sharing a little of how I came to write the stories.

This is from my winning entry for 2020’s Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. I was one of the winners and this is an extract from my tale, Books and the Barbarians. Great fun to write. Hope you enjoy!

Video for Books and the Barbarians by Allison Symes. Copyright 2020.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/iqeepkzyud5u7l9/Waterloo%20Art%20Festival%202020%20-%20Allison%20Symes%20Video.mp4?dl=0

As well as my two collections, From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I have a number of flash and other stories in various anthologies. See my Amazon Author Central page for more. See
See my next post tonight for one of my winning stories from one of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competitions (see above and hope you enjoy the video!).

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For my flash fiction writing, as it has to be character led, I focus on getting the character right before I plunge into the tale itself. So my outlining is focussed on working out who my character is and their traits, for good or ill, will play a major part in the story I’m about to write.

That’s because if a character is arrogant, for example, you can bet that arrogance is going to land them right in it during the tale. Indeed, it ought to! What I need to decide then is whether the story is going to be a funny or serious one.

I like to know what makes my character tick before I write them. They do still sometimes surprise me and that’s fine. If the surprise proves to be better than what I originally outlined, I go with the surprise every time!

Fairytales With Bite – Never Ignore the Underdog!

One of the early lessons I learned from reading fairytales is to look out for the underdog! The fairy godmother will be turning up to help them for one thing. You learn quickly that the underdog is likely to turn out to be the hero or heroine. Nor do they let the circumstances in which they’ve become the underdog grind them down.

Also the underdog is generally the nicest character by far. What makes your underdog “worthy” of being helped? What can they do to help themselves improve their situation? Does magic help or hinder their progress?

The underdog never gets the happy ever after ending straight away either. They do have to go through difficult times to get to that point. They usually learn something which helps them develop as a character directly due to the difficult times they’ve been through.

So let’s hear it for the underdog then, albeit they won’t get their just deserts immediately! (Meaning the other qualities they must have are patience and endurance!).

This World and Others – What Convinces a Reader Your Created World is “real enough” to Read about?

I’m convinced by the reality of a fictional world by the little details. Yes, I love a good fantasy map (all hail The Lord of The Rings for that), but I also like to know how a place is governed.

I need an idea of the species that live in the fictional world and whether they get on or not. Politics plays a part too. After all fictional worlds still have to be governed by someone and they are bound to have opposition (whether that’s justified or not).

So a sense of how ordinary life is lived is crucial, as well as reading about the inevitable extraordinary changes your characters will be facing in your story. Those little details help give your creation a solid foundation.

I know they help me visualise things better and that in turn draws me even further into the tale. A character swearing about the dreadful weather will be understandable to everyone even if their species is the most bizarre it is possible to imagine!

And characterisation is of the utmost importance. Your characters may have sky blue pink skin tone and have three heads, but we still need to know what makes them tick, what their motivations are and so on.

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CYBERLAUNCH – TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A self explanatory post from me for CFT this week (well, you can’t get more self explanatory than Local Author Cyberlaunch News – Allison Symes – Tripping The Flash Fantastic – can you?!)

Having said that I do share in this post some thoughts on cyberlaunches, the joy of technology, and how good prep work helps SO much with this kind of event.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope to see you at the Tripping The Flash Fantastic event tomorrow.  See both the CFT post for details and the direct link here.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

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Well, it has been quite a week but it is lovely to end it looking ahead to the cyberlaunch tomorrow.

I am also delighted to share a fantastic (appropriately!) review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from Aly Rhodes which came in today. A huge thanks to her and to all of my lovely reviewers so far.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC
This is the author’s second collection of flash fiction i.e. where the stories are often very brief ( 100 words) up to maybe 1000 at most; maximum story with minimum wordage. Here in this collection witches play tricks, historic figures give their pov’s (Anne Boleyn), Santa Claus is revealed, dragons fly, and fairy godmothers run rampant.

Symes has enormous fun with these quirky, alternative mini-tales, which often make the reader laugh but sometimes cry too.

My favourites were The Pink Rose, (outstandingly touching), And Then There Are Tuesdays (I was born on a Tuesday so this had resonance for me) and Time To Be Off, the last line cracked me up.

Dip in, sample, taste and savour these short shorts.

And on behalf of ALL writers, I’ll take the chance to say reviews are always hugely appreciated by us all. They don’t have to be long but they help so much.

I use reviews myself as a consumer for everything from book purchases to new groceries to try! So if you’re thinking of reviewing but haven’t done so, perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then let me say it definitely IS worth it. Please do send them in!


Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
ONE DAY TO GO! Where has the week gone? Time for another story I think.
Look forward to seeing you on my Facebook event page from 7 pm tomorrow.

As well as celebrating the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic (and it means so much to me to have a second book out), I would like to see the launch as a celebration of stories. They are always worth celebrating! Cheers!

Tonight I share one of my favourite tales from TTFF – Being Yourself. You may never look at librarians in quite the same way again…🙂😉


Delighted to share another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to Gail Aldwin for the following.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC

The title sums up this collection exactly! These short stories contain characters including dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts, figures from history and contemporary life. Many stories include unusual observations and viewpoints. Some are funny, others pack a punch. If you enjoy a diverse collection of stories, this is the book for you!

When it comes to reading, as well as writing flash collections, I do love a variety of mood and characters. It is always the characters I want to discover and root for/boo hard at (depending on whether they’re the villain or not). Naturally that love of character comes out in my own writing.

And a little later, I’ll be sharing a brief reading of one of my stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on my events page, which I hope you enjoy. (I’ve put one of the videos I’ve used up above and will share another here shortly). (Oh and below are three other images I did have in mind for the book cover for TTFF at some point).

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
It’s storytime as the flyer says. I’m reading Judgement Day from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and then share a little of what led me to writing this story. Hope you enjoy. Oh and before I forget, as if I could (!)… TWO DAYS TO GO! (When I put this on Facebook during the week of course. It has been a busy and exciting week as you can probably tell by now!).

Storytime - Judgement Day By Allison Symes


Such good fun to be on a mini blog tour at the moment. I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog yesterday. Today I am on Jen Wilson’s blog (see my earlier post for the link). Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s one. And the two things the four of us have in common?

As well as being writers, we are all stalwarts of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. AND two of us are part of the renowned Prosecco Queens’ quiz team of said Summer School!

(Image below is of me taking part in the Open Prose Mic Night at the School in 2019. Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the pic. The other image was taken by Cheryl Holland on my phone and features Val Penny and Jen Wilson and other lovely Swanwick friends. We all can’t wait for Swanwick to resume, hopefully, in 2021).

34889c89ed2c7f0164fbf25826dd9ac9.0Always time for a laugh with fellow writers-1

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for hosting me on her blog today. It is always great fun to talk about flash fiction. Knowing Jennifer’s own love for history, it was particularly nice to discuss this aspect of my flash fiction writing with her here.

Flash fiction has the huge advantage of being character led and I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want. Great fun! But with Tripping The Flash Fantastic, for the first time, I have written historically based flash fiction. See the article for more about this but it is something I hope to do more of at some point.

Just to confirm the link for my launch event on Saturday can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
I’m on a mini blog tour at the moment with fellow stalwarts from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. It was a pleasure to chat yesterday with Patricia M Osborne on her blog.

Today I chat with Jen Wilson on her blog

Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s blog and it has been great having slots ahead of the cyberlaunch and again just after it.

As I know Jen writes historical paranormal (do check out her Kindred Spirits series), my focus for this blog spot was on my historical flash stories in TTFF.

I’ve mentioned on my posts before that one thing I love about flash fiction is it has to be character-led. That means I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want!

For the first time with TTFF, I have set stories back in time. There are stories in here which are from the viewpoint of Richard III and Elizabeth of York for example, as well as my trademark “fairytales with bite” fiction.

All good fun to do and, of course, history is full of wonderful and not-so wonderful characters. This is an aspect of flash writing I hope to do more of in future.


Time for a listen I think! I had the great joy of being a guest on #WendyHJones’ excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, earlier this year. My first time on a podcast, great fun to do, and no prizes for guessing what I talked about (though there is a huge hint below!).

Do check out Wendy’s show every Wednesday. All of the episodes are jam packed with tips and advice.

See https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again –


One of the challenges of any form of fiction writing is ensuring readers can tell your characters apart by the way they speak etc.

Now with flash fiction where I often focus on one character per story, that isn’t a problem as such.

Where the challenge DOES come in is ensuring that in a collection like From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well, the characters in the books as a WHOLE are nicely varied. Readers should be able to distinguish between the stories (and thus the characters).

It’s another reason why I like a good variety of mood and tone in my books as that helps with this aspect enormously.


Sometimes when I write my flash tales, I have the character in mind clearly and I then need to think of something for them to do! At other times I have the ideas of a situation to write about but need the right person to “fill” the role, so to speak. So this is why I jot down ideas for stories but also for characters.

Let’s say a competition theme is one of honesty. I could go one of two ways here – use an honest character and highlight the theme via them directly. Or I can use a dishonest character and contrast them with the honest situation. Both would work. It’s then down to me to decide which of the two characters I think is the strongest and I will then write their story up.


This week is going to be focused on my launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, of course, but I am looking forward to sharing a couple of readings from the new book. (See above!).

How do I choose stories for reading for things like this or for Open Prose Mic Nights and the like? I try to go for a balance of mood. If I read a funny tale, I will read a darker one too. I also go for a balance of lengths too. If I read a 100-worder, I will also read a 250 or something that is a little longer than the first tale I read.

Above all, I try not to go on for too long. Recordings are best kept fairly short (as it effects download time etc). Also a short recording or reading makes it easier to keep your listener’s interest.

Pic below is of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School’s Open Prose Mic Night (and there’s a phrase you don’t want to say quickly!). A huge thanks to #GeoffParkes for the pic.

The Open Mic for Prose night

Fairytales With Bite – The Sting in The Tail


One of the joys of flash fiction writing, which is my big love, is it is a great form for twist in the tale endings. Also, as the form has to be character led, you can set those characters whenever and wherever you want. Your characters don’t have to be human either. I like all of that!

One great thing about using non-human characters is you can use them to reflect aspects of us. Animal Farm by George Orwell does that brilliantly. (Definitely not flattering either).

The most effective stings in the tail are for me where:-

1. The character is an aggravating one and deserves whatever is coming to them!

2. You think a character you’re rooting for has little chance of winning and things change at the very last moment so that they do win out. (The classic fairytales often work on this basis. Think of Cinderella when the Prince insists that all of the women in the household have to try the glass slipper. Had the Prince not been so persistent….)

So think about how and where in your story you are going to place your sting. In my Calling The Doctor from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my sting is in the very last word.

Both book trailers below. (For me it is lovely seeing them side by side).

Hope you enjoy the stories and do think about how you can make your sting have the maximum impact on a reader. Sometimes you can know the sting fairly early on. It is then a question of finding out whether the character deals with that sting in a good way or not and that can be fun too.

This World and Others – Conjuring Up Your World


What do you want readers to imagine when they read your stories? What aspects of your created world are the most important for them to read about and how can you convey that?

I’ve mentioned before it is often the telling detail placed in the right place in a story that has the maximum impact on a reader. I don’t necessarily need to know Character A lives in an “upside down” world.

I do need to know Character A walks on what we would consider to be the sky and a brief showing of how that is done. (For the characters that live in this world it would all be perfectly natural of course, but often a story changes dramatically when a stranger comes into the world and someone has to show them the ropes).

Readers need a sense that if your world were to exist somewhere, it could exist. That is your characters can find food, drink, shelter, there is some sort of government etc. You can unveil this a bit at a time and I can think of no better example to use than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. You find out more about how Ankh-Morpork is “run” as the series goes on. What he gives you in each story is enough for you to make sense of that story.

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A self explanatory post from me for CFT this week (well, you can’t get more self explanatory than Local Author Cyberlaunch News – Allison Symes – Tripping The Flash Fantastic – can you?!)

Having said that I do share in this post some thoughts on cyberlaunches, the joy of technology, and how good prep work helps SO much with this kind of event.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope to see you at the Tripping The Flash Fantastic event tomorrow.  See both the CFT post for details and the direct link here.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

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Well, it has been quite a week but it is lovely to end it looking ahead to the cyberlaunch tomorrow.

I am also delighted to share a fantastic (appropriately!) review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from Aly Rhodes which came in today. A huge thanks to her and to all of my lovely reviewers so far.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC
This is the author’s second collection of flash fiction i.e. where the stories are often very brief ( 100 words) up to maybe 1000 at most; maximum story with minimum wordage. Here in this collection witches play tricks, historic figures give their pov’s (Anne Boleyn), Santa Claus is revealed, dragons fly, and fairy godmothers run rampant.
Symes has enormous fun with these quirky, alternative mini-tales, which often make the reader laugh but sometimes cry too.
My favourites were The Pink Rose, (outstandingly touching), And Then There Are Tuesdays (I was born on a Tuesday so this had resonance for me) and Time To Be Off, the last line cracked me up.
Dip in, sample, taste and savour these short shorts.

And on behalf of ALL writers, I’ll take the chance to say reviews are always hugely appreciated by us all. They don’t have to be long but they help so much. I use reviews myself as a consumer for everything from book purchases to new groceries to try! So if you’re thinking of reviewing but haven’t done so, perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then let me say it definitely IS worth it. Please do send them in!

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
ONE DAY TO GO! Where has the week gone? Time for another story I think.
Look forward to seeing you here from 7 pm tomorrow. As well as celebrating the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic (and it means so much to me to have a second book out), I would like to see the launch as a celebration of stories. They are always worth celebrating! Cheers!
Tonight I share one of my favourite tales from TTFF – Being Yourself. You may never look at librarians in quite the same way again…🙂😉
Smile and wink emojis. BY recording.

8th October

Delighted to share another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to Gail Aldwin for the following.

The title sums up this collection exactly! These short stories contain characters including dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts, figures from history and contemporary life. Many stories include unusual observations and viewpoints. Some are funny, others pack a punch. If you enjoy a diverse collection of stories, this is the book for you!

When it comes to reading, as well as writing flash collections, I do love a variety of mood and characters. It is always the characters I want to discover and root for/boo hard at (depending on whether they’re the villain or not). Naturally that love of character comes out in my own writing.
And a little later this evening, I’ll be sharing a brief reading of one of my stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on my events page, which I hope you enjoy. (Oh and below are three other images I did have in mind for the book cover for TTFF at some point). Use TTFF images 1, 2, 3. See TTFF folder.

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
It’s storytime as the flyer says. I’m reading Judgement Day from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and then share a little of what led me to writing this story. Hope you enjoy. Oh and before I forget, as if I could (!)… TWO DAYS TO GO! Use the jpg download of the flyer AND from my TTFF drive on E drive the Judgement Day story OR use Dropbox to create a link as I did for CFT. Might be better to do that though may be worth trying to import video directly.

 

7th October
Such good fun to be on a mini blog tour at the moment. I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog yesterday. Today I am on Jen Wilson’s blog (see my earlier post for the link). Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s one. And the two things the four of us have in common?
As well as being writers, we are all stalwarts of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. AND two of us are part of the renowned Prosecco Queens’ quiz team of said Summer School! (Image below is of me taking part in the Open Prose Mic Night at the School in 2019. Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the pic). Swanwick 2019 folder

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for hosting me on her blog today. It is always great fun to talk about flash fiction. Knowing Jennifer’s own love for history, it was particularly nice to discuss this aspect of my flash fiction writing with her here.
Flash fiction has the huge advantage of being character led and I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want. Great fun! But with Tripping The Flash Fantastic, for the first time, I have written historically based flash fiction. See the article for more about this but it is something I hope to do more of at some point.
Just to confirm the link for my launch event on Saturday can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453

https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2020/10/07/spotlight-allison-symes-tripping-the-flash-fantastic/

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
I’m on a mini blog tour at the moment with fellow stalwarts from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. It was a pleasure to chat yesterday with Patricia M Osborne on her blog. Today I chat with Jen Wilson on her blog at https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2020/10/07/spotlight-allison-symes-tripping-the-flash-fantastic/
Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s blog and it has been great having slots ahead of the cyberlaunch and again just after it.
As I know Jen writes historical paranormal (do check out her Kindred Spirits series), my focus for this blog spot was on my historical flash stories in TTFF.
I’ve mentioned on my posts before that one thing I love about flash fiction is it has to be character-led. That means I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want!
For the first time with TTFF, I have set stories back in time. There are stories in here which are from the viewpoint of Richard III and Elizabeth of York for example, as well as my trademark “fairytales with bite” fiction.
All good fun to do and, of course, history is full of wonderful and not-so wonderful characters. This is an aspect of flash writing I hope to do more of in future.

SECOND POST
Time for a listen I think! I had the great joy of being a guest on #WendyHJones’ excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, earlier this year. My first time on a podcast, great fun to do, and no prizes for guessing what I talked about (though there is a huge hint below!).
Do check out Wendy’s show every Wednesday. All of the episodes are jam packed with tips and advice.
See https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

 

From Light to Dark and Back Again – General

 

9th October
One of the challenges of any form of fiction writing is ensuring readers can tell your characters apart by the way they speak etc.
Now with flash fiction where I often focus on one character per story, that isn’t a problem as such.
Where the challenge DOES come in is ensuring that in a collection like From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well, the characters in the books as a WHOLE are nicely varied. Readers should be able to distinguish between the stories (and thus the characters).
It’s another reason why I like a good variety of mood and tone in my books as that helps with this aspect enormously.

8th October
Sometimes when I write my flash tales, I have the character in mind clearly and I then need to think of something for them to do! At other times I have the ideas of a situation to write about but need the right person to “fill” the role, so to speak. So this is why I jot down ideas for stories but also for characters.
Let’s say a competition theme is one of honesty. I could go one of two ways here – use an honest character and highlight the theme via them directly. Or I can use a dishonest character and contrast them with the honest situation. Both would work. It’s then down to me to decide which of the two characters I think is the strongest and I will then write their story up.

 

7th October
This week is going to be focused on my launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, of course, but I am looking forward to sharing a couple of readings from the new book.
How do I choose stories for reading for things like this or for Open Prose Mic Nights and the like? I try to go for a balance of mood. If I read a funny tale, I will read a darker one too. I also go for a balance of lengths too. If I read a 100-worder, I will also read a 250 or something that is a little longer than the first tale I read.
Above all, I try not to go on for too long. Recordings are best kept fairly short (as it effects download time etc). Also a short recording or reading makes it easier to keep your listener’s interest.
Pic below is of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School’s Open Prose Mic Night (and there’s a phrase you don’t want to say quickly!). A huge thanks to #GeoffParkes for the pic. Swanwick 2018 folder

Fairytales With Bite – The Sting in The Tail
One of the joys of flash fiction writing, which is my big love, is it is a great form for twist in the tale endings. Also, as the form has to be character led, you can set those characters whenever and wherever you want. Your characters don’t have to be human either. I like all of that! One great thing about using non-human characters is you can use them to reflect aspects of us. Animal Farm by George Orwell does that brilliantly. (Definitely not flattering either).
The most effective stings in the tail are for me where:-
1. The character is an aggravating one and deserves whatever is coming to them!
2. You think a character you’re rooting for has little chance of winning and things change at the very last moment so that they do win out. (The classic fairytales often work on this basis. Think of Cinderella when the Prince insists that all of the women in the household have to try the glass slipper. Had the Prince not been so persistent….)
So think about how and where in your story you are going to place your sting. In my Calling The Doctor from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my sting is in the very last word. Do check it out on my book trailer for FLTDBA at https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes
I’ve also had fun with this technique for the trailer for my new book, Tripping The Flash Fantastic. See my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/ for more (and the trailer for FLTDBA is here too). Hope you enjoy the stories and do think about how you can make your sting have the maximum impact on a reader. Sometimes you can know the sting fairly early on. It is then a question of finding out whether the character deals with that sting in a good way or not and that can be fun too.

This World and Others – Conjuring Up Your World
What do you want readers to imagine when they read your stories? What aspects of your created world are the most important for them to read about and how can you convey that?

I’ve mentioned before it is often the telling detail placed in the right place in a story that has the maximum impact on a reader. I don’t necessarily need to know Character A lives in an “upside down” world. I do need to know Character A walks on what we would consider to be the sky and a brief showing of how that is done.

(For the characters that live in this world it would all be perfectly natural of course, but often a story changes dramatically when a stranger comes into the world and someone has to show them the ropes).

Readers need a sense that if your world were to exist somewhere, it could exist. That is your characters can find food, drink, shelter, there is some sort of government etc. You can unveil this a bit at a time and I can think of no better example to use than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. You find out more about how Ankh-Morpork is “run” as the series goes on. What he gives you in each story is enough for you to make sense of that story.

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PROGRESS, PLANS AND MOODS

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Does the mood you are in affect what and how you write? My own answer to that is it depends!

If I’m in a flat state of mind but the writing I’m working on has a character in a similar state, then I can use my own mood to help write that piece! (I get something useful out of being in a flat mood! Ironically that knowledge cheers me up so win-win!).

Sometimes I deliberately write opposite to my mood so, again if I feel flat, I try to put myself in the head of a character in a lighter mood and find myself writing light. Again that can be a mood booster for me. Writing can be amazingly therapeutic at times.

What I do know is writing anything is a good “outlet” and later, once in a better frame of mind, I can evaluate any writing done in a flat state and see what I can do with it. But the great thing is I have still written, I still have work to do something with, so my advice would be, if you feel flat and don’t feel like writing, try to write something, even if it is a very short piece. I’ve found many times once I get started, I keep going, and writing takes me to a different, better place. Again, win-win there, I think.

Drafted first flash fiction story that I’ve created using a picture prompt in my new writing diary. 51 challenges remaining then given there’s one such prompt a week! Also enjoying working on my novel again. I want to try to enter more short story competitions (1500 word type) this year too. I like mixing the writing up. Challenges the old brain and that’s never a bad thing.

Third flash fiction volume coming along nicely though I need to group my stories at some point. Am hoping to get along to Winchester Writers’ Festival and, of course, Swanwick Writers’ Summer School later in the year, also the ACW Writers’ Days. I think one of the best things about writing is you never stop learning whether it is how to improve what you do, new places to try to submit work or what have you. That is also a very good thing.

Feed that brain!

Image Credit:  Many thanks to the Hampshire Writers’ Society for the image of me reading an example of what flash fiction is at their meeting last year.

Having completed a picture prompt generated story yesterday, I see this week’s prompt in my diary has no picture whatsoever! Still will tackle that prompt later in the week I hope.

I’m planning to share a few of my favourite writing tips and why they’re useful on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. You pick up lots of useful tips from conferences, chatting to writer friends etc., but as is the way with these things, some advice will always be more useful to you than anything else. It can be a question of working out what is going to help you most. Anyway, will share the link on Friday.

Made good progress on the novel and short story ideas over the weekend so will resume work on those shortly. A writing session for me is most useful when I know I’ve made progress on work, whether that progress is editing something, adding a line or two to something already down, or writing a whole new flash fiction piece/draft CFT post.

It’s when I feel I haven’t got anywhere that is most discouraging and that’s when encouragement from writer friends is enormously helpful. I still wish my fairy godmother would turn up though and grant me “elastic time” which I could stretch as and when I needed to without any side effects/damage to history etc. You know I’d use it to stretch my writing time!

Image Credit:  Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for the picture of me reading at the 2018 Bridge House celebration event.

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Am looking forward to sharing book offer related news later this week. Will share info and links soon!

Meanwhile, am making progress on a longer term project (non-fiction) I’d been wondering about doing for a while and have finally got around to tackling. I don’t know yet whether I’ll submit this to publishers or self publish but it is good to have both options on the table.

Am also making good progress on my novel too. My writing times are fairly consistent (which helps a LOT) and I’ve learned how to use which sessions for which projects in a way that suits me best.

I suppose the biggest lessons I’ve learned are to make the most of the time you do have AND accept you are in writing for the long haul. Stamina and persistence are key. (Good luck is a useful extra though!). How like life!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Once I’ve finished a few posts tonight, I’m going to use the picture prompt in my writing diary to draft a new flash fiction piece. The diary has one for every week in the year so that’s potentially 52 new stories to be written!

I do use picture prompts sometimes to trigger stories but tend to use phrases, proverbs, and things like that to get me started on stories. I’ve posted before about mixing up sources for ideas so I will be practising what I preach tonight at least!

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We talk about “moments of illumination” – well, flash fiction could be the written version of those! Such moments are always brief and reveal something not known before. Your flash stories should do that too and be to the point.

From the writer’s viewpoint, this is the fun bit as you get to decide what that moment is in your story. For me, it has to be a turning point, whether you “turn” the character or the direction your story is going in to surprise the reader. It is where twist endings come in because you can save the moment of illumination until then.

I often, when reading stories like this, then go back through the tale to look for any clues I may have missed that hinted at the story ending up the way it has. I usually spot something on that look again read and of course I can learn from that and develop the techinique for my own writing.

When I work out ideas for a story, I focus on the lead character and then plan all sorts of havoc either for them to experience or to be the cause of – all good fun! But I do need to know the lead character’s main trait/attitude first – I use this as a “driver” for working out who they are, what they know they are capable of, and so on.

For me, character is everything. The right characters for the right stories make them spark and come to life for the reader. A good character in a weak plot – both end up being disappointing. You get the feeling the character has been “wasted”.

I’ve found it pays to take my time in outlining a character (and this is a feature of Scrivener I adore. On their fiction setting, you have a template you can fill in to help you plot out a character and I’ve used this several times. Scrivener also have one for working out what the setting of the story is and I have used this but the character development one is really useful. I don’t tend to use it for flash fiction but for longer stories where I’ve got 2 or more characters to flesh out).

Once I’ve got my character, I’m generally well away into writing the story. While editing is always necessary, outlining at the start does stop you going off at an irrelevant tangent and has saved me considerable time.

Will have book offer related news later this week so stay tuned! Links and info up when I have them.

What are the difficulties of writing flash fiction?

1. It is so easy to overwrite and be well over the word count limit. Okay a very good edit will take care of that but the story still has to flow, make sense, and impact on readers, once that editing is done. There’s the real challenge, I think.

2. Knowing where and when to stop! (Having said that, if the idea is a strong one and you can continue it so you end up with a standard length short story, do so. You just enter that piece for standard length short story competitions and markets instead!).

3. Getting people to take the form seriously, though this situation is improving!

Goodreads Author Blog – Story Idea Spotting

Do you ever indulge in story idea spotting when reading a favourite novel? I do!

I love looking for what I think are the influences for a writer. To me this adds extra enjoyment to the story and gives me the perfect excuse for re-reading a book. Not that I really need one but never mind.

It’s my experience you never find all the influences/links in one read through! Sometimes not in two reads either!

Sometimes I know what the writer’s influences are in advance because I’ve read interviews etc and can then have fun seeing how these play out in what they have produced. Other times I don’t know and I get to play detective here.

What I like best is when spotting an influence in a book and it is clear the writer is a fan of another writer I also love. Double whammy!

Reading is fun anyway of course but for me this is extra and I love that.

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LIGHT BULB and OTHER MOMENTS

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It was another get some writing done on the train day on Saturday. Managed to draft most of my next Chandler’s Ford Today post and two new flash fiction stories. On the way back, feeling more than a tad tired, I managed to get some editing done. So pleased with what I achieved!

Let the train take the strain? Yes!

Facebook – General

My CFT post later this week will reference one of my favourite series of books when I was growing up – the Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I never really read any of the Secret Seven and as for Noddy, the less said the better. (In fairness, by the time I discovered Enid’s works, I was way beyond the age range for him!).

Much as I enjoyed the Five’s adventures, I never really did “get” their love of ginger beer. Oh well. I collected the books as the local independent newsagent got them in regularly, which was fab. Back then, most newsagents had a reasonably sized books section (and it wasn’t just W.H. Smiths or Menzies either). I do miss that.

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Facebook – General

The lightbulb moment in any story for me is when I have to find out what happens to the main character in it. Then you know you’re hooked! Doesn’t matter what the length of the story is but the characters have to interest you enough to keep you reading.

Plots in themselves aren’t enough. They have to be driven by the right characters. It is possible to have a wonderful plot let down by characters that simply don’t hold the readers’ attention. Get the characters right and the plot will come from them. Why? Because the right characters will find themselves in conflict(s)(they’ll be unable to help themselves!) with something or someone and that’s where the story really lies.

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Hope to submit some more flash fiction stories during the week. Very pleased to be making progress on what I hope will in time become my third book. Train journeys are great for drafting stories. I’m usually far too tired when I get back to do much writing done then, as I normally would, so not only do I feel like I’ve made progress, I feel as if I’ve made the most of the time available to me. I always like that.

I did wonder when I got the smartphone how I would get on with a stylus for writing. No problems! Just hope I don’t lose the thing…!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I love that moment when I’m drafting a new flash story when you can feel the tale “coming together” and you know exactly how it will end.

I outline my stories but deliberately don’t set everything down to the “nth” degree as there has to be room for the old creative juices to flourish and “do their stuff”. But when you’ve written the ending that comes to you and you look back at the piece and think “yes, that works”, that is a good feeling.

It’s an even better one if you need a bit of encouragement to keep going. It reassures you that you are coming up with the ideas. So keep going!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash fiction can be a great mood reflector (of the main character that is!). I know I wouldn’t want to read page after page of a character’s introspection but a brief flash story showing what a character is feeling and why is fine.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you then expanding that idea out and having a standard length short story which shows how the character got into that state (and ideally out of it again if the state is not a good one. I feel a good story of this kind has to have some sort of hope within it. This is why I personally can’t get on with “misery stories”. There has to be something uplifting, even if at the end of the story, the character has just found what they think may be a way out a dismal situation).

Of course, flash, like any story, can reveal something of the author too so you may want to watch what you write!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My stories are in The Best of Cafelit 4, 5 and now 6 and also by Bridge House Publishing (Alternative Renditions). My first collection From Light to Dark and Back Again is published by Chapeltown Books.

WRITING DAYS AND WORKING OUT WHEN TO STOP

Facebook – General – Writing Days and Characterisation

What counts as a good writing day? When you’ve got the right amount of words down (whether it’s a few hundred or a few thousand)? When you’ve completed a specific writing task? As ever with these things, so much depends on the writer.

For me, either completing a task or getting to the stage I wanted to reach for a longer one is my definition of a good writing day.

There is no way I can complete my Chandler’s Ford Today posts in one go for instance so I aim to write the post as one/two tasks, edit it and put it up on site ready to go (but not scheduled yet) as another, and then I sort out the images and feature image as the third part. The final, fourth part, is checking I’m happy with the text, images, links and feature image overall and, if I am, I then schedule the post.

So I think I’ve had a good writing day when I can tick off all those specific tasks.

Another great joy of writing flash fiction is I can count writing the first draft as one task because I CAN complete that in one go! There is a huge advantage in writing 100-word stories as opposed to 100,000-word novels (though I love both!).

Writing first, editing later but both needed - image via Pixabay

Get those ideas down, then edit. Image via Pixabay

What is the best thing about writing a story of any length – flash, short or novel (and script come to that too)? For me, it’s that moment when I realise I’ve “got something here”. I usually find I’m about halfway through my draft when I get to that point. The great thing is it really motivates you to finish the piece!

And what is it more than anything else that leads to me realising this? It is the characterisation. Something about one or more of the characters in the piece has gripped me and, if they grip me, there’s a good chance they’ll grip other readers.

It is at this point I have to resist the temptation to start editing and make myself wait until I have got the complete first draft down. Editing too early can kill off the joy of creating the characters in the first place so, for me, writing and editing have to be treated as two separate tasks.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What are the challenges of writing flash fiction? Obviously, there is the tight word count but I think the toughest thing is working out what is the real essence of your story so you know when to stop.

The other big challenge is to ensure the flash story is a complete tale in and of itself. It mustn’t be just a short bit of prose. Each flash story must have an impact on your reader (which, to my mind, can only happen if it has a “proper” conclusion!).

If a short story is like a snapshot of a character’s life, then a flash tale is like a tweet. Brief, to the point and then all over. But it should leave you feeling something. There should be a moment of change in the character’s life. It is just a shorter moment than the one you would have experienced from a standard short story.

 

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Cafelit

One thing I love about the Cafelit series of books is there is a good mixture of story lengths in them.

There’s a good range of my favourite flash fiction but it is nice to have these interspersed with standard length short stories and those that fall somewhere between the two. So whatever my reading mood is, there is something to cover it here!

The link below covers the whole range of Cafelit books. I’m delighted to be in 4, 5 and 6 (and I reviewed 3 some time ago too!). So if you know someone who loves their short stories but likes a mixture of styles and story lengths, Cafelit books would be a great place to start.

Now then: note to self – get some more flash fiction into Cafelit!

 

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IS YOUR CHARACTER WORTH IT?

I’m full of questions tonight!

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Is Your Character worth it? I ask a series of questions to put to your character(s) to justify them ever being in your story at all.  If you can answer all of the questions positively, you will have created a character, who can not only justify their presence to you, who will make an impact on others and keep on doing so

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

In The Final Read Through I discuss the importance of taking your time and getting things right by your story, though I am often sick of my tale and want to get it out there at this stage!

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

There were a number of posts while I was away and I hope to share the links to these later in the week but I would like to thank my lovely editor for including my book signing in the Events section.

FACEBOOK – GENERAL

I share my thoughts on favourite story types tonight. I like the Prisoner of Zenda type story.  What is your favourite kind of theme?

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FACEBOOK – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

I share the CFT events link here and tonight’s websites posts.

Themes pour out of good books - image via Pixabay

 

You can't beat a good book. Image via Pixabay.

WHEN IN DOUBT…

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

When In Doubt looks at editing as my motto when deciding whether something should go into a story or not is when in doubt, leave it out.  If I have to think too hard about whether something should go into the story, then I inevitably won’t put that in as it will not weave seamlessly into what is already written.  I share what I do in the way of editing here too.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

What I look for in a story applies across all story forms.  I list five different things here though the biggest and most important one (for me anyway) is any decent story has to have strong characterisation.  Do you agree with my list?  Can you add to it?

FACEBOOK PAGE

I discuss what, for me, makes for a good writing session.  Short post tonight.

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The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

One of the best ways to escape is with a good book. Image via Pixabay.

WHAT WOULD YOU ASK YOUR CHARACTERS?

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

What Would You Ask Your Characters if you Could is a good exercise.  Putting your characters through their paces so to speak helps you to know them really well and so you should then write (for/about) them more convincingly.  I share three questions that could be useful for you to ask your “people”.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

When Push Comes to Shove continues the theme of knowing your characters well enough to write (for/about) them convincingly.  And putting your characters through hell is a good way to find out what they are really well enough and whether they are strong enough to be in your story.  A weak character still has the potential to be in your story just as long as they are crucial to the plot.

FACEBOOK PAGE

I discuss the snow that’s due tomorrow, how it will make for a good evening in for reading, and how weather can be used as a character in itself in fiction.  I don’t do this myself but the best example is in The Lord of the Rings I think.

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Two formats for reading and Chandler's Ford library stocks both. Image via Pixabay.

A cold night = more reading perhaps.  Image via Pixabay.