Superstitions, Characters, and the Love of Story

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. (Some screenshots of my reviews too).

Looking forward to the WI talk I’m giving this week (17th March), the start of the Share Your Story Writing Summit (18th to 23rd March 2021), and the interview with #HannahKate which goes out on North Manchester FM on Saturday, 20th March 2021. (Images connected to the summit were supplied by the organisers, Creative U, or screenshots from their website advertising the summit).

And I have my first Covid jab on 22nd March… it will be a busy and unforgettable few days for all sorts of reasons!

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Facebook – General

Lovely big walk with Lady today. Delighted to spot a few early bluebells out and some early blossom. Spring is almost here! It’s hard to say what my favourite season is as all of them have charms of their own. (Yes, even winter – I love seeing the silhouettes of bare trees against a setting sun in the winter months and must try and remember to get more pictures of these).

Thanks for the great response to the heads-up about my CFT post this week, Places to Go For Writing Advice. Feedback is always useful and something writers often cry out for, especially for reviews. It helps us know if we are generally speaking on the right track and reviews, as well as being useful for marketing, can be a great source of encouragement.

Given we spend a lot of time at our desks on our own, hoping our characters are going down well with people (or going down the way they are meant to!), that encouragement is so useful. Go on you know you want to – write a review today!

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Places to Go For Writing Advice and, while this will be especially useful to new writers, I hope everyone can get something helpful from it. This is the kind of broad overview post I would’ve loved to have read when I was starting out so many years ago as it is a good place to start. (It’s also reassuring to know there are places you can go and that there is no such thing as a stupid question either!). I’ll be sharing useful links too. Post up on Friday.

I’m talking to The Disparate Housewives WI-affiliated group on Wednesday night and part of that talk will be about the ups and downs of the writing life. The idea for my CFT post this week has come from that talk. I love it when one piece of writing inspires ideas for other work. (It’s useful too!).


A huge thank you for the wonderful response to my post yesterday about my late mum gifting me the love of books and stories from an early age, which is something I do appreciate more than words can actually say. I was moved by the responses. Thank you, all.

I generally don’t write about mothers in my stories but with one exception. That is Time For Some Peace from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, where I look at motherhood from the viewpoint of a lady dragon. (As you do – and someone had to!).

My main focus on characters is usually centred on them as opposed to their relationships with others. I can and usually do imply the latter through what I show a reader via the character’s own head, attitudes etc. It is a very direct approach and one that works well for flash fiction.

When I outline my characters, I look at their major traits and what reactions are likely to come from those. When I have a longer flash piece, with more than one character in it, then I can let the sparks fly but I have chosen Character A to be that spark generator and it will be seen from their viewpoint. I have, interestingly, come across a competition recently in the Writing Magazine comps guide where the organisers are looking for the same story told twice, but from opposing viewpoints. Now that is an interesting idea and one I hope to explore at some point.


Today would have been my mum’s 87th birthday. One of my fondest memories was when I showed her my first story in print – A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology back in 2009. She was so pleased. I owe my love of stories and books (and therefore writing) to her.

And to all who will find tomorrow a difficult day, for whatever reason, know you’re not alone. Virtual hugs to you all.

I’ve long thought that giving someone the wish to read and to keep on reading is a truly fantastic gift for anyone, whether or not you go on to write your own stories. It certainly inspires me as a writer to try to keep on writing tales that will entertain people.

I’m not a literary writer. I never will be. I have nothing against literary fiction, far from it, but it is just not me. Seeking to entertain people through stories is a fantastic thing to do in and of itself and great fun.

But it is the love of story that sparks all of that.

Thanks, Mum.

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Allison Symes and published works 640 VERSION

Allison Symes and some early works.

My flash collections are available in Kindle and paperback

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thanks for the great response to my video Superstitions yesterday. Much appreciated.

This story hinged on a well known superstition and showing my character is more affected by them than she perhaps cares to admit. This was a case of knowing what the twist would be and then working backwards to getting to a logical start point.

But I do deliberately mix up how I write a story. Sometimes I have a line which I know will make a cracking opening, It is then a question of working out where that line could lead to and going with the storyline I like best.

And I have to be “taken” by the characters. If they don’t grip me, then I can forget any chance of hooking other readers with them. It is useful to know what fascinates you about characters you’ve read and work out what makes them work for you. You can then apply what you discover here to what you then go on to write.

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Am delighted to share a new story video – Superstitions. Hope you enjoy. Am enjoying exploring the Youtube audio library. Good fun to try the different tracks and try to match an appropriate one with the mood of my tale. As for my CFT posts, where I have to think laterally sometimes to find pictures that suit my theme, I am doing this with music, which I had not anticipated doing when I first set the Youtube channel up. It’s good fun though!

Many thanks for the great response to my post yesterday about my forthcoming interview with #HannahKate. If you can listen live, it is on Saturday between 2pm and 4pm on North Manchester FM. Hannah’s show is called Hannah’s Bookshelf. I will share the link to the show as soon as I can after broadcast and I am really looking forward to doing that. The interview was great fun to do and I can’t wait to share it.

Now I know I’ve mentioned before that interviewing characters is a great technique for a writer to work out what makes the characters tick. I’ve found I write the characters’ stories up with greater depth, even in a restricted word count, because I do know “my people” well enough.

(And it is good to remember it is the character’s story. Why? It helps you focus on getting their viewpoint across without the author voice butting in and, frankly, getting in the way. It’s also a great way to avoid head-hopping because you are focusing on your major character, their needs and wants etc).

But it is down to you what questions you use to find out what you need to know. I need to know what the major traits are, for example, but a good secondary question to that is to ask your characters what made them develop those traits in the first place. A defensive trait for example – what caused your character to develop that as they won’t have been born with it? That could trigger story ideas.

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I will flag this up again later, when I have the link, but my interview with #HannahKate on North Manchester FM will be going out next Saturday, 20th March.

It was great fun talking to Hannah about flash fiction and blogging, my twin writing loves.

It is going to be a busy week as I chat online to a WI group about The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author. I also hope to share some examples of flash fiction as I have found the best way to explain it is demonstrate it! The 100 worders (the drabbles) are especially useful here!

And the Share Your Story Writing Summit begins on 18th March. My topic for that is Flash Fiction – Why I Love It and Why I Think Every Writer Should Try It.

Then there’s the interview with Hannah on the 20th. (And I get my covid jab, the first one, on the 22nd – well I’m pleased about that anyway!).

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Goodreads Author Blog – Books as Gifts

I always love to give and receive books as gifts. For me they are the perfect present and so easy to gift wrap too! Also no calories are involved whatsoever and a good book as I’ve mentioned before will take you to all sorts of wonderful worlds. Books are the places to escape your cares for a while. (This is just one reason why I can’t read misery memoir. When I read, I do want to escape. I guess that is why fantasy IS high up on my reading list).

But flipping this topic, let’s wonder about what books would make great presents for fictional characters.

Scrooge – The Art of Generosity. (He would have got more from this after the visits from the ghosts).
Jane Eyre – Exploring the Attic.
Elizabeth Bennet – Knowing Your Own Mind
Frodo Baggins – Appreciating Your Friends
Miss Marple – Anything from the I-Spy collections.
Hercule Poirot – Hair Care for the Fussy

Okay over to you – what books would you give to fictional characters?

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Twitter Corner

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Book Trailers and Story Videos

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some Pixabay images used via Book Brush to create captions within the picture. (Love that facility!).

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Busy week ahead with my WI talk happening mid-week and the Share Your Story Writing Summit starting on 18th March. Images from the Summit provided by the organisers, Creative U.

3. writers IG 2021

23 Presenters, 23 Writing Workshops, Join Now! (FREE for a limited period, paid options available so you can keep the presentations – link below. An affiliate link will apply so if you go for either of the paid for options, I will earn some money from that affiliate link).

Share Your Story Writing Summit Link https://www.creativeu.ca/a/46030/yLSebqrq

Facebook – General

Pleased to share my Book Trailers and Story Videos post for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at how much has changed between my first book trailer (From Light to Dark and Back Again), which Chapeltown Books produced, and Tripping the Flash Fantastic, which I produced.

So much has changed in terms of software available to writers and this is wonderful. There are so many more ways we can be creative without it costing a fortune.

I also look at learning how to be creative in different ways, including learning to think laterally. I often have to do this with my blog posts, including for CFT, as some of my topics don’t lend themselves to obvious picture links but there is usually a theme I can peg to, so that’s okay. And I take a quick peek at getting the balance right between marketing and writing new material. It’s not an easy juggling act!

Hope your Thursday has gone well. Just a quick reminder my usual Chandler’s Ford Today post is up tomorrow and I’ll be talking about book trailer and story videos.

I’ll be sharing a few thoughts on my involvement with these and how they’ve helped me learn to think laterally. That in turn has helped fuel my creativity.

One interesting thing about the writing life is how so often one thing learns to another. For example, my first book trailer was produced by my publishers, Chapeltown Books. For Tripping The Flash Fantastic, I produced the trailer myself. Between the two I learned so much about how to do these things as I found I needed to be able to do this kind of thing to help with my marketing.

Nearly everything I have learned over the last five years especially were things I had not anticipated needing to know when I started out. In some cases the technology simply wasn’t available!

But the writing journey is not meant to be a static one after all so this is a good thing indeed!
Link up tomorrow. (Also nice to put this video up again!).


Have posted a bonus article on Chandler’s Ford Today about the Share Your Story Writing Summit. All the details you need are here.

As well as having the info in one handy place on CFT, I wanted to give at least a week before the summit starts so those who wish to can take advantage of the special discount if you decide you want to go for a paid version of the workshops (23 in all!).

The paid for versions do have the advantage of your being able to keep the presentations for ever and means you can refer to them whenever you wish, rather than have to be about on the day you want or for a limited time afterwards.

As ever with these things, the earlier you book in for a paid version, the greater the discount. There is an affiliate fee so I will earn some money if you go for any of the paid for versions using the link in the post itself.

Am looking forward to taking part in this and to catching up with the other presentations. There will be much to learn!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the responses to my post yesterday and in particular to my opening line from My Life (which you can find in From Light to Dark and Back Again).

Hooks for a reader have to include an enticing book cover, a promising blurb, and an interesting title but, for all forms of writing, the opening line is essential to get right. It is that one line which will lead your reader on to read the next one, the one after that, or not as the case may be!

My favourite hooks for opening lines are to intrigue a reader with a setting or a character who is about to do something odd or which will grab the reader’s attention in some other way. I also love promising dialogue (who doesn’t like “eavesdropping” a conversation between interesting characters? I refuse to believe that is just me!).

But I do know that if the opening line doesn’t grab me, well… time to scrap it and come up with something much better. It won’t grab anyone else. You are your own first reader (so if you’re not grabbed by the line, why should anyone else be?) and it helps, after you’ve set aside the piece for a while, to come back to it and read it as a reader would.

You’ve almost got to pretend you haven’t written it to be able to do that but it does help you look at the work from a different perspective. I ask myself if I would like a story of mine if it had been written by someone else and I’ve found that a good technique to use. And yes, to quote that famous writing phrase, I do kill my darlings on a regular basis!

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What I love about flash fiction is how a few well chosen words can take you straight into a setting. For example, in My Life in From Light to Dark and Back Again, I start with “It is all white dresses, lace, and flowers now but I hated him when I first saw him”.

No prizes for guessing the setting here or the genre of the tale. The pivotal word here is “but” of course. I love “but” used like this as you know something is about to happen or be revealed. And you’ll hopefully want to find out what happened so the “white dresses, laces, and flowers” bit makes sense. All ways of drawing your reader in, which is what you want.

Flash fiction does make you think carefully about what description you have to show (and it is a case of showing the reader here, so win-win there too). It makes you focus on what the reader has to know and that is a good thing, regardless of what else you write.

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I’m currently leafing through the latest edition of Writing Magazine, which has its phenomenally useful writing competition guide with it. Am impressed to see a huge number of flash fiction competitions (and am sure this is up on last year too). Must go through with a red pen and circle some to have a go at myself!

One nice thing to look out for here is some of these are ongoing rolling competitions, so if you miss one deadline, you can get a piece ready for the next one. Must make a note of a few of those in my diary too.

And good luck if you are entering competitions.

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Fairytales With Bite – Mood Music for Fairytales

Music is wonderful for soothing the soul (especially classical) but it can also inspire and somehow “suit you”. So what music would suit certain fairytale characters then?

Cinderella – I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass – can imagine her the moment Cinders was able to smash those wretched glass slippers. I find it hard to believe they would have been comfortable.

Snow White – Poison Apples – Snow White should have heard this before her stepmother came to visit.

The Little Mermaid – Under the Sea – what else?

Okay so let’s flip this and look at music in general that would suit a magical world.

One obvious one stands out – Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens – to reflect the quirky nature of the magical world. Also a good one if you have Death as a character (though for me nothing will ever beat the wonderful creation of Terry Pratchett here)

Another obvious one is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I’ve never seen Fantasia in full but always have images of Mickey Mouse when this music comes on Classic FM. But this is a great track for almost any magical setting.


Thinking about your own stories, what music would suit it and why? Can you think of any anthems that would suit your characters? This kind of thing is just for fun but what you work out here will help you get further insight into your characters’ personalities and that is always useful to know.

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This World and Others – Promotions and Demotions

What kind of careers exist in your created world? Are all jobs manual, magical, or a mixture of both? Can people/beings/what have you (!) work their way up the career ladder? Could they also come tumbling down it and, if so, what would the consequences be? I would suspect in some settings losing a job would be nothing compared to what else a character would lose!

So how do promotions and demotions work? Are rewards made in money or magical gifts? Is there corruption in your setting and do people accept it or rebel against it?

What are the careers people could follow? Do certain backgrounds mean those folk from them can only do certain jobs? What would happen if someone decided to break out from that?

Is work compulsory for all or are certain groups exempt? Do other groups resent them for that?

What political links are there to career advancement (or otherwise)? Who controls those links and can that control be broken or opposed?

Lots of interesting story ideas to come from answering these, I think!

Happy writing!

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The Writing Game – and What to Watch For

Image Credit:  Pixels/Pixabay. A HUGE thank you to my lovely guest authors in my new Chandler’s Ford Today series for their photos.

MAJOR NEW CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY SERIES

I’ll be sharing Part 1 of a major new Chandler’s Ford Today series called The Writing Game – and What to Watch For. The series will be packed with useful advice. It is particularly useful for new writers or those seeking publication. More experienced writers should find plenty of useful tips too. More on this in a moment but I wanted to give a big shout out to all of the lovely authors who are taking part in this.

Richard Hardie, Brenda H Sedgwick, Francesca Tyer, Teresa Bassett, and Maggie Farran for Part 1 – tonight’s post.

Dawn Kentish Knox, Gill James, Amanda Baber (aka Amanda Jones), Paula C Readman, and Amanda Huggins for Part 2 – next Friday’s post, appearing 31st July.

Jacci Gooding, Jennifer C Wilson, Val Penny, and Wendy H Jones for Part 3 – the following Friday’s post, appearing 7th August.

See the slideshow below. Do check out the posts, not just for the great advice given by everyone, but to discover for yourself what a wealth of talent there is here. The genres represented here cover such a wide range of writing – think romantic fiction to horror and so much in between too!

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

You will gather from the above I am rather proud of this new series. Guilty, as charged! BUT this is the kind of series I would have lapped up when I was starting out as a writer. My guests and I all hope you find it useful and entertaining. Now to business!

Am pleased to share the link to my new CFT series – The Writing Game and What to Watch For. This is a three-parter and it’s the kind of post I would have lapped up when I was starting out as a writer.

Many thanks to the guest authors today and to the others who are taking part in the next two posts. Between us all, we have a wide range of experience in writing and cover a fantastic range of genres.

There is everything from YA fantasy to romantic comedy to horror. There’s flash fiction (I know, guess who!) to short stories to novelists. There are the traditionally published to those who have deliberately self published and have done a fantastic job doing so.

The tips and advice given here will be particularly useful for new writers or for those who have written for a while, but are now seeking advice about publication.

But, having said that, I’ve always found it to be true you learn so much from listening to or reading what other writers have to say so I’m sure there will be plenty of good “pickings” for more experienced writers too.

I very much look forward to sharing the next two posts on this topic. Today’s fab authors are #RichardHardie, #BrendaHSedgwick, #FrancescaTyer, #TeresaBassett, and #MaggieFarran.

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Am looking forward to sharing Part 1 of my new series on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow.

Called The Writing Game – and What to Watch For, I set guest authors three questions. These questions are:-

1. Which tip over the years has proved most useful to them?

2. What do they know now that, with hindsight, they wished they’d known when they started writing seriously?

3. What do you think a new author should most be wary about?

My guests have come up with fabulous answers to these and we all hope the three part series will provide a wealth of useful advice.

Naturally I answer the questions myself, one over the next three weeks, and share another Top Tip I’ve found invaluable over the years.

Guests come from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, the Association of Christian Writers, Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit/Chapeltown, the world of self publishing, and some fantastic local (to me!) authors. Between us we cover a huge variety of genres including non-fiction.

Link up tomorrow. And a huge thank you to my guests for their great contributions and photos.

I’ve switched back to the old Facebook and lo and behold I can now add pictures! I was more disappointed not to have ANY responses to my Report a Problem comments to be honest. Still back to service as normal here. I’ll stick with the old school then! On a more positive note:-

Enjoyed the follow up Zoom creative writing workshop this afternoon (Wednesday 22nd July). Have a promising funny flash fiction tale from it so will work on that at some point as it needs some editing to sharpen it up. Both workshops have shown me new ideas for finding story ideas so will make good use of those I’m sure in time.

It has also been a while since I had to write something in ten minutes so it was good to get back to that kind of thing again. It keeps you on your writing toes which is always good.

And I really have loved the haiku exercise that was set so to finish for tonight…

When the midweek blues
Hit home always remember
Two days – it’s Friday!😊

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am listening to the theme from Dick Barton Special Agent on Classic FM as I type this. I don’t remember the original series (though it is repeated every so often on Radio 4 Extra) but the music IS very evocative.

It was great fun choosing the music for the book trailer for FLTDBA. I went for Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens as I saw it as quirky music for quirky fiction.

I’m currently drawing up a shortlist of suitable choices for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Finding a piece that reflects either one specific mood of story OR has different moods within it which reflects the variety in the book is not always easy. But it is still great fun to try to do!

And of course it combines my two great loves – classical music and stories!😊I just need to find a way of somehow getting chocolate, prosecco, and a decent cup of tea into the mix!😆

 

My CFT series The Writing Game – and What to Watch For, which starts tomorrow, has a wealth of advice, especially for new writers or those who are seeking publication whether that is immediately or after having written for a number of years first.

I didn’t start out seeking publication myself. I wanted to prove to myself I could write and it was a long time before I actively sought to be published. I don’t regret doing that. I learned a lot. My ONLY regret with writing is not having started at all a lot sooner than I did.

One thing I could’ve added to this was be open to the types of writing you do. As I’ve mentioned before, it is how I discovered flash fiction. Also, taking part in writing exercises on Zoom this week, has reminded me of the importance of using different ways to trigger story ideas. You need to keep an open mind and to use things that are not immediately obvious story material. But it pays to look into different writing exercises and see what you can do with them. It’s fun too!

(I shall be writing more haiku for a start!).

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A writing exercise I took part in via a Zoom workshop today involved two objects (given from a list) and drafting a story about them. I’ve got a rough draft of a funny flash tale from that. Good fun to do.

It struck me that it was useful the list was set by someone else. There is a certain amount of the “you’ve got to get on with it then” syndrome here.

Could you scupper yourself by choosing your own objects? Possibly. The temptation would be to stick to the things you know you could write about. The whole point of the exercise is to make you think outside of the box and stretch yourself here.

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Fairytales With Bite – Quirky Characters

There are those who might feel that the reason I love quirky characters is because I am one! Hmm…

So what is it about quirky characters that appeals to me so much, both in terms of reading about them and writing them myself?

Humour – there’s usually a lot of humour, often irony, involved here. That appeals directly ever since I first came across irony in Pride and Prejudice which I read at secondary school many, many moons ago. That book was an eye opener for me in terms of how irony can be used (and the best kind is subtle with it too). It paved the way for me to appreciate more direct irony in the works of Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse, to name but two, later on

The Unexpected – The irony (!) here is you expect the unexpected from quirky characters. You’d be a bit disappointed to say the least if they didn’t come out with something. Often this is the pivoting point of the whole story too. What is fun is trying to guess what they come up with.

Memorable – You remember quirky characters. It’s why I’ve always loved Jo March in Little Women and George in The Famous Five. Again I wanted to find out what they could do and whether they could surpass what had gone before. It kept me reading! The trick for a writer is to achieve the same thing. It is also the challenge! What is it that makes your characters memorable?

 

This World and Others –

Elements of Worlds I Love to Pick Up On When Reading

In fantasy and science fiction, the created world can be a character in its own right. (The very name Mordor to me will always imply evil, for example). I don’t need to know the nuts and bolts of that created world. I just need to know what the main characters think of their world and that shows up in how they react to it.

The kind of information I do need is basic common sense stuff. If everyone in the world flies everywhere, how do they do it? What problems does that cause? How do they deal with traffic congestion at peak flying times (and I refuse to believe there isn’t any!)?

I needed to know in The Lord of the Rings that it was highly unusual for hobbits to go on adventures and they certainly weren’t considered as hero material by anyone one else in Middle Earth. I didn’t need to know the ins and outs of daily life as lived by a hobbit.

So what do you like to know when it comes to reading alien worlds? What does your reader know to know to make sense of the world you’re showing them?

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Competitions, Reading, and Publication News

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

Facebook – General

Every so often, I go through my list of potential competitions and whittle them down. I inevitably don’t get to enter all of them (time!) but I like to have a shortlist of contenders to pick from and I always go for the themes that appeal to me most. I do go in for open theme competitions too but actually prefer the set themes. I like to have a framework to work towards.

I wish I could say tidying the paperwork up immediately triggered inspiration for the Best Writing Idea Ever but I think I’d need the Writing Fairy to make a special appearance for that one to happen! 😆😆 I’ll let you know if she ever shows up….

 

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Have been slowly getting back into reading again via the Kindle.

I talked about how I’ve not read that much since the lockdown began in my CFT post last week so I am pleased the drought is beginning to clear.

I have had patches of not reading much before, mainly at times of great upset/stress etc., but also know that those patches pass so it is a relief to be slowly coming out of this one. (The last time was around the time I lost my dad, just over three years ago and I didn’t start reading properly again until a week after the funeral).

And yes I’m reading humour. It is always what I turn to first to kickstart my reading “diet” again.

And if you find you’re not writing or reading so much (or both), go easy on yourself. See this as a temporary stage only. It is!

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Managed to do a fair bit of editing over the weekend so am pleased with that. My CFT post this week will be looking at books on the radio and will feature YA author, Richard Hardie, as well as yours truly. More on that later in the week.

I must admit one advantage of writing mainly in the evenings is not having the heat browbeat me down! (I never work that well in very hot weather. Mind you, does anyone apart from the ice cream sellers?!😆).

I’ve long found creative writing to be therapeutic. I suppose it is because finding a form of artistic expression that suits me is so relaxing. I see writing as my wind-down time. I like to feel at the end of a session I used the time productively even if I “only” produced two flash fiction stories, say. I want to feel happy with what I’ve written even at first draft stage (because I know the work will only get better after that).

For longer term projects, I want to feel as I’ve made progress and I can see where I’ve got to go next.

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Facebook – General – and Publication News

Bonus post tonight. My story Breaking Out is now on Cafelit. Hope you enjoy.

The opening line comes from a prompt I contributed to the Prompts book produced by Gill James (see picture below). Do check it out in the usual places. You won’t run out of writing prompts!

 

Prompts 2020 by [Gill James]

Facebook – General

As you know, when I’m planning out a character I focus on their major trait(s) and there usually is more than one. After all, someone isn’t just brave, say. They may well be honest, charitable, compassionate and so on as well. It is the combination of traits that sparks a character (and therefore the story).

A character who is generally honest but is forced to lie to protect people they love is going to be a character I want to read about. I will want to find out what happens as a result of that lie but also how the character deals with their internal conflict here. While they’ll be happy to protect loved ones, they won’t be happy to have had to lie so how do they handle that?

 

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Facebook –

From Light to Dark and Back Again – Story Time!

Story time again. Random question generator time again. Hope you enjoy.

The question was what are the two things you would do if you woke up to find you were invisible? My answers? Panic and wonder whether I’d ever “come back”! But I thought it would be fun to write a story on this.

IN TIME

I knew something was up the moment the alarm woke me. Oh it was set for the usual time – 5.40 am – but when I realised I couldn’t see my hand as I went to switch the wretched thing off, I began to panic. I thought at first I’d lost my sight but then realised I was looking at where my hand should be and I could see my wardrobe in one corner of my room. Opposite was my chair.

I got up and went towards the full length mirror which was something I’d inherited from my gran. There was nothing in the mirror. Now I know I’m not a vampire and you’ll just have to take my word for it on that. This is when my panic settings went from mild to through the roof and up into the stratosphere territory. Well, you just would panic, wouldn’t you?

And then I remembered. I was rushing home from work and bumped into a scatter brained old lady who stepped in front of me in such a way I had no time to stop. I shouted at her to look where she was going, was she blind or something, and yes I know I was bloody rude and I am sorry about that. I’d had a horrendous day at work and I just wanted to get home. I know – no excuses but I want you to know I’m not normally rude.

Anyway she called out that she would teach me to look and I just laughed at that and thought nothing of it. I laughed even more when she got a big stick from her handbag and waved it in my direction. Who did she think she was – a fairy godmother or something?

I don’t know what to do. Will this wear off? She did call out I’d have to come and grovel to her soon. I laughed at that too.
Trouble is, it doesn’t seem so damned funny now.

I’ll be off. I’ll get my coat. If I’ve got to grovel, I’d rather get it over and done with.

Ends

Allison Symes – 23rd May 2020

 

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Hope you enjoyed my story, In Time, yesterday. This is the first time I’ve used the random question generator as the theme of the story, rather than as the title, opening or closing line. So yet another use for the generators then!

I’ve sometimes come across writing prompts that I would like to have a go at but I’m not happy with the ideas I come up with so I will bear using the prompt as a theme instead. I think that will give more flexibility.

What I would be inclined to do here is save such stories generated this way for open competitions where you set the theme anyway.

It means an idea could well produce something for you that you might otherwise have written off if you weren’t happy with something you’ve prepared with a specific theme-set competition in mind.

I’ve always found it best to submit the very best stories I can produce. Anything I’m not happy with for any reason doesn’t get binned. Neither does it get submitted. I save it and see if I can salvage something from it later and usually I can. Okay it can’t go in for that competition but that’s fine. If the author’s not happy with the story, the competition judge won’t be either!

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What would you say are your favourite kinds of stories and why?

I love:-

Humorous prose, especially fantasy, as I enjoy a good laugh.

Crime(though not the very violent type) as I enjoy the puzzle and seeing justice being done.

History – fiction and non-fiction. I learn from both. A well told historical fiction story does seem to transport me back to the era it is set in. (Music can do this too. I love Ralph Vaughan-Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for that reason). A good non-fiction book will show me aspects of a historical character I’d not considered before.

Fairytales –first love, storywise. Always enjoy seeing the deserving get what they deserve (and this is even more true for the villains!).

And what I love most about flash fiction is the form is open enough for you to write in those genres and many more. All you need worry about is the word count and even there you have flexibility from the very short to the right on the 1,000 words limit. There are competitions and markets to suit the entire range too.

 

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I mix up how I approach writing flash fiction in terms of word count. There are times I know I want to write to a specific count (usually 75 or 100 words) for a chosen market and/or competition.

At other times, having outlined my story and character(s), I write it and then work out what word count it works best at. I then keep that story one side until a suitable market/competitiion comes up.

If a story works best at 250 words, I keep it there and won’t try and edit it down to get to a sub-200 word competition.

And how do I judge where a story works best?

It’s always about the impact of the character for me. The next thing I ask myself is whether there is anything I could add to or take out of the story which would improve the tale and its impact. When the answer is no, I’m there!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Events

One of the things I miss most as a writer at the moment is the ability to go to book events.

Much as I do deeply appreciate what is available online, and it is a lifeline, I miss going into libraries and bookshops.

I also miss going to author events and I look forward to being able to do all of these things again in due course.

The Waterloo Arts Festival is going to be online this year. I’ll be taking part in that as one of the winners of their writing competition and I made a video for this.

It was good fun to do but oh I shall miss meeting up in person with my fellow writers. (We will all miss the pub lunch beforehand too!).

But the good news is books can still be celebrated and they should be. Of all the times to need books for escapism, it is now, isn’t it?

Whatever you’re reading, I hope you have a wonderful time “between the covers” and, whoever it is you’re reading, do consider leaving a review in the usual places including here. It really does help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favourite book images. They really are magical. Transportation into other worlds and around this one in a few hundred pages. Brilliant! Image via Pixabay.

WHEN A CHARACTER KNOWS THEY’RE IN TROUBLE

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

When a Character knows they’re in trouble is another of my “sum it all up in the title” posts! A short, sharp list of points for a character to ponder – do you agree with what I’ve come up with?  Can you add to the list?

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Reviewing Characters is another sum it up title!  I appear to be on a roll with these tonight!  But it occurred to me it would be no bad thing for writers to review their characters every so often.  Are the characters still coming across the way you want them to do so?  If not is this because they’ve developed and do you need to change your story to handle that development correctly?  Characters should change and develop of course, it’s the classic sign they “live” (and as a result so does the story), but a check to see the character is still “up to the job” is no bad thing I feel.

FACEBOOK PAGE

I was really pleased Andy Murray won in Vienna.  I discuss my thoughts on that and the creative arts in my FB page tonight.  A strange mix?  I don’t think so.  Sports people can be creative in how they play after all (AM is a great example of that.  Some of his shots take my breath away in a “how the hell did he do that” kind of way).  I also love the fact that there are so many forms of creative arts, so much so there is bound to be at least one to suit most people!

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When I'm not at my desk, I'm likely to be in the swimming pool or walking the dog (never both at the same time!). Image via Pixabay.

When I’m not at my desk, I’m likely to be in the swimming pool or walking the dog (never both at the same time!). Image via Pixabay.

FICTIONAL TEACHING, ADVICE AND INTERVIEWS

Both of my website posts tonight were inspired by my Chandler’s Ford Today interview post with Barbara Large, the second part of which went up on site tonight.  Link below.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I look at fictional interviews in tonight’s post and these can be a great way of revealing more about characters (both interviewer and interviewee) as long as the interview serves the story and moves it onwards to its conclusion.

Some of my previous posts on my websites have discussed interviewing your own characters and that can be a useful technique to find out more what makes them tick.  But whether the interview is actually in the story or you are using one to help flesh out your portrayal of a character, it should convey significant information, which is crucial to your story in some way.

This is because you may well find out something about the character that you had not originally envisioned but the interview brings out.  Find out where that takes you, it could be fun (!), indeed I think it should be fun (!!), and it should add depth to your character portrayal if nothing else.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Teaching and Advice looks at the role of teachers, advisors/mentors in the role of fiction.  What experience do they have?  How does it help the one they are advising?  Are the teachers and advisors generally respected or not (and why is this the case)?  Plenty of story ideas to be found here I think!

FACEBOOK PAGE

I share details of my Chandler’s Ford Today post, which is part 2 of my interview with Barbara Large.

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CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

Part 2 of my interview with Barbara Large is now on site and, as ever, Barbara shares a wealth of advice for writers of all backgrounds.  It was a great joy to meet up with her again and I can’t overestimate how much she has supported writers of fiction (all genres) and non-fiction over the years.  It was lovely to talk to her and thank you, Barbara, for sparing your very precious time for the interview.

The Writing Life with Barbara Large is a two part interview and now available via Chandler's Ford Today, Image via Pixabay.

The Writing Life with Barbara Large is a two part interview and now available via Chandler’s Ford Today, Image via Pixabay.

 

Story Shuffle Project: Choosing what to read. Image supplied by Eastleigh Borough Council.

EXPECTATIONS OF A FAIRY GODMOTHER

I’ve written lists tonight for both of my website posts.  I do love a good list!

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Expectations of a Fairy Godmother lists ten things an experienced fairy godmother should expect during the course of her career.  If you can think of any to add, I’d welcome comments!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Why Annoying a Writer is Not a Good Idea gives 10 reasons why this is so.  Again, if you can think of others, I’d be glad to get your comments!  This post was inspired by a Facebook photo doing the rounds earlier this evening.

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

I’ve written a quick update post tonight on the Story Shuffle Project.  This project is a great way of encouraging local school children to create their own stories and use their local libraries.

The idea is they write a story which, for this project, will be based on the tales of Sir Bevis of Hampton, Southampton’s legendary hero – think James Bond on tapestries basically!).  The stories are then digitised and put into the Shuffle app.

The children are given a code and have to visit their local library to use this code to unlock their own stories and gain access to a wealth of other books and stories.  From a writer’s viewpoint there is nothing not to like about this – creative writing and library use, wow!

I do hope all who use this project have a great deal of fun with it.  Tonight’s update shares further images sent into CFT about this.  I think the app looks great.  See what you think!  (And I hope ideas like this spread – great use of technology, stories, history, animation etc).

FACEBOOK PAGE

I share news of my CFT update and must thank Eastleigh Borough Council for supplying the images.  They support the Story Shuffle Project because of its role in encouraging creative writing and reading.  I must also thank my lovely editor for re-arranging the feature image.  She is very creative on this sort of thing!

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Story Shuffle Project: Code Setter. Image supplied by Eastleigh Borough Council.

Story Shuffle Project: Code Setter. Image supplied by Eastleigh Borough Council.