Endings in Fiction – and Retreats as a Theme

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Having been away at a retreat last weekend, I used the theme of retreat for my YouTube video earlier this week and for Friday Flash Fiction this week! Hope you have had a good week. Not bad here. Looking forward to being part of the Scottish Association of Writers’ conference in March. More news to come on that in due course (and I don’t think you can beat their website image – see below!).


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Endings in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today. Memorable endings stay with you long after you’ve finished the book or story and make it far more likely you’ll read more work from the author concerned.

I also look at why I feel the “it was just a dream” ending only worked the once and why. I look at linear, circular, and twist endings. (I use the latter a lot for my flash fiction so am especially fond of those). I go on to discuss what I think a good story ending should do. Hope you enjoy the post and do share your favourite story endings in the CFT comments.

Endings in Fiction

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Brrr… after an almost spring-like day yesterday, it has turned cold again. Mind you, it has been nice to see the signs of spring appearing – I’ve spotted primroses out and my solitary clump of snowdrops is doing well.

I’m talking about Endings in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week and I’m looking forward to sharing the link for that tomorrow. See link above.

A classic ending reverberates long after you’ve finished reading the book. A weak ending lets whatever came before down and a writer risks having readers not want to take a chance on their stories again. Well, you’re not going to risk being disappointed again, are you? So it matters then that you get your ending right. No pressure then! But it is worth taking your time to get this right.

Think about the impact you want your story to have on a reader. Think about what you yourself would want to see in the ending as if you weren’t the writer.

Putting yourself in your Ideal Reader’s shoes is an invaluable thing to do because you want your stories to impact on your reader so they want to read you again and again and again. If you are thinking about them from the start, you are less likely to go off on unhelpful tangents because you are seeking to reach them so you are thinking of what they need to see from your characters and plot.


Hope you have had a good day. Very busy one here – from housework to taking the dog to the vet for her annual booster, it’s all glamour here – umm…. maybe not!

There is an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic via Amazon. See the link for more information.

How did I come up with the title for my second flash fiction collection? Well, one of the stories in it is called Tripping the Light Fantastic but I wanted something indicating the book’s genre so it was an easy choice to just change one word here.

Titles are so important. A good title is your first “hook” to draw the reader in to read your story (and the second one is an intriguing opening line). It is worth giving yourself plenty of time to think of the title that will attract readers to your book. Try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. What would intrigue them? If you weren’t the writer of the book, what would intrigue you about it? Does the title grab your attention?

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I was away at the ACW Committee Retreat last weekend and I used the theme of retreat for my YouTube video earlier this week. I also used it again for my story this week for Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy Misunderstanding and many thanks for the great comments in on it so far.

Screenshot 2022-02-11 at 09-39-13 Misunderstanding, by Allison Symes

Yet another advantage to writing flash fiction is you have a form of writing which is ideal for people who want to write but know they haven’t got the time or desire to write longer works.

And flash pieces are easy to share on your website, social media etc to help raise your profile (though do bear in mind this does count as having been published. I don’t worry about that because I do want to reach people with what I do and sharing a story every now and again is an easy way of doing that. I see this as part of my marketing work but you have to decide what you are happy to share here and what you want to keep back for submission elsewhere).

I would also say if the thought of writing a longer work is too overwhelming, do think small and start there. With online magazines and competitions for flash available now, you can build up publishing credits here and have something to put on a writing CV if you do decide to submit a longer work to an agent or publisher later on.

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Advantages of writing flash fiction number 999 (or so it seems to me!):-

You can use old writing exercises as the basis for creating new flash fiction pieces. Take what you scribbled down in a writing conference talk and see if you can turn it into a story. Most material produced by exercises like this are far too short for the standard short story market. No problem! Write, edit, polish, and send off to the flash one instead!

Dig out those old notebooks – what can you develop from those initial notes? It is worth doing. I took one of mine (The Balcony Seen) and edited and polished it and it ended up on CafeLit.
Screenshot 2022-02-09 at 20-07-59 CafeLitMagazine

Fairytales with Bite – Justice

One aspect to fairytales I’ve always loved is you know justice will be done – in some form anyway. Evil is generally thwarted. Good will prevail eventually. Simplistic, maybe, but even as a kid I knew real life wasn’t always like that and it was a comfort to see wrong being righted in fiction.

And another lovely aspect to fairytales is characters traditionally considered as villains don’t have to be. Think Shrek. The ogre is the hero there.

So how would justice be seen to be done in your fairytale setting? Are characters reliant on a helpful fairy godmother turning up and waving the old wand about or are they expected to do some of the work themselves and then call for magical backup? You can probably guess which approach I prefer by the way I’ve worded that!

And yes I do like to see characters contributing something to getting themselves out of trouble even if their efforts don’t succeed. Likewise, I prefer characters who try to act justly even if sometimes their actions are misunderstood or they “let the side down” briefly by those odd moments when, perhaps provoked too far, they don’t act justly. We’re not perfect. Our characters won’t be either.

The theme of justice is often tied up with another theme – redemption. A character hasn’t acted justly. They regret that. What do they do to try to make things right and does this ensure justice is done? All interesting possibilities to explore further.


This World and Others – Law

How does the legal system work in your fictional environment? Is there a civil law, a separate military one, or is there just one? Who ensures justice is done (or do they like to ensure it isn’t done unless it is for them or their cronies)?

Are there trials as we would know them or is everything settled by armed combat? Do ordinary characters have easy access to the law for when they need legal help or is it dependent on whom they know?

As the law stands in your fictional world, what is the history behind it? For example, if people or other beings used to be able to vote but they can’t now, what changed and why? Did your characters try to bring the right to vote back? What stopped them?

How do laws get changed or repealed? Who works for the law (police, barristers, judges etc)? And when punishment is to be inflicted, what form does that take? What does the law in your world allow and what is the basis behind that?

Law underpins a society. Something of that should come through in your fictional world too. Your readers won’t need to know all of the details but they will need to know Character A can’t do this course of action because it is illegal in your setting and your character has to come up with something else instead.



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Retreats, Flash Fiction and Books You Treasure

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Images from The Hayes, Derbyshire taken by me too. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good weekend. It was lovely to catch up with my colleagues on the Association of Christian Writers Commitee as we plan ahead. I think The Hayes is probably going to be my second home this year – I am due to be back there two further times this year!


Facebook – General

Am loving tonight’s Classic FM Concert – it’s celebrating John Williams’ 90th birthday. My favourite is The Raiders March from Indiana Jones. I think the best Williams has ever written is the Theme from Schindler’s List. The scariest? No contest – that’s the Jaws theme.

Moving on rapidly from that (and I am so glad I only ever swim in a swimming pool!), my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Endings in Fiction. I’ll share some classic examples and look at what I think a successful story ending should achieve. Link up on Friday.

I’ve used the theme of retreat for my YouTube video this week (I’ll be posting the link on my book page shortly at https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes see further down for the link).

I’ve used it for my submission to Friday Flash Fiction this week as well but the moods of the two stories are different. That’s a lovely thing about setting a broad theme – you can take it in many different directions and you can write up differing stories. So why not give it a go?


Many thanks for the wonderful responses in so far for Timing, my latest piece on Friday Flash Fiction. Much appreciated though what my dentist will make of it is another matter. To find out why I mention that, check the story out at the link. Great fun to write – hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2022-02-04 at 08-57-53 Timing, by Allison Symes

Currently on way home from the ACW Committee Retreat. Had lovely time, we got plenty done, and it was so nice to see everyone.

As ever with these things, I took plenty to work on in my spare time. Did manage to do more than I thought but not as much as I’d have liked! Always the way of it, I guess.

Today must be a strange day for the Queen – sadness and celebration all intermingled. (6th February 2022 – the 70th anniversary of her Accession but also the 70th anniversary of the loss of her father, King George VI).

Emotions can be strange like that – and our characters shouldn’t be all sad, all happy, and nothing in between. For them to seem real to our readers, our characters should reflect the mixture of emotions we experience.


I’m at The Hayes, Swanwick for the Association of Christian Writers Committee Retreat. So lovely to see my colleagues in person again rather than just on screen, even though Zoom is incredibly useful.

I’ll be back here again in June for the ACW WOWIG weekend (Worth Our Weight in Gold) and I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop here. The weekend celebrates ACW’s Golden Jubilee. It is a big year for Jubilees!☺

And I’ll be back yet again in August for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. I think 2022 is when this lovely part of Derbyshire is going to be my second home!

Am also looking forward to running a flash workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers Conference in March.

So busy, busy but all in great ways and I adore talking about flash and trying to persuade others to give it a go. It’s fun, helps you improve your writing and editing skills, and if like me, you love creating characters, it is the ideal format for you.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you enjoy Retreat, my latest YouTube story. Am a day later this week due to being away at the weekend but the thought of my being on retreat then led me to take the idea of retreat as a theme. Also pleased I found such an apt audio track on this one and again a huge thanks to #DawnKentishKnox for letting me know about the YouTube audio library. It is useful!


Hope you have had a good start to your week. I hope to get a story off to Friday Flash Fiction this week and I plan to write a YouTube tale, hopefully to share tomorrow. I think the first part of this week will be spent catching up with what I didn’t manage to get done while away.

Having said that, I did manage to get some useful writing work of my own done while on the train over the weekend so was pleased with that. (And flash fiction is easy to draft on the ever useful Evernote!).

How do I start on a flash fiction tale? It depends. Yes, I know – helpful, not! But when I say it depends, it really does depend on whether I’ve got a theme in mind already or not. Sometimes I’ve got my eye on a competition with a set theme so I know I’m writing to that or I just know I want to write a funny piece and then I think about the kind of character who could be the star of said tale.

My outline then is either based on the theme and what I could bring to it or on the character – why are they funny? What do they do to make the situation funny? Does their personality increase the comedy? Characters almost always don’t think they’re funny or that their situations are – it is serious for them – it is the reader looking in who gets the laughs and that is how it should be.

But I must admit I do have a soft spot for the pompous character as it is great fun to set them up for a deserved fall. Writing can be therapeutic at times like that! If I’ve had a tough day, writing something to make me laugh is great fun but also takes me out of myself for a while and hopefully the story will do the same for a reader.

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Flash fiction is aptly named as a flash light illuminates a brief area and flash tales focus on one important moment for a character.

If the character grips you, there’s nothing to stop you putting them in other flash tales and showing other aspects to them.

And there is novella-in-flash where each chapter (up to 1000 words) is its own stand alone story but where succeeding chapters develop the character and storyline further. So that is always an option.
Bar the word count, flash is flexible.

BookBrushImage-2021-10-27-20-718BookBrushImage-2021-9-17-20-3426Where will your fiction take your readers and will it make them laughGENRES - Character studies are best kept short so work well in flashAE - July 2021 - Great characters will keep you turning the pagesGENRES - Writing flash means I can set my characters anywhereAE - July 2021 - A great character drives the plot

One thing I bear in mind when writing flash is how many characters I want to write up.

For flash tales under 500 words, I find two characters work best though I often only use one and get them to refer to another character who is effectively “off stage”.

For between 500 and the 1000 words maximum, I will use two, sometimes three, and again there will be references to others.

Whenever I use references to other characters, it is to add depth to my tale and the information in the references always moves the story on.

Everything in the story has to justify its being in the story.

Goodreads Author Blog – Books You Treasure

I treasure all of the books I have, of course, but some are just that bit extra special.

These include books left to me by my late mother (a beautiful collection of the works by Dickens is the highlight there) and the first book I bought for myself in my teens.

That was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I still have it. I collected many of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton in my younger years too.

I still have the Louisa May Alcott books – Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

I will always have a soft spot for Jingo as that was the first Discworld novel I read. I eagerly read the rest of Terry Pratchett’s fabulous and fantastic series after that.

So which books do you treasure and why?

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