Creating Characters

Image Credit:  Pixabay/Pexels unless stated. Also a big thank you to Richard Hardie for the images supplied for my second CFT post which appeared over the weekend, more below.

Facebook – General – bonus Chandler’s Ford Today post

A busy week on CFT for me this time. My second post this week shares news from YA author, Richard Hardie, about his link with Doctor Who. All very exciting and a feather in the cap for Richard. Well done! Check out the post for more details.

Facebook – Association of Christian Writers

More Than Writers blog spot – Creating Characters

It’s my turn on More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers.

I talk about Creating Characters and share hints and tips, including a list of questions that will help you outline your “people”.

Hope you find it useful. (And many thanks to those who have commented on this. Much appreciated).

A good TV or film adaptation of a book only works if the images shown roughly coincide with the images I had from reading the text. The Inspector Morse series did this, as did the Poirot and Miss Marple series (with David Suchet and Joan Hickson). Film wise, I thought Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings had it spot on.

Are there any books you would like to see made into series or films? Which ones and why? Are there adaptations that haven’t worked for you? (I couldn’t get on with the Marple series. For me, Joan HIckson was perfect in the role and that was that).

When it comes to writing my stories, I put myself in my character’s shoes and see the world their way. I don’t always like my characters by the way! (Oh and a big thanks for a tremendous response to my ACW post on More Than Writers yesterday which was all about Creating Characters. Glad it was useful).

What I have found is you DO have to inhabit your character’s space so you can write about them/for them effectively.

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One very tired Lady on the sofa tonight. Had a great big play with several pals, including her “boyfriend”, a lovely Collie gent, and her best pal, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. I should imagine they’re pretty shattered as well!

Enjolyed listening to the Movie Music Hall of Fame on Classic FM today. I was right about the top two and pleased about them too. Must remember to find out where the Pink Panther theme came in (and there’s an earworm for anyone of a certain age!).

I usually write with classical music on as I find it helps me relax and when I relax, I’m more productive with the writing. Other things I have to have on my desk are my dictionary, my Scrivener for Dummies guide, my publisher guides (Writers and Artists and Mslexia) and plenty of pens (I know! I’m using a laptop, what do I need pens for? I guess I just like to see them around!).

I don’t have any rituals before writing. I just open my laptop and get on with it but I do like to see the accoutrements on my desk. I suppose it’s a case of Allison going into her comfort zone sort of thing.

And now I am IN my comfort zone, time to get on with more writing then!

 

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I can’t say a particular writer made me pick up my pen and start writing. I’ve loved books and stories for as long as I can recall. I loved writing stories in English lessons at school (and I’ll be talking a bit more about that in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week).

But it took me a long time to figure out I really ought to get around and write seriously. It took two major life events to wake me up here! My only serious regret with writing is NOT starting a lot sooner than I did.

But it is wonderful to say that all of the writers whose books are on my shelves (and the electronic one too!) have added to my love of stories and storytelling. For that I will always be grateful. And then there’s the joy of discovering new writers too.

If I could invent things I would invent:-

1. Elastic time so I never run out of time to read or write.
2. Calorie free chocolate.
3. Calorie free prosecco.
4. A stamina “topper-upper” for those times you could really do with it!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I don’t know about you but I find it unsettling it is 8.30 pm in August in the UK and it is pitch black out there! (Not due to the weather either). The seasons are definitely shifting. Talk about going from light to dark!

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favourite writing exercises is writing to a set opening line. The ones that work best for me are the ones that can be taken in more than one direction. For example:-

1. The door remained locked despite her efforts.
2. He was on time, as the note insisted, but nobody was about.
3. The fairy godmother was on early shift.

Now all three opening lines here have comic as well as dramatic possibilities. (The door could remain locked because it took her a while to realise she was using the wrong key. He might be on time but what if he turned up at the wrong place and forgot to check? As for the fairy godmother, what could she expect to have to do on early shift that she might not face later on in the day? Definitely scope for humour there and that would almost certainly be the way I’d take these story ideas).

I find it useful to jot down initial ideas from an opening line and then go for the one that is a little way down my list. That is the idea which is not likely to be the obvious one and could well be open to my putting a twist on it, which I always love doing.

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One of my favourite stories in my new book, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, involves a librarian and a snake. Can’t say more than that at the moment but it was great fun to write! By all means, let your mind boggle at the thought of that!

But then that is the fun of fiction. You can write in any genre, any time period, and the impossible isn’t so much in things like fantasy, magical realism etc.

Whatever you write, it is important to enjoy it. I mentioned to a friend and fellow author (the lovely #ValPenny) that you have to enjoy what you write, especially if it is a book, because you’ll be promoting said book for a long time.

You as the writer have got to be able to live with what you’ve written and enjoy living with it too! That’s an aspect to the writing life which isn’t often considered I think.

But commitment to what you write shows up here and not just in the hard work it needs to get those stories written in the first place.

Writing is good for you as it stretches you and develops your imagination. It is also good fun experimenting with different forms of writing and discovering where your strengths are. But even when you’ve found the style of writing that suits you best, writing should still keep pushing you.

Pushing you to keep on producing good work.

Pushing you to discover new markets/competitions for your work.

Pushing you to get better at editing your work and polishing it as well as you can to give it its best possible chance out there in the big, bad world.

Pushing you to develop new skills including but definitely not limited to reading your work to an audience, making the most of technology to produce items that can help you market your work more effectively, and so on.

What writing doesn’t do is allow you to rest on your laurels and that’s a great thing. Why? Because you want to keep on developing. The writing journey should be as much fun as possible. Different things come up along that journey, things you would not have expected when starting out, and by developing you will be ready to tackle those things and have more strings to add to your bow.

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Am looking forward to taking part in the Zoom session with #GillJames and #DawnKentishKnox on 26th September. I hope to be reading a story or two, including one from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. You did hear it here first!

I will share the link to the event later in September. You do need to register but the event is free. I’ll also be flagging it up via Chandler’s Ford Today in due course.

Flash is great for reading aloud at events etc. It doesn’t take too long to read. It makes an immediate impact and the “deeper” stories resonate with you and linger long in the memory afterwards. Nothing to dislike there!

And I’ve said before it is a good idea to read your work out loud so you can hear how it flows, whether the dialogue etc comes across as smoothly as you’d like etc. If you trip over your words, a reader almost certainly will. Again with flash, this doesn’t take long. I’ve spotted things I’ve needed to change many a time doing this.

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Goodreads Author Blog Book Dilemmas

What book dilemmas, I hear you ask?

Well, there is the obvious one of which book you are going to read next from your naturally huge TBR pile.

I refuse to believe that doesn’t give you pause for thought from time to time! (I get a little annoyed with myself for doing this. I realise the half hour I spent deciding what I’ll read next could have been spent on reading!).

Then there is the dilemma of whether you’ll reduce the TBR paperback pile or the one on your Kindle.

Then there is the dilemma of whether you’ll read short stories or another novel or non-fiction.

There is no one right answer to how you answer these.

I find I read a load of things on my Kindle for a while, then switch back to paperbacks for a bit, and that’s fine with me.

I just need to stop wasting half hours every now and again making up my mind and just get on with what matters – the reading!

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Lists and Zooming Around

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

Facebook – General

Am finding my social life has perked up no end – thanks to Zoom. Hmm… Lady has got used to “disembodied” voices coming out of my computer! She still doesn’t like it (who can blame her?) but she goes and curls up somewhere instead of barking at the screen. Progress takes many forms, folks.😊

Mind you, some things don’t change. When I was a kid, I used to have to stand on a box so I could be seen over a pulpit when I read a Bible lesson. For Zoom, I have to sit on a cushion so I show up clearly enough for people to be able to lip read me if they need to/want do. Some things don’t change much! 😕

In other news, I’m finding having a session once or twice a week where I just draft blog posts is proving useful. It is proving handy having a batch of posts good to go when I’m pressed for time.

Generally I prepare these Facebook posts “live” and I am doing so now. There are times I come to this not knowing at all what my topic is going to be but I like that. It forces me to think and be more creative and then that flows well into the rest of the writing I’ll do afterwards. Also it means I can respond to news, writing news etc as it comes up during the day.

But the crucial thing is whatever you write, whether it is for publication or not, is to enjoy what you do. I can’t imagine a life without writing in it somewhere and that is how it should be.

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Zoom church was lovely this morning – and that was a combination of words I never expected to write!

I continue to make progress on my various projects though I always feel I should be achieving more. I cheer myself up with the thought most writers think that though!

I find I can’t work on one thing at a time before moving on. I have to have at least two to three different things on the go, partly because while I know when my writing slot is going to be each day, there can be some variation in time allocated to each one. I can adjust what work I do according to the time available so this is why having a couple of things on the go at any one time works well for me.

Also it means usually I’ve got something out there for consideration, something I’ve written but which needs some “resting time” so I can edit it properly, and something else I’m drafting. I find that useful.

Hope to have another lighthearted CFT post up later this week. Details to follow.

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What aspect of writing do you find the most challenging?

For me, it’s not letting my characters talk too much! I love writing dialogue. Failing that, writing their thoughts is also good fun. And, yes, I could go on at length which is why the flash fiction format works so well for me. It forces me to face up to the fact I can’t do that and I DO have to stick to what is relevant! There is a point to a strict word count!

What aspect of writing do you find the most fun to do?

For me, it’s finding that word or two which I know will either add depth to my characters or describe something well but economically. If I were to say, for example, Madame X had a velvet chaise longue (as I’m sure she would!), it is the word velvet that makes the difference for me. It helps me to visualise better. (I can also hazard a guess at what the rest of Madame X’s furniture will be like too!).

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What do books do for you? For me they:-

1. Entertain.
2. Inform
3. Take me to other worlds (and quite often it’s different aspects of this one).
4. Take me back in time (so I can see how others lived. This nearly always brings about a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have now, especially literacy. I just know I would’ve been a peasant in medieval times. Any chance of reading? None whatsoever. Chances of dying young in childbirth? Very high. Hmm…).
5. Keep me out of mischief. For a bit.
6. Show me just what a wonderful world of stories we have out there. There is at least one genre to suit everyone.

Happy reading!

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Judging what to leave out of a flash fiction story can be tricky at times. I’ve sometimes been caught between two useful character details but I really only have the room for one of them.

This is not down to word count either given the range of different markets and competitions I could go for and I would just change which one I plumped for.

When I say I haven’t the room, what I mean is the story would feel too “top heavy” if I put all the details in. You learn to get a feel for this over time. Less really is more in flash fiction. It is the telling detail that matters. And it is a question of deciding which telling detail is the most important one and therefore should be the one to make the cut.

For me, it’s usually down to the impact factor which helps me decide what goes in. Detail A may strengthen understanding of a character’s motives. Useful. Detail B may show the character has a pathological hatred for something. If my story is showing a character being driven by something, then Detail B is almost certainly the one to go in.

So it is a case of selecting the right detail for the right occasion. What serves the story/character best is the way, I think, to judge this.

F= Find fantastic characters to write about but keep them few in number. Too many cooks spoil the broth = too many characters in a flash fiction story make it top heavy and can lead to confusion in your reader. Focus on one or two characters only.

L= Learn what makes your characters drive. Ask the old “luvvie” question “where is my motivation in this?” as it is a good one to ask of your characters. It will also help you focus on what really matters to your character and your story.

A = Always know what the story is and ask yourself what the point is and is your plot moving on to that point. Flash focuses on ONE important moment for your character. The limited word count means you have to shine a spotlight on ONE small area only but your story can make a powerful impact because of that.

S = Story, story, story. It’s got to be a cracking story. What will keep the reader reading? Think of your hook, lure the reader in, and deliver on the promise of that hook. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and ask yourself, when editing, is this achieving the impact I want the story to have? Change anything that doesn’t serve the story well.

H = Have a strong conclusion whether it is a one-liner or a twist ending. You want your reader to leave having thoroughly enjoyed your story and feeling not one word could be added or removed from it. Oh and above all Have Fun! It’s a mantra of mine that you’ve got to enjoy your writing to be able to keep going with it.

Good luck and happy writing!

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What aspect of a character do you look out for when you start reading a story?

I want some idea of their general attitude. How they treat or refer to other characters in the story is usually key to telling me all I need to know!

Now okay sometimes this can be a red herring. A twist at the end can turn my assumptions around but I love that.

I then go back and look at the story again and see if I can pick up any clues as to what the character was really like early on. On a second reading I usually find something. Of course, I can note how the writer has done this and then see if I can do something similar for my twist flash tales.

You really do learn from other writers, past and present, and this is just one excellent reason to read widely and well. None of us are going to re-invent the wheel after all. So be inspired and use that inspiration to fire your imagination. Your take on characters will be unique to you.

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So how do you decide which ONE pivotal moment is THE one to write about for your flash story?

For me, it has to be the one that makes the most impact on your character. Sometimes this is the obvious dramatic moment but it isn’t always.

In my Time for Tea, the crucial pivotal moment (from my viewpoint as writer rather than reader) is when the narrator reveals someone else has told them something about their adult children. The narrator doesn’t think to question it. An alert reader will. But this moment sets the course for what the narrator is going to then do and that is why it matters. Quiet moments or revelations can turn a character and their story just as much as louder, more obvious moments can.

 

Goodreads Author BlogLists

Do you make a list of books for gift ideas to share with family and friends as hints for birthdays, Christmas etc? I do. There is always a list to be made!

But I also like to list traits in characters I admire and work out how I can use something similar when I create my own characters.

One of the great joys of reading from a writer’s viewpoint is you learn so much from other authors and you can use that to strengthen your own writing. You also get to see how dialogue is set out and so on.

It is vital to read a good mixture of material though from comtemporary to classic and non-fiction should be included too. The more you read, the wider the net of potential ideas.

You read a wonderful story or piece of non-fiction writing and that can inspire you to wonder well how would I have tackled this topic. What take would I have taken on it?

Of course lists lead to incredible To Be Read piles, both physically and in electronic form, but that’s a nice problem to have!

Another fun list would be to create an inventory of places connected with books you would like to visit once the lockdown is over. On my wish list here would be the British Library and Gladstone’s Library to name but two.

How about thinking of books to take with you on a retreat? My list there would have to include something by Austen, Pratchett, and Wodehouse, and naturally I would be taking the Kindle for this. (The saving in weight and luggage space would be considerable though the main thing would be to not forget to take the charger for it).

Then there’s the list of books your friends have told you about that you haven’t got around to reading yet. That too can be a formidable list.

But lists involving books are fun! Just relishing the possibility of reading all of those lovely books is wonderful. Getting to do so is even better. And now back to my TBR list I think!

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New Year, New Book

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all images are from Pixabay.

Happy New Year to you all!

PUBLICATION NEWS

As you can imagine, I am thrilled to bits to start the New Year in such a positive way and look forward to bringing more news about Tripping the Flash Fantastic in due course.

Advance Notice

I am planning to change the name of my book page on Facebook from From Light to Dark and Back Again to something more flash fiction related nearer to when I know Tripping the Flash Fantastic will be out. That way the page can cover both books and I’ve been using this page mainly to discuss flash fiction anyway.

Facebook – General

One goal I have set myself this year is to try to prepare more posts in advance and schedule them to free up writing time for other things. I have done this before, mainly ahead of going on holiday, and it works well but I need to do this more often. (If I can do the same with Twitter as well, even better!).

I’m currently reading 500 Words You Should Know, which was a lovely gift from a friend who thinks I probably know most of them already. Hmm…. we’ll see. Incidentally I did pick up the word “soporific” from Beatrix Potter many, many moons ago. Reading is by far the most enjoyable way of improving your vocabulary.

I’m relishing being back in the writing saddle again properly now having submitted two short stories already and working away on several new flash fiction tales. What I love about writing is that buzz of creativity never loses its attraction! I always feel so much better within myself for having created something with words.

Loved Part 2 of Spyfall from Doctor Who tonight as well and that’s all I’m saying on this for now, given I know people who haven’t seen it yet! Very much looking forward to the rest of the series after such a cracking start.

Hope to be able to share publication news again soon (so I think I’m off to a cracking start for 2020 too, not that I mind this, far from it!). Again will share news as and when I can but really looking forward to being able to do so soon.

One of the writing prompts in my new diary is to write a New Year’s Eve party from the viewpoint of three different characters. Not sure I’ll do this one mainly because I simply don’t do New Year’s Eve parties so feel I wouldn’t write convincingly on same! I would rather stay at home and curl up with a good book (and I would have done so in my younger years too. Yes, I know. Boring it may seem to be but give me a good book and I can assure you the hours whizz by very nicely reading and that suits me just fine!).

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Am thrilled to announce my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, will be published by Chapeltown Books later this year. Will share more details as and when I have them.

What I love is that the buzz of being published never diminishes whether it is having a story online, or in an anthology, or you have another book out.

I only wish I could bottle the buzzy feeling for those times when writing feels like really hard work and you have to push yourself harder to keep going!

 

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Many thanks, everyone, on your wonderful support at my publication news yesterday. It is very much appreciated. I look forward to sharing more news as and when I have it.

I am also delighted for friends who I know will also be published later this year – well done, all. I look forward to seeing your books come out too. I never mind adding to my To Be Read pile!

Now back to the nitty-gritty! The writing life can be compared to a rollercoaster. It really is full of ups and downs. Stamina is useful!

Incidentally, I’ve mentioned elsewhere that you have to play the long game in writing. You can’t know that what you write will be accepted or successful. You can only give it your best shot (and be prepared to edit, rewrite, edit etc). So writing for the joy of writing is vital in my view. It is what helps keep you going when nothing seems to be happening.

Seeds can take a long time to germinate. That’s even more true of the writing seeds you send out there. But it is lovely when the first shoots and then the blooms appear! And it is important to cherish the moment, especially as you can’t know when the next one will be. It is equally important to then move on and keep writing and sending work out.

So I’d better get on then!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do you find when writing stories in batches one mood tends to dominate? In the last couple of days, I’ve written sinster and sadder but moving stories. I am hoping to lighten up a bit in the next few days!

What matters is being true to the characters you create. If their story is a sad one, so be it, but the character has to engage with a reader so they will want to find out what happens to said character.

I am very fond of stories where characters find a way of dealing with issues troubling them. I always thought it realistic that Frodo never did fully recover from all he went through in The Lord of the Rings. A happy ever after ending still has to be appropriate for the character. It wasn’t for Frodo, it was for Sam.

 

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I hope to be able to share exciting publication news soon so, as they say, watch this space.

Meanwhile, I’m happily drafting plenty of flash fiction pieces I will submit as and when over the next couple of months or so. I am also currently sorting out my running order for a further flash fiction collection I hope to submit at some point though I know there will be further editing to do on that once I’ve done this. I find sorting out the running order helps clear my thoughts and makes editing easier to do. Note I said easier, not easy!

Running order matters to a collection. It can make a huge difference as to how well the stories flow into each other. Also when you specifically want a contrast in moods (as I did with FLTDBA) you want that contrast to stand out. I grouped my stories in FLTDBA specifically by mood and that worked well. I suspect for what I am currently working on, I will probably organise it by type of flash fiction (e.g. group the historical ones together, group the funny ones together etc).

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As mentioned on my author page, I am delighted to say Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my second flash fiction collection, will be published by Chapeltown Books later this year. Will share further details as and when possible but naturally am thrilled about this. (I had the great joy of sending the signed contract back today. That’s a good job to have!).

Meanwhile there will be more flash stories from me on Cafelit later this month and in March. Naturally I hope to get some more on there throughout the year too.

You have to accept, I think, that you are playing the long game when you are writing and seeking publication. There are no guaranteed results for anyone. You do have to work hard on your writing and be prepared to edit and edit again etc but the joy of publication is truly a wonderful thing and never diminishes!

 

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Many thanks for all the kind messages here and on Twitter re my publication news yesterday. All very much appreciated.

Whatever your writing projects are, I hope they are going well and that you are having the proverbial ball writing them.

Writing should be enjoyable. Yes, it can be a hard slog but there should be the joy of being creative in there too. I love it when I hit that moment when I know my characters have come to life for me. (If they do so for me, they will do for other readers).

There is something fantastic about storytelling, whether you read stories, write them, or do both. It is certainly worth celebrating!

Goodreads Author Blog – Happy New (Reading) Year!

Happy New Year!

I’m looking forward to discovering authors new to me this year and getting plenty of reading done. The TBR pile, unlike my ironing pile, is one where I’m not that sorry if it stays pretty much at its high level!

I’d like to read more non-fiction this year too and expand my range of subjects.

The biggest problem, of course, is time. I always mean to read more over the Christmas break and, yes, I did catch up a bit. However, I’m usually too tired to read for long so I never get as much done as I was hoping for.

Am trying to read more (particularly magazines) at lunch time and am enjoying that.

I’d also like to get back to more humorous reading and suspect it will soon be time to resume the works of P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett, both of whose books bring me much joy.

Whatever your reading plans are this year, I hope you have a fabulous time with them. I intend to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction and Successful Writing

Facebook – General

When is writing considered successful? When you are published? When you submit more work in a year than you’ve done before? When you have more acceptances than rejections? When you can make a living from writing?

All of those things matter, of course they do, BUT if you are committed to your writing, and seek to always improve on what you do, I’d say that was being successful. Why?

Because you do need stamina to cope with the ups and downs of the writing life. You need to recognize you do need to keep striving.

And whether you seek publication for one book, lots of books, or just want to win short story competitions from time to time, then that’s fine. Decide what you would like to achieve and give it your best shot.

Good luck!

 

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Whatever writing you do, I think the two most important things are to enjoy it and use it to help you develop.

If you write flash fiction, as I do, seek to find more ways of generating ideas and find more markets/competitions for your work.

Writing is a journey after all and, even after publication, you will still face rejections. You will want to get better at what you do. There are always things to spur you on.

My overall goal? To be the best writer I can be.

 

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West Bay Beach on a gorgeous day in December 2018.  Image taken by Allison Symes.  Walks along a beach can be a good place to reflect on what you would like to achieve as a writer.

Enjoyed the writing prompt in my diary tonight. I had to use certain words to come up with an opening to a story or a poem. A poem emerged! Needs a lot of work mind you but enjoyable to draft. What was nice about this was I could “hear” the rhythm of the draft and knew from that, this would a poem and not a piece of flash fiction.

I like the mixture of writing prompts in this diary. They’re going to keep me on my toes this year. I also like prompts as a chance to play with words and just see what comes out. Later will come more fun when I look at these drafts in the cold light of day and assess what works and what doesn’t and then obviously go with what does. I know now NOT to try and write and edit the same piece in the same session. Doesn’t work. I find I need to give myself some distance before appraising anything.

 

Off to the panto later this week. Oh yes she is! Oh no… etc etc.

Don’t think I’ve seen Ali Baba before and it’s been a long time since I last read the story. Should be a good fun evening and panto I think is about the only time nobody cares too much how noisy the theatre audience gets. (That may just be me remembering childhood pantos too vividly though!). Review will follow on CFT in due course.

My favourite panto story is probably Robin Hood though as I’ve always adored that tale.🏹🏹 Recently rewatched Prince of Thieves. (The much missed Alan Rickman IS the definitive Sheriff of Nottingham.)

Back to normal after a lovely weekend away. Why is it that, wherever it is you go, no matter for how short a time you’re away for, you always come back feeling jetlagged, even if you’ve been nowhere near a plane?!

My CFT post later this week will take a brief look at why the oral tradition of storytelling will never die out. I also look at how I came across the story of Ali Baba, the panto I’ll be off to see on Thursday, and the special memories of the book I have where I first read the tale. Much as I can see the point of decluttering, I draw the line at books!

Practically all of mine have special memories attached to them and it is a great pleasure to have a shelf of books written by friends of mine. (Take a bow, #ValPenny, #JenniferCWilson, #BeatriceFishback, #DawnKentishKnox, #GillJames, #RichardHardie, #BrendahSedgwick amongst others!). I look forward to filling other shelves with books by friends and, of course, my own!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Drafted another flash story on the train yesterday. Plan to polish that and submit it I hope sometime next week.

Never despise “only” having 5 minutes to write or what have you. These pockets of time are really useful for getting some drafts written. You’d be surprised at how much time those pockets can mount up to and therefore how many drafts you can get done!

Some one-line stories for tonight’s post, I think.

1. The red dragon thought it would defy being out of time by sitting on the clock tower and crushing it.

2. The fraud would work, she knew, but did she have the guts to go through with it?

3. It had a 90% risk of failure, and that would mean death, but he liked odds like that for bringing out the best in him.

Flash fiction lends itself well to having fun experimenting with genre writing. Why?

Because it has to be character led, you can set that character anywhere you want. So you can write fairytales, crime stories, historical fiction etc. The framework is that you are writing a flash story. It may even help you discover what your favourite genre to write in is – I will always have a very special fondness for humorous fairytales. But I do enjoy coming out with crime flash fiction every so often.

Mixing things up keeps ME thinking and stretching the old imaginative muscles, which is always a good thing.

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I’m enjoying tackling the weekly writing prompts in my diary. Some are picture prompts, others you have to use certain words, and still others you have to write a description of a particular thing. All good creative stuff. Loving the mix too.

The one for last week was to use certain words as an opening for a poem or story. What was lovely was I heard the voice of my narrator immediately and they were demanding their words be written as a poem. Well, when you’re told like that, you have no choice do you?!

When writing is really going well, it can seem as if you are taking dictation from your characters, but that is a very good thing. It shows they’re real and if they engage you, they’ll engage readers too.

Flash fiction is wonderful for stories which are moments in time for a character. These moments are not enough in themselves to make a standard length short story but are of enough interest and insight to justify being “out there”. And those moments can be as funny or as sad or as horrific as you care to make them.

The great irony with flash fiction is, despite its restricted word count, it does actually give the writer a great deal of freedom as the stories HAVE to be character led. Of course it is up to you where and when and how your characters lead us! The important thing is you as the writer have fun here and we as the readers will pick up on that and love reading what you write.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Going Away

Sorry, post a day later this week, as have been away this weekend, but I use opportunities like that to revise what I am reading and what I want to take with me while away. It helps with packing too! I won’t take the huge volume of stories which takes up far too much room. I WILL take the Kindle and one of my slimmer paperbacks..

So when you go away what crucial books do you HAVE to take with you?

I was catching up on Peter Ackroyd’s The Civil War over the weekend – like his style and this is a period of history I know a bit about but am conscious I ought to know more. Good to get back to this book again.

I usually finish Kindle books before I move on to something else but can sometimes get sidetracked, especially if a friend has a book out I really want to get on and read, but I do catch up in the end. Am always glad to do so too.