Favourite Lines, Talking Flash, and Getting It Wrong

Image Credit:- 

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope you have had a good week. Weather all over the place here – it feels more like March than May right now.

BookBrushImage-2021-5-7-19-2950

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today


Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post about Favourite Lines. Great to see good comments coming in on this already. Keep it up, folks! And do share your own favourite lines (but keep them suitable for a family audience, thanks!).

Do you find you remember a favourite novel or story by one particular line? I do. It can also apply to favourite shows. (Lubbly jubbly, anyone?!).

I also look at the role of catchphrases and repetition in helping favourite lines to become so well loved. Repetition is a strange thing here. Generally, we don’t want to repeat ourselves in our work.

This is especially true for flash fiction. I’ve got to make the most of my limited word count so am not going to want to waste words by repeating some!

But for catchphrases, repetition is unavoidable because they can’t become catchphrases without that repetition. The positive thing here is that the repetition leads to stories and books becoming well loved and cherished because we hone in on what we love best. And often it is what we remember the most clearly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just to say Favourite Lines will be my topic on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. I’ll be looking at the role of catchphrases and repetition (used in a good way) to help develop said favourite lines amongst other thoughts shared here. Looking forward to sharing that.

Many thanks to all who have recently signed up to my author newsletter. Welcome aboard, everyone! Do see my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more.

Am looking forward to Wordy Chat a little later this evening. Given I produced a flash fiction tale about a ping pong ball’s contents from the last one, it will be interesting to see what comes up in tonight’s chat!


Funny old day with the weather and still strong winds. I thought it was March that was meant to come in as a lion, not May. Oh well. Lady had a splendid play session with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and another pal, Coco. Lady came home happy but very tired – and I assume her friends did the same!

When I’m not writing flash fiction and short stories, I draft a lot of blogs. Some of these I use immediately but others I draft for use later. I know there will be times when I am short on time so having a blog prepared “good to go” is a useful thing.

Murphy’s Law being what it is, I find it often happens when I’m drafting a blog, I get some ideas for flash tales! So I jot the ideas down and come back to them later. If they still seem promising, I write them up. And yes, when I’m writing fiction, ideas will come for blog posts for Chandler’s Ford Today etc. So I just jot those ideas down and again come back to them later. Sometimes an idea which seems a cracker at the time proves to be a damp squib after some time away from it and coming back to examine it in the cold light of day.

So it always pays to have a notebook or something useful to jot down notes! And it pays to give yourself time to assess your ideas well enough. Distance away from them will show up whether these really are “goers” or not.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When I talk about flash fiction one of the first things I stress is what it is not. It is not truncated prose. Each piece has to be a complete story with a proper beginning, middle, and ending. It is just shorter than the standard magazine type short stories you see.

But if you have ever completed writing exercises while on a course, in a writing conference etc., do take your notebook back out and have a look at what you jotted down. Could you polish those drafts up into flash fiction tales to submit to publishers and competitions?

It is also encouraging to see that if you do a quick web search, numerous flash fiction competitions come up. This is useful. This is how I found #FridayFlashFiction and I am delighted to say my latest story, Getting It Wrong, is now up on site. Hope you enjoy it!


BookBrushImage-2021-5-7-19-1453

Yet another lovely thing about flash fiction is it is easy to share on social media and can be a great way of giving “value” to those who follow your blog, postings on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. I’ve found with the latter the very short stories work best. (Basically 50 words or under. When I first started making the story videos, I did use some of my longer pieces but I think the impact is better with the shorter tales).

One other use for flash is in giving new life to those writing exercises you had a go at when going to (at the moment on Zoom!) writing workshops and the like. Polish your creations up and see if you can submit them to a market or competition. I use the Writing Magazine’s competition guide, which comes out twice a year, but also Mslexia have a directory of competitions in their quarterly magazine, which is always worth looking at.


I write a lot of my flash fiction in the first person. This hasn’t been deliberate. I certainly didn’t foresee that happening when I started writing flash fiction.

But there are times when I’ve come up with a character where I’m better off showing them as an “I” character. They have a strong voice. They want to make their voice heard and a name would not add to their qualities, could possibly detract from them. It can also be something that is not the most relevant thing about them. It is what they do and say that is.

When I do name a character, you can be sure that name is important to the story and my character portrayal. Sometimes I use a name to indicate the character is not of this world. I sometimes use it to indicate social status. And sometimes for my creepier tales, it is more scary to keep my character as an “it” or an “I” so you, the reader, wonder just what these creatures are.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fairytales with Bite – Twists

Fairytales have often used twists but we now recognise these things as standard “ingredients” for a fairytale. For example the old crone or man who turns out to be a powerful witch, fairy godmother, or wizard in disguise and turn the tables on another, usually arrogant, character. Beauty and the Beast is a good example of this in that the beast’s curse was put on him due to his arrogance.

But when this idea first came out, it would have been seen as a twist in the tale. Old crones and old men are usually just that! The idea of them being powerful beings in disguise would’ve been a surprise.

The ultimate twist for me here is that fairytales generally do see wrong righted, justice done etc., when we know so often in life it doesn’t happen. (It is one of the comforting things about fairytales for me).

And usually the underdog does come out on top in a fairytale.

So the twists are there – given again, in life, it is far rarer for an underdog to come out on top – but they are hidden in plain sight so to speak.

When it comes to writing our own fairytale twists, a good thing to consider is whether an aspect of your character’s life is where the twist comes from. For example, if you have a character who has a talent for art, can the twist come from them using that talent to help someone or even turn the tables on that same someone who perhaps has humilated them?

A successful twist has to seem reasonable to a reader based on what they know about your character(s) and also the setting of your story. If it is a clear fairytale, then those standard ingredients (the tropes) will be expected and it will be a question of working out how you can use them to best advantage for your creations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This World and Others – Differences and Similarities

One of the joys of reading fantasy and science fiction in particular is spotting the differences and similarities between the created world and what we know here. But take that idea further and look at the differences and similarities between the characters in those stories. Can you apply any of what you spot here to your own creations?

If in the fictional world, everyone has to have a certain amount of magical ability in order to be able to survive, can you compare that to our need to have a certain amount of money in order to be able to survive? Will your characters do anything to get the magical abilities they need? Are they driven by greed to get more than they need?

How do they treat those who are not as “well off” as they are? If they are at the bottom of the pile, what do they do to improve themselves? And does anyone rebel against the system because they can see the cruelties of it and want nothing to do with it?

Using the traits we know about ourselves is a fabulous way to create characters. Using what we know about our planet can fuel ideas for how you create a world that is far removed from our own as it can be a great place to start. We need oxygen. What would your fictional world need for your characters to survive?

Give some thought as to how sustainable your world is too. If it relies on magical energy, where does that come from? Is there any danger of it running out?

Great fantasy and science fiction stories can take what we know about this world and reflect it back to us in fictional worlds we love to read about. And you can use that thought for your own writing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Twitter Corner

 

 

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

Late Running, The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball, and Why Books are Special to Me

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay pictures.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied by her. Many thanks to Janet Williams (my lovely editor at Chandler’s Ford Today) for the image of me reading at a book signing at our local railway station (yes, really!). Also to Geoff Parkes and Penny Blackburn for their images of me reading at various Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic night events. All great fun.

And I think I’ve finally cracked the “most unusual title for a blog post” category! Read on to find out how the inside of a ping pong ball is relevant for my flash fiction writing this week. If you had asked me last week whether I would anticipate such a thing, the answer would have been a firm “no”! How much can change in a week?!

Facebook – General

A huge thanks to the #DundeeCityWriters – I was talking to them over Zoom last night on the topic of flash fiction (naturally!) and it was such fun. Many thanks for hosting me.

(Also one of the best ways to show what flash fiction is to read some out and I always enjoy doing that. I’m hoping the Open Prose Mic Night will be on again at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School this year. Flash works well for this kind of thing. You can’t go on for too long for one thing!).

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is on the subject of Favourite Lines. I’ve touched on this topic before but for this post I will also be looking at how catchphrases and repetition can help us form said favourite lines. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday.


Many thanks for the wonderful responses to my rather unusual tale, The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball, which I posted yesterday (see below) in reply to a writing challenge set by #WendyHJones on Wordy Chat. (The latter is a Facebook group set up by fellow Association of Christian Writers member, Maressa Mortimer – lots of giggles and chats about the writing world – naturally we meet on Zoom).

I have two standard ways of getting into a story. By far my favourite is working out who the character Is, what their main trait is etc as that usually gives a pretty good idea of the kind of story in which such a creation would appear. But my other way into a story is with a promising title and that was the take I took on this one.

The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball not only gave me my title, it set the tone (with a title like that it had to be a humorous tale), and therefore the kind of character likely to be in it.


As promised yesterday, here is the flash fiction tale I wrote in response to a challenge set on Wordy Chat the other night. The story title says it all!

The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball

Look, don’t blame me. I have to travel in whatever vessel I can find and blend in with my surroundings. I am in what you humans call a sports hall doing various horrid things with balls and bats and making yourself all sweaty. So gross!

But it means I am currently curled up inside a ping pong ball. It’s cramped in here. I’ve had to shrink my normal size down by well over 80% to get in here. Trust me that is not a comfortable experience.

I am here to study you lot on the order of the big bosses. Personally, I would far rather have gone to the seaside.

But I have to go where the bosses tell me to go. (Would so love to tell them where they can go but they’re not forgiving of any kind of insubordination and I do like living so that rules this out).

To be honest with you, I think they’re preparing for an invasion.

I’m going to tell them not to bother.

I’ve seen the way you treat other ping pong balls. Smash them about with absolutely no thought. What would you do to the likes of an alien invader?

I tell you it is terrifying to think about.

So you lot have won. And I must get out of this ball before…

Arggh! Too late.

Ends.
Allison Symes – 2nd May 2021

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hope you have had a good Saturday.

New author newsletter from me went out earlier today. See https://www.facebook.com/501180463318271/posts/3429068970529391/ if you missed this.

If you would like to receive the newsletter regularly, please sign up at my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – on receipt of the welcome email, you’ll get a link to a giveaway as well.

I’m enjoying putting the newsletters together and, unless there is some specific time urgent news, will keep these to monthly send outs.

In other news, as they say, the next couple of topics for Chandler’s Ford Today will be on Favourite Lines and Understanding. I look forward to sharing those blogs as it is always a joy to talk about favourite lines from books and I make the case for how reading encourages empathy in the latter post.

Am currently drafting a flash fiction story based on what is probably the most unusual location I’ve chosen to date. Well, I say chosen. It’s a response to a challenge set on Wordy Chat last night, where a group of writers from the Association of Christian Writers get together for a good giggle and lots of talk about writing related topics. Those who were at Wordy Chat last night will know what the location is but will share the story tomorrow! (See above – and I hope you enjoy it. I loved writing it).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the lovely responses to my story video Late Running. (See below for video). Also to The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball. (See above for story).

One lovely thing that came up with the latter was I used it in my talk to the #DundeeCityWriters group I spoke to via Zoom yesterday about flash fiction. I used it to prove my point that flash fiction lends itself beautifully to being able to set characters anywhere!

And the great thing? Dundee City Writers is led by #WendyHJones who set the topic of The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball at last week’s Wordy Chat!

What goes around etc etc!

Still, I think I am going to have to try very hard to think of a more unusual setting for a flash fiction story!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pleased to share my latest story video. Hope you enjoy Late Running. Pun intentional (and indeed for a lot of my flash fiction it is a case of no pun knowingly overlooked! Why the fondness for puns? I love them anyway but for flash, having words and phrases that can carry double meanings helps with (a) impact and (b) keeping that old word count nice and trim!).

Over on my author page at https://www.facebook.com/allison.symes.50 I’ve shared a flash fiction story, The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball, which was written in response to a writing challenge set by Scottish crime writer, #WendyHJones. It is certainly a top runner for the most unusual writing challenge I’ve responded to (!) but it was great fun to do.

And it is important to have fun with your writing. Okay, there are times when it won’t feel that way. I find being over-tired can sap the joy out of writing (and everything else come to that) so I try to avoid getting into that state.
But one lovely thing about flash fiction, especially if you’re working on a longer project and it is proving to be a slog-fest, drafting a very short story can be a refreshing break from your main writing work and you have something else to submit elsewhere later.

And when I am tired, just jotting down a couple of hundred words, whether it is a full flash tale or will end up being part of a longer one, still makes me feel connected to the creative process. That in itself makes me feel better.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of the best ways to demonstrate flash fiction to people is to read some to them! I’ve done this a few times now at things like the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic and even at book signings. (That led to sales -win-win there!). I’ve found the 100-word stories (aka the drabble) work best for this. They don’t take too long to read and demonstrates the capacity of flash fiction well, especially for impact on a reader.

I’ve mentioned before here and on my author page that reading work out loud is great for literally hearing whether your dialogue is as smooth as you think it is. What looks good written down doesn’t always work so well when spoken out loud. But this technique also works for the rest of your prose. If you stumble over something, you can be sure your readers will too. And again with flash it is easy to read a piece out loud and hear whether or not something is working.

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Why Books are Special to Me

I could write chapter and verse on this week’s topic, appropriately enough. So where to start on why books are special to me?

My love of books and stories comes from my late mother who encouraged my love of reading and taught me to read before I started school. Books were regularly given as presents. I would often buy books with pocket money and money gifts sent by my relatives for Christmas etc. I went to the library a lot.

Best of all, Mum had a lovely collection of books herself, which I now have. And I so wanted to have a collection of my own (which I have). As well as being read to as a child, which is so important, I saw Mum read for pleasure herself more often than I could say. It sent the unspoken message that this was definitely an okay thing to do – and it is!

Then there are the books with particular meaning. I treasure the Bibles given to me by my late parents and the one given to me by my son.

I love The Reader’s Digest of Classic Fairytales two volume set. I spent hours reading those and loving the beautiful illustrations. I remember the shock I first had on reading The Little Mermaid in here and discovering fairytales didn’t always have happy ever after endings. I identified with the way The Ugly Duckling felt and cheered when all did work out well in the end. (You know full well as a kid it doesn’t always work that way in life, You know it even more as an adult).

I treasure my paperback of The Lord of The Rings and my copy of Pride and Prejudice.

For me, there is absolutely nothing about a book to dislike.

I like my paperbacks, my hardbacks, my audio and ebooks. The format doesn’t matter. The fact it is a book does!

Happy reading!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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