Characters, First Person, and Impact

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you had a good weekend. Have a weekend workshop coming up which I’m running – looking forward to that. Also preparing for a weekend conference I will be at in June (and where I’ll run one of the workshops. Naturally mine is on flash fiction). Weather all over the place again but then that is a UK spring for you!

Screenshot 2022-04-23 at 17-00-06 Finding your voice — London Jesuit Centre

Facebook – General

Lady got to play with her pals Coco and Kitima today – a good time was had by all.

Writing wise, I’m looking forward to running my workshop at the London Jesuit Centre on Saturday. Hope to have a visit to the National Gallery in the afternoon.

And my tickets have now come in for the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend at The Hayes, Swanwick in June. I must admit I am seriously impressed when booking my train tickets online. Always with me in a day or two after booking, even at the weekend. And no queues!

Am almost ready to submit a story for one of the competitions I always have a go at but I always make myself slow down a little to do a final “is it really good to go” check. I’ve found it pays to do this.

I’ve picked up last minute errors doing this and that’s despite having gone through the manuscript several times previously. It is easy to miss something. Hope to get the story off tomorrow or Thursday, and still in good time for the official deadline.

Time away

Hope you have had a good Monday. Busy, busy, busy here.

When I read any story, it has to be the characters I get behind, whether I want them to succeed or fail. Their success or failure must make sense and be the right things to happen for those characters. If a character has a problem solved with magic, say, I need to know earlier on in the story that might be a possibility so I don’t feel cheated when the author reveals this to me at the end.

To get behind the characters I have to care about them so there has to be something about who they are and what they do I “get”.

When I invent my own people, I try to keep all of that in mind so readers can identify with the people I put on the page/screen.

Above all, I have got to know what happens, whether I’m reading or writing a story.

Readers understand character failings


I’m back to my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today this coming week. I’ll be talking about Paragraphs and Punctuation In Fiction on Friday. Both have a crucial role to play for clarity, improving pace in a story and so on.

Am looking forward to running my fiction workshop for the London Jesuit Centre next Saturday.

Now when I write a story or a post like this, I have one question always in the back of my mind – what is in it for my potential readers? I’ve found having that in mind helps me to (a) not waffle and (b) come up with useful writing tips or a story which entertains. That question helps me ensure I deliver something useful and makes me focus. For my flash fiction work, the word count there helps me focus as I cannot go on for too long.

In trying to engage with a potential audience immediately, I write with them in mind and I think that helps me “up my game”. “Upping my game” means I stretch myself creatively too so win-win. Also for book writers, it helps enormously to have your audience in mind from the word go because it will help when it comes to pitching your novel to a publisher and/or agent as they will want to know who you think your potential audience would be.

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Have booked my train tickets for the Association of Christian Writers Worth Our Weight In Gold Golden Jubilee celebration. This will be at The Hayes, Swanwick from 3rd to 5th June and I’ll be running my flash fiction workshop as part of it. Looking forward to meeting everybody in due course.

Many thanks for the comments coming in on One of Those Days, my latest Friday Flash Fiction story. This was fun to write and inspired by two nouns coming up in a random noun generator. What came up here for me was “waitress” and “tiara”, not things you would usually associate together.

But then that’s the joy of random generators. They encourage you to think creatively and to put things together you normally wouldn’t do. Lo and behold, you get another story written which would not have come to you in any other way.

Screenshot 2022-05-06 at 17-04-48 One of Those Days by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The advantage of writing in the first person is you get into your character’s head immediately. The disadvantage is you can only see or think what your character can see or think. That works well for short pieces though so this is why first person is a good technique to use for flash fiction. (Essential for monologues naturally!).

I didn’t set out with the intent of writing more in the first person but it is something that has sprung from my flash writing. For first person to work, the character has to be a strong one so I find I have to ask myself why does this character “deserve” to get their story told at all and what it is about them that means “they” have to tell the story “themselves”.

Deadline


It’s funny how music can grow on you the more you hear it. Am currently loving listening to my favourite Mendelssohn piece – The Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) on Classic FM. As at 8.00 pm UK time Monday night but there is never a time when this piece of music does not enthral!

The more I hear this piece, the easier I find to picture the scenery in that fabulous part of the world. (I’ve not been to that part of Scotland, it is on the To Do list, but I’ve seen plenty of photos and it is those I have in mind when I hear this).

When I write my flash fiction pieces, I do have in mind the image or impact I want my stories to leave with the reader. When I review my stories, I check how the tales make me feel. Does this compare with what I had in mind when I was drafting the story? Often the answer is yes and that is how it should be.

Sometimes though the impact is stronger than what I had in mind originally and that is even better!
As for my latest story on YouTube, A Magical Design, I have every sympathy with my lead character. See what you think!


Just to flag up that Amazon have an offer on both of my paperbacks – see screenshot and link for more.

As you know, I love inventing characters so having to do that all the time for flash fiction is a wonderful bonus for me. I also adore mixing up the moods of my stories so I get to write “light” funny tales and I get to write to deeper levels of emotion too. I get to write monologues, I can take you straight into the action by getting you to see what my character sees, and I don’t make you wait too long for the pay-off for twist endings or humorous punchlines. And even if you didn’t want to make flash fiction writing your main “thing”, it is still incredibly useful as a warm up writing exercise.

Screenshot 2022-05-08 at 16-28-17 Amazon.co.uk Allison Symes


Hope you have had a good Saturday. Nice day here. Lady got to play with her gentleman friend, a gorgeous Aussie Shepherd, who is a sweetheart. Both dogs so pleased to see each other. Our other (and much missed) dogs would say “hello” to other dogs but were not sociable in the way Lady is – they had a rotten start in life and having found “doggy heaven” with us didn’t really want anything else.

I’ll be spreading the word about flash fiction workshops over the next couple of months and am currently judging a flash competition.

On the writing side of things, I’m working on something I want to submit shortly to a competition. So busy-busy but in a good way.

Let nobody tell you that you have to have loads of time in which to write. Those odd moments of time we all get are useful for jotting down potential ideas for flash stories and flash non-fiction pieces. A writing session spent brainstorming ideas is never wasted. I often spent my odd five minutes here and there doing things like this. I then have things to refer to later which I can then write up into first drafts.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Is the Film Ever As Good as the Book?

Now there’s a controversial question! And my answer to it is “it depends”.

For The Lord of the Rings, I feel Peter Jackson’s trilogy of films does do justice to the books, though there are scenes missing from the films. I never understood this incidentally. Given the films were so long anyway, I would have had the missing scenes in the films given another twenty minutes to the running time wasn’t going to make a lot of difference in my view.

Where films can help is encourage people to read the original books. I watched Oliver Twist where Alec Guinness played Fagin and Oliver Reed played Bill Sikes. Excellent, and scary, performances from both of them. The story gripped me and I read the book immediately after seeing the film (it was on BBC2 one late afternoon years ago). And I’ve always loved The Muppet Christmas Carol for where Gonzo recommends viewers go and read the original of A Christmas Carol after watching.#

So films can help fuel reading. And if a book I’ve loved is adapted into a film, I’m more likely to want to check the film out, if only out of curiosity to see if they have stuck to the spirit of the book or not.

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Making Characters Real in Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Happy Easter to those who, like me, celebrate it. Good to have some proper Easter weather too – lovely, sunny and warm in the UK right now.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

15th April 2022 – Good Friday – CFT
Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. I visited another church this morning for a lovely Good Friday service. I had a lovely walk of a couple of miles each way and I was especially grateful for the cup of tea on offer when I got to the church! It was needed!

My usual church has all of its Easter events on Easter Sunday so it starts mournfully and then ends in celebration. It is a lovely service but I like to get to a service on Good Friday when I can. On my walk down, I came across a little bridge and someone had put up a small bin with sticks in it. They’d marked the bin “Pooh Sticks” so someone is a Winnie the Pooh fan – made me smile as I saw it. (No sign of Eeyore or Tigger before you ask).

Screenshot 2022-04-15 at 12-34-21 Making Characters Real In Fiction - Chandler's Ford Today

I hope you find my Making Characters Real In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today useful. I talk about why characters have to resonate with readers for their stories to be believable (and that’s still true even for the most fantastical of settings). I look at motivation and realism too. (Wish me luck for when I get to Q in this series! It is approaching rapidly!).

Making Characters Real In Fiction

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Lady had a fabulous play “date” with her gentleman friend who is a gorgeous tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd this morning. She usually prefers to play with her girlie dog friends but this very nice lad is a rare exception for the boys. Good to see them both running around at full pelt and having a wonderful time.

Writing wise, I am busy getting workshop material ready. Love this (and indeed presenting it later on). As with my flash work where I have my Ideal Reader in mind all the time, here I am thinking of what my audience is going to find useful. Putting yourself in your readers’/listeners’ shoes is a good idea, always. It helps cut any tendency to waffle for a start!

I also have in mind what I’d find useful from a workshop if I was going to it as a delegate. That perspective again helps me tailor my material in the right way. Later, I will record my material and play it back via Zoom. That is a great way of highlighting any issues – such as am I speaking too fast? Am I speaking clearly enough and so on? I’ve also found it triggers ideas for material to add in as I literally listen to what I’ve said and spot gaps which I then fill. It’s also great practice at writing and presenting non-fiction of course so win-win!

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Not a bad day. Looked grotty first thing, then brightened up. This could often apply to me first thing in the morning just after I’ve had my first cup of tea for the day!

Looking forward to sharing my Making Characters Real In Fiction post for Chandler’s Ford Today on Good Friday. Hope you will find it useful.

My author newsletter goes out on the first of the month and is packed with tips, news, prompts etc so if you would like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

The next couple of months will be busy with workshops – one in May in London and the other as part of the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend at The Hayes, Swanwick.

Did I ever anticipate running workshops one day when I started going to writing events etc? Not a bit of it but I am thrilled with how things have worked out here and ironically the pandemic helped. Zoom was my way in to workshops as it made certain things possible. I hope to do much more of this kind of thing.

I’ve taken the long view that I will see where my writing journey takes me. It has thrown up some interesting things which I hope to develop further. I mean I hadn’t anticipated being a flash fiction writer either when I started out and that has worked out well! Being open is important.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

15th April 2022 – Good Friday
Happy Easter to those who, like me, commemorate it (today, a sad day) and celebrate it (Easter Sunday, a joyful day). I once wrote a flash piece for Christian Writer magazine (the journal of the Association of Christian Writers) called The Craftsman. It focused on the carpenter who made Jesus’s cross.

What mattered for that story and indeed for any I write is that I know where my focus is – for this example, I had my carpenter smooth the wood down as much as he could. He couldn’t help in any other way so he did that. So my focus here was on my carpenter’s wish to help and to figure out a small way in which he could feel he had done that.

My focus for my current story on Friday Flash Fiction comes from a prompt. It was from a random scenario generator (yes really!) and the scenario that came out was finding a piece of paper stuck in a chest of drawers. And this is what I did with that prompt. Hope you enjoy my A Timely Reveal and a huge thanks to those who have commented on this one already.
Screenshot 2022-04-15 at 12-35-32 A Timely Reveal by Allison Symes

I don’t always name my characters in my flash stories. One reason for this is that, with my darker tales, keeping something as an “it” is more scary than naming “it”. But with other tales, the name of the character isn’t so important to the story. What matters is what the character does.

Where I do use a name then see that as important information. I’m nearly always using a name to convey social status, sometimes species (in my Losing Myself from Tripping the Flash Fantastic I start the story with the name Graxia – this is highly unlike to be a human name), sometimes genre (ditto with Graxia – likely to be a fantasy name, as it is).

Names, like any other vital information, need to move the story on in some way and that can be by giving an indicator of likely status/setting as that in itself will put pictures inside the reader’s mind. You want them to see the right kind of pictures here.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

I sometimes start a flash piece with a question. It makes for a good hook as the reader knows that question has to be answered by the end of the story and they have to read on to find out how that answer happens. My The Truth from From Light to Dark and Back Again does this. I rarely finish a story with a question though I did for Losing Myself in Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Why do that? Because the question itself reveals crucial information that wraps up the tale nicely.

Questions also make for good themes. Shorter questions might be useful as titles too. I use random question generators every so often and have found that most of the ones from those tend to be on the long side (e.g. What was your favourite meal as a child and why don’t you have it now?) and so work best as a theme.

In this example, I would probably show a character being offered an old childhood favourite meal and get them having mixed feelings over eating it because there are sad associations with it now etc. I certainly wouldn’t have that question as a title. Titles work best when kept short and snappy. They draw in a reader’s attention better too like that.

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Fairytales With Bite – Diaries

It was great fun writing my fictional fairy godmother’s diary last week. Hope you enjoyed it.

Now think about your own writing. Do you have a character who could keep a diary like that? The one thing I would say about this kind of writing is it is essential you know your character’s voice well enough. You need that strength of voice to come through to your readers (and to be able to sustain the diary for however long you choose to write it).

On a related note, in your created world, are diaries and journals kept by the population at large or only by the elite? (Can everyone read and write or is that privilege kept for a select few?). Are there official diaries that everyone can read? Would diaries be amongst your world’s historical documents and do the contents still impact on how your world is governed?

Just because a document is old doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. The Domesday Book has been cited in legal cases and is still a valid legal document. (I suspect William the Conqueror might have considered it to be his personal diary of what he owned!).

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This World and Others – Record Keeping

Who keeps the records in your fictional world? Who keeps the unofficial ones and how are they kept away from those who would destroy them? If only a few can read and write, are the scribes treated with honour by the general population or are they resented?

One thing I picked up from a medieval fair I went to some years ago was that it wasn’t unknown for scribes, when asked by a peasant to read a letter for them so they could understand its contents, to deliberately tell their client wrong information. Part of the reason for that was to drum up further business from the peasant. Get the peasant angry enough, the scribe would offer to write a suitable reply, the peasant pays up, and another letter gets written! And the scribe moves on to another town before they get found out! Scribes would often be part of travelling fairs and were always on the move.

Is there any way of the accuracy of your world’s records to be checked? Are there records which should be kept but which deliberately are not? What does your character(s) take as “gospel”and are they right do so so?

Records matter. They can confirm or remove an inheritance for one thing. They can sway how a country, say, reacts to another one, because that is all dependent on the pasts of these two nations. If one is deliberately wrong, that can easily change the course of history and the future.

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Journeys in Fiction – and For Real!

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Some photos taken by me, Allison Symes, from the Scottish Association of Writers Conference.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Journeys in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Am sharing from Scotland!☺

I hope to report back on the Scottish Association of Writers Conference next week.

But journeys can take many forms including internal journeys. I discuss this and more in my CFT post this week.

https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/journeys-in-fiction/

It’s double blog today for me as my latest Authors Electric post is out today. This time I talk about Coming Up with Ideas. Hope you find it useful.

https://authorselectric.blogspot.com/2022/03/coming-up-with-ideas-by-allison-symes.html?m=1

Am on my way up to Scotland for the weekend conference of the Scottish Association of Writers. Looking forward to being on LNER again for the leg up to Edinburgh Waverley.

Meanwhile, am enjoying seeing the Hampshire countryside. And of course train journeys are the perfect opportunity for a spot of discreet people watching! I have used odd snippets of conversation overheard on train journeys to trigger ideas for characters and their tales. Waste nothing!

I was talking on Zoom last night about random generators and while preparing for that discovered new ones I know I can use. Win-win there! 

One was a historic events generator – could be useful if you use settings as your way into a story. The other was a world building generator with many separate elements also available as generators. Think character names, geographic elements to pick and choose etc.

The nice thing with all generators is you pick your parameters and adapt these based on what you know you need to know to start drafting a story. I find choosing two or three random things to generate at a time works best for me. Something amongst those items will trigger an idea and away I go. Limits encourage creativity.

I don’t know how I manage it but I always seem to time having a haircut with soggy weather! It’s the kind of talent nobody wants but someone gets… in this case, me!

Am looking forward to travelling north tomorrow for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. Hope to get plenty of writing done on the train via Evernote. I usually manage to draft some stories, blog posts etc – all useful stuff I know I can use later.

My posts here will be at different times over the next few days but my Chandler’s Ford Today post will be up as normal on Friday. Aptly I’m talking about Journeys in Fiction.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy Waiting – the story at least!☺

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/waiting-by-allison-symes

Looking forward to giving my flash fiction workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference this weekend.

Am currently heading north at a rapid speed enjoying the countryside en route.Finding your way in to writing a story or blog or article is vital. With my workshop I look at a couple of different ways to find that way in.

Shortly going to be chatting about random generators to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group via Zoom. Have a web search and see how many there are out there. There are more than you think and I found one new to me for the talk I’m about to give too. Hope to share more here later. 

Fairytales With Bite – Is the Best Help Always Magical?

Given magical power, as with any other kind of power, is open to abuse, I would say the answer to this one is a definite “no”! It’s also not the only answer to a problem.

Despite Gandalf’s magical powers in The Lord of the Rings, the others still have to fight Sauron etc. And it wasn’t entirely magical help that got Frodo to where he needed to be either. He and Sam still had to walk, still had to work out whether to trust Gollum or not etc.

And even in the classic fairytales when the fairy godmother turns up (albeit often somewhat belatedly in my view) to help the lead character, that same lead character has had to show themselves to be worthy of that help coming their way. Those fairy godmothers don’t get their wands out for just anyone, you know.

So self-help, the help of loyal friends etc is every bit as important as magical help – and I think that is how it should be too. You don’t want a story to hinge on a magic wand funnily enough. You want it to contribute but not be the be all and end all.

If a story can be solved by magical help alone, where is the story? Where is the depth of characterisation? You can show the latter through the friends coming to our hero’s aid. 

This World and Others – Resolving Conflicts

This kind of topic will always be topical, unfortunately, but for fiction purposes how are conflicts resolved in your created worlds? Is there such a thing as our conciliation services, the United Nations etc? Or are conflicts always fought out, literally?

Someone in your stories has to have the courage to be the peacemaker (or at least be the one who tries to bring about peace. It isn’t up to them whether that attempt is successful). What makes that someone set themselves up for, at best, being moaned at by both sides in an attempt to make them see reason?

Peacemakers and those who call out wars are not always the most popular people on the planet. What drives them to try to resolve conflicts? What conflicts form part of your back story and drives your characters here?And when conflicts are resolved,  how long does it take your people to settle back to normal lives again?

Now not everything will be back to normal again. There will be losses. So what are these and how do people cope with them? How do your characters resolve their own inner conflicts?

When conflicts are resolved, amongst the huge sense of loss there often is, what happens to your characters’ sense of hope etc? How and where does the future look brighter? There should be hope somewhere otherwise there is no “proper” resolution to your story – and without hope,  your characters and your readers will only feel despair that things haven’t been resolved properly. 

J is for January (and power cuts!)

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. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good start to your New Year. Bit of an “iffy” one here given a major power cut took me offline for several hours on a very cold night this week. Mind you, when power was restored, I found I really appreciated lighting, heating, being able to have hot drinks etc again!
Onwards and upwards though and I am glad to share my first CFT post and Friday Flash Fiction story for the New Year here.

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to share my first post for Chandler’s Ford Today for 2022. J is for January looks at what I like and dislike about the month, shares some amusing “national” days associated with the month, and I discuss its usefulness for planning out what you would like to achieve, writing wise, for the year to come. I also flag up using historical events for story and article inspiration and share a useful link, naturally for events linked to January!

Screenshot 2022-01-07 at 19-28-56 J is for January - Chandler's Ford Today

Hope you enjoy the post. It is such a relief not to be writing by torchlight and tea light. See below for more on this – it has been one of those weeks! It has not been the best of starts to a New Year but do I appreciate my lighting, heating, being able to write properly etc now after that power cut? You bet!

J is for January

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5th and 6th January

Sorry not able to post on Wednesday as major power cut in my area went on several hours. I remember the Three Day Week back in the 1970s when power often went off and this reminded me of that. Not a good reminder either!

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What I had hoped to post is below.

Came home from the dentists today (went okay) to then have the house plunged into darkness thanks to a power cut! I am typing this by torch light. Have no idea when power will be back on though the powers that be say to allow 3 hours. (Update: It wasn’t. Closer to 12 hours!).

On the plus side Lady got to play with her best friend, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her other pals, a lovely Hungarian Vizler and Labradoodle respectively, and a marvellous time was had by all. There was another Ridgeback out, a lovely gent of a dog, and it is quite some show when two Ridgebacks decide to have a play fight! Given they weigh 100 kilos between them, you stand back and watch the show! Even Lady does…

Writing wise, I’m working on a talk I’ll be giving in February and looking forward to sharing my J is for January post for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I am also brainstorming ideas for a short story I want to write up.

Now you know I’m a big fan of characters. For me they make the story, they drive the story, they are the story. When we think of books we’ve loved it is, for me at least, the characters I recall. So what is it about characters that will make them work for me?

They have to be believable, even if they are set in an incredible setting. I have to be able to see where they are coming from and to understand their objective even if I disagree with it. I either have to root for them to succeed or for them to fail, depending on whether I agree with their objective or not. I have to care about what happens to them.

And that is the challenge for me as a writer. To come up with characters readers will care about.

And it is not just a challenge, it is great fun!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It is a joy to be sending stories in for Friday Flash Fiction once again. Am pleased to share my first for the New Year. Appropriately it is called New Start and I hope you enjoy it.
Screenshot 2022-01-07 at 15-13-01 New Start, by Allison Symes

5th and 6th January

Sorry not able to post on Wednesday due to major power cut. My part of the world was without power for several hours on a very cold night – no happy bunnies around here I can tell you! What I had hoped to post is below. (I couldn’t even sync on Evernote – needs net connection for that!)

Have to admit typing by tealight and mini torch thanks to a major power cut is not fun. I guess it shows that (a) the smallest of lights helps against the darkness and (b) extending that out, the short form of story can show something of human nature just as much as the longer forms can. Indeed the short form can be more intense.

Flash light illuminates then. So does flash fiction! It can be a question of asking what reaction you want to bring about in your reader as a result of their having read your story. So what do you want to illuminate – the dark or lighter sides of human nature?

I like to write both (though there is a limit to how dark I go due to personal taste and my faith). I suppose it is because we all know life is not a laugh a minute and I guess I like my fiction to reflect that. Yes, there are laughs but not always.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-6-20-1432fromlighttodark_medium-2Tripping the Flash Fantastic Small.jpgreflection-is-a-major-part-of-lifeWRITERS DAYS - Try to give your writing an uplift

Fairytales With Bite – Attitudes

What are the prevailing attitudes of the characters in your fairytales? I have a very soft spot indeed for feisty aka take no nonsense heroines. I have no time at all for those who seem to be helpless but whom you know if they put some thought in it could help themselves (if only by avoiding the obviously stupid things).

What are the attitudes of those in authority in your setting? Do they lord it over everyone or do they seek to serve? Is there a democracy or a benevolent dictatorship? What are the attitudes of the people to those who rule over them?

What is the general attitude towards magic? Is it seen as just one of those things and taken for granted or is its power, and those who wield it, feared, resented even? What problems could those attitudes cause for your characters?

Attitudes affect actions. A belligerent character could be useful in a situation where toughness, determination to see something through matters. They could be a complete pain in the neck where you need diplomacy and levelheadedness to see your characters through!

So attitudes matter. It pays to give thought as to why your characters have the ones that they do and how these are going to shape your story because they will. They kind of have to as characters make the story and attitudes make the characters.

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This World and Others – The Role of Magic

Is magic a major asset or hazard in your created world? The answer to that will depend on the attitude of your characters. Do they use magic or have they been used by it? Is magic in the hands of the elite or is magic controlled by someone else the elite answer to? Who would that be? How have they come to wield the power that they have?

Also, have there been any kind of magical accidents which have impacted on the landscape of your created world (politically, geographically or both)? I would expect here people to be wary of magic due to that but what happens when magic has to be used? How are fears overcome so magic is used in a safe way?

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Stories, Editing, and a Press Appearance

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Many thanks to Sarah Archibald for images related to the recent Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing (though the image of CafeLit 10 was my usual keen author opening their box of books shot!). It has been a strange week. I started the week in Dundee, after a lovely time at the Festival, and am now back at my desk, getting down to the nitty-gritty of the writing life (and loving that). Am very appreciative of the joy creative writing has given and continues to give me.

Creative writing is a joy

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am so pleased to welcome back Lynn Clement to Chandler’s Ford Today. This week we talk about editing. I had the pleasure of editing Lynn’s flash fiction collection, The City of Stories, recently. Lynn shares how she found the vigorous three stage editing process Chapeltown Books has and what her approach to editing is amongst other topics. Hope you enjoy the post and pick up useful thoughts here. I hope it is some consolation that editing is hard work but oh so worth it when you know your book is sharper, tighter, flows better than it did before. It is worth it, folks, honest!

And what is really nice is I am due to meet up with Lynn again in person at the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December. Looking forward to catching up with her and other Bridge House/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books authors then (and many of us write for all three!).

Introducing Lynn Clement – Part 2 – The Editing

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Pleased to share the following link kindly forwarded to be by Sarah Archibald – a lovely write up and pic of the authors taking part in the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Must admit the last time I sat in a group like this, I was at school! (Also first time I’ve been in a newspaper so feeling a bit chuffed I must say).

Success for Brechin/Angus Book Festival event

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 20-29-20 Success for Brechin Angus Book Festival event Angus World

Hope you’ve had a good day. I’m in that “back to the office after a break” kind of routine and am trying to catch up with paperwork.

Had a lovely time on the Association of Christian Writers Flash Group meeting tonight. Groups like this are useful for sharing tips and advice, reading stories out and receiving feedback. We’re not meeting next month (I’ll leave you to guess why!) but look forward to meeting up with everyone again on Zoom in January. And that will be with us before we know it. (Oh and I did come up with an idea I hope to write up soon as a result of our discussions tonight – I always welcome things like that!).

PS. Since writing the above post, I did write up the idea I came up with during this meeting and have since submitted the story. Will let you know if it goes anywhere.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased I managed to get a story in for Friday Flash Fiction this week after all. Hope you enjoy my latest here (and many thanks for the comments in on it already). What could possibly go wrong when a witch decides to have a house rebuild? Find out here!

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 19-21-09 Moving Along, by Allison Symes


Firstly, had a lovely Zoom session last night with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group. Plenty of feedback and tips shared. (Another advantage here is there is a lot of great advice for writing flash that can be taken to help you improve standard length short stories too).

Secondly, I’m pleased to share a link to flash fiction on Mom’s Favorite Reads. Don’t forget the magazine is free, has a wide range of articles and stories, and I will be setting the theme for the next edition soon. Always fun to do that!

Last but not least, I will be talking again with Lynn Clement on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. I recently edited Lynn’s flash fiction collection, The City of Stories, for Chapeltown Books. Tomorrow Lynn and I will discuss the editing process. See link above.

 

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 20-38-51 Flash Fiction


Pleased to share my latest YouTube story. Hope you enjoy A Turn Up For the Books. What happens when healthy eating impacts on the fairy world? Find out here!

Fairytales With Bite – Magical Livelihoods

What kind of jobs could exist in the magical world other than the obvious ones of wizard, fairy godmother etc? How about these?

Ingredient Fetcher – always out in the fresh air. Works for witches, wizards and those fairy godmothers who like to use wildlife in their spells. Must love amphibians (as eye of newt comes up a lot in this job).

Spell Book Translator – If you’ve ever read Old English, you will know how difficult it is to read (especially over a longer document). Old spell books are much the same. They need translating into more modern magical speech. And these things don’t happen as if by magic, oh no. Someone has to do them.

Food Preparer – Definitely not a cook. This job means taking the shiniest red apples the ingredient fetcher has brought you and selecting the very best to go through to the boss, who no doubt has something to add to them herself. And you dare not bring her anything less than the best. The boss won’t sack you if you do. She’ll just do a trial run of her special ingredient on the sub-standard apple you’ve brought her and make you eat it. Get it right though and there will be rewards (including getting to live for another day).

Cleaners – Always needed regardless of what world you live in. Use of magic to do the job strictly banned since that spot of bother with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

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This World and Others – Employment Issues

What kind of employment opportunities exist in your fictional world? Do jobs match what we have here or are there work placements which could only exist in your fiction? Can anyone apply for jobs based on merit or is there a strict system where only those from a certain type of background can apply for certain types of work?

How does your society pay for goods and services? How are these things produced? Is magic allowed to be used? Is there such as thing as a working week? Are there employment laws protecting the workers? Can people better themselves through working hard etc?

What does your fictional world need in terms of employment and are those needs met? Does it need to import labour and/or services and, if so, where does it get these things from?

What does your lead character do for a living? How does that affect their outlook? And when they’re called up on to go on the adventure you’re sending them on, how easy do they find it to give up all they have known? After all, secure employment is a rarity wherever you go!

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The Joys of Flash Fiction and Heading North

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Many thanks to Lynn Clement for her author photo and book cover pic for my interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today. Many thanks also to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival materials – it is a joy to share them!
Just one of the events going on this weekend

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m delighted to welcome fellow flash fiction writer, Lynn Clement, to Chandler’s Ford Today. Her debut flash collection, The City of Stories, was recently published by Chapeltown Books. And a shared publisher is not the only link between Lynn and I. See the full story on CFT.

And I look forward to chatting with Lynn next week about how she found the editing process (Chapeltown Books has a vigorous three stage process here) and discussing why using song lyrics in fiction really is not a good idea unless you have written said song lyrics yourself.

https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/introducing-lynn-clement-the-city-of-stories/

Lynn Clement and I share flash fiction in common but there is more.
Full story on CFT.

Am on the first leg of my train trip to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival as I draft this. So looking forward to taking part in this.

Meantime I’m pleased to share my latest blog post for Authors Electric. Naturally I’m talking about book festivals – well, they do say write what you know, right?!☺

Book festivals are a great way to celebrate books and my post takes a look at that aspect. Hope you enjoy.https://authorselectric.blogspot.com/2021/11/book-festivals-by-allison-symes.html

Plenty to look forward to at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival.

I’m packed ready to go to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Well almost. I just need to pack up this laptop after this evening’s writing session but then I’m ready. 

Plenty of writing to get on with on the train journey up. And am looking forward to plenty of reading too. And am always glad to spread the word about flash fiction so this weekend should be fun there!

Looking forward to sharing Part 1 of a fab interview on Chandler’s Ford Today with Lynn Clement, whose debut flash fiction collection The City of Stories was recently published by Chapeltown Books. Link up on Friday (though my times of posting will vary over the next few days).

Will be busy getting my next author newsletter ready once I’m back from my travels. I share writing tips, prompts, news etc here and there’s a giveaway too.If you want to check things out do go to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to share my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction – hope you enjoy Lucky. I think my lead character, Bert, here was sensible – see what you think.

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/lucky-by-allison-symes

Hope you enjoy my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction.

Will be spreading the word about flash fiction at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival this weekend. Am on my way up by train as I draft this.

I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop and will be looking at ways in to creating a story. I’m also giving a talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author and of course flash fiction is a major part of that. A hugely enjoyable part too!

And flash will be celebrated again tomorrow thanks to my Chandler’s Ford Today interview with Lynn Clement. Flash is a common link for us both. Link up tomorrow.

Celebrating flash fiction – one mini story at a time!😀

Looking forward to my flash fiction workshop as part of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival this weekend.

I’m “on” during the Sunday twice – firstly the workshop and then later in the day I’ll be talking about The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author. This talk is especially apt given I discovered flash fiction by accident which has proved to be a definite “up”!

And you could argue my latest YouTube story is also an “up” given it is called Rocket!

Fairytales With Bite – Putting on the Glad Rags

Do your characters ever put on the glad rags and, if so, why? Do they achieve their objective in doing this? The obvious practitioner of this is, of course, Cinderella, though she did need fairy godmother help to get those glad rags in the first place.

Assuming magic is not involved here, what would your characters wear for daily life? What would they wear for special occasions? Are there dress codes?I save my own glad rags for special writing events but your characters could use doing this as a way to disguise how they really feel inside.

Putting on the glad rags can be like putting on a kind of armour especially when you want to put on a good “front” to someone/the world in general. Does putting this “front” on work? Does it help your character cope with a bad/sad situation?

Does it elicit sympathy from those closest to your character who know the glad rags business is just an act for your lead? Is there a situation when putting on the glad rags is the wrong thing to do? When perhaps your character would be better off coming out with how they really feel… plenty of story ideas to think about here I think.

Oh and one truth throughout most fairytales I think, is while magic can help a character, it doesn’t resolve the overall problem. Cinderella still had to get away from her awful stepmother, the Prince still had to find Cinders despite the use of magic to bring them together at the ball.

This World and Others – Cultural Events

What kind of culture exists in your fictional world? Is culture appreciated, a tourism magnet etc., or is it despised? 

Arts and the humanities are often not considered so valuable as, say, engineering, the sciences and so on. (All nonsense of course. All of these things are valuable and you can’t compare like with like anyway.

But what stance does your fictional world take? Has it ever changed its position and, if so, what made it do so? How do your characters react to their own culture? Are they an active part of it or do they leave the “arty” things to others?

If your fictional world does value culture, what kind is it? Is it “arty” or military based, say? Where would your characters best fit in? (You can find out more about what makes your characters tick here by looking at why they, say, prefer armed strength to the arts and so on. Are they compensating for their own weakness? Do they think they will become better, bigger people by showing a preference to the military side of things here?).

And can you develop characters who love the pomp and ceremony side of the military and the arts? How do they cope with others who prefer one or the other and consider the “opposition” something to be despised?

What sort of events does your world hold to commemorate historical events and is it compulsory for all citizens to take part? How does the culture of your fictional world affect the way it treats its own citizens and reacts to anyone/anything different?

Twitter Corner

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Coming Home, Consequences, and Getting Ready for Brechin

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Scottish photos taken by me, Allison Symes. Screenshots also taken by me (though a huge thanks goes to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival poster).
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Today was marginally less hectic than yesterday. Am hoping Wednesday will be better still!

I issued my November newsletter a little early (as it was easier for me to send it out before I went on holiday). If you would like to sign up for a monthly round-up on news, tips, prompts etc., do head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Was good to get back to submitting work to #FridayFlashFiction on my return too. Am loving reading the other stories on here too.

Will be a busy period on Chandler’s Ford Today for a while too. As well as my forthcoming Chameleons review, I have a smashing interview coming up with an author I met as a result of my being a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers Society (it really is a small world), and of course I will be reporting back from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I’m also looking forward to reporting back on the Bridge House Publishing event in December.

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Why is it Mondays are always the most hectic day of the week? Still, it was lovely to see Lady have an absolute ball this morning playing with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her other pal, a charming Hungarian Vizler. The latter, I swear, has the sweetest smile in the park and is always so pleased to see us! Both dogs also make their appreciation of being able to share Lady’s water bottle known as they have their own ways of saying thanks!

I’ll be reviewing Murder with Ghosts, the most recent production staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Some of my favourite influences make themselves apparent in this play. More on this when I share the link on Friday. And if you think the title sounds fun, you’re right!

Sent off my box of books for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival today. It’s always difficult to estimate how many books you will need for events like this but I was pleased to get my parcel off on its way.

And talking of books, I hope to share further publication news soon.

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It is true what they say about needing a holiday to get over your holiday! Having said that, it is lovely to be back at home after a lovely break away.

Am delighted to say the November issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. See link below. My article is about Memories, appropriate for November of course, and there are splendid flash pieces in as a result of my theme. Do check them out and I hope you find the article inspiring. What role could your character’s memories have in their stories? What happens if memories “clash”? Perspectives differ after all. Plenty of food for thought for stories there.

I’m also pleased to be the featured author on Page 50 of the magazine. And remember it is FREE.

The journey home acts like a grand tour of Scotland. It is fascinating to see the landscape change from mountains and rivers to farmland to lowland. In previous years, when we’ve been here in late May, there has still been snow on the mountains.

As ever, Lady didn’t really want to go home. She loves it on the beaches here but she will adore seeing her friends again next week.

I shall be finishing my prep work for the Brechin/Angus Book Fest this week and resume flash fiction writing so plenty to look forward to there.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One of the reasons I love the 100-word story is the fact you don’t have to wait long for the pay-off! I also enjoy the challenge of having to keep coming up with characters and story lines. And stories like this are easy to share on social media and I think make a great advert for what flash fiction is and can be.

Flash as a whole has sharpened my writing considerably and I find myself asking where is the story in this character I’m thinking of writing up. That’s a good thing. Knowing where the story is helps a lot later on too when you need to tell people what your tale is about. You will definitely know and you do need to be specific. What you don’t want is the glazed expression on the face of your audience as you try to tell them!

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Pleased to be back creating YouTube videos once more. Hope you enjoy Consequences. It was great fun to write though I have muted sympathy for my character here.

Good to be back home again after a wonderful Scottish break. (Particularly pleased to be home as weather conditions yesterday were horrendous and I hope everyone is okay). Looking forward to being back in Scotland next week too! Have had the delightful task of boxing up books ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival, which will be from 19th to 21st November. I plan to write up a report on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today after I get home again (and hope my current post there on Making the Most of an Author Event proves useful).

One lovely thing about events is I can often get to demonstrate what flash is by reading some out. It doesn’t take long and it can lead to sales! Am also looking forward to running a flash workshop and giving an author talk about The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author as my route to the writing life has had its fair share of cul-de-sacs! Nor did I expect to end up being published in flash fiction. I do not regret this however!

Also pleased to be the featured author in the November issue of Mom’s Favorite ReadsAmazon Link for this further up.

And I hope to share further publication news later this week too. It’s all go right now but that is good! (Also can’t wait for the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December in London. So looking forward to catching up with writing friends there. We last met up in person in December 2019 though Zoom has been a lifeline – and a great way to share the wonders of flash fiction writing!).

Every story has to have a turning point. In flash, of course, you reach that point a lot sooner. That in turn makes you focus on what leads to that point.

It is why twist in the tale stories work so well in flash and why I often write that line first before working backwards to reach a logical beginning.

But there is nothing to stop you having that turning point right at the start of your tale. When I do this I have already sketched out various ways in which I could take that promising start. The one that has the most impact (by having an equally intriguing middle and satisfying ending) is what I go with. It pays to take time out to work out different possibilities. Best of all it’s fun too!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Mixing Up Your Reading

I like to mix up my reading in different ways.
Firstly, I mix up fiction and non-fiction.
Secondly, I mix up reading novels and short stories/flash fiction anthologies.
Thirdly, I mix up reading in paperback/on Kindle.
Fourthly, I watch stories (via film) and listen to them (via radio, audio books).
But the important thing is getting the reading in and doing so regularly. What I love to read directly inspires what I write.

Online retailBooks are books regardless of format

books signage

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people reading books in library

Photo by BERK OZDEMIR on Pexels.com

assorted books

Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

opened book on tree root

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

BookBrushImage-2021-9-17-20-3426AE - July 2021 - Great characters will keep you turning the pages

Book Lists, Writing Days, and Competition

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.
Hope you have had a good week. I’m off for a short break from 30th October. I plan to keep posting but internet connections may get the better of me so I will see how things go! (Definitely back here on Tuesday, 9th November if I can’t post).

BookBrushImage-2021-10-29-19-1056Facebook – General – and

Chandler’s Ford Today and Association of Christian Writers

29th October – CFT

Am writing on a topic close to my heart for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I’m writing about Book Lists. Every writer has two – one for books they want to read and others they want to write! I’m focusing on the ones I want to read for this one. Posts like this are a celebration of books in general and those are always a good thing to celebrate! Hope you enjoy the post.

Book Lists

 

 

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29th October – ACW

It’s a busy night on the blogging front for me today but I am delighted to share my blog on More Than Writers. This is the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. This time I talk about Writing Days and I share hints on how to make the most of these as well as how to re-create some of the buzz from events like these when you’re at home. Hope you find it useful (and a big thanks for the wonderful comments already in on this one).

https://morethanwriters.blogspot.com/2021/10/writing-days-by-allison-symes.html

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Am posting very early as this evening I’m off to the theatre again. I’m going to see Murder with Ghosts staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group and I hope to review this show in due course. I’m also meeting up with my lovely editor, Janet Williams, so it will be a Chandler’s Ford Today “works outing” in many ways. Haven’t had one of those since December 2019 when Janet and I were at the Chameleons last show before You Know What disrupted everything. I love a good spoof and the title of this play sounds very promising!

Talking of CFT, I will be sharing my post tomorrow about Book Lists. (You must have at least one on the go, yes?).

It will be a busy day on the blogging front as my post for the Association of Christian Writers is also up tomorrow. Plan to do two separate posts about these. See above.

I may need to share my author newsletter a couple of days early as I won’t be about on 1st November. You know how sometimes things pan out beautifully – one thing comes along, then another, then another and all is well. Well, sometimes you get everything happening at once and I’m at that point right now! Takes deep breath, will stay calm and carry on!

 

Lady had a fabulous time with her best buddies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Hungarian Vizler today. It was lovely seeing them run around. Lady has to have a good run once a day (the rest of her exercise is walking) and what is nice is I can always tell when she’s really enjoyed herself. How? On the way home, she will look up at me with bright shining eyes and her tail is going nineteen to the dozen as if to say “thanks, Mum, I needed that.”. Dogs are honest about how they feel. We, and our characters, aren’t necessarily!

If you have a character who has to hide their true feelings, they’ve got to have a decent reason for doing so. It is a common theme in romance of course but it can apply to other genres too. Ironically in crime stories, often you will know who the murderer is, it is case of finding out how the detective finds them out. That wonderful series Columbo was brilliant at that. As the story plays out , we find out how the murderer tried to cover up their tracks and of course they can give away no signs of guilt etc.

So how can we have our character do one thing but feel another? Internal thoughts can of course reveal how they are really feeling. But showing a character hesitating before taking a certain course of action can also show a character who has split feelings.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My latest #FridayFlashFiction story is called Competition and you find out what could happen when Humpty Dumpty talks with one of the bears from Goldilocks. Great fun to write and a huge thank you for the wonderful comments in on this so far. Feedback is always appreciated, writers learn a lot from it, and a pat on the pack is particularly nice at the end of a busy week! Also a quick shout-out to another friend of mine making her debut on Friday Flash Fiction – well done to #RosemaryJohnson.
Screenshot 2021-10-29 at 17-09-06 Competition, by Allison Symes


I’m looking forward to being at the Brechin/Angus Book Fest from 19th to 21st November where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop and giving an author talk. What is nice about the workshop is there are various ways “into” starting to write flash pieces and I will be sharing some of those for that. I hope these encourage people to give flash a try.

The nice thing with creative writing is there isn’t any competition as far as I’m concerned. We all have our own unique author voice and it can take a while to find what yours is, it took me ages to find mine, but once you have it, away you go.

As well as being published in the form, flash has brought other opportunities to my door, including Brechin, radio interviews, taking part in Open Prose Mic Nights and it has all been great fun. Long may this continue!


Most of my flash fiction tales come in at the 100-word mark (and even more do so now I’m submitting tales regularly to #FridayFlashFiction). It’s also apt as it was the good old drabble as the 100-word story is known which got me into flash fiction writing in the first place.

But I do like to write across the spectrum. It’s good practice. It means you have an even wider of competitions and markets to approach. Having said that, the vast majority of mine still come in at 500 words or under. I do think you eventually find what is your natural writing zone and that appears to be mine!

But I worry about the word count aspect only when I’ve got the story down. Putting it aside to rest for a while, I can come back to the story and read it as a reader would. That makes it easier to spot the flaws and there are always some of those! But I also get to see more clearly thanks to giving myself some distance from that first draft the “heart” of the tale and from that can work out what I need to keep and what needs to come out.

Sometimes it works out a story works better at 500 words rather than 250 and that’s fine. Usually it is a case I have details which add depth to my character(s) and the story would be poorer without those details in so I leave them in.

Fairytales with Bite – Setting Scenes

What aspects of your magical setting does a reader need to know? And how can you indicate this is a fantasy setting where magic will happen? How will your readers find out what your characters can’t do/are banned from doing? (The two aren’t the same and there will be many a story to be had from following the adventures of characters who decide to defy whatever the ban might be).

I’ve talked before about telling details and writing down possibles here can help clarify things for you. (I often use spider diagrams and the like to work out different story possibilities but you can use the same things for working out what scenes have to be in your story and also what needs to be in those scenes).

Fantasy settings can be indicated by things like:-

  • Colour of sky/ground/seas if different from Earth.
  • The kind of buildings that exist
  • Showing a character using magic as a matter of routine
  • What your characters look like. If they’re humanoid how do they differ from us? If they’re not humanoid at all, your readers will need to know what they are to be able to visualise them.

Examples of telling details could be:-

  • Colour of hair (or equivalent) especially if different from us
  • How characters speak, write etc again especially if different from us
  • How the world is governed (you won’t need everything here. What readers need to know is whether your characters live in a free society of under a dictatorship).
  • What would count as standard “powers”? What would be extraordinary? (And you can show that by contrasting two characters with different skill sets. One will be seen to be lower than the other in terms of how their skills are valued – this will also show something of the class structure in your world too).

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This World and Others – The Need to Know Question

Ah but who needs to know what in your created world, that is the question. Forget the to be or not to be question posed by Shakespeare. Information is power no matter what world your characters are in so how is information shared in your setting or is it only available to the privileged few? Is information manipulated before being “allowed out there” and what kind of technology does your world have to share it?

What would happen if your government really does need the populace to take in necessary information but they won’t do so, being cynical of any government pronouncement? How do the powers that be get around that one?

Also who decides who needs to know? Can they be bribed or threatened to make information available to others?

Who needs to know? Is there such a thing as whistleblowers in your creation? What happens to them?

Who creates the information in the first place? Do journalists, writers etc., have any say in what information they produce?

Think about what might happen if a long cherished nugget of information is exposed as a lie. What ramifications would that have?

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Competition, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction <a href=”https://t.co/XIwz3UQNlz”>https://t.co/XIwz3UQNlz</a&gt; Delighted to share the link to my latest drabble on Friday Flash Fiction. What happens when Humpty Dumpty has a chat with one of the bears from the Goldilocks story? Find out here! <a href=”https://t.co/n6bde4xJQa”>pic.twitter.com/n6bde4xJQa</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1454118628777988101?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>October 29, 2021</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Book Lists <a href=”https://t.co/Sqsf1Z3UwL”>https://t.co/Sqsf1Z3UwL</a&gt; My topic for CFT this week is close to my heart – Book Lists. Every writer has two – one for books they want to read and others they want to write! I’m focusing on ones to read. Posts like this celebrate books which is always worth doing!</p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1454142514554888194?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>October 29, 2021</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>More than Writers: Writing Days by Allison Symes <a href=”https://t.co/494Qu84AS7″>https://t.co/494Qu84AS7</a&gt; My turn on the ACW blog again this month. I share hints and tips on making the most of a writing day and how to re-create the buzz from these when you're at home. Hope you find the post useful. <a href=”https://t.co/uxgfKfKFbH”>pic.twitter.com/uxgfKfKFbH</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1454143450144706564?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>October 29, 2021</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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Exciting News: Creativity Matters

Image Credits:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing book covers supplied by #WendyHJones.

Some images created in Book Brush by me, Allison Symes, for the Creativity Matters book and with Pixabay images for other posts.

It has been a fabulous start to the week with very exciting publication news. More details below. (Image below, which I LOVE as you can imagine, provided by #WendyHJones, as is the one further down showing all of the authors taking part in the Creativity Matters book).

Allison Symes and Creativity Matters

Facebook – General

Nice to take Lady out on a big walk this afternoon after I resumed swimming again. Nice to get back to that too.

Swanwick feels like an age away now! I’m pleased to say I’ll be taking part in another writing event later in the year. More details nearer the time but am looking forward to it as I will be running a workshop and giving an author talk.

Just a quick reminder I send out my author newsletter on the first of the month. I share writing tips, stories, news etc in this and sometimes share an exclusive YouTube video of a mini flash tale. When I thought about what I should put in a newsletter, I put my reader’s hat on and went for features I knew I would enjoy if I was receiving the newsletter myself. To me, that seemed a sensible starting point.

If you would like to sign up for (and a big hello to those who already have), please head to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

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Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Delighted to say that, despite only being on pre-order at the moment (until 1st September so not long to wait for actual availability) Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing is doing extremely well on Amazon. Lovely start to the week for all of us involved with this book and well done to #WendyHJones, the mastermind behind this book.

Am also thrilled to say the book has reached No.1 in the Hot New Releases category (see screenshot) and the paperback is now available on pre-order. So lots going on! It was a joy to write a chapter on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories.

Creativity Matters - Number 1 Hot New Releases


Hope you have had a good Sunday. Many thanks for the wonderful response to the pre-order news about Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing yesterday. See below. I now have the Amazon link for this – see below for that.

This week on Chandler’s Ford Today, I will be talking about how special the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School is and looking at the benefits of going to it. I can say those of us who went are suffering withdrawal symptoms but it was so good to meet up in person again with friends I’ve not seen for such a long time. I am grateful for Facebook and Zoom keeping communications going in the meantime. Both of these things have been a lifeline for me this last year or so.

Am working on non-fiction in another capacity too at the moment as I am preparing presentations for future use. I used to use PowerPoint years ago but then it fell out of fashion. Zoom has effectively brought it back as it is an excellent tool to use when screen sharing. Again not something I was doing a year ago but prove again, if needed, the writing journey is not static and you do keep learning. That in turn is good for the old brain and your creativity overall I find.

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PUBLICATION NEWS

Am thrilled to announce Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing is now available for pre-order. It comes out on 1st September. Currently in ebook only but it will be available in paperback as well soon. Will share details on that as and when I can but watch this space as they say.

My chapter in this book is Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories and it was a joy to write. This will be my first non-fiction work in print and I hope there will be more to come in this area for me over time.

Later, on 3rd September, I will be posting on Chandler’s Ford Today my interview with #WendyHJones as publishing other authors is a new venture for her. I look forward to sharing a great in depth talk with her about why she went this route on her own writing journey, the new skills she had to learn to do this, and she shares three fabulous tips for writers for getting the best out of working with their editor and publisher. All very useful material and I can’t wait to share that soon.

Creativity Matters-2

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Despite technology, it still pays to keep a notebook and pen to hand. Why?

If I’m feeling ground down and uninspired (and it happens to us all, usually a case of life getting in the way), I turn to said notebook and flick through it looking for ideas that give me a “spark”. I usually find something and once I’m drafting the story, I feel much happier.

I jot down in said notebook ideas for stories but also things like interesting titles. For those, I work out what I could do (often using a spider diagram to work out different lines of approach). It is also reassuring to have that notebook to hand so I know I’ve got something to refer to – and while I still like pen and paper, I do also use Evernote for this kind of thing. Who ever said you had to only have one notebook?

It is perhaps appropriate for a flash fiction writer to have brief notes for later use. I’m well under the 1000 words limit when I’m jotting ideas down.

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It’s not every day I hit No.1 in the Amazon Hot New Releases category but Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing has done that today. (23rd August 2021). Well done to all of the other authors involved and to #WendyHJones. (You can now pre-order ebook and paperback – hooray!). So a great start to the week.

In other news, as they say, I am delighted to share my latest YouTube video. Hope you enjoy Decisions.

 

I now have an Amazon link for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. See below for that. It was a great pleasure to write a chapter praising the merits of flash fiction and short story writing.

Talking of flash pieces, may I say a huge thanks to all who have already given feedback on my latest #FridayFlashFiction story, Discretion. The feedback is much appreciated. And congratulations to all of the writers who were listed in their recent competition, which was designed to blend in with the Edinburgh Festival competition.

Am also looking forward to taking part in an online flash group meeting (Association of Christian Writers) next week. Flash fiction is great to share on Zoom as well as in Open Prose Mic Nights.

Screenshot 2021-08-20 at 19-19-31 Discretion by Allison Symes

The big news is the release in ebook of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. I contributed a chapter called Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories and it was a delight to answer that question in said chapter! The book is compiled and edited by #WendyHJones and will be out in paperback as well soon. I am delighted to be “between the covers” with excellent writers for company and thrilled this is my first non-fiction work out in print (as opposed to online).

I am always happy to write and talk about flash fiction and short stories!

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

Goodreads Author Blogs – “Real” Books

What do I mean by “real” books? I have no time for the “proper” book -v- ebook debate. Both have their merits and disadvantages. I also hope ebooks have encouraged more reading by bringing books to a screen very near you – that is one in your own pocket! I also want people to discover the joy of paperbacks from reading ebooks if books in general have been a closed chapter to them prior to reading on screen.

For me a “real” book is a novel that has characters who gripped me all the way through and wouldn’t let go until I did find out what had happened to them.

For short story and flash collections, I want to be gripped by the characters, but also by wanting to find out what the next story is about, the one after that and so on.

For non-fiction, I want to be gripped by the way the author is putting the information across so I have to find out what the conclusions were or, in the case of say a Ben Macintyre book, what happened to the real life character he is writing about.

The ultimate test for a “real” book is whether you can bear to put it down to do other things such as go to sleep. If you do so reluctantly, it is a great and “real” book all right!

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Writing Humour and My Swanwick Report


Image Credits:-

All images from Pixabay. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, and Chapeltown Books.

Images from the 2021 Swanwick Writers’ Summer School taken by me, Allison Symes.

Am learning so much at Swanwick and it was lovely catching up with a fellow Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, and Chapeltown Books author, Linda W Payne, too. More below.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Firstly, it was a joy to be back at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Oh how I have missed so many friends there.

Glad to meet up with most of them again (and I hope to catch up with the rest this time next year, God willing). As ever, the courses, workshops, and guest speakers were excellent.

And the quiz team I’m part of, Prosecco Queens aka this year as Prosecco Avenue(!😄😄), finished in medal position for the general knowledge and literary quizzes. (Silver and bronze respectively before you ask…☺). Great fun. Oh and Minnie the Minx turns out to be older than I thought. It is amazing what you can learn from these things!

Secondly, I am delighted to welcome back to Chandler’s Ford Today Fran Hill and Ruth Leigh, who write wonderfully funny books in very different ways. Naturally this two-part interview had to be called Writing Humour.

Fran and Ruth share fabulous insights into the joys and perils of writing humour. Hope you enjoy the post. Can’t wait to share the concluding part next week.

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The Joys and Perils of Writing Humour Part 1 – Fran Hill and Ruth Leigh


Final part of the flash fiction course at Swanwick today (Thursday). Focus was on marketing and it was good to get plugs in for CafeLit and Friday Flash Fiction. Also sold another From Light to Dark and Back Again afterwards, which was unexpected and lovely.

Also enjoyed the Competitions course, which was packed to the brim with tips and useful advice.

And I’m pleased to say my Side Benefits of Writing article is now up on Mom’s Favorite Reads.

 

Had a fab Wednesday here at Swanwick. (This is the nearest I get to being a roving reporter by the way!😄).

Della Galton’s flash fiction course is engrossing and yes I have flash pieces from it. I’ve entered one of them for the flash competition here. And I will submit the other one after I get home. Have a few ideas where it would fit.
Also went to a non-fiction workshop which was packed full of useful info. I do have a long term project on the go here so this hour session was timely.

Also went to Diana Kimpton’s course on creating a series. Could I apply that to flash writing? Well, the course has triggered ideas.

Outside of Swanwick, Part 1 of a fab interview with Fran Hill and Ruth Leigh on Writing Humour will be on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. Looking forward to sharing that. (See above).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Was on way home from Swanwick as I drafted this. So good to be using Evernote again. Drafted some flash pieces for me to work on further and got on with editing a bigger project too so pleased with my efforts.

Thrilled to have had my best year at the Swanwick Book Room too. You can never know how these things will go. But I can say I waved the flag for flash fiction, which is something I love to do.

Delighted to come home and discover It’s An Ill Wind is now up on #FridayFlashFiction. Hope you enjoy it.


Screenshot 2021-08-13 at 19-12-37 It's an Ill Wind, by Allison Symes


Final day at Swanwick. The week flies by. Final part to the flash course was very good and looked at editing and marketing. Always useful topics.

Hope to get a piece in for Friday Flash Fiction over the weekend. I sent in a piece before Swanwick so hope to check if it made the cut for this week on my trip home tomorrow.

 

Glad to say all copies of Tripping The Flash Fantastic in the Swanwick Book Room have sold. Thank you, everyone.
Good to come across other flash authors here. I love the differing things you can do within the format. Don’t forget many a writing exercise can be turned into flash stories. Why not give that a go?

Fairytales with Bite – Five Things to Avoid

  1. Trying to be clever with magic you are not qualified in as this has never ended well.
  2. Annoying older folk. Just be aware they may not be all they appear. Many an arrogant idiot has discovered that nanoseconds before being turned into something ugly.
  3. Misreading a spell. It won’t be you in uncomfortable footwear but a heroine with feet cut to ribbons won’t do much for your career advancement.
  4. Annoying wildlife. In a magical world they will be more intelligent than you.
  5. Coveting gold. Not a good idea in any world as it could lead you into legal and other trouble. In a magical world, you could face being blasted away by a dragon. I know. I’ve written on the topic!

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This World and Others – Five Things to Include

  1. A sense of where your created world is in the overall scheme of things.
  2. Who lives in it, how they survive, and how the world is ruled.
  3. The similarities and differences between your created world and what we know here.
  4. How your created world gets on with others in its solar or equivalent system. Or not as the case may be.
  5. Does your world send out explorers or welcome any coming to it?

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Twitter Corner

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