Sweet Dreams and Reading Acrostics

Image Credit:  As ever, Pixabay/Pexels unless stated.

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Weather cooler again today – yippee! (Dog pleased too). Easier to concentrate and write too. Am preparing some blog pieces to send to various places in due course. As with the flash fiction, those are lovely to write during those pockets of time when I can only write for short bursts.

I forgot to share on this page the link for my latest Cafelit story, Sweet Dreams, (though I did share it on my book page). Hope you enjoy! This was a prompt from #GailAldwin in Gill James’ Prompts Book and it was good fun to write.

Now, without giving too much away, a favourite chocolate bar comes into this story. You’ll have to read it to find out why!

But it is useful to consider favourite and loathed things that your characters might have. Not only can you use those to add depth to your characterisation, you might be able to get short stories out of these things in and of themselves, as I’ve done here, thanks to Gail’s excellent prompt.

Oh and it’s a definite thumbs-up for writing to prompts set by others. They do make you think outside of your own writing box and that’s a good way to stretch yourself and what you can come up with as a result.

Happy writing!

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Hope you have had a good weekend and that the week to come is a productive and fun one. I did enjoy using the random noun generator (yes, there is such a thing!) to create a new flash story for my From Light to Dark and Back Again FB page yesterday. I will be using the noun generator again. NB.  The story I created, Misunderstood, will appear further down under the FLTDBA again section. Hope you enjoy it!

You can set as many nouns as you want and even choose the opening and finishing letters. I just went for two nouns at random and the great thing with that is you could use these as a title, the theme, or just work them into the story somehow.

I see all of the random generators I’ve used (word, phrase, question, noun, and even number!) as an alternative method of finding story prompts. And the great thing here? You’ve got an endless supply!

Give them a go and have fun. See what you can create. Playing with words and having fun in this manner is a wonderful trigger for creativity. And I’ve always found once you’ve got a creative spark going, you want to keep it going and you end up being more productive than you might have been otherwise.

Also the stories you draft here can be polished and edited and submitted later.

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I outline my characters as I’ve discussed before. What do I look for in said characters?

1. Basically a good reason for me to tell their story.
2. Go back to 1!

So what would count as a good reason then?

1. They have the qualities to overcome adversity even if they themselves don’t realise that to start with (and the best characters usually don’t). They don’t easily give up. They take good advice. They have the ability to recognise good advice when they hear it.

2. They are usually from a background that would make others consider them to be the underdog. I do love underdog winning through type stories and they are a mainstay of the classic fairytales too.

3. They have a moment of change they have got to see through, ensuring their lives can never be the same again. Stories like that are always fascinating.

4. They will often experience internal conflict as well as the obvious external type. Really gripping characters will have moments of self doubt (as we do) and that is what readers will identify with. It is then how the characters overcome that which will keep the readers reading!

 

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I’d thought I’d share some favourite moments in writing (and as ever this is not the be all and end all of lists. Am sure you can think of some things to add here).

1. Knowing I’ve picked exactly the right word for whatever it is I’m putting my poor characters through. I’m even more pleased if this is in dialogue. Good dialogue has emotional “whoomph” and shows a reader how the character is feeling.

2. Knowing my first draft is completed and I now have something to work with. This is where the work begins for me. It IS all in the edit(s) – and yes, there is always more than one! Sometimes considerably more than one!

3. Knowing my first edit has significantly improved my original story and I am getting glimmers of how it can be improved further. Out comes the trusted red pen and away I go…

4. Reviews for From Light to Dark and Back Again (and a big thanks to all who have reviewed it).

5. Having positive feedback on my Chandler’s Ford Today posts as that shows the piece has engaged with readers well.

So over to you then. What are some of your favourite writing moments?

 

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Well, the weather certainly lived up to “from light to dark and back again” yesterday! There was one storm but it was cleared by about 6 pm with drizzle for the evening. Having said that, it has been a lot cooler today for which I am most thankful (as is the dog).

LOVED meeting via Facetime some of my Swanwick pals yesterday evening. Great fun. Better still will be when we can meet in person at Swanwick, God willing, next year. (I’ve never been one to take things for granted anyway, life can have a habit of getting in the way at times, but if there is one HUGE life lesson to come out of 2020, that is it I think).

One thing I did forget to do yesterday, but which gives me great pleasure to do now, is to share my latest flash fiction story, Sweet Dreams. This appeared on Cafelit yesterday afternoon but I hope you enjoy! A story to finish the working week with is always a good idea, is it not?!

I loved writing this. It was a result of a prompt idea in the Prompts book by Gill James with the prompt itself coming from #GailAldwin.

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I’ve found a new random generator! I’ve sometimes used random word, phrase, question, and even number generators to trigger story ideas. And now I’ve found a random noun generator which could be fun. Let’s see what can be done.

I set the generator to trigger two random nouns for me. Nouns generated were “foundation” and “actor”. (Incidentally as well as choosing how many to generate, you can set the first and last letter of each noun as well if you wanted to but I like to keep things simple).

Now the nice thing with the generators is you can use what comes up as the theme of your story, the title, or ensure you use the words that are triggered in that story at some point. Or you can combine any/all of that. The important thing is to have fun with this!

So what can I do with foundation and actor then?

MISUNDERSTOOD
The actor frowned as he dug out the foundation for the new amateur theatre building. He’d been promised an audience. Sure he had one. They were all yelling unspeakable things along the lines of this being the hardest they’d ever seen HIM work. Not what he’d expected at all.

He expected the finest foundation all right. He expected it to be applied to his face as he gave the starring performance of his life, which naturally would then receive glowing reviews all over the country, and lead to bigger, better roles.

He guessed it served him right for daring to mention Macbeth on stage last week. HIs fellow actors told him it would bring him bad luck.

He’d laughed then. They laughed now.

Allison Symes – 15th August 2020

Hope you enjoyed that. I loved writing it.

 

Really loved using the random noun generator yesterday. Will definitely add that to my list of story prompt generators. You can never have too many of those! Okay, you need the time to write up all the ideas, I grant you that, but this is a dilemma every writer faces and has to find their own way of tackling.

Flash is an ideal vehicle for those lovely story ideas that are best shown quickly. My story yesterday, Misunderstood, worked best as a quick tale only. I often find my humorous tales work better that way. If flash has taught me anything (and it has taught me loads!), it is to never, ever pad your story out. If it works better at 100 words, keep it there. If it works best at 1000, keep it there and so on.

Have a good writing week!

 

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You’d think a flash fiction writer would have no problems coming up with the blurb for the cover of their book, wouldn’t you?!

Now, okay, the word count is not an issue for me here. What can be tricky is choosing what HAS to be on the cover and what would be nice to have but is not the end of the world if it doesn’t make it. Inevitably it won’t! Why?

As with the fiction itself, only the crucial details can go on. You want every word to hook in potential readers so there can be no preamble, waffle etc. You have to be realistic with yourself as to what could be seen as waffle and cut, cut, cut.

I change the way I lead into a story as this keeps things interesting for me (and I hope in due time readers as well!).

Sometimes I will use a character’s thoughts. At other times I will show you the character doing something.

I try to get into the scene quickly so a reader picks up where they are nigh on immediately and there must be something about the character to draw their interest to ensure they read on and find out what happens to them.

In She Did It Her Way, Kind Of, I start with the line “Jane Westbrook knew it was too late to do anything.” Now that sounds like it might kill a story right from the start but what I planned here was that readers would want to find out why she thought this and whether she was right or wrong.

Curiosity about a character is a really good hook and one I enjoy using.

 

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Goodreads Author Blog –Reading Acrostics

R = Riveting
E = Entertaining
A = Alternative Worlds
D = Drama and Dialogue
I = Imagination
N = Narrative
G = Genre Fulfilling/Crossing

All of the above are what I look for in a good read.

Regardless of genre (and I have a soft spot for those books which cross genres), I want the book to be riveting, entertaining, and for the drama and dialogue to keep me gripped until I reach The End.

I want to be amazed (in a good way!) by the author’s imagination. There can’t be a dull moment in the narrative either.

And yet some people still think writing is easy!!

G = Gripping
E = Educational
N = Nuanced
R = Readability
E = Enchanting

And again, regardless of genres, I want whatever I read to be capable of the above. Yes, fiction can be educational. You can learn from the mistakes the characters make for a start!

For me, nuanced means the characters have to be balanced. Nobody is all evil or all good. The only over the top characters I accept are Mr Toad in The Wind of The Willows and Cruella de Ville in 101 Dalmatians but they are written specifically that way and their characters wouldn’t work any other way. But those are rare exceptions to the general rule. Characters should be balanced.

At the end of a book I want to have experienced an enchanting time reading said book. I want something about it to transport me to its setting and to regret leaving it at the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TALKING INTERVIEWS, FICTION, AND ANIMAL CHARACTERS

A good mix of topics for tonight I think!

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So a good interview then should encourage the interviewee to talk. What would be the equivalent for fiction writers? I think a character outline that helps you realise there is more to your creation than you first thought of! I love that moment when characters almost come to life before your eyes. You know then you definitely have someone worth writing about!

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Can’t remember the last time we had snow this late in the UK. Lady had a fantastic time in it again (though I also think she was trying to set some kind of record for how much of it she could (a) roll in and (b) eat! They say border collies are intelligent…😁).

Am pleased that I’ve submitted a short story and a flash piece this weekend. Good to get the ball rolling with both formats (though I am busy drafting ideas for a third flash fiction collection and am enjoying that). Plenty coming up with CFT over the next few weeks too.

What do I like best about writing overall? Tough one to call but I think it is the variety of what I do. The challenges for crafting a CFT post are different from those I face with writing a short story or a piece of flash fiction but I love it all. Absolutely no chance to get bored but would love more time to write… (says she, strongly suspecting that all writers have said this at some point!).

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Do you find yourself writing and/or reading in one particular format for a while before you switch to another? I do with fiction.

I’m just getting back into some short story writing after a gap (though during that time I’ve been drafting ideas for a third flash fiction collection, have been promoting From Light to Dark and Back Again, and finally submitted the second book to the publisher. Not necessarily in that order incidentally!). (Medium-term goal is to get a standard length short story collection out there).

With reading, I seem to need to read all I can in a genre before switching to another. Well, I guess I could call it immersing myself properly in a genre! (Before anyone claims it’s being obsessed in one genre, then being obsessed in another, guilty as charged so to speak, but I think most writers could identify with that. There has to be a certain amount of obsession with characters to be able to write about them properly I think).

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I’ve always been fond of animal characters in stories. I’m thinking of stories from Watership Down to Timmy the dog in the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. Loved them all. (And The Wind in the Willows is one of the all-time classics!).

Not sure they’re the kind of story I could write but that is the great thing about fiction. What you don’t write yourself, you can love reading in tales by another writer. (It also helps with the old adage about reading widely outside of your own genre, as well as inside it).

So what do you love reading that you don’t feel you could write yourself?

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My CFT post later this week will be Part 2 of my interview with fellow flash fiction writer, Gail Aldwin. She shares her thoughts on “real” and ebooks, writing tips and talks about character creation amongst many other topics. Link to go up on Friday.

What I find particularly interesting about interviews like this (and many others I’ve read elsewhere) is finding out which writing tips writers list as the most important. There will always be overlap (we’re all going to encourage reading for one thing) but the order in which a writer lists these things can be revealing.

It is also interesting to find out what are the joys and woes of writing in a particular genre, especially if it is not one I write in. Good writing is good writing, no matter what the format, but the challenges of that cross the divides. It is the technical challenge of individual genres that fascinate me as there is a wide variety here. But the one single challenge that faces us all is making our stories believable.

 

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The important thing to remember with flash fiction is, despite its very short form, it still needs crafting and editing, as much as any other kind of story would. I find it can sometimes take longer to edit a flash piece over a standard length short story because of the conflict between getting your word count down and still having a decent tale to submit.

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A perfect story is one in which every word is needed to complete it. This shows up sharply with flash fiction, of course, and one huge advantage to writing it is it does sharpen your editing skills. It also makes you choose stronger image creating words given you are using fewer words to begin with!

You also learn to imply a lot of the story given you haven’t got the room to spell it out in detail. I’ve always loved stories which allow me to fill in the gaps or work things out for myself so I guess flash fiction is a natural choice for me.

I am glad to see more flash collections coming out as hopefully this will encourage people to read and write it. I would love flash fiction to be shown as a great way of getting reluctant readers hooked on books given you’re not asking them to commit to too much in one go.

 

Even in the heart of a big city, books are a great form of escape - image via Pixabay

Books are a fantasic form of escapism. Image via Pixabay

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Great way to relax. Now where are those biscuits? Image via Pixabay

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The writers’ basic kit. Image via Pixabay

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What a beautiful home for books. Image via Pixabay

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Another beautiful library (this one is in Canada). Image via Pixabay

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What has happened as a writer that you did not anticipate when you first started out? For me, I never expected to write non-fiction (Chandler’s Ford Today) or flash fiction (From Light to Dark and Back again).

In the former case, it was a writer friend who told me about CFT and encouraged me to send something in (NEVER underestimate the importance of networking, you never know where it may lead!). In the latter case, I saw Cafelit had issued a 100-word challenge and I thought I’d give it a go. Not looked back since, as they say.

So I suppose I have learned to be open to trying new forms of writing and see where it takes me. It’s a fun journey too!

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With flash fiction, you have little room for world building. (Little room for anything, actually!). So you have to convey an impression of a world with a few well-chosen words and leave your readers to fill in the gaps.

I think this is probably my favourite thing about this genre as I love being able to envisage what characters get up to once the “official” story is finished. (I understand fan fiction, wouldn’t write it myself, but do “get it”). I like being made to fill in the gaps and work things out. The challenge for the flash fiction writer is to give the right information so that readers can do this without giving too much away or slowing their story down.

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Pleased to share the link with National Flash-Fiction Day tonight. The Day itself is not until 16th June but I love the idea of a whole day devoted to this form of fiction.

Okay, I’m not unbiased but I’ve always loved stories where I’ve had to work things out as a reader. As so much has to be implied in flash, I guess I should’ve realised sooner than I did that this was going to be a major format of writing for me. Still better late than not at all!

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Are you someone who only reads “proper” paperback books or are you a full convert to e-books?

I cross the divide. I love paperbacks, they’re a great format, but I have found e-books to be brilliant too. They’ve also saved me a major packing dilemma for when I’m away at writing conferences or on holiday. No more worrying about how many books I can take. Thanks to the Kindle, I can take as many as I like! I only wish it could give me more reading time but devices have their limitations!

But there are certain books I can only envisage reading in paperback – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series with their wonderful covers for a start.

My main reading session is just before I sleep and I read paperbacks and from the Kindle then. I relish both! I do like the bookmark function and find that useful. I am forever losing “real” bookmarks from my paperbacks. Mind you, I often lose pens too. Hmm… doesn’t sound fab from a writer, does it?

I’ve not really tried e-magazines yet though I suspect that will be the next big area I’ll explore.

So what do you prefer? Do you think one genre works better in one format and, if so, which and why?

In the meantime, happy reading, no matter what format you’re using!

 

 

 

INTERVIEWS AND UNUSUAL BUS JOURNEYS

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My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is part 1 of my interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin. She shares how her around the world bus journey inspired her flash fiction, especially her story, Paisley Shirt, which is the title for her new collection. Part 2 next week will see Gail sharing writing tips and her thoughts on “real” books and ebooks amongst other things. Plenty of insights for writers and readers to come.

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Part 1 of an interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin, whose flash fiction collection, Paisley Shirt, is now out. She shares travel tales from around the globe and looks at where paisley comes from. It is not often the East India Company gets a mention in my posts but it does here!

Part 2 will feature writing tips, a discussion on characters etc. Link to Part 1 will go up tomorrow.

There are so many things I love about interviewing other writers. Some of these things include finding out what inspires them, how links form between something they may have read years ago and a story they’ve written now (it can be amazing what conscious and sub-conscious influences come out when you’re writing), and the tips they’ve found most useful.

I also really love the way Chapeltown Books have such a distinctive image for their flash fiction collections. Okay, so my From Light to Dark and Back Again is one of them. Okay, so I AM biased (!) but if you wanted to see an example of effective branding, I would say this is a good one.

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What do you like most about interviews (regardless of format)?

I like those questions that draw the interviewee out and interviews that really do seem like it is a conversation written down or broadcast or what have you.

One great thing about writer interviews is that, regardless of the genre being covered, we all face the same challenges of getting the story down, editing it well, hopefully getting it published and then marketing it. That does give a lot of ground in which to find lots of lovely questions to ask!

Sometimes you can strike gold when your interviewee reveals something that you instantly recognize you’ve got to ask them more about. It is often about the most unexpected things too. My CFT post later this week contains such a gold nugget! Link to go up on Friday. All I’ll say now is it involves transport!

 

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The joy of flash fiction is its brevity. No words wasted. A powerful impact on the reader made very quickly. But, as with the standard short story, all moods and emotional reactions can be covered in the form (which is why I called my book what I have!). Indeed, I think it a good thing that there is variety here. I like to see my flash collection as a “selection box” of moods and stories.

I suppose it’s indicative of human nature that no one person likes the same thing all the time. I love humorous fiction but also appreciate crime stories, historical tales and so on and I like to mix up what I read too. I wouldn’t want to just read (or indeed write) one thing all the time. Another joy of flash is that you can sample different styles of writing and moods very quickly. You could even use a flash collection to try out stories in genres you’ve not read before.

Happy reading and writing!

 

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Write what you know, so they say.
But influences come out in your every word.
Sometimes they’re buried away
For years but they will find a way of being heard.
Time means nothing there, you’ll find.
So read widely, both non-fiction or a tall tale.
You’ll feed your creative mind.
Ensure the whole story does not stumble or pale.
Strong “people” reflect our best
While the weak characters will reflect our worst side
Write, rewrite, then let it rest
Every writer has to have a skin made of hide.
Some will not get what you do.
But it’s true you won’t like everything they invent
Rejections can make you blue.
It’s all part of the process you can’t circumvent.
Ask where your story would fit.
Target well, it improves your chances of a hit!

Allison Symes – 15th March 2018

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I have a framed poster above my desk which says “Don’t ever give up on your dreams”. (Good advice. Okay, sometimes the dreams have to change for myriads of reasons. Just because you can’t be a novelist that doesn’t stop you from becoming a short story writer etc). But it also struck me this line could be a great motivator for a character.

What are the character’s dreams? Just what are they prepared to do to achieve them? What obstacles are in the way? Is he/she/it encouraged or are others holding them back? (You could also look into what their agenda was).

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What writing triggers will help you create your new worlds? Image via Pixabay

Time to find a new place to call home perhaps - what stories could that lead to - image via Pixabay

Time to have another home perhaps? Good stories to be had here! Image via Pixabay

Note taking is an invaluable aid to retaining what you learn at conferences, image via Pixabay

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Nobody gets their ideas right first go. Image via Pixabay.

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Escape with a good book, it’s good for you! Image via Pixabay

Fairytales with Bite – What is Behind Your Stories?

In my interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin, for Chandler’s Ford Today this week, she shares with me how her round the world bus trip influenced her flash fiction.  She also shares some of the research she carried out into where paisley comes from given the title of her flash fiction collection is Paisley Shirt.  One of the things I love about these kind of interviews is discovering what has influenced a writer to come up with what they have!  There are so many influences…

This is also why every writer, regardless of genre, should read widely and well in non-fiction and fiction, classic and contemporary works.  You are literally feeding your mind.  You can’t know in advance what book it is you read that will spark off ideas of your own.  You will just know it when you come to it.  So have plenty of fun reading lots of lovely books!  It is good for your own writing.

I used to worry about picking up other writers’ styles doing this but have found it not to be the case.  I read something that sparks off an idea in me and I then write that idea down in my style only because, well, it is the only style I have.  After all, doesn’t every author want their work to be uniquely something from them?  That’s where the joy of writing is – in creating something that is unique to you.

A lot of the fairytales are retelling of stories passed down orally over many generations.  Sometimes there can be agendas behind stories.  Hans Christen Andersen must have had concern for the poor as his agenda behind The Little Match Girl (and probably the hypocrisy of people being horrified at what happened to his character yet doing nothing to allievate suffering themselves).

So what is behind your stories?  Why have you created your characters as you have?  I was surprised when I was looking back at my draft of From Light to Dark and Back Again how often the theme of poetic justice came up.  That wasn’t planned (well not consciously anyway).  I also hadn’t planned the variation in moods of the stories that formed the book (though it did help inspire the book’s title!).  Look back at what you have written and see if you can spot what is really behind it.  It may well inspire other stories!

This World and Others – Character Journeys

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post features fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin, and how her round the world bus journey influenced her flash fiction.

The obvious character journey (well for me it is!) is that of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.  Everything about this story is epic!  However, character journeys can be much smaller than that.  Scrooge went on a journey of sorts as he transformed from a miserable miser to a generous (and much happier) man in A Christmas Carol.

So what journeys are your characters going on? If it is a physical journey, why are they making it?  Do they like travelling or is is something where they have no choice?  What obstacles must they overcome?  What is the landscape like?  Are they from a background where travelling is normal?  (It generally wasn’t for hobbits so Frodo’s journey was unusual from that angle).

If the journey is more of a character development one, is the journey a good one or a bad?  (People can go from being good to bad, so why not characters?).  Is it a successful journey?  What is the impact of the character change on them and those around them?  Change can threaten others so how is this dealt with?

 

 

 

TALKING CRIME, RESEARCH IN FICTION AND NETWORKING

A good mix tonight, I think!

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I talk crime and research, amongst other things, in Part 2 of a fab interview with crime writer, the lovely Val Penny.  Val is the author of Hunter’s Chase, which is the first book in her Edinburgh Crime series. We also talk about writing conferences and I know both of us are looking forward to networking in person later in the year at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School!

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Also a big thanks to Gail Aldwin for sharing details about other Chapeltown books including Badlands by Alyson Faye and my own From Light to Dark and Back Again. Much appreciated.

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How do you feel when you reach the end of writing a story or, even more, a book?

A little bereft perhaps but at the same time eager to get on with the next one. That’s my position at the moment.

Have got a few competitions I’d like to have a go at so those will be my next goal. I deliberately want to get work off to these before I start outlining my thoughts for my next book (and I’ve ideas I want to explore there). I think a break between books is a good idea. By the time you come back to writing a book again, you’ll be keen to get on with it!

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Where do I get ideas for my stories? From all over the place! When I was starting out as a writer, that kind of answer used to annoy me. My thoughts tended to be along the lines of “well, it’s all right for them to say that but I’m struggling, thank you”. Well, words to that effect anyway.

What I have learned over the years (lots of years too!) is you do learn to develop more of an open mind as to what could make a good story idea. What is useful is having a starting point to trigger ideas that can be developed further. Some of my starting points include:-

1. Proverbs/famous sayings to use as a theme.
2. Picture prompts (not necessarily taken by me). For example, landscapes can offer ideas as to where your setting is or if you are writing fantasy or sci-fi, is your world the complete opposite to the picture? Sometimes that can be useful in getting started.
3. Competition themes can be great as you can then enter the competition too!
4. Snippets of conversation can get you thinking about how a character of yours might get to say something similar.
5. I sometimes have a brainstorming session and write down what could be an opening line to a story. I don’t plan these sessions and try to just write freely for a set time. The lines can be as bizarre or as ordinary as I want but the ones I like the most of later are the ones I write up.

I think the most important thing is to have fun with your writing. If you don’t enjoy it, nobody else will!

 

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Honest feedback is the only kind worth having. Image via Pixabay.

Good historical fiction will make it seem as if you had stepped back in time - image via Pixabay

Could this picture inspire stories? Good fiction will take you out of the world for a while. Image via Pixabay.

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Sound advice.

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Says it all really and applies to non-fiction equally as fiction. Image via Pixabay.

writing in many forms via Pixabay

Planning your work. Image via Pixabay.

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Looking forward to starting work on a third flash fiction collection after a pause to enter some competitions etc. I find a break between books useful.

Indeed, when I write batches of short stories, I like to have a break and switch to writing flash for a while and vice versa. In between all of this I’m writing posts for Chandler’s Ford Today and More Than Writers (the ACW blog though the lovely thing with writing on the 29th of the month is I have most Februarys off!!).

There are other things I’d like to do at some point (including seeing if I could write a radio play) but those will be projects that I might refer to as my “bits on the side”. I do think it is vital writers have fun with whatever it is they write and also to set themselves fresh challenges now and again.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Do You Need Research to Write Fiction?

One of the topics I discuss with crime writer, Val Penny, in Part 2 of my interview with her for Chandler’s Ford Today this week is research. We talk about the resources that are available for crime writers and I go on to mention that even for writing fantasy as I do, some research is useful.

Strictly speaking, for any fiction, of course you don’t have to carry out research.  You make it all up!  However, I’ve found that to root my characters so readers can identify with them, I need to know how we react as people and why (so a basic knowledge of how humans “work” is useful).  Also when it comes to world building, knowing how we work is a building block for making up your own  universe.  After all if you decide your world is going to be nothing like this one, you’ve got to work out in exactly which ways it will differ.  So you do have to bring some knowledge to the writing desk to be able to write effectively.

I’ve also found that researching (whether I do so via the internet, a book or what have you) helps me extend my knowledge (obviously!) but the knock-on benefit of that for my fiction writing is it also expands what I can write about.  Write about what you know is good advice so expand what you know and you can expand what you can write.

This World and Others – Networking

I discuss the value of networking in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week, which is Part 2 of a great interview with crime writer, Val Penny.   Amongst other topics, we share our thoughts on two conferences we’ve been to – Winchester Writers’ Festival and the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School (and indeed are looking forward to networking in person again then!).

How does networking happen on the world you’ve created for your fiction though?  What is it used for?  Can only certain people/beings/robots/strange creatures etc do this?  Is corruption an issue and does anyone try to fight it, if so?  Which of the creative arts is known on your world and are there conferences/classes for them?  How is successful networking “rewarded”?

Have any of your characters formed friendships, which later they depend on in life threatening situations?  How does networking earlier in their life benefit them now?  (Or does it endanger them because the friends they thought they’d made turn out not to be friends at all?!).

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