Geography in Fiction and The Light of the Moon

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
It has been a dreadful week news wise. I think the image below, which I used earlier this week, says it all.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. This time I’m looking at Geography in Fiction. A strange topic? I don’t think so. Geography plays a major role in so many stories and books. Can you imagine, say, The Lord of the Rings without it? Or Winnie the Pooh? Or The Wind in the Willows? And geography can help create stories simply by the problems it can cause, based on what we know here. Hope you find the post useful.

Geography in Fiction

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News wise, it has been a dreadful day. I wasn’t expecting war in Europe again, ever.

One of the roles of the creative arts, including writing, is, of course, to allow us to escape into what are effectively alternative universes for a while. They can make us reflect. Stories can show us the best and the worst of ourselves. They can console and cheer.

Yet, much as I love stories, I know they’re not the most important thing in the world right now. Despite that, I also believe they do have a vital role to play in emphasizing our humanity. I really cannot stress enough how important it is we don’t lose that.

So keep reading. Writers, keep writing. Stories matter.

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Hope you have had a good day.

I’ve talked before about drafting a story and leaving it for a while before coming back to editing it. Once edited, I take another break from it and then I do a final edit. What is the point of one break, yet alone two?

The first break is to enable me to check my story structure and character works after that initial thrill of creation. (And I do get a real buzz from that. Pity I can’t bottle that feeling really). Happy with that, I make adjustments to my story to strength my characterisation where I feel that is needed. It is also at this point I may well spot an element of the storyline that could be improved so I do that too.

The second break means when I come back to the story again I spot the typos and grammatical errors. There inevitably are some (nobody gets away with these things entirely scot free) but I know to look for them and to trample on the lot!

I want to give my story the best possible chance out there so going over everything and ensuring there are no errors takes time but it is worth doing. I remember in my early days not doing that and spotting a glaring error after I sent the story off. No surprises when I tell you that story didn’t get picked. I did rework the story and sent it off elsewhere and if memory serves me correctly, it ended up on CafeLit.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s story time again. Pleased to share Light of the Moon, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Not everyone enthuses about the light of the moon – find out why here. Hope you enjoy the tale.

Screenshot 2022-02-25 at 16-16-25 Light of the Moon, by Allison Symes


It is difficult to know what to write after a dreadful news day. But I do know it is important to write. To tell stories. Stories can unite us, whether we write flash fiction or epic sagas. And stories encourage the imagination and can help with empathy. If you understand where a character is coming from, you’re well on your way to understanding where other humans are coming from, given stories reflect on us.

 


What do I do with flash tales which don’t get picked for a competition win or placing? I look at said stories again, polish them up, and send them out elsewhere. I have gone on to have stories published on the second or third attempt.

But it has to be said, the break away from the stories has meant I can look at them again with a critical eye and try and work out why it might not have been picked. Sometimes it is a question the story is just not to the judge’s taste – and that’s fine. You learn to accept early on that not everyobdy is going to like what you do. There are styles of story I’m not keen on so that’s fair enough.

But sometimes you do spot a character portrayal didn’t quite work out as you thought, maybe it was a little weak so I look at ways to improve things and then get my story out again somewhere else.

Waste not, want not!

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Fairytales with Bite – Humour

I have a very soft spot for humour in any kind of fiction but especially in the fairytales. Many of them can be grim (some pun intended!) so something to lighten the mood a little I find helpful. While I’m not a huge fan of pantomime, I can understand it and the reason why roles such as the pantomime dame exist. Widow Twankey doesn’t have much of a role in the actual story of Aladdin. “She” does have a major role in the pantomime versions of the story.

I like the humorous one liners and these can work really well in short stories and flash fiction. (If anything they can have more of an impact because the forms are short). This is where creating your own characters and getting them to come out with those one liners is great fun! And they can make fantastic punchlines for your stories too. The key is ensuring that the one liner is something your character as portrayed would come out with. You can’t just tack a funny line on to them.

Humour should arise naturally so if your fairy godmother has a malfunctioning wand, then humorous situations would arise from that.

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This World and Others – The Value of Humour

Does your fictional world value humour or suppress it? I am always wary of anyone who cannot laugh at themselves (as it makes me wonder if they have any empathy with human foibles at all and we all have some!). Is humour encouraged in your creation or firmly kept “underground”? Are there any off limit topics for comedy?

I know I deeply appreciate humour. Something that makes me smile or laugh is bound to add a bit of a shine to my day. It does for most people but how do your characters see it? Does their reaction here show you more about them that you can develop further for your tale?

Perhaps your character likes one-liners but has no time for the longer funny monologues. Does that reflect on them just wanting to get on with things quickly in other areas of their life? Perhaps they appreciate quick wit rather than farce or physical comedy? Maybe they were clumsy (or still are) and find physical comedy with its emphasis on slapstick and falls makes them feel uncomfortable. How do they handle that discomfort if this type of humour is normal for their world?

Reactions to humour vary from person to person. You can show elements of that with your characters too. If someone finds something funny and their closest companions don’t, how does that then change how they get on? Does that change how their overall “mission” pans out?

If humour doesn’t exist as we know it here, what would your created world have instead? How would your people cope with naturally funny things in a world that doesn’t acknowledge humour? And what might happen if someone dares to laugh when all around them dare not?

Food for funny thought there, I think!

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Acrostics, Blogging, and Character Studies


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.
Recovered from Storms Dudley, Eunice, and Franklyn. Don’t like the way we’re getting through the alphabet so quickly for storms! Hope all is well with you. One lovely thing about writing is you generally stay in the warm and dry to do it – have really appreciated that these last few days!

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Facebook – General

Busy day again today though Lady had a lovely surprise when her best buddie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, came to to play. It is quite something seeing the pair of them have the “zoomies”. You stand well back and enjoy the show basically!

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. I’ll be talking about Geography in Fiction. It may not have a starring role in many stories but it does play a crucial role and can inspire story ideas. For one thing your characters do have to live somewhere!

And I don’t know about you but I like to have a picture in my mind of the setting in any story I read. It helps make the story more real to me, a kind of if this place existed for real it would be exactly like this.

And, as with so much else in flash fiction, you can imply setting simply by who your character is or by what it is they call their day job. After all, magical characters have to have a magical environment to come from, even if they don’t stay there.

 

Hope you have had a good Monday. Very hectic here – and still gusty out there. Hope things are settling down where you are.

I’ve used the topic of the moon for my Friday Flash Fiction story this week and for my YouTube video which I’ll share over on my book page shortly. See link further down. Good fun to do and I’ve always liked the idea of getting more than one story out of a basic premise and taking those two tales in very different directions. Outside prompts for writing are useful, whether you get them from random generators, books of prompts and so on.

Talking of the latter, I will draw your attention to Prompts 2020, Prompts 2021 and Prompts 2022. Is it me or is there a theme developing there?! Anyway, the books were compiled by #GillJames and many of the Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books stable contributed to them, including yours truly.

I’ve used some of the prompts myself for CafeLit submissions and I do think prompts encourage you to “up your game” writing wise. I love the challenge of responding to the challenge with something that works and fulfils the criteria.

Let’s stretch those creative writing muscles then!

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 19-41-28 Amazon co uk Prompts by Gill James

Not a great weekend weather wise – keep safe. (My crocuses were just beginning to make an appearance – I fear they’ve probably been battered!).

In more positive news, I have submitted two stories today and have already heard one of them will be appearing on CafeLit next Sunday. Looking forward to sharing the link then. Members of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group who were at our Zoom meeting last Wednesday will remember the lovely #AnnmarieMiles set a ten minutes free writing exercise based on a name I came up with thanks to a random name generator.

It is the story I drafted for this exercise which will be appearing on CafeLit so am pleased about that. More later in the week. I’m not likely to hear about the other story for a while (and that is more usual I have to say for story submissions).

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Hope you have had a good day. Things settling down here in Hampshire after Storm Eunice yesterday. Tree debris all over the place, a few fence panels down etc – got off lightly I would say and am grateful.

Writing wise, I’ll be looking at Geography in Fiction for my post for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. Hope by the end of the weekend to submit a couple of stories and catch up with some blogging I need to get on with (though I do have a good deadline on all of these. Where possible, once I’ve posted a blog somewhere, I am writing the next one for the same site, but it isn’t always possible to do that. So then as soon as I can I have a major blogging session where I play catch up. Those “spare” blogs come in very useful during particularly busy times. It is always worth having something spare in the “bank” whether it is a blog post or a story you can edit and submit).

If anyone knows of a way to stretch writing time, I’d be glad to hear it though! (Oh and while I don’t use any of the “switch off social media sites for so long” apps, I do just ignore social media until I’ve got my writing done).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash can be a nice vehicle for short character studies. My piece, due on CafeLit on Sunday, is of this ilk and it was great fun to write. But of course for this kind of thing you need a strong character voice. I have to get to know my character a bit. When I was drafting this tale, I knew that I wanted my character to have hidden depths to them and they were not all they appeared to be. Knowing that was enough to get me started and away I went!

So when thinking of this kind of story, consider why you want to write about your character. What is special about them that readers have to know? What tale does the character have to share with us? It doesn’t have to be overly dramatic but something has to stand out about your character it is obvious to the reader why you absolutely had to write their story down.

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Many thanks for the response to my Storm acrostic flash piece yesterday. And it’s story time again now with my latest YouTube video called Decision by Moonlight. Hope you enjoy it.


I was chatting about acrostic flash fiction yesterday so I thought I’d share one for this post. Hope you enjoy it.

Storm

S = Shocking weather, isn’t it, and such a lot of it too!
T= Terrible winds and torrential rain; I’ve given up on my umbrella.
O = Orange with black dots on it; yes, the one you called an eyesore.
R = Romance isn’t dead but you have put it on the critical list; you know I loved that brolly from my old Nan.
M = Money’s not the problem; I don’t want a new boring brolly from you, but I will say I didn’t fancy becoming the next Mary Poppins!
Allison Symes – 20th February 2022

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I was chatting about acrostic flash fiction as part of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting the other night. They are fun to do but I have found the following tips useful.

1. Pick one reasonable length word OR a couple of small ones. I’ve used words like Guarantee and phrases like Talk The Talk.

2. Keep the story short – acrostics work best this way, especially as they are meant to be visualised. You want your chosen word to be fully visible to readers no matter what device they’re using to read your tale.

3. Once you’ve picked the word or mini phrase you want to use, give yourself plenty of time to work out ideas to come from them. Think about the character who will “serve” the acrostic story.

For Guarantee, my first thought was of a salesman trying to make a difficult sale to an awkward customer and of course one thing a salesman like that would offer would be a “cast iron” guarantee. (Of course whether it is or not is another matter!).

It will save you time in the long run if you work out different possibilities first and then go with the one you like best. It also means some prep work here means you have got a logical way to make your story work from the start.

4. Where possible, I have one sentence following the starting letter of the acrostic. Where not possible, I link with semi-colons, dashes, or whatever is the most appropriate piece of punctuation to use. It can vary. Where even that is not possible, I write two short sentences per line then hit return and go with the next letter of the acrostic but I do keep my tales to one line = one letter of the acrostic as much as possible.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Why Stories Matter

The problem with a post like this one is keeping it short! Where do you start on this one?

Well, stories matter for me because I can escape into other worlds for a little while. I’ve always loved that aspect. I also love following what the characters do and say and figuring out whether or not I would do and say as they have in the books and stories I read.

Stories can take me to places I cannot get to physically either because right now I can’t commit to the length of time to say, going to New Zealand would take (and that is on my list of things to do) or because they’re invented worlds and unless someone invents a portal which takes you to fictional places, I’m not getting to go there! Mind you, it could be argued the book is the portal here!

Stories can convey important truths without preaching and I find the theme of a story is far easier to remember. And I love the way stories come in different formats – books, film, audio etc. There is something to suit everyone here. Stories can pass down tradition and build communities and show you truths about yourself/the human condition.

Last but definitely not least, they are entertaining.

Let’s hear it for the stories!

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