Getting Started and Genre Fiction

Image Credit

Unless otherwise stated all images are from the brilliant Pixabay.

Facebook – General

Regardless of what I write where, the hard part is getting started. Once I’m away, I’m away. But I have learned over time to trust the instinct that something will come which I can work up into a story or a blog post. The great thing is it’s going to be a first draft and the only person seeing that is me.

I never worry about getting the writing right first go. I know I won’t. What matters is getting started and putting something down on paper or on screen. You can only work with what you’ve put down to work with after all!

So ways to get started on a piece of writing then?

1. Look through any brainstorming notes and see if ideas jotted down there take your fancy now. If so, away you go.

2. Have another brainstorming session and write anything down that occurs to you. I’d do this for about five minutes. Then look through the ideas. Did one in particular stand out? If so, great, off you go. If not, what was the idea you like the best and why do you think that is? Then still write it up. There will be a reason why you like this particular idea so go with it.

I’ve found that once you start writing, the ideas continue to flow. It is a bit like turning on a creative tap. Stronger and better ideas come as you write too. Jot them down. Come back to them. But just get writing and have fun. Nobody has to see this work but you.

Out of what you jot down, there may come ideas to write up fully. Even if you seem to draw a blank, you are clearing away some creative clutter from your brain in getting these ideas down and out of your system. Just put them away for a bit. Come back to them later. You might see potential in them THEN.

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Am forging away with my CFT post for this coming Friday – and it will include a quiz too. No prizes – just bask in the glow of getting the questions right! More details later in the week.

Revamping a website always takes longer than you think. I’m adding pages to my work on Cafelit and Bridge House Publishing/Chapeltown Books. I also hope to have a page on writing tips etc. Looking forward to sharing more details when all done. Do explore the rest of the site. There will be more goodies to come in due course. The site is now known as allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Next big event for me will probably be the Bridge House celebration event in December. Looking forward to that a lot. So good to meet up with fellow writers that, for the rest of the year, I meet courtesy of Facebook! Incidentally, I do think that is one of the nicest aspects of social media – writers being able to encourage one another even if they can’t meet in person.

More immediately, I’ve got short stories to draft and non-fiction ideas to work on too. Why is it that it can take ages to get started on a piece of work, you get into your stride with it and THEN the time whizzes by and you have to stop? Oh well. The one comfort there is I know I’m not alone on that one!

Allison Symes and published works

Facebook – General – and Publication News

Glad to say Staying In is my latest story on Cafelit. It ties in with my last story, Humourless. I’ve been working on some linked flash fiction this year and hope to write more of these.

Definitely on the darker side of my particular writing scale but I hope you enjoy them both.

 

Catching up with reading on the Kindle at the moment. I’m also re-reading my novel on there too (I do love the Send to Kindle function!) and am trying to read it as a reader would.

I tend to save using the Save to Kindle function for my big projects. I think I might try batching my short stories and flash fiction in one document so I can review them like this too.

When I put the Kindle on, I am straight into reader mode which is precisely what I want to achieve here. The inner editor has been told to go away somewhat forcefully and I can relax and read.

Ironically, I’ve found on the novel it has made me spot things I can improve but that is because I’m reading it in a relaxed way. I’m not at this stage trying specifically to do anything to it. I think state of mind as you read is key here.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I like to write flash fiction in a variety of moods. My absolute favourite are the humorous kind but that’s because I’ve always had a very soft spot for funny writing. I also think it’s under-estimated. (Anything that looks easy to write, you can bet the writer has worked very hard for years to get to that point).

Humour, I think, is the most difficult to get right in any form because it is so subjective. You have to accept not everyone might “get” your sense of irony.

My dear late mum loved a wide range of books but just didn’t “get” funny writing at all. I suspect that’s one reason I DO love it. Well, I guess it is one way of rebelling… albeit very tamely. (She would have been delighted though about From Light to Dark and Back Again and my other published stories).

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I’ve mentioned using random word and phrase generators before as good triggers for story ideas. I thought I’d take a look at the random phrase generator and again and came up with:-

Two Down, One To Go
Down for the Count
On the Ropes

All of those would make great titles and/or themes for stories. May well have a crack at some of these myself. The nice thing is you can keep clicking until you come to a phrase you like the sound of and, also, how about combining phrases?

Two Down, One to Go could make a great title while On the Ropes could be the theme of that same story.

Happy writing!

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Are there themes that really resonate with you whether you’re writing the stories, reading them, or both? I think I’d list mine as:-

1. Seeing the tables turned on superiors by a character who has been underrated or rejected.

2. Injustice put right, especially if someone has been falsely accused. (This is why Azkaban remains my favourite Harry Potter story).

3. A quest carried out by someone who is assumed will never fulfil it but they do. Take a bow, Frodo Baggins!

4. Where someone technically inferior is clearly far superior to their boss (but their boss knows it and acknowledges it) – Jeeves and Wooster are the top men here.

For flash fiction, of course, you would need to show a “brief taste” of these themes but there is nothing to stop you fleshing our a short piece into something much longer if you wanted to do so later.

That is one aspect of flash fiction I love – you CAN have a second bite of the cherry here. It’s just that the second bite is going to go much deeper (and go on for longer) than the first one!

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Am having great fun revamping my website at the moment. Am planning to put on an All About Flash Fiction page with hints and tips. Will share once it’s ready. Plan is to update it regularly. I’ll also use it to compile some of the advice I’ve shared here and I hope to share thoughts on writing exercises too.

I love flash fiction for the way it shines a sharp light on one moment in a character’s life. There is something about the intensity of flash that really appeals to me. And I love getting to create so many different characters too.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Genre Fiction

I’ve never understood snobbery around genre fiction. Genre fiction encourages people to read according to their tastes and isn’t the idea to get people into books in the first place?

My favourite genres include:-

1. Fantasy
2. Crime
3. Historical

(And yes you can combine those. Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes novels in his Discworld series combines 1 and 2 and I’m sure you can think of others that blend genres).

I suppose the only “properly literary” fiction I’ve read is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which I adored, but my go-to-for-a-good-read first is always something which is genre based.

Yes, I know what to expect from, say, a crime novel, but what is fascinating is seeing how different crime writers handle their material. (As a writer, I can pick up tips there myself so win-win!).

I’m always fascinated as well by character creation and different writers take varying approaches to this. So reading widely across genres opens my eyes to different ways that this can be done.

So reading books then is a good idea then? Well of course it is!

Now to decide which genre I’m going to go for next…

Happy reading!

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Getting Started and Moving On

Facebook – General

I often think the hardest part of writing is getting started! Once I’m away on a piece, whether it is a FB post like this, a flash fiction or longer short story, I get the “bit between the teeth” and get on with it until I’ve got that first draft down.

I’m not deliberately procrastinating incidentally. I set myself down to write at pretty much the same time every night and get on with it. It’s just finding those first few words to get the ball rolling…

Ah well, time to get on with the next piece!

Does music help you with your creativity?

I write usually with classical music on in the background (courtesy of #ClassicFM most of the time). It doesn’t matter whether it’s Beethoven’s 5th or his Moonlight Sonata, I find that just having the music on relaxes me and I just get on and write more effectively.

I am very fond of the Saturday Night at the Movies show on Classic and it is amazing how the right music can make a film. I bet you can name at least four John Williams’ themes for a start. Think of the films you’ve thought of WITHOUT that music. Almost impossible, isn’t it?

Sometimes when I create characters, I think of what music would best suit them. It never makes it into the story itself but it does help me to picture them better so I write about/for them with more depth and that DOES show in a story.

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Enjoying the new series of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue on Radio 4. Always love the word play on here. You can’t keep a bad pun down, no matter how much you might want to!

Playing with the language, inventing puns etc, is something I occasionally do as a writing exercise. Always good fun. Makes you think in a different way. (Just how excruciating can I get with a pun?!). Sometimes that has triggered story ideas precisely because I’ve allowed my brain to go off on a tangent for a bit. Try it and see what you come up with. If nothing else, you should have fun with some mental word games here!

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Delighted to share more publication news. My flash fiction piece, Moving On, is now live on Cafelit. Hope you enjoy, especially if you’re considering a career change!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When do you know if a flash fiction piece has had impact?

If you’re really lucky, a reader will tell you so but for me generally it has been when I can recall most, if not all, of the story days later and it still makes me feel the way I did on first reading it. And that applies whether I’ve written the piece or not. There is a kind of “hits you between the eyes” feeling to stories like this.

 

Looking forward to sharing more publication news next week. Also looking forward to the Bridge House event in London next Saturday and seeing old friends and meeting new ones there!

Plus, as ever, am planning to do plenty of writing on the train journeys. All hail, Evernote, I get so much done!! I find I either write several flash fiction stories or draft one or two CFT posts in an average train journey. So at some point I ought to go on a long train journey – hmm… what could I get drafted on the sleeper train to Scotland I wonder? If I ever find out, I will report back.😀😉

Will be reading some flash fiction pieces at the Bridge House event on Saturday. Looking forward to that. Looking forward to hearing all the other wonderful stories from my fellow authors there as well. I love sitting back entranced. And how often, as adults, do we get to be read TO? Not often enough I suspect.

To love writing you have GOT to love reading (though taking in stories via other forms such as audio is fine but nothing for me will beat a book). I owe a huge debt to my late mum for instilling a love of stories and reading in me at a very young age. She got to see my first published story – A Helping Hand in the Bridge House Alternative Renditions anthology – and my dad got to see my first book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, published. There’s a pleasing symmetry to that.

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My latest flash story, Moving On, which is now on Cafelit, was one of those tales where I started with the opening line and based the story around it. I wanted something different to the normal meaning associated with “learning to let go”. I like taking phrases like that and putting my own take on them. Give it a go, it is good fun!

http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/20…/…/moving-on.html

 

Goodreads Author Programme BlogImpact of Writing

The impact of writing on the world in general cannot be underestimated.

As well as the Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens etc., all of which have contributed so much to our language and whose stories have been the inspiration for so many others, there are things like the Domesday Book and Magna Carta.

Historical documents which colour so much else in life and law. Nobody could have foreseen at the time of writing just how much impact these would have (though there would have been many hopes about the Magna Carta. Not least that King John was hoping to get rid of it again as soon as he possibly could! An early recognition of dangerous writing perhaps?).

What makes us love our favourite books and stories the way we do? It is also down to impact. The impact of them stays with us. We want to be like the heroic lead characters perhaps. We feel fear for the characters we love as they face dangers. We feel relief, joy etc when our favourites survive.

So do writers’ play with their readers’ emotions then? Yes but it is always best done subtly. The reader has to be willing to go along with the writer here. The writer has to deliver on the promise of his/her opening lines. We have got to be able to identify with those in the story to want to find out whether they make it through to the end or not.

So the impact of writing is everything then. As readers then we need to decide what impact we want to experience.

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