The Writing Life and Show, Don’t Tell


Image Credits:- All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good weekend. My workshop at the London Jesuit Centre went down very well and many thanks to all who came. Also for the lovely feedback. Happy writing to you all! (I plan to have a write up about this for Chandler’s Ford Today once I have also ran my flash fiction workshop at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee celebration weekend in June. Meantime, there are pictures taken by me from the event throughout the post).

 

Facebook – General

Strange day – gorgeously sunny and warm and by this evening it was pouring down. Fortunately Lady and I missed the worst (we’re never sorry about that) and she got to play with her pal, Coco, today.

When do you know you really are a writer? Is it when you get your first publication credit or contract or you’ve mapped out your self-publishing route? Not necessarily! I would argue it is when you recognize that writing can not be part of your life and you will write regardless of anything else. Doesn’t matter if you only have a few minutes a day or several hours. It is the commitment and regular writing that matters I think.

Also the acceptance that rejections happen to everyone (and even more so not hearing back from a publisher or a competition) is an important factor. Another one is recognizing nobody’s work can ever be described as perfect. It is a question of making it the best you can make it at the time you wrote it.

I can look back on several of my earlier stories and see how I could improve them. They act as a record of where I was at the time and as encouragement to keep going and to continually try to improve on what I do. That is the challenge of writing – to keep on improving. Resting on your laurels doesn’t encourage you to see what else you might do either.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-17-20-2943

Hope your week has got off to a good start. Changeable weather here again though Lady got to play with her two best girlfriends today and all three dogs went home very happy. It is quite something to see a Collie cross, a Ridgeback, and a Vizler playing! You do learn to get out of the way quickly, mind you.

Many thanks for the comments in so far on Creation, my latest Friday Flash Fiction tale. The feedback on this site is encouraging and much appreciated.

It’s almost time again for my monthly Authors Electric spot – my post will be up on Wednesday (18th May so will be included in my next round up here) and I will be talking about Why I love the Shorter Fictional Forms. There you go! A good example of writing about what you know! Screenshot 2022-05-13 at 09-12-04 Creation by Allison Symes

More like an autumn day out there today than a spring one!

I plan to write up a bit more about my workshop yesterday for the London Jesuit Centre later in June, after I come back from The Hayes in Swanwick after the Association of Christian Writers’ Golden Jubilee weekend. I will be running my flash fiction workshop there and am looking forward to doing so and catching up with friends old and new.

That means I continue with my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today and next Friday’s post will be about Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions In Fiction. There’s some nice alliteration for you!

Don’t forget I send out my author newsletter on the first of each month so please head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up for tips, prompts, news etc.

And I got my story off for one of the competitions I always have a try at so that rounds off the week nicely! As I mentioned to someone at the workshop yesterday, I really don’t miss having to send everything off in the post. I am so grateful for email submissions. It’s quicker and I can know my story got there straight away too!

 

A huge thank you to the lovely people at the London Jesuit Centre for making me so welcome today (Saturday, 14th May 2022). I ran my workshop Finding Your Voice – Writing Fiction – How to Get Started there this morning and there were some fabulous discussions and questions as a result of the workshop material. Many thanks all – I love interactive workshops whether I’m running them or attending them!

Also a quick trip down memory lane here as I always used to try and “buy” Bond Street on the old Monopoly board when playing this as a kid and my Tube Station stop today – you guessed it, Bond Street!

In other news, as they say, a big thanks also to all who have commented on Creation, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression “show, don’t tell” and it took me a long time to work out what that meant. Writing flash helped me enormously here.

When I “clicked” it was all about getting your characters to say/do things and not the author, I was away. (Catherine walked through the wall as if there was nothing to it as opposed to me saying something like The character, Catherine, did this, did that. Oh and by the way she’s a ghost. My first example shows you she must be a ghost without my spelling it out).

The flash element helped me develop this because of the limited word count. I had to ensure my characters were doing all of the work.It’s a bit like a play – what does the audience want? To see the actors perform the story (or listen if it’s an audio play). What they don’t want are the stage directions. Those aren’t for them.

Likewise, a reader doesn’t want to see my early drafts of a story. They want to see and read what my characters get up to – and it has helped me to remember that it is the character’s story.

Why am I writing this character’s story up? What is so important they get to do this? Only answer there is for the characters to show me (and ultimately the reader) through what I get them to say and do. The only people readers want to hear from are the characters.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-17-20-3640

It’s Monday (16th May 2022) and time once again for a YouTube video. Hope you enjoy my latest, 47. Linda has an unlucky number but it’s not one of the usual ones – she has no problem with the number 13 for example. Why 47? Find out here!

 

I suppose one of the reasons I love characters so much in any kind of story is I usually understand where they are coming from, even if I still disagree with their attitudes and actions. I want to then see how things pan out. Did those characters make the right choices for them and their situation after all or not? That is the big draw of fiction and I need characters to make things happen.

Okay, sometimes those things will make the initial situation worse but a “good” character will find ways of overcoming that/learning where they went wrong and put things right. In flash fiction, naturally, all of that happens so much more quickly so you get the payback more quickly.

And for any kind of story collection, I like a mixture of moods of story too. It is why I called my first book From Light to Dark and Back Again after all!

Flash with Amazon and Barnes and Noble


I was sharing a flash piece today as part of my workshop Finding Your Voice – Writing Fiction – How to Get Started for the London Jesuit Centre today (Saturday, 14th May 2022). The great thing about doing this is that it doesn’t take too long, flash can illustrate points quickly, and it is easy to demonstrate the point of hooks, powerful opening lines etc.

Also you can show a character does not necessarily have to be right about conclusions they’ve reached for themselves but what should happen in stories like that is the reader should have empathy with that character. They should be able to understand where the character is coming from even though they think the character should have reached a more positive conclusion, say.

Stories, of any length, should make you react, make you feel something, make you care about what happens to the character (and something does have to happen. There should be a conflict which needs resolving. It should matter to the characters that it is resolved).

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Books Acrostic

B = Brilliant books in all sizes and genres, sure to be something to suit you.
O= Original storytelling from contemporary writers or do you fancy the
O = Old Classics? Why choose – have both!
K = Kindles now mean you can now have an overflowing electronic book shelf as well as a physical one!
S = Stories you read may well inspire the ones you write.

A = Adventures or animal stories – enjoy them all.
C = Children’s fiction, YA, adult, – work your way through!
R = Reading feeds the mind, liberates the imagination.
O = Off in a world of your own – maybe when you read but then the author has done their work well if that is the case.
S = Scary or silly – there are stories for both.
T = Twist endings are not just for crime tales though there are plenty there.
I = Imagine what it might be like to live in a different world – books can take you there.
C = Characters – it’s all about the characters for me whether I love them or loathe them. They have to make me feel something. The very best linger in the mind long after I’ve finished reading the book.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

BookBrushImage-2021-10-15-19-5054

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

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.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-8-20-324


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-10-21-746

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Getting The Story Down and Hooks

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. Weather still hot and cold (literally) where I am right now. I guess that’s a kind of bank holiday tradition in the UK!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-3-20-5019

BookBrushImage-2022-4-29-20-240

Facebook – General

Writing Tip Number 5085 (or thereabouts): When set a writing exercise or responding to a prompt, just get the story down as quickly as you can. Go with your imaginative gut here. You can tidy things up in the edits. It is what edits are for! (And yes there will be more than one).

I’ve mentioned before I always feel a certain sense of relief once I’ve got my first draft down. This is because I know I have got something to work with and improve. I’m not worried about the fact it will need improving. Shakespeare didn’t write a perfect first draft. Neither did Dickens.

Guess what? I’m not going to either! But that’s okay. What matters is having that something to work with in the first place. As someone wiser than me once said, you can’t edit a blank page.

Editing has its creative side too

Hope those of you who had a Bank Holiday today enjoyed it. It was overcast and cold today so we got the traditional weather associated with most UK bank holiday weekends!

Have loved the movie music special that’s been on Classic FM today. As ever, the theme from Jaws gave me the creeps. Am so glad I only ever swim in a swimming pool! Am still hoping the Pink Panther theme will come on. (Apologies for those of you who, like me, are of a certain age, as you too will now have an earworm on the go).

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be my review of The Dragon of Wantley, the latest production from the Chameleon Theatre Company. Link up on Friday. (Many thanks to them for sharing with me some fabulous pics – I look forward to sharing them via my post).

I’ve been using the old random generators again. I used the random noun one this time and chose two items – a waitress and a tiara, an interesting combination! I’ve used both for my story which I hope will be on Friday Flash Fiction later this week. I used just one of them for my YouTube video, which I will share over on my book page shortly. See below for link.Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 20-53-53 From Light to Dark and Back Again Facebook
Happy reading Sunday! Am glad to report the May edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out – see the link. For my column this month, I look at Objects in Flash Fiction and share how these can be used to create some great stories. It helps a lot that the reader can picture the object you choose.

The object I chose for this column was a silver teapot and I share my story here. But do check out the other flash pieces that came in as a result of the challenge I set. There are some wonderful tales here. And you can always make yourself a nice brew in a silver teapot while you enjoy a good read!

Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 20-57-08 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine May 2022 eBook Publishing Goylake Howe Hannah Smith Melanie Fae Sylva Jones Wendy H Macleod Sheena Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle StoreHope you have had a good Saturday. Spent some time in the garden. Lady loves it out there. Next couple of weekends will be busy so it has been nice to have a quiet one this time.

My monthly author newsletter goes out again tomorrow. Now sent but do sign up on my landing page! I’m planning to review the wonderful The Dragon of Wantley for Chandler’s Ford Today as next Friday’s post. I will resume my In Fiction series after that.

Many thanks for the comments in on Reflection, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. This is an object lesson in not being vain and/or greedy, literally an object lesson. Also it acts as a reminder to be careful about what you wish for.


Screenshot 2022-04-29 at 19-00-20 Reflection by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Bank holidays are lovely but they always make me feel as if I’ve somehow skipped a day all week. Throws the dog a bit too (suddenly wonders where everyone has gone!).

Now how do your characters approach holidays? Do they take any? Could your flash piece be a story about what happened on a holiday?

The nearest I’ve got to that I think is my Camping It Up from Tripping the Flash Fantastic where a vengeful fairy disrupts a camping site. Good fun to write.

Holidays are where the normal routines are suspended for a while so that in itself could lead to interesting story ideas.

Framed Flash Collections


It’s (bank holiday) Monday and time for a story. Hope you enjoy Putting on a Good Front, my latest YouTube video. Let’s just say my sympathy is with Marjorie. See what you think.

 

Hope you have had a good Sunday. The rain is back and the temperature has dropped again – welcome to a UK spring!

My latest flash fiction column is out in the May 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads. I talk about Objects in Flash Fiction this time. Yes, I do use a random object generator to trigger these.

The huge advantage of that is I don’t know what will come up so I “raise my game” to meet the challenge set by the object which has been generated. Making yourself think in different ways encourages creativity. I know I’ve produced far more stories due to doing this.

I like to have a mixture of ways into writing a story as it keeps things interesting for me (and hopefully for future readers too), stops me from falling into a rut, and there is always a challenge to be faced and dealt with. I love that. And I get to do my favourite writing thing all the time – invent new characters to write about!

Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 20-58-14 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine May 2022

 

Almost at the end of another month but at last the weather is warming up a bit.

I sometimes write poetic justice stories. As with the twist endings, I tend to work out what that poetic justice should be first. I want to ensure that is right. I can then ensure my character motivations tie in to it nicely and that the character on the receiving end of the poetic justice really does deserve it! Mind you, it is huge fun working that out!

Whatever my kind of story, everything in it has to make sense. A reader should be able to see where a character is coming from and to understand why they are the way they are.

Motivations need to be strong enough too. This is where asking “what if” helps a lot. I ask what if X happened, would I then really do Y or could I be talked out of it? Or if I was to do Y, what would be the X behind that? There has to be an X here! Characters won’t do things without good reason to do then, any more than we would, which is another way in which fiction reflects what we know.

Character Needs are everything

Goodreads Author Blog – Hooks

As a writer, I think about hooks a lot. I want different ways in which to “lure” a reader into reading my stories, of course. And with my reader’s hat on, I want to be lured into reading by a promising character, an intriguing opening line, a promising idea on the book’s back over and so on.

What I need to make sure of as a writer is that I deliver on my promise to the reader to give them a good read. And with my reader’s hat on I want to find out that character was even more promising than I thought, the intriguing opening line led me into a wonderful story, and the idea on the back cover was fulfilled. The good thing with the latter is that if the author delivers here, I am far more likely to want to read more of their works.

Hooks matter then but delivering on them is even more important. You don’t want the reader to feel let down. Neither do I, as reader, want to feel let down. In situations like that I am highly unlikely to read anything by that author again.

When I’m browsing books, I do turn to the blurb first and then look at the first few opening lines. If I like both, I’ll get the book. The hook has worked!

My favourite kind of hook is the intriguing character one because I want to find out what happens to them and that keeps me reading.

Screenshot 2022-05-03 at 21-09-40 Hooks

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Workshop News and Questions


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. Tonight’s post looks at questions and aspects of flash fiction writing. I also share some exciting workshop news.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-26-20-3335

Facebook – General

Hope Tuesday has been a good day. Lady loved being with her buddy, a smashing Hungarian Vizler, today. Still a bit chilly for April, mind you.

There are offers on both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See the links (and the screenshot) for more.

My train tickets for my trip to London to run a workshop for the London Jesuit Centre arrived today. News on the workshop further down.

I was impressed with that. I only booked the tickets over the weekend – and these were sent out by second class post too. I nearly always book tickets like this online. It means I’ve got them and, as ever, when I go on trips like this, I hope to get a certain amount of writing done thanks to Evernote enroute. I vary what I draft here – from potential blog posts to flash stories, to my To Do list – it all proves useful!

Screenshot 2022-04-26 at 20-06-33 Amazon.co.uk Allison Symes

Loved listening to the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams on Classic FM just now. It always gets my vote in their annual Hall of Fame. Music can conjure up images and with this one it is an image of time travel all the way back to Elizabethan England. Absolutely adore that (and I think it is far better than The Lark Ascending so there!). I listen to classical music as I write and find it helps me unwind. A relaxed me writes more!

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be on Originality in Fiction. Link up on Friday.

Am off to a (postponed) panto on Thursday (it was due to be on in January). Am off to see The Dragon of Wantley as performed by the Chameleon Theatre Group, my local amateur dramatic company (and very good they are too).

Looking forward to meeting up and having a good chat with Janet Williams, my lovely editor at CFT, who is also going. Review to follow in due course. And I know what will be particularly nice about this show will be the laughs – panto is wonderful for that and I can’t help but feel that will be a much needed tonic for many right now.


Sunny and blustery today. Weather still a bit odd. The wind is almost gale strength at times.

Booked my train tickets for the workshop I’m running at the London Jesuit Centre in May. (Again see further down). Looking forward to that.

Am also getting my May newsletter ready. To sign up for that, just head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

A huge thanks for the wonderful comments in on my Where Am I?, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. The feedback on this site is fantastic and I’ve found it so useful. It is also nice to know you’re not on your own – there is a supportive writing community out there. Thank you, all!

 

Hope Saturday has been okay for you. Busy out in the garden mowing the lawn and kicking Lady’s ball for her at the same time. Yes, it is do-able! Makes for an interesting if somewhat unusual workout! Used to do this for Gracie and Mabel too.

Workshop News

I’m running a workshop called Finding Your Voice – Writing Fiction – How to Get Started for the London Jesuit Centre in May. Looking forward to this very much. See the link for more information.

Will be running my flash fiction workshop for the Association of Christian Writers as part of their Golden Jubilee weekend at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire over the weekend of 3rd to 5th June (and yes, we will raise a glass or two to Her Majesty as well!).

Looking forward to seeing everyone at both workshops!

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

As I mentioned on my author page, there are offers on both of my flash collections. See the links for more. Grab yourself a bargain!

Another thing flash has shown me is how important character is when I enjoy a story, whether I write it or read it. I’ve got to care about what happens to the character for a story to work for me. Genre is far less important. And to care for a character at all, I’ve got to understand what motivates them and what they are aiming for. I do need to see where they are coming from and yes that goes for the villains too. I just don’t have to agree with the latter!

I wasn’t expecting to write more in the first person when flash fiction entered my life but it happened and I sometimes write monologues as a result. These work well for flash as monologues are at their best when they don’t go on for too long.

The important thing is to ensure your character has a strong enough voice to carry a monologue. Why would the reader want to know what this person has to say? What keeps the reader reading? Because they’re intrigued enough to find out what your character has to say and in flash you know you don’t have to wait too long to find out. So flash and monologues can be a very good match up.

Monologues can also work well for my YouTube tales.

Talking of which, I hope you enjoy my latest one – Mirror, Mirror.

 

I talked about asking questions yesterday and, continuing with that theme, another advantage to doing this is that it gives you a basic story structure immediately. Why? Simply because the question set has to be answered in some way by the end of your story.

All stories have to have a point of change and here the answer to that question is the point of change. Also there has to be conflict and resolution in any story – the question is the conflict which has to be resolved and the answer is the resolution.

The character can answer the question directly. Equally you can show them “acting” the answer out. For example, if my question was something like does love change anything?

I can get the character to “show you” by getting them to reflect on whether they think this is true or not. They can narrate something of their life to show the answer. I do this in my They Don’t Understand from From Light to Dark and Back Again.

I can also get the character to “show” how their idea of love answers that question. If they are trying to obtain love and they succeed, then they are showing you that love does change something – it changes their life.

Questions are useful then. Even when I don’t use a question directly, I always ask questions of the characters I’m outlining and that triggers story ideas. The answers that come to me tell me what I am going to do with that character and away I go and write their story up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Asking questions is a great way of fleshing out ideas for a story. I’ve often used questions as the theme for a story too. Sometimes I’ve used them as a title. But I mainly use them to get to know my character better. What do I ask?

Things like what is your major trait? What kind of trouble could this lead you into? (A great story always has trouble in it!). Could your major trait, if generally seen as a virtuous one, ever be misconstrued? What is your attitude to others? What kind of things can’t you stand at any price?

Questions that reveal a character’s underlying attitude to life are excellent for getting to what they are really like. Once I know my character, I find I can write them up. I know what their journey is likely to be. They can still surprise me but those surprises will fit in with the traits I’ve uncovered. I usually get my surprises as I am asking those questions of my lead characters. That’s when I sit up and take notice and ask myself what can I do with this? I usually find something!

BookBrushImage-2022-4-26-21-1852

Goodreads Author Blog – Books You Must Read

Every so often lists come out showing books you must read (and sometimes by a certain age at that). I admit I take absolutely no notice of these lists (other than to note they are out again)! Why?

Because the books I must read are the books I must read. I am always happy to take recommendations from friends (including via Goodreads) but most of the time I pick the books I want to read and leave it there. Some of my picks are based on my genre (I read flash fiction and short stories as well as write them (and I love reading outside my genre too).

I think it is more important to have a good mixture in your reading “diet”. I like to read magazines, books, novellas. I like to read non-fiction as well as fiction. I like to read online as well as print books.
I’m not a huge fan of literary fiction. I do like genre fiction (and utterly dislike the snobbery against it in some quarters. I’ve never understood this. Good writing is good writing, whether it is in a literary form or in a genre book).

Life is too short to read books you’re “supposed” to read. I focus on reading books I know I’m likely to enjoy. My non-fiction reading is where I go outside of my comfort zone a bit because here I specifically want to learn something (but it can still be done in an entertaining way).

BookBrushImage-2022-4-26-21-2354

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Stories and The Joys of Working with the Indie Press


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.
I hope you had a happy Easter, if you celebrate it as I do. The weather was lovely and it actually felt spring-like! After the bizarre weather of the last month or so that was welcome.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-19-20-1232

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Am catching up with some flash fiction reading at the moment then I’m on to non-fiction books again. I do like a good mix.

Writing wise, this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post will be Names In Fiction. Sorry my Originality in Fiction will be out for CFT on the 29th April. I got ahead of myself by a week there! (I blame the bank holidays and the clock change – so there! Having said that, I hope you enjoy both posts when they come out over the next two Fridays!).

I schedule blogs and tweets I write every so often for the Association of Christian Writers as much as I can. It saves time and it means I don’t forget things but it does mean I can occasionally put myself out of sync with myself as I did over the weekend!

Blogging wasn’t really a “thing” when I started writing seriously. I am glad it is now though. I love blogs and have learned so much from them myself over the years.

Am looking forward to going out with my CFT editor, Janet Williams, next week to see the Chameleon Theatre Group’s production of The Dragon of Wantley. This panto was deferred from January but I’m looking forward to seeing it The Chameleon pantos are always great fun and I do plan to break my In Fiction series to write a review in due course.

Authors Electric Blog

Pleased to share The Joys of Working with the Indie Press for Authors Electric this month. It was a joy to write this one up as it continues to be a joy working with said indie press! I love the way the indie press has given so many writers, including me, more options for getting work out there.

Screenshot 2022-04-18 at 17-12-31 The Joys of Working with the Indie Press by Allison Symes

17th April

Happy Easter Sunday!

I’m chatting about The Joys of Working with the Indie Press for my Authors Electric blog tomorrow. Looking forward to sharing that link. See above.

A big thank you for the wonderful comments continuing to come in on my A Timely Reveal for Friday Flash Fiction. Much appreciated and I am loving writing the 100-worders again. You can pack quite a punch with the short form of fiction – and it is great for the twist ending.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post will be about Originality in Fiction. Looking forward to sharing that link on Friday. Oops! Post will actually be Names in Fiction for this week though Originality in Fiction will follow on 29th April. The dangers of getting ahead of yourself are illustrated here!

Have a good week (and those who are not working, I hope you enjoy the rest of your Easter break).

Screenshot 2022-04-15 at 12-35-32 A Timely Reveal by Allison Symes

S = Short forms of fiction are great fun to write and read.
T = Telling tales in fewer words is the best way I know to tighten up writing skills.
O = Original short stories and flash fiction can stay in the memory longer precisely because they are short.
R = Remember all forms of writing need editing and honing – the short form is no different.
I = Imagination is focused in the shorter stories and therefore impact is more intense.
E = Every word has to punch its weight to justify being included – there is no spare room here.
S = Stunning stories can be submitted to markets, competitions or compiled for a collection.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-16-20-1659

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I mentioned yesterday that I used the random scenario generator again yesterday for my YouTube story, Strange Room. I took the theme of waking up in a strange room and wrote a different story which I hope will make it on to Friday Flash Fiction this week. And that’s the thing. You can take a great prompt, write two different stories for it and send said stories off to two different markets. Win-win there I think!

BookBrushImage-2022-4-19-20-151

It has been a Bank Holiday here in the UK but that doesn’t stop it being story time once again. My latest YouTube video is called Strange Room and is based on another prompt from a random scenario generator. The prompt was to write about waking up in a strange room. Hope you enjoy it.


17th April

Happy Easter Sunday!

Am looking forward to watching Doctor Who later on. (It was great!). It is one of the few things I will watch as “live” telly.

Writing wise, all is going well on my workshop material and I am pleased with how my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today is panning out. Do see the direct link to my page here for more.

Just to finish by saying there are offers on Amazon on the paperbacks of From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Do see the link for more information. Hope you enjoy a good read!

I love mixing up the moods in my stories and a flash collection is a great way to have a great mix of tales reflecting this. Just as life isn’t all laughter and sunshine, neither are my tales. Equally, life isn’t all grim and darkness (despite what the news is saying) and again my stories reflect that. There needs to be room in fiction as in life, for laughter and tears, comedy and tragedy – we experience all of these things.

Fiction should reflect it all too. Then it is up to the reader to decide what they want to read in terms of mood. The lovely things with collections is you can get a good range within one book cover! I think that’s a great idea. And the indie press does take collections so short story writers and flash fiction authors, be aware – there are opportunities here.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-16-20-237

Goodreads Author Blog – Odd Books

I suspect, like me, you have a good range of books on your shelves and most of them you can put into categories. I have a significant amount of crime novels, a whole section of humour (Wodehouse and Pratchett), and many others besides. With my writing guides, those have their own sub-categories as some cover short story writing while others look at novels etc.

But I do have odd books I can’t put into a section. Some of these are reference books as some stand alone because they cover a particular topic. So I group these in my “odd corner”. These are the kind of books which would have gone out of print long ago but which are a fascinating read and great for dipping into. My odd books tend to be non-fiction and I have found that many a fiction story idea is inspired by something I’ve read in a non-fiction book. So this is another good reason to ensure I know where to find my odd books!

I’ve not yet got back to going to charity markets etc where you will often find odd but interesting books on offer. It is something I hope to resume but what I would say is even if you are the most die-hard fiction writer, do have a good selection of non-fiction books in. They are great reads in and of themselves and do use them to inspire your own story ideas. When you are at charity markets have a good rummage and see what you can find. You may end up being glad you got those odd books in!

BookBrushImage-2022-4-19-20-3252

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

News, Getting Enough Sleep, and Random Scenario Generators


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 the last few days have been okay. More signs of spring here (and no snow!) – my camellia is blooming, the daffodils are out, and my lilac is coming into leaf.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-12-20-3451

Facebook – General

I was chatting with a friend at Slimming World tonight about my writing hours. I think people fall into two categories – night owl or lark – and I am definitely in the latter category. I used to be able to stay up to all hours writing. Not any more!

I know I need a certain amount of sleep and I try to ensure I get that. Looking after myself here for me is a non-negotiable. I don’t write well when over tired. Mind you, I don’t do anything well when over-tired! So I work out when I will do my writing and pretty much stick to the same times. When I can get in an extra session or two I do.

But sitting down regularly at the same times has kind of conditioned me that this is now writing time, I get on with it, and I find I can get a reasonable amount done. No two writers will write in exactly the same way. No two writers will work in exactly the same way. You do have to work out what works for you but the getting enough sleep aspect will make a difference, regardless of whether you’re an owl or a lark.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-12-20-1938

A busy Monday as always. Never sorry to get to this end of the day when I can relax and write. Managed to make some good progress yesterday on various blogs I write for and that is always handy. It means I’ve always got something to hand when I need it and it compensates for those days when, for whatever reason, I can’t get quite so much writing as I would like done. It happens and you get used to it so when I have a really good day, as I did yesterday, I’ve learned to make the most of it! They say go with the flow. Sometimes the flow is very much with you! I like days like that.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-12-20-4151

I’ll be talking about Making Characters Real in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up on Good Friday.

Don’t forget the April edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is FREE – see Amazon link below – and it is packed full of wonderful articles and stories. Do try it and check out my flash fiction column on Page 66 where I talk, appropriately, about Dialogue in Flash Fiction.

Sometimes I do write all dialogue flash pieces and this works well in such a short form. I’ve found all dialgoue pieces work best when kept to between 100 and 300 words or thereabouts, slap bang in flash fiction territory of course.

It’s an interesting writing exercise to have a go at too as you have to find a way of showing readers the setting without using description, the conversation between your characters has to be natural and not “info dump”, and it still has to be a proper story with a proper beginning, middle and end.


Hope you have had a reasonable day. No snow this weekend so that already makes it a win! Looking forward to catching up with friends from Swanwick later on via Zoom.

You know I said my next in person event was going to be in June at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend? Err… that was correct at the time of going to “press”, so to speak! It isn’t now.

Yes, I am off to The Hayes in June and really looking forward to what will be a fun event but in the meantime I’m going to be in London in May running a fiction workshop. Will say more nearer the time but looking forward to doing this and heading off to Derbyshire in June.

Am busy blogging and preparing future blogs as well as talks so plenty to keep me occupied at the old keyboard. I like it that way even though it does mean I tend to wear the letters off the keyboard. Thankfully I can touch type!

Had a lovely time catching up with ACW friends on Zoom last night. I know if my dad was still around, I’d have problems keeping him off Zoom! He’d have loved it.

Writing tip of the day: Never worry about writing a perfect draft. Why? Because nobody ever does. Just get something written, then worry about improving it.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-12-20-4853

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I mentioned yesterday I found a Random Scenario generator and I hope to have lots of fun playing with this.

It strikes me I can use this in more than one way. Use the generated prompt directly. Equally I can take that as a starting point and add my own twist to it. I used yesterday’s prompt of a bit of paper stuck in a chest of drawers as it was but if I wanted to put a twist to that, I could’ve added in another object, a sinister one maybe, being stuck in a drawer further down.

The focus of the story could’ve been on that and then I would reveal what the paper said at the end and it would inevitably be something the character should have found sooner but they were distracted by the sinister object instead. All sorts of things could have come from that – especially the ending. It could make all the difference between the ending being a happy one or not.

So if a prompt really strikes you, why not add in your own “spiel” to it and see where that takes you? It will help you craft a unique tale.

 

It’s Monday, it’s YouTube story time again. I’m pleased to share Reading the Market. Hope you like it. It is very short though! The idea for this one came from a Random Scenario prompt – yes, there is such a thing!


Now you know I hope by now that I do love my random generators for triggering story ideas. I’ve found another one! How does the Random Scenario generator grab you? Well, it grabs me nicely enough and I plan to write up a couple of stories based on what I’ve just generated. Will share what I do with these as yet unwritten stories later but I am looking forward to giving this a go. The screenshot gives you an idea of what you’ll see when you click on the link below.

Screenshot 2022-04-10 at 14-51-02 Random Scenario

The box with the prompt in appears beneath the Generate Scenario button. I hope to have fun playing with this one. And there’s nothing to stop you tweaking the generated scenario a bit so it fits in with your style of writing either.

This is the thing with any kind of prompt. Yes, you can write to them directly and a lot of the time that’s precisely what I do, but sometimes I have a prompt which I like but I can then see a way of tweaking it to make it best suit my style of writing so I do that and away I go. Do use these things as starting points too.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-12-20-557


One important aspect to flash fiction is it makes you focus on what is important for your story to happen and make sense. No boring description. No dialogue that doesn’t add anything to the plot or what we need to know about the characters.

This is why writing flash fiction sharpens up all of the other writing you do. It has helped me a lot with my blogging. It helps me to write down what is important about my story/character but you don’t need to go into chapter and verse about that. Often the odd line or two is enough to keep me on track.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-12-20-5830

Goodreads Author Blog – The Joy of Short Fiction

Hands up time. I write short stories and flash fiction so I am bound to be biased here. Regardless of that, I have always loved short stories (and discovering flash fiction was a revelation to my reading diet as well as my writing one). I will read flash and short story collections in between reading novels or longer non-fiction books. I kind of see them as an appetiser for the next “big book”.

But I love the impact of short fiction. You do get the pay-off that much more quickly and I enjoy reading that s well as writing it. I’ve always loved inventing people and thought that the best bit of storytelling. So with my short form work, I get to do that all of the time so win-win there!

And short stories have gone on to be turned into films. The most famous example has to be The Birds by Daphne du Maurier, famously turned into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock.

I also see reading short story and flash collections as a chance to try out an author’s style before I commit to reading their longer work. From a reader’s viewpoint, this is lovely because in an anthology you can get to try out a dozen or so different authors and if some really strike you, then you’ve discovered more authors to try out. What’s not to like about that?

And of course, many an author gets into print via the short fiction route in the first place. I am just one of them!

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Hooks, Simple Ideas, and Character Attitudes


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.
What does snow, ice-cream chimes, and simple ideas  have in common? They all appear in this post – and I discuss character attitudes too.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-5-20-4830

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Glad to report there is an offer on Amazon on both of my flash fiction collections – see link for more. Go on, pick up a bargain!

I see there is a film about to come out called Operation Mincemeat based on the book of the same name by Ben Macintyre. Loved the book. Film looks promising – hoping they’re faithful to said book.

Looking forward to sharing Laughter in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I love writing all of my posts but there are some which are sheer fun and this is one of them. Mind you, the topic helps!

I forgot to mention this last month but I am so pleased to be a member of the Authors’ Licensing and Collection Society. I have free membership of this thanks to being a member of the Society of Authors. I was really pleased with my pay-out from ALCS last month, which was up from last year. Definitely worth looking into to if you have books out there. And updating the online form when you have new works out is easy too.

I joined the Society of Authors years ago after receiving invaluable advice from them over a publishing contact I’d been offered. It was from a vanity publisher. I turned the contract down, got my manuscript back, and joined the Society. Never regretted any of that!

Screenshot 2022-04-04 at 19-51-16 ALCS

Cold but no snow today so I count that as a win! See post further down for why I say this! Hope you have had a good Sunday. Much as I dislike the clock changes twice a year, I must admit it is nice having the lighter evenings. It means Lady gets a longer evening walk for one thing and she is happy about that.

Regardless of the length of story I write, I do like a good hook in the opening line. I am a great believer in the “hit the ground running” approach.

Sometimes I do this by getting a character to do something. Sometimes I will open with an intriguing line of dialogue. I also open with a set up that has to be followed through in some way and the only way a reader is going to find out is by reading the story through.

And yes I deliberately mix up the approach I take here. It keeps things interesting for me and I hope that comes through to readers too.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-3-19-5424

Bizarre weather again today. I was doing some gardening, (”doing” being the operative word as I am no expert!), when snow fell again and at the same time I heard the charming chimes of an ice cream van! (I passed on that).

Many thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on The Way Time Smells, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Using the senses is encouraged in fiction as they all help readers “picture” things, they also make characters seem more real to me, and I was glad to get in a scent I have fond memories of as a child into this story.

I’m looking at Laughter in Fiction for my Chandler’s Ford Today post next week and look forward to sharing that in due course.

One positive thing about the cold weather is it makes it even more easy to stay indoors and get on with the writing!

Screenshot 2022-04-01 at 09-18-31 The Way Time Smells by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I was talking yesterday about how I came up with the idea for my latest YouTube video, Away. Link below. It was based on a simple premise and, especially for such a short form as flash fiction, it pays off to keep the idea simple. Flash is not the place for the convoluted idea and again this is another example of the form of flash ensuring you do have to stick to the point.

I’ve also found, naturally, a simple idea is easier to deliver on (and stick to the word count with). There’s an old saying about not “over-egging the pudding” and that comes into play with flash fiction writing too. Just because an idea is simple, it doesn’t mean the story is simple. You can still show a wealth of emotion via the simple tale of one character telling another just what a hellish time they’ve had of it lately. Basic plot right there.

And the other character’s reaction whether it is sympathetic or not can show a reader just how caring or not that other character is and, to an extent, whether the first character deserves that sympathy or not. Yet that all stems from a simple idea.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-5-20-3747

It has been another hectic Monday. Time to slow down and enjoy a story then. Hope you enjoy Away, my latest tale on my YouTube channel. I used a random picture generator to come up with the idea for a story based around chairs in a park and thought about who might have put them there.


I’ve talked before about how I sometimes write a punchline or a twist ending first and then use spider diagrams to help me work out how I could get to that closing line. The other advantage of this is this approach usually gives me a good idea of how long my story is likely to be.

If my spider diagram produces a result where I am likely to need more than one character in the story (as opposed to one or more being referred to – a kind of “being offstage” scenario), then I know my tale is likely to be between the 500 and 1000 words mark for flash. For short stories, I’m definitely looking at 1500 to 2000. That then gives me a good idea of where I’m likely to find a home for the finished tale.

What I don’t do is decide on the word count and then work out the story from there. I always go for the spider diagram option that resonates the most with me because it will do the same for a reader. The one that resonates most with me is one I’m going to love writing up because already that idea has triggered me and I will be itching to write it up.

The only times the word count is almost (!) the most important factor for me is when I am writing to a market which calls for a specific word count such as Paragraph Planet or Friday Flash Fiction. And even there I jot down ideas and still go for the one that makes the most impact on me. I am putting myself in my readers’ shoes here and asking myself what would they like from this idea. Then I go for it!

Having your reader in mind from the start is a good idea. It helps you keep on track too.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-3-19-5936


Every now and then I write a story where the sentences open with the same words. In my The Wish List from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, all but the last sentence starts with the words I wish.

The advantage of doing this is that it creates a kind of rhythm to my story and, in this case, the “I wish”in each and every sentence ratchets up the tension and that in turn builds up to a conclusion.

It is not something I would wish to do all the time (the I wish being a deliberate choice of phrase there!) because I wouldn’t want it to come across as gimmicky and I fear frequent use of something like this would do precisely that. It does make a refreshing change every now and then though.

Goodreads Author Blog – Character Attitudes

What hooks you into following a character’s story though to those magic words The End? Something about the character has to draw you in and, for me, it is usually to do with their attitudes towards other characters, themselves, and life in general.

One of my favourite characters is Sam Vimes from Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Discworld series. Not only do I like following Sam through one novel I have loved watching that character develop over the series of Discworld novels he stars in – and boy does he develop. That is a sign of a truly great character. They’re never static! And his attitude varies depending on who is dealing with but there’s never any doubt about him wanting to see justice done. (And doing his level best to ensure it is).

I also like characters who acknowledge their own shortcomings but overcome them. (Pride and Prejudice, anyone?). A character who isn’t willing to change when it is clear change would bring them (a) happiness and (b) make them an all round better person is not a character that’s going to hold my interest for long.

Characters reflect us and what we know about life so a character’s attitude generally is something we will need to have understanding of, even if we don’t entirely agree with it.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-5-21-1344

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Spring-like Writing


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.
A hectic start for the week for me after a lovely and happy birthday weekend spent with family. Mind you, snow is forecast later in the week. Never let anyone tell you the weather in Britain is dull – it is anything but!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-29-20-581

Facebook – General

It’s my turn on the Association of Christian Writers blog spot, More Than Writers, today. This time I talk about Spring-like Writing. What do I mean by that? Well, I take a look at the mood of our writing but also discuss the “energy” within a story. Hope you enjoy the post and many thanks to all who have sent in some wonderful comments already.Screenshot 2022-03-29 at 20-34-37 Spring-like Writing by Allison Symes

Hope you have had a good start to the week. As ever, it has been a hectic Monday here but at least there is only one Monday in any week! Had a lovely weekend with the family (Lady adored having everyone here) and I was back to story writing yesterday.

My latest More Than Writers blog for the Association of Christian Writers is out tomorrow, I’ve sent something off to Friday Flash Fiction, and I’ll share a new YouTube video on my book page shortly. See below for link. So not a bad start to the writing week then!

I look to complete certain things by the end of the week (such as two of my website round-up blogs on the Tuesday and Friday) and then work on stories and blogs around that. It means I know what I’m doing on each day and helps me ensure I never waste a minute of precious writing time.

I like to hit the ground running for my writing as well as getting my characters to do likewise. It keeps things interesting for me – and I trust for my characters too.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-28-20-1412

#Had a wonderful time with friends and family at my birthday do yesterday. Lovely to have a good chat with the fabulous #JanetWilliams, my editor at Chandler’s Ford Today. It’s been a funny week. I started off coming home from Scotland to having a big do and I could so have done without losing an hour’s sleep this morning thanks to the clock change!

Talking of CFT, I resume my In Fiction series this week with an interesting post based around the letter K – Kindness and Killing in Fiction. How can I get a post out of a topic where the title is such a contrast? Link up on Friday – you will have to wait until then to find out!

My author newsletter goes out next Friday as well (see my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for the sign up page).

Talking of my website, a big hello to all who have started following me here – it has been encouraging to see steady growth here.

And last but not least, there is an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic over at Amazon. Do check out my Author Central page for more details at http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent


Getting together with family and friends today so thought I would post early. How do your characters handle get togethers? Do they relish them or dread them? And who controls the events? Is your lead character really the one running the show? They might think they are but…

Get togethers are often the source of family traditions so which would your characters have and do they uphold them? Do they cherish them or feel they are being held back by them? For your lone characters, which traditions do they remember from the past and do they miss these? How do they cope with being lone characters now? There is a sense of loss implied here so your story could focus on that.

This is where our own life experiences can help us in crafting a tale. We all know loss. We may not know what it is like to live on an alien world but we can take what we know of life here and help our characters to come across better to a reader. Empathy matters.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-29-21-1358

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Have had one of those days where I’ve run late all day. But the nice thing about flash, and something I especially appreciate during a busy day, is with its restricted word count, I can still carve out five minutes some when during the day to draft a story! Or jot down ideas for stories, possible titles and so on. Those quick writing times mount up and give me a store of things to come back to when I’ve got more time. There is nothing to dislike about that scenario!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-29-21-1752

It’s good to be sharing story videos on YouTube again after a brief break due to my being at the Scottish Association of Writers conference. Hope you enjoy A Scent of Sense. This story was triggered by a question which came up on a random question generator – what is your favourite smell? I thought it a good way to write a tale based on one sense and to focus on that.


If you’d like to check out some of my flash fiction, do visit my YouTube channel. As well as sharing mini stories there, you can find the two book trailers for From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic, here, both of which have a free story included in them. Hope you enjoy (and new subscribers to my channel are always welcome).

Screenshot 2022-03-29 at 21-21-11 Allison Symes - YouTube

Am having a family do today in celebration of my birthday. It will be lovely seeing everyone again and the weather is gorgeous. So am posting early. I’ll be resuming my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today next Friday. I also hope to get back to writing for Friday Flash Fiction this week. And I’ve a number of blogs to draft so I will be out of mischief for some considerable time!

Now there’s no reason not to use gatherings in your stories as long as they move your plot on in some way. What could your character find out at a gathering that will make them change what they do next? And could it change the outcome of the overall story?

If your character Is the shy type and a gathering of any kind would fill them with horror, how do they find out information they will need for their “quest”? And how would they handle things if they absolutely had to to go a gathering? Don’t be afraid to drop your characters right in the mire – this is where you find out if they will sink or swim and where you will find out so much more about what they are capable of, whether that’s in a good way or not.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-29-21-2621

Goodreads Author Blog – Celebrating the Booksellers

We should celebrate the booksellers, yes? If you’re lucky enough to have an independent book store near you, make the most of it! Even where you have a known chain, still support them. Where I am, we were lucky enough to have a lovely independent book shop as part of our main shopping centre but the owner retired (understandably) and now the nearest bookshops are at least five miles away.

One of the joys of going to a writing event, such as the one I’ve recently returned from, is there is usually a book stall connected to it. These are often run by a local independent bookseller so, as well as supporting the authors whose works you buy, you support these good people too. And it does make sense to support the industry you want to be part of!

Although online ordering can be convenient, I don’t want the physical bookshops to disappear. I think we would lose something important. Browsing through bookshop shelves is a far more pleasurable experience than trying to browse online!

So go and support your local bookseller. You know it makes sense.

Screenshot 2022-03-29 at 20-47-10 Celebrating the Booksellers

twitter-corner-2

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Travels, Flash, and Feedback


Image Credit:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Am about to go off on my travels again. Am doing a LOT of talking about flash fiction this week but it’s great fun to do!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-15-20-4356

Facebook – General

Busy packing ready for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. Plan to do lots of writing on the train journey. I just love Evernote for this. I still just use the free version of it but find it is enough for what I want to do.

I’ll be off again on my travels in June for the Association of Christian Writers’ Worth Our Weight In Gold Golden Jubilee weekend in June and I am due to run a flash fiction workshop there too. Won’t have to go so far for that one – it’s at my old haunt The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire where I’ll be back again in August for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

I’m getting plenty of use out of my railcard this year at least!

And a huge thank you to the History Writers last night for the wonderful feedback on my talk about historical flash fiction. Feedback is always useful and it is something I especially appreciate from Friday Flash Fiction too.

Now writing wise, when I’ve got editing to do, I block out periods of time to do it as I know I will need to focus. Those odd pockets of time that crop up now and again – ten minutes here, fifteen there etc – are best used for drafting something new or adding notes to something you’ve got in the pipeline.

I’ve discovered this over time of course but I am now better at suiting writing jobs to the time I’ve got available and that matters. It means I end up getting more done overall. Any spare capacity in terms of writing such as trips on train I just write as much as I can. I will find a use for this later. There’s always space for a spare blog column or more flash fiction stories. Little is wasted in writing. You can either find a home for it or learn from it (and ideally you do both).

BookBrushImage-2022-3-15-20-3319

Many thanks for the kind comments and likes in on my post yesterday about owing my love of reading to my late mother. I treasure the books I’ve inherited from her too! See below for earlier post.

Looking forward to talking to the History Writers group tonight about historical flash fiction and to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Wednesday about random generators.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be a timely one – Journeys In Fiction. So apt since I am travelling up for the Scottish Association of Writers Conference later this week! I plan to post on Friday as normal.

My posts over the weekend will be at differing times but I am looking forward to the conference very much and to reporting back on it in due course. Am also looking forward to catching up with writing friends and making new ones – that is the great joy of a writing event for me.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-14-21-4829

Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday and it is thanks to her I have my love of reading. She taught me to read long before I started school and reading was just such a natural thing at home, it still seems odd to me that there are those who don’t “get” reading for pleasure.

Whether you read the classics, contemporary, the big blockbusters, the flash fiction collections (well, I was bound to mention them now, wasn’t I?!), or are a magazine “fiend,” what matters is reading. From that love of reading came a love of creative writing.

Many thanks, Mum.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-13-19-3727

Many thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on Cherryade, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. I remember my kid sister and I going to the tobacconists at the end of our road, clutching our empty fizz bottles, ready to hand them in for money back. Ironically the fizz bottles came mainly from a wonderful firm called Corona – there are less positive associations with that word now! My favourite flavour was orangeade funnily enough.

The tobacconists also ran a sweet section – the old pick and mix types of sweet jar – so of course guess where my sister and I spent the refunds. Happy days – and I really enjoyed writing this story. Brought back great memories.

Screenshot 2022-03-11 at 09-56-02 Cherryade - What Not To Do by Allison SymesScreenshot 2022-03-10 at 20-01-14 Friday Flash Fiction

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to say the March 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now free to download on Amazon. I write a monthly column here on all aspects of flash fiction writing and I set a challenge too. I talk about random generators this time, something I’ll be talking about again via Zoom to the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group tomorrow. Plus there are a wide range of interesting articles, stunning photos, and much more more so do treat yourself to a FREE read.

Screenshot 2022-03-15 at 20-26-41 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine March 2022 eBook Publishing Goylake Howe Hannah Smith Melanie Fae Sylva Jones Wendy H Macleod Sheena Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

It’s Monday. Not a favourite day of the week for many including me so it is definitely time for a story! Hope you enjoy Alien Concept – am sure many of you will identify with this one.


I love writing across the genres with my flash fiction stories. It continues to be a great joy to write crime flash, historical flash, humorous fantasy flash and so on. I love reading various anthologies (short stories and flash fiction ones) and I love coming across a good mix.

And this is where what I have loved (and continue to love) reading influences what I write. I have to read some crime to be able to write a crime flash piece for example. The wider you read (and do include non-fiction), the bigger the pool you have to fish from for influences and inspiration. If that’s not a good excuse to put your feet up with a good book and a cup of tea/coffee, I really don’t know what is!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-13-19-4137

Am so looking forward to being part of the Scottish Association of Writers conference next week where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. Always keen to spread the word about this wonderful writing format! Have a busy few days coming up in the run-up to that as I’m talking about historical flash on Monday on Zoom and will be talking again about random generators for another Zoom talk on Wednesday. But I do know one thing – it will all be great fun! Flash should be fun too. The challenge of coming up with different characters and seeing what I can do with them is fabulous and keeps me out of mischief well enough!

Goodreads Author Blog – Drawing in The Readers

If there was a simple way to guarantee drawing in the readers, then someone somewhere would be a very wealthy person for selling the secret to that! Speaking with my reader hat on, I am drawn to a book by (a) its cover, (b) its blurb, and (c) if I have already read the author’s work. If it is someone whose work I know and love, then it is pretty much guaranteed I will go for their next one.

Out of the cover and the blurb, I have to say I think the latter is the most important. That has got to get me wanting to read more. Yes, sometimes, a good book cover will catch my eye and I will want to check it out but if the blurb isn’t up to scratch, I’m not biting!

Once I’ve got the book though I want the characters to keep me reading. I have got to want to find out what happens to them and to care about the outcome. I think you can only do that with realistically portrayed characters whose goal you can understand.

I also want my characters to be “worthy” of winning through in the end. I don’t want it just to fall into their lap, so to speak. I want them to contribute significantly to their success, even with the help of others. I think you should also be able to see why the others would help the lead character with their goal rather than just leave them to it.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-15-21-445

Twitter Corner (2)

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Anti-Scammers and the Three C’s


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.
With the awful news going on right now, I think it is more important than ever to appreciate all of the creative arts – and avoid those who would scam you as a result of your trying to follow your dreams here.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-8-20-558

Facebook – General

Many thanks for the wonderful responses to my anti-scammers post yesterday. See below. And do bear in mind there are plenty of sharks who try to lure in the unwary writer too. Never be afraid to check things out and organisations such as The Society of Authors and Alliance of Independent Authors should be your first ports of call for advice. This is also another advantage to joining in with writing groups, whether these are online or in person, because writers share what they learn from one another and that includes warnings about which so-called “services” to avoid etc.

It’s also a good idea to regularly read the writing magazines too as you learn so much from these too and check out websites like Writer Beware! This is an American site but the principles of what they expose for rogue publishers etc applies the world over and you will at least know what to look out for.

It was only when I had been a writer for a while I realised how much there was I didn’t know and needed to know but recognising that and then doing something about it like joining writing groups etc is a good first step into being more savvy about the do’s and don’ts of the writing life. Don’t be conned!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-7-20-1616
I’ll be talking about Imagery In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I look at writers using words to “paint” images with and the importance of book covers. One way or another, imagery comes into fiction a lot, even if it is not always obvious.

Will be giving a talk soon on historical flash fiction soon – looking forward to that and, of course, next week, I’ll be heading off to Scotland once again. I’m at the Scottish Association of Writers Conference from 18th to 20th March and will be running a flash fiction workshop there. Plenty going on then and I will report back from Scotland for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course.

Oh and a word to the wise – I am getting emails in from those who say they have a proposal for me. I bet they have too – how to check my email address is a genuine one and use it for phishing at best. Stay well clear of these things, folks. I delete immediately and then clear my delete folder immediately too. Never click on the links they send you.

Not sure whether this one is targeted at me because I’m a writer or whether it’s a huge mailshot and they only need a few people to respond to make money (and that is what they’re after – your money). Hmm… maybe there’s a flash fiction story or several in which scammers like that get scammed themselves. Something to think about!

Where do my ideas for stories come from? All over the place which I know is not exactly helpful. The point though is to be open enough to recognise something as a potential idea. My ideas come from things I have read, fiction and non-fiction, and from triggers such as the random generators I often use. Also overheard snippets of conversation can be the starting point for a story.

But what matters is recognising what I call the “aha moment” when I come across something and think yes, I could do something with that. And the more you read, the bigger the pool you have to fish in for ideas of your own. We all build on what has gone before.

What we do is bring our unique take to an idea or a theme and make it our own. Prompt books are always useful too. What I find matters is finding a way in to writing a story. And you have to love reading stories to know that you yourself want to write them.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-6-19-3629

Fiction has a variety of purposes as I’m currently exploring in my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today. Escaping from worries via a variety of genres or exploring the human condition or confronting evil head on via what our characters go through is all fine.

What matters is that fiction is truthful. It has to be to have any meaning. And for fiction to be truthful, the characters have to be true to themselves, whether they’re the best hero of all time or the worst villain.
This is why I need to know the major trait for my characters before I write their stories up. I can look at how and why they’ve developed that trait (and this is so often a springboard for further story ideas).

Major traits can tell me so much about the characters in themselves. If my character’s major trait is they like a good laugh, I can look at what has driven that. Is their life sad and they want to escape sadness at any cost so put on a jolly persona to cover that up? Is it their way of being accepted by others and what drives the need for that acceptance?

Also, I can take things another way and show how their good laugh helps another character or causes problems. All sorts of story ideas can come from just knowing my Character A will do almost anything to have a good laugh. And that is just one example of how knowing a major trait can trigger ideas. For me, that’s more important than knowing what the character looks like.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-5-20-1340

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

In any story regardless of its length, there has to be conflict, character, and change – the three C’s! Without a character experiencing conflict, even if it is internal only, there is no story. There should be change. Did the character overcome or succumb to the conflict? Either way that is a change though one is obviously more positive than the other!

One of the lovely things about flash is I can have, as a story, a self-contained moment of change for my character which simply isn’t long enough to even be a short story yet is still insightful.

How your characters react to things tells you so much about them. How you react to the character’s reaction may well shed insights about yourself – fiction can be illuminating like that. Flash does it more intensively than any other form though so be warned!

BookBrushImage-2022-3-8-20-416

You know I’ve written from the viewpoint of a mother dragon before, yes? (See my book trailer for Tripping the Flash Fantastic). Well, I think I’ve upped my game a bit here. See my latest YouTube video and see what you think. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Writing a short story, such as flash fiction, is not easier than writing longer work. Nor is longer work easier than writing shorter items. You need the idea. You need to get that first draft down. You need to edit it. And edit it again. You need to rest it for a while. You look at the story again, spot the errors you missed first go around (and we all do that!), correct those, and once happy submit the piece or save it for a collection. And you do this over and over again because you love the challenge of it.

As I’ve mentioned, I find I can get a first draft down quickly. It is the editing and crafting of the story, even my 100-worders, that takes the time. Rightly so too. I want to get every word right. Where I can find a better choice of word that gives more “oomph” to my writing, I will change to that word. And if I am writing to a specific word count, as I so often am, I then have to check I haven’t gone over that and adjust things where I have.

The one thing I have learned over the years is I’ve got to give myself enough time to follow things through thoroughly enough. But that’s fine. I’m drafting more pieces while resting others so I always have something to work on. No chance of getting bored and I love that too.

BookBrushImage-2022-3-6-19-425

Just to flag up Amazon have an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See link for more.
I like the variety flash offers me. I can write across a number of genres, write my stories as acrostics, all-dialogue pieces, monologues etc., and I can choose my word count up to 1000 words.

My hopes for flash is that it will encourage the reluctant reader to dip their “toes” into the wonderful world of books and encourage people to write their own stories. Creative writing is good for you. And writers read so book sales go up! There’s nothing to dislike about that scenario!

But I hope flash brings characters to life for people. Those brief glimpses of a character’s life, I hope, will intrigue people to want to read longer stories, novellas, novels etc. Characters are the draw for readers. We need to know what is going on in a character’s life. You don’t necessarily need to write an epic to give that fascination to a reader.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

BB - Flash with a Dash for TTFF

Goodreads Author Blog – Realistic Characters

I’ve never been fond of characters who seem too good to be true. I love the characters with flaws and who change for the better. For any fiction, regardless of genre or length, I’ve got to be able to “get” where the character is coming from and why. I don’t necessarily have to agree with them though!

For my own writing, I like to work out my character’s major trait as all sorts of things can come from that. If a character is brave, are they reckless with it? If they like a laugh, what will they do to get that laugh from others? Plenty of story ideas there – and you can explore the idea of when things go wrong too.

So I like characters to resonate with me in some way. While I will always root for the hero/heroine to win, I want to see that the villain does have reasons to behave the way they are. Their objective has got to make sense. There is never any room for the pointless character. I suppose writing flash fiction with its restricted word count of 1000 words maximum has made me more aware of that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Corner (2)

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

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.