Deadlines – How to Make the Most of Them

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Looking forward to my interview with Hannah Kate going out on air on 4th March. Find out below how a technical hitch added useful material to my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Trust me, this does not happen often!

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Screenshot 2023-03-01 at 16-17-49 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf Saturday 4 March 2-4pm - Hannah Kate

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Deadlines – How to Make the Most of Them For Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Am relieved too. There was a technical hitch earlier in the week and I had wondered if I would be able to post at all. Still, do see what use I made of this incident in the post itself. In some ways it was timely! I share my thoughts and tips on deadlines, which are a normal part of the writing life. It is just a question of how we handle these and I hope my tips prove useful. I know I have found them so.

Deadlines – How to Make the Most of Them

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Hope today hasn’t been too hectic. Pleased to have another Zoom workshop booking in for May. These are great fun to prepare and do. Also got my name down for books to go into the Book Room at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August – pays to do that early mainly because it makes sure I don’t forget to do it! So looking forward to seeing everyone at what is my writing highlight of the year.

Technical hitches are a pain, right? Well, for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week, one such thing has helped me prove a point in my text for Deadlines – How to Make the Most of Them! Not something I expected either – find out how when I share the post tomorrow. Also proves material can come to you in unexpected ways. See above.

One thing I discovered early on as a writer was how much I didn’t know about the writing industry and how important it was I rectified that. I did so by joining the Society of Authors. I wanted someone expert in the field to turn to when I needed advice and that so paid off for me. They stopped me signing up with a vanity publisher which would have cost me thousands. I had no idea what vanity publishers were or even that they were out there. I know now.

Time spent in finding out about the writing industry and being prepared to ask questions is never wasted time. I’ve always seen this as steps taken to help me avoid the rogues, find out useful links and connections, and to help me develop my writing.

Never be afraid to ask awkward questions. They can save you a small fortune.

May be a cartoon of text that says "Came across a few of these in the early days of my writing career."

I’ll be talking about Deadlines – How to Make the Most of Them for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I share thoughts and tips and hope people will find it useful. See above. I find deadlines useful, other writers loathe them, but I believe you can use them to help your creativity.

Glad to say the March edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. March sees International Women’s Day on 8th March so this issue of Mom’s celebrates women. You’ll find my flash fiction column on Page 60 and do check out the fabulous stories in based on the theme. This particular topic of Celebrating Women was great for flash non-fiction too and I was glad to see examples of that come in too.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s the end of a busy working week (for many of us). Time for another story of mine from Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy Learning The Trade where my character explains their career choice to a disappointed parent.

Screenshot 2023-03-03 at 09-59-08 Learning The Trade by Allison Symes

As well as taking part in pen Prose Mic Nights when I can (flash is ideal for these, you can’t go on for too long so that pleases the audience too!), I will read a flash piece or two as part of any workshop I run.

Why? Because it is the ideal way to demonstrate what flash can do and be. I mix up the pieces I choose. I like a mixture of funny and those which definitely are not!

Flash is a great vehicle for storytelling moods. I can mix these up along with my characters and what they get up to in my tales, which is something I love doing. I can and do set my characters, and their moods, anywhere I wish.

Flash is liberating like that. It’s only the upper word count you need to watch.

May be an image of sky and text that says "One advantage to flash fiction writing is I can set my characters anywhere. I do too!"

Pleased to share the link to Hannah Kate’s website. I’ll be on her show on Saturday (between 2 and 4 pm) on North Manchester FM. You can get to the Listen Again service via her website though I hope to have a link to share after the weekend. Naturally I’ll be spreading the word about flash fiction again!

When I was first on Hannah’s show back in 2021, I had to pick three books for inclusion in her Library at the End of Days/Apocalypse Books feature. It was hard picking the three books I had to save no matter what but it really made me think about what I picked and why. (I’d still pick the three I have too). Go and have a look at the fabulous collection of books on there. It is impressive!

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 4 March, 2-4pm

 

Fairytales with Bite – The Perfect Ending

Would you say the perfect ending was the traditional happy ever after of the fairytale world? I would say it could also be considered a new beginning. Part of me also wonders what would happen once the “magic” has worn off. Now I appreciate this kind of tale would not be aimed at children but I like alternative renditions where you see “after the happy ending” played out where people have to work things out as we have to do and this time without the intervention of the fairy godmother!

Having said that my first story in print was called A Helping Hand (Bridge House Publishing – Alternative Renditions – 2009) where I do get the fairy godmother sent back to Cinderella’s youngest stepsister because she wasn’t so unkind as the elder one. That was fun to write. I was so thrilled it was published.

So think about what would make a perfect ending for your characters. Is it really all about the magic, the glitz and the glamour, or for when all that has settled down and your characters have to get on with life by themselves?

For me the perfect ending for any story is when the loose ends are tied up. You know what has happened to the characters. The problem/conflict in the story has been resolved satisfactorily (though that doesn’t necessarily have to be happily. Some of your characters are bound not to be happy at how things turned out – the villains especially!).

But it should feel as it not another word could be added or taken away without spoiling the tale in some way, The story should linger with you too. Then you may have the perfect ending!

Alternative Renditions Small

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This World and Others – Resolutions to Conflicts

Conflict is the bedrock of storytelling. A conflict happens. Characters deal with it. There is resolution of some kind. But how does your world handle a conflict which has been imposed on it by outside sources? Is there such as thing as the United Nations? Or are conflicts always “slugged” out and whoever has the biggest army etc wins? (Must admit I find that thought depressing and limiting for storytelling reasons. If there is no hope of any other outcome, where is the story? It becomes a tragedy only at best I think. I prefer stories which have at least some prospect of hope even if it is isn’t actually delivered during the tale).

This is where knowing some of your world’s history helps. If your setting has a series of dreadful conflicts, did that lead to the founding of peace organisations and the like? Who would be behind these? How did they get these set up? There would be stories here since they would be found to face opposition from the “hawks”. That would be another conflict to resolve!

But stories like that can show so much about character, determination to do right by society as a whole etc. You could show how your world has evolved and got better thanks to having these things, despite opposition.

If your setting is facing a threat to its existence, how would it resolve that one? Would it have problems getting people to fight for it or would they be queueing up to do so? How can it deal with the threat? This is where I think a basic outline would help you to work things out.

I’m not talking about a detailed plan but notes on what your character are likely to come up with/be able to do to resolve the conflict. That kind of outline can help avoid “boxing yourself in “ as you try to work out how a character would resolve an issue. You’ve got some ideas from the get-go, even if you end up not using them as you initially jotted them down. I often find better ideas occur to me as I am writing a first draft but I do find notes a useful way to get started.

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Zoom and Writing Formats

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope all is well with you. Hectic week so far (and it’s only Tuesday as I type this!) but this is where getting to my desk to write works wonders. The moment I’m doing something remotely creative I relax – and that is a good thing! Okay the hard work comes in later when I’m editing and polishing and submitting work but the joy of getting a new story or blog post down, even though I know there is work to be done on it, is a great feeling.

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Facebook – General

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting on Zoom tomorrow. I’m talking about Making the Most of a Zoom Workshop for Chandler’s Ford Today this week – let nobody say my timing is off! I do set homework when I run workshops (nothing to be scared off, honest!) – and yes I do it myself as well after the session I’ve led. Makes me draft some more flash pieces too!

Zoom and Powerpoint work well together

Mondays are always hectic for me (as they are for so many of us!) so it is with relief I get to my desk and get on with some writing. It is the kind of day where there isn’t a moment spare but once at my desk, I can focus on something creative and I find that relaxing.

Looking forward to being interviewed at the end of the week by Hannah Kate for her show on North Manchester FM. More details about broadcast nearer the time. (Due in early March but that will be with us before we know it).

On tiring days, I focus on flash writing and drafting blog posts etc. It’s a good use of the time I’ve got available and makes me feel as if I’ve got something useful done. That helps a lot. When I’ve a longer writing slot, that is when I go for the longer pieces and getting collections together etc.

It’s taken me a while to match writing time available to work I can do but I have found I’m more productive for doing this. It’s also more sustainable. I know I’m always going to have busy Mondays so making the best of what I’ve got here writing wise makes a great deal of sense.

Never beat yourself up on what you can’t do but focus on what you can – it is a more positive approach and will make you feel better too.

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Hope you have had a good day. I’ll be looking at Making the Most of a Zoom Workshop for next Friday’s Chandler’s Ford Today post. It’s timely as I’ll be running the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group this week on Zoom on Wednesday! I often use Zoom for family get-togethers too. It has been one of the better things to come out of the pandemic.

Am busily getting my next author newsletter ready. Do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign for tips, news, useful post links, story links etc. I base my newsletter on the kind of thing I know I would want to receive in my own inbox so hope people find it useful and entertaining. That’s the aim anyway!

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It’s my turn once again on the Authors Electric blog. This time I talk about Writing Formats – Diaries and Letters. I’ve used both formats in my flash fiction writing, though have needed towards the upper limit for that to do this. Hope you enjoy the post. They’re interesting forms to tell stories in and have been used as such for a very long time. Will you give them a go?

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Since getting involved with Zoom workshops, I’ve rediscovered the joy of PowerPoint. Ideal for flash fiction presentations I must say. Short text, on a slide – yes, that works. Funny thing is I hadn’t used it in years. Good to be reacquainted with it though and am putting it to good use. I used to record my stories on good old Audacity to hear how dialogue worked etc. I now tend to use Zoom for that as it helps me with timings as well (useful if I’m submitting a piece for potential broadcast etc).

May be an image of 1 person, phone and text that says "Reading work out loud is a simple way to ind out if dialoque works as well as you thought. If you stumble, a reader will τσσ."

It’s Monday. It has been a hectic Monday. It’s still dark out there! (Well, it is where I am as I write this!). Time for a story then. This one was inspired by three images which came up on three story cubes I threw. Someone kindly gave me a set recently and I thought I’d have a go with these. Will definitely use again. Hope you enjoy Bee Happy.

It was fun writing a flash acrostic for yesterday’s post (see below), I sometimes write stories in this format too. Works well for flash fiction as acrostic stories work best when kept to either one word or two shortish ones. (I’ve occasionally written to three words such as a story of mine called Talk The Talk).

As with letter and diary formats, which I talked about for Chandler’s Ford Today, recently, (and for Authors Electric even more recently!), this kind of writing is fun to do every now and again. They all make for excellent writing exercises too as they challenge you to do something a little different. Wouldn’t want to do them all the time as (a) not always suitable for your characters and (b) you could risk it looking gimmicky. But as an occasional thing, they’re great! Why not give them a go?

May be a cartoon of text that says "I've been known to interview my characters to find out what they are capable of. Another good technique would be to write a diary from their viewpoint. What would they want to write down?"

F = Fun to write, the very short form of fiction has plenty of challenges.
L = Learning to select what a reader has to know is one of these challenges.
A = Another is in learning to select the telling detail or two which will save you a lot of description and word count as a result.
S = Still has to be a proper story with a proper beginning, middle, and ending.
H = Have fun with characters in different genres and across the word counts for flash, just don’t go above 1000 words.

May be an image of sky and text that says "Where will your fiction take your readers? This world or somewhere else?"

Goodreads Author Blog – Libraries Acrostic

L = Love your library – they’re wonderful places to explore books.
I = Imagination stretching happens right here as you explore books you might not buy/read otherwise.
B = Books, great and small; books for all.
R = Reading is encouraged and cheered on here.
A = An amazing range of book types can be found in your library – check them out.
R = Read in and out of your genre if you’re a writer; it’s not a bad idea for non-writers either!
I = Inspect sections of the library new to you and don’t forget the wonderful world of non-fiction.
E = Entertainment and education – all to be found here.
S = Support your local authors if they’re having events in the library, many do.

Screenshot 2023-02-18 at 20-27-21 Libraries Acrostic

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