Making the Most of a Zoom Workshop

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. Mine has been very busy but am looking forward to being interviewed over the weekend via Skype. That will be fun. More to come on the results of that next week I hope.


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s Friday once again and time for my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I’m looking at Making the Most of a Zoom Workshop. I discuss the importance of preparation, rehearsing your material, and focus. I also look at mixing up your material (in terms of having text, pictures, other items so it is not one huge block of text if you’re using things like PowerPoint). Hope you find the post useful.

Making the Most of a Zoom Workshop

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I’ll be talking about Making the Most of a Zoom Workshop for Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. Link up then. See above.

Do I find it useful having a day of the week to stick to for my posts here? Oh yes. I can plan my writing week around it, which is useful. It also helps with my focus as I get my CFT post done and then work everything else around that.

Lovely to see everyone at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Zoom last night. We were talking about the long and the short with regard to flash fiction. Lovely time had by all.

And the other lovely thing about Zoom? It’s a great word to get out in Scrabble if you can! I’ve only managed it once!

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Hope you’ve had a good day. Now I’ve mentioned before I like to know my characters well enough to write their stories up. What matters here is working out what you need to know. This will vary from writer to writer. Some will need to know what a character looks like. I don’t.

I do need to know their traits (and from that I will often work out physical description though I must admit for a lot of my tales this aspect doesn’t matter much at all, I focus on attitude and action). I often ask my characters a few pertinent questions. You could also name some of the things they like/dislike and work out why they feel this way about these things. That is a great way to often get to the bottom of what makes someone tick.

May be an image of text that says "9.. Understanding what makes US tick is crucial for understanding what makes your characters tick."

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s great to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my tale Buzzing Around. This one has a sting in its tale, aptly.
Screenshot 2023-02-24 at 09-24-27 Buzzing Around by Allison Symes

When it comes to competitions (flash and short story ones), I like the open theme ones but my preference is for a set theme. Why? I find a set theme gets my brain whirring as to the different possibilities I could do with that theme. I also like to rise to the challenge of writing to that theme. What I do like the set theme to be is open to interpretation though.

I’ve just set a theme for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group (and before you ask it is Things You Miss – have fun with this, I intend to!). I like a theme which I could take in different directions and yet still meet its requirements. The challenge there is to come up with something which stands out (which is why it is a good idea to write down ideas, at least six of them, before you pick one to write up. It will be the ones which are further down on your list which are likely to be unique).

May be an image of text that says "Jot down ideas based on a theme. Jot down several and discount the first two or three. Those will be the 'obvious" ideas."
I write my story first and then worry about the word count as a general rule. When I know I’m writing to a specific count for a specific market, I will often write my closing line first and then work backwards to get to the start. I also know now roughly what 100 words is going to look like on page or screen so I then focus on what I really have to get across to my reader for this tale.

May be an image of outdoors and text that says "Storytelling shows us so much about ourselves good and bad. It is also so therapeutic."

Fairytales with Bite – Calendars

I know I’d be lost without my calendar/diary. But do your characters take the same view? Does your fairy godmother book in her clients or does she turn up “on the fly”, so to speak? (I’m certain she did the latter for Cinderella – that poor kid had suffered for years before said fairy godmother deigned to turn up).

If your characters do plan their appointments, do they do this on the basis of magical urgency? I’ve often wondered what Cinder’s fairy godmother was getting up to before she did arrive – I suspect there are stories there!

How does your magical setting base its calendar – on a system similar to our own? If not, how do they organise their time structures – do they have days, weeks, months etc?

Also, can anyone book an appointment with a magical being in your setting? Or can only certain people qualify and what would be the criteria here?


This World and Others – Special Appointments

Special appointments could be a great honour. Equally they could be a sign your character is in real trouble. Who would make the special appointments and why? If you’re about to be summoned to see your world’s most powerful magical being, this may not be good news. Who could be on the receiving end of that and how have they ended up here? Could be comic potential here too.

But even the most powerful magical being will have a weakness somewhere – could they end up having a “special appointment” with someone who knows what this is and can exploit it?

Now here in the UK manufacturers can have a “By Royal Appointment” status otherwise known as the Royal Warrant. In your fictional world, is there an equivalent to that?

What special appointments would your characters welcome and which would they dread? Working that out can show you great insights as to what your characters are made of and where that comes from. All useful for characterisation.


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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.


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.


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 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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