Adaptations and What I Look For in a Fictional World

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

What do you think about adaptations? Are they good or do they stifle new work coming through?

See my thoughts on that topic in my latest CFT post. I also discuss remakes, share my favourite adaptations and discuss what makes for a good one (and what makes for a bad one!). See what you think and do share your favourite adaptations via the CFT comments box.

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Just enjoyed listening to Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens on Classic FM. This is the theme to my book trailer (so wonderfully produced by Chapeltown Books) for From Light to Dark and Back Again and is fondly remembered for being the theme used for Jonathan Creek. Every time I hear the piece, I smile – I guess it’s a kind of “my song” moment!

Saddened to hear of the death of Andre Previn today. The Morecambe and Wise Greig Piano Concerto sketch with him was comedy genius and my favourite comedy sketch. Previn’s look of frozen horror is just fabulous. I automatically think of this sketch when this concerto is played – as I suspect most people over a certain age do!

I write with classical music on in the background and find it helps me relax and get into the writing mindset. That and a nice drink helps very nicely!

When is a adaptation a good one? I’ll be looking at this later this week with my CFT post. (I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on what makes a bad one!).

I suppose one thing about writing flash fiction is you know they’re never going to be make a film out of your work. The best you can hope for is a series of shorts!! Appropriate somehow I think…

Give some thought as to what your favourite adaptations are and why. Comments will be very welcome over at CFT.

I like to see a good balance between adaptations and new work coming through, whether it is in books, for radio, TV, or what have you. You need the new blood coming through but tried and tested favourites have got to be that way for a reason and shouldn’t be discarded.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I discuss adaptations in my CFT post this week. Short stories are often adapted for the screen (The Birds by Daphne du Maurier is probably the most famous example). Maybe it is a matter of time before a flash fiction piece is adapted – okay it probably will have to be a short but that’s fine!

Ironically, I’ve used moments from film to inspire my flash fiction stories so maybe there can be a two way process going on here.

One of the challenges facing a flash fiction writer is resisting the urge to bring too many characters into the story. Flash fiction works best with one to two characters only (and I love to get my people to refer to others who never actually appear in the tale. The mention is important to the plot but the absent character isn’t actually needed to turn up and “perform”).

The great joy with having a bigger cast of characters is being able to get so many interactions going but that really is best left for the longer short story and, even better, the novel. Flash fiction has to pinpoint and focus sharply. I’ve found it best to focus on one lead character and take things from there. I ask what is important for this character to know, to do, or to say that will bring the story to the right conclusion. Whatever doesn’t fit stays out.

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I have a Dogs calendar on my desk which has an appropriate “Thought for the Day” on it. (Or should that be “bark for the day”?). All coming in at well under the 50-words mark. Flash fiction with bite, anyone?

Given I put up Street Cred about cats the other day, I should redress the balance and put up a story about my favourite pet, dogs.

She collected specimens, whether they wanted it or not. They didn’t get to argue for long. They didn’t have to be alive for a start. Tell them that and she usually got their co-operation.
So why was this one being so belligerent? She couldn’t remember when someone last argued with her. She did know nobody ever got to tell the tale. All she had to do was inform her supervisor there was an awkward one. Everyone back home understood that.
Well nobody was going to make a dent in her track record. She whipped out a light gun and aimed it at the miniscule creature in front of her. It was a stupid looking thing. All fur, floppy ears, and big brown eyes. Goodness knew why the bosses wanted it.and then she found out.
The puppy sat, whimpered, and held up a paw. There was a husk of some sort in there.
She put the gun down, gently removed the husk, and was rewarded with a big lick across her three pink noses.
She scooped the pup up in her elongated pink arms. ‘Sod the bosses. You’re staying with me. Let’s find you something to eat.’
The pup squealed and wagged its tail. She smiled. She’d not had anything nice happen for a long time. She’d focussed on just getting the job done.
There were going to be changes around here.

Allison Symes
27th February 2019

Hope you enjoy! Lady is generally more appreciative of walks and playtimes in the park!

Inquisitive Lady -1

Inquisitive Lady. Image by Allison Symes

Fairytales with Bite – Ideas and How to Find Them

This is by no means an exhaustive list but this includes some sources I’ve found most useful when generating story and article/blog post ideas.

1.  Proverbs and sayings.  What can you come up with, say, to fit the proverb “love is blind”? A book of proverbs is great for dipping into for themes you’d like to try to write to and generally are not that expensive to buy.

2.  Classic fairytales.  Look for the themes behind them.  A common one is that of wrongs being righted (see Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel to name but a few).  How could you use that theme?  And that is just one to play with!  There are others.

3.  Films.  Again look at the theme but also look at the theme of the sub-plots (there will be at least one in any good movie).

4.  Advertising slogans.  Don’t copy word for word but adapt.  (This ties in nicely with my CFT post this week on Adaptations!).  For example, in the UK, there was a slogan from years ago which was “go to work on an egg”, advertising the virtues of eating eggs.  Your theme could be something like “go to work on…” and name a foodstuff of your choice or a vehicle we don’t see on Earth etc.  Let your imagination run riot!

Happy writing!

This World and Others – What Do I Look For in a Fictional World?

This can only be a brief summary but the important points I look for in a fictional world are:-

1.  Characters.  They can have three heads, two noses or what have you, but the important point is I’ve got to be able to root for the characters, whether it is to cheer them on to success or hope they come crashing down.  There has to be something about them I love or loathe but makes me want to read on to find out what happens to them.

2.  A sense of how the world is governed.  I don’t need all the details, they’ll get in the way of the story, but I need to know that your characters know the rules of their world and how these affect them as the story progresses.  For example, in a world where there is no oxygen, what do your characters breathe instead?  DO they breathe (or are they water dwellers)?

3.  The details given are relevant to the story.  Enough said I think!

4.  A sense of what it would be like to live in that world.  I don’t necessarily have to want  to live there.  I may be very glad I don’t in fact but this sense of what it would be like is enough for me to create my own mental images of what your fictional world might look like.  That in turn helps me engage with that world and the characters you’ve put in it.

5.  A sense that it could exist somewhere out in the universes.  No matter how unlikely, the possibility should be there!  This means that there has to be a sense of a world that can sustain itself, possibly trades with other worlds and so on.

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Carols, Stories and Comedy

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Really enjoyed the Carols and Lessons at Romsey URC on Sunday though am so glad I was nowhere near the candles! Lovely though they were, I must admit I’m not much of a fan of candles. The practical side of me keeps thinking “fire hazard”.

(On the other hand, I DO love four candles… Two Ronnies anyone?).

The church looked lovely, I enjoyed the Christmas story as ever and there were some thoughtful poems too. Had a good old sing too. Good for the lungs and the soul!

Over the next week or so, I’ll probably watch A Christmas Carol. (My favourite version is the Muppet one with Michael Caine. I love Marley and Marley with the two old hecklers).

Then I must try and watch Hogfather but I must admit I don’t think you can beat Dickens for a corker of a Christmas story. Indeed how many writers can say they add to the Christmas traditions? (I’m thinking Christina Rossetti for In the Bleak Midwinter and Clement Clark Moore for The Night Before Christmas but it is Dickens I think of first when it comes to festive tales).

Facebook – General – Stories

Which type of stories grip you the most? The twist in the tale or the “slow burn” story where it takes a while for the tale to “get going”? I love both. The slow burn story often resonates with me for a long time after initially reading it. I would count many of my character studies as being slow burn type tales.

I like a story to have a good pace (and for it to be appropriate to the tale). I like a good ending (i.e. one that’s suitable for the type of story. I love story endings that surprise me even better as I enjoy guessing how the story will finish long before I get to that point. I like being right but all kudos to any writer who can outfox me.). I look to be totally immersed in the world of that story for the duration of it.

Character types that particularly appeal to me are those that overcome adversity (especially if they are not expected to). I like brave characters, even if their bravery is limited to a domestic environment. Which type of characters appeal to you the most?



Facebook – General – Story Formats

Following on from my recent post about what stories grip you, what story format do you prefer? I must admit nothing, to my mind, will ever beat the paperback but I love the Kindle (especially when going on holiday. It makes packing books a doddle!).

I’m also very fond of audiobooks, as are other members of my family who wouldn’t wade through a “proper” book. (Given the size of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to name one example. I can understand this. Don’t agree with it but do understand it!).

Facebook – General – Classic Comedy

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will take a look back at my writing year. I’ll also be sharing some Cafelit stories of mine too. Well, you have to have stories at Christmas, don’t you? More on Friday.

Have been doing plenty of carol singing the last couple of days in church and whenever Classic FM puts some on. The latter has meant Lady has been a bit bemused. (She has almost certainly put it down as one of those strange things her human does – and quite right too!). I do like a good sing.

Am enjoying reading the joint biography of Morecambe and Wise on Kindle at the moment. It’s bringing back many happy memories and I still love Eric and Ernie. Happily, this means I can link back to classical music again. Anyone for Grieg’s Piano Concerto by Grieg as played by Eric Morecambe?


Classic music can make a classic film

Classical music is wonderful.  Combine it with classic comedy and it’s even better.  Image via Pixabay.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Knew the others would just sneer
At his odd nasal arrangement
Their teasing was just torment
What he wouldn’t give for a beer!

Copyright:  Allison Symes – December 2017

Okay, the Poet Laureate’s joke is safe but I am partial to the odd limerick. Some of mine are very odd!

Am editing what I hope will be book 2. Hope enjoying re-reading what I wrote some months ago now is a good sign. Below is a link to a recent story of mine on Cafelit. For some reason, there seems to be a Christmas theme!

Facebook From Light to Dark and Back Again – Talking Flash!

Flash fiction has to condense all that you look for in a standard short story into a much tighter word count, yet still be entertaining/gripping etc. Learning to write for flash fiction has improved my editing skills a lot for I know now what my wasted, often repetitive, words are (so those can be cut immediately).

Stories often shed light on what it is to be human. With flash, it is a case of shedding a powerful spotlight! Dare you be caught in its beam?!


Flash fiction for impact. Image via Pixabay


Flash – for light or dark fiction! Image via Pixabay

Not all of my flash fiction ends up at the 100-word mark. I find that my next category tends to fall anywhere between 150 and 500 words and these are often my character studies, where I need just that little bit more room to “show the characters off”.

The most important thing is that the story is the correct length for what you want to convey in that tale. Some of my tales simply wouldn’t work if I tried to compress them to 100 words. Simple answer – don’t compress them! When editing I look at the story first, has it said all I wanted it to say? Then I look to see if can do that in fewer words. Often I can, sometimes I can’t, but I have learned not to worry about that!















Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.

Round-up and Rejections

Allison Symes’s books on Goodreads

From Light to Dark and Back Again
From Light to Dark and Back Again

reviews: 4

ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)


Alternative Renditions: Some Other Sides Of Well  Known Fairy Stories
Alternative Renditions: Some Other Sides Of Well Known Fairy Stories

Facebook – General and More Than Writers (ACW) Blog

I write monthly on the Association of ChristianWriters’ blog More Than Writers.  I also give a quick round-up of recent happenings, including good news on the dog ownership front.

My latest More than Writers post (Association of Christian Writers blog) is about God’s timing for our lives. This is the only piece to date inspired by the perfect (comedic) timing of Morecambe and Wise! (In particular, their Andre Preview sketch, my favourite comic piece. The Two Ronnies Four Candles comes in at second spot for me).

Glad to say the Book Fair in Chandler’s Ford went well.

Went to see local theatre group, The Chameleons, perform a murder mystery spoof called Murdered to Death. (Writer: Peter Gordon). Hope to review this in due course but it was very funny.

Met our soon-to-be adopted dog, Lady, again today. Lovely dog. This year has been a sad year personally, a great year professionally, but it is nice to have some good news. Hope is to have Lady well settled in long before Christmas.  Like my previous dogs, Gracie and Mabel, Lady is a rescue, a down on her luck collie.  With love, good exercise, a sense of security, Lady should blossom and thrive as her predecessors did.  I’ve found I have to have a routine of some sort to get any writing done.  A routine benefits dogs too.  It can give a sense of security (really useful especially when you are settling in a rescue dog).

Part of my Book Fair stand (from behind the table!).

Part of my Book Fair stand (from behind the table!).  Image by Allison Symes

Another view of Book Fair stand.jpg

Getting set up ready for the Book Fair.  Image by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is the best way of handling rejections?

I’ve found accepting it is never personal helps a lot. Also, it can be consoling to know that sometimes the work is fine, but there are other reasons for the rejection. For example, the publication has had something similar which it has already accepted, which will inevitably mean yours gets turned down, Nothing to stop you from submitting that piece to another suitable publication though.

Another thing that has helped me is knowing now (which I didn’t when starting out) that all writers go through this., It really isn’t just you as the individual writer! But over time, as you learn to improve what you do, the rejections slowly turn into more and more acceptances.

I’ve lost count (long ago) of how many pieces I’ve had turned down but some of them I’ve reworked later and then had them published. I nearly always opt for feedback where a competition offers it (unless the fee is prohibitive, though I have only known this happen once or twice as most fees are set at reasonable rates). All feedback I’ve had to date has shown me something useful that, on reading it, I think “why didn’t I think of that before submitting this?” but this is where you do need a second pair of eyes to look at what you’ve written.

The best advice for any writer - image via Pixabay

Sound advice always.  Image via Pixabay

Never give up, work hard, be disciplined... all valuable traits for success, whether you're a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.

Never give up, work hard, be disciplined… all valuable traits for success, whether you’re a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.