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 have had a good weekend. Lovely family do. We all had a fantastic time and Lady was spoiled rotten so she had a great time too. Looking forward to a short break next week (am still hoping to post but will have to play things by ear here. A lot will depend on my internet connection!).
Facebook – General
When I’m thinking of potential story ideas, I ask immediately what kind of character would “serve” that potential tale well. I then look at what makes the character stand out for me in this role (because if they stand out for me, they’ll stand out for a reader too). This is why knowing what makes my character tick is so important for me. It helps me to get into their head, work out how they would think and speak and so on.
I also know what are the kinds of things my character would not say. Funnily enough that can be useful because I might get them to start saying it if they are under so much stress they come out with something they usually wouldn’t. Readers would identify with that given this is something most of us would do. But the stress has to come out of the character’s situation. It should be the kind of thing that would stress us out too.
Hope the week has got off to a good start for you. Not bad here – recovering a from family do at the weekend. Much fun had by all.
I’m looking at Breaks for Chandler’s Ford Today this coming Friday. Aptly since I’ll be heading off for an autumn break with my other half soon. I will also look at breaks for characters in fiction and ask whether there is any such thing as a lucky break for writers. Link up on Friday.
Later this month, I’ll be interviewing the fantastically funny #Ruth Leigh and if you have read her Isabella M Smugge books, you’ll know why using a hashtag is so appropriate. If you haven’t, go on, what are you waiting for? Looking forward to sharing more on that interview nearer the time.
Pleased to say the October issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out and, as ever, it is free to download. I talk about Character Profiles in Flash Fiction this time and share how I use random generators to create such things.
The random question one is especially useful here and my flash fiction challenge this time was to have a character answer a randomly generated question (which was about wishes). I also invited people to generate a random name for their character if they wanted to and I did so with my own tale for this piece.
Hope you enjoy and do check out the whole magazine. It is a fabulous read. I have two links for you this time. One takes you to Issu and the other takes you to Amazon.
Hope you have had a good day. A bit later than usual with my posts tonight given I’ve had a family “do” today. It was lovely to see everyone, the weather held (and I am grateful to God for that – tomorrow’s forecast is grim and timings are not in my hands!), and Lady has a fabulous time with Lily, another family dog. Both dogs got spoiled rotten too so they have had an excellent afternoon!
Managed to get my author newsletter out this morning ahead of “kick off” so pleased about that. It was also lovely to catch up with my lovely editor at Chandler’s Ford Today and her other half at today’s do and am looking forward to joining them for the next Chameleon Theatre Group play later this month.
Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Coming Home, my new tale on Friday Flash Fiction. In case you missed it, please see the link below.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
How much do you need to know about characters before you start writing a flash tale? I need to know major trait. I can then look at the virtues (and otherwise) from that trait. There is always a flip side! Often story ideas begin to emerge just from doing that.
When I have a twist ending or a humorous punchline “good to go”, I then work out the kind of character who could deliver that twist or punchline. A sombre character is highly unlikely to come out with a laugh out loud line. A Jack the Lad type of character is unlikely to come out with something which stuns people with its philosophical genius.
Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule but you would probably need a longer length of story to establish why these characters are the exceptions. Flash relies on “shortcuts” so if you have got a Jack the Lad character, readers will have a good idea of what to expect from them without you having to spell it all out. Does that mean the character has to be a cliche? Far from it!
Your Jack the Lad character will bring something unique to them to your story. It’s why you’re writing about this character. There still has to be something special about them. Readers will pick up on this and understand why you have to write their tale up rather than than that of another character.
It’s Monday. It’s getting dark. It’s getting cold. And it is still Monday. Time for a story then.
Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – All In The Timing. It so often is too!
I often read out some flash tales when giving a workshop as it is the single best way I think to demonstrate what flash fiction is and can do in ways of impact on a reader. (I know it has helped increase book sales at signing events!).
This is added reason to keep your story moving and to cut out the old purple prose. You want something that is easy to read, conveys a lot of information quickly, and is a joy for the listener to listen to and it should give you joy to read out too!
I practice reading through ahead of an event but I also do so when I think I’ve got a story, not yet published (note the optimistic use of the word yet there!), which I think would make a good one to read out. Best way I know of picking up on phrases which are a little clunky or where dialogue doesn’t quite so flow as well as I thought it did. Still, that is what the editing pen is for.
Wow, doesn’t the year just speed by? Could be said to go in a flash!
I’ve sometimes used dates in my flash tales (see Losing Myself In Tripping the Flash Fantastic) and used a time period as a framework for my story. In this case I used a diary format but only covered so many entries for a certain period of time as that was where the action of the story took place. It was up to the upper end of the flash limit.
It was fun to do but I did have to select the amount of time I was going to use here. I did this by using selected entries over a time span of two years. Each entry followed on from each other and I left a lot to inference but that is one of the great strengths of flash. You can leave your readers to work things out and I know I love this when other writers do this for me (especially in crime fiction. I do want to have a crack at trying to work out who the murderer is).
It also made huge sense for there to be gaps in the diary entries given what my characters are revealing here but this was all carefully planned out.
So time can be a useful element in a story then but, as with life itself I guess, we have to decide how we’re going to use it best.
Goodreads Author Blog – Identifying with Characters
Do you identify with characters? I always have had a soft spot for Hans Christen Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling (and have always loathed bullying of any kind so that feeds in to my sympathy for the character here).
I also like justice to be seen to be done so I am always rooting for the detective in crime fiction unless they are the baddie.
What you value will feed into the kind of characters you root for and I have an especial soft spot for the underdog. I’m on the lookout for seemingly undervalued characters in a story because I am watching for them to turn out to have a major role to play in that story later on – and most of the time I’d be right to do so.
The characters I dislike the most are ones almost inevitably where I don’t share their values (and most of the time rightly so there too!). I’ve still got to be able to understand why they take the view they do though I don’t have to agree with it. That helps me create my own characters – the ones I like and love – and yes I have created characters I really can’t stand! The challenge there is to get into their heads sufficiently well enough to see why they are the way they are.
liked Allison Symes's blog post: Identifying with Characters https://t.co/2mxKOGMyPO via @goodreads I look at why I identify with certain characters and what I do when I'm writing my own characters that I really can't stand. It happens but they still have stories to tell! pic.twitter.com/MfGXNJcRtO— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 1, 2022
The October Mom’s Favorite Reads is out and free to download. I talk about Character Profiles in Flash Fiction and share how I use random generators to create them. The random question one is SO useful here.https://t.co/AOz2e1BTLf— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 2, 2022
It’s Monday. It’s getting dark. It’s getting cold. And it is still Monday. Time for a story then.— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 3, 2022
Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – All In The Timing. It so often is too!https://t.co/eTUVK9Lkyg