Favourite Characters and Misunderstandings

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Looking forward to giving a talk on flash fiction to Byre Writers later this week. Always good to share the joys of writing and reading flash fiction.

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Hope your Tuesday has gone well. Glad to be swimming this afternoon. Refreshing and it is the only sport I do with any reasonable proficiency. I don’t use the time in the pool to think out stories or articles funnily enough. Again, as with being out and about in the natural world, it is the break away from the desk that helps the most. (Lady still doesn’t understand why she can’t go with me. She would cause chaos – no chance at all of her keeping to the proper lane!).

I’m a bit later at my desk tonight for various reasons (one of those days for a start!) but what matters is getting there at all and making the most of whatever writing time I have. I won’t be writing so much this Thursday for example as I will be back at our local Ritchie Hall watching The Chameleons in their come back production after the pandemic. Will be so good to see them back (and what with singing in church again on Sunday, it does seem some normality has returned).

But whether I have a long writing session or a short one, I aim to have something done by the end of said session I can either develop further when I have more time or I have flash stories ready for editing later.

I’ve learned to appreciate that if I only have ten minutes to write, say, then I will make the most of those ten minutes.

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Hope you have had a great start to the week. Lady did as she got to see and play with her best buddie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Both dogs were so excited to see each other. Always nice to see that!

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is going to be a bit different. I am celebrating the glorious wildflower meadow in our local park where the dogs play. It is a wonderful sight. The funny thing is the natural world in and of itself does not inspire my writing. What it does do is give me a much needed break so I can come back to my stories raring to go. Link up on Friday and I share some great pictures too.

Looking ahead a bit, I am relishing sharing a two part interview with two of the funniest writers I know – #FranHill and #RuthLeigh (and it is so appropriate I use a hashtag for Ruth as the interviews will make clear!). That’s coming in August and I am so looking forward to reviewing The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest production, the first they have been able to put on since the pandemic began. That will go up in the first week of August, just before I head off to catch up with writing pals at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School after a two year gap. It will be so lovely to see people again (and not just their top halves thanks to Zoom!).

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Today has been lovely. I got to sing in church for the first time since March 2020 (and yes, I sang through a mask). It was wonderful. Really enjoyed that. Lovely to meet up with other congregation members, some of whom I haven’t seen since the first lockdown (as not everyone is into Zoom etc).

Had a lovely chat with Swanwick friends last night over Zoom. The next time I speak to one of them will be at Swanwick and that is a fabulous thought. So missed that and my writing chums there last year.

More comments coming in on Missing, my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. Thanks, everyone, the feedback is useful and appreciated.

Am busy getting my latest author newsletter ready to go out on 1st August so if you would like exclusive stories, news, hints and tips etc., do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com.

Busy week ahead. Am looking forward to talking to Byre Writers via Zoom on Saturday morning about flash fiction.

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Hope you have had a good Saturday. Cooler today after last night’s thunderstorm.

Glad to share the link to my latest piece for Mom’s Favorite Reads. I talk about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing this time. I look at patience in characters (or the lack of it) and also at accepting the need it takes time and patience to hone your craft.

For example, I like to have a rough template to work to when writing a story and while that takes time (and patience) to begin with to get it set up so I know where I am going with my tale, I have found it saves me a lot more time later on. I also don’t go off at interesting tangents which are unhelpful to the story I am writing. (I would only have to cut these out later precisely because they don’t help the story along).

I also share my flash fiction story on the theme. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget the magazine is FREE to download from Amazon.

Screenshot 2021-07-10 at 16-53-46 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021 eBook Publishing, Goylake, Howe, Hannah , Smith,[...]Screenshot 2021-07-01 at 20-08-25 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021
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Many thanks for the respond to my latest story video, Misunderstandings, yesterday. See link below. These are great fun to write. I also share exclusive videos on my author newsletter (the next is due out on 1st August), so if you would like to sign up for that, please head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

I like to write a variety of flash fiction lengths as (a) this keeps things interesting for me and (b) the story length has to be right for the character I’m writing. If they need more room to show me their story, that is what they get and that is when I tend to write the 750 to 1000 word flashes. Most of mine come in at between 100 and 600 and that’s fine too.

Time for another Youtube video. My latest story video is called Misunderstandings and looks at what might happen when a slightly absent-minded fairy comes across someone with peculiarly shaped teeth. Hope you enjoy it.

I’m giving another Zoom talk on flash fiction to Byre Writers on Saturday morning and am so looking forward to that. It is always a joy to talk about flash and to share how, despite the word count restriction, it is more flexible than you might think at first.

After all I have written across many genres thanks to it. I go where my characters take me and I can set them any time and any where and I do. It is such fun to do too! After all, thanks to a challenge by Scottish crime writer #WendyHJones, I wrote a story about The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball! I’ve also written stories about a very creepy ghost, a witch who didn’t cheat in her magical exams (disappointing her mother a bit), and historical tales from the viewpoints of Anne Boleyn and Richard III.

And I am loving getting back to the drabble, aka the 100-worder, for#FridayFlashFiction, but I also love writing across the whole spectrum of flash. My natural home is 500 words or under but it is good to experiment and find out what works best for me. Sometimes my characters do need the whole 1000 words and that’s fine too.

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A huge thanks for the response yesterday to my post about titles. Also thanks to those who have commented on Missing, my latest #FridayFlashFiction story. I like open titles such as Missing as it gives me so many possibilities to play with – what or whom is missing? Are they found again? If someone is missing something, do they get it back? All sorts of stories can come out of writing the answers to those questions.

For flash, where sometimes the title is part of your overall word count allowance, it is even more important to come up with a crisp, intriguing title that will draw readers in and keep them with you. Random word generators can be useful for playing with ideas here.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Favourite Characters

Do you have an overall favourite character in fiction? I have too many to count! The characters that stand out the most for me are those who are unpromising at the start of the story and end up being heroes by the end of it. A hobbit is an unlikely adventurer but look what Tolkein did with his characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I am also fond of characters who need redemption and find it. I also like stories where justice is seen to be done and in the right way. (I am not keen on the vengeance type of tale as you just know the character is likely to go too far with it).

I like characters I can understand even if I don’t agree with their attitudes and actions. One of my favourite characters is Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series as there is so much depth to his portrayal which is revealed over the seven novels.

So over to you then. Which are your favourite kinds of character and why?

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Small World Syndrome – Introducing Helen Matthews

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

A huge thank you to Helen Matthews for her author photo and book cover images.

It has not been a bad week and I have another story up on Friday Flash Fiction to share further down.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am very pleased to welcome domestic noir writer, #HelenMatthews, to Chandler’s Ford Today. This is a lovely case of small world syndrome as I met Helen some time ago when we were both at the Hursley Park Book Fair. I wrote a report on that for CFT too.

Helen and I had tables near to each other at the event and got chatting, as you do. We also met again at the Winchester Writing Festival. And recently we have been in touch again thanks to #writingchat on Twitter!

Helen shares some wonderful insights into her writing life in Part 1 of my interview with her. I love talking to other writers as I find people’s writing journeys endlessly fascinating and I always learn something from what others have found out along their way to publication and so on.

No one writer can know it all and it makes a great deal of sense, as well as being wonderful fun, to learn from each other by having a good old chat whether it is face to face or via an interview like this one. I share Part 2 next Friday. Meanwhile enjoy a good read!

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Publication News

Great news as the July edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. I’ve written a piece about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing. See Pages 56-58. And I loved the flash fiction stories that came in as a result of my setting the theme of Patience this time. Well done, everyone. Really enjoying writing for this magazine. (Amongst the other wonderful articles in here, there is a fabulous photo feature on mice – do check it out – it’s lovely!).


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Halfway through the year then! (Did see some sunshine here today – not a lot but there was some – and Lady got to play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, so all is well with her world).

Many thanks for the great responses to Genres, my post on More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot yesterday.

Look out for Part 1 of my interview with #HelenMatthews this coming Friday, 2nd July, on Chandler’s Ford Today. Every writer’s journey is unique which is why I find chatting with authors in interviews like this endlessly fascinating. Looking forward to sharing the link on Friday. See above!

My author newsletter goes out tomorrow, 1st July. If you would like to sign up for it head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com New subscribers to my newsletter always welcome whenever you join!

Looking forward to my delivery of Tripping the Flash Fantastic due in tomorrow. I ordered these through Hive.co.uk and they will have taken just over a week to get to me. Best thing of all? I can nominate an independent bookshop to receive 10% of my order – I’ve nominated P&G Wells in Winchester (who are the booksellers for the Winchester Writing Festival too).

Incidentally, if you order any of the Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown books series via the Bridgetown Cafe online bookshop, you can choose who to go to as a link. I do sometimes use Amazon. I also use Hive.co.uk. I will add the books via Hive took about 9 days to reach me which is fine. I really like being able to give a percentage of my costs to an independent bookshop.

 

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It’s a change of mood this week for me with my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. When Is Wednesday? Is a poignant character study told from the viewpoint of Rosie. Many thanks to all who have already commented on this story.


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Hope you have had a good Thursday. Am pleased to be featured in Mom’s Favorite Reads, naturally talking about flash fiction. Always good to chat about what a wonderful format for writing it is – and it stretches me in so many ways too.

I have to keep coming up with characters (but I love doing that). I have to think of impact on a reader all the time to make the most of the restricted word count so that makes me ensure I show and don’t tell. It also means I have no room for anything irrelevant. I have to find ways of showing you, say, a setting as the character sees it.

A character will not note, for example, the area they live in is poor because they know it is so why get them to say something that is to them self-evident. What you can do is get them to spot that, say, another property in the area has been boarded up and that will imply a great deal. Readers can and will work out the rest.

(With my reading hat on I absolutely love doing that. I don’t want the author to tell me everything. Just leave me the right clues so I can put things together. For me, that is one of the joys of reading).

Halfway through the year already – time for some reflection maybe? Maybe time to readjust plans for the remaining six months of the year maybe? Or will you be ticking things off your list and marching happily on to the next tasks?

Your characters could do those things too. Slice of life stories where characters often do reflect and adjust can work well in flash because you pare things back so all that matters is what matters to the character. Having a restricted word count from the word go makes a useful “frame” for your story.

And if your character is marching on happily, are they right to do so? Do they take others with them in their wake? Is anything or anyone going to get in their way and, if so, how would they overcome it, assuming they do of course?

I love asking what if questions. They are a great way to work out a story structure whether you’re writing to 100 words or 100,000. (Okay, yes you do get to ask and answer a lot more questions in the latter but good what if questions will make you want to find out the answers. That means your readers will want to find out too).

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Fairytales With Bite – Twists in the Tale

Fairytales can come as a shock when you first read them. I wasn’t to know when I first heard Cinderella and was feeling somewhat upset at her ill treatment that things were going to work out more than than okay for the girl! And I’ve mentioned before reading The Little Mermaid as Hans Christen Andersen wrote it unnerved me as being one of the first tales I read where there isn’t a traditionally happy ever after ending. (It’s also a fine example to me of an appropriate ending given what preceded it. You can learn a lot as a writer from reading the classic tales. I did here).

I also loved the fact the girl, Gerda, was the hero in The Snow Queen. I remember thinking the boy she set out to rescue, Kay, was a bit of a wet blanket. But I loved the idea of the girl doing the rescuing rather than just being pretty and having to be rescued.

Fairytales have a habit of turning things on their head.

I know now the way I could not do as a young child when I first came upon these tales that it pays to look out for the “bit part” characters. They are often crucial to the outcome of the story. The wizened old man is probably a wizard in disguise. The downtrodden characters are likely to end up being the hero/heroine. And of course I can use that kind of technique in my own stories but planting early on hints that there might be more to the wizened old man than meets the eye.

A well written story of any kind and word count is capable of being re-read many times and a writer looking for how the tale was put together should be able to pick things up to apply to their own writing. Such as where to place the clue that will lead to the twist at the end of the story.

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This World and Others – What do you like about magical worlds?

I suppose what I like most about magical worlds is spotting the differences between them and this one. (Not just in the use of magic as that’s a given. Often though magic can be symbolic for something else anyway – it can represent power, energy etc and we can compare the power and energy systems we have here with what we’re reading in the stories).

I also like to look at how the characters interact with each other. Is there a class system as we would understand it? Can characters improve themselves and, if so, how can they do this? Does magic help them or get in the way?

And when every character has magical ability, how is that controlled so they don’t end up destroying each other? Even in a magical world, there has to be some sort of control system which prevents that kind of disaster.

I like to see wrongs being put right (which is why I am so fond of the classic fairytales as that generally does happen – less so in real life unfortunately but then that’s why these stories can be a great comfort).

In a magical world, again, I’m interested in seeing how things are put right as it can’t just be by the wave of a magic wand. Where is the story/dramatic interest in that?

At the end of the story, I like to see the magical world and its characters have improved in some way. All stories pivot on a point of change whether magic is involved or not. In these kinds of tales, it is interesting to see if the magic is part of the change or not. Who resists the change? Who welcomes them?

As ever, it is all about character development for me.

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