Acrostics, Blogging, and Character Studies

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Recovered from Storms Dudley, Eunice, and Franklyn. Don’t like the way we’re getting through the alphabet so quickly for storms! Hope all is well with you. One lovely thing about writing is you generally stay in the warm and dry to do it – have really appreciated that these last few days!


Facebook – General

Busy day again today though Lady had a lovely surprise when her best buddie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, came to to play. It is quite something seeing the pair of them have the “zoomies”. You stand well back and enjoy the show basically!

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. I’ll be talking about Geography in Fiction. It may not have a starring role in many stories but it does play a crucial role and can inspire story ideas. For one thing your characters do have to live somewhere!

And I don’t know about you but I like to have a picture in my mind of the setting in any story I read. It helps make the story more real to me, a kind of if this place existed for real it would be exactly like this.

And, as with so much else in flash fiction, you can imply setting simply by who your character is or by what it is they call their day job. After all, magical characters have to have a magical environment to come from, even if they don’t stay there.


Hope you have had a good Monday. Very hectic here – and still gusty out there. Hope things are settling down where you are.

I’ve used the topic of the moon for my Friday Flash Fiction story this week and for my YouTube video which I’ll share over on my book page shortly. See link further down. Good fun to do and I’ve always liked the idea of getting more than one story out of a basic premise and taking those two tales in very different directions. Outside prompts for writing are useful, whether you get them from random generators, books of prompts and so on.

Talking of the latter, I will draw your attention to Prompts 2020, Prompts 2021 and Prompts 2022. Is it me or is there a theme developing there?! Anyway, the books were compiled by #GillJames and many of the Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books stable contributed to them, including yours truly.

I’ve used some of the prompts myself for CafeLit submissions and I do think prompts encourage you to “up your game” writing wise. I love the challenge of responding to the challenge with something that works and fulfils the criteria.

Let’s stretch those creative writing muscles then!

Screenshot 2022-02-21 at 19-41-28 Amazon co uk Prompts by Gill James

Not a great weekend weather wise – keep safe. (My crocuses were just beginning to make an appearance – I fear they’ve probably been battered!).

In more positive news, I have submitted two stories today and have already heard one of them will be appearing on CafeLit next Sunday. Looking forward to sharing the link then. Members of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group who were at our Zoom meeting last Wednesday will remember the lovely #AnnmarieMiles set a ten minutes free writing exercise based on a name I came up with thanks to a random name generator.

It is the story I drafted for this exercise which will be appearing on CafeLit so am pleased about that. More later in the week. I’m not likely to hear about the other story for a while (and that is more usual I have to say for story submissions).


Hope you have had a good day. Things settling down here in Hampshire after Storm Eunice yesterday. Tree debris all over the place, a few fence panels down etc – got off lightly I would say and am grateful.

Writing wise, I’ll be looking at Geography in Fiction for my post for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. Hope by the end of the weekend to submit a couple of stories and catch up with some blogging I need to get on with (though I do have a good deadline on all of these. Where possible, once I’ve posted a blog somewhere, I am writing the next one for the same site, but it isn’t always possible to do that. So then as soon as I can I have a major blogging session where I play catch up. Those “spare” blogs come in very useful during particularly busy times. It is always worth having something spare in the “bank” whether it is a blog post or a story you can edit and submit).

If anyone knows of a way to stretch writing time, I’d be glad to hear it though! (Oh and while I don’t use any of the “switch off social media sites for so long” apps, I do just ignore social media until I’ve got my writing done).


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash can be a nice vehicle for short character studies. My piece, due on CafeLit on Sunday, is of this ilk and it was great fun to write. But of course for this kind of thing you need a strong character voice. I have to get to know my character a bit. When I was drafting this tale, I knew that I wanted my character to have hidden depths to them and they were not all they appeared to be. Knowing that was enough to get me started and away I went!

So when thinking of this kind of story, consider why you want to write about your character. What is special about them that readers have to know? What tale does the character have to share with us? It doesn’t have to be overly dramatic but something has to stand out about your character it is obvious to the reader why you absolutely had to write their story down.


Many thanks for the response to my Storm acrostic flash piece yesterday. And it’s story time again now with my latest YouTube video called Decision by Moonlight. Hope you enjoy it.

I was chatting about acrostic flash fiction yesterday so I thought I’d share one for this post. Hope you enjoy it.


S = Shocking weather, isn’t it, and such a lot of it too!
T= Terrible winds and torrential rain; I’ve given up on my umbrella.
O = Orange with black dots on it; yes, the one you called an eyesore.
R = Romance isn’t dead but you have put it on the critical list; you know I loved that brolly from my old Nan.
M = Money’s not the problem; I don’t want a new boring brolly from you, but I will say I didn’t fancy becoming the next Mary Poppins!
Allison Symes – 20th February 2022

I was chatting about acrostic flash fiction as part of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting the other night. They are fun to do but I have found the following tips useful.

1. Pick one reasonable length word OR a couple of small ones. I’ve used words like Guarantee and phrases like Talk The Talk.

2. Keep the story short – acrostics work best this way, especially as they are meant to be visualised. You want your chosen word to be fully visible to readers no matter what device they’re using to read your tale.

3. Once you’ve picked the word or mini phrase you want to use, give yourself plenty of time to work out ideas to come from them. Think about the character who will “serve” the acrostic story.

For Guarantee, my first thought was of a salesman trying to make a difficult sale to an awkward customer and of course one thing a salesman like that would offer would be a “cast iron” guarantee. (Of course whether it is or not is another matter!).

It will save you time in the long run if you work out different possibilities first and then go with the one you like best. It also means some prep work here means you have got a logical way to make your story work from the start.

4. Where possible, I have one sentence following the starting letter of the acrostic. Where not possible, I link with semi-colons, dashes, or whatever is the most appropriate piece of punctuation to use. It can vary. Where even that is not possible, I write two short sentences per line then hit return and go with the next letter of the acrostic but I do keep my tales to one line = one letter of the acrostic as much as possible.


Goodreads Author Blog – Why Stories Matter

The problem with a post like this one is keeping it short! Where do you start on this one?

Well, stories matter for me because I can escape into other worlds for a little while. I’ve always loved that aspect. I also love following what the characters do and say and figuring out whether or not I would do and say as they have in the books and stories I read.

Stories can take me to places I cannot get to physically either because right now I can’t commit to the length of time to say, going to New Zealand would take (and that is on my list of things to do) or because they’re invented worlds and unless someone invents a portal which takes you to fictional places, I’m not getting to go there! Mind you, it could be argued the book is the portal here!

Stories can convey important truths without preaching and I find the theme of a story is far easier to remember. And I love the way stories come in different formats – books, film, audio etc. There is something to suit everyone here. Stories can pass down tradition and build communities and show you truths about yourself/the human condition.

Last but definitely not least, they are entertaining.

Let’s hear it for the stories!


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Best Friends in Fiction

Image Credits:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Image of Lady and myself taken by my other half, Adrian Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good week. This week has ended well as a still poorly Lady is now a lot, lot better and back playing with her pals in the park again.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Best Friends in Fiction, my latest blog for Chandler’s Ford Today. I take a look at the role of the best friend/sidekick character and nominate the one I think is the best fictional friend of all time. Take a look at the post and see if you agree with me. Nominations for your own candidate would be very welcome in the CFT comments box!

I also discuss why some stories simply wouldn’t work without the best friend character (and I am sure you can think of loads of examples. To name only one could you really imagine Wooster without Jeeves? I know I can’t. And while I know Jeeves is Wooster’s “gentleman’s personal gentleman” there is no question that the advice and help he gives Bertie is the kind of advice the very best kind of best friend character would give.)

Hope you enjoy the post.

Best Friends in Fiction

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Had a lovely time at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom last night. We were chatting about writing prompts and random generators amongst other things, both of which I love and use a lot. I like to mix up the kinds of prompt I use as that keeps me on my toes.

And if you are looking for ideas for prompts, I will flag up Prompts 2020, Prompts 2021, and Prompts 2022, all of which were produced by Gill James and with contributions from many Bridge House Publishing authors including yours truly. The link takes you to the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop page. But having a book of prompts to hand is a good idea as is using the different kinds of random generators. It all helps inspire the imagination.


Hope you have had a good day. Lovely highlight for me today was having a long overdue catch-up chat over a cup of tea with my editor at Chandler’s Ford Today, Janet Williams. (As ever, Lady thought any visitor has to be for her. It is difficult to convince a dog otherwise).

I’ll be talking about Best Friends in Fiction for CFT on Friday. So much wonderful fiction relies on the best friend/sidekick character and, as well as looking at what the best friend’s role is for, I nominate whom I think is the best ever friend in fiction in my post. Looking forward to sharing that. See link above.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of the standard working week (at least here in the UK) and it’s story time again. Am pleased to share Someone Like Her, my latest piece on Friday Flash Fiction. This story is a little unusual for me in that it is the first time where I have deliberately repeated a whole line. It is appropriate to do so for the tale and I think gives the piece a good rhythm.

Normally I would consider a repetition like that a waste of words, especially in such a tight word count. I would normally seek to say something similar in a different way if I needed some repetition for emphasis, say. But here I think the repetition works well. Comments always welcome here and on the Friday Flash Fiction page under my story.

Screenshot 2022-01-21 at 19-08-10 Someone Like Her, by Allison Symes

One huge benefit to flash fiction writing is, if you are pushed for time (and how many of us are not at times?), you still have a form of writing where you could produce something in ten minutes, say. Okay it will need editing later but all forms of writing need that so that’s fine.

I must admit I find it satisfying to produce a piece and not have to wait too long for a pay-off from it (and even when that pay-off is a turn down, I can edit the piece again and re-submit it somewhere). I’ve found it useful to save small pockets of time to draft future stories.

When I have more time, I can come back to those and polish them up, ready to submit somewhere. But it is so nice knowing I can use those pockets of time for something useful (and which helps me make the most of those longer writing sessions later on).


What do I want a flash fiction story to achieve? Well, a lot depends on the story’s mood of course but whether I am trying to make a reader laugh, cry, or scream, it is all about the impact. My characters must make my readers care about what happens to them. There has to be impact. I want a reader to enjoy my flash pieces and feel that not a word could be added or taken away.


Fairytales With Bite – Three Is Magical

The number three crops up in fairytales often. Three wishes. The youngest son (out of three) is the one to do well. And then there are the titles – The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, etc. In any story where something happens, then that same or very similar something happens again, I am expecting the something to be resolved on the third “go”. The Rule of Three is something we take in all the time while being usually unaware of it.

And there are good reasons for this. The first “occasion” sets up a situation, the second one repeats it where the character clearly hasn’t learned the lesson they’re supposed to have learned, but on the third time they have changed what needs to be changed so the situation is resolved, usually happily. The structure works.

A fourth “go” and the story would seem to drag on for too long. Resolving the situation in two “goes” would not seem realistic either given characters (and us!) need time to realise they’ve got something wrong, work out how to put something right, try something, it still doesn’t quite work out, but on the third attempt they’re there.

So three is a magical figure for fiction telling then. With fairytales, you can always arrange for your character to have three magical objects (naturally the last of these will be the most powerful). What matters here is how your character uses these things. Do they use the first one wastefully or greedily? Does this backfire so they are less greedy or wasteful when it comes to using the second object but are still not quite using magic honourably?

By the time they’re ready to use the third, have they stopped being greedy or wasteful and use the last object in a sensible way? Scene – action – reaction. Scene – action – reaction. Scene – positive action – positive resolution.


This World and Others – Who Tells The Stories?

What form(s) do stories take in your created world? Is there a written/printed story tradition or is it oral only? Is technology used for storytelling or are there bards and the like telling stories the old-fashioned way? Are stories valued and accessible to all?

Or does your world prefer facts only and the stories told are those of past battles won etc? (It can be an interesting reflection on a place where it celebrates its victories but ignores its defeats. For that sort of world, I would expect there to be oppression, no freedom of the press etc).

Who tells the stories is an interesting question in another way. Who tells the storytellers what they can say? Does the narrative ever change? Does the narrative get challenged? And what would happen if your created world was made up to face up to the fact that one of their so-called great victories was actually a defeat and there has been an almighty cover-up?

Are there libraries and who can access these? If books are banned in your creation, which ones and why? Also is there a black market for the banned books (there often is for this kind of thing)?

Whose voices are represented by the stories being told? Whose stories are ignored or treated with contempt?

Answering questions like these will help give you a clearer picture of what your world is and its attitudes. It should then show you your characters’ reactions to those attitudes. Do they just accept it as it has always been that way or do they seek to change it?



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