What is a Good Fairytale?

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A quick reminder about the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair is my topic for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Hope to see some of you there. Everyone taking part is hoping this will become a regular event especially since there are no bookshops in Chandler’s Ford now.

We’d all be glad to see fellow writers too and can give information about local writing festivals and creative writing classes too – so do come and ask! There will be signings and special offers too.

Why are events like this important? Well, they give local writers both a voice and another outlet, which helps us all.

Events like this show the community there IS a strong creative writing element within it. (At the earlier Hiltingbury Extravaganza, there had been some surprise expressed at the range of writers and genres respresented there. There will be many more at the Book Fair tomorrow!).

We also hope the Fair will promote the love of books and reading in general.


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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Reading your work out loud is useful for helping you to pick up where your sentence construction is perhaps not as smooth and free-flowing as you thought it was (especially for dialogue). It is one of those oddities that something which looks fine written down is not necessarily easy to read out loud.

It is also useful for picking up the rhythm within your story and I’ve found it handy for detecting hidden undercurrents of mood in my flash fiction. It is another oddity that the writer doesn’t always pick up on these immediately! (That in turn helps me when I read the finished work out publicly. It helps me “pitch” it correctly).

I hope to read a couple of my stories at the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair tomorrow. If anyone has questions about flash fiction, please do come over and have a chat.


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Goodreads – Book Review

I share here my review of friend and fellow writer, Jennifer C Wilson’s excellent novella, The Last Plantagenet?  Novellas aren’t as common as they once were but they work brilliantly for those stories not long enough to make it to full novel status or are far too long for a short story.  I’d like to see more of these.


The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C. Wilson

The cover of Jennifer’s novella.  Image from my review on Goodreads.


Fairytales With Bite

A good fairytale is not necessarily one with a happy ending but, as with other stories, it should show the lead character changed during the course of the tale.  Ideally it will be for the better.  They will have learned something from their experiences and so on.  Sometimes a character does NOT learn from their experiences (the result is usually disastrous – the lesson there is for us readers.  It’s a warning we should learn or risk disaster ourselves).

A good fairytale will also show us something of ourselves/our human nature.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we will like what we see!  The Little Match Girl by Hans Christen Andersen is, to my mind, rightly scathing of those who pitied the girl because she was dead but did nothing to stop her dying, which is the whole message of that story (and the exposure of hypocrisy).

A good fairytale will have memorable characters and there is usually a strong moral message with it (though conveyed in the story.  A good story, of whatever type, will never leave you feeling as if you’ve been preached at).

A good fairytale will keep you gripped to the last world, will conjure up images of its setting and give you characters you can identify with/root for, even if they are strange alien monsters!  A good fairytale will usually see injustices put right too.



Fairytales can be considered as “pie in the sky” but the reality is they often convey great truths.  Image via Pixabay (and one of the images used for my trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again).



One advantage of flash fiction is it has to be character led.  There isn’t the room for lengthy descriptions so your characters “carry” the stories.  So you have to create the world your character comes from via them directly.

This can be done through internal thoughts.  Show what your character thinks about their situation and what has led to it.  That should reveal some insights as to the world he/she comes from.   For example:-

She threw the cup at the wall and watched it smash.  Bloody government.  I’ve already voted once.  Why have I got to do it again?

That reveals at once that the government is dictatorial, voting is clearly compulsory, and any world where you have to vote again (to get it right this time perhaps?) is somewhere you probably don’t want to live if you have the choice.  She is taking her frustration out on a cup so there is no choice element here (and almost certainly severe consequences if she doesn’t vote again).

You can also show something of your created world through what your character observes.  In a flash fiction story, this would have to be a line or two at most (though that does make you stick to the really important things you want your reader to know so is no bad thing).

Description is the obvious way of showing a world but, again, in flash, a line or two at most and focus on what is important to the character (as this also reveals a lot about them).


Themes pour out of good books - image via Pixabay

Great Themes pour out of wonderful books but it needs strong, memorable characters to achieve this.  Image via Pixabay.



Weebly seem to be having technical issues so I can’t link to either of my sites tonight.  I can’t even get on to them to edit them!  Hopefully this will be put right for tomorrow.  Meanwhile I shall blog directly here instead. 

I have reported the issue to Weebly and they seem to be having a global issue at the moment on this so in some ways it is a relief to know it isn’t just me.  On the other hand, I feel sorry for their technical people having to get to the bottom of it all!


I discuss one of my great loves – radio – in tonight’s post called The Wonderful World of Radio.  I list my 1o favourite radio comedies.  I also share some of my favourite adaptions (there was a great ghost story about Henry VIII being haunted by Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard just to name one example).  I also talk about how radio was used in my late mother’s room when she was staying in a specialist dementia home to help make things seem more homely.  It worked beautifully!  Comments welcome via the CFT comments box as to what your favourite radio shows are.


Given the technical issues above, I thought I would write a short post here which could have gone on to either of my Weebly sites.

Reading Your Work Out

This came up as an idea to talk about following the flash fiction workshop I ran with Southampton Writers’ Circle this last week.  I set some exercises for this and joined in with them.  The great thing with this is we all went home with stories to work on and I hope mine will eventually end up in my follow up collection to From Light and Dark and Back Again.  I read my draft pieces out in the hope that it would encourage others to do so – and some did.  But I know some held back and I remember doing this myself years ago when I was first set exercises like this.  The thought that hammers through your mind is what you have drafted is total rubbish, it will sound silly etc etc.

What I tried to get across at the time, and will do so again here, is everybody’s first draft is “not great” (shall we say – I have heard ruder versions of this phrase, as I expect you have!).  But in many ways that is the whole point.  You are reacting with your “gut” to the challenge you have been set and you are getting your raw ideas down.  The polishing and tidying up must be a separate task and can come later.  So I would say never be afraid to read your work out because nobody is expecting it to be perfect.  Shakespeare’s first drafts weren’t perfect.  Dickens needed to edit.  Austen rewrote and rewrote.  We are in good company here!

What is useful in reading work out is hearing people’s reactions – the ones that escape as you are reading your story out, their instinctive reactions to your tale.  I found in reading my some of my published humorous pieces out, yes the humour did work where I thought it would.  With my drafts, I picked up on what went down well so I will bear this in mind when I edit these pieces.

Even if you’re not in a class, reading your work out loud to yourself is a good idea.  You will literally hear if you’ve got your dialogue (and the rhythm) right.  So give it a go!



My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post.  Images pour out of books into your imagination – and radio can achieve the same effect, which is one reason I love it so much.  Image via Pixabay.