Further Thoughts On The Writing Game

Image Credit:  Pexels/Pixabay unless stated. A huge thanks to my guest authors on this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post for their author and book cover pics.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am thrilled to share the second part of my CFT series on The Writing Game – and What to Watch For Part 2. Plenty of advice and tips here, Hope you enjoy. A big thanks to all of my guest authors. This week I feature guests from Bridge House Publishing, Cafelit, and Chapeltown Books. Topics include handling professional jealousy and checking contracts.

This series is the kind of one I would have welcomed when I was a new writer especially. Why?

Because you don’t realise at the outset how much there is to learn. You don’t know what the pitfalls and hazards are. You’re not aware, to begin with at least, of the difference between vanity publishing and real self-publishing.

It is only when you’ve been writing for a while and you make author friends that you pick up tips and good advice from them, as well as from organisations like the Society of Authors.

If there is only ONE reason to go to writing conferences and events (when such things are possible again), the learning from others is, for me, the most important one. No one author can know it all.

Mind you, there are LOADS of other excellent reasons to go to writing events when you can and via Zoom etc in the meantime.

The nice thing about all of this? Later on, you can share what you have learned with others who, in turn, will share it later. What goes around literally comes around in writing circles – and it should always be to the benefit of the writer!

Hope you enjoy.

Many thanks for my guests this week – #DawnKentishKnox, #GillJames, #AmandaJones, #PaulaCReadman, and #AmandaHuggins.

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Have gone from walking the dog before it became too hot, creosoting fence panels, to editing to about to have a lovely Zoom chat with writer pals.

Am looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my new CFT series – The Writing Game – and What to Watch For. Full of top tips, this week’s installment shares advice from writers from Bridge House Publishing, Cafelit, and Chapeltown Books. Link up tomorrow.

Need to get back to flash fiction writing but hope to do that over the weekend. Am also enjoying preparing material for a blog where I will be a guest. Now off to chat!

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Facebook – General – and the Association of Christian Writers – More Than Writers – The Reading Challenge

I talk about The Reading Challenge in my monthly spot on More Than Writers. This is the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers.

This month I ask if writers SHOULD find reading a challenge.

So over to you. What do you read that challenges you? What benefits do you find from that? Do you read outside of your usual genres and how do you find that works? Has it inspired your own imagination and, if so, how?

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks to my lovely guests for their advice and tips in Part 2 of The Writing Game – and What to Watch For, my new CFT series.

As well as avoiding the scams (as we all must), the writing game does have a fun side to it! There are so many kinds of writing to explore so if you’re not sure which is for you, try different ones out. You’ll soon know which you are likely to stay with, which you might write occasionally, and those you loathe!

Exploring different forms of writing led me to discovering the wonderful world of flash fiction and blogging. I have no regrets about either!

Whatever you’re working on this weekend, I hope you have a splendid time writing.

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Mixing up how you find ideas for stories is always a good thing to do. It’s fun too. I think that was the major thing that I took from the Zoom creative writing workshop I was on recently.

I’ve mentioned before that I will sometimes start my flash fiction with what I know will be the closing line and work backwards to get to the starting point. At some point I ought to try a line that would work best in the middle of a story and see what I can do with that. To work forwards and backwards would be a good challenge!

Stretching yourself in writing in different ways helps you discover what you like and, best of all, find new ways of writing stories you also develop a liking for – and it keeps you on your toes.

 

What have been the differences for me in writing FLTDBA and my new book, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, which is due soon?

I’ve had more fun with TTFF in terms of where and when I set my characters. I’ve also written some linked flash fiction for this one, which is a first for me, and I hope to do more of that. I strongly suspect some haiku flash fiction tales might make it into my next one!

Again themes have emerged as I put the collection together but I hope to talk more about that later. I am planning to have a cyberlaunch in due course and am looking forward to that.

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Fairytales with Bite – Reasons to Love Fairytales

Nobody really needs a reason to love fairytales, of course, but for the less convinced I offer the following:-

1. They are often the first stories youngsters come across and are a gateway into the wonderful world of reading. Once that spark is lit, there should be no turning back. It is no coincidence that those who read more develop a larger and more wide ranging vocabulary.

2. There is a clear sense of right and wrong in fairytales. (That appeals to children and those who decided growing up was overrated).

3. Some stories can act as warnings.

4. The stories can reflect injustice and cruelty but also usually have those things stopped by the end. (In life so often these things are not stopped. It is good to have stories where matters are rectified, justice is done etc. This is something shared with good crime stories too).

5. They’re great stories (reason enough!).

In fairytales the dragon does not win. (Shrek inverts that concept but there the dragon is one of the good guys. Love that idea).

This World and Others –

What Every Piece of Writing Needs

While every genre has specific requirements, what every good story needs can be summarised as follows. (A lot of this can apply to non-fiction too).

  1. Memorable characters with distinctive voices. For non-fiction, this equates to a memorable narrative style and voice. Think of documentaries you have loved. What made them stand out? A lot of that will be down to the narrative voice.
  2. A plot that keeps the reader enthralled and has plenty of ups and downs. For non-fiction, it is a case of setting out what you want to share with the reader in an entertaining and informative way. No dull list of facts etc. You want to engage with your reader and draw them into the world you’re trying to show them.
  3. To meet the needs of the reader whether it is to entertain them with a story or show them something they hadn’t known with non-fiction. You really do need to know your audience.
  4. A powerful ending that delivers on a promising start.
  5. No sagging middles!
  6. A good, memorable title which hooks the reader.
  7. To be a good advert for the other writing you do!

 

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Maps and Truth

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week is Maps in Fiction and History.

I discuss, amongst other things, maps -v- sat navs (are the latter little devils out to get you?), the wonders of street names in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and why old maps are a joy.

Maps also play a big role in children’s fiction and fantasy especially. I would be a little surprised if you’ve not read a fictional work with a map involved somewhere.

Hope you enjoy.

 

Image Credit:  Pixabay – do see the post for the captions.  I will add though this is likely to be the only post I ever write which involves maps, Komodo dragons, and Discworld street names!

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I’ll be looking at maps in fiction and history for my CFT post this week. (Can’t imagine Treasure Island without a map!). Will share the link tomorrow but the big “fight” here is maps -v- sat navs.

Are maps old hat and doomed or are sat navs malicious little devils? All I’ll say on the latter is one has tried to send my family and I through what it laughingly called a ford. Think raging torrent and you’d have a better idea!

Comments will be welcome over on the CFT page once the link goes up.

The best story ideas always have an element of truth to them, regardless of what genre they’re set in, and that truth is based on our experiences of life.

Crime fiction will always resonate with people as we know about crime and there’s always a wish to see justice done. In the pages of a book, that’s usually guaranteed.

Fantasy fiction and science fiction can reflect the wish to escape this world and explore what might be out there somewhere (we simply haven’t discovered it “for real” yet). Also, alternative realities can explore ideas which might become possibilities for real later. It’s why time travel fascinates. There’s always the thought that one day someone might find the ways and means.

Horror for me can reflect the human condition and ask very pertinent questions. Frankenstein is a great example of that.

The bedrock of fiction then, ironically, is truth which is NOT made up!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I discuss maps in fiction in my latest CFT post/.

It led me to wonder about mapping out your flash stories ahead of writing them. When I write a batch of stories in one go (usually 3 or so), I sometimes plan a theme for all of them but with different takes.

For example, if my theme is poetic justice (which is a favourite I admit), I will write a serious story, a funny one, and a sad or dark one to that topic. Readers will pick up on the common thread and I feel doing this makes for a smooth, seamless read.

Sometimes I will map out character types. For example, I want to write about a feisty OAP (always good fun!), so again I will write, say, three funny stories around such a character but change settings/time periods etc. The great thing here is you can also use the same character in different settings.

Mix it up and have fun!

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Favourite themes for flash fiction stories:-

1. Poetic justice
2. Revenge
3. A look at life from the viewpoint of an alien (literally so in many of my flash pieces).
4. Irony (often used in the twist ending stories).
5. Fairytales/nursery rhymes from an alternative viewpoint.
6. History (and often via the viewpoint of another character looking at what we “know” as history but through their eyes).

I think you’ve got to write to the themes that appeal to you most. Because you love these themes, you will pour heart and soul into creating the characters and that shows through in your writing. Take time to work out what themes appeal to you most and dig deep to write to/for them with conviction.

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Sometimes opportunities to explain what flash fiction is crop up when I don’t really expect them. One example of this occurred this morning when exercising Lady in the park (though to be fair I should add Lady does pretty well in running around all by herself without any assistance from me).

A flash fiction story should be a complete story in and of itself. Yes, it should leave you wondering and see how the story could be extended but it should be a satisfying read in and of itself. It is the Polaroid snapshot of a story as compared to a “proper” portrait of a novel kind of tale! You capture the instance. A portrait can cover much more detail.

I also like to think of flash fiction stories as precision writing. Every word really must punch its weight and deserve its place.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Reasons to Love Fairytales

Nobody really needs a reason to love fairytales, of course, but for the less convinced I offer the following:-

1.  They are often the first stories youngsters come across and are a gateway into the wonderful world of reading. Once that spark is lit, there should be no turning back.  It is no coincidence that those who read more develop a larger and more wide ranging vocabulary.

2.  There is a clear sense of right and wrong in fairytales. (That appeals to children and those who decided growing up was overrated).

3.  Some stories can act as warnings.

4.  The stories can reflect injustice and cruelty but also usually have those things stopped by the end. (In life so often these things are not stopped.  It is good to have stories where matters are rectified, justice is done etc.  This is something shared with good crime stories too).

5.  They’re great stories (reason enough!).

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This World and Others – Can Cliches Ever Be Useful?

The answer to the above question should be “like the plague” really!  But to be serious can cliches have a place in fiction?

Yes, they can but in different ways.

1.  Above all else, they should be used sparingly.  Too many of them spoils any good effect you might want to use them for and will just switch readers off.  Also, don’t use them in every story you write either.  Every now and again but more on this in 2 below.

2.  A cliche can be a useful shortcut but choose the right one and aim for it to have a positive impact on your readers.  You want them to be able to see why you used it and for there to be no stronger alternative.  Most of the time there will be as you come up with your own expressions and these should be the ones you always go for first.

3.  You can subvert a cliche.  I’ve used “take the Garibaldi” as a subversion of “take the biscuit”.  This approach can also help you convey something of character too.  Someone who takes the Garibaldi is going to be of a different social standing to someone who “takes the Lidl Rich Tea” for one thing and you can then play on that for effect.