Moments That Matter/Narrative Voice

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week looks at Moments that Matter. I share some of these from a writer’s perspective but also delve into the topic from a historical viewpoint too.

Moments that matter there, for example, include George Buck finding a copy of Titulus Regius, which Henry VII had ordered destroyed. Buck’s discovery of that document led to him reassessing Richard III. No surprise really that didn’t happen until after the Tudors had gone but it was a moment that mattered!

I also discuss why we should treasure moments that matter to us but also use them to spur us on. Hope you enjoy.

Image Credit:  Pixabay.  Suitable captions over on CFT!

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What was the first story you read that made you think “I want to be a writer”? To be honest, I can’t remember what mine was (though I always loved the Famous Five so it probably was one of those), but books like The Lord of the Rings held me in awe of what could be done (and I’m still in awe over that one, and rightly so. Tolkein’s vision is amazing).

Much as I loved (and still love) fairytales, they didn’t then inspire me to write. I don’t think it was until I was reading children’s books etc for myself that the idea of writing stories myself occurred to me.

My trigger for writing was always having it in the back of my mind to give it a go some day. The trouble with that approach is working out when some day becomes “now”. It took a significant birthday and becoming a mum to make me realise if I wanted to write, I’d better get on and do it then. My only regret now is not starting a lot sooner than I did.

You don’t realise how much there is to learn, how it takes you time to get used to rejections, getting into the habit of submitting work regularly and so on when you first start. But when all is said and done, the important thing IS to start. Then enjoy the writing journey.

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My CFT post this week will be on Moments that Matter. I look at this from a personal, writer’s, and historical viewpoint amongst others. Treasuring such moments is vital but so is moving on to the next one!

I also look at how the materials we have influence how we see historical turning points in particular (and what the absence in some cases can also do. Richard III fans will know what I mean there!). Link up on Friday.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s always important that your story has a strong narrative voice, but vital in flash fiction where that is used to imply so much and to drive the tale.

You need to get into your reader’s head what your character is like very quickly. Attitudes need to be shown quickly etc. There should be a sense of having to find out what this character will do next.

I think this is one reason why I use first person a lot in flash as I can take a reader straight into the head of that character and hit the ground running.

From my Serving Up a Treat:-

“I learned ages ago not arguing saved many beatings”.

Now hopefully that will provoke curiosity as to:-

a. Who the character is.

b. Why they’ve clearly put up with something intolerable for so long.

c. There is the implication that things are about to change and you will hopefully want to find out how. (Why, I think, is pretty much spelt out).

So a lot to do with an opening line then but I love the fun of coming up with lines like this which tell me so much about the character immediately. I want to find out what happens as I tell the story and that is a good sign. You are your own first audience. If you’re not gripped by what you write, nobody else will be!

Have fun writing lines like these. See where you can take your characters. I believe that the fun a writer has in coming up with a tale does get picked up on by readers, albeit at a subsconcious level. Get them hooked!

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I remain convinced that technology has helped flash fiction take off as a genre given it is so easy to read on screens. If something like that encourages people to read who hadn’t read much before, I’m all for it. Tempt in with a quick easy read and before you know it, you have them hooked on War and Peace!

Okay, maybe not, but flash fiction can make a very useful start to a love of reading… and it helps you so much as a writer. You learn to focus and your editing skills are sharpened considerably. Also, you learn to come up with ideas, more ideas, still further ideas and so on. The more you use your writing muscles, the more you develop them.

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Another good way of finding out if your flash fiction piece has the “oomph” you hoped it would is to record yourself reading it out, putting that away for a while, and then listen back. If you are gripped, well done, others will be too.

I’ve long advocated reading work out loud, even if you don’t record it, as if you stumble over dialogue, others will do. It is an oddity that something which looks good written down does not necessarily “read well”. Always read it out and see for yourself.

Simple easy to read writing takes lots of editing to get to that point. I don’t believe that IS just me!

 

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Fairytales with Bite – Should Fairytales Ever Be Funny?

Well, should fairytales ever be funny? I suppose your answer to that might be based on what you believe fairytales are for. Many, of course, give moral messages (e.g.  never be unkind to an old person. In the fairytale they often turn out to be someone important and/or magical in disguise. Crossing them or being unkind is never a good move!).  Other fairytales can act as warnings. Some, naturally, can do both.

My own view is where a story (of any kind) can be funny and it gets something across better that way, then do so. Truth is often more palatable when sweetened a bit and making someone laugh or smile as they take in the more serious point behind the gag does make accepting that truth easier. I’ve never seen anything wrong in “just” writing for laughs.  It’s harder to do than it sounds but I’ve found the most memorable speeches/sermons/stories have all contained at least some element of humour. Humour makes it easier to remember and can be a useful tool for a writer.

Humour should never be forced. It should arise naturally out of your characters and the situations you put them in. I don’t think you can fake something to be funny. It either is or isn’t. There are topics which are not suitable for humour at all (abuse is the obvious one for me) but a fairytale which is trying to “promote” being kind, for example, could use humour to make more of an impact on a reader.

I love reading humorous prose. I find it a tonic for the soul. Given stories reflect life, and life should have humour in it, so should our tales! But it works best when it suits the material. You can’t force humour into a story where tragedy is more appropriate. Nobody went to see Romeo and Juliet for laughs for example.

Fairytales have great scope for flexibility. You have magical creatures and where there is magic, there is always the potential for it to go wrong. The consequences can be funny. Think of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for example.

Happy – and fun – writing!

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This World and Others – Moments That Matter

I discuss Moments that Matter in my CFT post this week and look at it from writing and historical perspectives amongst others. From a world building viewpoint, what are the moments that matter to you as the writer putting a fictional universe together? My thoughts are:-

  1. That moment it all comes “together”. The politics, the way your world is governed, how your characters react to all that finally makes sense and you write with utter conviction, knowing the parameters of your creation and testing your characters against those. (There are always rebels, though of course it does depend on your viewpoint if the rebels have a point or not!).
  2. When you know your lead characters inside out. You know what makes them tick, what pressures they would be vulnerable to, what would be pivotal moments for them. That’s where the stories and drama are!
  3. When you can visualise your world and feel it is almost as real as this one! You know the street names, where people would go for entertainment, whether there is religious/political freedom at all. You know your world to such a degree you could be quizzed intensely over it and come up with good answers!


It pays to write a list of questions you need to know the answers to and then work those answers out. Preparation work like that will save you work later. For a long piece of work like a novel, I could not write without having some sort of “map” to assist me here.  Happy writing!

 

AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL PAGE

Am pleased to finally share the link to my UK page. (There is one for the US, France, Germany, and Japan too! I will share links in due course).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07T3HT18L?ref_=pe_584750_33951330

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT I LIKE IN MY FICTION

What I Like in My Fiction

When not writing, I love to read crime fiction, history (fiction and otherwise!), fantasy (naturally) and non-fiction such as the Ben Macintyre books. (Particularly enjoyed Operation Mincemeat, which gave the true story behind The Man Who Never Was).

The problem with history, of course, is we all know it is written by the winners, something Richard III would have good cause to complain about if in a position to do so! (Don’t you just know the story would be very different indeed if he’d won Bosworth!). What always annoys me with his story is the historian John Rous given he praised Richard to the heights during Richard’s reign and then condemned him during Henry Tudor’s time on the throne. The very definition of hypocrisy I feel!

Classics - image via Pixabay

Classics – image via Pixabay

So how DO you write about history using fiction to do so? My interview on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday will be with Gill James and we talk about her historical work, The House on Schellberg Street.

We discuss, amongst other things, why write historical fiction when “real” history is full of stories anyway. Gill gives some wonderful insights into writing historical fiction.

The interview will be in two parts and I hope it will show what historical fiction can achieve. It can fill the gaps where facts do not exist for one thing. It shows what could’ve happened and leaves you to think about it (which is why I love The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey).

Shakespeare had his quill, modern writers have their laptops. Image via Pixabay.

Such a familiar look. Image via Pixabay.

Capturing Moments in Time

 

If a short story captures a moment in time, then I think it is fair to say that a flash fiction piece captures half of that. Sometimes you don’t need to see the whole moment to gauge what a character is like or how the incident in the flash fiction piece would unfold if the writer expanded the tale out to the more usual length of a story. A glimpse can be more than enough to tell you what you need to know!

Flash fiction is a good vehicle for quirky stories that perhaps do not have the most obvious home to go to. Less really is more at times. For me, the best stories (of whatever length) are on the understated side. You feel the characters’ pain, anxieties etc. They are not forced on you. You as the reader are left to work things out. I love doing this myself. It can be great fun reading on to see if you guessed correctly.

 

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

 

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Never give up, work hard, be disciplined... all valuable traits for success, whether you're a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.

Never give up, work hard, be disciplined… all valuable traits for success, whether you’re a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.

A beaten knight but Richard III's injuries at Bosworth would have been far more horrific. Image via Pixabay.

IMPOSSIBLE INTERVIEWS

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

Tonight’s post is the start of a new occasional series, Impossible Interviews, in which I interview historical figures.  My “guest” tonight?  Richard III!  Maligned or monstrous?  What do you think?  For anyone with a love of history I think it is fair to say you can’t be impartial about the king.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I take the Impossible Interviews theme a bit further with my post here tonight.  Called Impossible Interviews – In the Magical World, I look at who I would interview in such a setting.  I would quiz those who set the magical standards as to why they have set them the way they have and also chat to those who are very low down in the magical pecking order.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

In Doing the Impossible: Listening to Characters, I ask if it were possible for you as the writer to listen to what your characters have to say to you, would you do so?!  Are they happy with the way you’ve portrayed them and if not, why not, and what will you do about it?!

FACEBOOK PAGE

I share the link to my Chandler’s Ford Today post.

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The Bard tells a cracking story but that doesn't mean any of it is true! Image via Pixabay

The Bard tells a cracking story but that doesn’t mean any of it is true! Image via Pixabay

 

Now here's a statue that I like! Image via Pixabay

TRUTH AND SYMPATHY

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I look at Truth in Fiction tonight and discuss the importance of having characters who are real and with whom readers can identify.  I also mention Richard III.  Am always glad to get a mention in for him as one of my non-fiction books which reveals a lot of research about him is called The Maligned King (author:  Annette Carson) and I think the title sums him up well.  Truth still matters, even after all these centuries.  It matters in fiction too.  If characters aren’t truthful or real in the way they’re portrayed, people simply won’t read their stories.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

I look at Sympathetic Characters tonight and discuss how I portray my “people” so readers are likely to be able to identify with them and want to read their stories.  I also discuss what makes for a “good” villain and hero/heroine as far as I’m concerned.  I also reveal what I really think about my rebellious fairy godmother character.

FACEBOOK PAGE

I discuss Richard III tonight as I was delighted to find a free Kindle download of Clements Markham’s research into the king.  This research helped inspire Josephine Tey who wrote The Daughter of Time, one of my favourite novels ever and which is one of the few to make me change my mind about a person, in this case Richard III.  I reviewed this book some time ago for Chandler’s Ford Today but have included the link here.

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Richard III poster - image via Pixabay. One of my favourite characters to read about but NOT as Shakespeare portrayed him!

Richard III poster – image via Pixabay. One of my favourite characters to read about but NOT as Shakespeare portrayed him!