To Outline Or Not To Outline

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Another glorious week here and Lady has got to play with her best girlfriends (and her gentleman friend, a smashing Aussie Shepherd) so all is right with her world. Writing wise, I have got some smashing author interviews coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today, the first of which will be next week (9th June). So looking forward to sharing these. I always learn something from author interviews and it is a pleasure and privilege to conduct some!


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Pleased to share To Outline or Not to Outline for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I share thoughts on what I find useful about outlining and also how you don’t need to plan out everything. Hope you find the post useful. Suitable for planners and pantsers!

To Outline or Not To Outline

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Hope you have had a good day. Lady got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback pal today and to show off again in front of her Hungarian Vizler buddy. Lady has had a fab day! Mine has not been bad either – I loved my swim earlier today.

Also got my author newsletter out (do see link).

Pleased to say I’ll be running a workshop again in early July and am looking forward to that.

Writing going well, lots to get on with, which is how I like it. Hope to be sending in a competition entry next week and I’ve another draft to work on too.

Plus there will be author interviews again soon on CFT as I mentioned yesterday. Love doing those and it is a great pleasure to share them.

Allison Symes - June 2023 - Workshops and Book Fairs


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Looking forward to sharing To Outline or Not To Outline on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. (See above). The good news here is an outline can be what you want it to be. I just need enough to get me started on a piece. More on this later in the week.

Author newsletter out tomorrow. Author interview coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today on 9th June. More details nearer the time.

Making good progress on a draft of a story for a competition. I hope to be submitting this sometime next week. And I’ve come across another competition I’d like to have a go at so that gives the old brain box something to be thinking about.

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Telling It As It Is is my latest flash fiction piece on Friday Flash Fiction. My character, Sarah, lives up to the title but… well see for yourself via the link. (A huge thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on this one already).

Screenshot 2023-06-02 at 09-42-22 Telling It As It Is by Allison Symes

I’ve written flash stories as diary entries before now. (Losing Myself in Tripping the Flash Fantastic). I find I need to use towards the upper word count (1000 words) for these as I want to give a good selection of “entries”.

The other fun I have with this kind of story is being able to get the diary “writer” not to just reveal their story but what they think about other characters who they’re involved with. Well, diaries are often of a confessional nature, yes?!

With my story, I gave some thought about how many entries there were to be, over what time span, and how the diary would end. I knew there would be a twist at the end and I then worked out how to get to that point logically. I then filled in the “gaps”! Great fun to do and something I must have another go at some point.

It was fun inventing the character and their diary entries. For one thing, I had to think about why they might want to write something down for someone else to deliberately see which was the hub of this particular tale.

May be an image of one or more people and text that says "I've been known to interview my characters to find out what they are capable of. Another good technique would beto be write a diary from their viewpoint. What would they want to write down?"

There is an offer on From Light to Dark and Back Again at the moment on Amazon. See the link to my Author Central page for more.

In both of my collections, I mix up the word counts of the stories so there are some at the 100 words count, others at 250, still others at 500, and some at the 750 to 1000 range. As with the mood of story varying, I did this deliberately. This is to try to give a good idea of what flash can do and be.

Also some stories genuinely work better at the upper end of the count. Others are best being “punchy” and kept to under 300 words.

Allison Symes

Flash with Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Fairytales with Bite – Character Planning

Whether I write my fairytales with bite or other kinds of flash fiction/short story, I’ve found planning my characters to be so helpful. If I can picture them, so will readers and that is the point. What do I mean by “picture them”? Simply that if these characters could become real somehow, they would be believable. Readers should be able to imagine them being able to exist too.

Some writers need to know what their characters look like. For me that’s not so important. I like to know their attitudes, their main traits as so many things can come from those. For one thing traits have a direct impact on likely behaviour.

When I am writing about characters with magical abilities, I like to work out what they can do and what they can’t. I also like to know if they can improve their skills. While tales about magical schools have been done (!), they will continue to be done. It is what you can bring to the mix that will make your tale stand out (and it would have to stand out given the illustrious predecessors here).

If a character can improve their skills, I could write up stories about how they do so, their failures, their successes etc.

If they can’t, I’d want to look at why this is and what is getting in their way. Can they overcome the “system” to get the chance to improve their skills?

As for what magic they can do, there are story ideas on working out how the character uses these.

I would want some limitations on magical ability so the character has to use other methods to achieve their objectives. A wand getting someone out of trouble all the time isn’t going to keep the reader’s interest. It is what a character does when that isn’t an option which will grab attention and hopefully hold that attention.


This World and Others – Impact of Your Setting

Setting can sometimes act like a character in its own right. Think about The Hound of the Baskervilles, Wuthering Heights, anything by Dickens. You can’t imagine those stories being set anywhere else, right?

So think about why you have chosen the setting you have and how your characters manage within it. They don’t necessarily need to manage well. The setting can act as an obstacle.

Can your readers visualize your setting? What do they have to know about it to be able to picture it? Again, as with characters mentioned in Fairytales with Bite, I believe planning is necessary especially if you’re hoping for a series of books.

Planning things out will give you confidence in what you write. You know how the government works, you know how people are employed, you know how technology works, if there is any,. A lot of that won’t appear in your stories but you need to know it to be able to convey what you do need to show your readers. That includes the setting and an industrial society will look very different from a non-industrial one, just to name one example.

Think about whether your setting is prone to natural disasters and how that would be something your characters have to learn to cope with. But again a reader will need to know early on that natural disasters are possible within your environment, otherwise it will look like coincidence.

Think about what you need to know. From there you can work out what the readers needs to know.




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Author News – Allison Symes – Spring 2023 Round Up

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Images of me at The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick, were taken by friends of mine, including the much missed Fiona Park, on my phone.
Hope you’ve had a great week. Lovely to have more publication news and it was great to discuss the importance of telling details for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group on Wednesday. Lady has had a great week and there was an unexpected visitor to the garden this week too. See below for more.

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Pleased to share Local Author News – Allison Symes – Spring 2023 Round Up for Chandler’s Ford Today. I am even more pleased to say there is a fair bit to round up here! Many thanks for the kind comments in on this one already.

It does pay every so often to look back at where you have come from as a writer and then look at where you are now. There will be progress. Sometimes this will come in recognizing one form of writing suits you better than another. Sometimes it will be having publication news.

Sometimes it will be developing your website and making it an interesting place for potential readers to visit. Sometimes it will be acknowledging mistakes and then not making those again. I say that because I was almost caught out by a vanity publisher many years ago. I now know the warning signs to watch out for.

One important lesson I’ve learned is to celebrate what may be considered the small steps you make as a writer. Without those, you can’t make the bigger ones.

Local Author News: Allison Symes – Spring 2023 Round Up

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Will be sharing Local Author News – Allison Symes – Spring 2023 Round Up for Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. First time I’ve had to add a postscript to a post given my lovely publication news received earlier this week. See above.

Another glorious day here today and Lady got to play with her two best girlfriends today so she’s had a lovely time. No sign of the deer coming back though.

Don’t forget my author newsletter is next due out on 1st June so if you would like to sign up for tips, stories, news, and so forth, do head over to my landing page at

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Many thanks for the congratulations coming in on my post yesterday regarding the news my Desperately Seeking Talent is going to be published in the forthcoming Gifted anthology (Bridge House Publishing). Much appreciated, everyone.

Am currently working on a draft of a story for another competition and I hope to have that draft done in the next week. I will then rest it for a while before coming back to assess it with fresh eyes. It takes time but I have found that pays off. For me, it’s the only way I can re-read something of mine as if someone else had written it. It is that kind of distance you want too. You’ve got to be able to judge your work objectively.

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It’s Friday. It’s another Bank Holiday weekend in the UK. It’s time for a story. My latest on Friday Flash Fiction is called Purple Haze. Find out what a love for a colour did for my character, Sally. Hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2023-05-26 at 10-02-16 Purple Haze by Allison Symes

It was great to see everyone at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting last night and I am glad the session was useful. We were discussing telling details and how these can create stronger images in your readers’ minds. It’s an invaluable thing to do regardless of what form you write but in flash with its restricted word count, it pays off considerably and helps you to make the most of that word count.

Delighted to sign and return my contract for my story, Desperately Seeking Talent, to go in Gifted, the Bridge House Publishing anthology which will be out later this year. Always a pleasure to do that kind of task!

And if you’re wondering with a title like that, was the story great fun to write, I can tell you – yes if was!

Screenshot 2023-05-23 at 20-04-57 Bridge House Publishing Facebook

Hope you have had a good day. Gloriously sunny and warm here. Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting tonight. I love talking about flash fiction as you may have noticed!

Having said that, the skills you learn in writing flash transfer well to other forms of writing which is why I believe all writers should try flash fiction writing. It takes away all fear of editing.

It is perhaps ironic that a restriction (in this case on upper word count) can fuel creativity as you learn to pick better words to use to create images for your reader. There is no room for the old purple prose. That’s a good thing. It helps you to cut it out immediately on your first edit. We all have wasted words. We might not be able to stop writing them but we can cut them out!

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Fairytales with Bite – Characters (Acrostic)

C = Characters can make or break a plot so make them hook your readers in so they want to find out what happens to your characters.

H= Have your characters got a trait or a habit which shows a reader what kind of character they are?

A= Any magical talents/skills need to have in-built disadvantages as if anything and everything can be solved with using these, where’s the story?

R= Resist the temptation to tell readers what your characters are like, show them instead via your character’s attitudes and actions.

A = Actions, attitudes, attributes – all great ways to show readers what your characters are like.

C= Can readers understand where you characters are coming from ?

T= Test what your characters are made of by dropping them right in it – do they sink or swim?

E= Endeavour – your readers will want to see what your characters do to help themselves.

R= Remember your characters will have memories, a life before your story, which will colour their attitudes and actions when you write about them.

S= Story, story, story – what is their story and why do they deserve to have their story told? What is in it for the reader?


This World and Others – Different Species

Most fictional worlds have more than one species living in them so how do they get on? Or do they do everything possible to avoid each other? What would happen when a common need means they do have to work together?

Does your setting have a dominant species and how did they get to that position? Is it ever threatened by another? What would they do to maintain their dominant position?

Do your species share a biology (I.e. they are all bipeds) or are the differences significant? Would the species prey on each other?

If you have a favourite species to write about, why is that? Think about the good and bad qualities of all your species. How can you make best use of these in your stories? Our planet would be a very different place without all the other species on it with us.

Would you have those who study the others species and report back? (Am thinking in terms of wildlife documentaries but studies could be used for spying and other activities).



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The Joys and Pitfalls of Writing Research

Image Credits:- All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Photos of Swanwick were taken by me, Allison Symes. Many thanks to colleagues who took images of me on my phone about to run the workshop on editing there in 2022.
Hope you have had a good week. Loved running the workshop on Monday. I’ve had some lovely feedback on that too. Weekend will be a bit odd. On Sunday it will be the anniversary of my Dad’s passing (six years) and I’ll be ordained as an elder in my church. Mixed emotions especially as he would’ve loved to have seen that service (as would my mum and late in-laws). Lady and I have relished the emergence of consistent sunshine this week though. Not before time we think!


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Pleased to be back on Chandler’s Ford Today. My post this week is called The Joys and Pitfalls of Writing Research. All writers need to carry out research (yes it goes for fiction too) but the advantages we have now are easier access to a wider range of material and a greater appreciation of keeping and treasuring records of the past.

Hope you find the post useful. I share tips on researching and useful questions to ask yourself as you do. It is too easy to get sidetracked on to an interesting section of research which is not needed for your story or article.

The Joys and Pitfalls of Writing Research

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It’s my turn to be on Authors Electric and this time I talk about Story Shapes. What do I mean by that? Well, I often use linear shapes in my writing – a straight sharing of a story where I start at A and finish at Z, but I also write circular ones too. This is where my end line repeats the opening line (or has strong echoes of it). The repetition is deliberate and works so well for poignant stories. But can shapes apply to blogs too? Check out my post and see what you think. Hope you enjoy it.
Screenshot 2023-05-18 at 09-48-22 Story Shapes by Allison Symes

Another lovely day here and Lady got to play with three of her girlfriends today – the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Hungarian Vizler, and a lovely Labradoodle. Very much a girls morning out in the park!

Am pleased to say I’ll be running a one hour workshop at The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick, in August. I’ll be looking at editing from both sides of the fence given I’ve been edited and have been editing at the same time at different points in my career. For more details on the school, do see their website.

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Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in already on News, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. If you’ve ever had round robin letters, you may well sympathise with my character, Wilma, in this one!
Screenshot 2023-05-19 at 09-49-56 News by Allison Symes 
Hope you have had a nice day. Lady got to show off in front of her Hungarian Vizler chum so Lady definitely has had a good day. (And her pal never minds the showing off so all well there).

I’m talking about The Joys and Pitfalls of Writing Research for Chandler’s Ford Today (link up tomorrow). See above. Do I need to research for my flash pieces? Simply, yes and often.

For a crime flash tale, I might need to find out what poisonous plants would be found in a garden (and I have researched that one!). For historical flash pieces, I need to get dates etc right if I use them. I sometimes need to know if something was available at a certain time period.

Research comes into fiction, as well as non-fiction, writing in all sorts of ways and it is great we have a wider range of materials available for research purposes. More in my post tomorrow.

But bear in mind a story has to ring true for a reader even if it is set in a bizarre setting. Using facts from what we know here on Earth (especially for world building) can help give that sense of “this could be real if this world existed somewhere”. So yes research is needed for fantasy too!

May be an image of text that says "ਜਗ |could happily while away many hours researching in here!"

Many thanks to Medway Mermaids, the writing group I presented my flash fiction workshop to on Monday for some wonderful feedback. Very much appreciated.

“It was comprehensive and informative, giving writers an excellent guide to the art of writing short fiction”.

Now that is a quote I am proud to share!

One problem all authors have is that most of the time we work alone. We don’t always know how our work is going down with others. So feedback is useful (and it is something I appreciate from Friday Flash Fiction as well).

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Fairytales with Bite – Inspiration

What inspires your characters to take the actions they do in your stories? Is it a question they have no choice but to do whatever it is you’ve set them – it is life or death for them here – or because they are motivated to help someone else in need of help? (Sam Gamgee did not have to go with Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. It is just as well that he did).

When your fairy godmother is looking for a suitable spell or to create something suitable to help a client, what inspires her? Does she base her creation on years of experience, stick strictly to the books, or is happy to add her own special ingredients given she knows they’ll give her magic that bit of “kick” she feels her client needs?

What inspires your characters to keep going when it would be the easiest thing for them to give up and go home? (And even more so when they could go home and nobody would blame them!).

Also think about what inspires you from the classic fairytales. For me, a big one here is seeing wrong being righted as we all know that so often doesn’t happen in life, unfortunately. But the thought of that inspires me to write my own fairytales with bite where I can ensure wrong definitely is righted! Good fun to do too!


This World and Others – The Creative Industries

Industry can sometimes seem as if it is a negative word. It conjures up images for me of factories and works back in the Victoria era where conditions were often not that great.

On a more positive note, we talk about the creative industries. What does your setting have in the way of these? Are the arts celebrated? Do they bring in significant income for your world? (They do for the UK, for instance).

What creative industries would your characters be involved in? Are they involved in these willingly or is it expected of them because they’re following a a family or tribal tradition? The kind of thing which goes “your grandfather was a musician, your father was too, so guess what you’re doing!” There is potential for humour here if the unfortunate character really cannot play a note no matter how hard they try.

What is the attitude of your setting’s governments to the creative industries? Do they welcome them or view them with suspicion given they can be a vehicle for free expression? What would happen if there are clashes here? Who would win? On the face of it you might think it would be the powers that be and in the immediate term that might be the case. But the creative industries live on for centuries. People look back at events. Views change and the arts can help change them so I wouldn’t see this a s a clear cut thing at all.

Do your characters take part in the creative industries just for fun? If so, what is their main work and how do they find the arts helps them?



Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

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History In Stories

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Coming up next week will be a flash fiction workshop I’m running and I am now booked in for a book fair in July. Not a bad week here then! Have a fabulous weekend. Lady has got to play with several of her friends this week so she has had a good week too.


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Am pleased to share History in Stories for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I look at how history crops up in various genres of fiction and why this can encourage empathy. It also goes a long way to explaining why so often writers, including yours truly, can have interesting internet search histories!

I also look at alternative history and why you have to know the rules, in this case the history, before you can break them, or in this case invent an alternative version. I guess that is the ultimate in the “what if” game for fiction writers!

History in Stories

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Looking forward to sharing History in Stories for Chandler’s Ford Today – link up tomorrow. See above. History turns up in various genres, funnily enough, and I look at that in this post. I love reading historical works – fictional and otherwise.

History can also inspire your own stories. You look at what historical characters did way back when and figure out their motivations. You can then take that idea and use it to create a new story where you character acts from the same motivations in the present day or in the future or in another time period from the past. What would the consequence be? There would be some!

Then you could look at a character of yours acting from motivations which are the direct opposite. What would happen there?

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Glad to say I’m taking part in a local book fair in July. Am looking forward to sharing more details nearer the time. Am also running a flash fiction workshop on Zoom on Monday, 15th May. Looking forward to that.

Now looking for ideas is something we all need to do and I like to use a variety of methods here. As well as the random generators (which I sometimes use to trigger ideas for my non-fiction, I like to think about what it is I love about writing and why. That usually triggers an angle I can write about. I also think about my own writing journey and some of the pitfalls I’ve avoided and others I know about as topics for blogs can often come from sharing something about these. (I also hope they warn newer writers to be aware there are scams out there).

I think about books and stories which inspire me and why. I sometimes refer to books of ideas for writers as well. I look into what I like outside of writing because something there can inspire an idea for a character and from there a story to write up.

This is where entering competitions can help too. For short stories and flash fiction, the theme is often set and from there I can figure out how I approach this. I like to jot down different ideas which occur, rest these, then come back and write up the one that makes the most impact on me because I figure it may have the same effect on another reader/judge.

May be a graphic of studying, diary and text that says "WHAT'S NEXT Good question! One thing I've learned 1S the writing journey is a continual one."

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Pleased to share my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy The Down Side. Maybe the genie had a surprise here? See what you think. (And a huge thanks for the wonderful comments in on this one already).

Screenshot 2023-05-12 at 09-59-03 The Down Side by Allison Symes

I’m looking at History in Stories for my post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. See above. I love history so this was a particular joy to write. I’ve written some historical flash fiction.

One example of this is Not Knowing from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. I take the viewpoint of Elizabeth of York, Henry VII’s queen. What matters is sticking to the known facts. Where the fiction comes in here is I imagined what I thought she would feel like knowing her uncle Richard III has just been killed, feeling understandably apprehensive for the future, but hoping all would somehow work out. That to me is reasonable supposition.

May be a graphic of text that says "The trouble with history is, unless you are writing an alternative one, you can't change the ending. MP"

Hello to all who have signed up for my newsletter since last time and a hello to all who have been with me for longer! My next author newsletter will go out on 1st June and I share news, tips, story links etc. If this sounds of interest, please head over to my landing page at to sign up.

Interesting thought: what would your characters put in a news letter if they could write one? What would they share? What would they keep quiet? I suspect there could be some great stories there. Will probably have a go at this myself at some point!

Fairytales with Bite – Ceremonies

I thought this was an apt topic given the UK has just seen the Coronation of King Charles III, the first such event in 70 years.

Thinking about your setting, what ceremonies would they have? Would everyone join in with them or are these things just for the privileged few? Do the ceremonies have a magical significance, a historical one, or both? Is magic used at the events themselves?
Equally do your characters have to get to a certain magical standard before they can take part in such things?

Thinking about the social status of your characters, are there different ceremonies depending on class? For example a wedding (or equivalent ceremony) would happen throughout the society you’ve created but those lower down the scale will almost certainly have to have a ceremony which is less rich in detail and therefore costs than those better off/higher up in society than they are.

What would your characters wear, eat, drink etc for such ceremonies? This would have to be significantly different from what they usually wear. Everyone would have to have some kind of “glad rags” for these.

Also, would most in society support these ceremonies or are there those who refuse to take part/support them? What would be their reasons? Is there any comeback on that? Ceremonies are often held to bring society together so what would society think about those who don’t want that?

Story ideas there I think!


This World and Others – What do ALL your Characters Know and Why?

It has been a historic week in the UK with the Coronation of the new King so I wondered, in your setting, what would all of your characters know about their setting’s history and why? What would they be expected to know? How is their history taught? For example is magic used to bring history to life for students in a way that we would use documentaries, visits to historical sites etc to increase knowledge?

Equally are there aspects of history all of our characters know but never speak about on the grounds it is something they have to know to avoid landing themselves in it with the authorities? Authority is often keen for their peoples to know something horrid happened to Character XXX in the Year Dot because they did this or that. They’re trying to ensure it can’t happen again by frightening everybody with the knowledge here.

What codes of behaviour are expected from everybody and what happens to those who against these? Again this would be something your characters would be expected to know. They would also know the consequences of going against these. Authorities are usually pretty keen people know about that too. On a more mundane level, what do all of your characters know about traffic legislation? What do they have to contend with here that we would not?

Where characters do not know what they should do, why is this? Has anyone kept them in the dark deliberately and what are they hoping to achieve with that?

Hope you can get some good stories with these thoughts to think about.



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Review – Spring Trio – The Chameleon Theatre Group

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for sharing their pictures for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week.
Hope you have had a good week. Am looking forward to watching the Coronation on 6th May. I discuss below how pictures, including those of crowd scenes, can be used to inspire ideas for stories. I expect some tales may well emerge from this weekend’s events! Hope you find the tips useful.


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It is a real joy to share Review – Spring Trio – The Chameleon Theatre Group as my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week. My lovely editor, Janet Williams, and I went to see the trio of plays just over a week ago and were thoroughly entertained by the mixture of comedy and drama on offer. This is one of the pleasures of live theatre – you get to see some real gems. I also look at twists in this post as these came up a lot in these plays. Hope you enjoy the flavour of the evening I’ve shared here. It was lovely to write it!

Review: Spring Trio – The Chameleon Theatre Group

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Had a nice surprise today in that I was given a nice plug on Write On, Rosemary Johnson’s blog. Rosemary and I know each other though the Association of Christian Writers but this plug came out of the blue. Thanks, Rosemary. Am so glad the writing prompts are proving useful.

I use prompts all the time (and have contributed to some books of prompts published by Bridge House Publishing) and find them to be a great way to trigger story ideas. Occasionally I’ve used things like the random question or theme generator to trigger an idea for a blog post.

What I do find pays is mixing up the type I use. It keeps me on my toes (never a bad thing that!) and it makes you think in different ways too. When I took part in Flash NANO last year, one prompt I’d not tried before was writing a story in the form of a police report. What happened? I had great fun writing the story and it ended up being broadcast on Hannah Kate’s Three Minutes Santas show on North Manchester FM last December. I call that a win!

Screenshot 2023-05-05 at 20-09-42 Inspiration When Working on a Story

It has been a gloriously sunny day here today. Lady and I appreciated it. Lady appreciated playing with her Rhodesian Ridgeback pal too. Good time had by all.

Looking forward to sharing my review of Spring Trio on Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. Always enjoy seeing The Chameleon Theatre Group at work. Like the mixture of comedies and dramas. More on Friday. See above.

Talking of reviews, don’t forget these help authors so if there is a book you’ve loved, do drop a quick line to say so in the usual places.

Had a nice surprise yesterday. I receive the Bridge House Publishing newsletter and in that is a link to CafeLit. I discovered my story, Untaken, was the fourth most read on CafeLit in April. Well done to those above and below me here! Very nice viewing figures. That was lovely to know so many thanks, #GillJames, for sharing that.

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Am pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my latest tale, Starting Conversation. The Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group may well recognise this as my response to a prompt I set them recently! A huge thank you also for the wonderful comments coming in on this tale already.
Screenshot 2023-05-05 at 10-07-28 Starting Conversation by Allison Symes

One kind of prompt I should try and use more often is the picture one. You can do this with objects and put them in a story. You can also use pictures of landscapes and wonder who would live there. Crowd scenes are good too as you can pick an individual out to base your character on and then write about them or write a story about why the crowd are gathered. (I suspect there may be Coronation stories coming up here!).

You can use your own photos too and set your character in the scene they show. What would your character be doing? What are they trying to achieve? Is the scene they’re in a help or a hindrance? Two characters could see a scene in opposite ways. What conflict could that lead to and how is is resolved?

May be an image of text that says "There's nothing to stop you taking a prompt and putting your own spin on it to generate still more story or article ideas."

Looking forward to giving a flash fiction workshop in a couple of weeks time to a writing group. Always fun to do! And it’s another example of Zoom making things possible. Where transport/distance means in person isn’t viable, Zoom is the answer! I’ve loved the fact that this has got me back into using PowerPoint again. I hadn’t used it in years until Zoom transformed things here. Given PowerPoint and bullet points go hand in hand, it’s ideal for flash. Well, I’ve got to write to a short word count, yes?

May be a graphic of text that says "Powerpoint with its ClipArt and charts has come back with a vengeance for use with Zoom. So easy to share ơη screen. Makes presentations more interactive. 1"

Fairytales with Bite – Job Hunting

How do your characters find jobs in your magical setting? Or it is literally a question of stepping into a dead fairy godmother’s shoes here? Not even fairy godmothers go on for ever (magical accidents and dragons can happen to the best of them) so I assume your setting would allow for training to happen to bring up the next generation. Would employment automatically follow that training?

For other roles, consider who else might work in a training establishment. Someone would need to cook, clean, prepare magical ingredients etc. How would these people get their work? Is it a question of who you know here?

For the non-magical beings in your story, what work would they do? How easy or otherwise would it be for them to find gainful employment?

Equally is your character being hunted for a job they really don’t want to do? Can they get out of it? If not, how do they manage?
Story idea potential there I think. (This is where we can use our knowledge of the working world to flesh out our story world and that can be useful. Dreadful bosses/colleagues can occur in fiction as well as in life – as can good ones).


This World and Others – Employment Types

What kind of employment can your world offer your characters? Is it similar to what we have here or something specific that could only happen in your setting? What kind of tools/equipment /technology would your characters be expected to be able to use? What are these things for? And are jobs allocated on merit or on status?

So could there be a character who would love to do Job X but knows they can’t because they’re from a certain social class which never does a job like that. Could they be the one to break the mould here?

Is employment divided between, say, magical and non-magical or is it just down to the job itself? For the latter, you could have, say, clerks working for the government who do have magical skills and those who do not. How would they get on? Would the magical abilities come in useful at work at all and that is why they are employed here? Do the non-magical lot have special qualities/skills which compensate here and are useful in another way?

What would count as manual labour? What would be considered “high end” employment? Do employment types change over time? (Not much call for abacus makers in our day and age, for example. Technology changes employment so much).



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How To Guides

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. I had a fabulous trip out to my local theatre company’s latest production and ran a flash fiction workshop. Weather still all over the place but Lady has got to play with some of her best pals. So a good week then!


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Wow, it’s Friday again already, and time to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I’m looking at How To Guides and I share some of the writing ones I have used (and in many cases continue to refer to). I look at how the need for specific guides changes as your writing progresses and share some thoughts on what makes a good guide for me. Do share details of any guides you’ve found helpful in the CFT comments box.

How To Guides

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I was talking about how to make the best of themes as part of my topic for the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group last night. It pays to practice writing to themes – why? Because the classic themes come up time and again. Anything that doesn’t fit into a themed competition can always be saved for an open one.

May be a graphic of text that says "goe Ludwig Mie more es is Less Less Mies an Rohe Less is more could be THE anthem for all flash fiction writers."

Lady had a fabulous time playing with her best buddie, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, today. Both dogs had a fabulous time. You should hear them run – it really is a thundering gallop!

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Zoom this evening. It is great fun thinking of topics to discuss and then working out what exercises we can do related to these. We all get some drafts done and it has been lovely when people have gone on to have work published online and broadcast later. More power to the (flash) pens/laptops!

Also looking forward to my theatre trip tomorrow and to sharing my post on How To Guides on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Glad to say the May edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is already out and what a cracking read it is. The theme this time was sailing and you can see how I used that for my flash fiction column on Page 56. Do check out the excellent stories which came in as a result of my challenge as well. Given it is a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, that gives you plenty of time for a great read and several cups of tea/coffee while you do so – now that is what I call a good use of weekend time.

Flash fiction competitions come in many forms but the common ones are the 100 worders, the 300, and the 500 kinds so it is worth practicing writing to those different word counts. You can know these will come up regularly. For my collections, I wanted to have a good mix of all the different (and standard) word counts here including the 750 and the 1000 worders. I felt (and still feel) having a god representation of the different word counts in flash made a good advert for the form overall. I think it also shows the form has more flexibility than might be thought – it is only the upper word count you have to watch.

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

I use random generators a lot as you know and I sometimes use the same thing generated for two stories. I invent different characters for the tales and will often ensure one is a humorous piece and the other isn’t. You really wouldn’t know they were based on the same underlying idea unless I told you! I just send these to two different markets or save one for my YouTube channel.

But I equally use two generators for two different ideas entirely. Then I can keep the mood the same if I wish to do so. I sometimes expand the number of parameters I set when using the generators (or in the case of story cubes I roll more than one of them!). There is plenty you can do with these things and they are a great source to find ideas, something just to get the creative sparks off to a good start.

May be an image of text that says "I love the fact there are so many different types of random generator I can use to help trigger ideas."

Fairytales with Bite – Endings

E = Expect the unexpected as not every fairytale has the classic happy ever after ending.
N = Never underestimate the “drab” character – they will almost certainly have an important role to bring the story to a good ending.
D = Do or dare – this will occur just ahead of the ending – something has to happen to bring that ending about.
I = Imagination – your characters may well imagine the ending they’d like but will they get that or something much better?
N = Narrators can guide the readers in some fairytales and you can find out what they make of the ending (have written some of these myself).
G = Good usually triumphs over evil as an ending here but I welcome that – would like to see it happen in real life more often to be honest (and maybe it is one of the comforts of the fairytale as a whole).
S = Stories need a satisfactory ending – it has to work for the characters and the set up of the story – but it doesn’t need to be a happy one (though I admit I prefer them!).

This World and Others – Changes

C= Characters and changes and causes and consequences – the bedrocks of any story in whatever setting.
H= How your characters handle changes will reveal much about them but also drive the story -not everyone reacts well.
A= Attitudes will determine how a character reacts to change – those who love routine will find changes harder to cope with.
N= Negative attitudes to change can lead to negative actions – what would that lead to in your story?
G= Great characters will find ways of dealing with changes and the consequences which come from them.
E= Every setting, every fantasy world, must develop and change whether it is in terms of technology, how they treat others, etc. What triggers the changes? Are the settings better because of the changes and if so how?
S= Stubbornness – there will always be those characters who resist change for various reasons (one of which is fear of change itself). How would they impact on your story?



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Book Recommendations

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Not a bad week. Have had lovely spring weather. And I get to talk about Book Recommendations for Chandler’s Ford Today this week – always something I’m happy to talk about. Lady hasn’t seen quite so many of her friends this week so will be hoping for better I suspect next week!


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s that time of the week once again – time for my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This time I’m talking about Book Recommendations and I share my criteria for my recommending any book to anyone. I also share what I would recommend at the moment (book recommendations are always updated!) and I discuss why I would recommend a series to writers. As ever, comments are welcome on the CFT page.

Book Recommendations

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Lovely day today – able to switch from good old mac to a body warmer. Will probably chuck it down tomorrow. Apologies if it does!

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom next week. Always fun and I get to draft flash pieces during this too! Yes, I do set homework but I also do it (not in advance either) so again it helps me get more flash pieces written. I can work out what to do with them later on. I will find homes eventually and I also build up pieces for inclusion in a future collection.

I’ve found over time little is wasted in writing. Stories I haven’t been able to place I have rewritten or taken a character out and reused the character. You learn from what doesn’t work as well as from what does, which is another reason why I feel even rejections are not wasted experiences. Doesn’t stop them hurting at times. But you can learn from them.

May be an image of text that says "Rejections hurt but you can learn from them. Sometimes you can have work rejected, look at it again, and go ση to have an improed piece accepted elsewhere. But But be open to learning from the rejections."

Hope you have had a good day. Will be looking at Book Recommendations for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above. Looking forward to sharing that. I’ll be setting out my criteria before I recommend a book to anyone. One nice bonus to going to writer events is you end up with a load of book recommendations made to you so no danger whatsoever of running out of things to read. (Perish that thought!).

I’ll be off soon to see The Chameleon Theatre Group perform their latest production. Aptly called Spring Trio, this will consist of three one act plays. Looking forward to seeing that and it will be another Chandler’s Ford Today “works outing” given my lovely editor will be going as well. Review to follow in due course.

Writing Tip: Forget word counts. Is that odd for a flash fiction writer to say? Not really. Get your story or blog down first, then worry about the tidying up. Then worry about what the word count is – and sort accordingly. You really do need to work out what it is you are saying first, then worry about how many words you can use to do just that.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of the week so time for another story of mine on Friday Flash Fiction. I hope you enjoy Going Home. Lovely to see some great comments coming in on this one already. Thanks, folks!
Screenshot 2023-04-21 at 09-47-09 Going Home by Allison Symes

Looking forward to a flash workshop I’ll be running in May. That one will be on Zoom (which is a fabulous word to get out in Scrabble by the way. Have only done it once. Got it on a treble word score and scored over 90 with it. My bragging rights are definitely word related!).

I love online and in person workshops, whether I am running them or going to them. Have learned plenty from both kinds.

Don’t forget my author newsletter will be out again soon (1st May). To sign up for tips, news, story links etc., do head over to my landing page at – and a huge hello to all who have already signed up. It is good to have you aboard!


Must admit I do love picking out pieces to read at Open Prose Mic Nights and the like. I like to mix up the mood as well as the word count of the stories I pick for this. I also mix them up altogether for other occasions so I don’t just read the same ones. I also practice reading these and will often use Zoom to play back my readings so I can hear how they sound. I’ve found that facility so useful and it means I can ensure I get my timings right.

You usually have up to five minutes for these things. People don’t mind you coming in at under that time. What they don’t want is you going over it. Nor do you want to unintentionally irritate other performers doing that. And it is a good practice to get into for those times when you might want to submit a story for broadcasting. You will know how long time wise your story is and again ensure you fit in with the broadcaster’s requirements here. More likely to get a second bite of the cherry if you fit in!

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Fairytales with Bite – Twists

To my mind, all fairytales have twists in them. The “harmless old lady” who turns out to be a powerful magical being in disguise so watch how you treat them or she will make you pay is one of my favourite twists here. Fairytales taught me early on that it isn’t a good idea to judge by appearances alone. Plus the stories are full of unexpected/unlikely heroes/heroines who make the story work Like that aspect a lot too. A girl in rags isn’t usually considered to be a heroine but the world of the fairytale turns expectations upside down.

How can you make use of that for your stories? What would nobody expect your character to be able to do (inbuilt prejudices?) and they then go on to do them? What would be the consequences? Could these be humorous or tragic?

Regardless of what you write, when you use twists, they must be reasonable for the characters, your setting, and the story line. I find it helpful to work out what my twist will be first, then figure out how that could come about “naturally” in my story line. I think of this as working from B to A! (But it does work. Well worth trying. It means I know my twist is logical and makes sense).


This World and Others – Setting Scenes

With my flash fiction, due to its limited word count, I tend to use selected details which will conjure up a wider picture of my setting in the reader’s mind. If I set a story in an alien world, I will use one or two details to show the setting cannot be on Earth/is definitely an alien world but I don’t go into chapter and verse. I will show you an alien who can make himself shrink so he can hide in a ping pong ball (and I have done this!). The fact the alien can shrink into that shows you that this creature is not of this world and probably needs to find better places in which to hide. (Yes, the tale was a humorous one. It is my oddest setting to date).

For longer stories, I’ve got the room to share a little bit more detail but I still try to avoid big swathes of description. I would rather show you my character spilling the tea out of her cheap crockery (rather than tell you this was in a drab lounge because you can imply if the crockery is cheap, where she is living is likely to be as well). I try to work out the details a reader couldn’t guess and ensure those facts go in – the rest they can and will work out. I love doing this myself when I’m reading works by other writers. I love being able to picture the scene without every little detail being “spoon fed” to me. I want to work some things out but need the right clues to do it.

As for twists, as mentioned in Fairytales with Bite above, I will ensure the right clues are put earlier on in the story so when the twist does come, readers can look back and see that yes, this twist could happen because the seeds were sown for it in paragraph three or what have you. (This where working out what the twist is first pays dividends and help me set my scenes more convincingly too).





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Using Time for Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Not bad here though the weather was mixed. Think winter is trying to hang on when it really should just go away now. I have a look at friendships, crossing divides, and whether flash fiction can bear having repetition in it amongst other topics this time.

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today which is on a topic which is close to my heart – Using Time For Fiction. I like to make the most of those odd pockets of time we all get and it can be amazing what writing you can do in these. See the post for tips and thoughts here which I hope you will find useful.

Using Time For Fiction

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Better day. Got to have some sunshine today and Lady got to “show off” playing with her ball in front of her pal, the one she treats almost like a mum, the lovely Hungarian Vizler.

Am off for a day or two tomorrow. Will be posting as usual but times may vary. A lot will depend on where I am and the quality of a Wifi signal. It can be variable indeed on trains!

Sharing Using Time for Fiction on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. See above. As ever I plan to use what time I can on my journey to do what writing I can using my trusted phone and Evernote. Am never short of things to do here. Am never bored. The journey flies by and I end up going home with a lot drafted ready to be edited later. There is nothing about that scenario I dislike!

Using pockets of time boosts productivity

Another mixed bag, weather wise, here, but Lady got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback best friend today. Both dogs went home tired and happy.

Am talking about Using Time For Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above. Looking forward to sharing that.

Hope to be taking part in an author event in July. More news on that nearer the time. Am giving a flash fiction workshop for a writing group in May. Looking forward to that a lot. Always happy to talk about flash fiction!

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting on Zoom at the end of the month. I set some prompts last time and one of these was the first line of my story, Untaken, which was up on CafeLit yesterday. So I do write up my own prompts too!

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "I don't believe in writer's block. I DO believe there are times when we are not so creative for all kinds of reasons. We're human after all. Prompts can be a useful kick start."

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of another working week (a shorter one in the UK given we had a Bank Holiday on Monday for the Easter weekend). Still time for a story. Hope you like my latest on Friday Flash Fiction – Making Her Day. See what does here!

Screenshot 2023-04-14 at 17-27-12 Making Her Day by Allison Symes

Does writing flash regularly make writing to a specific word count easier? Hmm… jury’s out there. What I find is it is a case you know you can do it. You’ve done it lots of times before. But you still have to face this blank page. I go by the Wodehouse maxim to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

I will often refer to my notebooks (and this is where an idea from there will grab me and I run with that). Using pockets of time just to jot down potential ideas is never wasted effort and it pays off for me a lot.

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Is there a place for repetition in flash fiction? It may sound ironic, given the limited word count, but yes there is. I’ve used a repetition of a phrase for a character to stress something. They are trying to convince you they are speaking the truth. Sometimes this kind of repetition can be a habit of the character. So there is a place for it but it must be something you’ve thought out and can back up the characterisation to limit the risk of it looking like a mistake.

May be an image of text that says "Repetition, deliberately done, can be highly effective in a story. It can lead to a ripple effect throughout and add depth to your characterisation. Saying something once and then repeating it twice (again a rule of three!) helps people remember that something ar better. It is a huge indicator to the read that this something matters to the story and its outcome."

Fairytales With Bite – Friendships

What kind of friendships are encouraged in your fictional settings? One of my favourites is the friendship which develops between Legolas and Gimli from The Lord of the Rings. So many funny moments when they’re fighting side by side too. (‘It still counts as one, elf’, just being one example. This was an aspect I thought the films brought out so well).

And you can’t beat the friendship between Frodo and Sam for loyalty and courage. But the latter friendship is more understandable – between two hobbits rather than between an elf and a dwarf, traditional enemies.

Does your world discourage/encourage friendships between different species? Where would friendships be forbidden outright and does anyone defy this? How do your characters meet and develop friendships (or enmity come to that given friendships can go sour)?

You can show so much about a character by the type of friends they seek out (or seek to have because it serves their career etc – that in itself tells readers a lot about them!). Also what kind of a friend is your character to others? That can also reveal a great deal about the type of person they are.


This World and Others – Crossing Divides

Following on from Fairytales with Bite, friendships can be a great way to cross divides. The Legolas/Gimil example is a great one here. Who would be brave enough in your setting to make the first move here?

What divides does your world have and how did these come into being? Does anyone ever challenge them? Are there any good reasons for a divide? (An aggressive country attacks another. They’re beaten back. The victim country puts up a wall to stop this happening again – that kind of thing).

Where you have a divide, you have characters caught on either side of it. There is an obvious potential for tragic stories here but could you bring out a funny side at all? Do you have the spiv type characters who use the divides to their advantage and manage to cheat the system?





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Building A Book Workshop – Author Interview: Gill James

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as was the photo of Gill James at a Bridge House Publishing event.
For those who celebrate/commemorate, may I wish you a Happy Easter. It is lovely to have the sunny weather to go with it! A busy week again this week. I hope you enjoy a fabulous interview with Gill James on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Really great idea here. Check it out below.

BookBrushImage-2023-4-7-20-1515Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am thrilled to welcome back Gill James to Chandler’s Ford Today to discuss her Build a Book Workshop. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? Find out all about it here.

Author Interview: Gill James – Build A Book Workshop

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Another good day for Lady – she got to play with her pal Coco today.

Will be sharing a wonderful interview with Gill James on Chandler’s Ford Today soon. We’ll be discussing Build a Book Workshop which is a fabulous idea. More tomorrow. See above.

Don’t forget the April issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is out. Do check it out – it’s a great read and free!


Lady had a ball with her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, today. Good time had by both.

Looking forward to sharing a fabulous interview with Gill James about Build a Book Workshop for Chandler’s Ford Today. Interesting premise. Great answers to questions, what’s not to like? Link up on Friday. Again see above and yes I am really excited about this interview. The premise here is a superb one. Do check out the interview.

Talking of questions, don’t forget you can use these to quiz your potential characters, I often do and will also use the random question generators to help me come up with “left field” questions, which can be a great way of truly finding out what your character is made of! They also stop you using the same old questions over and over again.

I will often use questions to give me ideas for themes for stories and again often they make for good titles too. I find they help me dig that big deeper and that in turn benefits my story and characterisation.

May be a cartoon of text that says "Questions make for good themes τσσ. What questions DO bother your characters and why?"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to be on Friday Flash Fiction this week with my story Which Way? Hope you enjoy it. This story was prompted by the throw of a story dice and, aptly, a picture of a dice came up!

Screenshot 2023-04-07 at 09-12-58 Which Way by Allison SymesIf you do get Writing Magazine the last issue had their competition guide in it. Bear in mind a lot of the short story competitions either have categories for flash as well or their word count requirements fall within flash territory. Well worth checking out.

Don’t forget to check out the Ts and Cs of the competitions too (and that should be easily done by going to the competition’s website where you should be able to see these). You can sign up to Writing Magazine on line – their website says you could get access to their archive here, which would include the last edition with the guide, I would have thought!
Screenshot 2023-04-07 at 20-29-10 Writers Online Membership - Writers OnlineEntering competitions is also good practice for writing to deadlines

I was talking about using questions to help me with my fiction writing over on my author page earlier. Of course, because I am coming up with stories and characters all the time for my flash fiction and short stories, I need to ensure I have a constant supply of idea generators.

This is where the random generators are a blessing. It is also why I mix up the type I use frequently. Doing all of that makes me think outside the box more. That in turn helps fuel creativity and I am always all for that! (Story cubes, the old game of bits of paper in a hat with different words, adjectives on etc and then you pick out pieces at random – these all work too).

Also don’t forget the prompts books (and I will admit to bias here given I’ve contributed to some). Talking of which, I am also in The Big Book of Prompts, and many of the writers who regularly contribute to CafeLit, Bridge House Publishing etc are in there too. Why not see what we’ve come up with for ideas and see what you can make of them? Have fun!


Fairytales with Bite – Light and Dark

I’m writing this after what seems to have been the dullest, wettest March on record. Even the recent clock change where the clocks went forward did not appear to make much of a difference. And then the sunshine turned up and now we can believe spring has got here after all! Light makes all the difference.

In your setting, what kind of light would be considered natural? Are your characters affected by light levels the way we can be? What would they have in the way of artificial light for the winter season? Does your setting have a long dark period or a long light one? How would that make your characters behave?#

If you live in a setting where there isn’t a lot of natural light for most of the time, behaviour will be different compared to those who have nigh on perpetual natural light. (Those living in the latter can more obviously get out and about that much more easily. Sleep patterns will differ here too. How would that affect your characters?).

Is dark feared or welcomed? How do your characters manage to do the everyday tasks of life when dark is a way of life for them? Is crime more prevalent in a “dark” world?

You can also explore the issues of light and dark for each of your characters too. What would be their light attributes, which their dark etc? That alone could give you a good character outline ahead of writing your story up.


This World and Others – Nature

Light and dark are natural phenomenons of course but in your setting what is the natural world like? Is it comparable with ours? How do your creatures (human like or otherwise) cope with light and dark? What are their natural tendencies? Is there prey and predator, for example, and who would be considered to be the “top of the tree” here?

Have your main creations changed the natural world and, if so, how? Are there benefits to what they’ve done? What are the disadvantages and has your natural setting found a way of fighting back against what it hates? There are stories to be had in climate disasters and their aftermath, for example, but a more positive outcome here would be a tale where your characters learn from their mistakes, put them right, and the natural world responds to that. Redemption stories are always welcome! (If only to cheer us up as readers because there is so much gloom out there. We see natural disasters all the time, yes?).

How broad is your natural world? Is there a range of geographical settings? That directly affects what can live in your setting naturally so what kind of varieties of plant/insect/animal life, do you have here? How do these affect how the others can live?
It pays to take time to work this kind of thing out. Setting can so often act like a character in its own right. Think of The Shire, Mordor, Gondor etc in The Lord of the Rings. Each distinct. Each memorable. Each with their own “natures”.





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Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush.Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Another hectic week, more rain too! Am hoping the weekend proves to be a much needed time to wind down a bit!


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Anthologies, this week’s post on Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at the advantages of writing for them and share some tips on working to themes. Most anthologies do set these and it is good practice in any case given so many competitions do as well. Hope you find the post useful.


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Looking forward to sharing my Anthologies post on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. This is a classic case of writing about what you love as well as what you know! Link up tomorrow. See above.

Had a fabulous time at the Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom last night (for the Association of Christian Writers). Great responses to the writing exercises I set. Hope you all get some stories submitted and “out there” as a result.

Don’t forget my monthly newsletter goes out on the first of each month so there is still time to sign up in time for April’s one. Head over to my landing page at – would love to have you “aboard”. I share tips, writing advice, as well as news.

What I have in the back of my mind here is writing something I would love to receive myself in my inbox for this kind of thing. Mind you, I try to take that approach with my story writing too. I try to keep an Ideal Reader in mind, always, while writing what I love to write.

It’s my turn on More than Writers (the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers). This time I talk about Signs of Spring. This applies to our writing too! Hope you enjoy the post.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I took part in the Andrew Siderius Memorial competition on Friday Flash Fiction last week with a 100 word story. This week I have had a go at the up to 500 words category. Good challenge to mix up the word counts you write to!

Hope you enjoy The Fairy Godmother’s Guide For Finding A New Client, which is one of my longer titles! Sums the story up though.

Screenshot 2023-03-31 at 19-47-23 The Fairy Godmother's Guide for Finding a New Client by Allison Symes

Lady had a fabulous time with her Aussie Shepherd gentleman friend today. Both dogs have a very impressive thundering gallop when they run! Okay, they can send up some seriously impressive mud as well but one cannot have everything!

There is a useful competitions guide (often covering flash too) in the current edition of Writing Magazine but I think the next one is due out at any time so it may pay to grab a copy of the current issue while you can. The guide takes you up to December.

I’m currently prepping a story for a competition and hope to end up submitting that sometime in April.

Don’t forget to look out for Mom’s Favorite Reads due out again soon. I will shortly be setting my challenge for the May edition. See it as a good way to practice writing to a word count of 300 words maximum.

May be an image of text that says "Flash Fiction"

Damp and grey day here, not that Lady cared. How does the weather affect your characters’ moods? Do they match the weather or do they deliberately go in the opposite direction (if only to cheer themselves up a bit on days like today, say? I find the writing carries on regardless – it is time which is a more relevant factor for me.

May be an image of text that says "Creative writing does just that for reader and writer. Readers can tell when something is written with love and care. You've got to care about what you write to stand all the rejections you are likely to get before acceptances come. Come INSPIRE"

Fairytales with Bite – Humorous Magic – What Could Go Wrong?

What kind of magical jokes would your mischievous characters do and what would be the consequences? In your setting, is magic taken seriously most of the time but with the proviso of something like an April Fools’ Day where folk are allowed to be more playful with their spells (on the understanding nobody gets hurt or made to fall in love with someone they wouldn’t usually fall for)?

I mention the latter as some limits would have to be set to prevent unfortunate consequences which would continue for longer than the period of mischievous magic allowed for. But tricks, jokes – what kind would these be and does your society welcome this as a way of letting off steam every now and again?

If humour is frowned on (it can be closely linked to free speech), how would your characters let off steam? Would there be underground comedy venues? I grew up watching The Goodies. Check out their episode Goodies Rule UK for their take on this – I find this is still funny after all these years. If funny magic is banned, why, who brought in the ban, and does anyone defy it?
Where humorous magic is allowed, who clears up the inevitable mess? There will be someone!


This World and Others – Treating Magical Accidents

That last line leads nicely into this topic. Where magic is practiced, things are bound to go wrong. See The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for one thing! So who would deal with the accidents? Is there the magical equivalent of paramedics, the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, or any other first responder? Are magical mishaps treated magically or with or traditional kinds of medicine, similar to what we have?

Also, is there any such things as a magical accident insurance company? I could see there being funny stories here, especially with what might go on the claim forms. (Fans of UK comedian Jasper Carrott will remember his routines with insurance claim forms. Hilarious stuff).

Are there particular groups in your setting who would be more prone to this kind of accident, due to either being more clumsy or less experience with magic than other more privileged groups? Would this lead to them being allowed to get more magical experience (if only to keep everyone else safe from them)?





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