I was so pleased I managed to schedule Facebook, Chandler’s Ford Today posts etc, that I forgot to schedule something for here and also on my Goodreads blog! Sorry, folks, but a round up of recent posts to follow. Hope to put up a Goodreads blog in next day or so. Firstly, though:-
PUBLICATION AND EVENT NEWS
I am thrilled that my flash fiction story, Progressing, was one of the 16 winning entries to the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. The ebook, To Be…To Become, is now available (reviews would be very welcome!) and I must admit I love a title that also tells you the theme! Many of my fellow winners took part in the Festival last week and read out from their winning entries. I was only sorry to miss it being in the beautiful far North of Scotland at the time! (The link takes you to the Amazon page for the ebook incidentally – no surprises there!).
Event News – Hursley Park Book Fair – and Chandler’s Ford Today
I am delighted to be taking part in the above Fair this coming weekend. The whole event is on 23rd and 24th June but I can only be there for the Saturday, unfortunately. This is the inaugural Hursley Park Book Fair and everyone taking part (over 40 authors) is hoping this will become a regular event.
I am giving a talk on flash fiction at 10.55 am on the 23rd and am looking forward to that. Hursley Park is situated between Winchester and Romsey. The event is free, there is plenty of parking, and a wealth of genres will be represented at the Fair. So do come along if you can. If you want to know what inspires our stories, what flash fiction is about etc, I will be pleased to see you. There are workshops and many other talks, a book quiz, competitions for adults and children, so plenty going on so do drop by.
My post on CFT is naturally about this but gives more details and I am pleased to share some of the other local writers’ pictures and books who will also be at the Fair. I’ve interviewed them all at some point too!
Chandler’s Ford Today – Graham MacLean Art Series
I occasionally edit a series on CFT and have had the great pleasure of editing Graham MacLean’s series on Art. I’m sharing Part 2 of the series here, which has some slideshows of his fantastic artwork. Part 1 was last week and Part 3 will be this Thursday. If you have any interest in art, I would recommend taking a look. (My favourite is Part 2 due to the slideshows!).
Facebook – General
I will just round up all of my most recent posts in one long one here and will do the same for my book page too. Hope you find plenty of interest.
It always pays to check over work before submitting it anywhere but there is nothing to stop you mixing up the formats you use.
For example, you’ve read through and edited your work on paper. Now have a look at it on screen. Read the piece out loud. Record your reading. Play it back. Literally hear how easily (or otherwise!) it is to read your dialogue.
When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve found that what I thought looked okay on the paper did not necessarily read well so made the necessary adjustments. I don’t use this method all the time, but if you want to check dialogue especially, I’d recommend it.
Do you remember when you wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to “go for it”?
In my case I’d been writing for a while, was beginning to have acceptances, and took the attitude I would follow my dream here. Nothing ventured, nothing gained etc.
So what was the trigger point for you? Have you achieved what you initially set out to do? Has your writing journey taken a different direction from what you anticipated? I hadn’t heard of flash fiction when I began writing. Now I’m published in it. If there is a lesson here, it is to keep your options open!
What is your favourite piece of writing by another author? Is it what they usually do or something different from the norm?
I sometimes read poetry as that is completely outside what I do and generally read but must admit I tend to stick to the tried and tested classics. (Always a good place to start, at least.).
Given the choice between poetry and limericks, I always go for the latter, partly because I enjoy a good laugh!
What do your characters read? Are the characters in your creations fully literate or are there gaps in education we don’t face? How could you use education/the ability to read etc as (a) part of your story and (b) to give enough details so your reader can get a very good idea of what your world is like?
Writing can teach you many things if you let it. The obvious one is the value of patience given how long it can take to be published and prior to that, you despair as to whether publication is ever going to happen so your “hope muscle” gets a really good workout or several!
Tenacity, perseverance, and determination develop as you learn to handle rejection and improve your work. You also learn to turn a deaf ear to advice that really isn’t helpful for you (and sometimes it really isn’t). Your skin toughens up too coping with the rejections that come in.
But when the writing is going well, your latest has been accepted etc, relish it, see it as the progress it is. I do know I wish I could bottle that positive feeling and unleash it on myself for those days when writing etc does not grow well.
A surprise ending shouldn’t come as a total shock to the reader. There should be clues earlier on in the story that means the surprise ending is justified.
I must admit one of the great pleasures of reading for me is reading a story, guessing at who the bad guy is, and then finding out if I’m right or not!
I usually then go back through the story, especially if I guessed wrongly, to look for things that might be clues (and often get a bit cross with myself for not having spotted them in the first place. They are there, as they should be!).
My CFT post this week tells you all about the Hursley Park Book Fair, which is taking place on 23rd and 24th June at Hursley Park, the home of IBM, between Winchester and Romsey. The event is free, there is plenty of parking, and a wide range of authors are taking part. I’m there on the 23rd and will be talking about flash fiction at 10.55 am. Hope to see you there!
Who has the best reasons to thwart your characters’ plans? Do bear in mind that sometimes a character doesn’t need an enemy as such. Sometimes circumstances can thwart them. How do your characters react to that? When there is an enemy, how did they get to be that way? Is there enemity going on that new characters could help resolve? How do your characters response to life’s odd moments?
An A to Z of characters can start with:-
A = Ambition. Are your characters ambitious? What will they do to gain power and keep it?
B = Books. Are your characters well read? What do they read?
C = Creativity. Are your characters creative and, if so, in which field? Can they use their skills here in the story you’ve put them in?
D = Drive. What drives your characters? What can zap that drive and can they get it back again?
E = Education. This is a good one to use to show the standards in your creation. Are they high? Is education universal? Do your characters relish their education or did they hate it all?
F = Family. What are your characters’ families like? Do they support your hero/heroine as they continue their quest (sacred oir otherwise).
So continuing with the A to Z of characters, we are now at G.
G = Generosity. Are your characters generous or do they begrudge giving anyone money?
H = Helpfulness. Well, are your characters helpful or not? Can other characters rely on them?
I = Imagination. Do your characters have any? How do they use any they do possess – in writing, the creative arts, or in criminal activities, say?
J = Justice. Justice can be an emotive topic. Is justice truly upheld in your fictional world? Do the nasty (but cheap) and the loud (but knowledgeable) people exist in your fiction? What impact do they have on others?
K – Kindness. I like to see kind characters who are NOT doormats. They choose to be kind. Their attitude makes a difference. They’ve perhaps been shown great kindness and they are now kind of passing it on.
More next time… (well, actually in a couple of days!).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I was reading something earlier about using character names to tell you something about back story, about the character themselves and so on. Good idea! And in flash fiction it would be another great way of keeping the word count down!
Ironically, having given this a bit more thought, I often don’t name my flash characters at all as I use first person a lot. It is immediate, takes you straight into the character’s head and thoughts, and is phenomenally useful.
My only problem with the above idea is I would end up revealing some spoilers as some of my flash fiction revolves around a crime. Murderess Mary rather does give the plot away about what said Mary got up to!!
I like writing flash stories which tell you quite a bit about relationships the main character has with others while getting on with whatever it is that is happening to them as the story.
My Making the Grade is a good example of this as the character is clearly taking exams but you find out a lot about her family and their attitudes in this.
It is also an example of first person usage and I think of this as the character talking directly to “camera” as Eric Morecambe used to do so frequently in the Morecambe and Wise shows. (Wonderful shows, they bring back many happy memories).
Flash fiction is a celebration of the joys of being brief! I think of it as the polar opposite to the epic novel…
I find flash really useful for those scenes which are a story in and of themselves, but are too short to be sent out to standard competitions etc. Waste not, want not! And I’ve always loved books I can read from cover to cover or dip in and out of as I choose. Flash fiction is ideal for that too.
I suppose you could also describe flash fiction as “moment” stories given you haven’t the word count to show much more of a character’s life.
The front cover of FLTDBA shows ripples in a body of water and when I was looking for something suitable to use for my book, this one leapt out at me. (Only metaphorically speaking!).
I liked the idea of the ripples spreading outwards and that for something (a splash!) which initially wouldn’t have seemed so important still managed to make its presence felt! I want my stories to have that kind of impact. A good story stays with you and I hope that with a reduced word count, people will find it easier to remember good flash fiction pieces.
The reason for a good title is to grab
The reader’s attention and hope
They’ll find flash anything but drab
And suddenly learn to say “nope”
To those saying flash isn’t worth the read
Because it’s so short and to truly feed
Your imagination you need the big book.
Of course you do but you need short stories too.
I sometimes schedule posts if I’m away, likely to be really busy and so on and find it quite useful. However, I do find it odd to write a few posts all in one hit so to speak. I am going to try scheduling more often to free up more writing time for other projects I’d like to work on. (It’s also a useful habit to get into as it can cover you for family emergencies, at least for a while).
I’m off on my travels again before long and am mapping out what I’d like to write on Evernote on my phone whilst on my way. I need to use that more for non-fiction posts, including mini blogs like this one. Still I am pleased with progress on my next collection and plan to write more of that up too!
What inspires your fiction? I’ve been inspired by crime stories, fantasy tales and so on. So the more you read, the more you can be inspired by!
If you are in Hampshire over the weekend of 23/24 June, why not pop along to the Hursley Park Book Fair at Hursley Park, home of IBM until 2014? There will be a range of authors (over 40 of us) and I am representing flash fiction writers. I’ll also be talking about the form and why I love it. It is very addictive.
The event is free, there will be a book quiz (with 3 prizes of book bundles in all, a copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again is part of one of the bundles), and car parking is free and plentiful. (Can’t often say that these days).
Children’s fiction will be represented more on the Sunday but why not go to both days and top up on books for all the family. Hope to see you there!
Because there isn’t room to world build in flash fiction, it is very easy to set your stories anywhere. You just put your character in a location, say London in Dickens’ time and for most readers that will instantly conjure up images (lots of fog especially!) that will add to the story for them without you having to spell it all out.
I love writing stories from the viewpoints of aliens as I can show you what they are like as characters. The details of their world in terms of how it is run, population types and sizes etc, are generally not relevant for my tales. (Though why they left can be…).
This can lead to a “mini series” if you really take to the character created. I love having fun with flash fiction and seeing what I can do with it. It all keeps the writing fresh.
I thought of my book’s title while I was away in the beautiful far North of Scotland last week. Only problem was I was reading by natural light up until about 11 pm most nights so by the time it did actually get dark, I was asleep! I am writing this now at just coming up to 11 pm in the South of England and it is pitch black out there. Oh what a difference latitude makes!
One image that I really wish I’d managed to photo was from a previous holiday where there were hills behind where we were staying. I watched the sun go down on one side and the moon rise on the other and it was a beautiful sight. A little bit other worldly too and I suspect, had I managed to snap the image, it would have made a very good picture prompt for a story on those grounds.
Managed to use the journey to and from Scotland to get more flash fiction written (and indeed some non-fiction too) so was very pleased with that.
And I am delighted to say another flash fiction piece of mine called Progressing is one of the 16 winning entries to the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. The ebook, To Be…To Become (title AND theme!), is now available from the usual outlets, as they say. (See at top of post for link and image).
Fairytales With Bite – All The Fun of the Fair
Am looking forward to taking part in the Hursley Park Book Fair on 23rd June. About 40 authors are taking part in this and it will be the biggest book event I’ve taken part in to date. I’ll also be giving a talk about flash fiction during this and, of course, I hope to sell some books!
Fairs generally go back a very long way in the UK in terms of history and were the highlights of medieval life in particular. They acted as a kind of holiday from the usual backbreaking toil which was the lot of the peasants.
In your fictional world, does your society have this kind of community event? If so, what form does it take, who can take part in it, and how often does it run? Is there a history to it? In a magical world, how do their Fairs differ from non-magical ones?
If there isn’t a Fair or something like that, what kind of recreational activities do the ordinary people of your world enjoy? If there’s nothing at all, how do the people cope with work, work, nothing but work? I would expect people to get ground down and tired and in need of some sort of break so what would happen in your world if that break doesn’t happen? I would expect friction, at least, and probably more than that. Someone is bound to rebel against their lot. And that’s where your story may well be!
This World and Others – Compare and Contrast
I didn’t watch The Man in the High Castle but I heard very good things about it. People I know who did watch it were gripped by the drama showing an alternative world to ours where Germany won World War Two and Hitler was a very old man. I don’t want to say more than that – no spoilers here! – but you can see how you could create your own timeline based on the opposite of what happened for real and create a whole new world and set of stories.
Another good starting point would be to take character traits you admire or loathe and get your characters, in a setting or time of your choice, to have the exact opposite!
For example, if you loved medieval life, what would the consequences be for, say, a knight who is a coward? (Okay, you could argue that knight would not live long and how did he get to be a knight in the first place with an attitude like that anyway? I suspect there would be stories to be had answering that question! Also, so much depends on perspective here. The knight might not be a coward at all – it is how he is seen by others who might have their own agendas here. So you can see there are story possibilities there as well).
So compare and contrast and have fun!