Acrostics and Focusing

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshot of part of my latest story video was taken by me.

It has been a hot few days here but Lady, my collie cross, prefers to keep it cool. Image of Lady and me taken by Adrian Symes.

LADY DISCUSSES TTFF WITH ME

Facebook – General

A bit cooler today. Lady and I weren’t sorry about that.

I’m going to have two blog posts to share on Friday. My Chandler’s Ford Today one is on Brand Recognition and Why It Matters. This is so important for writers given we all have to do at least some marketing. So therefore it pays to think what brand we want to put “out there” that readers associate with us and will like.

I’ll also have a post out on Authors Electric, which is called Reading Into Writing Will Go. Those of you of a certain age will recognise the words “will go” from the way division used to be taught in Maths. So what has that got to do with writing or reading? I look forward to sharing the link on Friday when you can find out!

So look out for two Facebook posts from me on Friday with two links.

Meanwhile back in Hot Hampshire I am so glad I live in a property that faces north. It means more heating in the winter but it comes into its own right now – it is cool here! (It is quite nice that something is cool here because I do know I’m not!).


Baking day – outside that is! Lady had a reduced exercise session before it got too hot. Although she is usually as daft as a brush, she is sensible in warm weather, knows all the shady spots to head to, and is the first of my three collies who willingly drinks water! I rarely go out without water for her and, in these conditions, it is one of the first things I get ready to take with us.

I have a good spot on our patio area where I can do a pavement test (back of hand held down on said area for at least 15 seconds. Let’s just say if I can’t keep my hand there for the required time, Lady doesn’t go out. One issue with going out later in the day is the ground has had time to bake, literally, so please if you’re a dog owner, always carry water with you, and do the pavement test before you go. If in doubt, don’t go). (Lady has happily curled up in the shade for the rest of the day and has been enjoying snoozing and woofing at my shopping delivery man so she has had a great day!).

Writing wise, a huge thanks for all the fabulous comments on my New In Town on #FridayFlashFiction. Feedback always appreciated.

Do you find it harder to write in hot weather rather than cold? Makes no difference to me as I make sure I’m comfortable enough at the old desk but I can understand if concentration levels dip somewhat. (I swear there are times my laptop is cooler than I am!). I don’t use weather in my fiction at all partly because I don’t want to fall into the “dark and stormy night” cliche trap but also I can think of several more important things for a reader to need to know than what weather my character is experiencing. I can only see relevance here if you’re sending your character on a quest (and generally you need longer than a flash fiction piece to do that well!).

Looking forward to sharing my next Authors Electric piece later on in the week too.

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Another warm and sunny day in Hot Hampshire (and a sympathetic salute goes to all hayfever sufferers!).
Stories come in all shapes and sizes but this goes for non-fiction too funnily enough. Especially when I interview someone for Chandler’s Ford Today, I want that person’s story and love to get behind what led them to write the books or stories they have. I suppose this is because (a) I’m nosey and (b) I know no two writing journeys are the same and I find it fascinating and instructive to learn from others here.

For fiction taking a bit of time out to think about what makes your characters the way they are leads to better characterisation (you really have got a handle on your person here) and stronger plot lines. So looking for the story behind the story then is always a good idea. We’re encouraged to dig deeper and not just go for the obvious ideas for stories. Looking into what makes your characters tick in more depth is a great way to achieve that.


Hope you have had a good Saturday. Glorious weather here. Lady enjoying it – sensibly. Currently curled up behind me in a nice cool study.

Coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today in the next month or so will be a fascinating interview with someone I first met a few years back at the Hursley Park Book Fair, which I wrote about for CFT at the time. Very much small world syndrome here but a delightful one and the interview is a smashing one. I’ll also be sharing how I met this author again as it is a great advert for networking in person where you can and online anyway. Looking forward to sharing more on all of that in due course.

Coming up this Friday for CFT will be a piece called Brand Recognition and Why It Matters – so I combine writing with some marketing for that one! (I also share thoughts and tips here and look forward to sharing this later in the week).

Thrilled to bits my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction, New in Town, has had a wonderful response to it. Acrostic stories are good fun to write though I have found you want something (a) short and (b) open to interpretation for this kind of thing. In case you missed it, here’s the link for it. Oh and it has been a great joy responding to the comments on the site itself on this one. Thanks, everyone.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the response to my acrostic flash tale called Fiction yesterday. Good fun to write and create a video for. I have discovered the joy of animations on Book Brush and used a “pulse” one for Fiction. I use Book Brush a lot for my blog work as it is lovely putting captions into the pictures I use – and they look better I think. Only downside? It is too easy to lose a lot of time playing with Book Brush but there are worse writing problems to have!

But it is creative and part of the old marketing so that’s okay then! (And the videos are a simple way to share mini-flash tales – basically under 100 words or so).

Screenshot 2021-06-15 at 20-42-49 Allison Symes

For the rest of the story you’ll have to go to the link – see below.


Pleased to share my latest acrostic flash fiction story video with you. This one is called Fiction and many thanks for the comment that has come in on this already. Hope you enjoy. There is a time for dancing in the streets…and a time not to!


I’ve mentioned before that titles carry a lot of weight in flash fiction. They indicate mood/genre of the story, freeing up precious word count room for what matters – the story itself. But it pays to keep your title short to maximise the impact of it and to allow for the fact some markets and competitions count the title as part of their acceptable overall word count limit. Do watch out for that! Also shorter titles are more memorable and that’s important to your reader (and therefore potentially to you too). You want your readers to remember your titles and the books they appeared in!

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Glad my story New In Town went down so well yesterday. Acrostic flash tales are good fun to do but work best, as I mentioned on my author page on FB earlier, when kept short and if the word or words chosen can be taken in more than one way. Double meanings, as well as hyphenated words, are great assets to the flash fiction writer!

Twice the meaning for only one “lot” of words and hyphenated words mean you get two words for the price of one. So glad to have discovered that one especially as I have made good use of it in my time. (No. You can’t just hyphenate any words – that would be cheating!).

Misjudging people can be a great theme for any story but I have used it in flash. In Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my character, Walter, makes up his mind about the new postman in my story Identity. Can’t say more than that. The story is about whether Walter was right or wrong. But what was interesting here was I didn’t need to give you the postman’s backstory. You just see things from Walter’s point of view and then the story goes on to show you whether he was right or wrong.

I’ve mentioned before that with flash focusing on one character and one important incident is the way to go. Here it was a case of focusing on Walter’s viewpoint and then following it through to a conclusion. I could have brought in something from the postman’s viewpoint to indicate whether Walter was right or not. In not doing that, I’ve made the story more focused and, I think, it has greater impact.

Goodreads Author Blog – Kindles for Kinds of Books?

I love reading. Okay no big news there. I love reading in all kinds of formats and listening to audio books. Again no great breaking news story there. But I wondered if you save your Kindle or other e-reader for certain types of book. I do.

I use ebooks to test out authors new to me and for a lot of non-fiction (especially where the print version would be too big and bulky to handle. I can think of a few tomes here that would break your toes if you dropped the book on your foot – the Encyclopedia Britannica anyone?!).

I also use ebooks for short story and flash collections as these are ideal for reading on a screen.

The Kindle is one of the first things I pack whenever I get to go away (and that still won’t be for a while yet given Covid) and its finest “moment” is saving every avid reader from ever having to worry again about how many books they can fit into their suitcase. I appreciate my Kindle for that alone!

So do you save certain kinds of book for your e-reader and, if so, which?

 

 

 

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Reflections

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Images from the Share Your Story Writing Summit held earlier this year kindly provided by them.

Hope you have had a good week. I share a more thoughtful post on my Chandler’s Ford Today column this week and share a new story too. Weather wild and blustery here. Lady and I are not too impressed by it.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post on Reflections. I look at this topic from a variety of angles. I consider how it is vital to the creative life.

You do need to take time out every now and then to work out where you are with your writing and how you would like it to develop further.

I also look at how character studies (ideal for flash fiction as these work best when kept short) can not only show you the character reflecting, they can cause you, the reader, to wonder whether you would have done the same thing as the character or not.

I also share how I’ve expanded my blogging activities recently and this was due to taking time out to look at ways of doing this, and taking opportunities that came my way to aid this.

Reflection can also play a part in a story as a character learns from their mistakes and (hopefully) goes on to better things. Stories hinge on a moment of change for a character. Sometimes that moment of change can literally be dramatic. But at other times, such as in character studies, the moment of change is when the character learns something or is prepared to accept they’ve made mistakes (which they weren’t prepared to do at the start of the tale).

So reflection has a big part to play in the creative life then.

Hope you enjoy the post.

Reflections

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Very gusty in Hampshire today. Am still in my huge dog walking coat and boots whenever I take Lady out. Had so hoped I’d have seen the back of those for a few months but clearly that won’t be happening for a bit yet. (And yes, this soft southerner does still have the central heating on!).

Just a quick reminder my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Reflections will be up on site tomorrow. I’ll look at how reflections impact on the creative life, your writing journey, and I ask whether reflecting is peaceful or scary. I also chat about how characters can reflect. Hope you will find it a useful and thoughtful post. Look forward to sharing the link tomorrow.

Am also looking forward to sharing my next author newsletter on 1st June. If you’d like to sign up please head to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more on this. I share stories, tips, writing prompts, as well as news here.

Just to flag up there is currently an offer on Amazon for the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic for more details.

Last but not least, I have seen that our excellent local amateur theatre company, The Chameleons, are looking to restart their wonderful plays from July. Very much looking forward to seeing their shows again and reviewing them for Chandler’s Ford Today again in due course.

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Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Have had lovely sunshine, heavy rain, and a right mix bag of weather today though it has been nice Lady and I have managed to miss most of the deluges.

I was chatting over at #Val’sBookBundle earlier today about childhood books. My favourites included The Famous Five. (A big thanks to all who responded to this post too). But I know it was my childhood love of reading that got me into stories and therefore writing at all.

Do you know what got you into creative writing and what helps keep you going when the words don’t seem to flow so easily? For me, I just know I feel better in myself when I’ve got something written down and that does help keep me going. Having deadlines (such as Fridays for my Chandler’s Ford Today posts) helps a lot too.

I also have specific writing sessions where I will draft blogs I know I’m going to need in the next couple of weeks or so. This means I have something to hand should I need it – and I often am grateful for having this to fall back on. (Life does get in the way sometimes, it can’t be helped, and it is a question of going with the flow and doing what you can when that happens).

Jotting down ideas for future use

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Thrilled to say I have another drabble (100-word story) up on #FridayFlashFiction. Hope you enjoy Sibling Surprise (though it is debatable whether one of the siblings in my story will!).


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I will just mention I share flash tales and writing tips over on my monthly author newsletter. Some of these tales will end up in a collection later on, I hope, but readers to my newsletter get a first read on them! If you’d like to find out more, please sign up at my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – next newsletter is due on 1st June and it is great fun putting them together.

I like a nice chatty newsletter myself and prefer the monthly type on the grounds you don’t have too much hitting your inbox with this time scale but you get a nice read when you do!). A newsletter is something I should have got around to doing earlier, to be honest, but it was the Share Your Story Writing international summit I took part in back in March that made me finally get around to this.

I’m working on two major projects at the moment, one of which I hope will prove to be my third flash collection. I am at the heavy editing stage but this will knock that book into shape nicely once done.

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I was chatting over on my author page about what keeps you writing during difficult times. One huge advantage of flash fiction writing is it doesn’t commit you to too much in one go. So if life has got in the way and I only have time for a quick ten minute draft of something, I will usually draft a flash tale (100 words or less) or start making notes for future blog posts. I still feel like I’ve written something useful (and I have).

Another thought is to just jot down thoughts for future flash fiction stories. Later, when there is more time, you can write up the ones you like best. Random generators are useful for encouraging you to think differently and I have often found what comes up here produce story idea triggers. So I jot those down and come back to them later.

This is especially useful if I feel tired and uninspired (and it happens to everyone). I will just write down what the generators come up with and I can start forming links from that. Usually the act of writing them down helps kick start those links forming which is great as those links lead to a story outline and away I go later.

Writing, of all kinds, takes stamina and it pays to accept the fact that there are times when you will feel ground down etc and not feel up to producing as much as you would normally. That’s fine – and where flash fiction can really be your friend. A short story in not too many words – what’s not to like there!


Fairytales with Bite AND This World and Others – The Magical ABC


This post combines elements I would write for in Fairytales with Bite and This World and Others so I have combined this into one long blog spot split by pictures about half way through. Hope you enjoy.

A= Always ready with a wand or other magical implement, even when you’re not competent. (See The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for more on the lack of competence issue).

B = Books to be treasured either for their spells or legends and myths relating to the world your characters live in.

C = Charms – to be ducked if hurled at you by a witch.

D = Danger – to be expected in a magical world. It is all about who controls the magic/power and there will always be a Dark Lord somewhere who wants to grab that top spot.

E = Expectations – often turned upside down in a magical world. The little old man or crone is often much more than they appear to be. Expect the unexpected. You won’t be disappointed.

F = Fairies. All sweetness and light? Hmm…. Maybe not. Tinkerbell had a vindictive side.

G = Greatness. Don’t take this at face value either. Often the humble characters tend out to be the real heroes, the ones destined for greatness as it were.

H = Heroes. See G above but also bear in mind heroes don’t have to be humans here. So what kind of creature will your heroes be?

I = Imagination. The more imaginative the magical being, the more creative their spells are likely to be (with equally creative results. Could be good news. Could be bad news if you’re on the wrong end of this).

J = Judging by appearances is rarely good here. See E for Expectations above. It is best to assume there is more to someone than what they look like.

K = Kindness. Along with humility, kindness is greatly appreciated by the discerning fairy godmother and the like. They prefer their clients to have these things. They’re not going to help some arrogant so-and-so who needs a quick spell to get them out of trouble or to give them riches the fairy godmother knows they will only waste.

L = Language. Can be flowery, especially when spell reciting. Listen for tone. If a magical being seems grim when uttering their spell, you can be their spell will be equally grim. Best get out of the way and hide.

M = Magic of course. As with any form of power, it can be used for good or evil. There should be a counter-balance between good and evil in your fairytales. An all evil character needs a worthy opponent to deal with after all. An all good character needs to be tested and the evil character will do that well enough.

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N = Natural world. Now what does count as “natural” in a magical environment? Which geographical features would we recognize? Which are unique to your creation? What about the wildlife? Are they all magical or are there any non-magical ones? Do dragons and the like prey on the latter? If so, how do the latter survive? What advantages might they have on the magical creatures (and in the interests of fairness, they ought to have something! Will give them a chance to survive for a start!).

O = Overview. Is magic seen as a good thing by the majority of your population or as a menace? What does magic contribute to your society? Can anyone learn it or is its use restricted? If the latter, how is it restricted and why do the magical beings accept those restrictions?

P = Portents. Is prediction of any kind used in your magical world? Who has the ability to come up with these? Does anyone control them so only portents which suit the rulers ever get issued?

Q = Quest. Name a magical world without one of these! But the quest must be a matter of vital importance and ideally have a range of characters, including some very unlikely heroes. (Hairy feet and having second breakfasts have been done – see The Lord of the RingsI).

R = Reading. Yes magical beings need to read (their spells for one thing and accurately at that). Is magical ability linked to the ability to read? You could use literacy or its lack to control who could use magic. It would be a good way to keep the main population under control. They can’t read. They can’t do magic. They have to do as they’re told. So what would happen if someone rebelled against that and learned to read when they are officially not allowed to do so?

S = Spells. Like characters, there are nice ones, nasty ones, downright evil ones. Are there antidotes to spells or, in the case of Sleeping Beauty, can spells be modified to limit damage?

T = Taming the Beast. See Beauty and the Beast for a great example of how this is done. The Beast, after all, is cowed by the witch who cursed him and later by Beauty. But how about the magical creatures in your world? Can they be tamed or their potential damage limited in any way? Who could do this? Are there benefits to the beast as well as to your other characters? (You could say certain creatures got to live rather than being hunted to extinction because of their more dangerous qualities).

U = Universe. Is your created world a solo one or is it linked to others in its immediate universe? If the latter, how well do the different worlds get on or is there a history of war?

V = Vilification. This is as easy as breathing for your villainous characters. They of course are going to want to “do down” the heroes. You start by vilifying them (and the parallels with our own world here are not coincidental. I wish they were but that’s another matter).

W = Witches and Wizards. Both will consider themselves to be superior to the others, usually because of gender too. How does that work out in your stories? And can they ever get along for the common good?

X = Xeric. It is a word, honest and one I’ll remember for Scrabble the next time I play it. It means little moisture. So how does your magical world fare up when it comes to water supplies? Is it a green and pleasant land or prone to desert? That will directly affect how your characters live and drive their needs. Is magic used to conjure up water where supplies are short? What are the downsides to magical water as opposed to natural?

Y = Yummy. Is magical food and drink as delicious as it looks or does it hide something nasty? The visitor to the magical world would do well to avoid suspiciously red, shiny apples especially if being sold by an old woman with a basket.

Z = Zest. Be wary of young apprentices who show zest for using magic even though they are not fully trained. This takes us back nicely to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice again!

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A Questionable Choice, Spoilers, and Characterisation

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope you had a good weekend. Weather continues to be strange for the time of year here. Oh and writing wise, one rejection and one acceptance this week!

The Writing Journey

Facebook – General


Enjoyed my first swim of the week today but it is the hardest one of the week to do! And I knew I’d tired Lady out this morning as she didn’t get off the sofa to come and greet me. It looked as if she’d just woken up as she looked at me as if to say “you’re back, then!”

What I love about writing (and I promise to keep this short, honest!):-

  • Inventing characters
  • Inventing things for them to say and do
  • Putting them in conflict with each other and/or their environment and enjoying the show as they battle it out! (I know, I know… I am a nice girl really, honest).
  • Editing my draft and almost feeling the story “tighten” up and be so much better than that first draft.
  • Submitting the finished story.
  • Being told it has been accepted or if I’m preparing a story for use on my website or Youtube channel, creating a video to go with it.

All great fun and now back to it!

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Hope you had a good weekend. Another blustery day in Hampshire today, Still feels like flaming March!

I found out yesterday the story I submitted for the annual Bridge House Publishing anthology didn’t make it. On the plus side a story I sent to CafeLit will be appearing next week! Will share the link when I have it.

I will at some point have another look at my BHP story and see if I can submit it somewhere else. I often can (and there is always the possibility of including it in a single author collection – nothing is wasted in writing. I’ve found I can recycle most things in some way and sometimes a story turned down in one place is accepted by another).

You never lose the buzz of being published so, yes, having a turn down is always disappointing but I’ve also been encouraged by all those times when I have been able to recycle a story elsewhere. So I know I can have a crack at that again. And there is always the next story to work on! There is always a next story!


My Chandler’s Ford Today post later this coming week will be on the theme of Understanding. (Couldn’t we all do with more of that in the world?). I look at how reading encourages empathy and why this is good for you. I also have a look at understanding how stories work. I’ve found learning this has helped me as I craft my flash and other stories. Look forward to sharing this on Friday.

Have discovered a one-star review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic but there’s no name or comment left with it. Does this mean I have “arrived”?! I know everyone gets them…! (I guess it gets my number of reviews up anyway! – Oh and yes please to anyone who hasn’t yet reviewed TTFF – reviews are always helpful. Thanks!).

Also a big hello to those newly signed up to my author newsletter. Good to have you aboard. Hope you enjoy the freebie (which you’ll find as a link in the welcome email). I share tips, flash stories, as well as news here on the 1st of each month – if you would like to sign up please head to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am working on a piece I hope to submit to an online magazine later this week – am loving writing it and reading back issues of the magazine too. Yes, I do always read copies of anything I am hoping to submit work to – how else will you get a feel for the style they want? And it is huge fun to do of course!

Hope you have had a good Saturday. Can’t believe the weather. More like March than May out there. Still Lady got to have an excellent run with a whippet, Milo, earlier today, and a good time was had by all. Lady can keep up with, and sometimes outrun, your average whippet. Yes, she is that fast. Equally fast at coming through for when she just knows it’s dinner time. Strange that.

One of the things I love about characterisation is when it is done well, you do feel as if you are inside that character’s head and can almost feel their pains, their joys etc. I’m currently reading a book for someone where they have got the narrative voice down so well, it almost takes my breath away and it is a sheer joy to read because of that.

A character that grips you is one that will grip the reader. Think about what kind of characters you like. What is it about them that appeals? Look for ways of reproducing that for when you plan out your characters.

If you like honesty as a trait, how will your lead character show that honesty? Is that honesty welcome or does it land them right in it? Think about the things that could come from that honesty – another character being honest back could tell your lead person truths about themselves they won’t like which could set off a chain of events.

If your characters don’t engage you, they won’t for anyone else. You do have to like your people, people (!), even if you loathe what they go on and do in your story.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


Many thanks for the great responses to my story video, A Questionable Choice. Also thanks to those who put comments up on my Youtube channel. If you’d like to subscribe to this the link you need is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

I usually create a story on a Sunday and upload it for a Monday. This is a great way of sharing mini-tales!

Screenshot_2021-05-11 Allison Symes


Pleased to share my latest story video, A Questionable Choice, with you. Hope you enjoy. (And a big welcome to my most recent subscribers too). As ever, I created this one in Book Brush, uploaded it to Youtube, and added a free to use music track. (Youtube have a great audio library and a huge thank you to Dawn Kentish Knox for flagging that up).


I chatted about spoilers for my Goodreads blog this week but another advantage to flash fiction is you can’t really have them here! The form is too short to stand such things. By the time you’ve skim read the story to work out what the spoiler might be, you have in fact read the tale!

One thing you can do with flash though is analyse your stories. Now you may argue surely the form is too short for that but I’ve found this isn’t the case. I still need to ask myself does this character work? Do they convince me? I also look at whether I’ve placed the lines (in some cases individual words – see my post from yesterday on this) in the right places to trigger the most impact on a reader.

I also analyse stories I read, of any length, to work out what made these work for me. I can then learn from that and apply it to my own fiction. I can do the same with non-fiction pieces and learn from that for my Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, More Than Writers posts etc.

Writing is good for you not just because it stretches you creatively, it encourages you to learn. Every writer learns from those who have gone before us and our contemporaries. What that should do is encourage us to “up our game” and produce even better stories, articles etc.

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If I have one favourite flash tale of mine, it has to be Calling the Doctor. See book trailer below! The reason I like it is because I change the whole mood of the story with the last word. And you can have great fun placing your words at the right places to create maximum impact on your readers. Had I used that last word for this story earlier on, it would simply have become a spoiler. (No spoilers here, thank you!).

This is one of those tales where I did know the ending first and worked backwards to get to a logical starting point. For those stories with twist endings and punchlines, I do think that is the best approach to writing them. It works for me!


Goodreads Author Blog – Spoilers

I have a simple attitude towards book/story/film spoilers – I avoid them! But almost inevitably there are times when, despite everything, you come across the wretched things.

Now do these stop you reading the book/story or watching the film? They don’t for me. I tend to then read/watch to find out if the spoiler did reveal everything or whether there were bits left unrevealed for me to discover.

When writing my flash collections, I need to give enough information away to hopefully get readers to want to check my books out but without telling them everything. It’s not an easy balancing act to get right.

So how much is too much information?

I don’t want to find out the endings, I really do want to find out for myself. I don’t mind being told something like there are plenty of surprises, one of the major characters doesn’t make it (because I then have to read or watch to find out who that was), but I don’t want name drops or to be told the ending is a miserable one. If the story has to end miserably, I want to find out myself and see that the ending is appropriate.

And if the ending isn’t appropriate for the characters and the story being told, I consider that a spoiler. A writer has to deliver on the promise of their story after all.

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Moments, One Liners, and Publication News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush, using Pixabay images.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Screenshots of my latest CafeLit story and latest Author Electric blog spot taken by me, Allison Symes. (But do go and check the links out – see posts below!).

Spring has finally turned up here in the UK – hooray!

 

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Loving the spring weather (now it is finally here!).

Don’t forget the ebook of Tripping the Flash Fantastic is on offer at Amazon for £0.99 for the next two days. See http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic for more details.

Looking forward to sending out my next author newsletter. If you would like to sign up for a monthly newsletter, full of tips and stories, as well as news, please go to my website landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – and on sign up, you will receive a welcome email with a link to a giveaway too.

In other news, as they say, what do you make of writing prompts? I love them though I appreciate not everybody does. My favourite kind is the opening line. I like to rise to the challenge of them! I also like picture prompts though I find it easiest to use a prompt like that where the image is taken by someone else. I suppose with my own photos I’ve already got the links and stories in my head associated with those pictures.

I find writing prompts are a great “go to” as a warm-up writing exercise but the most important thing about them is to have fun with them. If they take you out of your comfort zone, then you’re being stretched as a writer and it is only by being stretched like that, you will find out what you are capable of and it may well prove to be more than you think.

Definitely worth a go I think!

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CafeLit – Publication News

Pleased to share a new CafeLit story from me – Smashing Sally. This is a long piece (by my standards!) but I hope you enjoy it. I was rooting for Sally all the way through – and I don’t always do that for my characters as it depends on how I’ve portrayed them! – and hope you do too. (Also nice to have a longer piece published again. Makes for a nice balance with my recent drabbles on Friday Flash Fiction!).

 

Facebook – General and Authors Electric

Pleased to share my latest post for Authors Electric. This time I talk about editing. I look at when to edit and discuss whether you can edit too much. I always feel a sense of relief when I’ve got my first draft down because I then know I’ve got something to work with and improve and it will improve after a decent edit.

I can’t edit as I go. I have to reassure myself it is okay to write total rubbish to begin with because it is not going to stay in and that nobody but nobody ever wrote a perfect first draft. That’s definitely not going to change with me!

However you write and edit, what matters is you do and it helps enormously to get as much creative joy out of both processes (if only for your own sake!).

Hope you enjoy.

Thought the funeral service for HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was beautifully done. Felt so sorry for the Queen sitting alone. (And for anyone who has had to do that this past year).

Looking forward to sharing my Authors Electric blog tomorrow and there will be a new CafeLit story from me up on that website on Monday.

Oh and a quick shout out for #ValPenny who kindly gave me a mention on her blog today.

Friday night is often Zoom night for me and it was lovely catching up with friends from the Association of Christian Writers. To think just over a year ago, if someone mentioned Zoom to me, all I would think of was that it is a fabulous ice lolly and a great word to get out in a game of Scrabble, especially if you can get it out on the triple word score! Yet since then, I’ve attended various writing events on Zoom, given a talk on Zoom, and been part of an international writing summit (the Share Your Story Writing one) all thanks to it. I wonder where we’ll be a year from now!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the great response to my new story video, Fear. (See below for link to it). Some aspects of life never change and my character’s attitude and actions in this prove that!

It has been a joy to find a way of using my mini-tales (the one and two sentence kind) as a way of flagging up (a) what I do and (b) what flash fiction can be. I never anticipated having my own Youtube channel only a year or so ago.

I adore writing the mini tales because they are an excellent challenge (and would also work well on Twitter incidentally which reminded me to just put Fear on there!).

I like writing across the range for flash. The form has more flexibility than it might at first appear. Not only can you set your characters in different genres and times etc., you can choose the word count to write to as long as you don’t go above the 1000 maximum allowed. I’ve written across the word count range though my natural home is under 500 words. Have fun with the format!

 

Time for a new mini-story video again. This one is called Fear. Hope you enjoy it though it will have more meaning I suspect for the cat owners out there! (Also like to think of this as a kind of tribute to the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. Absolutely adore those though clearly Jerry was the intelligent one. Being small myself, I like that!).

 

 


One reason I like to start my stories with a character I know well enough to write for is that stories encourage empathy and understanding. Therefore I think it crucial to understand your character and where they are coming from so you understand (as will your reader) their actions and attitudes. It is that which I think keeps readers reading. Readers will follow a character they can get behind.

The great thing is you don’t have to like the character. You don’t have to approve of their actions either but you do need to understand why they are the way they are. Interviewing your characters is something I’ve mentioned before but it is a useful way of making sure you know what you need to know before getting that first draft down.

It is also my belief it will save you a great deal of time later. I know I’ve stopped myself going off on unhelpful tangents by simply using an outline of my character so I know what they are likely to do. It doesn’t stop them surprising me but when the surprise comes, my reaction should be one of “yes, that’s possible because they’re capable of this, that, and that, so doing this ties in with that”.

If something comes completely out of the blue, I need to look at my character again because I want to know where that surprise came from. There is always a trigger. And it flags up to me I didn’t know my character as well as I thought I did.

Oh and a quick bit of promotional – the Kindle version of Tripping the Flash Fantastic is currently available on Amazon at the bargain price of £0.99 so do grab a copy. Offer lasts for four days.

Little moments can have a powerful impact and that is something flash fiction brings out so well. I mention this as I was moved at seeing the late Prince Philip’s hat and gloves on the seat of the horse drawn carriage today. (17th April 2021 – for the royal funeral).  (Also loved seeing the sugar lump pot for his horses). Things like that mean a great deal.

Another item that brings things home are shoes. If you ever go to the Imperial War Museum or the Mary Rose Exhibition when such things are possible again, there are a collection of shoes there, which brings home to you the people they’re telling you about were real. And, for me, there is a link forged between the past and the present.

So when it comes to our storytelling, what are your characters’ little moments? The things that mean the most to them? Why do these things mean so much? What it is about them that will convince your readers about the truth of your character portrayal?

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Goodreads Author Blog – One Liners

What are your favourite one liners from stories etc?

I love the opening to Pride and Prejudice.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Sets the scene and the tone. Beautifully done.

I also love this one, by complete contrast, from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.


“Many phenomena – wars, plagues, sudden audits – have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 London orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders for exhibit A.”

Hard to argue with that one! It certainly explains the queues…

A good one-liner usually makes me smile or laugh out loud. A really good one-liner will make me pause, read it again and enjoy it again, before moving on to the rest of the story.

And there are far too many from P.G. Wodehouse to quote here but that in itself is a tribute to his wonderful ability to come up with lines that just “hit” you and make you laugh out loud.

As you will gather from this, my favourite one-liners are of the humorous variety. Which are yours?

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Judging a Book by its Cover

Image Credit:- 

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

I’m starting a new three-part Chandler’s Ford Today series this week called Judging a Book by its Cover. Hope you enjoy it. A huge thank you to my guest authors for taking part and for supplying their author photos and book cover images.

Tonight’s guests are from the Association of Christian Writers – Fran Hill, Joy Margetts, Ruth Leigh, Wendy H Jones, Maressa Mortimer and I all contribute to this week’s edition.

Images of me reading at Open Prose Mic Nights were taken by Geoff Parkes (Swanwick) and Dawn Kentish Knox (Bridge House Publishing events) and Ana Coelho (Waterloo Arts Festival events).

Hope you have had a good week. Will have publication news from CafeLit next week and am looking forward to sharing that.

And it seems to have finally stopped snowing…. not before time it must be said.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share Part 1 of a brand new series for Chandler’s Ford Today called Judging a Book By Its Cover. Over the next three weeks, I set my guests three questions to answer and they have shared some fabulous information with me. I start the series by having a look at the cover for my own Tripping the Flash Fantastic and then go on to chat to my guests who this week are from the Association of Christian Writers.

I chat to Wendy H Jones, Fran Hill, Maressa Mortimer, Ruth Leigh, and Joy Margetts about what they think their latest book covers “say” to their potential readers. They also share a tip about book covers they have found works for them. I also set a challenge at the end of this post. Anyone who loves reading will be well up for this!

So then – judging a book by its cover – the old proverb says we shouldn’t but for books themselves we absolutely do and rightly so! Covers are a vital element. They are your book’s first advert and have to draw the reader in. So what works for you when you’re choosing your next read? Comments welcome here and over on the CFT post as usual.

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Hope you have had a good Thursday. Had my hair cut yesterday! What a wonderful feeling… and I no longer have a fringe that needed holding back with industrial strength hairspray.

Today I was back in the swimming pool for the first time in well since goodness knows when. For some reason I’m feeling rather tired this evening! But it is great things are slowly returning to normal and I am looking forward to having my second jab in June. That is something I never expected to say! It is an odd world when vaccinations are something you anticipate keenly…

Glad to say Part 1 of my new Chandler’s Ford Today series, Judging a Book by Its Cover, starts tomorrow. Guest authors and I look at some of our covers, analyse what we think they say to potential readers, and share tips on what makes for a good cover. Link up tomorrow and a huge thank you to all taking part in this three-part series. Tomorrow’s guests will be from the Association of Christian Writers. More details tomorrow. See above!


I was chatting over at #Val’sBookBundle earlier about the joy of audio books but what I am greatly encouraged by is that there is a format to suit everyone when it comes to stories. I can think of family members who won’t read a huge book but will watch the film adaptation of it or listen to the audio book of it.

I like to mix up reading “proper” books and ebooks. The Kindle is a great invention. I’m looking forward to taking that with me once again when I hopefully get back to the #SwanwickWriters’SummerSchool in August. I want to save room in my case for the books I’ll buy from the Swanwick Book Room after all!

But what matters is you read, no matter whether you use an e-reader or go for a good old hardback or listen to your stories. It is difficult to overestimate how much reading helps a writer. And you do learn by absorption how books are set out, how dialogue should be and so on, as well as being inspired by the characters you read.

As for my own stories, I try to think about the impact I want my tales to have on a reader and then work out ways of achieving that. As you know, the story for me is all about the characters and they’ve got to interest me to make me want to read on.

So when it comes to editing my own work, I do ask “what is in this for a reader to enjoy?”. It is a valid question.

By putting yourself in your readers’ shoes, you are more likely to write something they will enjoy. You will be thinking about how your character comes across. What is it about them that makes you love or hate them? If you feel that way about them, your readers are likely to do so too.

And it is a useful way, when editing, of ensuring that everything in your story matters to the story and your readers have to know what you are sharing with them. No matter what the length of your story is – 100 to 100,000 words – every word must move the story on and share something important with the reader.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Putting a collection together is interesting in that several things have to be taken into consideration. I’m looking for the right balance in my stories in terms of mood but also in terms of story length. I have more drabbles (aka 100-word) stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again then I do in Tripping the Flash Fantastic. But in the latter I have more of the longer (500 word+) tales and I have taken my characters that bit further as I’ve written historical flash stories for the first time for this book.

I also like to make sure I have “light relief” stories in my collections so they are not overly dark but I also want some of the darker material to ensure there is a bit of “bite” to my books. I am fond of twist in the tale stories and there are plenty of examples in both of my books but I didn’t want either volume to be dominated by them.

I am also thinking of my audience as I get a book ready for submission. (I aim at YA upwards, anyone who can appreciate irony since that does feature in what I do). I want to give a good mixture of stories so people hopefully feel they have had a a darned good read after finishing the books OR it is the perfect thing for them to dip into. (I love “dipping in” books myself).

But overall I want the books to be a good representation of what flash fiction is and can be. And that’s always a great challenge to rise to!


I don’t always name my characters. Sometimes this is because I feel they will be more scary left unnamed (and this is especially true for my stories where the character is an “it”. You can have a lot of fun wondering just what the “it” is!).

What matters more to me is conveying what those characters are like and why their story matters. For example, in my story The Silence (Tripping the Flash Fantastic) I start by saying “It was the perfect way to shut up Mr Know-it-all.”
You don’t need a name there. What you have got is the attitude of the narrator and the attitude of the unnamed character being referred to as there has to be a reason why our storyteller is referring to him like that. Hopefully that would make you want to read on, if only to find out what the perfect way was and was it as perfect as our narrator is claiming?

Where I do name a character, it can indicate they’re not of this world, or I will pick a name like Mary or Ben and get something extraordinary to occur. Most of us will know people called Mary or Ben. We can conjure up in our own minds what a fictional Mary or Ben might be like – and I can then get to turn the tables on said characters. All great fun!

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Twist endings work well for flash fiction, as do “punchlines”, but everything in the story must lead naturally to that point. This is why for this kind of tale, I write the ending first and then spend some time working out ideas that could have led to that point arising naturally. I then go for the one I like the most as that will be the one which has “grabbed” me and hopefully, later, will “grab” a reader too (in the nicest possible way of course!).

I’ve used spider diagrams for working out different possibilities though a simple flowchart works just as well. (All those years ago when I was working on flowcharts in Maths etc., I never dreamed I would end up one day using them for storytelling but there you go!).

But it does pay to take time out to work out different possibilities. Especially if you are entering a competition, the same ideas will come up time and again but it is your take on them that can make your story stand out and give it more of a chance. Writing down various ideas will help you whittle out and discard the weaker ones.

I’ve also found in jotting down ideas, other ideas come to mind as well. It is almost as if you’re unlocking your imagination here and it will be the ideas that come from that which are most likely to be the strongest ones to go with.

Fairytales With Bite – Magical Hierarchies

There are hierarchies in any created fictional world but I think it is fair to say with magical ones, the sparks could really fly!

So how do you judge who should be the most powerful beings? Who can hold them to account or do they rule over everything and their reign is a tyranny?

If that is the case, there has to be someone or something that can bring deliverance (or at least the hope of it) to the rest of the population, otherwise you have no story. There has to be conflict and resolution.

If you are reading a story where the majority are “subjected”, what we as readers want to find out is whether anything or anyone can free them from that and usher in a better age/better way of governing. (Let’s just say I was relieved Sauron didn’t win in The Lord of the Rings and I refuse to believe that’s a spoiler after all this time).

You could, of course, have two equally powerful magical species and they act as a check on each other but stories here could arise from when those checks go wrong. What happens? Can things be put right so the balance is right again? Who does this and so? Have you got anyone prepared to rebel against their own side if necessary?

Give some thought also as to how those hierarchies develop and what sustains them or breaks them. Conflict, consequences, resolution – the three golden ingredients for any good story.

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This World and Others – Where Magic Fits Into the Non-Magical Elements

Is there anything in your created world where the magical elements are controlled by non-magical ones? If so, how and who is doing the controlling? (That’s always interesting to know!). Can politics be used to control those with powers who, if let loose, could destroy everything?

(One aspect I love about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is how the wizards are far more fond of big dinners than magic and the Patrician knows this. Do check out Sourcery in this series for what happened when magic did take over Ankh-Morpork. It’s a great tale and an interesting study in magic not being the be all and end all).

If magic is used as a tool to help your fictional world, how is this done? Is it like engineering, say, when it is used to fix specific problems or develop your society in some way? Is the development to the benefit of all or a mere elite? Can anyone study magic or do you have to be from the right background? How does magic affect the lives of the majority or does it pass them by?

Hope you find some interesting story ideas there.

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Writing Wish List and Flash Fiction Formats

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

All images related to the Share Your Story Writing Summit are provided by the organisers, Creative U, or are screenshots from their website.

Free Writing Summit, Join Me There – 18th to 23rd March 2021.  (So looking forward to being part of this!)

https://www.creativeu.ca/a/46030/yLSebqrq 

Allison Symes3. writers IG 2021

Facebook – General

Delighted to say I’m now booked in for my covid jab. Will be having the first one on my birthday in a couple of weeks time. An unusual gift but one I welcome and look forward to – as much as you can ever look forward to a vaccination.

I am asthmatic so having the vaccine is a no-brainer for me. I know people who have been seriously ill with Covid and given my lungs are not all as I would wish (!), I’m not taking any chances here. I would far rather take my chances with the vaccine (and I don’t usually have reactions to them. I’m taking the view even if I do with this one, I will just wind back my levels of activity until fully back to myself again. And if no reactions at all, even better).

Even better is my other half will be having his jab five minutes after I’ve had mine – our first “date” in ages and we’re off to a clinic!! I would far rather it had been to one of our favourite pubs etc., but hopefully that will happen in a few more months.

Writing wise, I am putting up a bonus CFT post tomorrow giving all the details and links to the Share Your Story Writing Summit I’m taking part in from 18th to 23rd March. Am looking forward to catching up with the other speakers too as there are plenty of topics of interest for me to follow up on here. Link up to the bonus post tomorrow (and quick link up above to the summit details).

My normal post on Friday will be about Book Trailers and Story Videos and I look forward to sharing that link then.

Screenshot_2021-03-05 summit presenters 2021


Pleased to share another story video. Hope you enjoy Doing What You Must, an everyday tale of a monster having to re-evaluate its career options. As you do…and especially after a busy Monday.

 

Has been a good writing weekend. Just sent out my bonus newsletter with details about the Share Your Story Writing Summit which runs from 18th to 23rd March. Sign up details for newsletter are on my landing page

Have put finishing touches to my WI talk. Have created a new story video which I hope to share tomorrow. Am also preparing future blogs. My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be looking at book trailers and story videos. The one on the 12th will be about places to go for writing advice and will be especially useful for new writers. Looking forward to sharing these.

Have also started work on a book proposal and am starting to collate material together for a new flash fiction collection. So plenty to keep me out of mischief for some considerable time to come!

Every so often I will brainstorm for future story and blog post idea as I’ve mentioned before. This makes for a great imaginative work out. I will jot down the ideas and what I think might come from them. I rest them for a bit. If they still seem good when I come back to them, I draft them.

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Hope your Saturday has gone well. Do you have a writing wish list? My writing wishes are:-

  • To get better at what I do/produce more work (the two are closely connected)
  • To widen my range of markets for flash fiction and short stories (ongoing project that one!)
  • More reviews on Amazon for my books (which is on every writer’s wish list and again is an ongoing thing).
  • To expand what I do in terms of writing itself (one reason I’ve had for trying a longer work of non-fiction) and in terms of spreading the word about what I do. (Working on that and the Share Your Story Writing Summit, the WI talk, and the radio interview with #HannahKate are all going to help a lot with that!).#
  • To have more writing time. I’d happily ditch housework anyway but especially if I could give that time over to writing!

What I want to know is when my writing fairy godmother is going to turn up and help me with all of that! So far there has been no sign of her. Oh well, best get on with it myself then!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My favourite format for flash is the sub-500 words kind and it does seem to be my natural writing home. When I do go over this bench mark, I find I’m usually writing right up to the 1000 words upper limit. The joy of those is I can put in a simple sub-plot and give more depth to the characters, which I love doing. But the sub-500 words stories I love for the sharpness of their impact. I like a story which in relatively few words can make me go “Wow”!

The joy of flash overall though is having this flexibility to write to the word count you prefer as long as you don’t go above the thousand. I find I will write in batches. It’s not unusual for me to write a couple of longer pieces, then have a real field day on the shorter ones for a while, but it is all great fun!


Occasionally I can use a list as a story format. In Tripping The Flash Fantastic, my The Wish List has all but one of its sentences start with the words “I wish..”.

The exemption is the last line which is the punchline to the story. I use the “I wish” statements to build up the story layer by layer until I reach that punchline.

This kind of storytelling is best kept short but then that’s what flash is all about so win-win!

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If I’m running out of time in a writing session for any major work, I will do one of two things.

  1. Brainstorm for future ideas for stories or blog posts, make a new notes, put aside for a while.
  2. Draft flash fiction. In ten minutes, say, I can usually draft a reasonable length piece (say a 500 worder) or two smaller works. I find homes for them later!

One thing I have learned over the years is never despite those small pockets of time we all get. You can do some useful writing indeed in those times.

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I like experimenting with form for my flash fiction and one I especially enjoyed was using the diary format. I used this for Losing Myself in Tripping The Flash Fantastic. For this kind of story, you do need pretty much the full 1000 word count allowed for in flash but it was fun to do and the different dates in my fictional diary make effective scene breaks. It’s a form I’ll try again at some point.

I have used letter format as well in Punish the Innocent in From Light to Dark and Back Again. That was a 500 words+ story but unless I am writing to a specific market or competition asking for a specific word count, I decide on the final word count only once I’ve edited the story and I feel as it is good as I can make it (at the time. You always see things you could improve on later – it is the lot of the writing life!).

Both of these tales had to be the length they are. Any less would have spoiled the effect and you do get better over time at knowing when to stop editing and get the pieces out there.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Where I Want A Book To Take Me…

A lot depends on what I’m reading, naturally. For fiction, I want to explore the writer’s created world and characters and be immersed in that for the duration of the book. For non-fiction, I want to stretch my mind and learn. For both I want to be entertained while all of that is going on! No pressure then…

I am thankful that the days of non-fiction being the poor relation to fiction are over. No more boring books of lists and dull facts. What we have are books that engage with the reader, making you want to find out more, actively encouraging further reading in the subject.

As for fiction, even the world is not your limit. I love the way fiction can take you to fantasy worlds, worlds that could exist out there somewhere, maybe, and the books that help us explore our world, right here and now and backwards and forwards in time.
Books have the potential to take you anywhere and that’s just how it should be.

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When Wishes Are Not Granted and Launches in Lockdown 4.

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

And one good question for all writers to answer is given below.

CHARACTERISATION - If you, as writer, are not convinced by the characters, nobody else will be

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to share the link to Part 4 of Launches in Lockdown for Chandler’s Ford Today. My guests this week are #PaulaReadman, #Dawn Knox, and #AmandaHuggins. They didn’t just launch one book during launchdown – oh no! They launched several! For more on why they chose the launches they did for their books, do see the post.

A huge thanks to everyone who has commented so positively on this series, whether directly on CFT or on my FB timeline. If ever there was a zeitgeist series for me to write, this is it I think.

Final part of this series next week. What has been lovely throughout has been the wealth of ideas and tips shared here. Many thanks to all of my guest authors for that but we all hope this will be a source of encouragement for those wondering how on earth they will hold their launches, given we can’t know when restrictions will be lifted etc. Do see this series as a good place to start for some very useful ideas to start you off!

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Delighted to share a link to another great review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. This one comes courtesy of Big Al’s Books and Pals, an American book blogger site. Many thanks to Al and I am all for spreading the word about the joys of flash fiction on both sides of the pond!

As ever, I will put out the word for reviews for authors. Remember they don’t have to be long but they all help. And it is the best way I know of supporting other writers. So win-win there, yes?

Looking forward to sharing Part 4 of Launches in Lockdown for CFT tomorrow. All fantastic thoughts and tips throughout this series and Part 4 continues that fine “tradition”. And a huge thanks to everyone for the positive comments on the series so far – I guess those count as reviews!

Do see the link for the full review and once more thanks to Al!

Not convinced by my phone telling me it is 3 degrees out there. Certainly doesn’t feel like it. Still it does encourage a brisk pace when out with the dog. Lady not at all bothered by the cold (and is almost certainly the only member of the immediate family not moaning about it too!).

I’m preparing a couple of presentations at the moment – yes very exciting. Hope to be able to share more news soon. The writing life can be full of stages and there are times when you realise, yes you have just hit another one. I’m at that point now. All good fun!

I mentioned in my Writing Magazine spot (Subscribers’ News this month) that I discovered flash fiction by accident. It is also true that one thing in writing leads to another and it can be great fun finding out where these different steps take you. My short story writing led me to discover the joys of flash and what I’m working on now is as a result of my writing flash and being published in the form. The writing journey is not always a straight line route but it is important you enjoy the trip!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do I have favourite flash fiction tales of mine? Hmm… I do know I have more than one! It is like asking me to choose what kind of chocolate I like. There is no way I am going to stick at just picking one!

I am especially fond though of stories with a twist ending and funny tales that make me laugh. The latter often end on a punchline, which in a way is a kind of a twist ending I guess.

I am, I think, most proud of Calling The Doctor, where the mood of the story turns on the last word. See my book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again for that.

Having said that, the thing which drives me most as a writer is the wish to keep on improving on what I do. That’s a good thing. It means you’re not resting on your laurels (other green plants to rest on are available though I wouldn’t recommend opting for the holly!).

Also you are striving continually and that means when opportunities come your way, you are more likely to be open to giving them your best shot and who knows where that will take you?

It can be fun finding out though and bear in mind this is from someone who hadn’t even heard of flash fiction when I started out. I certainly didn’t expect to be published in it.

I am going to have news to announce soon which involves flash fiction and I am looking forward to sharing that as soon as I can.

If flash fiction writers had a motto, I guess it would be less is more! We do have to convey a lot in as a few words as possible but that also means we have to make choices from the outset. We have to decide what is relevant for a reader to know. The downside of that is not having the joy of subplots. You do need the longer story forms for that.

But what flash does give you is focus. It is exactly like shining a flashlight on one particular spot and seeing what you can see in that light. Because you can only see so much, the effect is more intense and the impact on a reader more powerful as a result.

Knowing that in advance means you can come up with suitable stories to make the most of powerful impacts. My own favourites are the funny flash tales. A short belly laugh at a tiny tale always goes down well with me. Something of that humour would be lost if it was set within a longer story.

Now I’ve mentioned using various random generators to trigger story ideas. There are some fabulous ones out there – verbs, nouns, adjectives, questions etc. The great thing with all of them is you can set your own parameters such as the number of words you generate. You can choose the first and last letters of the words you want generated in a lot of cases as well so if you like specifics, that is for you!

The ironic thing with having parameters (and this is true for flash fiction as a whole due to its word count maximum) is they can free the writer up to come up with better ideas.

You know you are working with limits so you have to think laterally to make the most of the limits you have. And it does encourage you to cut your wasted words. You want every word to count so you’re not going to leave any in unless it does add something valuable to your story. That alone makes your story stronger and it is a great writing practice to get into and will benefit every form of writing you are involved in.

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Fairytales with Bite – When Wishes Are Not Granted

An interesting line of enquiry to follow for stories set in a magical world is to ask what happens when wishes are not granted.

How does the one making the wish react to that?

Does the fairy godmother, say, have phenomenally good reasons for not granting the wish that perhaps she can’t reveal (at least immediately)?

One good reason here by the way would be to force the person making the wish to find their own way to solve a problem (and it may well be that anger at magical help being turned down might motivate that character to find their own way and learn to manage on their own).

Politics can come into play to a certain extent too. If a fairy godmother was to grant a certain wish, would it land her in trouble with her boss and/or other magical species? If the different species are keeping the peace by agreeing not to use excessive magic, would the fairy godmother’s actions to help your hero/heroine/anti-hero/anti-heroine breach that agreement? What would the consequences of that be?

Interesting story thoughts there!

And don’t forget the possibilities of when wishes are granted that little bit too late.

Now this could lend itself to humour. Do we have an inept fairy on the loose, say? Who reins her in or helps her sort out her timings? Good fun could be had there.

But this would also lend itself to tragedy – for the main character and/or the magical being. Again good stories to be found.

It is worth asking the question “what if” for story planning. Spider diagrams or flowcharts can also be useful in working out what the best ideas. And always write up the one that grabs you the most. It is likely to grab your readers too and you will write the tale up with enthusiasm and that comes through in your writing.

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This World and Others – Working Things Out

How do your characters work things out? Do they rely on their own wit and intelligence? Or are they smart enough to know their own weaknesses and find expert help as and when they need it?

Do they read? Are there libraries (and if so are they like ours?). Do other characters help your “stars” or do they get in the way? And are your characters savvy enough to know that a certain course of action might lead them into conflict with those far more powerful than they are? Can they avoid this? Can they work out better ways of doing things or how to overcome the risk of conflict?

As in real life, some characters will be planners, others will be pantsers. But what if you put your people in situations where they have to act differently from the way they normally would? For example, what if your typical pantser finally finds they do have to plan something out carefully to give them any chance at all of (a) success and (b) survival? How would they handle that? (Initially not well I would expect! But how do they get over that so they do what they have to do?).

As a writer, working things out I find incredibly useful. I like to work things out with regards to my characters first. Who are they? What are their major traits? What are their flaws? Nearly always ideas for stories spring up as a result of answering those questions. It can sometimes show me the mood the story is likely to be too. A pompous character is someone I am likely to put into a funny tale precisely to show them up (and have great fun doing so!).

But there are different ways to work things out for you as the writer and for your characters, It is a question of working out which method would work best for you, this particular character, this particular story.

Happy writing!

Writing Joys, Podcast News, and Launches in Lockdown 2

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Thanks to #RichardHardie, #FrancescaTyer, and #TeresaBassett for supplying images used below too.

A huge thank you to #MaressaMortimer, #FranHill, and #WendyHJones for their images and book cover photos for my Chandler’s Ford Today Launches In Lockdown series this week.

And I am delighted to say I was on Wendy’s The Writing and Marketing Show earlier this week. Will share link further down. I talk about writing regular columns for online magazines.

podcast-4209770_640

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today – Launches in Lockdown Part 2

What a busy day it has been as there are two posts on here from me tonight!

For this post, I want to say what a pleasure it has been to write the Launches in Lockdown series for Chandler’s Ford Today. I think if I can make a claim to write a zeitgeist series, this one is it!

Part 2 tonight shares wonderful insights from three authors from the Association of Christian Writers (I’m the Membership Secretary). #MaressaMortimer, #FranHill, and #WendyHJones have all had books out in the very recent past and have plenty of useful tips and thoughts to share in this week’s post.

Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

Next week I’ll be chatting to writers from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

 

Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers

It is very much an Association of Christian Writers weekend for me as I am at an online Committee meeting tonight and tomorrow. Much will be said. Much will be done. All thanks to Zoom!

And it is my turn on the ACW More Than Writers blog too. This month, I use my spot to talk about Writing Joys. I can’t stress enough how important it is to love what you write. (Okay you won’t all the time, nobody does, but you should be looking forward to your writing sessions and what you’re working on most of the time. It is that love for the work which drives you and can help keep you going during the tougher writing times which happen to us all).

Delighted to say my interview with Richard Hardie recently on Chandler’s Ford Today is now up on the Authors Reach website (very much with my blessing!). Authors Reach is Richard’s publishing company and I was chatting to him about the challenges he has faced as an author and publisher during the pandemic. The AR link is https://www.authorsreach.co.uk/post/richard-hardie-authors-reach-and-lockdown – well worth another read!

And tomorrow sees Part 2 of my CFT series, Launches in Lockdown, go live. This week I’ll be chatting to three lovely writers from the Association of Christian Writers – #MaressaMortimer, #FranHill, and #WendyHJones. One of them has also come up with the funniest book title of 2020 in my view. You’ll have to wait for the post tomorrow to find out who the author is and whether you agree with me or not! (Trouble with doing a blog round up in reverse date order is you will already have spotted the answer to this one!!).

PODCAST NEWS –

WENDY H JONES CHATS TO ALLISON SYMES

Am thrilled to share the link to my interview by Wendy H Jones for her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. I talk about writing a regular column (for Chandler’s Ford Today), how I find ideas (and keep coming up with them) and the joys of an online magazine.

With more of us using technology to read (smartphones, I-pads etc), it makes a huge amount of sense to have intelligent, interesting, and entertaining content available for that technology. And online magazines do need writers to provide it. Hope you enjoy. And many thanks, Wendy, for hosting me again. It was such fun to do!

Podcast News:  https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-writing-and-marketing-show/episode/writing-a-newspaper-column-81142120

Screenshot_2021-01-27 The Writing and Marketing Show - Writing a Newspaper Column on Stitcher

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A huge thanks to everyone for the great responses so far to my CFT series, Launches in Lockdown. Whether you’ve been launching flash fiction collections (as I have) or longer works, I think it is fair to say the last 12 months have been difficult. But social media and Zoom have helped.

And I think this all shows the importance of networking too. Thanks to networking over the last few years, I have a lovely wide range of people to approach for CFT interviews, but it does also mean that same pool can be invited to my launches.

Naturally this is two-way traffic. I get invited to theirs and I go to as many as I can. You learn from what other writers do and they learn from you too. I love the give and take of the writing world here.

I guess also writing flash is excellent practice for writing short, pithy pieces for your online book launches too!

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Am thrilled to see a great number of views for my recent story video, Dress Sense. The thought of Red Riding Hood giving the Big Bad Wolf fashion tips has obviously gone down well! Many thanks, everyone. (Oh and I think she’s right by the way – see the link and see what you think!).

Dress Sense Video Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVs_GEWh5To

Tripping The Flash Fantastic is on offer in paperback on Amazon at the moment. Go on, pick up a bargain! See http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent for more.

F = Fun to write
L = Lively character(s)
A = Action immediately
S = Stories great for ending with a twist
H = Heroes/heroines are dropped right in it from the start

F = Finite story length but you do have some choice
I = Imagination intense to make an intense story work
C = Character(s) has/have to grip you immediately.
T = Tension, yes there’s plenty of that and not a lot of space to resolve it.
I = Intensity can vary. Reflective pieces can work well but the character has to be compelling to make that successful.
O = Oh my… what is your flash tale’s ‘oh my’ moment?
N = Narrative take? I often favour first person.

Thought I’d share another story video here – hope you enjoy.

Fairytales with Bite – Magical Reading

What kind of books would your magical characters read? Would they read about uses of magic or do they want to get away from all of that? Well, it would make sense if they did. I know when I read I want to escape the every day world and its cares. In a magical world, the magic is the everyday world and its cares! Same old, same old, and all that!

Having said that, maybe they would want to carry out research and use it to improve their skills.
Some suggestions for possible research reading material then though I accept the titles could do with some work (and abbreviating!):-

Fairies – 10001 Things To Do With Your Wand Not Involving Turning People Into Frogs

Witches – How to Sabotage Fairy Spells So They Produce Useless Things Like Glass Slippers – A Beginner’s Guide.

Wizards – How to Produce the Perfect Smoke Ring Without Appearing to Use Magic To Do It

Elves – How To Be A Right Cobbler (see the story of The Elves and the Shoemaker here).

Dwarves – Gold and How To Find It (always of interest)

Dragons – Wing Technique for the Bigger Flying Animal and How To Get It Right and Surprise Your Prey (and I am assuming dragons are very intelligent creatures who can read, so there!).

And talking of dragons, let’s hear another story from their viewpoint.

 

This World and Others – Education, Education…..Er…. What Does Your Fictional World Consider to be Education?

So what would your created world consider to be a good standard of education? Is it just the ability to read and write? Would there be topics like history, geography, any of the sciences etc? And is the education open to all but only a few?

In an uneducated world (judging by our standards only), how would news be communicated to those who cannot read? Does the lack of an education hold people back or have they not known anything else? Is there any sense of people wanting to improve their situation here?

And if so, what or whom is stopping them and for what purposes? (Usually it is a question of being able to control people who don’t enough to question things but what if the ruler has genuine reasons for fearing what education could do? Are they right? What are those fears? How can those fears be misproved and the ruler shown a good standard of education would be beneficial?).

If there are schools, colleges etc., do they resemble what we have here? What are the differences?

And if education has always been around, how has it progressed or is it progressing during the course of your story?

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Twitter Corner

 

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The Interview Fence and Humorous Books

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

And below – well books are such magical places to be, are they not?

 

What inventions populate your fictional world - image via Pixabay

Facebook – General

Nice big walk with Lady today before the weather set in. Not looking forward to tomorrow. I suspect Lady and I are going to get a good soaking, no matter what time I take her out.

Have drafted answers to second set of interview questions so will be reviewing those and sending them off to the interviewer probably tomorrow.

Now I am on both sides of the interview fence of course. I love questions which draw a writer out of their shell a bit. So questions which always find favour with me will include things like:-

Why do you write what you do? What made you pick that genre?

This is a fab question as it makes you think well why did I pick that route and why am I still sticking with it? In my case with the flash fiction it is because I love the challenge and variety of it. But that sort of question makes you re-evaluate what you’re doing and that’s a good thing. It should confirm you really do love what you write and it is that love which keeps you going during the tougher times of the writing life.

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Hope Monday has been okay for you. Very busy with the old domestics today. Only too glad to get to my desk and write. Writing relaxes me and I always feel so much better for having got something down on the old laptop.

Looking forward to sharing Part 1 of my Launches in Lockdown series for CFT on Friday. As well as sharing my experiences with Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I’ll be talking to two Authors Reach writers – Teresa Bassett and Francesca Tyer. Plenty of useful tips and thoughts given “normal” writing events won’t be back with us for a while, even if everything does go well with controlling, and eventually beating, You Know What.

Still one lovely thing about writing is there is always plenty to be getting on with and it is something positive to focus on. My goal for this week is to return the other set of interview questions I’m working on and prepare material for something special I hope to talk more about in the next month or so.

Plus there are always stories to work on and the new idea I referred to yesterday for a draft I’ve got prepared is something else I hope to write up later this week. I always jot down ideas like this in fairly detailed notes when I know I can’t write something up immediately. I’ve found it’s the only way to make sure I don’t forget something important.

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It is great fun being on the receiving end of the interview questions. I’ve just sent one batch back and will be working on another set but what is great is these questions stretch me and make me think. They make me think about what I write but also how and why. That’s a good thing. It pays writers every so often to take a step back and remind yourself of why you do what you do here. I look forward to sharing the links on these interviews later on.

Have drafted a story for submission, rested it for a week, and as so often happens a better idea for how to end the story has occurred to me so that will be going in. That is the whole point of resting a piece of work (and it applies equally well to non-fiction). You need distance between when you first wrote the piece and then when you look at it again.

Time away does help you see things more clearly, including where the story might be strengthened (and that is always worth doing. Someone said you should try not to write the boring bits that people skip when they read. It’s equally true you should try not to write the “weak” bits as people skip those bits too and you want readers hanging on your every written word!).

Had a lovely couple of writing Zooms over the weekend. Great fun to catch up with everyone and a much appreciated morale boost for yours truly – these things always are.


Hope you have had a good Saturday. Glad I delayed taking Lady out as the weather went from grotty to cold but sunny. She liked that too.

Just to say the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic is currently on offer via Amazon. See http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent for more on that. Many thanks for all of the fabulous reviews so far on this. Would always welcome more of course!

Whether it is for my book(s) or those of any other author, well thought out reviews are always welcome. They don’t have to be long and can be as simple as I liked this book because…. Or my favourite story is …………. etc. A couple of minutes and you’re done and you’re supporting authors too. So what’s not to like?!

Of course one problem all writers have faced in the last 12 months has been the lack of our usual writing events to promote and sell our wares. This is why I wanted to write the Launches in Lockdown series for Chandler’s Ford Today.

That starts next week but my interview with Richard Hardie yesterday was insightful as to the challenges faced by publishers. I’ve found it pays to understand something about the way publishers operate as that helps me in turn to tailor my approaches in them in such a way it increases the chances of acceptances! It really does make sense, folks!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


Is there anything about longer forms of writing I miss when it comes to focusing on flash ficton storytelling?
I suppose if there is anything, it is the lack of subplots. There simply isn’t the room for any in a sub-500 words flash story. (You can get a simple one in if you write up to the 1000 word limit and I have done this with my story Rewards from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Also this is a good story if you want to be wary of how you upset someone with the power to get their revenge in print!).

But then I do see the joys of novels with their twists and turns as something to savour separately from the flash tales where I do just focus on the one important moment. And the great thing?

Both have their place in storytelling.

Both have their place on my writing and reading lists!

And there’s nothing to stop you writing in more than one form.


Wow! Many thanks for the huge response to my most recent Book Brush adverts involving my flash fiction collections, From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping The Flash Fantastic. That came as a very nice surprise after a tiring Monday. (I hadn’t twigged today is so-called Blue Monday. Mondays are tough days regardless of when in the year they are! I wonder if that is why Bank Holiday Mondays seem to be more of a holiday than they are. It’s not just a question of getting a day off, we’re getting a Monday off!).

I thought I’d reshare one of my most popular story videos from my Youtube channel. Last Request lives up to its title! Hope you enjoy. (I often create a new story over the weekend but did not have time to do so this time. Mind you, this story is a good example of the kind of quirky tale I love reading and writing).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXGNt9XndN8

F = Fun to Write
L = Language to be direct and specific
A = Action – conveyed in as few words as possible
S = Story complete in and of itself
H = Hero/heroine but room for only 1 or 2 characters.

F = Fairytales and fantasy work well in a flash format
I = Imagination – let it run riot and then hone what you come up with to produce a piece of hard hitting flash fiction
C = Characters. Have to make impact quickly as flash fiction has to be character led.
T = Truth – flash fiction is as capable of conveying truths about the human condition as an epic novel!
I = Intense. Has to be due to the word count restrictions (but that makes truth hit home quicker and harder)
O = Omnipresent narration can work well in flash.
N = No restrictions on what genre of story you use for flash.

TTFF - posh chairBookBrushImage-2021-1-3-16-443BookBrushImage-2020-11-14-19-1939


Have been having fun with Book Brush again re promoting for FLTDBA and TTFF. Easy to do too. (See above pics though the phone one I created a little while ago but is a favourite of mine).

One of the things I do enjoy on the promoting side is being able to share some of the stories. Flash doesn’t take long to read so it makes quite a good advert for itself!

A good advert is one you can remember years later so the ideal for book straplines is to try and do the same with those. This is where flash fiction writing can help, especially practising writing the one-liners. But it takes time, it is not always easy to judge if you’ve got it right so beta readers and the like can be an enormous help here.

Am looking forward to getting my third collection together too. That is one my tasks for this year. I’ve written a fair amount already but will be getting the rest up together while I rest my non-fiction project. These are the two major things I want to submit later this year. I like the balance of having a fiction and a non-fiction to work on and I did find using NaNoWriMo incredibly helpful so will be open to using that structure again.

Below is the video I created for the Waterloo Arts Festival back in the summer of 2020 as that had to go online. I share an extract from my story Books and the Barbarians here and talk a little about my work. Hope you enjoy.

Goodreads Author Blog – Humorous Books

If ever there was a time for humorous books, it is now isn’t it? Something to cheer people up with and I must admit I was pleased to see that sales of P.G. Wodehouse books have gone up during the pandemic. (I hope the same has happened with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books too).

And of course humour creeps into other genres too, including crime and horror. I do love a witty one-liner from a character where you know the character is capable of coming up with such things.

It is a bugbear of mind that humorous books aren’t taken more seriously. They are “proper” literature and shouldn’t be looked down on. If anything a writer capable of writing humour should be lauded simply because it is not the easiest thing to do. Humour is subjective after all.

Mind you, the written word has a huge advantage here. I love “seeing” puns come out, where appropriate to the storyline. Language, and playing with it to make stories, should be fun and I like to see fun in the final results.

I guess this may well be one reason that misery memoir really is not for me, no matter how well written it is. I’ve got to have some cheer somewhere and even a gripping crime novel, with the odd bit of humour in it, will always work better for me than that.

Have you any favourite funny books you turn to for literally light reading relief as and when you need it?

 

Twitter Corner

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Favourite Writing Exercises and Why They’re Beneficial

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest CFT post – Favourite Writing Exercises and Why They’re Beneficial.

I remember being set writing exercises when I was first starting out as a writer and being terrified by the thought of them. There was also no way on this earth I would read any of my offerings out loud! How things have changed!

As I mentioned yesterday (see below!), the fact nobody expects perfect prose helps a lot. I also found listening in to contributions from others helped too. It kind of reassured me I was on the right lines with what I had drafted and that in time built up my confidence enough to start sharing my work out loud. Feedback from that helped still further.

I discuss in my post why it is a good idea to get used to writing exercises and practicing some of the most common ones set (opening and closing lines) also helps enormously.

I found it meant I was less unnerved when a speaker at a conference set such an exercise. I knew I’d already practiced them and while I wouldn’t know (rightly!) what the line would be I had to write to, I knew I could do the exercise. That in turn built up my confidence to draft something for that exercise and with time and practice, you get better at most things, including exercises like these.

Great comments coming in already for my latest CFT post. Do share what your favourite writing exercises are.

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Many thanks for the wonderful response to yesterday’s post about my tote bag with the cover for Tripping the Flash Fantastic on it and a big, big thanks to my publishers, Chapeltown Books.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s CFT post as it is about writing exercises and I love these. I never used to do so. I used to feel terrified when I was set any at writing conferences etc but when I realised nobody was expecting perfect prose first go, I relaxed! That funnily enough was when I started to enjoy said writing exercises.

It helps to see them as a fun way to trigger ideas you can polish up later. And that is the whole point. You do polish them up later and from that who knows? I’ve submitted pieces of flash fiction and short stories which started life this way and then went on to be published on CafeLit etc. Talking of which I will have another piece on there later this week which will be a lovely way to start the writing year!

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Had a lovely surprise from my publisher today – a tote bag with my book cover for Tripping the Flash Fantastic on it! Guess what I’ll be using to take my books about with me when we can finally have live book events again! One chuffed author here…!

Lady was chuffed to see her best buddie, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, in the park today. A good time was had by all. Lady doesn’t get to see her bestie every day so naturally wants to make the most of things when she does. (And her buddy takes the same view!).

My CFT post this week will be about a couple of my favourite writing exercises and why I think they’re beneficial. Link up on Friday. Hopefully you’ll also find it useful.

For the rest of January and into February, I will be sharing via CFT various authors’ thoughts on the impact of lockdown on their book launches. One of those authors will be me of course! But I will be kicking the series off with an interview with someone who is both a publisher and an author and has had to face lockdown and all that has meant from both sides of the writing business. All fabulous stuff and I can’t wait to share these posts. So plenty to look forward to here.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What do you look for most in a story? I look to be entertained and it is a case of deciding whether to be entertained by a crime story, a historical fiction piece, fantasy, or what have you. For me, stories are all about taking a reader to a different place for a short while (and in the case of flash fiction, it is a very short while – and hooray I found a very I could justify using there! Very is one of my wasted words and nearly always gets the red pen treatment! It is unusual for me to leave any in!).

I guess lockdown has proved again how important stories are. The great thing with stories is you can go anywhere you like with them without moving one step from home.

So your travel guide for this weekend – what is it to be? Fantasy worlds, a dash of flash, a non-fiction book (and yes non-fiction is a form of storytelling too). And if you’re not sure where to start why not try a short story or flash fiction collection? See them as mixed assortments and doesn’t everyone like those from time to time? No calories either!

Whatever you read this weekend, enjoy – and escape for a while! It is a lovely feeling…!

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I’ll be talking about writing exercises in my post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week (link up tomorrow) but I like to mix up the kind of exercise I do, whether I’m specifically using them for flash work or not.

I love opening and closing lines (the theme of tomorrow’s post) as these are my two favourite forms of writing exercise but there are all kinds of things you can use as a prompt to start writing. I’ll talk a bit more about that in my post tomorrow but you can pick a random object from your desk, say, and work it into a story. You can use my other favourite things, the random generators, to trigger things to again work into a story and/or use as the theme and/or use as the title.

I like taking pictures when I’m out anywhere (not that this is happening for the foreseeable future!) but do look up your old pictures. Can any of those inspire a flash fiction story?

And however you start writing your tales, be sure to enjoy the process. That matters. I believe at least some of the writer’s enjoyment of the process does come through in the finished work and readers pick up on that subconsciously.

Anyway, why wouldn’t you enjoy what you write?!


I’m currently drafting a short story which I suspect will end up being at about the 1500-2000 words mark, so well above the flash limit, but I mention it here as I’ve fallen for the lead character and know I have got right under their skin.

Now I do this for all of my characters but this one does have that extra sparkle about them and I adore that. Hopefully future readers will pick up on this and love this character too in due course.

You need to fall for your characters and get under their skin for flash stories too, albeit this has to be done on a smaller scale. It helps to focus on the one thing that makes your character worth writing for and the one incident that is their story. What is it you have to write up?

Outlining helps here as you list what you love about your character and what could happen to them based on their situation. You then pick the strongest scenario based on that list. It will be the one that grabs you the most. Take time out to think about why that is. I suspect it will be because the scenario will bring out something special from your character, whether it highlights their sense of humour, sense of fair play, or simply just shows them in their best light.

And then enjoy every moment of writing the story up!

 

Fairytales With Bite – Favourite Kinds of Fairytale Character

Do you have favourite kinds of fairytale character? I always root for the underdog but I also love characters like Shrek that overturn perceptions as to how their characters are normally seen. Well, why can’t there be a good ogre? The word ogre itself conjures up the image of something nasty but who gave it that link? It also leads to the interesting question of what is the difference between a bad fairy godmother and a good witch? Who would you rather have in your corner?!

I also think fairytale characters are metaphors for us. There are the goody-goodies who never put a foot wrong, the ones who start out wrong but turn out okay in the end, the ones who are just plain evil (and usually they’re the ones after power which naturally they will only use for their own purposes). Maybe this is why fairytales resonate with us all still. We recognise the character types.

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This World and Others – What Makes Your World Work for a Reader?

What is it about your fictional world that you need to get across to your reader? What do they need to know about how things work?

The ideal of course is for your characters to show your reader the world they live in.

Readers pick up on context so think about that when writing dialogue. Dialogue in fiction needs to sound as natural as possible but you also don’t want characters to tell each other what they might be expected to know.

Example 1:-
Character A: I hear our newly elected Lord Mayor Renstung is a complete….

Hmm… a lot of telling here… also you want your readers to judge the Mayor for themselves and not be told what to think.

And it is highly likely Character B will know about the recent election and the new Mayor so what would be a better way of showing readers the situation here?

Example 2:-
Character A: Did you like the results on Thursday?
Character B: No. I was hoping old Whatitsface would be our new Mayor, not that complete…. Well you know what Renstung is like.
Character A: Hardly likely to forget am I?
Character B: I know you’ve mentioned the burning of your village on his orders but I don’t think you told me how old you were when that happened.

Much better. Yes, a higher word count but you find out something about Character A here, Character B comes across as sympathetic, and you can sense why these two are likely to be friends. For one thing, their views on politics look similar just from this short exchange.

When it comes to narrative, and you need to describe, say, the Mayoral building, do so succinctly. Think impact. What do you want your readers to see?

Example 1:-
The Mayoral Hall was built in the 50th century and looked like a wedding cake carved out of marble. It had won awards for its architecture but the prize giving committee were all members of Renstung’s cabinet.

This is okay. You get an image.

Example 2:-
There was something about the marble Mayoral Hall that made people shiver as they went past it. It might look like a wedding cake but countless people had died inside It. Nobody was sure of the numbers.

I would go with this wording. You still know it’s marble (the age isn’t the most relevant thing so I’ve cut that out), I’ve still given you the shape of it, but I’ve also associated it with horror. And that would be the most important thing for your readers to know.

Always ask yourself if you were reading your work as if it it had been written by someone else, how does the writing make you feel and react? There should be a reaction!

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