Review: Pinocchio – The Chameleon Theatre Group – Pantomime and Potential

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week reviewing their performance of Pinocchio. Did I have a good time at the pantomime recently ? Oh yes I did! More below.

1pinocchioposter-1177

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to share my review of Pinocchio, the latest production staged by the Chameleon Theatre Group. I also take a look at some of the traditions of pantomime and the theme of this one. I review the performance, nominate my costume of the show (a first for me when it comes to reviewing shows but it was an outstanding costume – see what you think), and discuss whether this role is the only one where an actor is expected to “act wooden”.

I also flag up The Chameleons’ next performance in April, which will be a series of three plays. As ever, a big thank you to them for providing the photos.

And if you’re not in my part of the world, do take the time to check out your local theatre groups. Expect to find gems. I’ve lived where I do for thirty years but have only known about The Chameleons over the last few years. And I would say taking in shows like this one is another way of taking in stories – you’re hearing them and watching them being acted out. It’s a hugely enjoyable experience too.

Do check out the post on Chandler’s Ford Today. I had a great deal of fun coming up with captions for the wonderful photos!

Review: The Chameleon Theatre Group – Pinocchio

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hope you have had a good day. Weather significantly milder which has been lovely and Lady got to play with her best friends today so she had a lovely time.

Now a good definition of a lovely time for me is having written something I like which has potential. Another good definition is having edited something to get it to that potential. And then there’s putting down a good book, having had a wonderful read, and not really wanting to leave the characters behind. That is a sign of a truly great story. It also inspires me to always up my own game (and that’s a good thing. We should be trying to improve on what we do, writing wise).

I’ve talked before about making the most of whatever writing time you have. I always do this but right now I’m doing so more! Why?

I do a behind the scenes the job and it is particularly busy at the moment. So I relish my time when I get to write and feel both tired and refreshed after said writing session. How can I be both?

Well, creative writing should stretch you mentally and that is tiring but I also find it invigorating. I always feel better after having written something even if it is not as much as I would’ve liked to have achieved. What matters is getting something down. It is the getting to be creative at all which matters here I think.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "On those days where run late all day, at least can carve out a few minutes to jot down ideas for future flash tales."

Looking forward to sharing my review of Pinocchio as performed by the Chameleon Theatre Group in my post on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above.

Great fun and I have a soft spot for pantomime given they are based on the classic fairytales.

Author newsletter out today (and welcome to those who have subscribed since my last one, also thanks to those who continue to subscribe – all appreciated I can assure you).

Now when I am blogging, whether it is for Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, or More than Writers in particular, how do I think of the theme given these are not set by anyone else?

Sometimes the time of year inspires the theme (this is especially true for More Than Writers where I will write something Easter/Christmas related etc at the apt times). I usually draw on the writing journey – my personal one and the journey in general.

One thing I love about creative writing is you never stop learning. This can be from your mistakes. It can be from tips you pick up on the way and I can usually find an aspect of these things to make a good theme to write about. But the important thing here is I am writing about something I absolutely love and this I find is continually sustaining. I also make sure there is something of value to the reader and, as with my fiction, I keep my Ideal Reader in mind, always. It helps with focus too.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with one of those tales I think a lot of people will identify with – forgetting to buy something while out shopping. Hope you enjoy my latest tale, The Milk.


Screenshot 2023-02-03 at 09-43-43 The Milk by Allison Symes

Don’t forget the February issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is out. I talk about the Year of the Rabbit in my flash fiction column this time. How can I get a flash story out of that? Did others respond to my challenge? Yes I did. So did they. Check the magazine to find out more. Also check out the Meet the Team feature which starts on Page 28.

 

 

Don’t forget author reviews are a great way of supporting a writer. They don’t have to be long. Okay, I know I would be found to say that as flash fiction writer, but it is true. Reviews can be a line or two. As well as being encouraging to the writer, a thoughtful review can be a great guide for other readers.

Do I review books myself? Oh yes. Not every single thing I read, I admit, but I make sure I do review reasonably regularly. Being a writer makes me more aware of the need to do it, I suppose, but reviews are never a waste of time. And they are appreciated.

Likewise, useful comments on a blog you’ve liked are also appreciated. It’s another kind of review! Also another way of supporting other writers.

May be an image of text that says "Reviews don't have to be long but they can help a writer's presence on Amazon etc."

Fairytales with Bite – Favourites and Dislikes

What do you think are the favourite ingredients of a classic fairytale? What are the dislikes?

My favourite ingredients are:-

  • Sympathetic lead character I can root for – usually down on their luck or ill-treated or overlooked in some way but capable of greatness.
  • A villain I really want to see get their comeuppance.
  • Magic coming to the aid of the sympathetic lead character but they also have to put the work in and prove themselves worthy of that assistance.
  • And I have a very soft spot for a smart animal character who is often wiser than the humans around them.

As for my dislikes:-

  • Cruelty though I know it is unavoidable – you do need the conflict and resolution.. Much as I hate to say it, there usually does have to be some sort of cruelty done to the lead character. There has to be something they have to be delivered from in some way. One thing I’ve always loved about the fairytales is I know the cruelty will stop and there ill be a good ending. Of if only we could say the same about life!
  • The animal characters not being appreciated for their wit and wisdom. Too easily looked down on.
  • A villain who is NOT a worthy opponent for the lead character (what I don’t want is a character who is just a cruel clown).
  • Magic being used as a “cop-out” – there has to be a point to it being used and where there is o viable alternative. For me, it then works.

BookBrushImage-2023-2-3-20-928
This World and Others – The Law

How does the law work in your fictional setting? Is there a criminal/civil law distinction as we have? Or is there just one law, such as martial law? How did the laws come about and have any been modified over the years? Who works in the law in your stories? Is this considered to be a good occupation or not by the ordinary people/beings ruled over?

How severe are punishments? Are your characters rewarded for obeying the law of are they ruled via fear? Who brings about changes to the law and how long did it take them?

The above questions I hope would all start triggering potential story ideas. But even if this isn’t your story directly, thinking about these things will give you a clearer idea as to your setting, how it works as a society. and how your characters are likely to interact with it. Your view of the law will depend on which side of it you are on after all!

BookBrushImage-2023-2-3-20-1342

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

MOM’S FAVORITE READS LINK – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE

Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-50-46 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Pantomime, Rabbits, and Keeping Going

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Think my title for this post is a cracker – it’s not your usual combo! Hope you’ve had a good weekend and early start to this week. My weekend took in all the fun and chaos of pantomime which was great. Oh yes, it was!
(For those who don’t know the pantomime tradition the “oh yes, he is” and the “oh no, he isn’t” etc etc is a staple ingredient of ALL pantomimes, which are always based on the classic fairytales. This gives me another reason to love them. It is one of the few times an audience is expected to shout at the actors on the stage and where it is welcomed!).

BookBrushImage-2023-1-31-20-2143

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Am delighted to say the February edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out, with new editor in chief, Wendy H Jones at the helm. Now this year is the Year of the Rabbit so you may wonder how I could have written my flash fiction column and set a challenge around that. If you want to find out, turn to page 66 – see the link below – and do check out the rest of the magazine. It is a fabulous, free read – what’s not to like?

Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 16-15-23 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Had a wonderful time at Pinocchio, the pantomime staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group over the last week or so. I’ll be reviewing this for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. All great fun!

Don’t forget my author newsletter is due out again on Wednesday. If you’d like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Hope to have news of a potential interview soon. Looking forward to that.

Writing Tip: An outline doesn’t have to be chapter and verse. Often, especially with a flash piece, a couple of lines as to character, trait, situation is enough. Example below.

Character: Older lady.
Trait: Pride
Situation: Faces something where she has to ask for help, though she really doesn’t want to do so.

That is enough to give me the “bare bones” of a potential story. I will then have fun filling in the gaps but it is a great way to start a potential tale and the lovely thing with this approach is when you have the odd couple of minutes, it still gives you time to jot something like this down for working on later.

 

It’s my turn on the More than Writers blog, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot. This time I talk about Keeping Going, an apt topic for what can seem like the longest month of the year! (Sometimes you have to laugh at your own typos – when I first typed the last sentence, it came out as longest moth of the year!).

Hope you find the post useful and encouraging.

Screenshot 2023-01-29 at 08-03-06 Keeping Going by Allison Symes

Am off to see Pinocchio as performed by our wonderful local amateur drama company, The Chameleon Theatre Group, later tonight so am posting early. Review to follow on Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. Later, there will be more fabulous author interviews to come as well.

Many of the fairytales make for wonderful pantomimes of course and I think one reason is that the themes of these appeal to a wide age range. Pinocchio is about acceptance. Most of us will identify with the need for that. Even at a very young age, you do even if you can’t articulate it. And that is a massive factor in why fairytales will always be timeless.

May be an image of text that says "The classic fairytales call classicfairytalescalloutevil out evil for what it is and reflect our behaviour. They don't flatter!"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views in already on Character Missing In Action, my latest YouTube video. Also thanks for the views in on Bigger and Better, my video from last week. Now my author newsletter is out again tomorrow and I do include all the links to my Youtube and Friday Flash Fiction tales as part of this. I also share news, tips, writing advice etc. If you’d like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more.


It’s Monday. The evenings are slowly getting lighter in my part of the world – hooray! There are signs of spring emerging. Still time for a story here and this one, I think will particularly appeal to the writers. Hope you enjoy Character Missing In Action.

 

Slowly getting warmer out there and it is nice to have a bit more daylight each day. I was listening to an interesting snippet on Classic FM where talk turned briefly to missing jigsaw pieces and how only one missing piece can spoil the whole thing.

Well, the same is true for story writing and the missing “bits” show up even more sharply in flash fiction with its maximum word count of 1000 words. So what do I mean by “bits” here? Simple!

1. You must have an intriguing character. I define intriguing here as being where a reader must read to find out what happens to said character. Your reader can’t look away until they reach the end.

2. You must have a proper beginning, middle, and end. Flash fiction isn’t truncated prose. Something has to happen. Something has to be resolved. There has to be a turning point roughly in the middle.

3. The ending must be satisfactory given the nature of the character and the storyline. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending.

Now I’ve talked before about being inspired by overhearing bits of conversation. That’s exactly what has happened for me today with this post. I never thought I’d be inspired by a Classic FM presenter to trigger today’s Facebook post but there you go!

May be an image of text that says "A framework is my road map for my story. It stop me going off at unhelpful tangents which would only need to be cut out later."

Hope you have had a good day. Glad to say my order for my flash fiction collections arrived yesterday – very prompt. Always love opening parcels like that! Also nice to have to top up on stocks…

Have revamped my business card a bit and ordered in some other bits I hope I will put to good use at later book events.

I like all kinds of story collections as you might expect. They are a great way to try out works by authors new to you and I am pleased to recommend the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop as a place to start hunting out some fab collections to try.
Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-40-11 The Bridgetown Café Bookshop

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Deliveries

I recently took stock of a delivery of copies of my two flash fiction collections. Always a joy to top up on stocks and to open parcels like that. I love book deliveries, also for when I am buying in other authors’ works. Those parcels are joy to open too!

I’ve never envied Santa for his sleigh round. There will be a lot of books on there – and they’re heavy. Maybe that explains the need for millions of mince pies!

I do, of course, visit book shops (not as often as I’d like. Mind you, this may be a good thing to (a) help my bank balance and (b) you might need a crow bar to get me out of the shop).

But however you get your books, the important thing is to enjoy them. I like to read widely in and out of my genre (including non-fiction) as that helps me inspire with my own writing. How?

Simply in that an odd line here or there will spark off an idea for a situation I could put my characters into and then have fun working out how they get out of it again, assuming they do. Also the odd fact can spark ideas for a character.

And the best reason of all to enjoy books? Simply because reading is fun.

Screenshot 2023-01-28 at 17-58-56 Book Deliveries
Alternative Twitter image

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

Screenshot 2023-01-10 at 21-14-15 Reader Hub Book Brush

MOM’S FAVORITE READS – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE –

Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-50-46 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Classic Stories

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Very busy one for me. Not sorry the weekend is almost here as I share this. Looking forward to visiting a local pantomime and winding down on Sunday, I hope.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-27-20-2633

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share Classic Stories, my post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I look at what I think makes a story qualify as being a classic and share some of my favourites. I also take a peek at inspirational stories (which so often go on to become classics) and what we can learn from classic tales. Hope you enjoy and do share some of your classics in the comments box.

Classic Stories

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Looking forward to sharing Classic Stories, my latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today. Link to go up tomorrow. Heading off to the local panto on Saturday – oh yes I am! Will review in due course for CFT. Looking forward to seeing what The Chameleon Theatre Group “do” with Pinocchio – I do know it will be a lot of fun!

When you’re thinking of characters for your stories, where do you start? I often look at major traits as they are a great way in to find out what you need to know. If someone is honest, they can also be tactless (just how honest is honest?!). And that just names one example. Also you can use traits like this to set up characters who have the exact opposite trait and really set the fireworks going here as the two characters will inevitably clash.

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on the first of the month so do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up. And a big welcome to those who have joined up since last time.

 

Hope you have had a good day. I was chatting earlier today about favourite characters (of my own and those of other authors) and I picked one of each. It was hard to pick just one. I love a whole range of characters in literature and so much depends on what I feel like reading. If I’m in the mood for a crime novel, one of my favourite characters will be in one of those books somewhere! If I’m up for humorous fantasy, as I so often am, well it’s Sam Vimes from the much missed Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series all the way here. So how would you make a selection here?

Strong characters play a pivotal role in helping us decide whether a story works at all or not

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my latest tale, Why Now? Find out why my character, Bella, really dislikes government inspections. Hope you enjoy.

On a separate note, I did enjoy receiving the latest delivery of my two flash fiction collections today – From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic – to replenish my stocks. Always lovely opening parcels like that!
Screenshot 2023-01-27 at 09-19-55 Why Now by Allison Symes

Had a lovely time at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group last night (25th January 2023) on Zoom. Got chatting about favourites – tips, word counts etc and also at some of the downsides of favourites. I deliberately mix up the random generators I use for example so I am not just confined to using a couple of them. Also stretching myself by trying something new here has helped me find stories I would never have written otherwise and I like that too.

May be an image of text that says "I use random question generators to trigger ideas for topics. DID YOU SMILE TODAY Instead ofapplying a question like this to yourself, apply it to your character. What would be the answer? What made them smile? What made them NOT smile?"

One of the lovely things about flash fiction is I get to invent characters all the time. Sometimes I use a character in more than one flash tale and that’s fine too. But I have always loved inventing my own people and given flash has to be character led, (no room for convoluted plots etc), I get to create lots of different people (and other beings) and put them in interesting situations, sometimes funny, sometimes anything but. It is a joyous thing to do and yet another reason to heartily recommend giving flash fiction writing a go.

May be an image of sky and text that says "One advantage to flash fiction writing is I can set my characters anywhere. I do too!"

Fairytales With Bite – Themes from the Pantomimes

I will be going to see my local amateur theatre’s production of Pinocchio soon and this led to my thinking about the themes behind so many of the pantomimes, which in turn often come from the classic fairytales.

Pinocchio – theme of acceptance.

The Ugly Duckling – also has the theme of acceptance but I would add in a second theme of not judging someone by their looks.

Beauty and the Beast – Love conquers all, don’t judge by appearances and, for the Beast, this is particularly true given he was cursed by an old woman he insulted, not realising she was a powerful magical being. Third theme here: don’t misjudge older characters!

Cinderella – Love conquers all/right will be done eventually (though I would still be cross with the fairy godmother for turning up so late if I was Cinders. She could’ve done with help much earlier on in the story!).

Aladdin – Theme of rough diamond winning through, also of not letting setbacks get in the way.

Puss in Boots – Cats are smarter than you think!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-27-20-4313

This World and Others – Entertainment

Often going to see a pantomime is someone’s first experience of live theatre and that’s a great thing as it encourages going again to see other pantomimes before going on to try other forms of theatrical entertainment. I’ve found National Theatre Live a great way to discover Shakespeare but my early experiences of theatre were the pantomimes.

In your fictional setting, which forms of entertainment exist? Is the government here a big believer in the “bread and circuses” policy adopted by the Romans who thought, as long as people had those things, they wouldn’t cause trouble? Does it work in your setting?

How long have these entertainments been on offer and have they developed from something even further back in time for your world? Are there forms of entertainment which would not be tolerated in any circumstances? Are there forms of prescribed entertainment your characters have to go to, regardless of their own feelings in the matter? Are there underground/fringe entertainments?

Now I am very glad that things like bear baiting no longer exist in my part of the world but this was part of my country’s history for a very long while. So how does your fictional setting decide which entertainment should not happen any more and what are the driving forces behind this?

Do your characters make their living in the entertainment industry?> Is this well regarded or not and how do your characters feel about it? There are story ideas here!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-27-20-5445

Twitter icon

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

Screenshot 2022-12-23 at 17-31-45 Reader Hub Book Brush

MOM’S FAVORITE READS LINK – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE

Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 19-56-17 Mom's Favorite Reads

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Workshop News and Key Story Ingredients

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Still very cold in my part of the world. One nice thing about running a Zoom workshop (which I will be doing on 25th January) is you get to stay indoors!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-24-20-4647

Facebook – General

Another bitterly cold day today but Lady got to show off in front of her Hungarian Vizler friend today so she was happy enough!

Looking forward to running the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group on Zoom tomorrow. Those taking part in it live hundreds of miles apart so we never could get together in person but Zoom has made groups like this possible.

I’ve used Zoom to help me get my timings right for stories which have then been broadcast on North Manchester FM. It means I know for sure I am coming in at under the maximum time allowed. And it has been a lifeline for catching up with family as well. So yes I am a big fan of the app here.

I also love in person workshops and it is a good thing, I think, to try and have the best of both worlds.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-24-20-3236

Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Still bitterly cold here. Will be talking about Classic Stories for Chandler’s Ford Today later on this week – will share the link on Friday. (And many thanks for all the comments which have come in over my interview with June Webber last week. Much appreciated all round!).

Many thanks also for the fabulous comments coming in on Reasons, my most recent Friday Flash Fiction tale. This is one of my darker tales but I hope you enjoy it.
Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 09-27-41 Reasons by Allison Symes

Had a lovely time at the workshop yesterday. Many thanks, everyone, for making me so welcome.

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom on Wednesday and going to see The Chameleon Theatre Group perform Pinocchio on Saturday. It will be a lively week!

Have been busy sorting out some of my writing admin today – need to get in more business cards etc and book orders too. This kind of admin is a joy to do though – I can literally see the end product! And don’t forget if you would like a copy of either or both of my flash fiction collections, you can get them from me by contacting me through the contact form on my website (link below). Naturally there are the usual other online outlets here but I can sign the books for you if you get them directly from me!

Contact

 

Am on my way to run a flash fiction workshop in London. Looking forward to that though today’s trip is a mixture of trains, tubes, and replacement bus services thanks to the landslide at Hook. This is on the main route to London.

I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of this but the damage done by the landslide is seriously scary with tracks in mid-air etc! Hope and pray this is sorted well and as quickly as possible given the circumstances (shouldn’t be either/or here!).

Was delighted to hear of a book sale of Tripping The Flash Fantastic to a local fellow dog walker yesterday. Always lovely news that!☺

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on social media re my interview with June Webber for Chandler’s Ford Today which went live yesterday.

More author interviews to come in due course but June proves it is never too late to write and be published. I find that enormously encouraging.

Update: had a fabulous time at the workshop. Everyone was so welcoming. I hope you all have fun writing up the story ideas generated.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in on Bigger and Better, my latest tale on YouTube. See below. Also thanks for the great comments in on Reasons, my newest story on Friday Flash FictionLink and image further up.

I like to mix up the way I come up with themes for my stories and do this by using different random generators, proverbs, overhead snippets of conversation, themes which will never date (there will always be places for ghost stories, love stories etc), odd things which catch my eye in the news/on social media etc.

I then think of which characters could best serve those themes and look at why they would. Then I start drafting when I know my character, who has this quality, that fault etc., would be the best for this tale. And I relish writing that draft. It should be fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


It’s Monday. It’s icy cold. It’s dark. It has been a hectic Monday. Definitely time for a story then. My latest on YouTube is called Bigger and Better – hope you enjoy it.

 

Had a lovely time running a flash fiction workshop in London yesterday. It is always a joy to share the joys of writing flash and why it is useful for all writers, regardless of whether someone makes it their main creative form or not. I discovered the form having been writing short stories for some time. I hadn’t even heard of flash when I first started out but I’ve never regretted this happy writing accidental discovery!

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Friends, my recent Friday Flash Fiction story. The feedback from this site is great. Do check the site out and, in case you missed my tale first go around, do see the link below. Especially pleased to repeat this one as it is an acrostic story, which are always fun to write, and the comments have been wonderful.

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison SymesWhen I enter any kind of writing competition, I assume “nothing doing” if there is no notification from the organisers within two months of the closing date.

I then have another look at my story, revise it (sometimes it is just the odd word or two here), and then send it on elsewhere. I have had flash and short stories then go on to be published.

It isn’t a question of major rewrites for the revision process here. I would’ve written and edited the original as good as I could do before entering the competition. But having the gap of a couple of months means I’m looking at the story again with fresh eyes and there nearly always is something I can tweak and make better. So I do!

I do judge competitions sometimes and know a story can be fine but then one comes in which simply takes your breath away and that must be the one to win. And different things trigger that take your breath away moment for different judges.

Moral of this? Never be afraid to revise your stories and send them out elsewhere.

Goodreads Author Blog – Key Story Ingredients

All successful stories, for me, have to contain key ingredients. Doesn’t matter if these are flash fiction, short stories, novellas, or novels, I think they all need to have the following ingredients in them.

1. Characters you care about and want to root for. Sometimes it can be rooting for a villain to fail.

2. Twists and turns so you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

3. A feeling of having had a fantastic reading experience when you finish the story. Points 1 and 2 are crucial here.

4. For a novel/novella series, there needs to be continual character development so you can see how they change and grow over the series. You can do likewise on a smaller scale for linked flash/short stories.

5. Understanding of the dilemmas the characters face and enjoying finding out how they deal with these.

What would be key ingredients for you?

Screenshot 2023-01-21 at 21-25-05 Key Story Ingredients

Alternative Twitter image

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB.

 

MOM’S FAVORITE READS LINK – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE.

Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 19-56-17 Mom's Favorite Reads

Author Interview: June Webber – Publication: Never Too Late

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush.Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were photos of The Hayes, Swanwick as part of my CFT interview this week. Talking of which,  many thanks to June Webber for great author and book pictures for her interview with me on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Has been a cold week hre but Lady has got to have many “puppy parties” this week with her best friends over the local park so she’s happy at least.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-20-20-252

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

I am thrilled to welcome dear friend and fellow Swanwicker, June Webber, to Chandler’s Ford Today, to share her writing journey in Publication – Never Too Late. Her writing story is an encouraging one. I very much hope you enjoy the post and find it encouraging too.

Author Interview: June Webber – Publication: Never Too Late

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you have had a good day. Another bitterly cold one here. Looking forward to chatting with June Webber on Chandler’s Ford Today – link up tomorrow. Her story is an inspiring one and I’m only too pleased to be sharing it. See above.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing from? As well as using the random generators to trigger ideas, the biggest inspiration comes from what I love reading.

I’ve always loved the classic fairytales so they are a huge influence on me. I love the humour of Austen, Pratchett, and Wodehouse, so those are huge influences on me.

This is why the more you read (in terms of numbers of books read and genres), the bigger and wider are the sources of inspiration for you to draw on. Other sources of inspiration can be topics on which you have strong feelings. I like to see justice done and the evil not to get away with it (again the fairytales have a definite influence on me there) so I will read crime stories which reflect this.

So having a broad reading diet then is a very good idea indeed!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-19-20-2231

It’s my turn on the Authors Electric blog and this time I’m talking about Flash NANO – A New Challenge In the Old Year. I look at what Flash NANO is and share what I found useful about it. It is good to be stretched, writing wise, every so often, and Flash NANO did that for me. Looking forward to the next one already.

Screenshot 2023-01-18 at 09-31-41 Flash NANO - A New Challenge in the Old Year by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share Reasons, my latest Friday Flash Fiction story. Many thanks for the great comments coming in on this one already.

Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 09-27-41 Reasons by Allison Symes

Looking forward to giving my flash fiction workshop this weekend and also the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group meeting next week. I like a mixture of in person and Zoom events – both kinds of event have their bonuses.

If you’re thinking of putting a collection together, remember the independent press is a great avenue to explore as they are much more open to approaches from non-agented writers. And having short stories/flash fiction published online or shortlisted in competitions makes for great material to put in your query letter.

May be a cartoon of text that says "Creative writing is fun and good for the brain ίσσ."

Many thanks to #ValPenny for sharing Writing Pitfalls, a recent blog I wrote for Chandler’s Ford Today on her blog today. A great way to spread the word! One writing pitfall I didn’t mention either here or earlier on CFT is not realising just how many kinds of writing there are out there and therefore to take your time working out which suits you best. I am so glad I discovered flash fiction for instance though I’d never heard of it when I started out.

Writing Pitfalls by Allison Symes

Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 20-17-43 Writing Pitfalls by Allison Symes

Fairytales with Bite – Magical Seasons – Characters and Magic

How does your magical world have its seasons? Are they similar to Earth’s four and, if so, is magic more prominent in any one of them? If so, why? Does the winter, for example tend to dampen down magical activity? Does magic abound in the spring with longer days and brighter weather?

Do your characters have seasons in their life where their magical performances are significantly better or worse than others? Indeed, are waning powers a sign of illness/a character’s life coming to an end, again on the grounds everything has its season and it applies to characters too? Or does everyone experience a drop in performance at certain times and they’ve learned how to cope with that?

Do you have characters who cope with the down times better than others and how do they achieve this? Does the availability of light make a difference?

I also love characters who are older but with tonnes of useful magical experience behind them yet are still capable of “outgunning” those far younger than them because of that experience. How would their magical season progress?

BookBrushImage-2023-1-20-20-232

This World and Others – Climates

Does your world have one predominant climate or several? How does this/these affect the geography of your fictional world? Equally how does the geography affect the climate that can only exist because, for example, your world has a lot of water in it? Can your characters change the climate (for better or worse) and. If so, how?

Are there wars between different peoples because one has a better climate than the other? What pressures are there on food production etc which could lead to such conflicts and how are these things resolved?

What kind of climate do your characters prefer to be in? There will always be those who relish causing trouble so like a climate in which that is easily done. They would be bored senseless in a climate where peace prevails and nobody argues about anything. (Would make for a boring story too).

And how do shyer characters cope in a climate where people/other beings of choice are expected to be upfront and dominant? My thinking here is climate can be about social context and prevailing attitudes, as well as the geographic kind.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-20-20-3013

 

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

MOM’S FAVORITE READS – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE

Interviews and Ideas

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Brrr… it has turned very cold again where I am with temperatures plummeting well below zero. Dog is wondering why Mum has speeded up the walking a bit! There are some signs of spring though. Have seen first catkins out.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-17-20-2942

Facebook – General

Now I’m looking forward to sharing a great interview with June Webber on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday, but there is another use for interview questions, which fiction writers may well find useful. I’ve mentioned before I like to know my characters and will often interview them. Why not take an interview question you come across and get your character to answer it?

One of my favourites to ask my interviewees to name their three favourite authors and briefly say why they’ve chosen them. Now that gives insight into my interviewees’ taste in books but also at what influences their writing.

For your characters, go on to think a bit more about why they’ve chosen what they have. What do these choices say about them?

Are you surprised by their choices and, if so, work out what that is, as the more you know your characters, the easier you will find it to write their stories up with conviction. When I read a story, I want to be convinced the author knows their character inside out. I think something of that does come across in the way the story is told.

 

Brrr… the cold snap is back. Lady did get to play with her best buddy, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, today but we mere human owners kept our girls running so we kept moving too! Am so thankful writing is an indoors job!

Next couple of Saturdays will be busy. I’m off to London for my workshop this week and the following week I’m off to the local panto, Pinocchio, as performed by The Chameleon Theatre Group. I expect lots of laughs from the latter – review to follow for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. (It was nice when I was booking my ticket here they ask you where you found out about the show and Chandler’s Ford Today was listed as an option. That did make me smile and naturally I did tick that option!).

Every so often something nice and unexpected comes along. I was swimming recently, and having a much needed breather, had a chat with the lifeguard as it was quiet. I’d had a long swim (100 lengths – I impressed myself), having swam for about about two hours.

Anyway, they wanted to know who I worked for given I was effectively having a two hour lunch break. I mentioned I was a writer and they were impressed with that. They were even more impressed when I mentioned having books out! Naturally I got to put the word out about what I write too and explain a little about what flash fiction is – I can but hope for a sale here! Mind you, they’ll have to wait for me to be out of the pool before I sign any books for them!

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

Looking forward to sharing a lovely interview with friend and fellow Swanwicker, June Webber, for Chandler’s Ford Today, later on this coming week. June is a great example of it never being too late to be published so I hope people will find her story encouraging. I know I do!

Don’t forget I send out an author newsletter on the first of the month. If you’d like to sign up for tips, news, story links etc., head over to (my landing page at) https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am hoping to have broadcast news again soon – keep your fingers crossed! Will share when I can.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hope you’ve had a good day. Weather grotty again here. Many thanks for the wonderful responses to my acrostic story, Friends, which appeared on Friday Flash Fiction yesterday. Link here if you missed it first go.Looking forward to running my flash fiction workshop next Saturday for an ACW affiliated group. These are always good fun and it is great to be out and about again.

I remember being very nervous when I first went to a writers’ event. Think I was having a bad case of Imposter Syndrome at the time but am so glad it went as I ended up meeting the person who was to go on to become my publisher at it. And when I realised networking means talking about writing and listening to fellow authors who share your love of writing also talking about the same topic and as a result you have an instant conversation going, the fears went.

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash fiction writing has helped me lose all fear of editing and has also made me stop and work out just what is it about this character that makes me feel I’ve got to write their story up. (All characters should make you feel something). It also makes me work out well just what is the story and focus on that alone. Two excellent reasons to give it a go – and I’ve found it has helped me with the other writing I do – short stories and blogging.

May be an image of text that says "With flash fiction, you have to focus on THE single most important aspect of your character's life"

16th January
I don’t know about today being Blue Monday. I do know it’s Very Cold Monday where I am. I also know it’s time for a story. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Why Am I Here? Even a “deep” question can lead to story ideas!

 

I deliberately mix up the random generators I use for triggering story ideas. It’s fun to have a variety of ways into which I can get into a story. Also I don’t want to be relying on just one or two anyway. Well, you ever know what kind of writing exercises you’ll be set at a workshop so it helps to know you can produce a story to prompts produced in different ways so you are ready for all of that.

Having said that, the ideas I hope to write up for submission this week come from odd turns of phrase I’ve either come across or used in my own Facebook posts recently and I had the old light bulb moment and thought I could produce a story here. So be open to having a number of ways in which you trigger ideas. It does pay.

May be an image of text that says "You're "fizzing" with ideas? Great. Just get them down. Sharpen them later."Sometimes good themes will occur to me as I am writing something else so I note the ideas down and then go on to write some flash fiction to those themes later. This is the Murphy’s Law of Writing in full flow here. It doesn’t matter what you write but an idea for something else will crop up as you’re trying to get to grips with what you’re trying to complete. Best to go with the flow then and have a way or ways to jot down those ideas.

I know not to rely on my memory here. Why is it you can always remember the hundreds of things you have to do around the home etc but can’t recall the one great idea that occurred to you at an inconvenient time? And I suspect there could be a flash fiction story in a character discovering the truth of this for themselves! (Have just followed my own advice and noted this down for another time!).

May be an image of text that says "? alt en option CREATE return Good idea but how? One way is use themes from stories you love and then see what you can do with that same theme."

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Recommendations

Where do you get book recommendations from? Yes, I get some from Goodreads, but I would say my main source for these is from fellow authors. And there is, to my mind, nothing better than going to a book/writing event and having a good look at what is on offer at the book table. I nearly always come back with purchases!

I do look at reviews on Amazon and the like but am not necessarily swayed by them. Having said that, if there are lots of bad reviews, and the reviewers are pretty much saying the same thing, then I will sit up and take notice. Likewise, if good reviews are saying similar things, I will take note. (I like to see the reasons why someone likes a book so if there is a comment about the characterisation, I will take immediate notice given characters for me are the driving force behind what makes a story work or fail).

Screenshot 2023-01-14 at 21-32-17 Book Recommendations


Twitter Corner (2)

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

 

Writing Pitfalls

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Lady and I spent most of the week failing to duck the rain clouds but she did get to play with several of her friends. Am looking forward to running a workshop soon. Will be good to be out and about, writing wise, again.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-13-19-4936

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Glad to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I talk about Writing Pitfalls. I talk about rejections and con artists, writing, editing and stamina (all three things are crucial for writers), support networks, and competitions and trying again, amongst other items here. Hope you find the post useful.

Writing Pitfalls

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Questions make a great way into a story. For example, there is a great cartoon doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment where the punchline is a question – why are you here?

Now your story could be about a character who answers that question for themselves or for someone close to them. It could be an excellent title. I would want to know who the “you” is here and why this question would be asked of them in the first place. It could be a story about a character reacting badly to that question.

Maybe it is something which has haunted them and they decide to find their own place in the world to prove if only to themselves they have every right to be where they are. I hope to write something up on this question in due course myself but it’s a great open question to play with here, I think.

May be an image of ocean and text that says "Questions are a great hook A reader knows they have to be answered. Only way to find out how is to read the piece."

Lady had an excellent day today. Got to play with all of her girlfriends – it was a fab “puppy party”. We managed to avoid most of the wet weather today as well so consider that a win. Looking forward to sharing Writing Pitfalls, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up on Friday. See above.

Also looking forward to seeing the Chameleon Theatre Group put on their new show – Pinocchio – later this month. Oh yes I am! (Can’t help but wonder what topical gags will end up in that though – will find out in due course!).

Writing Tip: Every so often look up some of your earlier writing pieces. I do this and I can see why I wrote the pieces in the way I did at the time. I can also see what I would do now to “tighten” those pieces up further. This is a good thing. It brings home how much you’ve learned over the intervening time and I find this encourages me to keep on going and to keep on learning.

May be an image of text that says "Top Tips!"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s lovely to be back on Friday Flash Fiction. This time I share an acrostic story, Friends. Hope you enjoy it. (I find acrostics work best for shortish words).

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison SymesI’ll be looking at Writing Pitfalls for Chandler’s Ford Today this week (an overview). Link up tomorrow. See further up.

Pitfalls about writing flash fiction? Well, one is when you swear you’ve got the perfect 100 word story for a competition and find your tale really does need to be at 300 words!

If you find your story would lose something (characterisation, a good telling detail etc) if you were to cut your story back further, then leave it as it is and write another 100 word story instead. Part of the art of flash fiction is in knowing when to leave well alone and in knowing what must be in your tale. When you’ve got to that point, your story is done. You worry about the word count later.

May be an image of text that says "Flash fiction illuminates briefly it is a great form for a lighthearted piece. These often work best when kept short."

When I run flash workshops, I will often read a couple of my stories out and then break down how I wrote them. I’ve come across this technique in various author interviews I’ve read/listened to and always find it helpful. Having an outline (even if sometimes it is just a line or two) helps me to remember why I’m writing the story in the way I am and I find that useful too. It is too easy to go off at a tangent – have done this and where you’ve got a strict word count, you do have to focus.

Outlining makes me do that but it also gives me enough of a break down of my tale to be able to share when I want to share writing advice. And with flash stories, this can be done quickly. At events, I’m often asked what flash is and reading some out is a perfect demonstration. I often read stories out at home to ensure dialogue flows as well as I think it does etc. This is all useful “stuff”.

May be an image of text that says "workshop Writing workshops are great fun and Sơ much can be learned from them. Preparation is key- and not just for the speaker!"

Fairytales With Bite – Openings

How can you make use of openings in your magical settings? Well other than the famous starting line Once upon a time… there are other ways of doing this.

Think about openings for the beings who populate your world. As well as training schools for magical beings, what job opportunities await them? How do they work their way up the ladder? If your world keeps itself to itself, can openings be found to initiate dialogue with neighbouring worlds? Who would see the usefulness of being able to do this and “break the mould”?

If your setting covers up part of its history, what would persuade it that it would be better to “open up” and face the fact no world is perfect? Also have changes come into your setting since that history and are these positive or negative?

Even where characters and/or the setting itself is prepared to open up, there will be those who oppose that. Who are these people, what can they do to prevent such opening up happening, and how are they dealt with by those who see the necessity to be more open?

Opening can represent changes and not everyone welcomes those, sometimes for good reasons, other times definitely not. So how could you make use of the theme of opening in your stories? There are ideas to be explored here.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-13-20-1140

This World and Others – Networking

When I was starting out as a writer, the thought of networking used to terrify me. It was only when I realised all it meant was talking about something I love (writing and books) with others who appreciated talking about such things I realised it wasn’t something to be worried about. Also when I realised writers have the perfect way into starting conversation (”what do you write?”), I lost my fear. I knew I had something to ask the person opposite me and it would get a chat going. And so it has proved!

How would networking occur in your fictional setting? Is it encouraged or not? Are there rules so you can only mix with certain groups? What kind of technology is available and how is that used for networking? Is networking only saved for, say, the creative arts sector?

What kind of colloborations occur as a result of networking? How does networking benefit your individual characters? Also think in terms of personal development as well s financial benefit here. Could a shy person, for example become less shy thanks to the right kind of networking for them?

Does your world network with neighbouring ones and how well does that work or otherwise? Does your setting have the equivalent of an “entente cordiale”?

BookBrushImage-2023-1-13-20-1818

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

ALLISON SYMES – AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL PAGE

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 20-24-10 Allison Symes

The Writing Life and The First Day

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated, many created via Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Another wet week of “walkie” sessions with the dog since I last posted. She dries off quicker than I do! Starting to spot spring bulbs sending shoots up though, which is lovely.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-10-20-586

Facebook – General

Last Tuesday, Lady and I, by the end of the day, looked like bedraggled rats. This Tuesday we’re looking more like mildly moist mice! I guess we’re heading the right way.

Have booked my train ticket for the workshop I’m going to be running later this month. Really looking forward to doing that. I love going to workshops too and alway learn so much from them. Looking forward to booking my train tickets for The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick later on in the year too.

Part of my reading “diet” includes the writing magazines because, as well as competitions I might enter, I find out more about the industry and that is always worth doing. And you never know when a bit of advice which isn’t useful to you right now proves to be very helpful indeed later on in your writing journey. It happens. It has happened to me a number of times.

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

Hope you had a good day. Lady got to play with her two best girlfriends today and we didn’t get soaked so both of us considered that to be a win! Looking forward to running a flash workshop later this month. I do set exercises as part of my workshops and the advantage of these is they help illustrate the points being made. Also later you can finish these off at home and I hope go on to submit them somewhere.

People do take different approaches to the same theme. I discovered how true this was when I was one of the winners three years in a row for the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. We all had to write to the same theme and word count yet 15 different winning authors took very different approaches to the topic set. That was enlightening for me! It was also encouraging because a good theme, open to interpretation, should spark off plenty of ideas.

May be an image of ‎text that says "‎زایS I've found writing exercises incredibly useful for recharging my stock of story ideas.‎"‎

Lady and I got a bit of a soaking earlier – she dries quicker than I do! I’ll be looking at some Writing Pitfalls for my next Chandler’s Ford Today post – link up on Friday. Am also looking forward to taking part in another author’s blog – more details nearer the time as it is not until March but it is good to be in early!

Have also got a smashing interview lined up with a writer friend of mine showing publication can happen at any age. Really looking forward to sharing that. I do think it is one of the lovely things about writing – there is no retirement age. You can start writing at whatever age and publication can and does happen at any age. More on that nearer the time as well. Have been catching up with some blogging posts to appear later in the month as well.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Today has been more hectic than I’d have liked but I appreciate my time at the writing desk even more on days like these. Writing gives me time to be creative, to forget the other worries, and to invent characters and situations. On tiring days. I particularly like to get lots of “little bits” done such as finishing off a blog post, finding suitable pics for it and so on. On days when I’ve got more time, that’s when I get the word count up significantly.

I find you do have to go with the flow and everyone has days when the flow is slow or has been temporarily dammed. It helps to focus on the word “temporarily” here. There will be better writing days. Sticking with writing and accepting some days are worse than others in terms of what you get done is an underrated attribute but one I think all writers need to develop.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-7-20-3628

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to running my first flash fiction workshop of the year later on this month and to meeting up again with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group not long after that. I often prepare PowerPoint presentations for the latter. It’s funny how I hadn’t used PowerPoint in years but with the growth in the use of Zoom, it has come into its own again. Good fun to do and easy to share if you want to do so.

I believe the growth in flash fiction has come about as a result of people reading more on screens – the very short form of writing is ideal for this. Flash may be short but it needs as much crafting and editing as any other form of writing – loads in other words! This is why I’ll get a story down, rest it, go and write some more tales, then come back to the first one.

Then and only then can I see how I can make it better and there is always room for improving a tale. What can be tricky sometimes is working out when enough is enough on the editing. At some point you have to let your story “out there” and see how it does. This is where deadlines are handy. They make you do this!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-10-20-5043It’s Monday. It’s still dark far too early out there. It’s cold. It’s been a tough, busy day. It’s Monday. And it’s time for my YouTube story. My latest is called Friends. Hope you enjoy it. (Short and sweet this one).

 

Hope you have had a good day. How easy do you find coming up with titles for your flash pieces? I use a variety of ways for this. I use random generators as those can often spark title ideas. I use proverbs sometimes directly as a title, sometimes as inspiration for a title (especially if I want to “subvert” a common phrase as I did with my story Punish The Innocent). I like to keep my titles relatively short (though there are always exceptions to any rule. It is just that most of the time shorter titles are easier to recall).

May be an image of text that says "Jotting down ideas for future stories, blog posts etc., is a great thing to do when you're short on time. Latr tired and uninspired, you can come back to those ideas and find something you like the look ofto to write up."

Many thanks, everyone, for the lovely comments coming in on my first story for 2023 for Friday Flash Fiction, The First Day. It was nice to start with New Year with a feel good tale. Looking forward to my “flash fiction Sunday” tomorrow which is when I get a lot of flash written.
Screenshot 2023-01-06 at 09-18-42 The First Day by Allison Symes

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Blurbs

I must admit it is the book cover which draws me to a book (whether it is online or via a bookshop unless I know of the author. Know I like their work, can’t wait to snap up the next they bring out etc). But after that it is the book blurb which draws me into buying the book or leaving it on the shelf. I like something crisp and snappy to lure me in but they’re not the easiest things to write. You can be sure what you see on the book is the result of several drafts!

But the end result is usually well worth it. Every writer needs to be able to sum up their book in a line (as it gives you something to tell people without going on for too long – and that is an art still).

Sometimes I’ve come across quizzes and the like where you have to guess the book from the blurb that’s been given to you and that can be fun.

As a flash fiction writer having to stick to a tight word count, I guess I may have an advantage here. Writing tight can help you produce those blurbs or at least be less nervous of coming up with something short and snappy.

Screenshot 2023-01-07 at 20-42-44 Book Blurbs

Alternative Twitter image

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

Screenshot 2023-01-10 at 21-14-15 Reader Hub Book Brush

Diaries and Letters


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. (Many created in Book Brush). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good start to 2023. It is lovely being back at the writing desk. Look out for a useful writing exercise in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Hope you give it a go and find it useful.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-6-20-221
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share my first Chandler’s Ford Today post for 2023 where I take a look at Diaries and Letters.

I look at the joys of reading books of these as well as explore using these formats in my own flash fiction writing. I also discuss the usefulness of keeping a diary (not just for noting down what I’ve got to do and when but also for reviewing where I am with my writing and to set goals). I also share a useful creative writing exercise here.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope you have had a good first week “back to normal”.

Diaries and Letters

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Looking forward to sharing Diaries and Letters for my Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow. See above – this is one of those posts where I have to watch my spelling. It’s difficult reading and/or writing dairies!

I love reading and writing both formats! Am looking forward to sharing more author interviews later on in the year and am glad to say I’ll be taking part in another writer’s blog in March. More details nearer the time. Also looking forward to running another flash fiction workshop later this month.

Hope to get back to work soon on a major project I had to shelve last year (due to my wanting to get my third flash fiction book submitted). Looking forward to that too. I’ve got a rough draft done on it but know it needs plenty of honing.

Have you set any writing goals you want to achieve this year? I like to have a rough idea of what I’d like to see done in the period and deliberately have a mixture of goals I know I’ll achieve quickly as well as the longer ones. It is nice being able to tick things off my “list”.

May be an image of text

Hope you have had a good day. Weather a lot better than yesterday – Lady and I didn’t get wet! It is the simple pleasures in life etc etc…

Am currently reading a biography of the late Queen by Gyles Brandreth (and loving it). Then I’m on to a crime novel. I like mixing things up! I read in different formats too (and I’ll be looking at some formats of story writing in the forms of diaries and letters for my next Chandler’s Ford Today post too. I often read books of letters and diaries – do check these out. They’re illuminating. I’ve written in both diary and letter formats too).

Writing Tip: Given you’re going to be spending some time with your characters (and yes that applies even to a flash piece), it does pay to get to know them a bit. If you could write a letter to your leading character, what would you put in it and why? Give some thought as to how they would reply to you. You’ll get insights into their personality doing this.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-4-20-947

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s great to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my story The First Day. An apt title for the first week in the New Year, I think. Hope you enjoy. (Also many thanks for the comments coming in on this already but I think you’ll like my characters in this one).

Screenshot 2023-01-06 at 09-18-42 The First Day by Allison Symes

If you want to practice writing short in a way that helps other writers, how about writing a review of their books? It helps authors with publicity and is the second best way to help them (the first is to buy said books of course). The great thing with reviews is they don’t have to be long.

Talking of writing short, I must admit I did find the strapline for both of my collections tough to come up with – I knew what I wanted to say but it was condensing it down enough that was the issue. Still I got there in the end.

For From Light to Dark and Back Again, the strapline reads A collection of very short stories to suit every mood.

For Tripping the Flash Fantastic, it reads A carefully crafted collection of story worlds.

It is funny how writing short is so often more difficult than writing long!If you’ve got ideas for possible strap lines or even words you’d like to use in a strapline, jot them down somewhere safe. Never assume you’ll remember. You don’t, honestly.

Flash with Amazon and Barnes and Noble

I mentioned over on my main author page on Facebook about getting to know your characters. There are various ways of doing this. For flash fiction, you may not need to know so much. I often use a template to help me work out what I think I need to know. One or two pertinent questions can draw out a lot of information! It’s working out what you need to know I think which can be the tricky bit.

I know I need to know a character’s major trait and why it is that one. Others may need to know what they look like and deduce their personality from the type of clothes they like to wear etc. But as long as you know what makes them tick, that’s the important thing. You do have to convince ourself you know these people and therefore can write their stories up with conviction. You know X would react like this to Y because… etc etc

May be an image of text that says "".. Understanding what makes US tick is crucial for understanding what makes your characters tick."

Fairytales with Bite – New Year Acrostic (Writing Tips)

N = New Year = New start – do your magical characters need this and, if so, why?
E = Explore what your characters would do when dropped right in the mire. This can be great fun!
W = Work out what your characters could do with in the way of worthy opponents. You mustn’t make life too easy for them.

Y = You decide how magic works in your setting and whether your characters can all have the same powers or have the potential to develop them.
E = Eagerness to gain power – which of your characters have this? Why? What would they do with that power if they got it?
A = Always know what your characters are doing and what their motivations are. These need to be motivations readers understand but we don’t necessarily have to like them.
R = Read through your stories and check for consistency. If your character changes behaviour patterns, there has to be a good reason for that, again something readers can identify with. Were they “redeemed” or “corrupted”? What are the consequences of the changes? Your stories need to play this out.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-6-20-2817

This World and Others – Starting Over

This is an apt topic for the start of another year (and Happy New Year!). Many stories show characters starting over (and my favourite here is A Christmas Carol by Dickens).

But give some thought as to whether your setting needs to start over. Has there been a climate catastrophe in your world where agriculture, industry etc all need to start again? What caused the disaster? How have your characters recovered from it? What changes have had to be forced on them? Which have they happily adopted?

Also there are personal disasters for your individual people. What form(s) do these take? How did your characters start over or have they never been able to really recover? What are the consequences of not being able to start over?

How would the history of your world impact on those living in it now? Is there history they prefer to forget (and so have “started over” by focusing on the history they are happy about?). Starting over can be an artificial concept exploited by the powerful so you could explore what they are trying to bury here.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-6-20-3643

Alternative Twitter image

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

When Is A Story Finished?

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated (with many created in Book Brush). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Happy New Year to you all! Hope you had a lovely Christmas. And now back on with the writing… it is always a pleasure to come back to it too.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-3-20-4643

Facebook – General

Lady and I spent a lot of today getting wet – not great weather here today. Am looking forward to going to The Chameleon Theatre Group’s next production, Pinocchio, later this month. Oh yes I am!

When is a story finished? When the writer is happy with it?

Possibly but for me a more important consideration is to ask myself if my characters have fulfilled the premise of the story so there really is nothing left for them to do or say. Does the ending deliver on the promise of the beginning?

Would I enjoy this story if someone else had written it instead of me? (That’s a good question to ask because you put yourself in the head of your Ideal Reader doing that and so you ask yourself does the twist work? Am I gripped so I have to read to the end?).

Then and only then am I likely to be happy with the tale and consider it ready to go out there, having of course rested my story, edited it, and got rid of the inevitable typo that has somehow escaped my attention until now! There always is one… writer usually sighs heavily at this point!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-3-20-2734

Hope you have had a good day. Lady got to see her Hungarian Vizler friend today so that made her happy. She was less impressed with the fireworks though given the weather was dreadful last night, we had fewer of them this time.

I’ll be looking at Diaries and Letters for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday as it’s a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while.

It was nice getting back to my “flash fiction Sunday afternoon” writing slot yesterday. Will be sharing my latest YouTube video shortly over on my book page – https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes/

 

1st January – New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! I caught a little bit of the London celebrations on social media and loved the tribute to the Queen and the coins changing from the Queen to the King. Thought that was nicely done.

Lady loved the Pet Classics show on Classic FM yesterday. Found it very soothing – as did I. Nice way to end the old year as was getting to catch up with a couple of Swanwick friends on Zoom.

Slowly getting back into my writing routine again though I know it will be a day or two before I am fully up to speed. Mind you, it would help to remember what day of the week it is. I find it comforting to know it isn’t just me for that during this time just after Christmas and now. I did remember to get my author newsletter out today though so that counts as a win!

May be an image of text that says "E-MAIL out my NEWSLETTER I send author newsletter ơη the 1st of each month and share news, tips, story links newsletter EMAIL etc. talk about flash fiction and share thoughts ση writing it here tσơ."

31st December 2022 – New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year! I hope 2023 proves to be a blessing and you enjoy lots of good books and stories, old and new. The lovely thing with stories is the vast majority of them are timeless. I look forward to re-readings and finding books new to me.

Author newsletter out tomorrow though I can promise it won’t be on the stroke of midnight. I take the view the New Year can see itself in without me!

Have a lovely time if you’re off celebrating. Lady and I will be listening to Pet Classics on Classic FM. Nice soothing music – just the ticket for us!

May be an image of text that says "Almost there! Happy New Year to you all!"
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I did manage to get a story in for a flash competition ahead of the end of the old year.

In between competitions, as well as writing for Friday Flash Fiction and my YouTube channel, I will draft stories with a reasonably open theme or a topic I know is bound to come up at some point. These drafts are never wasted. I will find a home for them during the next twelve months at some point. It is good to have a stock of stories for this kind of use.

I can and do often go through past stories which didn’t make it to see if there is anything further I can do with them. Sometimes I can then get these out again and find a home for them on a second attempt.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-3-20-3358Glad to be back to writing flash fiction again after the Christmas break. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Another Job. Proof I think delivery people are always needed.

1st January – New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! Hope you managed to get some reading in over Christmas. I’m just getting back into writing again and am looking forward to resuming writing flash later today. Will be good to get tales in for submission again.

Sometimes I know what theme I’m writing to immediately for a story (it’s usually a competition with a set theme). Many times, I don’t and that’s when I’ll use the random generators to help me trigger a theme of interest to me. Hope I can find some new generators to use this year – there are loads out there. (And do remember even with your favourite ones, you can adjust the parameters on many of them so just doing that will trigger even more ideas for you).

Hope you have a fantastic writing year.

May be an image of one or more people and text that says "Hope you have a great writing year!"

31st December 2022 – New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year! Time often crops up in my flash tales, sometimes as a character too. Given flash is all about a specific moment in time for a character, it is apt time often features as a theme.

What do your characters make of time? Do they adjust to the passing of time well? Definitely story ideas there!

May be an image of wrist watch and text
Goodreads Author Blog – New Books for a New Year

My New Year reading will begin with the books I received at Christmas. I have got off to a good start already but am glad to say I have plenty of reading to do!

In the next year I hope to discover books and authors new to me, as well as enjoy old favourites. It will be fun!

I will continue my reading policy of novels, novellas, ebooks, short story and flash fiction collections, and magazines. Also to enjoy audio books and stories via films. This is the nearest I get to a New Year’s resolution, folks!

Happy New Year!

Screenshot 2022-12-31 at 19-58-04 New Books For A New Year


Alternative Twitter image

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

 ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

Screenshot 2023-01-03 at 21-04-18 Reader Hub Book Brush