All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. I’ve been watching the various ceremonies for our late Queen and am amazed at how beautiful a building Westminster Hall is. I’ve been to the Abbey but not to that so this is something to make amends for, I think.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Loved a tweet I came across earlier which felt we had reached peak Britishness re The Queue (definitely capitals needed there) and it now having regular weather updates. All that was needed was for the tea to come out (and I am sure someone has organised that!). We do queues well. We organise well. We have organised a queue – a very special one. Yes, I’d say we’d reached peak Britishness all right!
Am pleased to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post about Hooks. Hope you find it useful. I look at different kinds and why it matters that the author plays fair with their readers. We do have to deliver on our hooks.
I love a good hook and enjoy it when I guess how the story will pan out. I like it even more when the writer wrong foots me. I then go back through the story and look for the clues I missed on my first reading. You learn a lot from doing this, much of which you can apply to your own writing.
The flowers around Buckingham Palace, Sandringham, Balmoral etc are so very lovely.
My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow will be about Hooks. I’ll be looking at some of the ones I use most often, discuss the importance of playing fair with your readers, and I’ll ask if you can have too many hooks. Link up tomorrow. See above.
Hooks are useful for non-fiction as well as stories of course. They just differ a bit in type. A hook for a non-fiction piece would be for me to share some indication this post or article is going to tell me something I need to know. (Sometimes something I didn’t know I needed to know too!).
The important point though, whether for fiction or non-fiction, is the hook does have to deliver on its promise.
The service for the late Queen at Westminster Hall today was lovely. It is a beautiful building but I was struck by the vivid colours of those taking part, on the coffin itself, and down the Mall and Horseguards. I thought it apt too given Her Majesty loved her own vivid colours.
I sometimes use colours as a a distinguishing feature for my characters. For example, rather than say Character X had a moth-eaten coat, I’ll show you they had a red moth-eaten one. The addition of colour makes the information given here more pertinent and I think much easier to visualise.
And you can tell something about characters from the kinds of colours they choose to wear – red is vivid, dark blue less so. I would expect the character’s personality to match that. (Incidentally that can be twisted. A shy character can wear red to try to give themselves more confidence but the story should make it clear that is what they’re doing and I would then expect to find out whether the character succeeded in their aim here or not).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I sometimes write flash stories in the form of a letter and I’ve done so for my piece on Friday Flash Fiction this week. Hope you enjoy Times Past.
When you write, do you have anything on in the background? I listen to classical music as it helps me relax and when I’m relaxed, I find I get “into” writing that much more easily.
You could also think about what makes your characters relax and why they might need that. What has stressed them out that they need their comfort of choice? Again, especially for flash, it’s the telling detail which is needed here. I could get my character to make themselves a huge mug of hot chocolate and put on Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for instance. That character will be different to someone who pours themselves a large double whisky and puts on a hard rock track.
Think about why your characters have the tastes they do. How do these indicate their personality, especially that which they keep hidden from other characters in your story? Also what are they hiding and why? Are they successful in hiding it?
I like to use specific details about a character to help bring them to life for potential readers. Specifics are easiest to visualise and you can infer a lot from them too – saves on the word count too! The nice thing here is you have a wide range of things to choose from here. You can use colours, a character’s tastes in music, food, the senses, their favourite book and so on.
A reader will take different things from a character loving Winnie The Pooh in adult life compared with someone who likes the latest horror instead, for example.
And you can always use a random generator (objects, pictures etc) to help you work out what those specific things could be!
Fairytales with Bite – When an Era Ends
I’m writing this in the week after the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. The mood in the UK generally is sombre and sad, as you would expect. The Queen was just a constant presence and it is odd to think she has gone, despite her great age.
Now when it comes to your fiction, who rules in your story world and what happens when there is a change of leader? Is that done peacefully or not? What rules are there in your setting to allow for changeovers? And if you are writing about immortal characters, are they only allowed to serve for so long? This is also where time comes into play. How does that work in your setting? Do your characters age? Is there a natural time for leadership etc to come to an end?
How do the people cope with the end of an era, especially if it has been a long one? If some cope better than others, there could be interesting stories there as to why that is, especially if that triggers resentment in the ones not coping so well.
Going into a new era, are people optimistic or fearful? What is behind the way they feel? Does the world’s history give them good grounds for fear, say?
And just what does the new era usher in for your characters? What are the likely positives and negatives here? Also, will anyone try to get in the way of the one likely to succeed as the new leader?
This World and Others – Changes
Changes in life are inevitable though not always welcome of course. Do your characters embrace changes or try to resist them? Do changes come in thanks to advances in technology and the like or through the way life is lived in your setting?
Are there certain types of changes your characters take in their stride or do they struggle with any kind of change?
Changes can also be seen as opportunities. What kind of changes have led to improvements in the way your characters live/their health/their quality of life etc?
Are our characters the kind to bring in changes for the benefit of others (or are they power hungry and the changes they seek are not in the general good)?
Any kind of story from the shortest piece of flash fiction to the most epic novel has to have change in it. Something happens to a character. The chraracter reacts – there are consequences and conflicts which have to be resolved in some way.
But the joy of characterisation I think is inventing different people who react to these things in different ways and I want to find out what happens to them. If you’re intrigued by how your characters handle changes in their circumstances, then your readers will be intrigued too.
And we all know what it is to have changes we don’t like thrust on us. We know we have to find a way of coping with things. That’s where empathy for characters come in because they can live through things we don’t have to and we can learn from how they do handle things.
Times Past, by Allison Symes – Friday Flash Fiction https://t.co/Txy17t1Frm I sometimes write flash stories in the form of a letter and I’ve done so for my piece on Friday Flash Fiction this week. Hope you enjoy Times Past. pic.twitter.com/f2X9F6nOvv— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) September 16, 2022
Hooks https://t.co/Y4JBEJIndo I love a good hook and enjoy it when I guess how the story pans out. I like it more when I'm wrong footed. I re-read the tale for clues I missed! You learn a lot from this, much of which you can apply to your writing. Hope you find the post useful.— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) September 16, 2022