Maps and Truth

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week is Maps in Fiction and History.

I discuss, amongst other things, maps -v- sat navs (are the latter little devils out to get you?), the wonders of street names in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and why old maps are a joy.

Maps also play a big role in children’s fiction and fantasy especially. I would be a little surprised if you’ve not read a fictional work with a map involved somewhere.

Hope you enjoy.

 

Image Credit:  Pixabay – do see the post for the captions.  I will add though this is likely to be the only post I ever write which involves maps, Komodo dragons, and Discworld street names!

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I’ll be looking at maps in fiction and history for my CFT post this week. (Can’t imagine Treasure Island without a map!). Will share the link tomorrow but the big “fight” here is maps -v- sat navs.

Are maps old hat and doomed or are sat navs malicious little devils? All I’ll say on the latter is one has tried to send my family and I through what it laughingly called a ford. Think raging torrent and you’d have a better idea!

Comments will be welcome over on the CFT page once the link goes up.

The best story ideas always have an element of truth to them, regardless of what genre they’re set in, and that truth is based on our experiences of life.

Crime fiction will always resonate with people as we know about crime and there’s always a wish to see justice done. In the pages of a book, that’s usually guaranteed.

Fantasy fiction and science fiction can reflect the wish to escape this world and explore what might be out there somewhere (we simply haven’t discovered it “for real” yet). Also, alternative realities can explore ideas which might become possibilities for real later. It’s why time travel fascinates. There’s always the thought that one day someone might find the ways and means.

Horror for me can reflect the human condition and ask very pertinent questions. Frankenstein is a great example of that.

The bedrock of fiction then, ironically, is truth which is NOT made up!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I discuss maps in fiction in my latest CFT post/.

It led me to wonder about mapping out your flash stories ahead of writing them. When I write a batch of stories in one go (usually 3 or so), I sometimes plan a theme for all of them but with different takes.

For example, if my theme is poetic justice (which is a favourite I admit), I will write a serious story, a funny one, and a sad or dark one to that topic. Readers will pick up on the common thread and I feel doing this makes for a smooth, seamless read.

Sometimes I will map out character types. For example, I want to write about a feisty OAP (always good fun!), so again I will write, say, three funny stories around such a character but change settings/time periods etc. The great thing here is you can also use the same character in different settings.

Mix it up and have fun!

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Favourite themes for flash fiction stories:-

1. Poetic justice
2. Revenge
3. A look at life from the viewpoint of an alien (literally so in many of my flash pieces).
4. Irony (often used in the twist ending stories).
5. Fairytales/nursery rhymes from an alternative viewpoint.
6. History (and often via the viewpoint of another character looking at what we “know” as history but through their eyes).

I think you’ve got to write to the themes that appeal to you most. Because you love these themes, you will pour heart and soul into creating the characters and that shows through in your writing. Take time to work out what themes appeal to you most and dig deep to write to/for them with conviction.

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Sometimes opportunities to explain what flash fiction is crop up when I don’t really expect them. One example of this occurred this morning when exercising Lady in the park (though to be fair I should add Lady does pretty well in running around all by herself without any assistance from me).

A flash fiction story should be a complete story in and of itself. Yes, it should leave you wondering and see how the story could be extended but it should be a satisfying read in and of itself. It is the Polaroid snapshot of a story as compared to a “proper” portrait of a novel kind of tale! You capture the instance. A portrait can cover much more detail.

I also like to think of flash fiction stories as precision writing. Every word really must punch its weight and deserve its place.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Reasons to Love Fairytales

Nobody really needs a reason to love fairytales, of course, but for the less convinced I offer the following:-

1.  They are often the first stories youngsters come across and are a gateway into the wonderful world of reading. Once that spark is lit, there should be no turning back.  It is no coincidence that those who read more develop a larger and more wide ranging vocabulary.

2.  There is a clear sense of right and wrong in fairytales. (That appeals to children and those who decided growing up was overrated).

3.  Some stories can act as warnings.

4.  The stories can reflect injustice and cruelty but also usually have those things stopped by the end. (In life so often these things are not stopped.  It is good to have stories where matters are rectified, justice is done etc.  This is something shared with good crime stories too).

5.  They’re great stories (reason enough!).

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This World and Others – Can Cliches Ever Be Useful?

The answer to the above question should be “like the plague” really!  But to be serious can cliches have a place in fiction?

Yes, they can but in different ways.

1.  Above all else, they should be used sparingly.  Too many of them spoils any good effect you might want to use them for and will just switch readers off.  Also, don’t use them in every story you write either.  Every now and again but more on this in 2 below.

2.  A cliche can be a useful shortcut but choose the right one and aim for it to have a positive impact on your readers.  You want them to be able to see why you used it and for there to be no stronger alternative.  Most of the time there will be as you come up with your own expressions and these should be the ones you always go for first.

3.  You can subvert a cliche.  I’ve used “take the Garibaldi” as a subversion of “take the biscuit”.  This approach can also help you convey something of character too.  Someone who takes the Garibaldi is going to be of a different social standing to someone who “takes the Lidl Rich Tea” for one thing and you can then play on that for effect.