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My latest CFT post is Experimenting with Words and Form. I also look at favourite new words. If you have any, do share in the comments box.
I look at why playing with words (and I include things like playing Scrabble here) is a great thing for writers to do. As for experimenting with the form your writing takes, it can open your eyes to new forms of storytelling. What is there not to like about that?
Hope you enjoy.
Image Credit: As ever, the images are from the marvellous Pixabay.
I suppose most people start their reading “careers” off by loving the fairytales/nursery rhymes etc read to them in childhood. Where do you go from there?
For me it was the Famous Five by Enid Blyton, the Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott, Heidi, Black Beauty – pretty much staple fare, or should that be stable fare?! 🤩.
Then later came Agatha Christie, Tolkein, CS Lewis, Wodehouse, Pratchett. Now I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, especially on the KIndle. I like to use that to try out books by non-fiction authors who are new to me.
It’s a pretty even split between books and magazine reading overall, though I find one week I’m in “book mode”, other weeks I’m not.
But what matters is I’m reading (and writing, naturally).
I’m looking at experimenting with words and form in my CFT post later this week. Word games from Scrabble to crosswords to Boggle I think are great things for writers to indulge in.
Why? Because at some point you are bound to reach for the dictionary to check if a word really is a word or not! (It’s amazing what can get through in Scrabble for a start!). Link up on Friday. (I also share favourite new words).
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I talk about experimenting with form as part of my CFT post this week. Flash fiction is particularly versatile here.
Not only can you select which word count you’re going for (and I mix them up, despite my overall preference being for the 100-worders), you can mix up the form too. I’ve written one-liners, acrostics, flash in the form of a rhyme and so on.
It’s important to have fun with what you write. Mixing things up can and does increase that sense of fun.
What are the joys of writing flash fiction?
1. Knowing you’ve come up with a story which makes a huge (usually emotional) impact because of its tight word count.
2. Knowing there isn’t a word out of place and that every one punches its weight and carries the story along.
3. Memorable characters you might want to do more with in other flash fiction or longer stories. Absolutely nothing to stop you developing ideas and characters further.
What are the woes of writing flash fiction?
1. Ensuring you DO make that emotional impact on your reader AND in the way you intend. If a story is meant to make them laugh, you want them to laugh as you intended and NOT at the story effort you’ve come up with!
2. The word count can work against you sometimes where a character really does deserve a longer “run” but you can still go to 1000 words. Even where that isn’t feasible, celebrate having a fabulous character to work with and accept this one is going to be a standard length short story, novella or what have you. Oh and good luck!
3. Making sure your story idea is strong enough to be a flash fiction piece. Flash is very intense due to its brevity. Is the idea up to that intense scrutiny?
For obvious reasons I’m pleased to see the short story anthologies and flash fiction collections have a ready market. Even if I wasn’t writing in either market, yet alone both (!), I’d still want these to do well. Why?
I think it’s healthy to have a wide range of fiction available and collections are a convenient way of “storing” shorter stories. They also make the perfect books to read/dip into when time is short or, having finished one novel, you’re not sure what you’re going to read next.
And, as with all writers of novels, writers of the shorter fiction do appreciate reviews in the usual places whether it’s a one line review or a paragraph!
Experimenting with Words and Form
My CFT post this week looks at Experimenting with Words and Form and why this is good for writers.
Especially when starting out, experimenting with different kinds of writing is a great idea as it will help you find your niche. Later, when you have discovered what that niche is, you can hone it and playing with form is a fantastic way of doing that honing. Also, if you write flash fiction, as I do, there’s nothing to stop you having a go at the standard length short story (which I also do from time to time).
The watchword here is to have fun with your writing. Sometimes give yourself a break from what you usually do and be creative in other writing fields. At worst, it’ll act as a brief break and you’ll find you really do want to stick to what you usually do. At best, you’ll find a whole new world of writing to enjoy. This is what happened to me with flash fiction and I’ve ended up being published in it! So be open!
The A to Z of Story Essentials Part 4
A slightly shorter number of letters to cover this week so I can finish with some of the awkward ones next week i.e. U to Z with a stopover at V, X and Y on the way. It’ll be a good challenge. Meanwhile…
P = Promise. Does the story live up to the promise of its tagline/blurb? If it does, great. Okay this is subjective. No two readers will ever agree on every book they’ve read. Personal likes and dislikes have to come into it somewhere but the general principle here is “does the writer deliver”? For me, a good story is where that promise is easily fulfilled, even if you don’t like how the writer does it!
Q = Queries. A good story should wrap these up by its end. Leaving a reader wondering how the characters get on after the story ends is fine (and is a great sign) but the problems set up in the story should’ve been resolved. There should be no unresolved queries here.
R = Reading Flow. A good story for me is one where I’ll be anxious to get to the next page for the “what happens next” moment. The flow of the story should be a good one. You want nothing to drag the story down. The story should read easily too, though don’t mistake simplistic reading/writing for simple reading/writing. It is generally true if someone has made something look easy, such as making their prose look easy to reproduce, you can guarantee that same someone has worked hard for years to develop that skill. Getting the reading flow right requires precision with words and an awful lot of editing. When it is done well, no reader will ever notice!
S = Set-up. The story set-up has to be intriguing enough to entice me into reading it. Anything with a fairytale/fantasy world basis will pique my curiosity enough to have a good look at the book. It’s then when the blurb and opening paragraph kick in. If they intrigue me, I’ll go on to buy the book. So the set-up has got to be strong enough to intrigue me at all. That set-up must include there being something special about the characters to draw me in.
T = Tension. There has to be lots of it and it should arise naturally from the characters. If you have an awkward character, you know they’re going to clash with others in the story. Fine. What I also need to know is what makes that character awkward. There is always a reason for it!
Final part next week…