The Good Writing Fairy, Research and the Waterloo Arts Festival

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Which writing books have you found most useful? I’d have to list:-

On Writing – Stephen King

Scrivener for Dummies – Gwen Hernandez

Wannabe a Writer?/Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? – Jane Wenham-Jones

Story – Robert McKee

There are loads of others I’ve found useful, for different reasons, over the years but these ones stick out. I’m also fond of The Seven Basic Plots which is a detailed book and gave me plenty of pause for thought.

What do you want from a writing book? Encouragement, yes. Honesty, yes. (You do need to know you need stamina and persistence but that it is also okay to change direction if you want to do so). Useful tips you can apply to your own writing, yes. A friendly and easy to read style – in most cases, yes. For something like The Seven Basic Plots, the style is more academic but is still a fascinating read.

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Have caught up on a few writing prompt exercises in my diary. One was based on a lovely picture of a dog having fun at the beach (my Lady could so identify with that!) and another was to list 10 words associated with a train journey which I then had to use on a piece of writing. Very good stretching the imagination type work though what came out was a couple of very rough poems rather than flash fiction.

Whether these pieces will stay as rough poems (and they are VERY rough right now!) or whether I’ll transform them into stories later, I don’t know, but there is something liberating about a writing exercise where you can use any form you like. You don’t feel compelled to write to your normal form. You have fun playing around with words and seeing what happens.


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How much research do you do for your writing? I suspect your answer will be the same as mine – it depends on what I’m writing. Correct!

Do I need to do any research for my flash fiction stories? Yes, sometimes. For historical stories, I have to ensure any dates used are accurate and so on. If I mention a piece of furniture, for example, I need to ensure it WAS around at the time I’ve set the story.

For my CFT posts, I have to do more research of course. Can research become procrastination unless you know that’s a risk and don’t allow it to happen? Oh yes. Is it too easy to go down all sorts of interesting byways and be distracted from the task in hand? Oh yes.

But being aware of that risk can help nullify it.

Looking forward to the Waterloo Arts Festival on Saturday and meeting up with fellow writers there. Hope everyone is in good voice. Am looking forward to hearing the different stories. It is a real treat being read aloud to at events like this.

What I like about this is all of us have had to write to the same word count and on the same theme, but there will be 16 different stories here. You can’t have a book with 16 stories all with the same take on the topic as that would be boring to say the least.

This kind of event proves the point that what makes a writer unique is THEIR voice, THEIR take on a topic and nobody can write as YOU do with YOUR voice. So write away!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The story in one sentence exercise is great for stretching the brain AND cutting your word count, but other uses for it are:-

1. Using what you come up with as an opening line. For example, “She refused to part with the key. This was the beginning of things going wrong for Sharon…”

2. Using what you come up with as a key to “twist” the story. For example, “She refused to part with the key” could lead to a twist being that she knows the key is useless for the purposes her partner in crime wants it for but cannot say how she knows.

3. Deliberately using what you come up with as the closing line. For example, “It was no good Bill arguing. Mary had been consistent. She refused to part with the key.”

Have fun with your one-liners then and put them in different places and see what impact they have.

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I use Scrivener for my writing and one of the things I have found most useful for my flash fiction work is being able to set the word count target you want. I love seeing the bar change colour as I near my target. I know it sounds silly but watching that colour change is great incentive to keep on writing (and especially when you might feel like giving up).

I use the short story character and setting templates for longer stories and these effectively help me get my outlining done. As I flesh out who my character is, what their traits are etc, ideas are beginning to tease away at just what awful situations I can dump that character in (nobody said a writer had to be nice! This is also so much fun!).

In organising my writing in a better way, I do get more done. I don’t use all of the Scrivener features by any means but select the ones I know I’d find most useful. The word count setting is brilliant for flash fiction writers as I can adjust it to take account of those markets where the title IS part of the word count and for those where it ISN’T. I know I’m not going to get it wrong.

The screenshots of Scrivener below were taken by me. It’s also useful being able to see how much you do in a session.

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What do I look for when reading flash fiction? There is no one definitive answer to this but I would include the following.

1. It has to be an entertaining read.
2. It should show me the most important point of change in a character’s life, especially as there won’t be word count room for anything else.
3. It can take me back or forwards in time.
4. It can show me new worlds or make me look at this one with new eyes.
5. The ending should be a powerful one.
6. Any twist should have clues within the story that I can go back and check later on those occasions when I fail to pick them up immediately!
7. I like slices of life stories but would like to see more humorous tales.

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If the good writing fairy turned up, what would most writers wish for? Aside from wanting to know why she hadn’t turned up earlier in my writing life (!), my wishes would be:-

1. To have as much time as possible for writing and to use that time well. (She may count this as two wishes in one here but I’d chance my luck here and see if I could get away with it counting as one!).

2. For reviews to appear at a steady rate against FLTDBA and the Cafelit and Bridge House anthologies in which my work has appeared.

3. To never run out of ideas to write up and energy with which to get on and do so. (Again, she might count that as two wishes. I’d argue it was two sides of ONE coin so ONE wish).

Now while waiting for said fairy to turn up, I’d better get on and write!

Goodreads Author Blog – Mixing Up What You Read

I like to mix up what I read in several ways.

1. I mix up genre. I tend to read a crime book or two, then must move on to, say, fantasy for a book or two, before moving on again.

2. I mix up how I read. I have a “glut” of reading on the Kindle followed by a “glut” of reading printed books, then magazines etc. (The one thing I’ve not really “got” on the Kindle are e-magazines but I suspect I’ll get around to them eventually).

3. I mix up reading novels, short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction. So for a while I will only read novels, then move on to short story collections for a while, then have a non-fiction feast etc.

4. I switch between books and magazines. I do love a good magazine.

All of this means I’m never short of something to read!

I think mixing things up is good for my old brain and I like to ensure I don’t neglect any type of reading material I like. It would be too easy to “just” read books or magazines and neglect the other.

What would I wish for though?

More time to read, definitely.

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Classics - image via Pixabay



I was at a conference over the weekend and in case you missed the links to my website posts, I put them here for both websites.—kingdom-life/when-characters-wake-up-to-reality   This post talks about redemption and a character’s need to repent.—kingdom-life/the-flash-fantastic  Here I talk about keeping a sense of realism in even the most fantastic of stories.  There should be no coincidences and when magical things/appearances are going to happen, it should be established early on this is the kind of world where these things are expected.


Ten Things to Avoid on a Magical Holiday is full of those useful hints and tips that could save you a lot of misery and possibly your life too.  Dragons are the obvious ones to avoid but then there are the evil stepmothers who may want to carry out a dummy run before getting rid of the person they really want to remove.  The important thing here is to ensure you are not the dummy.  See my list of the other things it would be good to avoid.

WEEKEND SUMMARY FOR THIS WORLD AND OTHERS—creating-worlds/writing-books-ive-found-useful Here I share my favourite how-to-write books.  Some are funny, others are serious, all of them are well worth reading.  I’ve learned lots from each of them.—creating-worlds/what-to-expect-when-a-good-supernatural-being-enters-your-world

This post probably is my contender for the longest title!  However, I share a few things you can expect should a good supernatural being enter your world.  Trouble to start with…  these visitations are not always popular especially with those in power.


Rejection is something every writer can expect. I found that discovering rejection is never personal helped enormously.  I share some reasons why rejection might happen.


Later than usual, due to my conference, I share the links to my current Chandler’s Ford Today post, which is all about classic books.  What makes a classic book?  Does age matter?  I also list my Top 10.

Classic Books - this week's Chandler's Ford Today post. Image by Pixabay.

Classic Books – this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post. Image by Pixabay.


One of the best ways to escape is with a good book. Image via Pixabay.



The Magic of Writing shares what I love about writing and writing get-togethers such as the Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit joint book launch I went to last weekend.  It was huge fun meeting up again with some I met from last year and others who were new to me.

And we all got the chance to practice our networking skills with the speed dating exercise.  You get to chat to a writer or reader for three minutes and ask them for marketing tips (if speaking to a writer) or discuss books in general (if speaking to a reader).  Once the three minutes are up, you then talk to someone else.

The only thing I dislike about this is you inevitably stop half way through an excellent conversation and there isn’t always time to get back to it at the bar again later. However, it does get you mixing and talking and you inevitably learn something really useful.

(Baubles – the Bridge House anthology for this year – and The Best of Cafelit 5 are available in print and on Kindle and via Amazon, as well as from the publishers directly.  I have a short story, Helping Out, in Baubles and a flash fiction piece, Telling the Time, in Cafelit 5).


Writing Books shares some non-fiction how-to-write books I wouldn’t be without.  I deliberately kept this to a short list. Can you add to my list?  I wouldn’t dare list the fiction books I’d hate to part with as I’d be writing that list till Doomsday!


I discuss the joys of swimming tonight.  I always thought I would end up working out stories as I swam but it hasn’t worked out like that.  I’m more likely to do that when doing the ironing!

One of my favourite book images. They really are magical. Transportation into other worlds and around this one in a few hundred pages. Brilliant! Image via Pixabay.

One of my favourite book images. They really are magical. Transportation into other worlds and around this one in a few hundred pages. Brilliant! Image via Pixabay.