All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Many created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Photos of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and Val Penny were taken by me, Allison Symes. A huge thank you to Jennifer C Wilson for taking the photo of me at my Lift Up Your Pens session at Swanwick. Having a ball at Swanwick as usual. Hope to write a more detailed post for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course but meantime please see these as the edited highlights!
Facebook – General – Swanwick Week Part 1
It was easy to choose which course I was going to today – it was the one I led! I talked about Editing – Both Side of the Fence. Many thanks, everyone, for the support. Much appreciated.
I was torn about which workshop to go to after that – there were two specifically I wanted to do but in the end I went to Hit Submit! This was led by Ingrid Jendrzejewksi and was great fun. Managed to draft a story and jot down other ideas to work up later. (I managed to do this in the Lift Up Your Pens session I led on Sunday. I deliberately did not do the exercises I set until on the day itself. I love live writing like that).
Tuesday is a quieter day at Swanwick. You generally need it too so I walked around the lovely grounds and then came back to work on two of my long term projects before the evening dinner and speaker.
I led the Lift Up Your Hearts session today. This is a short devotional time just before breakfast and I talked about favourite words of mine from the Bible. I also had a hymn to share one of my favourite lines. I love these quieter times ahead of a full day of workshops and courses. I know they do me good mentally, spiritually and physically.
I also try to take time out to walk around the grounds here at Swanwick. The exercise is helpful (they do look after you very well indeed here!) and the grounds are lovely.
As well as continuing with my specialist course, I also went to Promoting Your Work by Val Penny (who I will have the pleasure of interviewing again for this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post).
Promoting is something all writers need to know more about – there is always plenty to learn here (and things you need to be reminded to do!).
I ran the pre-breakfast Lift Up Your Pens today. These sessions are to get the creative wheels turning and I used ideas from random generators for my session here. People seemed to enjoy it and I hope they go on to write up their stories and get them out into the big bad world somewhere.
For my specialist course which is run over a few days, I’ve opted for the Creative Non-Fiction one led by Simon Whaley. For the two part short course today, I’ve opted for the How to Write a How-To Book run by Bettina von Cossel. Both were fabulous and I learned a great deal from them.
Finally for today, I went to Social Media for Writers, the excellent one hour workshop run by Jennifer C Wilson. All good useful stuff and it pays writers to think about their social media options. Which are you going to focus on and why? I must admit I find the support from other writers on social media invaluable.
It is so good to be back at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School at The Hayes in Derbyshire once again. A huge thank you and shout to to the lovely #JuneWebber and her equally lovely husband,Mike, for being my chauffeurs today as I had to cancel my train tickets due to the strike.
I missed the train journey, as I do love travelling by train, but am just relieved to be here. And it was wonderful having a good chat on the way up! I can’t do that on the train! An equally big shout out to my lovely other half, Adrian, for being my chauffeur on Friday.
And what is there not to like when you arrive, go and unpack, drop off your books in the Book Room and then enjoy afternoon tea? That ticks a lot of writing boxes right there!
A fairly new addition to the Swanwick programme is what they call Birds of a Feather where writers in a genre can get together and chat. I can cover flash fiction, short stories, and blogging as my initial bases. So I will probably head off to that after the evening speaker. The lovely thing with Swanwick is you are made so welcome and you join in as and when you want to do so.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Beginning to cool a bit here at Swanwick. Nobody is sorry about that! Happily spreading the word about flash fiction where I can. Lovely to catch up with Linda Payne, a fellow Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit author here.
I’ve mentioned before I sometimes write the ending first. This works well for twist tales and funny ones. Occasionally I have ideas for what would make a great middle section of a tale. So I write them down. I don’t worry about necessarily writing in order. I can sort that out when editing.
Just get those ideas down – the nice thing with this thought is it applies to a 100 word tale every bit as much as a 100,000 word novel!
There is no such thing as the perfect first line. This is good news funnily enough. It means every writer has to work on their stories and it takes time to come out with the lines you want your readers to enjoy. This is another reason why I think it is better to write your story first, then worry about editing. I see these as two separate and different creative tasks.
I get my first line down and then look at ways to strengthen it later. Often ideas for this will come as I finish the rest of the draft (or a bit annoyingly if I am working on something else) bit I just keep a note of these and come back to them later. Taking the pressure off myself helps a lot here.
Telling details matter in any story but they take on a greater significance for flash fiction writers simply due to the lower word count we have to work with. So it pays to take time out to work out what the reader needs to know and what telling detail can stress that point.
In such a tight word count you are likely to be able to have one or two telling details but make them count! I always say about going for impact but sometimes that impact doesn’t have to be a dramatic one. A character changing their mind about what direction they go in because the name of a street has resonance for them can be a minor telling detail or it can change the whole course of the story – entirely up to you but there is a lot of fun to be had here!
Lovely to see From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic back in the Book Room at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Always a pleasure to wave the flag for flash fiction (writing and reading it) at events.
One of the joys of flash for me is having to invent characters all the time. Characters drive a story, I think, regardless of its length, and it is always characters who interest me the most in any story. Who are they? What do they want? Who is trying to stop them getting that and what are their motivations for doing this?
Practicing inventing characters will stand you in good stead whatever your preferred form of fiction writing is as it will show you that you can do this repeatedly (always a good defence against the dreaded Imposter Syndrome which strikes most writers at some point and often repeatedly).
Goodreads Author Blog – Writers and Books
When this post goes live I’ll be at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School once again for a glorious week in the company of fellow writers and where we celebrate all things relating to writing. Books a plenty are in the Book Room and I am sure I’ll go home with additions to be To Be Read pile. (No writer worth their salt ever has a Be Be Read list. It has to be a pile – a huge one too! Don’t even ask about the electronic version of that pile!).
What draws writers into writing at all? Simply It is their own love of books and wanting to produce their own. We’re inspired by those authors we’ve read over the years and ideas will kick start from what we have enjoyed reading. Books and writers are inseparable then. The two things most writes are advised to do is to write regularly and to read widely and well. All of that is a complete joy to do.
What every writer I know would appreciate (and this goes for me too) are reviews of our books on sites like Goodreads. It helps more than you know. It is useful affirmation of our ability to write (ignoring the one star reviewers who are clearly just trying to knock the author down rather than give constructive criticism which might be useful).
For stories to be produced for entertainment there has to be the writers producing them. I can’t imagine a life without books. Neither do I wish to!
liked Allison Symes's blog post: Writers and Books https://t.co/VGI8XZ4K43 via @goodreads I chat about writers and books, the importance of reviews, and what draws writers into writing at all. Hope you enjoy. pic.twitter.com/BnqPDIleRB— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) August 13, 2022