As ever, images are from the fantastic Pixabay, unless otherwise stated.
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Association of Christian Writers – More Than Writers
My turn on the Association of Christian Writers’ blog spot, More Than Writers.
I’m on the 29th so that means I get every three Februaries off! 😆😆
Hope you enjoy the post and find it useful. Mixing up how you write stories is fun and keeps you on your toes too!
I talked about writing prompts in my monthly slot for the Association of Christian Writers today. As well as sharing some tips, I share a story I produced using one of the tips. Annoyed librarians may well like it… hmm… go on have a look then!😊
What I’ll add here is that I’ve found it useful to mix up how I approach writing a story. It keeps things interesting for me. It keeps me on my literary toes too.
By mixing up the methods, I avoid the dangers of becoming formulaic too. I don’t want any of my stories to sound the same to a reader after all. What I do want is someone to read my stories and spot my voice through them all, but to also enjoy each tale for its uniqueness. My characters are very different people after all. The way I tell their stories should reflect those differences too.
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Loved the finale to Doctor Who but that’s all I’m saying about that. It is nigh on impossible to say anything else without unwittingly revealing a spoiler so best not, I think. Give it a week and then I should be all right on that!
Well portrayed characters, for good or evil, will keep you glued, whether they’re on the page or on the screen. The challenge as a writer is to ensure the characters you create have that quality to keep a reader hooked. How do you make the readers care about what happens to your people?
Firstly, YOU’VE got to care what happens! Thankfully this happens rarely but I have come across instances where I’m bored with a character portrayal and I suspect the author became bored too.
Secondly, your character has got to have a problem that must be resolved somehow. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a life or death problem, though that is obviously a great one for winding up the tension in a tale, but the issue your character HAS to resolve must be something they can’t run away from. Their situation won’t improve until they DO do something etc.
Thirdly, your character mustn’t give up easily. When their initial attempt(s) to get out of their situation fail, how do they react? Do they learn from their failures? What gives them the break through to success?
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Story time again. Hope you enjoy. A little humour at the end of a busy Monday is never a bad thing!
Taking Time Out From the Day Job is my latest tale on Cafelit. (I’ve written flash fiction tales with fewer words than the title for this one in my time but there you go!). I have every sympathy for my lead in this one.
It’s lovely having one of my humorous fairytales with bite up on Cafelit.
Taking Time Out From the Day Job shows what happens when a fairy decides to do just that.
Hope you enjoy reading it. I loved writing it but then I do adore characters like this one.
It is a real contrast in mood from my recent linked stories on Cafelit but now you know why my collection is called From Light to Dark and Back Again. It sums up what I write!
Just to say that #ParagraphPlanet archive stories at the end of each month and the February 2020 “lot” are now available. See the link.My Time Is Everything is amongst the collection here. #flashfiction #amwriting #75wordstories
Is it easier to write to a specific word count or write the story first and then work out what the word count would suit it best?
Hmm… I’ve done both. The discipline of working to a specified word count is a great one and keeps you on your toes. It really does force you to check that each and every word has to be included in your tale. If there’s anything that doesn’t carry its weight, out it goes.
When I am working to a theme or title (often generated by random word generators), I write the story first. I see what I have, edit it, and then decide on whether it would work better at 100 words or 200, for example.
However you write, have fun!
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Conflict in stories can take many forms of course but some of my favourite tales are the ones where a character is in conflict with themselves.
This is why I find Gollum from The Lord of the Rings an interesting character. You know you can’t trust him but I found on reading the tale for the first time, I desperately wanted him to somehow come good at the end. (And I’d say it’s open to interpretation whether he did or not. I am with Gandalf on this one when he says Gollum had his part to play in the history of the Ring and left it there).
In my story, Rewards, which is one of my longer flash tales, I use thoughts to show my lead character’s conflict. The reason this tale needed to be towards the upper end of the flash limit was because I needed some space to show those thoughts and then how my character acted on them.
But then that’s the joy of flash. You can go from the tiny tales in terms of word count to the longer ones but still have a limit you need to stick to. (I do find that a really good writing discipline. It’s why when I prepare my Chandler’s Ford Today posts I set my own word count and stick to it. I have to have parameters!).
The conflict a flash fiction writer has is deciding what word count will work best for their story. Sometimes you do have to go to the upper limit. Sometimes you can say all you need to in 100 words or less. Always think of the impact of the story on a reader. Don’t water it down by padding it out. If the conflict in the story is played out in 250 words, leave it there! But if you need 999, that’s fine too.
Symbols have a great deal of meaning of course. Can they be used in flash fiction?
Yes, as long as readers are likely to know the meaning of the symbol or can get to the meaning from context. As with any writing, clarity is the important thing here.
Could you come up with your own symbols for your characters?
Yes but it would be useful to base them on what we already know.
For example, red roses are associated with love but what could black roses be associated with?
Reviews are so important for any writer for a variety of reasons but the good news is they don’t have to be lengthy. One or two lines would be absolutely fine. A big thank you, while on topic, to all those who have been kind enough to review From Light to Dark and Back Again.
So if you’re looking for a way to support author friends, do review their books. The one caveat is reviews have to be honest for them to have any meaning. Honest reviews also aren’t usually at risk of being taken down!
Goodreads Author Blog – Story Openings
What is it about a story opening that makes you want to read on?
For me, either the character has to be “hitting the ground running” in such a way, I’ve got to find out what happens to them, or the set up is intriguing enough to make me want to read on.
Mind you, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the classic fairytale opening of “once upon a time”.
There is the wonderful association with happy childhood reading of those great stories. That opening just, for me, sets the tone for what is to follow.
I know to expect fairy godmothers turning up at surprisingly convenient moments. (I’ve always wondered why Cinderella didn’t berate hers for not coming to her aid a lot sooner but that’s another story).
I know to expect talking animals (and I should imagine the Three Bears had quite a bit to say about Goldilocks that was best kept off the page. I know how I’d feel if someone destroyed my chair and bed – though they’d be welcome to the porridge. I’ve never liked the stuff!).
I know to expect the villains to get their comeuppance. It’s just a question of finding out how and when.
And there is something wonderfully poetical about Charles Dickens’s opening to A Tale of Two Cities (which I confess I’ve not read but is on my To Be Read list), but even I love the sound of “It was the best of time, it was the worst of times” and the rest that follows. The rhythm of that opening paragraph is amazing.
So what I’m saying here is I want a story opening to take my breath away so I have to read on. Now there’s a challenge for any writer (including me!).