Moments That Matter/Narrative Voice

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week looks at Moments that Matter. I share some of these from a writer’s perspective but also delve into the topic from a historical viewpoint too.

Moments that matter there, for example, include George Buck finding a copy of Titulus Regius, which Henry VII had ordered destroyed. Buck’s discovery of that document led to him reassessing Richard III. No surprise really that didn’t happen until after the Tudors had gone but it was a moment that mattered!

I also discuss why we should treasure moments that matter to us but also use them to spur us on. Hope you enjoy.

Image Credit:  Pixabay.  Suitable captions over on CFT!

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What was the first story you read that made you think “I want to be a writer”? To be honest, I can’t remember what mine was (though I always loved the Famous Five so it probably was one of those), but books like The Lord of the Rings held me in awe of what could be done (and I’m still in awe over that one, and rightly so. Tolkein’s vision is amazing).

Much as I loved (and still love) fairytales, they didn’t then inspire me to write. I don’t think it was until I was reading children’s books etc for myself that the idea of writing stories myself occurred to me.

My trigger for writing was always having it in the back of my mind to give it a go some day. The trouble with that approach is working out when some day becomes “now”. It took a significant birthday and becoming a mum to make me realise if I wanted to write, I’d better get on and do it then. My only regret now is not starting a lot sooner than I did.

You don’t realise how much there is to learn, how it takes you time to get used to rejections, getting into the habit of submitting work regularly and so on when you first start. But when all is said and done, the important thing IS to start. Then enjoy the writing journey.

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My CFT post this week will be on Moments that Matter. I look at this from a personal, writer’s, and historical viewpoint amongst others. Treasuring such moments is vital but so is moving on to the next one!

I also look at how the materials we have influence how we see historical turning points in particular (and what the absence in some cases can also do. Richard III fans will know what I mean there!). Link up on Friday.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s always important that your story has a strong narrative voice, but vital in flash fiction where that is used to imply so much and to drive the tale.

You need to get into your reader’s head what your character is like very quickly. Attitudes need to be shown quickly etc. There should be a sense of having to find out what this character will do next.

I think this is one reason why I use first person a lot in flash as I can take a reader straight into the head of that character and hit the ground running.

From my Serving Up a Treat:-

“I learned ages ago not arguing saved many beatings”.

Now hopefully that will provoke curiosity as to:-

a. Who the character is.

b. Why they’ve clearly put up with something intolerable for so long.

c. There is the implication that things are about to change and you will hopefully want to find out how. (Why, I think, is pretty much spelt out).

So a lot to do with an opening line then but I love the fun of coming up with lines like this which tell me so much about the character immediately. I want to find out what happens as I tell the story and that is a good sign. You are your own first audience. If you’re not gripped by what you write, nobody else will be!

Have fun writing lines like these. See where you can take your characters. I believe that the fun a writer has in coming up with a tale does get picked up on by readers, albeit at a subsconcious level. Get them hooked!

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I remain convinced that technology has helped flash fiction take off as a genre given it is so easy to read on screens. If something like that encourages people to read who hadn’t read much before, I’m all for it. Tempt in with a quick easy read and before you know it, you have them hooked on War and Peace!

Okay, maybe not, but flash fiction can make a very useful start to a love of reading… and it helps you so much as a writer. You learn to focus and your editing skills are sharpened considerably. Also, you learn to come up with ideas, more ideas, still further ideas and so on. The more you use your writing muscles, the more you develop them.

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Another good way of finding out if your flash fiction piece has the “oomph” you hoped it would is to record yourself reading it out, putting that away for a while, and then listen back. If you are gripped, well done, others will be too.

I’ve long advocated reading work out loud, even if you don’t record it, as if you stumble over dialogue, others will do. It is an oddity that something which looks good written down does not necessarily “read well”. Always read it out and see for yourself.

Simple easy to read writing takes lots of editing to get to that point. I don’t believe that IS just me!

 

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Fairytales with Bite – Should Fairytales Ever Be Funny?

Well, should fairytales ever be funny? I suppose your answer to that might be based on what you believe fairytales are for. Many, of course, give moral messages (e.g.  never be unkind to an old person. In the fairytale they often turn out to be someone important and/or magical in disguise. Crossing them or being unkind is never a good move!).  Other fairytales can act as warnings. Some, naturally, can do both.

My own view is where a story (of any kind) can be funny and it gets something across better that way, then do so. Truth is often more palatable when sweetened a bit and making someone laugh or smile as they take in the more serious point behind the gag does make accepting that truth easier. I’ve never seen anything wrong in “just” writing for laughs.  It’s harder to do than it sounds but I’ve found the most memorable speeches/sermons/stories have all contained at least some element of humour. Humour makes it easier to remember and can be a useful tool for a writer.

Humour should never be forced. It should arise naturally out of your characters and the situations you put them in. I don’t think you can fake something to be funny. It either is or isn’t. There are topics which are not suitable for humour at all (abuse is the obvious one for me) but a fairytale which is trying to “promote” being kind, for example, could use humour to make more of an impact on a reader.

I love reading humorous prose. I find it a tonic for the soul. Given stories reflect life, and life should have humour in it, so should our tales! But it works best when it suits the material. You can’t force humour into a story where tragedy is more appropriate. Nobody went to see Romeo and Juliet for laughs for example.

Fairytales have great scope for flexibility. You have magical creatures and where there is magic, there is always the potential for it to go wrong. The consequences can be funny. Think of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for example.

Happy – and fun – writing!

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This World and Others – Moments That Matter

I discuss Moments that Matter in my CFT post this week and look at it from writing and historical perspectives amongst others. From a world building viewpoint, what are the moments that matter to you as the writer putting a fictional universe together? My thoughts are:-

  1. That moment it all comes “together”. The politics, the way your world is governed, how your characters react to all that finally makes sense and you write with utter conviction, knowing the parameters of your creation and testing your characters against those. (There are always rebels, though of course it does depend on your viewpoint if the rebels have a point or not!).
  2. When you know your lead characters inside out. You know what makes them tick, what pressures they would be vulnerable to, what would be pivotal moments for them. That’s where the stories and drama are!
  3. When you can visualise your world and feel it is almost as real as this one! You know the street names, where people would go for entertainment, whether there is religious/political freedom at all. You know your world to such a degree you could be quizzed intensely over it and come up with good answers!


It pays to write a list of questions you need to know the answers to and then work those answers out. Preparation work like that will save you work later. For a long piece of work like a novel, I could not write without having some sort of “map” to assist me here.  Happy writing!

 

AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL PAGE

Am pleased to finally share the link to my UK page. (There is one for the US, France, Germany, and Japan too! I will share links in due course).

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07T3HT18L?ref_=pe_584750_33951330

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crime Fiction and Writing Triggers

Facebook – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is Part 1 of a great interview with crime writer, Val Penny. Her new book, Hunter’s Chase, is now out in paperback and ebook and is the first of her Edinburgh Crime Series. We discuss what drove Val to crime (!) and why she thinks crime fiction is so popular. She also shares some top tips for writers. Part 2 next week.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I have a very soft spot for stories told from alternative viewpoints, especially fairy tales. My first published story was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology (many moons ago now) and tells the Cinderella tale from the viewpoint of the youngest stepsister.

In From Light to Dark and Back Again, I take Goldilocks’ viewpoint as my angle in the tale, Health and Safety, (though between you and me, I still think she comes across as the kind of character you wouldn’t want to take into a posh giftware shop given the chaos she caused with one chair and one bed in the Three Bears’ house!).

One great thing about using alternative viewpoints like this is you can explore why that character has behaved the way they have. You can explore their justifications for their actions. The great thing is they don’t have to be right! (It can be even more fun when they’re not but they really think they are. You really get to know what they are made of exploring this kind of avenue).

Fairytales with Bite – Writing Triggers

I mention this topic as part of my interview with crime writer, Val Penny, on Chandler’s Ford Today this week looked at what triggered her wish to write.  It is one of those questions I often ask writers I interview and the results are always fascinating.

Also, it is interesting to note that, while there can be similarities, I believe most writers have triggers to begin writing that are unique to them.  Mine were turning 30 and having given birth to my son, two major life changes that made me face up to the fact if I wanted to be a writer, I had better get on and write then!

I also love writing triggers in the form of opening lines, photos, closing lines etc that encourage you to write something around them.  They can make you really work your imagination.  The theme for competitions can also act as good triggers (and can be useful for writing practice even if you don’t enter the contest.  If you do and win it or are shortlisted, even better though!).

I find the ideal opening line writing trigger is one that can give you all kinds of possibilities to work with.  For example, I would find the line “He refused to cry again” a lot more interesting to work with than “The starship crashed into a crater”.  I could write stories on both and have fun doing so but the first one you could set in any time, any world come to that.  The second is an immediate sci-fi or fantasy story, which is fine, but you are getting your genre and setting in one go here.  (That can be useful when I want triggers for my flash fiction though and that is when I will want a line that does a lot of work for me!).

Let creativity spill out - image via Pixabay

Let the creative process flow! Image via Pixabay

The fantastic world of books must include non-fiction too - image via Pixabay

The wonderful world of writing should include non-fiction, which benefits from creative techniques too. Image via Pixabay.

Feature Image - Facts and Fiction - image via Pixabay

What writing triggers will help you create your new worlds? Image via Pixabay

The old fashioned notebook and pen still have major roles to play in interviewing - image via Pixabay

Can’t beat the notebook and pen for quick notes. Image via Pixabay,

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Some of the books I’ve appeared in and FLTDBA of course. Image by Allison Symes

This World and Others – Popular Fiction – Do You Just Write What You Know Will Sell?

The short answer is “no”!  This topic came about thanks to this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post.  This is Part 1 of my interview with crime writer, Val Penny, and one thing we discussed was why crime fiction is so popular and what drove her to crime (!).

I think crime and horror are probably the two most popular genres in fiction.  There can be crossover and within each genre there is a wide range of sub-categories.  But does this mean you should just write to these two genres, say, because you know there is a proven market for them?  Absolutely not!

You have got to believe in what you write.  You have got to love what you write (at least most of the time!  I appreciate when you’ve been through the sixth rewrite, you may feel a tad tired about the whole thing!  We all do!).

You have got to love your characters, and love those you love to hate. I also believe that if you don’t write what is your “driving fictional instinct”, what you do come out with will be just a poor imitation of the markets you are trying go get into and that will show.  Whereas if you love what you write, that will also show.  It is where your writing voice will come through loud and clear.  Good luck!

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My Goodreads blog post this time is an expanded version of my Facebook post for From Light to Dark and Back Again.

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I have a very soft spot for stories told from alternative viewpoints, especially fairy tales. My first published story was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology (many moons ago now) and tells the Cinderella tale from the viewpoint of the youngest stepsister. It was great fun to write and, due it being the first thing I’d written that was accepted for publication (thank you, Bridge House!), it will always have a special place in my heart.

In my flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again, I take Goldilocks’ viewpoint as my angle in the tale, Health and Safety, (though between you and me, I still think she comes across as the kind of character you wouldn’t want to take into a posh giftware shop given the chaos she caused with one chair and one bed in the Three Bears’ house!).

One great thing about using alternative viewpoints like this is you can explore why that character has behaved the way they have. You can explore their justifications for their actions.

The great thing is they don’t have to be right! (It can be even more fun when they’re not but they really think they are. You really get to know what they are made of exploring this kind of avenue).

You can also prove the truth of the old saying “there are two sides to every story” by exploring what the other characters think! They just have to be strong enough to carry their own story.