Stories, Naming Characters, and Addictive Flash Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you had a good weekend. Nice to have publication news to share this week. Glad to share two links to two of my stories as part of that.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-28-20-5327

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Loved a swim earlier on today and Lady got to play with her best buddies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the Hungarian Vizler. Lovely dogs. Girls had a great time. Good day all round here then!

Looking forward to leading the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group tomorrow (so my posts may be up late or early tomorrow depending on what kind of day I have!). I’ve used PowerPoint more in the last twelve months or so (as it is so useful to use on Zoom) than I have in the last twelve years. That really isn’t an exaggeration.

Many thanks for the lovely responses (especially on Twitter) to Jubilee, my latest story on CafeLit. Link below. This tale was one where I knew the name of the character immediately (I don’t always). Here I anted an older lady, who is a little posh but well meaning with it – Dorothy it had to be then!

BookBrushImage-2022-6-28-20-4150

Publication News – CafeLit
Delighted to be back on CafeLit with my new story, Jubilee. I wrote this as a homework exercise I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group which I lead. Dorothy is one of those characters who grow on you – see what you make of her here. Hope you enjoy.

Screenshot 2022-06-27 at 17-36-02 CafeLitMagazine
Today would have been my father’s 85th birthday. He is much missed by all the family. What was nice was my late Mum got to see my first story in print and Dad got to see my first book. Don’t think they’d be too impressed with the state of the world right now, especially since both of them were child evacuees.

On a happier note I am glad to say I will have a new story up on CafeLit tomorrow. Am looking forward to sharing the link then. See above!

And I think I may have found what may be my favourite title for a Chandler’s Ford Today post. My blog this week will be called Verbs and Verbosity In Fiction! Link up on Friday. (Wish me luck for when I get to the letter X by the way!).

My author newsletter will also be going out later this week so if you would like to sign up for that, do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

 

Hope you’ve had a good Saturday. I’ve spent the day mowing the lawn, playing ball with the dog (and while mowing the lawn too – it is quite a sight!), washing, ironing, cooking etc. Now it’s writing time. I am one of those writers who can only relax into writing when I know the major things of the day are behind me.

So could I procrastinate with doing “essential” jobs while putting off doing any writing? Not really. I do have a saving grace here – I loathe housework! There is no way I’m using that as an excuse not to write! If anything the opposite is true in that I get the dreaded chores done as soon as I can to expand my writing time.

And talking of writing, I am glad to say I now have an author bio up on the Friday Flash Fiction site under their Authors section. See the link and screenshot. Also, a big thanks to all for the comments in on my new story here, A Picture Paints A Hundred Words.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It doesn’t take long to become addicted to writing flash fiction. I found after writing my first 100 word piece, I wanted to see if I could do it again (partly to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke I think). Then I wanted to do another, then another, and then I tried to write to 50 words and then again to 500, and on to the upper limit of 1000 and all kinds of word counts in between. All great fun!

It has been lovely getting back to the drabble for Friday Flash Fiction especially since writing to that length was my way into flash fiction in the first place. There’s a pleasing symmetry to that I think.

So be warned! Flash can prove surprisingly addictive for such a short form of writing. I also wanted to explore (and still do) what kinds of characters would work well in such a tiny tale, whether I could write linked flashes (where the same character turns up in more than one story) and so on. Always plenty to try here and that too is part of the charm of flash fiction.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

It’s Monday. It has been hectic (and stormy here in my part of the world). Definitely time for a story I think. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Many Happy Returns.

Interesting thought for a writing prompt here. Anniversaries, birthdays and the like can be sad or happy or a mixture of both, depending on exact circumstances. Is there a special day for a character of yours? What would be the story behind that being a special day? Does your character change their views on a special day and, if so why? Can other characters help them to see things more positively where that might be needed? Hmm…story ideas there I’m sure – good luck!

BookBrushImage-2022-6-26-16-1930

The challenge of writing to a specific word count (such as my drabbles for Friday Flash Fiction) is also in making sure that I am getting the maximum impact from my story. Every one of those one hundred words has to punch its weight to justify its place in my tale. This is where I admit I love it when the title is not included in the overall word count. I can use that title to give extra nuances and indicate the likely mood of the story without using up my “allowance”.

Ironically my story this week on Friday Flash Fiction is one of my rarer stories with a fairly long title – A Picture Paints a Hundred Words. I used that one because it is a play on the usual phrase (it’s usually a thousand words but I wanted to play on the fact the drabble is only one hundred words long. Because a standard phrase is being subverted a little bit here, that will help make it more memorable. My favourite word counts for titles are usually between one to four words. They’re even easier to remember as a rule.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-25-20-539

Goodreads Author Blog – The Good Old Paperback

The good old paperback has long been my favourite book format. Easier to carry around than a hardback (and certainly less damaging if you drop it on your foot!). That love was intensified when my own flash fiction collections came out in good old paperback! Okay, I’m biased but it is a good reason to be biased!

The first paperbacks I remember buying were the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton in the days when you could buy books from your local newsagent. Southern TV had been adapting the books and of course the publishers brought out the books in an edition to match the TV series.

I then bought my own paperback of Pride and Prejudice by the wonderful Jane Austen. Later I went on to the paperbacks of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett and the P.G. Wodehouse books (though I haven’t got all of those. Still it gives me something to aim for!). All a joy to buy and to read and re-read (a sign of a good book is that is it one you can always re-read).

Which paperbacks are your favourites and why? Are there any you regret buying? (Sometimes you can find the answer to that one by looking at the books given to charity shops. Every so often a book is a big hit and then it just drops out of favour and ends up in said charity shops!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Heading North Again Soon and Frameworks in Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Most images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of the wonderful view as you come into Dundee Railway station and of my table at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good weekend. Went to see a live comedy gig over the weekend, booked my tickets for a very special event in March, and got soaked with the dog – so a mixed bag here!

Facebook – General

Lady and I had a soaking while out this morning at the Recreation Ground but other than that it has been a good day.

Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group Zoom meeting tomorrow night. I’ve mentioned before that one reason I think for the growth in the popularity of flash fiction is that people read more on screens now and flash works brilliantly for that. It is also easy to screen share on Zoom!

Now when it comes to thinking of topics for blog posts, I start by looking at what I think might interest other writers. (For the moment for Chandler’s Ford Today I am writing an In Fiction series). I then think about what might encourage people to join in with their comments and I also aim for my blogs to be both useful and entertaining. I do know from years of going to writing conferences etc that a topic which grabs one writer is likely to hook in others!

And for my fiction and non-fiction work, I ask myself one vital question. What will the reader get from this? It is crucial there is something in your writing that is of benefit to them, whether it is to amuse/entertain or to give them information which will be useful for their own writing. Do that and it is far more likely people will come back to you and read more of what you do.

BookBrushImage-2022-2-15-20-3239

Hope you have had a good Monday and happy St. Valentine’s Day to all who celebrate.

Had a hilarious time at the Mayflower Theatre last night and it was good to see the entertainment industry coming back to life too.

Am pleased to say the February 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now free to download on Amazon.

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 20-58-34 Amazon com Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2022 eBook Publishing , Goylake , Howe[...]

Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting on Zoom on Wednesday night. Meanwhile I’ll be enjoying meeting up with the History Writers on Zoom tonight. I’ve been very grateful for how Zoom has made things possible – with both of these groups I would not be able to get to these events in person (well, maybe once a year but that would be about it).

I’ve used a number generator as the focus for my stories for Friday Flash Fiction this week and for my new YouTube video which I’ll be sharing over on my book page shortly. See further down for the link. The number generated was 64. What could I do with that? Well, pop over to my book page in a moment and pick up the link for the video and I hope to share the second part of the answer to this on Friday!

Web capture_8-2-2022_203821_www.facebook.com

Am posting early today as am off with better half and other family members to see Jack Dee at The Mayflower Theatre later. Has been such a long time since we were last there.

A huge thanks for the fantastic response to my post yesterday about my forthcoming trip to the Scottish Association of Writers Conference. See below.

I’ll be looking at Frameworks in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week – link up on Friday.

A big thanks also to the response to Misunderstanding, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Feedback always appreciated.

Hope this week proves to be a good one (though Lady and I were none too impressed with the weather today – let’s just say the bedraggled look is in!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Thrilled to say I have booked my train tickets for the Scottish Association of Writers Conference which takes place in March (18th to 20th). See link.

Now you may well be thinking that’s all very nice, Allison, but you’re a Hampshire lass so how come you’re heading north?

(Not for the first time either, missus. Quite right as I was at the Brechin/Angus Festival in November which was great fun and I must admit my breath was taken away by the stunning view as you come into Dundee Railway Station – see pic below!).

Stunning views as I came into Dundee station

Another view as I came into Dundee.

I thought Dundee Station looked rather splendid

I thought Dundee Station was rather grand.


Well, I joined the History Writers group who are part of the SAW and indeed I will be giving a talk to them very soon via the wonders of Zoom about historical flash fiction. Very much looking forward to that. Now you may be suspecting there is probably a common link somewhere amongst all of this and there is – the lovely #WendyHJones links SAW, History Writers, and the Brechin/Angus Festival.

At the Conference in March, I will be running a flash fiction workshop. I’m also one of the judges for one of the SAW’s competitions.

So lots going on behind the scenes for me right now, all very exciting, and I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the Conference in March.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I need to know my character before I start writing up their story but I also need to know the framework of the story in which I am going to put them.

Will it be a linear narrative, a circular story, a twist in the tale, a diary format, or should I write the story in the form of a letter? (I’ve used all of those frameworks in my time and will do so again!). I’ll be looking at Frameworks in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week where I’ll discuss this further but I do find frameworks so useful. I like to have a rough road map of where I am going. And sometimes I know what the story is going to be and then have to decide which is the best way to tell it for the character I’m writing about.

I do usually write A to B but for twist endings/punchline endings, I write B to A because it is simpler to get that kind of ending down first and then work out what could have led to it. It is also a relief to know I have got my ending in place and just have to work out the starting point.

There are often several options there and this is why I use spider diagrams to help me work out which would be best. And when I say best, I am thinking best for the character and best for the future reader. It isn’t the same as what would be easiest for me, the writer, to actually do (and I always dismiss this anyway because the idea is to stretch myself and not make life easy for me or my unfortunate character I’ve chosen to drop right in it!).

BookBrushImage-2022-2-15-20-4056

Hope you enjoy my new YouTube story, At Number 64. I’ve submitted a linked story to this for Friday Flash Fiction this week and I hope to share the link on that on Friday if I can. I am enjoying using the same theme generated for two stories per week but it is also great to have a story with connections to another one, yet both stand alone.

 

The joy of flash is having a completed bit of work to hand relatively quickly but there is a difference between “completed” and “first draft”. I can draft a story in about ten/fifteen minutes (for say a 100 to 150 word count) but I will spend considerably more time after that honing and improving that draft. And that is how it should be.

The first draft is to get the idea down. Then and only then do you look at ways of making that better. Guess what? There are always ways of making things better! But you yourself get better in spotting what can be improved and sharpened over time. You get better at knowing what your writing flaws are and then making a beeline on the first edit to get rid of those.


Hope you have had a good Saturday. I mentioned this on my main author page the other day but I will repeat it here – Amazon have a good offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic at the moment. See the link for more information.

Looking forward to talking about historical flash fiction at the History Writers group I’m part of on Zoom soon. Given flash is focused on characters there is no reason why some of those characters can’t live in the past! And you can use characters to explore that past too. It is something I am hoping to do more of in due course.

History is made up of so many stories, of course, and as long as you are accurate, I see no reason why you can’t explore history via fiction. After all one of my favourite books The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey led me to change my mind about Richard III and take more of an interest in his life and times. Flash illuminates briefly. Why not illuminate a small section of history?

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Visualising Characters

I started reading Dickens as a result of watching Oliver Twist on TV. The film version being shown starred Sir Alec Guinness and Oliver Reed (Fagan and Sykes). Both were brilliant and I absolutely had to read the book after seeing this.

And, again with Dickens, I loved The Muppet Christmas Carol (and still do, it’s a must see at Christmas) with Sir Michael Caine as Scrooge. What I loved best, with my reader’s and writer’s hats on, is where Gonzo acting as Dickens the narrator tells us all to go and read the original book. Quite right too!

I don’t need a film or TV adaptation to visualise a well portrayed character but where adaptations are thoughtfully done, those TV and film portrayals add something special to the book when I then go on to re-read it again. I do visualise the well cast actors. I can’t read a Poirot novel now without visualising Sir David Suchet in the role or a Miss Marple without seeing in my mind’s eye the wonderfully cast Joan HIckson.

So are there any adaptations that bring a book more to life for you? Or will you always prefer the book over any adaptation?

 

BookBrushImage-2021-10-1-19-5556

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Character Types in Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
A huge thanks to Geoff Parkes for the picture of me taking part in the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night back in 2018. (That does feel a world away – so much has happened since!).
Hope you have had a good week. Not been a bad one here and Lady has got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback pal a lot this week so all is well with her world. Am busily blogging, story judging, and drafting short stories at the moment – all fun!

BookBrushImage-2022-1-28-19-2514

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m pleased to share Character Types in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today. I take a broad look at heroes, villains, narrators, and minor characters and their role in fiction. I also take a brief look at those with the power to help or hinder the lead character. Hope you enjoy (and by all means share some of your favourites of these kinds in the CFT comments box).

Character Types in Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

So sorry to hear of the passing of Barry Cryer. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue remains a favourite of my other half and I – and we adore Morecombe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, and so many other shows Barry wrote for.

I’ve always adored word play and puns so shows like this were always bound to appeal but I wonder if a love for creative writing can come from simply loving to play with words like that? Maybe it is a key ingredient (and even more so for anyone wanting to write humour).

I also learned a long time ago that if someone makes something look easy, whether it is writing of any kind or any other skill, that same someone has worked their socks (or other hosiery items of choice) off for years to get to that point.

There are no shortcuts but practice, being willing to learn from others, and perseverance are so important. Not at all glamorous or exciting but behind the writing there needs to be a certain amount of grit and acceptance you are in for the long haul and then you still keep on going…! But that is where the support of fellow writers is so invaluable.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-27-19-5357

Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Will be sharing Character Types in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See link above.

This will take a broad look at main character types (otherwise such a post could carry on indefinitely as could one asking for favourite characters. I will make a mental note to not write that one up when I get to the letter F as I am writing an “In Fiction” alphabetical series for CFT at the moment – you can see I am going to be busy for the next 20 odd weeks or so! Wish me luck when I get to Q and X!).

Am happily drafting a short story at the moment too and I hope to have a first draft of that done shortly. I will then rest it for a bit before coming back to it for editing. I do find the break away does help me see the faults and virtues of a piece that much more easily. I am really enjoying writing my lead character’s voice in this story which I trust is a good sign.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My latest Friday Flash Fiction story is called Tears Before Lunch. This one was inspired by a question I chose from a random question generator – what makes you cry? I decided to get a character to answer that one and this is the result. Hope you enjoy it. (Also huge thanks for the fabulous comments coming in on it so far – the feedback on this site is amazing and so encouraging).

Screenshot 2022-01-28 at 11-48-35 Tears Before Lunch, by Allison Symes

 

Hope you have had a good day and many thanks for a wonderful response to my post yesterday about having a stock of stories ready for use at Open Prose Mic Nights.

Whether you take part in these things or not, reading your work out loud is a great idea. If you stumble over dialogue etc., so will your readers. It is an oddity that what looks good written down does not always translate into something that is easy to read. But reading work out loud helps you spot that.

I used to record some of my stories on Audacity back in the day so I could play them back. Even easier to do it on Zoom of course which handily converts your file to an mp4 for you. And if you are taking part in reading events, you can play your recording back to hear how you sound to yourself. It is odd to hear yourself but it does show up whether you’re reading too fast, too slow, are clear enough or not etc.

The great thing with flash pieces of course is they don’t take too long to read out but it does mean you have to grab your audience’s attention literally from the first word.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-27-20-118

I’ve mentioned before I have a stock of stories I use for reading at Open Prose Mic Nights, for author talks etc. It pays to regularly rehearse these and I also like to mix them up to keep things fresh and interesting. I also use stories I hope will make it into a further collection – I know I like a balance of old and new material when someone is reading to me so I do the same here.

Putting yourself into your readers’ shoes is a good idea for when you’re writing the story or performing it. Doing this when writing means you are thinking about what your reader would want from the tale and helps no end in keeping your tale relevant and to the point. Doing it when performing a story I’ve found helps me “project” the character’s voice better. It is their voice I want to get across to those I’m reading to after all.

The Open Mic for Prose night

Fairytales With Bite – Dark Days

One of the downsides to January in my part of the world is the days are dark (though towards the end of the month you do start to spot the evenings becoming lighter). In your fictional world, are dark days a seasonal thing, as we know here, or is it a part of your world’s geography that days are naturally short and extended periods of darkness is something that everyone has to cope with? How do your characters cope with those dark days?

From a historical viewpoint, does your fictional world consider a part of its past as “dark days”? Why? How have they moved on from this? What has got better since then? What might be considered to be worse?

What kind of “dark days” do your characters face and how do they get through these? This can take the form of that stage in the story where their quest is looking lost and all seems lost. It can also take the form of loss of confidence by a character in themselves and their ability to carry out the task they’ve been set. How do they overcome that? Who helps them? Who hinders them?

You can then take the idea of dark days several ways to create new story ideas. Good luck!

BookBrushImage-2022-1-28-19-5246

This World and Others – Seasonal Activities

What kind of seasonal activities take place in your created world? Is there a planting time and a harvest time, for example? Are there harvest celebrations? Does everyone take part in these?

What kind of holidays are held in your world and what are the purpose of them? Bearing in mind the Romans famously said that what people needed were bread and circuses, how does the government of your created world apply that principle? Does it work?!

Think about the geography of your created world too. A lot will depend on how much natural light is available for plant and food growth and seasonal activities will follow that of course.

But in the “down times” when things cannot be grown, for example. are there events specifically designed to get your people through those times? Something like a winter festival to give people something to look forward to (Christmas etc for us)?

Are there political seasonal activities everyone has to take part in regardless of their personal feelings on them? How did these come into being?

Again, plenty of story thoughts there I think!

BookBrushImage-2022-1-28-19-5948

Twitter icon

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Random Questions and Feedback


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Good to see the evenings slowly becoming lighter in my part of the world. It’s still January though… aka the month that goes on for what seems like forever!

BookBrushImage-2022-1-25-20-241

Facebook – General

So cold out there today in my part of the world – even the dog wasn’t impressed.

Had a lovely time talking about flash fiction via Zoom to an ACW-affiliated group last night. I do hope it leads to more people trying flash fiction for themselves – it is good fun, addictive, and helps you sharpen your writing skills.

Certainly I’m not afraid of editing thanks to writing flash and it also makes me think about the impact of my stories and characters from the start. Doing that means I am thinking about the reader’s needs immediately. It also means I am less likely to go off at unhelpful tangents which only slow stories down.

And it is the perfect format for those times when you don’t have much time to write. You can get something drafted in a few minutes. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what the editing stages are for!

 

Has been a good Monday for me – as busy as ever but I seemed to get more things done more quickly. I wish all Mondays were like that. Still you treasure the good ones you get!

I’ve used the same prompt (from a random question generator) to trigger two stories. One I’ve submitted to Friday Flash Fiction and the other one I’ll share on my book page shortly as it is the latest in my YouTube videos. The question generated was what makes you cry? Link further down.

Interesting one as you can take this in a tragic direction but there is a possibility for comedy too (which is the direction I’ve taken). And of course you can adjust it to think about what would make your character cry.

I love random generators. They really make me put my thinking cap on.

 

Have been enjoying a quiet weekend. I’ll be taking a broad look at Characters in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday. Have been spending time preparing pieces for different blog spots – plenty to keep me out of mischief anyway!

And I am also getting my author newsletter together ready for that to go out on 1st February. (Do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up – I share news, tips, prompts, videos etc here).

What is the one thing you like most about writing? I know it’s hard to say but for me that feeling of knowing you’ve created a piece of work that you can’t improve any more and someone else has accepted it – well, it is hard to beat that one!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hope you have had a good Saturday. Many thanks for the comments coming in on Someone Like Her my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. It is lovely receiving feedback from other readers on this site and I love reading through the other stories too.

What I find helpful in feedback I receive is in finding out what readers responded to – was it the character, the twist ending etc? (This is another reason why book reviews matter – it isn’t just the number received, it is what is said here as well).

And in giving feedback, I look to stress the positives, share what I think can be improved, and maybe make market suggestions if something obvious comes to mind. Sometimes a story you’re reading for a competition just calls into mind a possible market for it.

Am looking forward to giving a Zoom talk on Monday night too. So all go at the moment but in a very good way.

Screenshot 2022-01-21 at 19-08-10 Someone Like Her, by Allison SymesBookBrushImage-2022-1-25-20-3855

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in so far on Crying, my latest YouTube video. Much appreciated, always.  See video link below.

For a short story like this one, I nearly always go for using the first person. I can take you straight into my character’s head and show you their thoughts, attitudes and actions. I like to think of it as “hitting the ground running”.

The funny thing here though is I had barely used first person before writing flash fiction. I suppose for a short word count format the immediacy of the “I” character has more impact than it would do in a longer piece where its effect might be “diluted” a bit. I do know it works really well in flash though.

 

Pleased to be sharing my latest YouTube story called Crying. This came from a random question generator and the question that came up was what makes you cry? Find out here what makes my character cry. Hope you enjoy it.


I’ve never liked those stories where the description seems to go on for ever and ever, amen. Funnily enough I have no problems here with classic novels where the writers had to spell everything out for their readers (no TV, no film, no easy way of a reader visualising what London looks like etc).

But in this day and age where we can get a good idea of what a place looks like because of our experiences with TV and film, I certainly don’t want to see that kind of description in any kind of story.

This is where flash fiction comes into its own. It makes you focus on only the most important things that have to go into the story for it to make sense. Having to work to a tight word count means you have to make choices but it is all for the good of the story – and that is always a great thing. Regardless of what we write, we should always be focusing on what is for the good of the story (which is where that famous phrase about “killing your darlings” comes in I suspect).

(But if you do want a great read right now and one which is free how about following this link to Mom’s Favorite Reads?).

 

Am giving a Zoom talk on Monday night about flash fiction. Love talking about that. I also think it is a great form for people who don’t have a lot of time to write but know they want to write something! And you can. Over time you can build up another flash stories for your own collections etc. I remain convinced in learning to write to a tight word count, that skill will carry over into writing query letters, synopses etc that also have to “not go on for too long” and convey information to attract an agent/publisher quickly.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-17-20-949[Tripping the Flash Fantastic Small.jpg

 

fromlighttodark_medium-2

Goodreads Author Blog – Best Friends in Fiction

With my other writing hat on, I blog including for a weekly online magazine. My current topic for them is Best Friends in Fiction but I realised it would be a good topic for Goodreads too. When a lead character and their best friend/sidekick character are well portrayed, it is a joy to read their adventures and the interactions between them.

Can you imagine Holmes without Watson or Wooster without Jeeves? So many classic stories depend on the best friend character – and across genres too. Think Sam Gamgee and his support of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. (It was literal support at some points too).

Characterisation has always been what makes or breaks a story (of any length) for me. I have got to understand where the characters are coming from, even if I disagree with their attitudes and actions. And for lead and best friend characters I have got to see why the lead has the best friend character they do.

Holmes is a genius but needs Watson to temper that but Holmes does recognise that. Watson knows he can never be as brilliant as Holmes but knows he has his own role to play that could not be fulfilled by Holmes. Can you imagine Holmes trying to narrate a story for the masses? Err… no I think!

Do you have any favourite best friend fictional characters and if so why have you chosen these? Mine is Sam Gamgee – you can’t beat the guy for loyalty and guts when it matters.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-25-21-619

BookBrushImage-2021-10-1-19-5556

 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Merry Christmas!

Image Credits:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. I also took photos from my Scottish break this year to illustrate light and dark. See further down. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. I hope you have a lovely Christmas, however you celebrate it, and I hope there are plenty of books amongst your presents!

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share my Merry Christmas post on Chandler’s Ford Today. I share the link to the Three Minute Santas festive flash fiction broadcast on North Manchester FM hosted by Hannah Kate and another story called Festivities.

I also discuss the joy of writing festive pieces and share some thoughts about “baking the perfect story”. I mention ingredients and method too! Hope you enjoy the post. And as the post says, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Other half and I have now had the booster. Rest of family will be “done” tomorrow. Will be a relief to have it dealt with. And a big thanks to the lovely folk at Salisbury City Hall today. Hubby and I jabbed and out in under 10 minutes.

I’m sharing festive flash fiction on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up tomorrow. See above!

To all who were shortlisted in the Friday Flash Fiction festive competition, well done.

Best writing tip of the year for me was to record on Zoom a practice run of any talks/presentations ahead of giving them. Zoom converts any recording into a mp4 file. I found on playing things back I was speaking too fast. Yet it didn’t seem as if I was when recording.

Lesson learned here: you are not always the best judge of how you come across. You can’t fool a recording on play back! But worth noting and learning from.

BookBrushImage-2021-12-24-20-1621

Indulged in some alternative creative therapy earlier – Christmas baking! Best of all, it meant I had to be in the warm on what has been a bitterly cold day for a lot of the UK. It is another advantage to writing – generally you do it indoors!

Have started indulging in my favourite Christmas stories – watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, which is just brilliant. Next up on my list will be Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

No YouTube video from me this week and I will probably not submit anything to Friday Flash Fiction over the Christmas period but I will look forward to resuming both of those after a bit of a break.

Am currently reading two excellent flash fiction collections by other authors and hope to review those in due course. Yes, I read in my genre as well as outside of it. You do need to know what is going on in your field too. No two writers go about their storytelling in exactly the same way and I find the differences in style and approach fascinating.

What we can do is learn from one another – what works well, what doesn’t and so on. I know I’ve been grateful (and will continue to be) for learning this way. One aspect to creative writing is we keep on learning – how to improve our craft, get better at spotting what markets are best suited for our work etc – and that is so good for us in terms of this keeping our brains active and in terms of encouraging and developing our own creativity.

BookBrushImage-2021-12-22-20-130

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you have a lovely Christmas and get to enjoy plenty of books, stories, flash fiction tales etc. The latter is of course ideal for a quick read when time is tight! I’ll be back posting on here again next week.

Meantime, I’m sharing the link to my page on CafeLit where you will find a mixture of flash pieces and short stories. Hope you enjoy. Merry Christmas! (And yes it is a good reminder to me to submit more work to CafeLit next year!).Screenshot 2021-12-24 at 19-56-10 CafeLitMagazineM = More flash tales for 2022.
E = Exploring more genres and varying word counts
R= Remembering not to exceed the 1000 word limit for flash.
R = Rules can be stretched a bit – hyphenated words count as one word in flash.
Y = Yet noting you do still have to hyphenate where that is legitimate – no cheating!

C = Characters are the stars of the stories.
H = Hearing their tales, their voices is what readers want.
R = Readers are your audience of course so write with them in mind.
I = Imaginative characters in unique settings will grab readers’ attention.
S = Stories – it is all about the story and its impact on readers.
T = Truth is often revealed by characters, usually showing some aspect of our nature.
M = Mirroring life, stories can share what we might not like to discuss in more palatable ways.
A = Always be truthful in your writing even when telling stories – you have to believe it first.
S = Structure and editing – don’t rush either as it pays to get these right.

Merry Christmas!

BookBrushImage-2021-12-24-20-2840

Turning the tables on a character is great fun to do and I’ve used this for my longer short stories too. (My It Is Time from Mulling It Over by Bridge House Publishing is a good example of this).

You have the ending set up in advance – the moment the tables are turned and this is especially true for a flash story where it works best as the last line. What you need to work out is whether the character deserves having the tables turned like that or whether you are going to leave your readers with a sense of pity for your character where such a thing is undeserved.

If your character does deserve what is coming to them (and most of mine do), then you need to work out why. Also are your characters going to have a chance to redeem themselves, say, or do they blithely ignore all of that and what hits them hits them?

One of the reasons I love A Christmas Carol is because Scrooge does deserve the fright he gets but he recognizes this and accepts the need to change. That kind of story is so positive and I love them.

And it’s perfectly feasible to do this in flash. This kind of story is where I do work from the ending back to the start and use a spider diagram to help me work out the best start. I’ve found that technique for this kind of story is especially effective as it ensures I have the “turn around” written and good to go. I can then work out what led to that. You don’t have to always write A to Be. B to A can work really well too. Give it a go!

Fairytales with Bite – Light and Dark of Fairytales

Fairytales reflect the light and dark side of life. They show cruelty up for what it is and ensure the villains get their comeuppance, though this doesn’t usually happen for a while. Pantomime, which so often uses fairytales as the story base, adds humour into the mix. But both of these don’t shy away for calling out the dark and ensuring the light triumphs.

Maybe, because we know so often that doesn’t happen in real life, the appeal of fairytales is very long lasting. I think there is a deep-rooted need to see wrong being righted. I know I feel that way.

Fairytales are also realistic about what human nature can be. We don’t question Snow White’s stepmother’s murderous intent. We just know some people are just like that, again motivated by envy a lot of the time, or being unable to accept the person they’re feeling murderous towards for other reasons.

But fairytales can also show virtue being rewarded and I’ve always loved that aspect, again because it so often doesn’t happen for real (even though it should!).

So fairytales are far from twee then. They’re open to interpretation and cover a wide range of emotions we recognise in ourselves. Light and dark both have to be shown – and shown honestly – and I feel fairytales are brilliant at that. I don’t feel they will ever lose their appeal simply due to that.

 

This World and Others – Deciding What You Need to Know

Every writer, regardless of what they write, needs to decide what they need to know before bringing their story to life. I need to know my character’s major traits (and as a result what can come from those). I don’t need to know what they look like and, even when I do, that comes in later for me. Other writers need to have an idea of what their people look like before fleshing them out more. Different strokes and all that.

When it comes to world building, what do you need to know there? Do you need to know the physical geography of your setting or its political make up? Do you need to know both and one directly affects the other? If so, how? What will make your fictional world seem real to you? You have to believe it first before any reader might.

It would pay to take time out then. You have this great idea. You have fantastic characters you can’t wait to bring to life on the page. So what do you need to know to make the most of these, to get the best out of them? Even if you don’t usually plan, a little forward planning could save you considerable time on the editing later on.

And it may well be you will need to know things the reader does not but that knowledge will help you write your characters with more conviction. It is my belief (as a reader and a writer) that sense of conviction does come through.

It is what I think keeps readers glues to characters and their stories. It definitely pays to work out in advance what you need to know to convince yourself. You will write with more confidence. You will know this character. You will know their story. I hope you find a bit of forward planning helps you against the wretched Imposter Syndrome which affects most writers at some point.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

red blue and yellow textile

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Learning, Back at an ACW Event, and North Manchester FM

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated (and most created via Book Brush using Pixabay photos). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Lovely autumnal weather here in the UK right now – just the kind the dog and I like most.

Facebook – General

Enjoying the lovely autumnal weather at the moment – dry, sunny, crisp – my kind of weather at this time of year.

Writers are often advised (and I’ve done it too) to read widely as sparks for story and article ideas will often crop up from what you enjoy reading. But I was at a fascinating Zoom talk last night about Cistercian Abbeys. Not something I write about. Nor am I likely to do so but the talk was interesting and revealed plenty I did not know especially about life in a community.

Now I can see I might get something from that for a story or two later on. Fabulous if I do. Still improving my knowledge even if not. Win-win basically. So why not try a Zoom or other kind of talk on a topic that might be a little outside of your own box but where you have some underlying interest? (In my case, I love history).

I’ve talked before about mixing up how you approach story writing to keep things (a) fresh and interesting for you and (b) to encourage lateral thinking and even more creativity. Why not use talks as another way into that mixing up your approach?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hope you had a good Monday. Not bad here. Nice autumnal day, plenty of sunshine, and Lady got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback buddy and her Labradoodle pal. All is well in her world at least!

Coming back to earth after a wonderful ACW event on Saturday but I find I always do need a bit of a breathing space after an event like that to take stock and then get on with my writing again.

Many thanks for the lovely comments so far on my Leaving It Late, which is my most recent tale on #FridayFlashFiction. Am so loving writing the drabbles again – and this particular tale shows just how far one character can take stubbornness.

Screenshot 2021-10-08 at 16-41-23 Leaving It Late, by Allison Symes

It was lovely getting back to using Evernote properly on my train trips to/from London for the Association of Christian Writers day yesterday. I’ll be out and about on the train again next month when I go to the Brechin/Angus Book Fest and again in December because Bridge House Publishing are having their annual celebration event, hooray!

Mind you, some things don’t change over the years. I always used to become irritated when bad radio reception would hit right during the middle of my favourite song. These days my irritation is aimed at when the internet connection drops out just as I’m trying to post something (and you don’t always know when a tunnel is coming up!).

It was fantastic catching up with so many friends yesterday and I look forward to catching up with more over the next couple of months. I also managed to draft a flash piece yesterday which I’m going to use for my YouTube video this week. Hope to share the link for that tomorrow over on my book page at From Light to Dark and Back Again. See further down.

Oh and it has been lovely listening to Gill James being interviewed by Hannah Kate on North Manchester FM. Plenty of plugs for Bridge House, Chapeltown, CafeLit etc (and a couple for me too – thank you, Gill and Hannah). Give it a listen and discover insights into how a small independent publisher works.

Gill James Interview Here
Screenshot 2021-10-12 at 20-56-33 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf, Saturday 9 October, 2-4pm - Hannah Kate

Am on way to my first in-person event for the Association of Christian Writers today. Event is being held in London. I am so looking forward to catching up with friends I’ve either not seen or only seen through Zoom for the past two years. Am drafting this via Evernote on train up. Will probably post on train home.

As well as what you learn from the speaker(s), you pick up loads of tips, sites to check out etc., when chatting with other writers over a cuppa or several. You also sense a creative buzz at the event which you can draw on to inspire you when you’re back home again.

So it will be a tiring, inspirational, and fantastic trip out. ACW are also celebrating the launch of Write Well! This will be launched during the latter half of today’s event. The book is written by various ACW members about aspects of writing and I am looking forward to reading it.

The lovely thing with writing is you don’t stop learning or developing what you do. This is so good for the old brain!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Giving your character an immediate problem they have to resolve is a great way to get into a story. Your reader has to read on to find out what happens, which is exactly what you want. But you can also add intrigue by hinting at an unusual setting for the problem.

I did this with my Decisions from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. My opening line to this is “He could watch the world end or jump on the alien spacecraft that encouraged visitors.”.

Well, firstly, what would you do if you faced that? Whatever you decide, hopefully the hook is there for you to want to find out what my character did. Secondly, I’ve managed to give you the genre in four words – world end and alien spacecraft. This confirms the genre has to be sci-fi and this is an apocalyptic tale.

The setting is here on Earth – that is confirmed by my character’s name (Jeff). So little things like this give your readers plenty of information to take in and you don’t info-dump on them either. That was something I did use to do when I first started out. Great big blocks of description and/or “have to tell the reader this so I will give it to them all in one go right here and now”. Uhh… no!

Drip-feeding information is better by far, more interesting, and helps keep your word count down, invaluable for flash of course.

Pleased to share my latest YouTube story, The Package. Who do you feel the most for here? Comments welcome here on over on my channel page. Hope you enjoy the tale.

 

Nice to have a quieter day after a wonderful day in London yesterday with the Association of Christian Writers. Will be returning to the capital in December for a Bridge House Publishing celebration event – can’t wait for that. Have been in contact with people over Facebook and Zoom, of course, but it will be so nice to get together in person again.

I’ll be sharing tomorrow my latest YouTube video which was inspired by a snippet of conversation I overheard on the train yesterday! Good fun to write and I look forward to sharing the story. (I say overhear, it was more a case of not being able to miss the conversation, but it can all be useful material for sparking off story ideas!).

 

Am back on the train for an Association of Christian Writers event so am resuming using Evernote for jotting down blog posts and flash fiction pieces. It’s lovely getting to use the app again after a long gap. I used it for the first time since lockdown for my trip to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School back in August but with today’s event, it feels like it’s going to be a regular thing again. And that’s nice.

I will often use train writing sessions to brainstorm ideas for titles and/or opening lines. Course it’s a great chance to people watch again! Have just heard someone saying they had to go to their old house to pick up a delivery they sent to their old place by mistake and the person now living there was a “really old lady”. I suspect they mean someone of my age – fifties!! But could I get a story from that?

Oh yes! Firstly, the old lady could be something not of this world and my character has no idea what to do when they discover this. Far from getting one over on an old lady, she is the one turning tables here. Secondly, I could do something with the delivery itself. What is it? Why does my character need it? What would happen if the old lady opens it as it came to her house?

So will be keeping ears and eyes open for this trip ready to jot down ideas!  See YouTube video above – I did do something with this!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Goodreads Author Blog – New Books

One lovely thing about going to events, as I’ve done this week, is exploring the book stalls and bringing home a new book or several! (Naturally I hope to sell some of mine too!).

It is great being able to go to events again. I missed this so much in 2020. And I know I will be picking up a very good read indeed when I go to the book stalls.

I’ve yet to go back to bookshops again but that will only be a matter of time! I may get to do so as part of my travels as there is a Foyles bookshop at London Waterloo. I think a lot will depend on how much I spend at the book stalls first!

The downside is every time I pick up new books like this, it reminds me I should sort my bookshelves out! I guess into every reader’s and writer’s life a little rain must fall!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Alternative Twitter image

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Favourite Characters and Misunderstandings

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Looking forward to giving a talk on flash fiction to Byre Writers later this week. Always good to share the joys of writing and reading flash fiction.

BookBrushImage-2021-7-23-20-221

Facebook – General

Hope your Tuesday has gone well. Glad to be swimming this afternoon. Refreshing and it is the only sport I do with any reasonable proficiency. I don’t use the time in the pool to think out stories or articles funnily enough. Again, as with being out and about in the natural world, it is the break away from the desk that helps the most. (Lady still doesn’t understand why she can’t go with me. She would cause chaos – no chance at all of her keeping to the proper lane!).

I’m a bit later at my desk tonight for various reasons (one of those days for a start!) but what matters is getting there at all and making the most of whatever writing time I have. I won’t be writing so much this Thursday for example as I will be back at our local Ritchie Hall watching The Chameleons in their come back production after the pandemic. Will be so good to see them back (and what with singing in church again on Sunday, it does seem some normality has returned).

But whether I have a long writing session or a short one, I aim to have something done by the end of said session I can either develop further when I have more time or I have flash stories ready for editing later.

I’ve learned to appreciate that if I only have ten minutes to write, say, then I will make the most of those ten minutes.

BookBrushImage-2021-7-23-19-3732

Hope you have had a great start to the week. Lady did as she got to see and play with her best buddie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Both dogs were so excited to see each other. Always nice to see that!

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is going to be a bit different. I am celebrating the glorious wildflower meadow in our local park where the dogs play. It is a wonderful sight. The funny thing is the natural world in and of itself does not inspire my writing. What it does do is give me a much needed break so I can come back to my stories raring to go. Link up on Friday and I share some great pictures too.

Looking ahead a bit, I am relishing sharing a two part interview with two of the funniest writers I know – #FranHill and #RuthLeigh (and it is so appropriate I use a hashtag for Ruth as the interviews will make clear!). That’s coming in August and I am so looking forward to reviewing The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest production, the first they have been able to put on since the pandemic began. That will go up in the first week of August, just before I head off to catch up with writing pals at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School after a two year gap. It will be so lovely to see people again (and not just their top halves thanks to Zoom!).

The working of the eye is amazing
Today has been lovely. I got to sing in church for the first time since March 2020 (and yes, I sang through a mask). It was wonderful. Really enjoyed that. Lovely to meet up with other congregation members, some of whom I haven’t seen since the first lockdown (as not everyone is into Zoom etc).

Had a lovely chat with Swanwick friends last night over Zoom. The next time I speak to one of them will be at Swanwick and that is a fabulous thought. So missed that and my writing chums there last year.

More comments coming in on Missing, my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. Thanks, everyone, the feedback is useful and appreciated.

Am busy getting my latest author newsletter ready to go out on 1st August so if you would like exclusive stories, news, hints and tips etc., do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com.

Busy week ahead. Am looking forward to talking to Byre Writers via Zoom on Saturday morning about flash fiction.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you have had a good Saturday. Cooler today after last night’s thunderstorm.

Glad to share the link to my latest piece for Mom’s Favorite Reads. I talk about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing this time. I look at patience in characters (or the lack of it) and also at accepting the need it takes time and patience to hone your craft.

For example, I like to have a rough template to work to when writing a story and while that takes time (and patience) to begin with to get it set up so I know where I am going with my tale, I have found it saves me a lot more time later on. I also don’t go off at interesting tangents which are unhelpful to the story I am writing. (I would only have to cut these out later precisely because they don’t help the story along).

I also share my flash fiction story on the theme. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget the magazine is FREE to download from Amazon.

Screenshot 2021-07-10 at 16-53-46 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021 eBook Publishing, Goylake, Howe, Hannah , Smith,[...]Screenshot 2021-07-01 at 20-08-25 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the respond to my latest story video, Misunderstandings, yesterday. See link below. These are great fun to write. I also share exclusive videos on my author newsletter (the next is due out on 1st August), so if you would like to sign up for that, please head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

I like to write a variety of flash fiction lengths as (a) this keeps things interesting for me and (b) the story length has to be right for the character I’m writing. If they need more room to show me their story, that is what they get and that is when I tend to write the 750 to 1000 word flashes. Most of mine come in at between 100 and 600 and that’s fine too.

Time for another Youtube video. My latest story video is called Misunderstandings and looks at what might happen when a slightly absent-minded fairy comes across someone with peculiarly shaped teeth. Hope you enjoy it.

I’m giving another Zoom talk on flash fiction to Byre Writers on Saturday morning and am so looking forward to that. It is always a joy to talk about flash and to share how, despite the word count restriction, it is more flexible than you might think at first.

After all I have written across many genres thanks to it. I go where my characters take me and I can set them any time and any where and I do. It is such fun to do too! After all, thanks to a challenge by Scottish crime writer #WendyHJones, I wrote a story about The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball! I’ve also written stories about a very creepy ghost, a witch who didn’t cheat in her magical exams (disappointing her mother a bit), and historical tales from the viewpoints of Anne Boleyn and Richard III.

And I am loving getting back to the drabble, aka the 100-worder, for#FridayFlashFiction, but I also love writing across the whole spectrum of flash. My natural home is 500 words or under but it is good to experiment and find out what works best for me. Sometimes my characters do need the whole 1000 words and that’s fine too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A huge thanks for the response yesterday to my post about titles. Also thanks to those who have commented on Missing, my latest #FridayFlashFiction story. I like open titles such as Missing as it gives me so many possibilities to play with – what or whom is missing? Are they found again? If someone is missing something, do they get it back? All sorts of stories can come out of writing the answers to those questions.

For flash, where sometimes the title is part of your overall word count allowance, it is even more important to come up with a crisp, intriguing title that will draw readers in and keep them with you. Random word generators can be useful for playing with ideas here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Goodreads Author Blog – Favourite Characters

Do you have an overall favourite character in fiction? I have too many to count! The characters that stand out the most for me are those who are unpromising at the start of the story and end up being heroes by the end of it. A hobbit is an unlikely adventurer but look what Tolkein did with his characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I am also fond of characters who need redemption and find it. I also like stories where justice is seen to be done and in the right way. (I am not keen on the vengeance type of tale as you just know the character is likely to go too far with it).

I like characters I can understand even if I don’t agree with their attitudes and actions. One of my favourite characters is Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series as there is so much depth to his portrayal which is revealed over the seven novels.

So over to you then. Which are your favourite kinds of character and why?

Twitter icon

 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Talks, Flash, and the Character -v- Plot Debate

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Images of Lady, of CafeLit 10 books, and my stories in it, and screenshots all taken by me, Allison Symes.

Summer weather, a mini heatwave, finally here in the UK. The dog and I are busy keeping cool.

BookBrushImage-2021-7-20-18-5012

Facebook – General

Many thanks to the lovely people at #DundeeCityWriters for making me so welcome at last night’s Zoom talk. I spoke about short story writing as opposed to flash fiction this time. All great fun.

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. It’s a local author news post this time about yours truly where I give an update on what has been happening/is going to happen over the summer for me. And I am glad to share news on both the fiction and non-fiction fronts for the first time here as well.

Lady, you’ll be glad to know, is keeping well and as cool as possible. She’s generally as daft as the proverbial brush but not when it comes to weather like this heatwave a lot of us in the UK are experiencing right now. (I know, it’s July, it is to be expected, but I have no way of telling the dog this!). She drinks plenty, stays in the shade, and enjoys gentler exercise sessions away from the main heat. She can go back to her usual athletic running about when the weather cools. And it will.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pleased to be speaking later tonight to the #DundeeCityWriters. Zoom is a wonderful thing!

Great to see so many lovely comments coming in on my #FridayFlashFiction story, The Unpaid Shift. Many thanks, all.

Working away also on my author newsletter. That will come out on 1st August. I share news, tips, writing prompts, and exclusive flash stories here amongst other things. If that sounds of interest, head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com where you can sign up.

And if you head over to my From LIght to Dark and Back Again Facebook page shortly, you will find my latest YouTube video as well. See below!

(Lady keeping cool and drinking well. I’m drinking well but do feel as if I’m melting right now. But at least it is the kind of weather you expect for July!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General – and Authors Electric

Pleased to share my post on Authors Electric this month. I talk about character -v- plot (and many thanks for the great comments which have come in so far).

I also look at a character I don’t care for much in this post even though I love the author. Mind you, this kind of thing is useful for me as I think about my characters. I do look at what I love and loathe about characters produced by other writers and I can learn so much from that. If a character is dire, I can examine why that is and try to avoid doing this for my own creations.

I also look at how a character makes me react and discuss series novels where a character can develop over time. I also name my favourite example of the latter as my top pick is a masterclass in how a character can develop over several books.

Screenshot 2021-07-20 at 19-35-10 Character -v- Plot by Allison Symes

 

Hope you have had a good day. A huge thanks for the wonderful comments on my The Unpaid Shift currently on #FridayFlashFiction. So enjoying writing the drabbles again. If you missed it, see the link.

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post next week which will be a Local Author News one from me where I have exciting updates to share.

Am also looking forward to sharing great author interviews later on in the summer. So plenty going on here.

But more immediately, I am looking forward to sharing my Authors Electric post tomorrow. This time I’m writing about the character -v- plot debate. Give some thought as to where you stand on that one and maybe pop a comment up when I share the post link tomorrow. See above.

Screenshot 2021-07-16 at 18-47-03 The Unpaid Shift, by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thanks for the lovely response to Self Defence, my latest YouTube video. These are great fun to write and produce. And they are a great way to use the mini-flash tales which are only a sentence or two. See below for video.

I was giving a Zoom talk to #DundeeCityWriters last night about short story writing but many of the techniques I use for flash I can and do use for the longer tales. For example, I have to have a rough template of what I am going to write and then off I go.

The main difference for a short story (anything over 1000 words) is I need to have some rough pointers for what happens in the central part of the tale so I avoid the dreaded saggy middle! (Not wanted in cakes. Not wanted in stories either!).

BookBrushImage-2021-7-15-20-3847


Hope you enjoy my latest YouTube story video. It appears self defence can, in the right circumstances, apply to inanimate objects.


Thanks for the great response to my post yesterday about writing more in the first person for flash. I hadn’t anticipated doing this earlier in my writing career. I’m not sorry about the development as it had been a kind of writing I’d gone out of my way to avoid. Why?

Because all I could see were the limitations of it. You can only see through that one character’s eyes. Everything the character sees, hears, or could be reasonably expected to know is what you have to play with.

BookBrushImage-2021-7-18-19-5049

What I hadn’t seen immediately was that kind of framework Is useful for stopping me head-hopping and in making me focus on the lead character. I can’t go off at a tangent here. That in turn encourages creativity as I work out what the lead character can see, hear, be reasonably expected to know etc.

I’ve also come to love the immediacy of the first person narrator.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I’m writing more in the first person with my flash stories as it is a very easy way to “hit the ground running” with my character. I can literally take you right inside the “I” character’s head and show you their thoughts, actions, and reactions. I can’t “head-hop” either as I have to focus on just that one character.

But when I do have more than one character in a story (usually one of my 500+ word tales), I do work out who the lead character is and who the support will be. I still have to know whose story it is and why and what the role of the support will be. (Of course the support may do anything but support the main character but that’s fine. I just need a defined sense of who does what and why).

Goodreads Author Blog – Annuals

Did you use to get annuals when you were younger? Do you still get them?

I am fond of The Friendship Book (D.C. Thomson – those wonderful Dundee based publishers have produced this for decades). This is one of those books that is always on the present list at a certain time of year I won’t mention yet because we’re still in the summer. I refuse to think of the C word until the autumn at the earliest (and just wish the shops would do the same).

When my family was younger, they loved The Beano annual, and when we could get it, The Bash Street Kids one. They weren’t the only ones to read them either! I still have a soft spot for Minnie the Minx in particular. For anyone who might not know, The Beano is veritable institution amongst comics and again produced by D.C. Thomson and again going back decades. I think I’m right in saying it is well over 50 years old.

I’ve got no time for snobbery around comics, comic books, annuals etc. The important point here is they do get people reading (and the hope is of course they go on to read books with a higher text content later. My family did. What matters is getting that love of reading to develop and annuals and comics can be a great place to start).

I still like comics like The Beano. The world they take you into generally makes you laugh. And I count comics as much a part of the reading life as books.

Alternative Twitter image

 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Balancing Fiction and Non-Fiction

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.

More publication news this week and Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, chats to me on her blog. More below.

Storytelling shows us so much about ourselves

Facebook – General

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday where I’ll be chatting about Youtube for Authors. I’ll share how I use Youtube and why I am finding it useful, creative, and great fun. Going down this route was not something I anticipated doing even three years ago.

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on the first of the month so if would like to sign up please head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com (landing page) – and a big welcome to those already aboard. You receive a welcome email on sign-up along with a link to a giveaway where I share flash fiction stories, a brief piece about flash fiction, amongst other things.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Hope you have had a good day. Thunder coming in here. Lady okay with it, especially now we’re back at home, but I cannot think of an odder July, weather wise. Glad the weather is supposed to get better from tomorrow but I am not holding my breath!

Glad to say I will be giving a couple of Zoom talks later on in the month so am getting ready for those.

Looking forward to going back to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Will be wonderful to catch up in person with lovely friends I’ve not seen for two years, though am deeply saddened by news of those Swanwickers lost since we last met. The support from other writers here is amazing. It will be nice to be out and about on the train again too (and yes, I have renewed my railcard. I renewed it last year not long before the first lockdown…oops!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on my No More Miss Mousy story which is up on #FridayFlashFiction. Great feedback – much appreciated.

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. I’ll be talking about YouTube for Authors and the idea came from Part 2 of my interview with #HelenMatthews shared here on Friday.

Do you schedule your writing over the course of a week? I have a rough outline of what I want to see done by the end of the week but I can adjust this (and do) as and when the need arises. Friday of course is always CFT day, Sundays are usually when I prepare a flash tale to put up on YouTube and submit something to #FridayFlashFiction. For the rest of the week, I like to write a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and if I manage to do that, I feel it has been a week well spent.

Screenshot 2021-07-09 at 18-40-02 No More Miss Mousy, by Allison Symes


Two posts today as lots to share. I’ll start by saying a huge thanks to the lovely #ValPenny for hosting me once again on her website. Back in March I was talking about my writing journey and today’s post is an update. A lot has happened since March, mainly involving Zoom.

Am also looking forward to catching up with Val in person when we get back to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School later on in the summer. (I know – summer, she says laughingly but officially it is summer anyway). Will there be enough prosecco to go around I wonder… I’m sure we’ll manage!

Screenshot 2021-07-13 at 20-12-36 Zooming Around by Allison Symes


Secondly, I am delighted to say the July 2021 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now up on Amazon. I talk about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing. I am their flasher queen after all! Hope you enjoy the magazine. It has a lovely combination of features. Best of all it is free – what’s not to like about that?

Screenshot 2021-07-10 at 16-53-46 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021 eBook Publishing, Goylake, Howe, Hannah , Smith,[...]

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I cover a wide range of emotions in my flash tales and I hope that range shows the depths flash can reach, even with its limited word count. I believe the limitation on word count encourages creativity rather than stifles it because I have to think of better ways of getting something across to a reader to make the most of whatever word count I have chosen to write to for that story. My usual word count range is between 100 and 500 for the shorter pieces and 500 to about 750 for the longer ones. I do write right up to the 1000 words maximum allowed but don’t do this often. The fun for me with flash is keeping the story as short as I can while still having the maximum impact on a reader.


I always enjoy preparing my videos on YouTube but this one gave me extra enjoyment and I hope it does for you too. My favourite form of writing is what I call fairytales with bite which are often humorous and/or come with a twist in the tale.

Hope you enjoy Getting The Workmen In.


E = Editing is something writing flash fiction has taught me not to fear.
D = Driving me on to make my flash story as perfect as I can make it at the time.
I = Imagination comes into play even here as I work out how to show a reader what they need to see in as few words as possible.
T = Time – allow plenty of it for this, a good edit is not something to be rushed even in a 100-word story.
I = Instincts will kick in as you realise over time what your wasted words are and you start spotting your repetitions quicker – you know to cut these immediately and will get better at doing so.
N = Naming your weaknesses helps you to spot them and overcome them – I have to watch myself for my wasted words and unnecessary punctuation (am a sucker for brackets – see!).
G = Great editing will strengthen your story and help your flash writing have more “oomph” to it which will go down well with readers.


It is a joy to be talking about flash again in the July 2021 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads. I set the theme for flash stories for them and write a post around the topic I’ve chosen. Do check the magazine out. It is free and there is a wide range of lovely articles in there.

This time I’m talking about patience. It has taken me time to learn different techniques for writing flash. Also I can get my characters to show just how patient or otherwise they are so it is a good open topic. And I like those – it means stories can be taken in any one of several different directions and I love the freedom of choice there.

And I’m getting to wave the flag for flash fiction. Am always glad to do that!

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Balancing Fiction and Non-Fiction

I like to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction though I suspect my reading “see-saw” is tilted more to the fiction side of things. I am reading more non-fiction than I ever have and hope to keep doing this, especially as I am now writing more non-fiction than before too.

My non-fiction reading side is tilted towards history where I’ve always had an interest and I’ve loved many of the Ben Macintyre books. I love the development where non-fiction is using some of the techinques used in fiction writing to grab the reader.

Gone are the days are boring old big reference books. In are non-fiction books which have speed and pace and make you wonder what will happen next. I hope that development encourages more people to read more non-fiction. I know it has worked for me!

Alternative Twitter image

 

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Stories, Audio Books, Reviews, and Unexpected Publication News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope you enjoyed the weekend. I share two new stories below and publication news (which came about unexpectedly – see below for more. I don’t usually have unexpected publication news!).

The Writing Journey

Facebook – General

Pleased to share my blog for Authors Electric for this month. This time, I talk about the joy of audio books. What are your favourites? Do you “save” audio books for specific occasions? I listen to most of mine on long journeys (so now we can hopefully start getting out and about again, I can resume this particular pleasure!). Highly recommend the Terry Pratchett Discworld audio books read by Sir Tony Robinson. I adore those.

A right old mix of sunshine and heavy showers today. Still doesn’t feel like May. Am beginning to wonder if it ever will do! But I do know the thing to hopefully cheer us up a bit.

The Week That Was is my latest CafeLit story. I hope you’ll find it to be a lighthearted start to the week. (And lighthearted is always a good way to finish off a Monday, I find). Oh and if you pop over to my From Light to Dark and Back Again page in a moment or two, there’ll be another story for you there. It is story time! See below for that!

Screenshot_2021-05-17 The Week That Was

PS. Also looking forward to giving my flash fiction talk to the Byre Writers on 31st July. Many thanks for the invite, folks!

Screenshot_2021-05-17 (7) The Byre Writers Facebook(1)Screenshot_2021-05-17 (7) The Byre Writers Facebook

 

The heavens truly opened in soggy Hampshire today! It still doesn’t feel like May but maybe we’re moving on from it feeling like March to it feeling like April with unexpected showers etc. I guess it’s progress of a kind!

Glad to say I will have a new story up on CafeLit tomorrow which is one of my lighter tales. Looking forward to sharing that – hopefully it will prove to be an amusing start to a new working week. See above!

My Chandler’s Ford Today post later in the week will be on Reflections where I discuss reflection and the creative life. I’ll also have an Authors Electric post to share this week so plenty going on with the blogging side of my writing. See above for AE blog. Looking forward to sharing CFT on Friday.

And there is always the flash fiction to write… talking of which it’s time to be off and get on with some!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Unexpected Publication News!

In one of those odd turn of events which happen sometimes, I am pleased to announce my story, Next Time, Maybe will be in the Bridge House Publishing anthology later this year after all. Will share more news about Resolutions (the anthology title) nearer the time.

Lovely to see more comments come in on #FridayFlashFiction for my story Got You! It’s the first time I’ve been inspired to write a flash or other piece thanks to a cartoon on Facebook. Just goes to show, I think, that inspiration and ideas can come from almost anywhere. It is working out the strongest ideas, the ones most likely to work that can be tricky.

Screenshot_2021-05-18 Got You by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


Just to flag up there is currently an offer on Amazon for the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic for more details.

Hoped you enjoyed the CafeLit story shared on my author page yesterday (The Week That Was) (see above) and the story video here (Mistakes). (See below). Good to start the week with stories!

Flash is great to read out loud at events, easy to share on Zoom talks and the like, and can be easily shared on social media as part of an overall marketing plan. But having to invent loads of different characters is for me the most fun thing about writing flash and keeps me on my toes and out of mischief.

 


Pleased to share my latest story video with you. This one is Mistakes (and haven’t we all had several of those!). Hope you enjoy this one (oh and let this one be a warning to never get on the wrong side of a librarian).

PS. If you pop over to my author page on Facebook (Allison Symes), you’ll see another story from me – this time it’s my latest on CafeLit. Monday is story time day! Hope you enjoy The Week That Was. See above.

BookBrushImage-2021-4-13-19-4935
Flash fiction writing has shown me how to focus on what is important to a character, given there can often be more than one interesting thread to follow here. (Not a problem. You end up with two or three linked flash fiction stories using the same character or accept you probably would be writing up to the 1000 word count limit).

Learning to focus is an essential skill for whatever kind of writing you do. That, and not being afraid of editing any more, are two of the biggest things flash fiction writing has done for me.

Oh and a huge thank you for the wonderful comments on my story Got You! which appeared on #FridayFlashFiction this week. It is lovely getting feedback like this and so, so helpful. (Just in case you missed the tale you can see it here at https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/got-you-by-allison-symes). Link also shared above but, as well as plugging my stories, I am all for plugging sites like Friday Flash Fiction and CafeLit! They give authors a voice…

Choices



Glad to say I’ll be giving another author talk on flash fiction in July. Looking forward to that. I love discussing flash and what it has done for me as a writer. As well as the collections being out, flash fiction has taught me so much about showing and not telling. I’m also not afraid of editing any more. All of that is useful no matter what you write.

And Zoom of course has made these kind of talks easier to do. Hard to imagine life without it now. I often read examples of my works when giving a talk (as it is one of the best ways of demonstrating what flash fiction is) so I am getting some practice in for Open Mic Nights too!

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Reviews

Do you find book reviews useful?

Now, hands up time, as a writer, I obviously do. Reviews are a great way to get feedback on your work (even if sometimes it is not the feedback you really want – but there it pays to remember not everyone will like what you do anyway and that’s fine. Tastes are subjective after all).

Also I can flag up the reviews I have had as part of my overall marketing strategy.

BUT the review, whether it is long or short, HAS to tell me what the reader liked/disliked. Just leaving a star rating doesn’t tell the author much. The review also has to be honest and to give a reader a flavour of the book in question without giving out spoilers.

A review like that is far more likely to make me try out a new book and author than anything else. (I am guided by reviews for other things too incidentally. Usually there is a consensus of opinion and that can tell you a great deal).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter CornerTwitter icon

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js