WHAT IS A GOOD STORY?

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In What is a Good Story? I list five pointers as to what every good story should have, regardless of genre, format or length.  I include strong characters, plot and a powerful opening amongst others.  Do you agree with my thoughts?  Is there anything I’ve left out?  Comments welcome…

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

One Line Stories shares some one-liners.  I love this kind of writing exercise.  I tend to use one-liners like this to start me off for flash fiction work.  (Occasionally I use the one-liners to end the story with).  But there’s no reason why these one-liners can’t be taken and worked into much longer tales.  Good luck and have fun with these (I intend to at some point!).

ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN WRITERS – MORE THAN WRITERS

More than Writers is the blog for the Association of Christian Writers.  I blog on the 29th of each month and April’s post from me is about my favourite Easter characters, Thomas and Peter.

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY/FACEBOOK PAGE (GENERAL)

My topic for the Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Great ThemesI take two approaches to themes for stories.  I do sometimes deliberately write to a theme.  Other times I focus on the character and what they come up with and the theme emerges from that.  I discuss themes for both stories and music and have the great joy of sharing some of my favourite songs here.  Everyone from Dave Edmunds to Maria Callas is included in this one!

FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Firstly, I hope to have news of a book signing soon.

Secondly, I shared both my CFT post and my Fairytales With Bite posts on here as the topics of themes and what makes a good story I thought were appropriate for my book’s Facebook page too.

Thirdly, I can’t resist sharing the trailer again!  Many thanks to all at Chapeltown Books for producing it.  Think it looks and sounds fabulous.

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FLTDBA ACW Bookshop Image

 

 

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WHAT MAKES A GOOD WRITER?

Now here is one of those questions that will never date!

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In What Makes a Good Writer?  I share my thoughts on the issue.  Amongst other things, I cite the importance of not giving up.  A good writer will know their characters “inside out”.  When you read a piece by them, you are left with the feeling that nothing else could have been added.  I also strongly suspect any such piece of writing will have gone through multiple edits.  I do know that if anything looks easy, whoever is behind that anything will have worked extremely hard to get to that point!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Developing the Vision looks at whether it is more important to see your characters or whether hearing their voice is better.  I always hear my major characters speak and I then work out what they look like.  I like hearing the characters – I can gauge their attitude to life and I think that is far more vital than knowing immediately what their appearance is.  That tends to be one of the last aspects I “fill in”.

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A short post tonight looking at how characters can inspire a story.

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I look at outlining and discuss why I do this now, when I never used to.  I stress the advantages and, yes, I’ve outlined for flash fiction too!

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Fill that blank sheet with ideas from non-fiction as well as other fiction works - image via Pixabay

Never give up, work hard, be disciplined... all valuable traits for success, whether you're a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.

LIVING IN A MAGICAL WORLD – THE ADVANTAGES

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Living in a Magical World – The Advantages shares some reasons why being in a magical environment can be a good thing.  You can genuinely get to work for the fairy government and destroy things magically and get paid for doing so.  Why?  To improve spell efficiency!  And if you ever wanted to be able to talk to animals and they to you, the magical world is the place to be.  Just be prepared for them to have better conversation than you might have though!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Facing Something New looks at how easy (or otherwise) your characters and you too as a writer find this.  I know I find it helpful to have a writing routine, for example, but there are times I have to change it due to life events and so on.  This used to flummox me but it doesn’t now.  I accept it as one of those things and I will always resume my writing routine when I can.  But how well do your characters take to having to do something new?

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An age old writing question tonight – which is the most important, character or plot?  See if you agree with my thoughts.  Comments welcome.

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FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

I was interviewed last year by fellow writer and friend, Jacci Gooding.  One question I thought would be good to share on this page was “how do you think you’ve evolved creatively?”  Fantastic question and great to answer.  See my thoughts on the topic.  (And how do you think you’ve evolved creatively?!).

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The wonderful world of stories... Image via Pixabay.

The wonderful world of stories… Image via Pixabay.

 

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

LIVING IN A MAGICAL WORLD – FURTHER LAWS

Same theme for both websites tonight.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Living in a Magical World – Further Laws, I share, amongst other things, my Fairy Kingdom’s rules on servicing magical equipment, in-house competitions, and not magically out-performing the monarch.  The latter carries a death wish.  It is highly unlikely that said monarch would take this kind of thing well – and if there was one thing the magical royals are good at, it is removing those who are any kind of threat to them!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Living in a Magical World on This World and Others looks at why you should never curse the fairy government (they repay the compliment and with a lot of interest added to it!  They’re not ones for taking criticism lightly).  There is guidance as to the proper use of magical equipment and the golden rule of not inflicting magic on others unless you are happy to risk them inflicting it back on you!

FACEBOOK PAGE – GENERAL

Short post here tonight so will share in full here.  I talk about what I find easier to write.

I find certain things easier to write than others. I don’t usually have problems writing flash fiction and my CFT posts. I can struggle sometimes with those longer short stories where I’ve got a good idea where I’m heading but it is taking far too long to get to that point!

Outlining what I write, even a brief line for a short flash piece, has helped a lot. It’s given me time away from the initial problem to have thinking time. Nearly always any problems I have with writing are due to not having enough thinking time at the beginning.

FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Here I ask and answer the question “If writing were banned on pain of death for one month. what would you do?”  See my post for my answer but I’d welcome your comments as to what you’d do!

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LIVING IN A MAGICAL WORLD PART 1

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

Welcome to the start of a new mini-series from me – Living in a Magical WorldPart I looks at a wide variety of pointers including the advisability (or otherwise) of showing off, where to buy magical equipment and to always beware of mysterious old ladies turning up, offering you bright red, shiny apples and the like.  For the visitor to the magical world, this information could be a life saver!  More tomorrow…

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

A longer post than normal from me to make up for being absent the last day or so!  Why I Write and What I love and loathe about it, again, is one of my titles that sums up the post.  What do you love and loathe about writing?  Comments welcome…

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY/FACEBOOK PAGE – GENERAL

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is based on a writing exercise I was set at Swanwick Summer Writers’ School last year.  Advice to my 20-Year-Old Self shares what I would tell my younger self if I could.  The first thing I thought of was to lighten up!  What would you tell your younger self?

FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

I’ve shared a couple of posts on here tonight.  One shares my thoughts on reviews.  See what you think.

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In a second post, I share what I most like about writing stories.

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Just a note to say the Kindle version of the book is currently at 99p but the price will be going up soon.  About 50 stories for under £1 – what a bargain!  AND you can have a free taster too as one of my 100 word stories in the book appears in the book trailer.

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WHAT YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

What You Don’t Want to Hear is a post about those moments when, while visiting a magical world, your excellent tour guide suddenly has an expression that tells you something has gone badly wrong.  This includes the revelation that you have inadvertently entered dragon country and they’ve spotted you.  Then there’s the question of having to stay at a creepy house and hope there are no monsters in it OR definitely stay outside where the monsters are known to be!  I love writing fun posts like this and the kind of humour I show in this ties in with the humorous stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again too.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Don’t Give Up is a brief bio of my writing career and how I came to realise how important it is that you really don’t give up!  I’ve written for years, learned a great deal along the way (there really is a point to all those rejection slips, the ones that give feedback are the best) and I confidently expect to get more rejections in the future.  Why?  Firstly, it happens.  Secondly, nobody writes perfect prose.  Thirdly, what appeals to one editor won’t appeal to someone who has just taken over that role perhaps.  (Writers for the magazines will know how true that is – you pitch successfully for years, a new editor comes in and they don’t like your work at all!).

FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

I share an extract from material I prepared for a flash fiction workshop I ran for the Southampton Writers’ Circle earlier this year.  It talks about why write flash fiction at all and I share what I think are the advantages of doing so.

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BOOK NEWS

Glad to report a book trailer is in production for From Light to Dark and Back Again, produced by Chapeltown Books.  I had great fun in choosing the images and picking a track to accompany it.  Chapeltown have been brilliant in putting it all together and selecting the right version of the music I chose.  Works really well and I’m looking forward to sharing it soon.

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Our Prime Minister called a General Election today to be held on 8th June.  I talk a little about this and why I think political leaflets are not fascinating reading material.  (In many ways, they ought to be really but they’re not!).  I reckon they can all be categorised as fiction!

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Flash Fiction can make a bright, brief impact but all the more powerful, I think, for being brief.  Image via Pixabay.

 

 

Where almost all stories spring from these days. Image via Pixabay.

AND THEY ALL LIVED…

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

And They All Lived… discusses the classic fairytale ending and also looks at the importance of ensuring your story has the appropriate ending for it and its starring people.  The best of plots can be let down by weak characters.  Strong characters can end up in a story with “not enough to do” so each story must be strong, its characters must act and react in ways that are rational (if only to the character themselves), and the ending must be appropriate.  Note appropriate, not necessarily happy!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

When Told to Jump looks at how your characters react, especially when put under duress.  The answer to the statement is “how high” if characters want to ingratiate themselves.  Are your characters vulnerable to being pressurized and can their enemies exploit that?

FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

I hope to share news of a book trailer soon!  Meanwhile I have put up another post sharing answers to an imaginary interview.

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Another short post so have copied here.  What do you look for in a good book?

What do I look for in a good book? Generally escapism (given the state the world’s in, escapism is a logical route to go!).

When reading non-fiction I’m looking to learn from it but also I want to be entertained at the same time. The days of being able to get away with just listing facts and figures are, thankfully, long gone. I’ve read examples of well crafted non-fiction which has used story telling tips to improve its readability. It generally works too.

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

FAIRYTALE NEWS HEADLINES

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Fairytale News Headlines, I share some headlines that could appear in the magical world.  I also ask how do your characters handle the media?  (Carefully, perhaps?!).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

In The Press, I share an extract from the press release for my debut flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again (Chapeltown Books).  It sums up the book beautifully.  I then ask what media exists on your fictional world.  Is it free?  If not how do the authorities control it?

FACEBOOK PAGE – BOOK PAGE

One of my posts on here tonight shared one of the things I love about writing for Chandler’s Ford Today.  I get to interview other writers!  But a while ago I thought I should work out some interview responses for myself.  (In the hope, of course, I would get published and interviews etc would start happening.  I am now published and the lovely Jacci Gooding has interviewed me.  I hope to share an extract from that interview soon).  On the link here there is a short piece of questions I would ask myself!

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A short post here so have copied it in full.  Interesting how we need both good and bad in life and in our fiction!

Good news: spring is here, the trees and flowers look fab and I am spotting lots of bees and butterflies. Always love this sort of thing. Bad news: the hayfever has started! But then life is like this.

My favourite type of character is one where flaws and virtues are both apparent. I’ve never liked goody-goody characters much (which is why I found Jo in Little Women easier to identify with than Beth).

Funny, isn’t it, how in fiction, as well as in life, it’s only when you have a balance of “bad” and “good” that something seems realistic!

 

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Books really do provide wonderful escapism.  Image via Pixabay

 

 

 

GETTING ORGANIZED

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Getting Organized, I discuss character types – the planners and the dreamers!  Which of your characters is which?  What happens when the two types must work together to survive?  (I could see plenty of conflict there but they would have to resolve it in able to be able to keep on living.  Could be some good stories here).

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

I discuss New Ventures tonight given Chapeltown Books have set up a Facebook page for From Light to Dark and Back Again.  My new venture is to promote my book!  What new ventures do your characters have to face?  When a new venture is “in the air”, how do your characters react to this?  Do they welcome the challenge or fear the changes that will inevitably come?

FACEBOOK PAGE – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Here is the link to my Book Page on Facebook.  Many thanks to Chapeltown Books for setting this up.

https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes/

FACEBOOK PAGE – GENERAL

Main news tonight is the launch of the Book Page.

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

Where books start…  Image via Pixabay

 

 

 

My debut flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books

TUNNEL VISION

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In Tunnel Vision, I look at the importance of having outside assessment of work.  (You really do need the perspective of the outsider looking in).  I also talk about putting work aside for a while before re-evaluating it.  I mention all of this as something every writer faces is the danger of tunnel vision.  You can be so close to your work you can’t see its faults.  (And it will have some!  None of us write perfect prose after all!).  I also ask about whether your characters suffer from tunnel vision and how this might impact upon their relationships with other characters.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Finding Time is another issue which affects all writers.  Just how do you find the right balance between writing new material, promoting your current book and still seek to develop as a writer?  We need to do all three things to make good progress.  And if you write non-fiction as well as fiction, as I do, your balanced use of time has to ensure you cover both well.  I also ask how your characters manage time and, especially if you write sci-fi or fantasy, does time work in the same way as it does here?

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

Cyberlaunch Lessons looks back at what I learned from the online launch for my debut flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again.  I really hope this post might be useful to other writers thinking of having their own launches.  Talking of the book…

BOOK NEWS

The Kindle version of From Light to Dark and Back Again is currently available for 99p.  There are about 50 stories in the book so a very good rate per story here!

FACEBOOK PAGE

I talk about my CFT post and share further thoughts in the blurb around it.

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Feature Image for CFT Launch Lessons post

The launch was huge fun and I learned a great deal.  The post has some useful pointers.  Cover by Chapeltown Books, ripple image by Pixabay.