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.

FAVOURITE STORIES, FLASH FICTION AND FURRY FRIENDS

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all images are either from Pixabay or taken by me.

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My favourite kind of story usually involves a villain getting their comeuppance. This covers everything from episodes of Columbo (great series!) to fairy tales to most fiction genres. I suppose this is because we all know so often justice is NOT done in life so perhaps we look to fiction to “compensate”.

I’m not into gruesome revenge tales (I think the danger with those is if you overdo it, you end up feeling some sympathy for the villain), but I do love poetic justice stories (and have written a few in From Light to Dark and Back Again),

The other reason is when the villain hasn’t got away with whatever evil scheme he/she devised, the story comes to what feels like a natural conclusion. Generally, there is no need to go beyond that point. And I like stories which are complete in themselves – an intriguing opening, an engrossing middle and a satisfying ending. I don’t want “beyond that”.

So what is your favourite kind of story and why?  (Image Credit:  Most below are by Pixabay.  The one of my books is by me).

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be a look back at last weekend’s Book Fair. While I can’t name all the authors taking part (there were LOADS!), I can share several pictures to give a good idea of how things were. I very much hope this will be the start of many such events.

Sadly we lost our independent bookshop some time ago so the Book Fair and other events like it can help plug the gap a little. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic library and one of their staff, the great Jane, came out to support the event too with their information stand. More details tomorrow. But we definitely need more of this kind of event!

At the weekend something special will happen. My family and I have made it our role in life to rescue lady collies down on their luck and regardless of age. Well on Saturday we will be bringing Lady home. Our third rescue dog, our third dog with a name we like so we won’t be changing it, so we still haven’t named any dogs we own!

And up in our front room? Two photo portraits of our Gracie and Mabel, much missed and always loved. We used the images below (on the first picture) and are really pleased with how the portraits turned out. The odd thing is it was about a month between Gracie and Mabel and it will be the same again with Mabel and Lady. Not planned on our part. Just a question of the right dog, the right time, the right place.

(Oh yes and with our innate sense of timing, of course we’re bringing Lady home on Bonfire Weekend. Still, this is the family that had their central heating installed in the middle of a very cold November so we have formhere!).. Pics of Lady to follow, I hope, at the weekend.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

Gracie, my first dog, is on the left.  Mabel is on the right.  Both lovely dogs.  Image taken by me.

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What can you do with flash fiction that it would be difficult to do with longer forms of longer writing?

1. Use flash to convey a strong but short idea that genuinely wouldn’t run to a short story or beyond.

2. Use flash to hone your editing skills. Every word counts here and you know your finished piece has to be at least under 1000 words. With short story competitions, while a lot ask for 1500 to 2000 words, there are many who welcome longer short stories. With flash, you have a definite fixed overall limit.

3, You can come up with any character in any setting or genre because the tight word count means you have no room for description (much) or narrative that doesn’t advance the story. I find it much easier to have my stories character led and it is huge fun finding out where THEY take me!

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When I interview writers for Chandler’s Ford Today, I always ask for their three top tips. Naturally, there is some crossover on ideas here. What’s really interesting is the priority the authors give to those ideas. So what would be MY three top tips for writing flash fiction?

1. Focus on the character. It really is their story. There’s no room for much in the way of description so you need to show what THEY are like by what they say, their attitude to others etc.

2. Only have a couple of characters at most in in a piece. The limited word count almost dictates this, You can have them refer to other characters “off stage” though.

3. Have fun. Set your characters in any era, any world, any genre.

Bonus tip: There are many sub-divisions within flash fiction. I like the 100-word tales but I do write the 250, the 500, the 750 variety of flash tale as well. It is a question of ensuring your story is the correct flash length for the story. Not all will suit the very short (100 or less) forms. Sometimes you do need 500 words! (Besides it is fun to mix it all up a bit!).

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I believe all writers, regardless of their usual genre, would benefit from writing flash fiction from time to time. Why?

Firstly, writing flash fiction really hones up your editing skills. You can kiss goodbye to weak word choices.

In a form where every word has to earn its place in your story, you do learn to select the strongest words possible. No more of the “He made his way quickly up the hill”. It will be “He raced up the hill”.

The image is so much stronger in the second version (yes, you could use “ran”, but I think “raced” is superior. To me it shows more effort being expended).

Secondly, if you can summarise your story or non-fiction work as a flash fiction piece, well you’ve just written a good basis for your synopsis and/or blurb, which I know most writers dread writing.

Thirdly, you have to have strong, memorable characters. As flash fiction is so short with no room for much narrative, I find the tales must be character led.

Therefore, those characters must stick in a reader’s mind. Developing strong characters like this can help you in writing them for longer fiction works too.

Fourthly, you can set your character in any genre or time with flash fiction. You never know but in doing this, you might find a genre you didn’t know you liked to write in becomes a favourite. That’s exactly what happened to me with flash fiction. I gave it a go and quickly became hooked!

Good luck if you do try writing flash fiction and have fun. It is a great form for experimenting with and that is one of the joys of writing overall: to discover new ways of story or genre you want to explore further.

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