Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
I take a look back at the recent Hursley Park Book Fair for this week’s CFT post.
There are many things non-writer friends/family can do to support the writer in their life and one is to go to their events and show some moral support. Trust me, it is appreciated!
The biggest nightmare for all writers is being at an event where nobody turns up.
Helping to distribute flyers etc is also something that will go down well with your writer. (And plentiful supplies of tea/coffee/chocolate etc though in fairness those go down well with practically everyone!).
Managed to get caught in some rain while walking the dog this evening. Came home to find it hadn’t rained here at all. Better half and I had only gone a couple of miles up the road to one of our favourite walks! Talk about localised weather… (it was also ironic that, for once, I had hoped for more rain).
On to writing niggles then….
How to Irritate a Writer Part 10001….. (I may be exaggerating)
1. Tell them you like books but much prefer films. (Grrrr….)
2. Tell them you think books are expensive. (Double Grrrr… – books are relatively cheap when you consider you can read them over and over. A really good book will make you want to have repeat reads. It’s exactly like revisiting an old friend).
3. Tell them you think the paperback is on its way out. (If by this time the writer has refrained from throwing something at you, count your blessings for you have done very well).
4. Ask the writer of How to Irritate a Writer Part 10001 where the other 10000 posts are on the topic!😉
5. Tell them you’ll wait until they hit bestseller status and then you might get a copy of their book. They want to know it is really popular first. The writer by this time is using every inch of self control they’ve got not to grab the nearest bit of 4 x 2 and hit you with it….
6. Tell them you can’t possibly leave a review for them, they’re not well known enough. It is almost certainly a waste of breath telling such like that everyone has to start somewhere and reviews help everybody, no matter where they are on their writing journey.
7. Tell them you think notebooks and pens are outdated. Surely everyone writes to screen these days. The writer by this time is already thinking of the perfect crime story where an irritating “friend” is done to death by an angry author and have already made plans for dumping the body. There may be wistful thoughts as to why they can’t do this for real….
My fellow writers, feel free to add your own thoughts here!
My CFT post this week will be a review of the Hursley Park Book Fair from a couple of weeks ago. Link to go up on Friday.
And to all my fellow authors taking part in festivals etc, hope they all go well.
Am looking forward to Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in mid-August. Always good fun. Lovely to catch up with friends who for the rest of the year I’m in contact with via Facebook etc.
I remember being dreadfully nervous going to my first writing conference years ago (and set on the lovely Isle of Wight – and run by Felicity Fair Thompson. It was great to catch up with her again at the recent Hursley Park Book Fair.). The nerves went when I realised networking was talking about something I absolutely love (writing and, associated with it, reading).
Also it is easy to get a conversation going with a writer – ask them what they’re writing! They in turn should ask you and before you know it, you are chatting away as if you’ve known each other all your lives. And that is how it should be.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
What do you like to see in a good flash fiction story? Some of my thoughts include:-
1. The story has to be the right length. Whether that’s 100, 250, or 500 words, it has got to be appropriate and right to that particular story. You want the reader to feel that nothing else could be added to the story, nor could there be anything taken away.
2. A strong lead character. Without that any flash fiction piece falls flat. The great thing is that strength can come in different forms – physical strength, mental strength etc. How your character shows their inner strength is up to you but it has to be there somewhere. Else why are they the lead?
3. There has to be a good ending (though not necessarily a happy one). The story has to “follow through”. Okay, sometimes that will be a twist ending, sometimes it can be a character coming to a conclusion about what they’ve just done or have been through. But the ending has to be right for all that has come before it.
The big challenge of flash is not so much the word count but having a complete story which has a proper beginning, middle and end in that word count limit. It is too easy to just write “truncated prose” but that does not come across as a proper story and rightly so. It can leave your reader feeling cheated.
At the end of a flash piece, your reader must not be left wondering where the rest of the story is! You want them thinking the story could not have ended any other way. I see flash as short, sharp looks into a character’s life. Look, write down what you see, and stop there.
What do I look for in flash fiction, whether I’m reading or writing it?
I look for a strong character and an ending I don’t see coming but which is entirely appropriate for the story.
I do enjoy playing “guess the ending”, sometimes I’m right, more often I’m not, and I always like that.
This is where I find writing the ending first can be helpful. If I’ve got something that makes a powerful impact which is what I want my readers to finish with, then I’ll work backwards from that point to see how the story could start. I find it a useful technique.
When I brainstorm ideas for new flash fiction, I’ll sometimes come up with something that will make the perfect ending, so leave it at that. I will be looking for what “threads” could come from what I’ve written and if it seems to be linear, then I’ll write the story in the traditional way from start to end.
But it doesn’t always work like that. The threads can sometimes lead away from what I’ve written back to a start point and that’s generally when I know I’ve got something that will make a wonderful ending to the story. I know enough now to NOT force something to be a start when it really isn’t suitable for that.
I also think it a good thing to mix up how I write here. It helps keep things “fresh” for me as a writer, and that will hopefully show through in the stories.
Fairytales with Bite – Fairytale Themes
If you’re looking for themes for your stories, analyse some fairytales and ideas will leap out at you!
After all, what is the theme of Cinderella? Never giving up? Justice will “out” in the end? Whatever you think the theme is, you can use that for your stories.
Themes such as anti-bullying emerge from stories like The Ugly Duckling. (Also beauty is only skin deep and transformation is always possible! Lots of themes from this one).
The lovely thing is that the themes from fairytales are timeless. It is one major reason we still love these old stories. They still resonate. I think they always will. They reflect on our nature. There will always be jealousy (Snow White), a need for sensible building materials (The Three Little Pigs!), and greed (Goldilocks – I always have sympathised with the three bears here). That is to name just a few examples.
And there’s nothing to stop you combining themes either. After all your lead character may have the virtues of, say, Puss in Boots and the villain the qualities of The Big Bad Wolf. Set up the conflict and away you go!
This World and Others – Character Virtues -v- Vices
I thought I’d list a few character virtues and vices to look at how these can be used in storytelling.
Patience doesn’t always come across well in fiction. Much as I love Little Women, I did find the very patient Beth to be a little too much of a goody goody for my tastes. I think patience translates better when it is shown as a character actively trying to seek a goal, is at a point where they need to wait for a very good reason before taking further action, and that they do so. There is a point to the patience then. It is also an “active patience”, an act of will. I find I want to read to find out if they CAN see that patience out and have the reward for doing so.
Impatience, of course, can be shown as a character’s weak point, causing them more problems than they needed to have (which adds to the conflicts and drama of the story). Sometimes impatience can be used more positively in that it can be the trigger for change. Someone is impatient with the lack of education, say, in their village and actively seeks to change that. Again, the impatience at the status quo here can be a good catalyst for the story. There are bound to be those who want the status quo continued. Is there a reason why they don’t want the villagers to be educated?
Calmness I think is easier to show in a story as there are always characters who are needed to calm other characters down and make them see sense. What effect would that have on the tale? If they failed to calm the other one down, what would the consequences be? Keeping calm can be a crucial need in a thriller where that virtue gives the character time to think, time to work out a way of escape etc. (Less likely to think of this if the character is panicking, getting worked up etc).
Anger can be shown as a character’s downfall – their temper alienates anyone who might help them. It can be used to show a character’s sense of justice. (You’ve got to question why anyone wouldn’t be angry at abuse, violence etc). It can also be shown as part of a character’s development. At the start of the story they’re hotheaded, at the end they’ve learned to temper their temper, so to speak.