Reviews and Remembering

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It was a delightful and very moving experience to watch the Chameleons’ production of Blackadder Goes Forth last week. My review for CFT this week shares some wonderful pictures from the set (and many thanks to Stuart Wineberg and the Chameleons for kind permission to use these). The production was a sell out run and I am not at all surprised.

The way the very famous final scene was carried out on stage worked so well too. For more, see the post.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Looking forward to sharing my review of the Chameleons’s most recent production, Blackadder Goes Forth, later in the week. Found a particularly nice Youtube clip to go with it which fits in beautifully. It is always nice to uncover gems to go with posts like that.

Remembering is a fundamental part of being human (which is why Alzheimer’s is the tragedy it is). It should feature in your fiction too. What makes your character the way they are? What do they remember that they fight against or go with? Do they join in with their society’s collective memories or would they be what we would know as a revisionist?

What ceremonies are special on the world you’ve set up and what memories have led to these ceremonies taking place at all? Is everyone expected to join in or is it only for the privileged few?

Funny day today. Saw my sister go off to NZ (holiday and catching up with family). Not been to Heathrow for years. Last time was when our parents went over there. Mum and Dad went over at exactly the right time. It wasn’t long after their return that Alzheimer’s became “openly apparent” in Mum. Had they delayed at all, they would not have been able to go. The decisions we make…

What decisions do your characters make that turn out to be pivotal? They don’t necessarily need to be “obvious”. Something as simple as deciding to take a journey at a particular time as opposed to a later or earlier time could make all the difference to your story outcome but you will need to show why and how. Plenty of possibilities for drama and conflict there (especially if your lead is arguing with others as to the best way and time to go about their “mission”).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve been thinking a lot about journeys today (my sister is off to NZ as I type this), but of course every story is a journey in and of itself, regardless of its length. You have a character, something happens (the moment of crucial change) and then there’s the outcome (not necessarily a happy or good one).

The main difference with flash fiction of course it that this tends to be a short, sharp journey and there’s no hanging around for the outcome!

I sometimes write pieces where a character reflects on their life. My They Don’t Understand is a good example of this. Not an action story as such but one where, hopefully, the characterisation grips you and you have to find out how the character did in the end.

Naturally there has to be something special about the character to get you to keep on reading. Often it is their voice that is compelling. Know how your character would think, act, and therefore speak. It will make a huge difference to how you write them.

I sometimes write pieces where a character reflects on their life. My They Don’t Understand is a good example of this. Not an action story as such but one where, hopefully, the characterisation grips you and you have to find out how the character did in the end.

Naturally there has to be something special about the character to get you to keep on reading. Often it is their voice that is compelling. Know how your character would think, act, and therefore speak. It will make a huge difference to how you write them.

 

Thoughts for starting to write flash fiction:-

1. Pick out or invent a title and see what story ideas can come from that. Ideally try not to go with your first idea, as usually that is a way in to finding deeper, better ones to work with!

2. Know who your lead character is going to be and what their chief characteristic is. Very useful way to get started!

3. Don’t worry about the word count limitations at this stage. Write the story. Edit it. Read it out loud. Edit it again. Then see what its word count length should be. Some stories really do work better at 100 words, others at 500. The great thing is there are markets for both!

4. Keep the idea simple. Don’t try to be too clever. You want the reader to identify with your characters and for the idea to be a plausible one (no matter how fantastic the setting of the story). Being too clever will just tie the story (and you!) up in knots and won’t do anything for a potential reader.

Fairytales with Bite – Character Dialogue

Character dialogue has to sound natural when a reader comes to it, whether they read it aloud or not and whether they read a print or ebook or listen to the story on audio first. Often character dialogue is a “tidied up” version of what we say in life with few hesitations (best used sparingly in writing. It looks gimmicky and is “tiring” to read.).

I’ve found reading work out loud (sometimes recording it and playing it back) is a great way of checking to see if my dialogue is up to scratch. If I stumble over my words, a reader will too as out with the old editing pen again! It is wise to use accented speech sparingly. You want to give a sense of what a character’s accent is. You don’t need to use an accent for each and every word they say. Again, that is tiring to read, especially in a longer work.

You need your characters to speak in different styles so readers can easily tell them apart during “conversational pieces”. Sometimes this can be done by the choice of words a character uses. Sometimes it can be that Character A always speaks in short, sharp sentences, while Character B takes their time in getting to the point!

I love getting my characters to “chat” even if sometimes it is to themselves via their own internal thoughts. This is where you and, later, a reader can find out so much about them.

This World and Others – Packing a Punch With Your Writing

This topic has come about as a direct result of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week, which was a review of the Chameleon Theatre Company’s recent production of Blackadder Goes Forth.  This last series in the Blackadder canon is by far the best of them and with humour and irony conveyed the horror of life in the trenches in World War One.  Blackadder would have been mad NOT to have tried any means possible to get out of there.  The writing is excellent and the tragedy of what happens is beautifully portrayed.  How?

A lot of the writing is understated.  Blackadder’s final “good luck, everyone” is said calmly and without emotion as the men are about to go over the top.  There is a wealth of emotion behind those three words.  Anyone watching knows those men are about to go to their deaths and that they know it too.  So you don’t need lots of words to make a powerful impact on your reader.  There is a lot to be said about quiet courage (as shown by Blackadder funnily enough).  Think about then what impact you want your readers to experience, then look at the best way of achieving that.

Humour can achieve a great deal here as can quiet acceptance of what is about to happen.  Raging against the unfairness of it all can engender some sympathy but I’ve found a better approach is for characters to fight the odds as much as they can and if they lose, it is clear from the story it is NOT because of anything they’ve said or done.  It is for your reader to conclude that it is unfair on the character, rather than have the character do it (as you run the risk that the character may come across as being whinging).

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s