Quite a mix tonight I think! Hope you enjoy!
Facebook – and Chandler’s Ford Today
My CFT post is a review of the Chameleons’ recent panto production of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves.
The show was wonderful and this particular post was great fun to write. I’ve written it in a different format to the way I usually write reviews and think this worked well on a fun topic. Loved writing it. Hope you enjoy reading it. It gives a good flavour! (Oh and the dame’s hair really does have to be seen to be believed but that’s the way it’s meant to be with panto – oh yes it is!).
Images Credit: A very big thank you to Stuart Wineberg, Lionel Elliott and the Chameleons for kind permission to use the photos below and in my CFT post. I have a lot of fun writing captions for these but see the CFT post for these!
Looking forward to sharing my review of the Chameleons’ production of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves tomorrow. Does panto bring out my inner kid? You bet it does!
What can be interesting on productions like this is seeing how true the script stays to the original story – or not as the case may be. Most adaptations are understandable. Many of the fairytales are too grim (pun intended!) to put on as originally written.
Am delighted to share a bonus CFT post tonight. Children’s writer, Anne Wan, and illustrator, Sally Goodden, are holding a story and crafts event at Chandler’s Ford Library this Saturday.
The theme is based on Anne’s latest book, Manners Fit For the Queen.
I’ve talked about the importance of children’s fiction on CFT before but picture books, such as Manners Fit For the Queen, play such a crucial role in encouraging youngster to read.
Hope everyone has a fab time at the event on Saturday.
Book cover image kindly supplied by Anne but drawn by Sally!
Well, one good thing about the cold weather is it encourages staying in and reading/writing a good book!
I don’t use the weather as a setting in stories (as it reminds me too much of the infamous opening “It was a dark and stormy night”, which has become a parody). I think you could use weather as a way of showing/reflecting your character’s mood though. For example, “Despite the warm temperatures and clear skies, Herbert’s mood was anything but sunny”. That could make a good opening to a story.
Also, I guess I want to be getting on with finding out what the characters are doing and saying. Weather? I don’t think I really need to know that unless it IS going to affect the story in some way. By that point, I want to be so gripped by the characters, that I pick up the detail about the weather without being irritated by it.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Plan to catch up with some flash fiction writing over the weekend. Hard to believe it’s two years since FLTDBA came out. Where has the time gone?!
What I love about flash fiction is when I am particularly busy I can jot down some one-liners that can stand alone or that I can work on later and develop into longer pieces.
A good challenge can be to write yourself a line and then use it for one story as the opening line and for another as the closing one. Give it a go and see what you come up with. Ideally pick different moods for these pieces as well. Above all, have fun with your writing. I fervently believe that when a writer is enjoying what they’re writing, some of that sense of enjoyment comes through and the reader picks up on it. Also if you don’t enjoy what you write, why would anyone else?!
I’ve experimented with linked flash fiction in the book I’m currently writing. I hope to write more too. The main criteria is that the character and situation has to be strong enough to sustain two or more stories.
The first set I wrote came about due to the way I’d ended a story and I realised from that ending, there was potential to exploit in a second tale, so I duly did!
Also there should be a natural sense of following on for all of the stories in the link to work. You’ve set the characters and setting up so well, your readers feel at home dipping into that world again.
Image Credit: Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for the picture of me reading at the December 2018 Bridge House Publishing celebration event. Huge fun!
I talked on my author FB page about using weather in stories. Tying in with that, with flash fiction and the limited word count, weather is best used as a kind of code to represent something or as a metaphor. You don’t have the room to do much else but the great thing with that is you can’t give lots of description that people skim over.
What do I mean by code/metaphor? Best thing I think here are some examples.
1. Heather’s mind was as clear as a pea-souper.
2. Alan didn’t need the downpour to make him feel miserable.
3. Kathy’s hair shone as if she’d washed it in liquid sunshine.
All three of those should conjure up images in your mind as to what mood the characters are likely to be in and what kind of people they’re likely to be. I think it fair to say that Heather is unlikely to win Mastermind with a foggy brain! Kathy – well, she could be vain and, even if not, is her attitude to life as sunny as her hair? As for Alan, you get a real sense of the type of character he is – he can clearly feel miserable all by himself.
Association of Christian Writers – More than Writers – Impact
Do you wonder what impact your writing has on others?
I mostly consider impact from the other side. That is I know my theme, what impact I’d like my piece to have and focus on selecting words I think will best achieve that.
What is lovely is when readers give you feedback and you can judge if the impact you thought your piece would have did so. If you wonder about commenting on a post but don’t, think again! Comments are noted.
Even negative feedback can be useful if you use it to gauge whether your critic missed the point of what you were trying to say or you didn’t make the impact you thought.
How do you create impact? Look for the strongest words for description. No “he wore grey” here. Go for “his suit was the same colour as my cheapest cutlery”. You use a few more words but the imagery, and resulting impact, is more powerful. I don’t need to say the guy here is unlikely to be getting his suits from Savile Row. That is implied by “cheapest”.
In thinking about impact ahead of writing a piece, you’re also trying to engage with potential readers from the outset. This is great because you’ll be less likely to go off at tangents which add nothing to your piece. (It is easily done!). That saves editing time! I must always cut so anything helping me edit more efficiently is welcomed!
For bloggers, feedback doesn’t always come when you think it will. Sometimes it won’t come at all! But that doesn’t mean your words lack impact. All it means is you don’t know about it. Frustrating though that is, if you enjoy blogging, carry on for that reason alone. I’ve also found as I blog, ideas for posts (and sometimes stories) pop into mind. By writing you are feeding your creative spirit.
Look at why you want your piece to have the impact you’ve chosen. Are those reasons good enough? Do they match the brief of your story competition or article theme the editor has called for?
Naturally we want the impact of our work on an editor to be “Wow! Got to take that.”. It is a question of accepting the need to polish your work and knowing sometimes the piece will make the cut. Sometimes it won’t but there’s nothing to stop you revisiting that piece and submitting it elsewhere assuming your topic or story is relevant to the market in mind.
Think about impact on you as a writer. If rejections are getting you down (and they do for everyone), harness the support of writer friends. This is where they come into their own. In time, they’ll appreciate your support during their difficult periods.
Every writer has their share of turn downs. They don’t necessarily stop when you are published.
We rightly talk about the writing life as a journey. Let’s make its impact on us and those around us as positive as possible.
Fairytales with Bite – The Right Ingredients
What are the right ingredients for a fairytale?
- There must be a magical element.
- There must be a wrong to put right. (See Cinderella/Snow White etc for the way they’re treated initially and how their stories end).
- There must be plenty of drama. (You know from the outset that Cinderella is never going to keep to the midnight deadline set by her fairy godmother. The drama here is in finding out what will happen when the girl is inevitably late!).
- The ending must be appropriate for the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean a happy one – see The Little Mermaid as Hans Christen Andersen wrote it! Also while Snow White had a happy ending, her stepmother rightly didn’t! (Perspective is important too).
What are the right ingredients for a writer?
- A willingness to put in the work – to write, rewrite, rewrite again etc until the story is right.
- Accepting the fact rejections happen and trying to learn from them and then move on.
- Always seeking to improve what you do.
- Reading widely and across genres to feed your own imagination. It does need feeding. Often and lots!
This World and Others – Knowing When Your Character Portrayal Is Right
Can you ever know for sure when the character portrayal is right for your story? I think so!
Firstly, your characters need to ring true to themselves. If they’re greedy, are you showing them being that in different ways? They need to be characters that could be people we know.
Secondly, your characters should have flaws and virtues and good reasons for acting the way they are. Do they try to hide their faults or are they unremittingly unashamed of them (the I Am What I Am syndrome!). However you portray your characters here, be consistent unless redemption/change is the point of story as it is in A Christmas Carol. You still need to show your character “waking up” to the need to change. One sudden change of heart will not convince readers. Scrooge needed to be visited by all three ghosts to realise the error of his ways after all.
Thirdly, if your characters have different educational standards (and this is highly likely), are you showing the right level of education for the characters? This will show through in how they speak, the kind of vocabulary they use and so on.
Fourthly, can you hear your characters speaking? Do they seem real to you? The first reader you have to convince is you!