Summer Reports/Flash Fiction Tips

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Writing my CFT post this week about Summer Reports brought back many memories. I can report that when I left school, they then went and closed it! Hmm…

Also, do you remember having to put your chair on your desk as the picture shows? (As ever most of the images in this post are from Pixabay, captions on the CFT post). (And yes I do remember the days of school milk. It was either horribly luke warm or ice cold and not in a good way).

Summer is a good time to take stock as there is still enough time left in the year to set a few goals and have a good attempt at achieving them. And that doesn’t just apply to writers either.

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Am finding the muggy weather a bit of a trial as is Lady. Doesn’t slow the writing down, though it DOES slow me down! This is where I’m glad writing is not a sport in any way, shape or form! Currently at desk with French window open, listening to classical music. Bliss!

I used to write in total silence, then I moved to music (pop and rock) but found the mood of the songs could affect what I wrote (which was fine when I wanted that and a pain when not).

I don’t know quite what it is about classical but it doesn’t have that effect. It just soothes me and once in a relaxed state of mind, off I go and write and drop my characters into some enjoyable mayhem. (Well, enjoyable to me that is. Definitely not for them but they’re not meant to enjoy it! Nobody said the life of a character in a story had to be easy, far from it. Where is the drama in that?!).

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My CFT post this week will be Summer Reports. I look back at my school reports (they closed my school after I left – am not kidding!), suggest what a good report should do, and give a writing report on myself too. (That alone should tell you I think it’s been a good year!). Link up on Friday.

I will add now though that a good report, as well as writing successes, should always spur you on to greater efforts!

So happy writing and good luck for future endeavours!

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

How about an A to Z of flash fiction writing tips? I’ll be holding my breath seeing what I come up with for Q as well but here goes…

A – Alliteration in your titles can make them memorable. (Examples from me are Telling the Time and The Truth, though I haven’t consciously singled out the letter T for alliteration usage, honest!).

B – Backstory. Not a lot of room for this in flash fiction but what you can do is hint at it and leave readers to fill in the rest.

C – Characters. Couldn’t really be anything else. Characters drive the story, regardless of its length. It will be the characters readers remember and either love or love to loathe.

D – Dialogue. Again not a lot of room in flash fiction so keep it to the point. For any story dialogue has to earn its place by moving the story on or revealing information the reader needs to know (and it can be both). This is even more important in flash fiction.

E – Episodes. Yes, you can write linked flash fiction where either one character features in more than one story or they are referred to in another tale. I didn’t do this in From Light to Dark and Back Again but have played with this in my third flash fiction collection (currently in draft form) and it is good fun.

More next time…

Advantages to writing one line stories:-

1. They can be expanded later for a longer flash fiction story/standard short story (1500 words+).

2. Easy to share on a FB post or on Twitter!

3. Great practice in honing your editing skills.

4. They’re the ultimate proof, I think, people DO have time to read. Come on, how many people really can’t spare the time to read one line?

5. They can make a great introduction to the wider ranges of flash fiction formats.

6. They can “break up” longer flash stories in a collection. I like a mixture of word count flash stories in a book (no surprises there, I know!).

7. Playing with words is fun and coming up with different styles of stories keeps you on your toes as a writer. That includes varying your word count ranges. Varying your word count ranges will increase the number of competitions/markets you can try.

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Top tips for flash fiction writers:-

1. Read plenty of flash fiction yourself. You’ll get a feel for what you like and dislike and you see what is already out there. Where can your work fit in?

2. Engage with other flash fiction writers at writing conferences etc. No one person knows all the markets and competitions out there (and new ones spring up which may well be worth investigating).

3. It is lovely when YOU can pass the word on about a useful market/competition. What goes around does come around. I can’t stress enough that supporting other writers is not only a kind thing to do, it is a hugely sensible one. Partly because as mentioned in 2 above, others can tell you things you didn’t know (including on the scams that happen – it pays to be aware), which may help your own career but mainly because writing is a lonely profession. When all that seems to come in are rejections, you will be glad of the support of other writers who know exactly that this is like.

4. Experiment across the word count ranges and see what suits you best. You may find your niche at 250, 50, 1000, or pretty much in between.

5. Do send work into competitions regularly. It helps you hone your skills. As an aside to this, read winning entries, especially when accompanied by judge’s comments as you can learn so much from those.

6. Write, write, write. Edit, edit, edit!

Fairytales with Bite –

Ten Things I look for in a Good Story

I suspect there won’t be any great surprises here but each one should be a challenge to all of us to ensure we keep doing these!

  1. Characters I love or love to loathe. They’ve got to be memorable.

  2. Situations which are critical for the characters. They’ve got to strive for something important.

  3. A setting I would love to visit! (Anyone fancy a trip to The Shire in The Lord of  the Rings? Mordor, I’d be happy to miss!).

  4. Great pace.  Absolutely no boring bits!

  5. It’s a story I’d be happy to re-read at any time and enjoy it all over again.

  6. Humour, where apt for the story and the characters. I have a very soft spot for irony.

  7. Tragedy, when necessary as it often is, not to be overdone. (I think tragedy has much more of an impact when it does not become melodrama).

  8. Snappy dialogue.

  9. Catchphrases I can remember – and enjoy doing so.

  10. The story shows me something of the human condition which I’d either not considered before or reaffirms something. Funny stories can do this surprisingly well.

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This World and Others – Summer Reports

I look at Summer Reports in my CFT post this week and discuss, amongst other things, what a good report should do, irrespective of whether someone is academic or not. I also give a summer writing update for me!

But from a writing viewpoint, what reports could you write, for whom, and how could they help you?

1.  Character Reports
I use Scrivener and in their story template they have outlines for characters (and settings) which you can fill in with as much or little detail as you want.  You can of course create your own, but I have found these enormously useful in working out what my characters are really made of and, therefore, I write them with more conviction. I hope they come across that way too! So writing a report on  your characters can help you discover things about them, help you give depth to how you portray them and so on.

2. Report on your Story
I find it useful as part of the editing process to look at the story as if I hadn’t written it and was discovering it for the first time as a reader would. I look at what my overall impressions are, what I think worked well and, as importantly, what didn’t! The crucial thing is to be totally honest here, otherwise this idea won’t do anything for you.

Sometimes my “report” here is just a series of notes such as Character A comes across well, they’ve got great humour, but where do their flaws come in? Is Character A too perfect? Once you’ve made notes like this, put the story and the notes aside for a while. Re-read the story after a week. Look at your notes and see if you still think the same.

If you have trusted beta readers available, this is where they could be invaluable but total honesty about what works and what doesn’t is key here. Keep in mind you want to produce a story that is as good as you can make it. If several people tell you something doesn’t work, take this seriously. If one says that, then it could just be opinion and you will then need to decide if it has weight or not.

So reports then are useful to a writer but honesty is key. I can’t stress that enough.

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