Writing to a Story Prompt

Facebook – General

The Goodreads Author Programme sent me a story prompt idea which was to write a horror story in two sentences. Okay, I’m a flash fiction writer so this is very much up my street!

The link below is to my author dashboard slot. Please do send in questions via Goodreads, I love Q&As like this. I also like the idea of being sent a story prompt like this every so often, so thank you, Goodreads. Great writing exercise.

And my two sentence horror story?

It took three days to get the blood off the walls. It took another five to remove the last drops off the carpets.

I could reduce that to one long sentence, but think it works better as two shorter ones. There is a rhythm to two shorter sentences you simply wouldn’t have if they were joined.

And the story is very much to the point! The image is from Pixabay – it is always good to have plenty of reading material…

Reading - says it all really via Pixabay

Says it all really.  Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The Goodreads Author Programme sent me a story prompt which was to write a horror story in two sentences. (I’ve shared this on my Allison Symes Author Page. I would welcome questions sent in via Goodreads too).

The two-sentence structure is interesting. Just enough to get the story going and then you come to an abrupt halt! The story works fine as it is but I could extend it into a standard length short story, one of my 100-word tales, or anything in between.

This is another advantage of flash, which I’ve used. You can write a flash piece, submit it, hopefully have it published and then take the same idea, expand on it, send it to somewhere that would take longer fiction and hopefully enjoy success with it again.

You would have created two stories, effectively around a common theme/lines, but then gone in different directions with it. The longer version would have more description and maybe more characters than the short piece. (Flash works best with 1 or 2 characters in it and others referred to). Short stories catch a moment in time, flash fiction even more so.

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

 

Advertisements

THERAPEUTIC WRITING AND USING FLASH FICTION TECHNIQUES ELSEWHERE

Facebook – General

Why can writing be therapeutic? I suppose because it takes you into your own invented world and, while you’re focussing on that, it distracts you from other things (even if only for a short time. Sometimes that short distraction can make a huge difference as to how you handle the situation you’re in/worrying about. When it’s a bigger life issue no amount of distraction can solve, by writing for a while you at least take a break).

You are also focussing on your characters’ needs and what is getting in the way of them having these met. One of the best things about fiction writing is the way it can help encourage your own empathy with others because as you work out why your characters are acting in the way they are, that whole process can give you insights as to why “real” people act the way they do.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The most important skill you pick up when writing flash fiction regularly is that of editing, as I’ve mentioned before. The great thing is you can then apply what you learn across the board of whatever it is you write.

What do novelists most dread writing? The synopsis and/or blurb. Writing the book is hard work but easier! You are in control of that after all and every writer at least starts off by writing to please themselves first. Condensing your precious prose into a few well-chosen lines is not easy but taking the approach, you will treat writing your synopsis as if it WAS a piece of flash fiction, can be a way of tackling this task.

Flash stories focus on only those things that really matter and so treating your synopsis, in the same way, is not a bad way to go. Every line of your synopsis must reveal crucial information to your reader, in this case, a potential agent/publisher. It is working out what is the crucial-can’t-do-without-this information that is the really tricky part.

Here I think you need to ask yourself what are the bare bones of your novel? What are the things an agent/publisher MUST know and then leave the rest out? Flash fiction writing will help you cut out the wasted words that don’t move your synopsis onwards. Good luck!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

FLASH FICTION/SHORT STORIES

Facebook – General

Am enjoying reading The Best of Cafelit 6 and looking forward to catching up with some of my fellow contributors at the Bridge House/Cafelit joint celebratory event in December. Nice mix of flash fiction and short stories. All that I’ve read so far conjure up powerful images within their first few words, a sure fire way to keep you reading. Not that I’m biased or anything… 😁😉

What do I like most about the short story (flash or longer)? I suppose it is because they are their own self-contained world. What is nice about a collection of them is you can enjoy visiting many different worlds by different writers and this is particularly good if your reading time is limited. Also, short stories are a fantastic way to try out an author’s work before going on to read their novels etc.

Keeping the short story alive is one of the great things about the independent presses. They want diverse voices. We as writers can let them have that. More short stories get out there. Okay, we still have to do the publicity but we would have to do that with a novel anyway. My own gut feel is that short stories (flash perhaps especially) can be a great way of tempting reluctant readers in so the more short stories there are out there available for people, the better.

Below are images of the books I’ve been published in to date.

20171015_233743.jpg

My stories are in The Best of Cafelit 4, 5 and now 6 and also by Bridge House Publishing (Alternative Renditions). My first collection From Light to Dark and Back Again is published by Chapeltown Books.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

How do I like to start my flash fiction tales? Often it is with a name character carrying out some action, no matter how minor, as that immediately tells you the story is about X. (Also that the action is going to matter too, no matter how minor. Everything means something in flash fiction. There is literally no room for anything that doesn’t contribute to the story in some way).

Sometimes I go straight into my characters’ heads and show their thoughts. That will give the reader an immediate idea as to what this character is like (and from there you can make intelligent guesses as to what they might do/be capable of – for me, a lot of the fun in reading fiction by other writers is seeing if my guesses turn out to be right or not. While I’m always pleased when I guessed correctly, kudos must go to those writers who successfully wrongfoot me!).

My latest published story which is in The Best of Cafelit 6 sets a time and an immediate scene so I take the reader to where I want them to be. It also helps set the mood of the story.

So there are plenty of different ways to start your story but the common link is they are all designed to draw your reader in and keep them with you until they’ve finished reading your tale.

20171015_233541.jpg

My latest published story is in The Best of Cafelit 6.

 

Love the cover for this. Image supplied by Bridge House Publishing.

My last Bridge House story is in here. Naturally I hope there will be many more to come! Image supplied by Bridge House Publishing.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BOOK LAUNCHES AND REALITY OF FAIRYTALES

A nice mix of posts tonight I think!

Facebook/Chandler’s Ford Today

I have to smile. I am being invited to add myself to the “Allison Symes” Team. Err… Facebook, I AM Allison Symes and I AM the team. Me and… well that’s it! Oh well, perhaps this is something I need to aspire to – to have people, other than me, to add on to the said team? This could take some time…

Meanwhile, my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post shares my thoughts on why book launches are important to an author and Anne Wan’s report on her most recent one at Waterstones in Southampton. I suspect most writers, published or not, will identify with this but comments would be welcome via the CFT comments box.

Anne writes the children’s series Secrets of the Snow Globe and has just launched her second book, I had hoped to get to Anne’s launch but couldn’t in the end so this is a bit of a strange post in that I’m sharing a launch I didn’t go to! Anne’s report only made me wish I HAD been able to go (which is a sign of a good launch if ever there was one).

Anne is on the left in the image with her illustrator, Dawn Larder, on the right. Dawn came back from Spain to be at Anne’s launch. Now there’s commitment for you!

Image Credit:  All images in my CFT post tonight were kindly supplied by Anne Wan.

Shooting Star - Feature Image - Anne Wan Book Launch at Waterstones 2017

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve discovered, thanks to the smartphone, there is no such thing as dead time.

I had to take my car into the main dealer today and while I was waiting for the necessary works to be carried out, I was happily writing away on the said phone (I’m becoming used to the stylus now!) and have drafted another story for my follow-up book to FLTDBA.

I didn’t manage to complete the story but I am almost there on it and I know where I’m going with it. (It will be one of my longer flash pieces too). This is where technology comes into its own. I was also pleased to be able to email what I’d written back to myself for an instant back-up. So even time waiting for a garage fix can be put to good use!

Stories can be created and read on just about any modern device - image via Pixabay

Stories can be created on almost any device.  Image via Pixabay

Goodreads Blog

I talk about the joys of non-fiction this week.

Much as I love reading a wide range of fiction, I must admit it has been my tastes in non-fiction that have expanded in recent years.I am reading more history now than before and loving it. Ironically perhaps, reading more straight history, so to speak, has made me appreciate historical fiction more.

I am reading more history now than before and loving it. Ironically perhaps, reading more straight history, so to speak, has made me appreciate historical fiction more.I think it makes it easier to see or guess at the depth of research a historical fiction author has to do to be able to set the scenes of their “world” properly and to carry their readers with them. Get one historical detail wrong and that whole world could crash.

I think it makes it easier to see or guess at the depth of research a historical fiction author has to do to be able to set the scenes of their “world” properly and to carry their readers with them. Get one historical detail wrong and that whole world could crash.This is the big advantage of fiction, of course. You can and do totally make it up! But set a story in a known historical setting or with known historical people, then the details must be authentic.

This is the big advantage of fiction, of course. You can and do totally make it up! But set a story in a known historical setting or with known historical people, then the details must be authentic.

I like the fact that non-fiction has been, in recent years, using more of the techniques in fiction to catch readers’ imaginations. Non-fiction should never be a deadly dull list of dates and facts.

Good non-fiction opens up the world it is written about and makes it real to the reader. This is very similar to a fiction writer portraying characters the ready can really identify with. Catching the imagination is vital whatever genre you write in then.

Personal history can often be found in things like old exercise books, which in turn reveal things about political history and how much people knew at the time. Image via Pixabay.

Personal history can often be found in things like old exercise books, which in turn reveal things about political history and how much people knew at the time. Image via Pixabay.

Fairytales with Bite

I look at the reality behind fairytales for this week’s post.

Can there be reality behind fairytales?  I think so.

Writers are always advised to write about what you know (which can be difficult for authors of sci-fi, horror and fantasy in particular when you stop and think about it!  We are inventing new worlds. How can we possibly “know” something that does not exist except on our pages?  I suppose the what we know here is knowing in good enough detail the world we’ve created and inventing characters readers can identify with.  Knowledge of human nature is crucial here).

But there is reality in fairytales.  Not just of character types.  Whatever world you write about, characteristics do not change much.  There will always be those who lust for power, the oppressed, those who fight back, those who go on seemingly impossible quests because they have to save something/someone and this is the only way to do it and so on.  (Great stories come from the last category alone, think The Lord of the Rings to name but one).

When I think of a realistic fairytale, my mind nearly always turns to Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Match Girl.  Definitely not one of his cheerier tales but, without giving too much away, to be able to write this as well as he did, he had to know something of poverty (which he did) and I strongly suspect he actually saw real match girls which inspired this tale.  To me this story is a barely disguised report on something he saw and his underlying jibe at people being allowed to suffer like this girl did is as hardhitting now as it would have been when he first wrote the tale.

Often with fairytales it is the message behind them that is the realistic bit.  I think this is why fairytales have always resonated with people and always will.

castle-2115425_640

There can be reality behind fairytales. Image via Pixabay (and image used as part of book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again)

 

This World and Others

I talk about being well prepared for this week’s post (and I was!).

The importance of good preparation is something that comes up in my Chandler’s Ford Today post tonight where I talk about book launches and share a report from a recent one by children’s author, Anne Wan.

Does this mean you should never write “off the cuff”?  Funnily enough, no.

I have brainstorming sessions every so often which I find incredibly useful for producing potential ideas for future stories and blog posts.  There is no planning or preparation for this whatsoever.

This is unlike everything else I write though. I do sketch out a structure for the articles I write. I have my beginning, middle and end in mind before I start writing.

I outline my stories (sometimes in lots of detail, others with “broad brush strokes” and yes I’ve done this for my flash fiction work too!).

I find this kind of preparation, whether it is for fiction or non-fiction, helps me produce more work, not less. I think it helps me write more efficiently when it comes to producing the actual piece.  This blog post, for instance, I knew I would share something of how I work as a “peg” to hang the rest the piece from.  And that to me seems a good place to end this other than to say comments on how you work, what preparation you find useful etc would be most welcome.

Have a good writing week!

 

Writing first, editing later but both needed - image via Pixabay

Writing first and editing later but good preparation makes an enormous difference to your progress on either.  Being prepared with a good beverage is ALWAYS a good idea!  Image via Pixabay.

 

Book Reviews – From Light to Dark and Back Again

May I take this chance to say a very big thanks to all who’ve reviewed my book so far in either paperback or Kindle format.  Whether it’s a one-line or a one paragraph review, they are all much appreciated! The link takes you to the Amazon page showing both formats.  I am also pleased I now have my copies of The Best of Cafelit 6 where I have a flash story but I’ll share more on this on my next post.  This week has been busy but enjoyable, writing wise.

FromLightToDark_medium-2

 

ASPECTS OF THE WRITING LIFE

Facebook – General

What aspect of the writing life do you find most enjoyable? I find mixing with other writers at conferences and so on is the best here. I love finding out what others write (and often why too) and their inspirations.

Biggest problem? Finding enough time to read widely so I continue to feed my mind with ideas! Solution: working on it. I read at bedtime but am often too tired to read as much as I’d like to do.

I love that spark of creativity that comes as you write that initial draft. I also love the editing process and I swear I can almost feel that story improving as I take out all of my unnecessary words. I do sometimes wonder how many drafts Shakespeare, Dickens etc went through. I am grateful cutting and pasting is confined to the computer now. I have done this literally and it’s not fun.

What would I like for the future? I’d like people to make time for reading. I’ve heard people say they don’t read. Why? It beats me and saddens me as to why people don’t see the importance of reading.

Feature Image - Flash Fiction - Books are Gateway - image via Pixabay

Says it all really and applies to non-fiction equally as fiction. Image via Pixabay.

Fill that blank sheet with ideas from non-fiction as well as other fiction works - image via Pixabay

The basic necessities of the writer’s life!

 

Facebook – General and look ahead to Chandler’s Ford Today post

My Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week will talk about what book launches mean for an author and share a report on a recent one by children’s writer, Anne Wan. More details and the link tomorrow.

This post made me think more about the special moments in a writer’s life. The first is completing your first story or article. Okay, it will need a lot of work. Okay, it may never be published but it is proof you are on your way as a writer.

First publication (online or in print) is an obvious special moment. Someone else liked your work enough to want to publish it. (Even those you know who aren’t fond of books or understand your wish to write WILL understand this one is special).

Receiving your first comments on blog posts or your website (and hopefully they’ll be positive ones) indicates you are reaching out to your readers. Going to your first writing conference and meeting with writers in and out of your genre and learning from them and the courses you go to is a stand-out time too. You learn to network from things like this and each course will be a mini-master class.

So what would you count as a special writing moment?

Anne Wan and Allison Symes at Bay Leaves Larder

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

All of my stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again are under 1000 words and most of them are in my speciality, the 100-word tales. But there are some 250-words, 500-words etc tales in there too. The longer stories have room for a greater depth of characterisation, which can make the difference to your tale “working” or not.

Some of these longer flash fiction tales focus on familiar fairytales but others are complete crime stories. They were all fun to write! In all of the stories in the book, the length of the tale is right for that particular story. And that is what matters whatever you write.

Photo2988

From my railway station signing. The lovely origami boxes were made by my CFT editor, Janet Williams.

 

And Finally – Personal Note:  Mabel

I have sometimes mentioned my border collie, Mabel, when writing online and I am sorry to have to say she had to be put to sleep last week.  She was 13 and had been ailing for some time.  While we knew it was coming, her loss has been and continues to be a huge loss for my family and I.  In the fullness of time, we hope to adopt and rescue another down on its luck collie but right now we mourn Mabel but are grateful for the five very happy years we had with her.  She nearly died five years ago when she was abandoned on a cold January night and tied to a lamp-post.

In the fullness of time, we hope to adopt and rescue another down on its luck collie but right now we mourn Mabel while grateful for the five very happy years we had with her.  She nearly died five years ago when she was abandoned on a cold January night and tied to a lamp-post. She was rescued by animal charity, Oldies Club, who specialise in rehoming older dog.  They send their dogs out to fosterers so reports can be written about how the animals settle into home life and a big thank you must also go to Mabel’s fabulous fosterer, Wendy Nutland.

Mabel-Gracie

My two girls, both much missed. Mabel, the border collie, left us last week. Gracie, the bearded/border cross, left us five years ago. And yes it is the same ball. They both loved it.

 

NEW ANTHOLOGY, A BOOK FAIR AND HOW I FELL INTO FLASH FICTION

Facebook – General

Delighted to say I received my copies of The Best of Cafelit 6 today. My flash fiction tale, Pressing the Flesh, is in there but there is a lovely range of short and long stories in the anthology. Highly recommend even if I wasn’t in it (though I admit that does give me an incentive!). Am also looking forward to the Bridge House/Cafelit celebration event in December. It is always good fun and it will be nice to meet other authors in the collections given we usually only get to meet on Facebook. Great and useful though that is, there is something nice about actually meeting the writer though.

The link takes you to the Amazon page for the book.  There’s a nice range of stories from flash fiction to standard length short stories and a good mix of styles.  Go on, have a look!

Looking forward to the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair in the Age Concern Centre in Brownhill Road on 28th October from 10 am to 12 noon. There is a nice range of authors taking part with different genres represented including YA, short stories, romantic comedy, my own flash fiction and many more besides. So there should be something to suit the book lovers in your life (which I hope would include you too!).

BookFairPoster8

My CFT post this week will be an update from Anne Wan about her book launch went for Secrets of the Snow Globe – Shooting Star. This is the second book in her Snow Globe series and these will also be at the Book Fair. Book launches are vital not just for the author but often for the bookshop or other venue in which they are held. Events do get people through the doors.

ShootingStar-BookLaunch-A5Leaflet-FINAL-page-001

Many thanks to Catherine Griffin for supplying the Book Fair poster, to Anne Wan for her poster and the last image shows Anne and I at Bay Leaves Larder in Chandler’s Ford. I had just interviewed Anne for a CFT post when this image was taken.

Anne Wan and Allison Symes at Bay Leaves Larder

Anne and I enjoyed a lovely chat at Bay Leaves Larder when I interviewed her for Chandler’s Ford Today.

 

Facebook – General – Part 2

I thought I’d share a quick post I put up yesterday which looked at why we write.

What is the real reason you write? To express yourself through story? Because you absolutely have to write and could no more stop yourself doing so than hold the sea in a sieve? (I think you’re allowed one bit of colourful description and that’s mine for tonight!).

Deep down for me, there is a feeling I need to give back to the world of story for the great joy it has (and continues) to give me. The way to give back is to create stories of my own and to put them out there.

There is also the sheer love of the written word and a desire to preserve the printed word. (I don’t see the Kindle etc as a threat. It is merely another format for story. I also don’t think anything can ever stop the appeal of a paperback. It is a question of getting stories out there in different formats and leaving it to your audience as to which format they prefer).

Sometimes, especially when feeling bogged down, it can pay to take a little time out to focus on why you write. It can help re-invigorate the old creative spark. Going to see stories performed (by live reading, theatre productions etc) is also good for the literary soul.

The important thing is to love stories and to love writing them. I couldn’t tell you how many rejections I’ve had (I definitely could wallpaper the room of my house with them!) but onwards and upwards has to be the motto. Else you make no progress. It is also true the more you write the more you improve and increase your chances of being accepted.

Stunning place in which to read and review - image via Pixabay

What a place in which to read!  Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I was thrilled to be part of Jennifer C Wilson’s blog last Sunday with a piece called Falling into Flash Fiction. I talked about how I came into writing flash (it was a happy accident!) and shared two new stories, which I hope will make it into the follow-up to From Light to Dark and Back Again. (Many thanks to Jennifer for not only hosting me but for also linking to her lovely review of my book. Both are much appreciated!).

The real trigger point was my willingness to have a go at writing flash to see if I could meet Cafelit’s 100 Word Challenge. So do be prepared to try new forms of writing. You never know where it may lead you. I had never anticipated being published in flash format yet here I am!

What is also nice about flash fiction’s growing popularity is that a fair number of well respected competitions are now adding it as a category. For example, The Bridport Prize and the Winchester Writers’ Festival now have flash as specific competitions. There are several online competitions too and then there are the websites such as Cafelit where there is a standing invitation to submit stories.

I very much hope the growth in flash fiction continues. I would love it if people, perhaps reluctant to read, become avid readers, because they loved reading flash and then decided they wanted to read longer works of fiction.

 

Today, I have as a visitor the lovely Allison Symes, to tell us how she fell into flash fiction, and all about the writing form. You can read my review of Allison’s collection From Light to D…
jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com
Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.

Judging, Guest Blogging and ACW Writers’ Days!

It has been a busy week!

Guest Blog Spot on Jennifer C Wilson’s Author Website

I first met Jennifer at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in 2016 and we quickly became friends.  In 2017 we had the great joy of racing to the Swanwick Book Room to get our books in there!

 

Photo2408

The Lakeside Block at The Hayes Conference Centre where Swanwick is based.  Image by me.

 

Photo2404

The beautiful main building at The Hayes.  Image by me.

This is one of the huge joys of going to events like this.  Yes, you learn from the courses.  You may well make connections that will help  you with your writing career but the most important thing is to make friends.  Nobody but a fellow writer will quite understand what drives you to write.  Nobody but a fellow writer will sympathise with total  understanding when what seems like the millionth rejection has come into your inbox.

Jennifer writes paranormal historical fiction (I like to think of them as ghost stories with a twist!).  Her latest books are The Last Plantagenet, a novella available in e-book, and the second in her Kindred Spirits series called Royal Mile.  Her first book in this series, Tower of London, was about a hero we both love – Richard III!

So when Jennifer invited me to have a guest spot on her website, I was only too pleased to accept.  I talk about how I “fell” into flash fiction and share two new stories, which I hope will make it into my next collection.  Hope you enjoy the post and I am only too happy to recommend the Kindred Spirit series.  I am currently reading The Last Plantagenet – and loving what I’ve read so far!

A truly beautiful library but do the books in it meet my criteria for what makes a good story. I would hope so! Image via Pixabay.

A truly beautiful library but do the books in it meet my criteria for what makes a good story?  I would like my book in there (obviously) and Jennifer’s Kindred Spirit series amongst many, many others! Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – Southampton Writers’ Circle

I would like to say a big thanks to Geoff Parkes for sharing a wonderful picture from Wednesday night when I had the great joy of being back at the Southampton Writers’ Circle.

I was judging their Scroll Award competition for the best work produced that year and the winner was Angela Curtis for her non-fiction piece, My Pocket Rocket.

It was great to meet up with everyone again and the quality of work was high. I hope all who entered go on to submit their pieces. It would be lovely to hear later if some (ideally all!) end up being published – good luck, everyone.

This was an interesting contest as it meant non-fiction was being judged alongside fiction. As with this kind of competition, you can’t compare like with like (because they’re not!), I judged each piece based on how close they were to publication standard.  I also named suitable markets.  What was nice was that every piece has very good potential to be published and I would love to hear later that they do achieve that.

 

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting

I present Angela Curtis with her trophy and scroll.  Many thanks to Geoff Parkes of the Southampton Writers’ Circle for the photo.  Great image!  (Note to self:  I need to laugh like this more often!).

 

Facebook – Goodreads Author Programme

I have posted my second blog on here now and today I talked about what you read.  Many thanks to Paul Trembling for getting a short debate going on this.  More comments welcome.  I will be trying to post to this site once a week.  Do also send in questions to the Ask the Author spot as I love author Q&As and would be only too pleased to talk about books, writing, being published, flash fiction and so on.

FromLightToDark_medium-2

Association of Christian Writers – Writers’ Day

Firstly I’ll share the link to my most recent post for the More than Writers blog page where I talk about the changing seasons and my take on autumn/fall.

Secondly, ACW had their annual London Writers’ Day on 7th October.  Our speakers were Glen and Emma Scrivener and the topics were God’s Story and Your Story.  Our venue was almost full, there was a real buzz from the Day and everyone was inspired by our speakers.  My FB post is below.

Had a wonderful time at the Association of Christian Writers’ Day in London today. Good venue, great speakers and there was a fantastic buzz too. (Always a good sign that!).

Really finding my smartphone so useful. Managed to do some reading and evaluating on the way home, which was great. I use Evernote to draft stories, remind myself of writing tasks and so on and am finding this incredibly useful. I’ve also used its camera function and then saved the file to Drive, Photos etc. (Ii am a great believer in the multiple back-up. I’ve been caught out in the past here – so help me, never again!).

Writing can be very therapeutic at times, if only because you are so busy working out what your characters are doing/going to do etc, you can’t really think too much about anything else. Am finding that useful too.

Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.

Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.

 

Changes and Conjuring Up Worlds in a Few Words

Facebook – General AND Chandler’s Ford Today post

Many thanks to all with their kind words of support following the loss of our lovely border collie, Mabel, yesterday. She gets a brief mention in this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post, where I talk about the changing seasons and my love of autumn.

Autumn was always blighted by inconsiderate firework users (too many of them going off too late at night and for days and days on ends. Absolutely terrifying for most dogs. Not going to be a problem for me this year, sadly, but I do make a plea for the adoption of silent fireworks (yes, they exist) or to focus on organised events which have the saving grace of (a) being safer and (b) don’t go on too late in the evening. The latter gives pet owners time to calm their pets down etc and is much appreciated by said pet owners.

I also put in a plea to look out for hedgehogs under the bonfire heaps before lighting them. I’ve been fond of the creatures ever since I read Mrs Tiggywinkle’s adventures courtesy of Beatrix Potter.

I also invite comments in on what your favourite season is and why. This post was a real joy to write and selecting the images a pleasure (though I could have put so many more in!).

 

Feature Image - Changing Seasons

My latest CFT post.   Image via Pixabay

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

An interesting question that came up at Swanwick in the summer was whether flash fiction counted as poetry or prose. It is always counted as prose but it is possible to write poetry as a piece of flash fiction.

Obviously you have to keep it short but the way you express yourself in a few lines can (a) have a poetic quality about it in itself and (b) the way you present the lines on the paper can also create a link to longer poems being presented in the same way. For example:-

THE GUILTY SECRET

I stumbled through the woods.
Not sure what was following me.
I knew I had to dump the goods
No other eye should ever see.

ENDS
COPYRIGHT ALLISON SYMES 2017

I’ve written this off the top of my head for this post and I can already see ways of improving it. (Hope to do this and include it in my next collection!). But you can see that it looks like a poem but reads like prose. It is a complete story in itself and the word count means it would come in under flash fiction categories very easily.

 

The eerie quality of fog can have its own beauty

The eerie quality of fog can have its own beauty.  Image via Pixabay

 

The Interview Interviewed!

I have interviewed Gill James before for CFT and most recently on her wonderful historical fiction, The House on Schellberg Street.  Here she interviews me for her blog!

 

Blogging via diaries and tablets, ancient and modern technologies via Pixabay

Blogging via journals, diaries and tablets.  Image via Pixabay

 

 

Goodreads Author Programme

I’m glad to say I am now part of the Goodreads Author Programme and I love the author Q&A they start you off with to help introduce you to people.  Please do send in questions via this and in the meantime here is what I’ve put up on site so far.  There is a blog attached to this too.  I have written a quick introductory post and, as I get into the habit of writing regularly here too, I will share the links here eventually.  In the meantime here is the Q&A.

Writer at work. Image via Pixabay.

Writer at work. Image via Pixabay.

Fairytales With Bite

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post talks about the changing seasons and why I love autumn.

A sad change for me this week has been the loss of my elderly border collie.  In the fullness of time we’ll adopt another rescue collie but right now the house feels very empty without my lovely Mabel.  Change can be a terrible thing at times.

Having said that, change is vital for writers.  We need to be able to see what is wrong with our own work so we can edit it effectively.  We need to be open to new writing ideas.  (My being open here led to me writing flash fiction and ultimately being published in it with From Light to Dark and Back Again).  We need, I think, to keep setting goals and striving to achieve them if we are to develop further writing skills (and hopefully publication credits too).

A more positive change recently has been where I was interviewed by Gill James.  (I’ve interviewed her before for CFT).  I share the link here.  Amongst other topics we talk about why I write in the genre that I do.  Sometimes re-examining why you are doing what you are writing wise can be a good idea.  It can reinvigorate your enthusiasm, also perhaps get  you to evaluate if something really is working for you  (and be open to change if not).

 

Mabel-Gracie

My two lovely girls, sadly now gone.  We lost Mabel, the border collie, this week.  Gracie, the bearded/border cross, died just over five years ago.  Both dogs loved their toys!

 

 

 

This World and Others

One huge advantage of writing flash fiction is it teaches you to write “tight” as you don’t have the room for wasting words.  So how can you conjure up new worlds in just a few words?

What you are after is a general impression for your reader.  You can’t go into too much detail but there needs to be enough for them to pick up and fill in gaps with their imagination.

For example my story Calling the Doctor in From Light to Dark and Back Again is one of my very short tales (100 words or thereabouts) and in a few lines I’ve conjured up a naive character, a sense of menace and a rough setting.

This is because this tale has a twist based on a well known novel and if you know that book, the setting of my story would come to you at once.  (Even if you didn’t know the book, there is still enough in the naivety of my character for you to picture what that person would be like and get a sense of their world that way).

So it is a question then of selecting the most important thing your reader must know to make sense of your story.

Ironically, this can work well for longer pieces of fiction too even though you would have the word count to go into more detail.  By focussing on what is the most important thing(s) for your readers to know, there will be no waffling and the images created in your readers’ minds will be so much the stronger because of that.

 

stones-244244_640

Do your stories have the right impact on your readers?  What are the ripples caused by the images you create?  Image via Pixabay.

 

BLOGGING AND THE POINT OF FAIRYTALES

A very busy night tonight.

Association of Christian Writers – More Than Writers (and also Facebook – General)

In my monthly spot for More than Writers, I look at the changing seasons and attitudes towards them.  My maternal grandmother hated autumn.  She always saw it as the season when everything died (and ironically perhaps died in a September many moons ago).  I love autumn despite the downside of the darkening early evenings, fog etc.  Just as we have to have autumn and winter before we can hope to have spring again, I talk about how I don’t feel you can avoid the horrible side of life and how I feel I should handle this as a Christian.

Poetry conjures up images so beautifully. Image via Pixabay. See Sandra Lyn Gordon's wonderful poem on Chandler's Ford Today for another example of great imagery.

Poppies for Remembrance.  Glorious reds are so often a feature of autumn.  Image via Pixabay.

Chandler’s Ford Today/Facebook – General and From Light to Dark and Back Again

My weekly post looks at why writers should “put themselves out there” and flags up a local Book Fair a group of local authors and I will be running at the end of October.  I discuss the advantages of writers banding together like this.  There will be a nice range of books available at the Fair too, many with special offers (including my From Light to Dark and Back Again).  There will be YA fantasy, short story collections, flash fiction (guess whose!) and romantic comedy to name but a few.

One nice thing about events at the end of October is you have to have them indoors generally speaking and we will be at the Age Concern Centre in Brownhill Road in Chandler’s Ford. I will flag up a reminder a bit nearer the time but I should add we were pleased to meet many people at the recent Hiltingbury Extravaganza and hope to meet still more at the Book Fair.

And dare I mention THAT word? Yes, I think so. We see the Book Fair as a great chance to start your Christmas book buying! There will be special offers too…

 

BookFairPoster8

Coming soon as they say!  Image kindly supplied by Catherine Griffin and Sally Howard.

 

Goodreads Author Programme

I’m working my way through what has been a busy week.  Pleased to say I’m now on the Goodreads Author Programme and I was delighted at how easy it was to set up the profile and share it on Facebook.  (It is now a link on my author page and my page for From Light to Dark and Back Again).  I loved answering the questions they use to get you started but then I do love author Q&As!  Please do drop by and visit the page.  Would love to answer writing questions so do send them in!

 

stones-244244_640

Do send your questions in to my Goodreads Author slot.  Image via Pixabay (and one of the stills from my book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again).

 

Fairytales with Bite – The Point of Fairytales

 

The link below takes you to the post but also to a slideshow.

To be fair, there is more than one point to fairytales but, for me, the most important one is fairytales can show children things about life and people’s behaviour in an entertaining way that doesn’t preach.

Cinderella doesn’t need to say bullying and cruelty to others is wrong.  You pick that up from the story (and the idea virtue is rewarded, even if it is slow!).  Okay this doesn’t just apply to children but for many it is their first venture into the wonderful world of reading (as it was for me).  All stories show the world we know to some extent via their characters.  We may not be able to identify with the strange world portrayed but we can do so with the character that’s battling for justice against the odds.

What is remarkable about fairytales is their bluntness at times.  They call evil out for what it is and not all of them end happily either (which is also a lesson in life we all need to learn but fairytales are a great way of getting that point across reasonably gently).

I grimace when people dismiss something as “just a fairytale”.  There is nothing “just” about fairytales.  They have to be well crafted stories to hold children’s attention for a start.  When people are asked to name the first book or story they read, they often refer to children’s classics, including the fairytales.

 

Feature Image - Flash Fiction - Books are Gateway - image via Pixabay

So true!  Image via Pixabay

 

 

This World and Others:  Using What is Around You

The link takes you to this post but also to a slideshow.

What is the most popular question ever asked of any writer?  My nomination would be “where do you get your ideas from?”!  Certainly it is the impression I have had from writer interviews I’ve read it is one of the top questions ever asked.

I can understand why people ask it but it is a difficult one to answer.  I get my ideas from a combination of sources and if you even try to explain that, all you will see is your questioner’s eyes glaze over as they were expecting a quick, pat answer!

Over time, I have learned to use what is around me to inspire ideas.  For example, in the UK right now, we are well into autumn and I’ve talked about the changing seasons in my Association of Christian Writers’ blog post this month on their More Than Writers page.

In From Light to Dark and Back Again, my flash fiction pieces have been inspired by moments in films, my take on well known books (for example Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde) and also my take on fairytales, my first love when it comes to reading and writing. My characters are nearly always amalgams of character traits, interesting things I’ve overheard that I’ve wanted to adapt and put into the mouth of a fictional person, and physical qualities (some good, others less so!).

So there is no one “go-to” place for ideas, nor should there be, and I guess the only answer to the question is to tell your questioner you get your ideas from many different places.  If they are really keen to know more, you can expand the conversation.  If not, well there’s your quick answer and you haven’t bored them!  Result!

 

wizzard-1818815_640

Using what is around you can be the creative spark for many a great story.  Image via Pixabay.

 

 

 

As at the HE, we would also be delighted to share information about creative writing classes, the Hampshire Writers’ Society and so on so so do come and along and see us if you can. We would be very pleased to chat.

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.

HAPPENINGS, FLASHING AND DRABBLING

Facebook – General

Pleased to say I’ve been accepted onto the Goodreads Author Programme. I need to update my profile on there and download book cover images etc but hope to do this in the next day or so. There is scope for having an author Q&A on this (I LOVE author Q&As!) and I hope to have one in the not too distant future.

Am also looking forward to a local Book Fair at the end of October and will post more details nearer the time. Am also looking forward to joining the lovely people at the Southampton Writers’ Circle very soon as I will be judging their Scroll Award competition. (It was also good to catch up with a couple of said lovely people at Swanwick in August!).

Also looking forward to going to the Association of Christian Writers’ Day in London on 7th October. Always learn a lot from these. Incidentally, I think this is one reason why writing is good for your mental health. You are always trying to improve what you do and learning as a result. Great way of keeping the brain active.

Didn’t get anywhere in the recent flash fiction competition I entered but it means I have another story written for my second book. Nothing is wasted!

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

Shakespeare had his quill, modern writers have their laptops. Image via Pixabay.

Such a familiar look. Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve recently found out that my tendency to write 100-word tales means I’m a drabbler, a writer of drabbles. That’s fine. The only problem with writing flash fiction is it does mean you are known as a flasher. On the whole, I think being a drabbler is better! There is a little more dignity to it!

Some of my flash stories are inspired by movies. The Haunting is inspired by The Ladykillers where the heroine is forever leaving her brolley behind and it is not until the end of the film we discover she has always hated it. Learning the Trade is inspired by Fantasia/The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (which is one of those Disney films I’ve only ever seen clips from and not the whole thing. Not deliberately on my part and I would love to see the whole film especially as the music that goes with it is fantastic).

Sometimes a film or a radio play can spark off ideas where your characters react differently to the ones you watched/heard originally. Interesting story ideas can come from that.

Books make wonderful gifts. Image via Pixabay.

Books are wonderful – whether in print or electronic, whether as audio stories or told by a storyteller. Image via Pixabay.

I could spend many a happy hour here - the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.

I could spend many a happy hour here – the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.