COMING BACK TO EARTH

Just returned from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, after a fabulous week of excellent courses and getting to catch up with writer friends, with whom, for the rest of the year, I stay in contact with via social media.  Lovely as that is, you can’t beat getting together face to face!

So tonight’s post is all on the theme of coming back to earth and I also look at Books That Should Have Been Written as a lighthearted CFT post.  There is nothing anywhere that says you HAVE to come back to earth with a bump or several!

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My CFT post this week is called Books That Should Have Been Written and, if you like puns, this is definitely for you!  I also take a peek at irony.

Back from a wonderful week at #Swanwick70. The highlight of my writing year is the week at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Why?

I meet up with writer friends that for the rest of the year, I keep in contact with by social media. I make new friends. I learn loads from the courses, which is never a bad thing. Oh and I sold a few books in the Book Room too!

Back down to earth then but with perhaps a more gentle bump! My CFT post this week is a lighthearted one called Books That Should Have Been Written. Contributions welcome in the CFT comments box!

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Had a lovely time at #Swanwick70. Really enjoyed reading three of my 100-word stories from From Light to Dark and Back Again at the Prose Open Mic hosted by #JenniferCWilson. Flash fiction works really well at these things (as indeed does poetry – I missed the Poetry Open MIc night as it clashed with the Literary Quiz and I do love a good quiz but I hope all who took part in the Open Mic slots had a fab time).

Images of Swanwick were taken by me at last year’s event. Such a lovely place to be!

Fairytales with Bite – A toZ of Fairytales Part 2

So on to the second part of this series…

D = Determination.  The best fairytale characters I know have this trait in buckets (other suitably large utensils are available, as they say…!).  They can vary from determination not to be ground down (Cinderella) to determination to survive (Hansel and Gretel).  Determination can keep a character going when the world and its dog/unicorn/dragon seem to be out to “get them”.  Determination separates the wolf (big, bad or otherwise) from the sheep.

E = Energy. Can be topped up by determination but your characters are going to need plenty of energy to get them through whatever frightful horrors you’re putting them through.  Not only are there the obvious physical needs to think about, but bring in how your characters top up their mental strength.  They will need plenty of that too.

F = Fairies/Fantastic Creatures.  The great irony with fairytales is you can have them without fairies in (Little Red Riding Hood), but when you do use them in your stories, give them plenty to do and ensure not everything is solved with a wave of the magic wand.  Your fairy character still has to work for/struggle to get success, even if that is only implied in your story.  A wave of the wand may be what they do to remedy a situation or modify it (Sleeping Beauty) but there should still be issues for the characters in your story to overcome.    Otherwise there is no conflict and without that, the story vanishes.  Fantastic creatures can vary from animals to other magical beings (including your own invented ones) but we still need to have some sense of what they are like and where they fit in to the world you’ve created.

More next time…

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This World and Others – Coming Back to Earth

Coming Back to Earthis the title of my latest Goodreads blog (where I do suggest a cure!).  I wrote a lighthearted post for CFT this week, Books That Should Have Been Written,partly as a “gentle” way of coming back to earth after my return from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

But how do your characters come back to earth?  They’ve experienced perhaps great adventures, now there’s a lull in the action as they come to terms with what they’ve just gone through.  How do they handle that?  I love The Lord of the Rings  for many reasons but the portrayal of Frodo becoming more and more tired as the stress of what he has to do becomes more and more of a burden is realistically shown.  On the assumption your characters are not super heroes who never get tired or out of sorts, how do your characters handle setbacks, tiredness, illness etc?

How do they pick themselves up from “earth” to get back to their “mission”?  Who helps them and how?  Plenty to think about there!

Goodreads Blog – Coming Back to Earth

Have just got back from my annual highlight – the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

Had a wonderful time discussing and learning about all things connected to the worlds of books and stories. What’s not to like about that?

But, as ever with these things, you come back home again and you feel shattered and a bit flat. (You take in far more than you know you are when you are there and then I think the physical/mental tiredness of that hits you later).

So what can help you perk up again?

Why, nothing but a good book of course!

And the lovely thing about being a writer? You need to read widely, in and out of genre, to help feed your own imagination in any case, but you also get to write the books and with a lot of hard work, and some luck, get them out there.

So happy reading and writing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting Away From It All and the Fairytale A to Z (Part 1!)

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My latest CFT post is Getting Away From It All. Appropriate as I am about to swan off to Swanwick! I share some thoughts on the importance of relaxing and how just writing something for the sheer fun of it can be a marvellous way to unwind for writers.

The great thing too is you can always work the piece up “properly” later on and submit it but to just write something for fun is wonderful. Possibly something we don’t do enough of? I’ve found doing this useful (a) to take a break from my main writing work and (b) to remind myself during tough patches just what it is I really love about writing – the creativity of it. I think you can lose sight of that at times.

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More on the ABC of Flash Fiction…

D = Drive. Not only do you need that as the writer, but your characters do as well. Something has to happen in your narrative for it to be a story at all so your characters must be ready to “act” and for that to wrap up quickly. They must be ready to “hit the ground running”. They do something, there is a reaction, there is a conclusion (and of course it doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy one).

E = Entertainment. Whatever your genre, your flash fiction should entertain (even if that entertainment is simply to make your reader think about the theme of your story and whether they would do the same as your character has). Every word has to make your reader want to read on, every line has to move the story on, and at the end you want your reader to feel as if they have had a good read, even if it is only in 500 words, 100 words, 75 words or what have you.

F = Fairytales. I’ve found flash fiction to be a good vehicle for fairytales (albeit of the short and sharp variety. Not necessarily sweet as well though. Many of my fairy characters do have a penchant for justice, the rough kind where they feel it is necessary at that!).

 

Association of Christian Writers – More than Writers – On Criticism

Confession time:  Am certain I didn’t put this up when I was supposed to so will share now.  It IS better late than never and I hope my post for July on On Criticism will prove helpful.

What good judging should be and that includes for reviews etc

What every review should be. Pixabay image,

Fairytales With Bite – the Fairytale A to Z Part 1

I love a list – whether it’s a numerical one or an A to Z format.  So for fairytales and the magical world, what would my A to Z be?  Part 1 then would be:-

A = Anthropomorphism 

Not my favourite word to spell, I must admit!  However, for me, a classic tale will have this as one of its elements.  Think Puss in Boots, Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia etc etc.  What matters is the traits shown or speech given to an animal character to have/speak must make sense for the way that character has been portrayed.  We see Puss in Boots is a character who would be smarter than his master so the speech given to Puss must reflect that.

B = Beauty
One thing I love about fairytales is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is not always the classical definition either.  I love the stories of The Ugly Duckling and Beauty and the Beast. Is it just me but I didn’t think the Beast was that ugly incidentally (especially as Disney portrayed him?  Huge, yes, but that’s not the same thing!  That aside, there is a strong emphasis that it is a beautiful heart/character that matters most, which I fervently believe.  I can’t say what single thing makes me love fairytales but this is a very high contender for being the top one.

C = Characters
There isn’t one dull character in fairytales, is there, when you come to think about it.  There shouldn’t be in your stories either.  (And even when a character is meant to be “dull”, there still has to be something about them that will make your reader want to find out if they stay that way or change or if there is a point to the dullness.  Maybe the lead character needs a duller one’s sensible comments to point them in the right direction?).

More next time….

This World and Others – Getting Away From It All

Getting Away from it All is my title for this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post and my latest Goodreads blog.

What do your characters do to unwind?  Where would they go to get away from it all?  If your fictional world has a hierarchy (and frankly most will have something), are there places where the “commoners” can’t go?  How is that enforced?

I am about to head off to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School for a wonderful week of courses, catching up with writer friends, and making new ones.  A marvellous time is had by all.  For your longer stories, where would your characters go to catch up with friends and family they can’t see often (and how did that situation happen)?

In my Goodreads blog, I talk about my holiday reading.  What would your characters read?  Does your fictional world have a good literacy rate?  If not, is anything being done about it?  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that a totalitarian world will seek to restrict/ban books (as sadly is seen too often in this world!) but is there an underground system that bypasses/overcomes those restrictions?

Plenty of story ideas there!

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A BUNCH OF AMATEURS, THE MAGIC OF THEATRE, AND NON-FICTION

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It’s a joy to review the plays performed by The Chameleon Theatre Group as there is always a good mix of shows put on during the course of a year. I’ve watched pantos, tragedies, and comedies. Each review I do for CFT on these means having a look at the background of the play and/or the writers of it and I always learn something.

It’s a great way of taking in stories that are new to you: go and see them acted on stage!

A Bunch of Amateurs is written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman.  The plot hinges on a local theatre company, the Stratford Players, desperately trying to save their theatre so bringing in a fading American star, Jefferson Steel, to get sponsorship and bring in the punters seems such a good idea….   You know the phrase “famous last words”?  Well, that applies here!

Image Credit:  All images below are kindly supplied by Lionel Elliott and the Chameleon Theatre Group and used with permission.  Many thanks to them.

 

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I was watching a Dr Who episode tonight (Peter Capaldi) and a phrase “stories are where memories go” caught my attention. Mind, it many ways it should do!

What memories of a character could you turn into a flash fiction piece (or longer)? Can you write a story where a character is led astray by mistaken or deliberately falsified memories (and why would someone do that)? Have you got another character who uses memories as weapons against others and how do they do this? What do they gain? How are they stopped, assuming that they are?

There are some good stories to be written out of memories, that’s for sure! (And the great thing is you can create the memories to write about in first place. The lovely thing about fiction is it should be rooted in truth to ring true to your readers, but it doesn’t actually have to be true, otherwise we’d have little in the way of sci-fi or fantasy!).

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Fairytales with Bite – The Magic of the Theatre

My latest CFT post is a review of A Bunch of Amateurs (written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman), which was recently performed by the Chameleon Theatre Group.  It was a great play, brilliantly performed.  But it led me to thinking:-

1.  Going to the theatre is a great way of taking in stories!

2.  In your fictional world(s), how do your characters take in stories?  Do they read?  Do they have theatres/cinemas etc?  What would they watch/read?

3.  When you go to a performance like this, you go in knowing you are seeing a “pretence” but being willing to suspend disbelief.  You focus on wanting to see how the story ends and enjoy the performances taking you to that point.  The challenge for writers is hooking our readers quickly enough at the start of the story to achieve the same effect for the length of the tale, whether it is a flash piece or a trilogy of novels!  So face the challenge!  The key is in creating characters readers will want to follow through anything.

Happy writing!

This World and Others – Why Non-Fiction Matters to Fiction Writers

I’ve written about this in a post for Chandler’s Ford Today (Fiction -v- Non-Fiction? No Contest!) a while ago, but it is a topic close to my pen so thought I’d bring it up again here.  Why does reading non-fiction matter to fiction writers then?

1.  If you are writing material which means you need to world build, finding out how this world works/has worked/has made blunderingly colossial historical mistakes/created some fascinating engineering etc can directly inspire you for how your fictional world carries out these things.  (Sometimes it can be the direct opposite of how we’ve done it but you need to know how we did it first to be able to do that!).

2.  Ideas spark off other ideas and non-fiction is full of them.  What did make an inventor come up with their revolutionary new designs?  What made them come up with a new system for, say, transport when nobody else had realised a need for it?  There are ideas for characters here too…

3.  When anyone comes up with something new, there will be opposition.  Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes not.  How does your hero/heroine overcome that?  Or if they are the ones behind the opposition, do they achieve their objective?

Plenty of story triggers there!

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Judgement Day

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My latest post is called Judgement Day and talks about reviews and critiques.  It is NOT a comment on the blood moon tonight (Friday 27th July 2018)!

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Alwyas a good iea! Pixabay imag.

What good judging should be and that includes for reviews etc

What every review should be. Pixabay image,

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Am looking forward to writing my review of A Bunch of Amateurs, which the local Chameleon Theatre Group performed tonight. Ironically, this week’s CFT post from me talks about reviewing and critiques so will feed beautifully into my play review!

Confession time: these things are NOT always planned! (They mostly are of course but not in this case).

Also delighted the Chameleons have quoted excerpts from some of my reviews (and also those of Ben Williams also of CFT) in their programme. All helps build up the profile.

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Have you ever been to any kind of reunion? Did it work well or were you only too glad to get out of there?! I’m pleased to say the reunions I’ve been too have been jolly affairs but the thought occurred to me that you could use reunions to test your characters’ mettle. What WOULD happen when your characters go to this kind of event?

Their reactions will tell the readers so much more about them (especially if you show, for example, agitation by getting your character to walk around and around his lawn in the middle of the night, something he wouldn’t do normally).

Can reunions have unexpected consequences? Someone hears something they weren’t supposed to and reacts badly to it? Equally the dynamics between relationships resurrected (no matter how briefly) can lead to both comic and tragic writing. What would you plump for?

Had to smile. Facebook, bless them, have just invited me to add myself to the “Allison Symes team”!! Ahem… there is a team of 1 here – me! Not sure how I can join myself (and I’m not after suggestions!). 😁

My CFT post this week is called Judgement Day – no links to the blood moon were intended, honestly! I talk about judgement for writers in terms of reviews and critiques. I also share some hints and tips about what to expect from a critique you send off for, as well as advice on writing reviews.

This will tie in nicely with my post for next week when I’ll be reviewing a local theatre production!

 

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Regardless of your writing format, it is the killer line that stands out. I’ve been watching a play, What a Bunch of Amateurs, tonight at our local theatre group’s hall (more to come on this on CFT in due course) and there were many laugh out loud lines. Enjoyed by all of course.

How can you make your lines stand out?

They have to be something the audience wasn’t expecting. The funny moments often come, in films at least, when the audience is caught off balance.

The lead character has got to have strong appeal to the readers OR have a good reason for acting the way they are. Their dialogue should show something of who they are. A good character grips the reader and won’t let go!

Flash may be this odd fiction’s name
But rushing it is not the game.
You still need to edit and craft
No-one publishes that first draft.
The one comfort I know is true
Is Shakespeare had to rewrite too!

Allison Symes – 26th July 2018

 

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The great thing with using well known sayings for your flash fiction titles is you can “twist these”. For example we all know what is meant by the phrase “pressing the flesh” but I take quite a different approach to it with my story of the same name without losing its appropriateness.

I also love “open” titles such as My Life, The Outcome, and Expecting. There are so many different directions those titles could take the reader – they’re unlikely to guess them all!

I have to have a title to begin writing a story, even if I end up changing it. I don’t change titles that often but sometimes as I write, something better comes to mind. Something that has a stronger twist or can keep the reader guessing in a better way – if that comes up as I write, I switch to it. I want the title to have a strong impact on the reader, as well as the rest of the story.

After all, the title works “harder” in a flash fiction story as due to the limited word count, you can convey a lot of information through that so I’ve found I want to make the most of it.

Goodreads Author Blog – How Influential are Book Titles for You?

When writing my own stories, I must have a title to help me get started, even if I change it later on. I am very fond of “open” titles where I could go in several directions with it. It helps to keep the reader guessing!

With books, I want a title to intrigue me enough to make me want to go on to read the blurb and maybe then the first paragraph or two. I then want to read the book to see if it lives up to the promise given by that title and the blurb.

But I never buy a book on the strength of its title alone. I see the role of a title is to “get me through the door” so I look at the book in more detail in the first place.

Some of my favourite titles include The Lord of the Rings (don’t you just want to know who the Lord is?), The ABC Murders (how can the alphabet be relevant to a crime), and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (got to find out where they all come into a story, yes?).

What are your favourite book titles and why?

Fairytales with Bite – Finding Titles

I’ve got a theme rolling on titles this week, thanks to my latest Goodreads blog, which asks How Influential are Book Titles for You?

My CFT post has one of those titles which tie in with an event!  There is a blood moon tonight and my post is called Judgement Day!  I hadn’t planned that, honestly, but I like the idea of the link!  The actual post is about judging for writers, especially in terms of reviews and critiques.  I also share some hints and tips.

How do you find titles for your stories?  I use a mixture of proverbs, well known sayings, as well as phrases used frequently.  I like open titles where I could go in a number of directions – there are several examples of this in my From Light to Dark and Back Again.  For example:  The Outcome and Expecting.  Expecting what?  The outcome of what?  The whole idea, of course, is that the reader will want to find out so they read the stories.

The rest of the story has got to follow through on the promise an intriguing title gives its reader.  So it’s no good thinking up the best title in the world only for the story itself to let it down.  People remember that!

Also, never be afraid to change the title if you feel it is not quite strong enough or just doesn’t feel right for the story.  I don’t often change mine but when I do, it is always because a better, stronger title has popped into my head.  Sometimes you need to start writing the story to find out what the real title is.

Happy writing!

This World and Others – Titles

It is appropriate that I have a simple title for this post!

My latest Goodreads blog asks How Influential are Book Titles for You? and the idea for this post sprang from that.

Firstly, do books as we know them exist on your fictional world?  If yes, but not as we would recognise them, what form do they take?  Can everyone read or is that the right of a privileged few?  Is reading encouraged or considered dangerous?

Secondly, does your fictional society confer titles on those that have served it well?  Is the system a monarchy or republic and how would that affect titles given?  Again, are titles only given to those from the “right background” (and what would that background be?).

Thirdly, how is land title passed on?  Can anyone own property (and what form does it take)?  How does selling land/property or bequeathing it work in your world?  Do you have a system where the government automatically takes a certain percentage of the value of the property as its “inheritance tax”?

Last but not least, I love titles which are open and give me plenty of possibilities to work with.  This is a good example of that!

Author News

Just to say I now have an author page on Book Bub.  Many thanks to Wendy H Jones for putting me on to this.  You need to sign in to be able to see the page but the site is free and they send you details of books on special offer etc.

Finding Story Ideas, Getting Out and About, and Myths and Legends

Another nice mixed bag!

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It is nice with my CFT posts to take a little time out now and again to write a more reflective article. I do so this week with my Out and About – Summer 2018 article. And getting out and about with the dog gives me not only the fresh air and exercise but a chat to talk with other dog owners.

From a writing viewpoint, the break is good for the little grey cells and that, I think, is the main benefit. The nice thing is the break you take doesn’t have to be expensive and can be right on your doorstep. But refreshing yourself in this kind of way is of value to your physical and mental health and that has to feed into your writing in a positive way.

You can also think about things like: how would your characters take a much needed break? Where would they go? What would they do? How does it help them face up to their “quest”? All good details, which even if you don’t put them directly in your story, will help you know more about your people and, as a result, write about them much more effectively.

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Flash fiction stories can be great for those moments in a character’s life which are defining but which in themselves are not enough to make a full length 2000-word story.

You can also use punchlines for an effective ending. My The Mint with a Hole and Little Packages are examples of this (and the first one uses a well known advertising slogan from many moons ago as its title as well).

But as with any kind of story, you have to hook your readers and reel them in! Happy writing!

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Fairytales with Bite – Finding Story Ideas

I know I’ve talked about this topic before but it is one of those timeless ones and always useful.  I was looking through my From Light to Dark and Back Again and I would list the inspiration/themes for the stories in here as coming from:-

1. Fantasia by Walt Disney
2. My loathing of hunting increasingly rare animals for “sport”.  There’s a strong poetic justice theme here!
3. The Tooth Fairy not being as nice as perhaps traditionally thought.  (An idea to take and run with, possibly run away from if you are likely to require her services!).
4. Revenge.
5. The Sword in the Stone/King Arthur
6. Transformation/the idea someone could be a magical being and we’d never know.
7. Santa Claus and the idea that government inspectorates get everywhere!

And that’s just the first few stories in the book!

So you can use your favourite films/music etc as ideas to get you started.  With regard to bringing in your personal dislikes, don’t rant!  My story here, A Kind of Hell, shows my not so nice character getting their comeuppance but there’s no anti-hunting rare animals rant here.  It is all implied.  Less is definitely more.

As for my fairytale inspirations, it has long been established that fairy folk are not always that nice, a theme so many writers have used, but it is a rich seam for stories and highly unlikely to run dry any time soon!  Happy writing!

This World and Others – Myths and Legends

One aspect of world building to consider is to work out what your world would have for its cherished myths and legends. Who are its heroes/heroines? How did they earn this honour? Does everyone respect them or is their reputation controversial? Are the stories written down or is your world based on an oral tradition of story telling (and how accurate is that)?

Are the heroes/heroines from centuries before your story starts or are they in your current tale and you hint at their back story? How are myths and legends reported by your world’s media/historical societies/officialdom (which can also include religious officialdom)?

How does your hero/heroine cope with being a living legend? (Would make it awkward to go to the shops at times I would have thought! Now I’m being a little flippant here but you get the point. Your characters would have difficulties most would never face to enjoy any semblance of a normal life at all so how do they overcome all that or come to terms with it?).

Hope you find some wonderful story ideas here.

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WRITING NIGGLES, CONFERENCES AND A REVIEW OF THE FAIR

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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!).

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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.

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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!

Generating the writing ideas maybe - image via Pixabay

Generating the writing ideas. Image via Pixabay.

Lost in a good book - image via Pixabay

Lost in a good book. Image via Pixabay.

Books create their own sense of space - image via Pixabay

Books have their own sense of time and space. Image via Pixabay.

Books are wonderful whatever their format - image via Pixabay

Books are fabulous, whatever the format. Image via Pixabay.

CLARITY POST - Editing is vital to help you be as clear as possible - image via Pixabay - Copy

Editing – the crucial part to getting a story right. Image via Pixabay.

Books can be one major key to knowledge - image via Pixabay

Books are the keys to knowledge. Image via Pixabay

Printers would have fun trying to print this - image via Pixabay

Let the ideas flow and let journeys encourage that! Image via Pixabay

Use review questions to find out more about your characters, image via Pixabay

Use personal reviews to help you generate character and story outlines. Image via Pixabay.

Creation is good for us, image via Pixabay

Well, let’s do so by writing lots of stories! Image via Pixabay.

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/Impatience
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/Anger
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.

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WHY I BLOG (PART 2) AND WHAT YOUR FICTIONAL WORLD NEEDS

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Many thanks to all of my guest writers for sharing their thoughts on my CFT Why I Blog two part series. Part 2 is up on site now – do see the link. It has been fascinating from my viewpoint to read the different takes on this. Comments, as ever, are very welcome in the CFT comments box.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am planning to catch up on my flash fiction writing this weekend. Most of the week has been a non-fiction “fest” for me (not that I’m complaining. I’ve come to love non-fiction in a way I never anticipated. For one thing, I’d never anticipated writing it at all when I started out as a writer!).

For my current WIP, I’ve been trying out historical flash fiction – i.e. stories told from the viewpoint of a certain historical character. Good fun to do and another way of getting into the heads of characters, which is something I love doing.

I love finding out what makes my characters tick and to do this to someone who lived and died centuries before makes me look at why they acted the way they are known to have done. It also gives me a very good excuse to read my history books again – I really can call it research here. Not that I really need an excuse to read such books.

In cases where there is speculation as to what happened because nobody really knows, then I can have some fun suggesting what might have occurred or coming up with a viewpoint the character might have held.

Fairytales With Bite – What Fairytales Reveal

One reason I love fairytales is for their honesty.  They call evil exactly that and have done with it.  Fairytales are very revealing about human nature (and the pictures they portray via words are not always flattering).

For example, Cinderella is realistic in the portrayal of the stepmother and her daughters and their ill treatment of Cinders.  Resentment, dislike, hatred even of anything not connected to blood kin does happen and more often than perhaps we would care to admit.

Then there’s the topic of pride and what that can lead to when unchecked.  Go to Snow White’s stepmother for the tips there!  Pride/vanity can and has led to people trying to destroy those better than themselves (and sometimes succeeding, sadly).

As for unrequited love, The Little Mermaid could tell you all about that.  Anyone who has ever been a victim of bullying because they look different would sympathise with The Ugly Duckling. 

A thought occurred to me recently as a result of a discussion I was having on Facebook about the left behind disabled child in The Pied Piper of Hamelin.  It was asked whether we felt the child felt left out or had had a lucky escape.  Opinion was pretty much split down the middle, I fall into the child feeling left out camp, but it occurred to me that Hans Christen Andersen was ahead of his time here in recognising the disabled can and do often feel left out and was highlighting that.  Sadly, still relevant.  I would like to think one day it wouldn’t be because we leave that “leaving out” state behind us.

In the meantime, I think we need, and will always need, the blunt honesty of fairytales showing up what we can be like.

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This World and Others – What Your Fictional World Needs

A lot will depend on the scale of your story obviously.  (One advantage of flash fiction is you need less!  One advantage of novels is you can build your own world in a reasonable amount of detail).  But I think for most situations your fictional world will need:-

1.  A sense of what the world is like.  In my flash fiction stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again, I only have the word count to give a fleeting impression, which is fine.  It is just that the fleeting impression has to be strong enough to register with your reader.  With a longer story, of course, you can show more but do beware of showing anything that is not absolutely critical to your tale.  You don’t want to “info dump”.  Just show your readers what they need to make sense of your story, whether that is one line, one page or what have you.

2.  What your character is like.  This is best shown in their actions, reactions, dialogue and thoughts.  In my flash tale, The Outcome, I don’t go into a physical description of Becram, my alien lead, but I do show you his attitude!  And for this 100-word story, that is enough.

3.  A sense of how the world is run.  For my unpublished novel (hope to be working to change that soon, watch this space!), I do show how the government is run.  Terry Pratchett in his Discworld series worked out how Ankh-Morpork could operate based on how people got rid of their waste and then how the city was governed grew out of that.  You need to pick a place to start to work out to yourself first and foremost how things would work.  Then it is a question of working out just what your reader needs to know and which is just for you to enable you to write the story.

4.  How needs are met.  This can be done lightly.  Again in my The Outcome, a few words indicate Becram comes from a highly technological society (so you can imply from that the basics such as food and drink supplies really are not a problem!).

5.  Problems!  It may sound ironic, but there is no such thing as a perfect world for real, yet alone in fiction, so give it problems it has to try to resolve.  For example, does your world get on well with its neighbours?  If not, why not?  Is it your world’s fault or theirs?  Have there been attempts to resolve the issues here?

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Blog (and some stories in a sentence!)

An apt title as my main focus in the last few days has been blogging on different sites.  All good fun, hope you enjoy.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest CFT post is Part 1 of a 2 part series called Why I Blog. Many thanks to my guest writers for sharing their thoughts too.

I blog for a variety of reasons – from marketing to self expression to the fact it is simple and fun to do! Who says you have to have one reason?!

See what you think and do post your comments in the CFT comments box.

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Looking forward to sharing the Why I Blog post on CFT tomorrow (with part 2 next week). Many thanks to my fellow writers for their thoughts on the topic.

I often use blogging as a warm up “writing exercise” before I tackle my fiction. I suppose I find that useful because blogging is immediate, I can get a few hundred words under my belt fairly quickly, and then I am right into the “zone” so to speak.

My ACW post is due up on site tomorrow as well as the CFT one. Another Goodreads one is due from me soon too. Writing for the different audiences is also useful – it makes you think about your material more and that is never a bad thing.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My favourite way of getting started on a new piece of flash fiction is to take a well known saying and see what I can do with it. Sometimes the results are funny, other times the results are much darker, but I find it a great way to start.

I find I need something to “peg” my idea to so must have a title. It also challenges me to ensure my story fits that title but not in a blatantly obvious way, there still has to be room to surprise the reader, and the first reader I have to surprise is me! What I always love is when, as I am writing the story, I can kind of “feel” the tale coming together and I know then that the piece will work. It is then a question of finding the right home for it but that’s another story, so to speak.

I sometimes have fun writing stories in one sentence. Usually I go on to expand these a bit so they become either flash fiction pieces circa the 100 words mark or standard length short stories. However, occasionally, it is fun to leave them as they are. After all, Ernest Hemingway did this with his For Sale: one pair baby shoes.

1. After the latest foul-tasing meat scandal, the dragon decided it was time to go veggie.

2. Jemma knew monsters existed, the monsters knew they existed, so why did everyone else scoff at the idea and then end up eaten by the things?

3. Just for once, the fairy was going to grant her own wish and the authorities could go hang.

Allison Symes – 29th June 2018

 

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog – What Does Reading Do For You?

Well, what DOES reading do for you?

In my case, it depends on the book. I read for:-

1. Entertainment – whether it makes me laugh, cry or scream.

2. Escapism – nearly always fantasy/fairytales for grown-ups so I enter another world for a while as I read.

3. To learn (especially from non-fiction) – I read a fair amount of history and am currently enjoying London by Peter Ackroyd and Double Cross by Ben Macintyre. Different “storytelling” techniques used here but both brilliant.

4. To relish what I know from past experience is masterly prose – Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse for me here.

5. To experience something different from what I usually read and/or write. I like to read in my genre, flash fiction, but it is refreshing to read longer short stories, novels etc.

Reading takes me out of myself and into other places for a while. You see things from other perspectives. You identify with characters, whether you like them or not. Reading makes you think. (No wonder one of the first actions of any dictatorship is to try to limit or ban books and/or journalism).

Reading, like the arts, is good for the soul. It feeds the mind, even if the fare you prefer is lighthearted, humorous, not intended to be taken seriously etc. I do know I feel much poorer in myself during those times when things get in the way of my reading time. When life is stressful, turning to a good book won’t resolve the crisis, but gives you time out from it for a while. Sometimes that is all that is needed. At other times, the break is useful for you.

So happy reading!

More than Writers – Association of Christian Writers blog – Should You Resemble your Characters?

I can think of several colleagues who would take one glance at that question and say “no way”. Some may express that more forcibly!

I can think of several of my own characters whom I would never want to meet in life, yet alone resemble, and for all sorts of reasons.

So why ask? Well, so much depends on the character, doesn’t it? If a character shows grit, determination, honour etc, we probably wouldn’t mind emulating them. If a character shows horrible traits, we’d pass, thank you. How many of us want to be a coward for example?

In outlining our stories, we have to create our “people” based on what we know about human nature and behaviour. We know we need our characters to be believable so that means no goody-goody heroes of whatever gender. It also means no cardboard cut out villains. They’ve got to have some redeeming quality or a motive which is understandable. Often writers do both of course.

Redemption, of course, is possible, as is a good character going astray. What makes us choose which way they go? A wish to show that if this character was us, this is how we’d be? Or do we opt for the choice of this is how the character would be and I wouldn’t be like this in a zillion years?

In creating our characters, we have to be honest in their portrayal (or readers will see straight through it and switch off). So maybe I should have rephrased the question to read do we resemble our characters? I suspect there would be some interesting answers to that!

Truth is stranger than fiction but good fiction can reveal something of what humans are capable of, even if we use fantastical creatures to represent us in some way. Sometimes good fiction can be  prophetic and I am thinking of George Orwell’s 1984 here especially.  Whatever would he have made of social media? I can imagine his harsh criticism of it.

And what is the great thing about honest character portrayal? Simply, I’ve found both as a reader and writer, that honesty comes through, and I am engaged with those characters and their stories as a result. It is, for me, honestly portrayed characters, whether they’re goodies or baddies, that grip me and keep me reading.  I identify with the truth behind their portrayal.

Even in flash fiction, my genre, the moment I have what my character is like outlined, I am away, happily scribbling the story down. After all, if I’m not engaged with my people, why should anyone else be?

So it’s off to write characters that intrigue me then. The great thing is I don’t have to like them, yet alone resemble them. Just as well really. Fiction would suffer without the characters we dislike. Story is conflict and it is the dubious characters that get that conflict going. We need to see the Ebenezer Scrooges before their transformation to be able to appreciate that transformation when it happens. Now just how human is that?!

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Fairytales with Bite – What Makes a Great Fairytale Character?

A great fairytale character will:-

1.  Be easy to identify with.  I love Tinkerbell in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan for “wanting to get at those who didn’t clap” when the children had been told clapping would restore her.  You can just imagine the annoyness and irritation there, can’t you?

2.  Sometimes arouse your pity, other times your anger.  Fairytales are strong on right and wrong (which I think is why kids love them so much.  I remember at a very young age already knowing the world wasn’t fair so stories which put “things to rights” very much appealed).  The Little Mermaid always generates pity in me.  The vileness of the cruel characters in fairytales riles me but all of the characters make you feel something.

3.  Be on some journey or quest and you just HAVE to find out how it goes.  This can be anything from finding out whether Cinderella will go to the ball or not to discovering if Frodo will complete his mission in the right way in The Lord of the Rings.

This World and Others – Populating Your World

How do you populate your fictional worlds?

A lot will depend on genre, of course. (One great reason for loving fantasy and sci-fi is the huge scope for creating your own peoples and civilisations).

However, one fundamental here is that there will be a major people/alien being group and minorities around it. Of course there are a lot of stories to be had in showing how the major group treats the minorities and do they rebel against ill treatment etc? But even where there are no direct clashes on the grounds of racism etc, what do your peoples need to survive and how do they get this? Is there a have and have-not society going on?

You will need the suppliers and the supplied-to. You will need the ruled and the rulers. Different peoples will have specific needs so how does your world cater to those needs? What are the belief systems? Do the peoples share common values/faith etc or not?

And, to add spice to the mix, there will always be those characters who defy their society’s expectations of/for them.

So have fun creating your peoples!

 

 

 

 

 

WRITING, EDITING, AND WORLD BUILDING ISSUES

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Looking forward to the Hursley Park Book Fair over the weekend (though sadly I can only be there on the Saturday). I hope I can get to listen to a couple of the other talks during the day too.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I plan to read a few of my stories as part of my talk on flash fiction at the Hursley Park Book Fair tomorrow, 23rd June. (The event is on 24th as well but sadly I can’t make it for both days). Good opportunity to spread the word about what flash fiction is all about.

As with my longer fiction, I draft a flash piece first, give it an initial edit, and then leave it for a while before looking at it again. In the meantime, of course, I am writing more flash fiction and non-fiction posts. This generally means I always have something to write or to edit.

When I use Evernote, I tend to just write and have fun being creative. I tend to edit this work once I’m back at my desk again. I’ve found this method works best for me but the most important thing, I think, is to see the creative writing and editing of same as two separate tasks. I never try to write and edit at the same time, else I hamper myself. I need a bit of gap to be able to judge objectively if something is working or not.

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Fairytales with Bite – What Classifies a Fairytale as a Fairytale?

This is not a definitive list but what I think classifies a fairytale to be called a fairytale.  Comments welcome!

1.  Magic is involved.  This can be at a high level (Cinderella’s transformation – clothes, coach etc) to low level (a little magic is used to help a character succeed at something.  This is taken to its logical conclusion in Fantasia though there the character also needed to know how to stop but that’s another story!).

2.  There has to be a transformation of fortune.  Usually from being downtrodden to the happy ever after, but sometimes, such as in The Little Mermaid, the transformation can be seen not to have been what the character really wanted.  Or it failed to achieve what it is was meant to achieve.  However, the transformation of fortune has still happened.

3.  Generally, the good guys either win or fail heroically but leave the banner to someone else.  Always true.  I would describe a story where the villain won as a a nightmare, rather than  a fairytale.  Why?  Because with the villain winning, you can kiss goodbye to hope.  That villain will impose their will on their subjects say with nothing and nobody to stop them.  I fail to see the story in that.  Re the latter, remember in The Lord of the Rings, there had been a previous attempt to defeat Sauron once and for all.  That failed but it paved the way for the story to follow.

4.  Inanimate objects should be treated with caution.  This can include things like the Portals in the Harry Potter series, any shiny red apple, talking mirrors, and swords/rings etc that seem keen to be reunited with their former owners.  These always cause trouble but it is a major element of a fairytale.

5.  Expect the unexpected and/or what is unknown in our world to be known here.  This is especially true for the existence of magical creatures, universes far far away, and so on.

This World and Others – World Building Issues

Some issues relating to world building can include:-

1.  Not giving enough information for your reader to be able to picture the world in their own minds.  As with flash fiction, it is the telling detail that matters here.  Your story should ensure it has everything in it the reader will need to know.

2.  Not making the world attractive enough for the reader to care what happens to it.  The details you give them have to matter.  The readers need to see what is appealing about World X always doing this or that on their equivalent of a Tuesday, to name one example.  They also need to see why it matters.  In this case, would the world collapse if the tradition changed?

3.  Not having the right balance of character types.  You do need a decent villain.  You also need a hero/heroine with the right “can do it” attitude.  Yet if you just have the good guys, there is literally nothing for the good guys to fight.

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Co-Operative Marketing and What Defines a Good Book

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My CFT post shares an update from Richard Hardie with regard to his Authors Reach group. More writers than ever are banding up together to hold events they would not go to alone or to assist in marketing.

A great example of this is last year’s Book Fair where a number of local writers got together to sell our books in the area. (We succeeded too!). A good group will cross-pollinate each others’ works. Sometimes it can be easier to promote others’s works than your own. But in this day of print on demand, smartphone, and other technologies, offering to assist can be crucial. It is appreciated by readers too. Having an event with a wider range of authors taking part gives readers more choice (and makes it more likely they’ll turn up to the event!).

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Facebook – General

I’m glad to share the first part of a series for Chandler’s Ford Today on which I am series editor. Graham MacLean on Art will run for the next three weeks. Tonight’s article features Graham discussing the purpose of art.

Next week Graham will talk about the different media used in painting and share some of his fantastic artworks using the different forms. He’ll finish the series with a look at his favourite artists.

It was a real pleasure to help Graham put this series together. His paintings are wonderful. Hope you enjoy.  The images below are just three of Graham’s wonderful pictures.  Many thanks, Graham, for these.  There are more in all three articles.  The other two parts to this will appear on 14th and 21st June respectively.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One great thing about writing is that each writer brings their own perspective to a story. So even if several writers had the same theme, word count etc, our stories would be different. (Yes, there would be bound to be some writers coming out with similar ideas as to how to treat the topic but even there, the way characters are portrayed, the use of language, style etc all show the individual author’s voice).

This is why reading work by other writers is such a pleasure as I love seeing how others treat a theme etc, especially when it is a world away from the way I’d treat it. I like the contrast. I like other writers surprising me with what they come up (and hope sometimes at least I can return the compliment with my writing!).

Got plenty of reading to catch up on when I’m on holiday before long. Very much looking forward to it!

(Am glad to say the books in the slideshow below are some of those I’ve read as a result of interviewing the authors! Am more than happy to recommend them all – and naturally I’m starting with mine!!).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Good luck to all of the authors taking part in the Waterloo Arts Festival next week. A special hello goes to my fellow Bridge House and Cafelit authors, Paula Readman, Christopher Bowles, Gail Aldwin, and Dawn Knox, who, like me, have work included in the anthology that ties in with the Festival.

I’m only sorry I can’t be there but hope the readings go well and that the ebook sells really well! (Not that I’m biased or anything… much!).

The stories in this anthology are all flash ones so if you are looking to add to your flash fiction collection, do look out for the release of this ebook from 14th June. I will share more details towards the end of next week.

It is heartening to see flash fiction in such fine form!

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog – What Defines a Good Book?

A good book, as far as I’m concerned, has to:-

1. Have characters I care about (though I don’t mind if some are “slow burn” characters so I grow to care about them. I am prepared to give them time but I feel cheated if by the end of the book, I haven’t been made to care about the characters.).

2. Have characters I can get behind and either “root” for their success or, usually if a villain, hope they get their comeuppance. (I do love finding out how they do!).

3. Give you a sense that the author has said all that has needed to be said but oh how you wish there was more of the story because you enjoyed it so much.

4. Give you a sense of a wonderfully created world, leaving the way for prequels or sequels, whether or not the writer actually does write these.

5. Have a gripping plot, obviously.

6. Have an easy to remember blurb. It makes it easier to recommend the book to others because it gives you the main point, which drew you to reading the book in the first place.

7. Have a title that intrigues or you can see a few different directions in which the title could take you. That opens up all sorts of possibilities for the story itself and makes me want to crack on and read it!

8. If within a really popular genre, such as crime or fantasy, being able to offer something different to the “mix” so the book stands out.

9. You could see a decent film being made out of the plot as long as the movie people stick to the plot of the book, given it is so good.

10. You want to re-read it at least once a year. Always a good sign that.

Fairytales With Bite – Time to Wonder, Time to Reflect

Do your characters ever wonder or take some time out to reflect? Wonder can be at the physical beauty of the world they’re on, of course, (or if in a really bad place at just how ugly it is!), or they are aware of just how small they are in comparison to their surroundings.

Characters, like us, need periods of reflection, especially if they are on any kind of quest. So how do they find the time to reflect or is it forced upon them? (They’ve got to hide out for a while, so have got plenty of time to do some thinking etc).

What do your characters make of the world you’ve put them in? Are they observant? Do they treat their natural world with contempt or are they conservationists? Do they ever reflect on their own behaviour and attitudes?

Are your characters thoughtful or thoughtless ones? If you have characters where one is a reflective type and the other would far rather watch paint dry, (a) you can see the potential for clashes here (though they could be humorous ones) and (b) how do you resolve matters if the two absolutely have to work together? (Again potential for comedy or tragedy here).

I’ll leave you to wonder how to write that! Good luck!

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This World and Others – Purposes

I’ve recently been the series editor for a series on art by Graham MacLean on Chandler’s Ford Today.  (The other two parts of this series will be going live on 14th and 21st June.  I’d highly recommend having a look – Graham is a superb artist).  Part 1 of this series talks about the purpose of art.  (We could have gone on at length about that rather than just write and edit one post about it!).  Part 2 will see Graham discussing the different media used in painting and he shares some fantastic examples of his own work in most of the forms discussed.  Part 3 will be his thoughts on his favourite artists.

So this led me to think about what purposes your characters (a) have, (b) consider worthy, (c) would not go a million miles near no matter how much you paid them, or (d) intend to carry out, no matter how or of who tries to get in their way.  How did they discover these purposes?  What is behind their attitude towards them?  Are societal/tribal pressures influencing them on how they should react/which purposes they should carry out or avoid?

A purpose will have a clearly stated aim so will automatically give your character something to either strive for or get away from, as the case may be.  It will be the conflicts caused by that striving or avoiding which give you your story.  The purpose has to be strong enough and definite.  So a purpose of, say, killing the dragon terrifying the village is fine.  A purpose of sitting down to think about what should be done about the dragon is not – far too wishy washy!

And talking of dragons, I’m glad to share a recently published flash fiction piece, Time for a Change, which has recently appeared on Cafelit.  Hope you enjoy.

And now I’m off for a few days break.  I will be back on here during the week beginning Monday 18th June.  Hope you all have wonderful holidays this summer.  I have, meantime, scheduled short Facebook posts on my author page and also on my From Light to Dark and Back Again page for the next few days.  I will be back here with a big round-up of those on my return.  Happy summer, everyone!