Have you tried writing Flash Fiction?
Yesterday I wrote a brief introduction to Flash Fiction and shared one of my flash stories as an example. Do you have a favourite Flash Fiction story to share with us?
I’m delighted to share the news I’ve accepted my first book contract for my flash fiction collection. There are over 40 stories in it and the word count is about 10,000 words so it will be a slim volume but the whole idea of flash is to keep it short and simple.
It will be the first time I’ve had a book out in my own name. To date I’ve appeared in anthologies and online. The working title is currently From Light to Dark and Back Again but this may change. The working title reflects the tone of the stories.
Independent publisher, Chapeltown Books, who are an imprint of Bridge House Publishing, will be publishing the book. I’ve come full circle as Bridge House published my first story in print – A Helping Hand in their Alternative Renditions anthology – some years ago.
Never give up
I’ve been writing seriously for 20 years (and have sought publication for at least 10). I saw the first years as working out what I wanted to write and learning the craft to get my work to a publishable standard.
No writer worth their salt stops learning (or should want to!) and there are always things to improve upon but it is reaching the point where someone says “yes, I’ll take it” that is a major goal for most authors). So it has taken time for me to get here but I think I’ll be more appreciative because of that.
I’ve worked on my stories for a long time. It goes to show you should never give up on a story. Rework it, yes. Strengthen it as much as you can. Test the market with it regularly. But never, ever give up…
How I work
Writers fall in two categories – those who work best early in the day and night owls. I’m one of the latter. I love the peace and quiet of the house at night and write better at this time. I have a rough schedule in that I spent part of my evening engaging with social media (aka chatting to my fellow writers on Facebook! In fairness I learn about competitions this way). I then work on my websites and blog posts.
I finish the evening working on fiction (often for a competition). I also make some time for reading my writing magazines to keep up to date with competition and market news. There are now a number of places that take flash fiction. Some focus on fantasy tales, others are general but a quick trawl of the net should bring plenty of ideas as to where to submit work.
What’s my inspiration
I’ve always loved humorous fantasy/fairytale type stories so naturally this is where I write. What I never expected, but have been delighted to find, is a real love of writing non-fiction, including for CFT.
Any writing helps an author “flex” their writing and imaginative muscles. One of the courses I would have liked to have gone to during my recent week at the Swanwick Summer School was on Creative Non-fiction. The idea here is to use some of the techniques in fiction writing to bring non-fiction pieces to life.
By the way, the course I absolutely had to do was on character psychology. Fascinating stuff and one morning was spent happily analysing the characteristics of a psychopath! It is amazing what you can learn from writing!
I have to write, as it is part of who I am and most committed writers I’ve come across in interviews have said something similar. Even when on holiday I’m catching up with reading, which in turn sparks ideas for future stories.
My powerful tool: Scrivener
I use Scrivener as my all round work program. I hope to review some features in a future post. Until recently I kept my writing diary (invaluable for scheduling work) and wrote in it using a quill biro I was given for my 50th birthday. If anyone knows where these can be bought, do say as my lovely quill biro has finally bitten the dust! (What Shakespeare wouldn’t have given for these given they are much easier to use than the quills he used!).
My other tools are my laptop and printer. I have a HP Laserjet printer I call “Old Faithful” given it has seen off other printers in the household that can scan, do colour printing and so on. Mine can only print in black and white but like the Duracell bunny it keeps going. As does its owner!
Roses on my writing desk
The writing desk is not tidy (!) but I have my writing diary, some writing magazines and a pile of papers which I am editing or contain details of things I want to write for competitions, future CFT posts and so on. Sometimes there are research articles here too.
I have a few writing manuals to hand and some of the anthologies I’ve appeared in. I also have three artificial roses to the right of my laptop. I bought these for my late mum when she was in her care home with advanced dementia because fresh flowers, lovely though they are, can be a pain for nursing staff who are up to their necks in more important work to worry about plants! So this was a good compromise, the flowers are lifelike and were on my mum’s cabinet for years.
Every time I see them I think of her and this is appropriate because she taught me to read before I officially started school, my love of books comes from her (as does my love of Radio 4, particularly Just a Minute) and when my first short story was published in 2009, she was just about well enough to appreciate this. She would be thrilled to know of my book contract and I’m only sorry she’s not around to see it.
Writers write because of a need to express themselves, and, in my case, put something back into the writing “pot” as a thank you for all the stories I’ve enjoyed over the years and will hopefully continue to enjoy. I owe that love to my late mum and have two great joys in life as a result – all writers love to read. Not all readers love to write. I have the best of both worlds but writing needs that trigger, which generally is a love for story, and Mum was the trigger for me.
What about you? What triggers you to write, and to read?
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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