In almost every walk of life there are those who are behind the scenes, who are easily overlooked but without whom life would be that much poorer. In any organisation or indeed on a website like this, there is at least one person driving it who makes things happen (take a bow, Janet and Neil).
I guess it is like housework in a way. Nobody notices when you’ve done it. They do notice when you haven’t!
Is that rotten? Oh yes.
Is it human nature to a T? Oh yes.
I was particularly pleased to see the charity being supported by The Chameleon Theatre Group this year is One Community. They do a great deal of good in the area, their blue buses are a cheery sight and make a huge difference to people being able to get out and about (including getting to see the Chameleons at work!), and, of course, One Community also run Eastleigh Museum. (It is well worth a visit. They also have a nice little cafe).
It was also good to have a quick chat with the good people of One Community at the recent Fryern Funtasia.Giving up time is not easy to do so all credit to those who do. So a big thanks to all the makers of tea and coffee at events, those who clear up, those who do the admin so the event can happen at all or who make the charity run as well as possible.
One of the biggest problems organisations have is finding enough volunteers and this topic came up in conversation a couple of times at the Funtasia. There’s no easy answer to this one.
Behind the Scenes in the Writing World
In the writing world, behind the scenes has a different meaning. There is the literal sense for playwrights of course but for most writers, behind the scenes means all the work that goes into producing a story or article and the research to back it up, which a reader never gets to see.
Then there’s the time taken to draft a piece before further time is spent on editing and reviewing it. Submitting work, whether it’s to an online magazine, or to a traditional publisher also takes time and, given every outlet has different house styles you will need to stick to so your work does get read, it pays to not leave things to the last minute. When deadlines are set for a competition, I take about a week off that date to ensure I’ve got time in hand for those last checks before submission.
For CFT, I aim to have a post drafted by early in the week, then edited and up on site for mid-week, ahead of a final check and polish before scheduling for Fridays. All I can say is this works! I’ve also found having a regular schedule helps me to get more written. What goes on behind the scenes has a major impact on what appears in front of them!
The writer does needs to research wisely and well to be able to write and, yes, you can carry out research for fiction. Historical fiction is probably the best example of that as facts within such stories still need to be spot on (as a writer would be picked up on it by disgruntled readers. If you can’t trust a writer to get their facts right, why trust them on the bits they legitimately make up? There is a level of trust between a writer and a reader and any author breaks that at their own peril).
Researching wisely and well means never relying on one source for information (you should be able to back your research up from other sources). The danger for writers here though is research can be addictive! It is a question of knowing when to stop and working out how much you really need to know before starting writing. Research can easily turn into procrastination.
Do I carry out research for my flash fiction? Sometimes. I’ve been writing some historical pieces and for one I’ve needed to be spot on with a particular date as it has a huge bearing on how the story works. I’m pleased to say my Dignity and Injustice will be appearing in The Best of Cafelit 8 which will be published in December 2019.
Scenes in Fiction
Scenes also come into writers’ lives depending on what they write. For flash fiction, the story itself is usually one scene and that’s it. For the longer type of flash fiction (up to 1000 words), there may be one other scene break. For standard short stories and novels, there are often more than that, but what is the purpose of scenes in fiction?
For a novelist, sub-plots(usually scenes in their own right) are an integral part of their story as the main plot also continues towards its conclusion. Sub-plots enrich the novel and can show wonderful characterisation the shorter forms of fiction simply don’t have the room for.
Scene breaks enable a writer to get to a certain part of the story where the main action is happening, then go back to an integral sub-plot which will feed back into the main story later on. The idea behind this is to build up tension and drama.
You are left hanging on wondering what’s going to happen to Character A, while discovering Character B has worse problems, you go back to Character A to see if they are making progress or not, before returning to B again to find out the latest developments there.
It is not an easy balance to get right. You don’t want to irritate readers by switching scenes unnecessarily. Each scene must be necessary to move the story on. If you can imagine a story without a scene change, that scene change shouldn’t be in it!
Any writer of fiction has to work out where to best break a scene and to put in a new one. You want the reader to be on tenterhooks but also to be gripped by the next scene (which should add depth to to the overall story) so there is not one bit the reader wants to miss reading.
Other behind the scenes aspects for writers include accepting it takes time to build up an audience for your work. There is also the need to accept rejections will happen (and continue to do so after publication).
On the flip side of the coin, there are the positive opportunities that come your way which you need to decide whether they are for you or not. I am pleased to say I’ll be reading an extract from my flash fiction piece, The Professional, at the Waterloo Arts Festival on 8th June in London. The last twelve months have seen me take on more Open Prose mic slots and reading my work out to audiences and I hope that very much continues. It’s fun but there has been a lot of behind the scenes work leading up to this!
So whether you’re a writer or not, whether you’re a volunteer or not, I wanted to say that the behind the scenes work, which can sometimes seem tedious and make you wonder if you’re getting anywhere or not, does pay off eventually.
Volunteers could and should take pride in knowing they are making a huge difference to the organisation/people they are helping.
Writers need to accept the behind the scenes work is a major part of your development – there are no shortcuts here, as there aren’t in other aspects of life.
Keep going and good luck!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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