- Getting Your Oats - Porridge Recipe Unveiled. Three Bears say if they can make porridge, so can anyone.
- Dance the Night Away - in Sensible Footwear. Cinderella advises that glass slippers are not comfortable and if going to the local bigwigs' party, it pays to wear something sensible on your feet.
- I Owe It All to a Big Chopper - Says Little Red Riding Hood after having been swallowed alive by the Big, Bad Wolf and whose life was only saved by the timely intervention of the local woodchopper.
- An Apple A Day Can Prove Fatal - Snow White shares the horror of purchasing dodgy apples from the local crone and warns everybody you're probably better off shopping with the local grocer instead.
- Spinning Wheel Horror - Sleeping Beauty speaks out... now she's finally woken up.
News headlines that could apply to fairytale characters include:-
Christmas is generally acknowledged in my magical realm given God is considered, by the Fairy Queen and Eileen prior to her defection, as the Ultimate Boss. Celebrations generally are held publicly (rather than in private gardens as can be the case with Bonfire Night) and are noisy affairs.
Wizards are renowned for their fireworks and Roxannadrell expects the very best wizards to save their best work here for celebrations at and around the Palace (usually for her birthday which is a public holiday).
Food and drink is prepared with copious amounts of magic (though at least the advantage of that is never having to worry about running out of supplies).
And those dallying behind in the Palace grounds, which the Queen opens up for the public to come and join her private party, discover magic can be used very imaginatively indeed to get them to go home!
It takes something special to add to the Christmas traditions and certain writers have done this.
There isn't one simple answer to this. A lot depends on whether you're writing a short story or a novel. It also depends on the writer. Some don't plan at all. Others plan to the "nth degree".
For a short story, I prepare a rough outline so I know who the characters are, what they want to achieve, how they do so and who gets in their way. Also whether they overcome this or not. For a novel I do much the same but in far greater detail.
I see my outline as a guide and I know I could go into more detail on it but I like enough information for me to be able to use it to get up and running with my story.
Just before the New Year I look back at my writing diary and see if I achieved the hopes and plans I set out for that year. If I did, great. If I didn't, was it because something better came along or because something needs more work before I submit it? Usually it is down to one of those two options.
I also write down in my new writing diary what I hope to achieve in the coming year (and I would like in 2016 to resume writing radio plays and another novel, though not at the same time!). I also jot down (usually before Christmas) story ideas I'm "carrying" as I know I will forget them otherwise over the holidays.
I think it is good to look back and take stock before moving on. I can't stress the importance of the latter enough. Any writer will want to build on good work being achieved to (a) see if it can be improved still further and (b) build on the success already generated.
And the great thing? Sometimes you can create an article out of your review and post it on a blog, on Facebook etc. See link below!
And another of my short stories, The Magic Flute, is now in the recently released The Best of Cafelit 4. This is a nice way to end the year!
Click the Amazon link for formats and buying information for The Best of Cafe Lit 4.
Better still, Cafelit can be contacted via: 15 Chapeltown Road, Radcliffe, United Kingdom, M26 1YF. Please make cheques payable to Bridge House.
One way of helping to bring your created world to life for your readers is to ensure your characters do have some kind of private lives. It may not be directly relevant to the story you'e telling but a hobby, say, is something you could refer to and people will conjure up their own thoughts as to the kind of character who would do this for a hobby and so on. It will make your characters more realistic.
Private lives can cover everything from romance to hobbies to the type of food your characters most like. These touches add depth to your characters plus if, say, a character likes watching a film, going to a cinema could well form part of the story (even if it is just to show said character having a break from the hurly burly of whatever situation you've put them in).
Private elements of lives can form parts of conversations between characters, give them a reason for meeting at all (and could act as a catalyst for actual story events you do want to include).
Just after Christmas and before New Year, I like to review my writing year. I like to see if I managed to achieve what I hoped I would achieve when I wrote down future plans. I also like to write down what I think I would like to do for the following year.
In general it is a good thing to take stock and I use my review to work out where I'm heading as a writer, where perhaps I've gone off at a tangent (I would have liked to have placed my novel this year but should have been more proactive on this - target for next year now).
One thing remains constant though: I always wish I'd read more and plan to do so the following year! Maybe I'll get to do so in 2016.... watch this space.
If you could only ever own five books, what would you choose? I'll allow that everyone, as with the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs is allowed Shakespeare and the Bible. I would also let everyone have Charles Dickens' and Jane Austen's collected works to represent the finest in male and female novelists who've set the bar for those who have followed/are following now.
For me, this question would be a nightmare as I love so many but the five I know I could not do without are:-
I expect I'd be accused of cheating by going for "collected works" but why not? Just put them together in one big volume and it would be one book, would it not?! Mind some weight training would probably be useful in preparation for trying to pick the things up to read them!
Some questions to ponder:-
My latest Chandler's Ford Today posts (last week and today) feature Richard Hardie, a YA author, whose Temporal Detective Agency novels, Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords, are now taking off with successful library and other book signing events happening in the last few months. See the link.
I've carriied out a number of interviews with writers this year, all of which have been huge fun to do. I also love reading writer interviews and never fail to learn something that might help me improve what I do. And the fact I can learn as I enjoy a cup of tea or whatever is even better.
My work is definitely aimed at adults, especially women, but regardless of genre, any writer of adult fiction owes a huge debt to the writers of "children's" literature. (I personally think the word children can cover all age ranges from 0 to 99, hence the speech marks). Writers of adult fiction know the majority of their audience comes from those who have loved reading from an early age and are progressing through different stages of book reading. Most do not suddenly decide they're going to read a work of adult fiction.
So to anyone tempted to dismiss "children's" literature, think again. It is the very solid foundation for all sorts of reading. And without the love of books instilled, ideally as early as possible, the whole world of publishing would be in serious trouble. The market has to come from somewhere after all.
Eileen has no time for evil. She hates the cruelty and wastefulness of it so has no problem giving evildoers what she thinks they've got coming. Some of her favourite methods are:-
The great thing about writing advice is there is plenty of it out there. My best writing advice? See below!
I recently completed the online Future Learning course studying the works of Hans Christen Andersen. It was a great course and it covered some of my favourite HCA stories. The course helped me to analyse these tales in greater depth than I would normally do and a great deal came out of this. I really liked the online discussions too. So many themes and sub-themes emerged. HCA could write in layers! So some of my favourite fairy stories then include:-
These are in no particular order and there are lots more stories I could add to that list. I hope I can study more online courses which back up my writing like this.
I know there are loads of these lists around and I love reading them but these are some of my thoughts on this.
One great joy about writing is getting to meet other writers and talk all things writing and reading with them. (If this meeting is set in a pub, even better!). I was delighted to go to the Bridge House Publishing/Cafe Lit joint book launch event in London today.
I have had work in a Bridge House Anthology - A Helping Hand in their Alternative Renditions collection - and short stories and flash fiction on line at Cafe Lit. I was very pleased my The Magic Flute was picked to go in The Best of Cafe Lit 4, the annual print edition of the best of the online stories.
It's always fascinating to talk with other writers about their work and their creative processes and I am much more comfortable about talking about my work now. I was also sharing with someone that one piece of advice I found really helpful from Stephen King (I think it was from his marvellous On Writing) was that you don't need others to tell you that you are a writer. If you write, you are a writer. That simple piece of advice has helped boost my confidence as I write (I guess all writers look for some vindication) and I think that confidence shows in what and how I write.
Best of all, today I was asked to sign a copy of The Best of Cafe Lit 4. To date, when I've been asked to sign my autograph, it's been on the bottom of a cheque to pay some horrible bill (not that there's ever really a nice one!).
The nice thing about this category is it will flesh out my stories without alienating the navels. It is the small details that I think count the most. What a character likes (in terms of taste, food etc). What they don't like (why can sometimes be a useful detail to include).
What counts as ordinary life will vary from character to character too so something of that can also be shown in your stories. How that life came about for the individual, what they will do to protect it can all be used to add depth and detail and back up your main plot.
To help make your characters seem more real you should have some reference to their family background. After all nobody comes from nowhere and while the family doesn’t have to appear in your short story or novel or whatever, it would be odd if your character doesn’t refer to them in some way, no matter how briefly.
After all what you make the character says here can show a great deal of how they interact (or not) with their family and the reader can speculate as to how they’re likely to get on with people in general and whether they’re likeable or not. Also if the character gets on well with the family, do they do this to the exclusion of getting on with anybody else? Do they look down on others?
What relationships do your characters have with each other? Do any fall foul of your world’s rules? What does your world do about it? Does your world interact with other worlds or avoid them? Are there reasons for their policy (ideally it shouldn’t just be prejudice. For example the Fairy Kingdom despites humanity for its warlike and polluting qualities. Difficult one to argue against, isn’t it? We can hardly claim not to be guilty of that).
Having good foundations for your world doesn’t just mean showing how it works and runs, important though that is, but good reasons behind their policies will make your world and stories that much more convincing. You don’t want anything to sound an odd note, anything that might interrrupt your reader’s enjoyment of your work and think “Nah! Would never work!”.
Could your world’s attitudes change (for worse or better)? Say your world is anti any kind of interaction with other species but changes it mind later as it realises it could trade (for example) with this other species for things it itself is short of, who would take on an ambassadorial role? What mistakes would your world make (potential for both comedy and tragic misunderstandings there)?
Perhaps there ought to be a fictional Tourist Board and/or Rough Guides to fictional worlds. I highly recommend Diana Wynne Jones's The Tough Guide to Fantasyland incidentally as one of the funniest books I've read. Following on from my post yesterday, the fictional places you wouldn't catch me at, if a visit ever somehow became possible, are:-
I wouldn't mind visiting my own Fairy Kingdom (as long as Eileen wasn't giving the guided tour. She will be biased and not in a good way and given she spent a lot of her career facing down dragons and foul fiends, the likelihood of coming across these beasts during the visit would be very high. Can't say I fancy that). There are other fictional worlds I wouldn't mind having a long day trip to, maybe even a short weekend break and some of these are:-
I think it is fair to say L'Evallier is the snob's snob. As Chief Elf and, later, Council Leader and with a formidably noble background, he is well aware very few could match him (one that can is his equally noble wife, Melanbury).
How characters talk to one another can be every bit as revealing as what they actually say, sometimes more so. We pick up on non-verbal clues in life so characters should do so as well (indeed it would be odd if they don't do so).
L'Evallier will not use contractions, regardless of who he speaks with. The Queen will adjust her speech depending on her audience and will use contractions if she feels it appropriate and/or is under stress (where her language has been known to go downhill as well!).
Eileen speaks as she finds and won't tone that down for anyone. She prides herself on her consistency. Reaction to her speech depends on her audience. Jenny gives as good as she gets, as does the Queen and the Witch. Brankaresh argues back but Eileen can normally out-argue him.
Reactions to speech will vary depending on the mood of your characters and their speech and style of speech will be reliant on that. So how speech is made is vitally important to help make a well rounded character.
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.