Micro-Fiction Challenges – Six

We run together. Mountains, valleys, sand and fields. The ground rolls away behind us.

We walk together.  Cautious, we are braver together. Balanced together.

Your heart will always guide us safely home. My legs will always carry us.

I dream of lush green grass and wild flowers.; of sweet smelling hay and fresh cool water.

We rest together.

 

Challenges

I  put out a call for people to challenge me and this is my sixth response. The prompt was Horse & Adventure. This was actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. In the end, I think it came out as more a piece of poetry and it’s only 58 words long. However, I feel that if I kept adding then it would lost it’s form.

And yes, that’s me riding. It was a really special day.

Join me in the challenge! post your micro-fiction of 100 words or less below. I challenge you to use the prompt of  Pillow and the genre of Sci-Fi. Have fun! I would love to see some responses.

Previous Prompts

Dinosaurs & Melodrama

Penguins & Romance

Mitosis & Farce

Wine & Sci-Fi

Zombie & Romance

Novel Writing – Starting Somewhere

Writing a longer piece of fiction can feel like setting off on an unchartered ocean. I’ve hopefully compiled a few ideas to stop you feeling Adrift

So, you want to write a story? Not just any story, but the book you feel you’ve wanted to write for years? I would like to say I only have one piece of advice, but then this blog and series of posts with helpful hints and ideas would be arbitrary. So, this is perhaps the most important thing to piece of information. You can do it! What are you doing reading this blog, go write! – Wait, please don’t go! I have advice!

If you are writing an extended story, a novel, an epic ten-part series, or even a novella, you will probably recognise the push and pull of the paragraph above. If not, you’ll soon get used to it. From writing novels, or attempting to, I’ve found that I develop a love/hate relationship with the projects I’m undertaking. On the one hand, they’re just so darned exciting! On the other…when will it end?! Will all the effort even be worth it? What if no one likes it, what if no one except your mum ever reads it? What if you cannot be the next JK Rowling? Despair! Then fall back in love with the words, the story, your characters and the setting again and it’s the worst relationship ever.

This is going to be a series of blog posts about writing that book, or novel. It’s going to cover topics such as getting started, planning, characterisation, world building, editing and include writing prompts and a whole host of goodies. I hope you’ll join me for the ride and perhaps I can even provide something that will be helpful.

Now, I’ve written out a plan about planning – ironic. Yet, what I’m going to base this first post on, is Getting Started.

Now, before you open the cans labelled, ‘self-doubt’ and ‘crushing despair’ that I think writers tend to carry; as with any good relationship, it may be time to set some boundaries with your writing project.

Now, this isn’t, in any way, supposed to limit the scope of your project, and there will be a long discussion about ‘too much planning’ in my next post on this theme. However, I’ve learnt to set myself a few goals when it comes to approaching a new project. If you’re about to launch into yours, (or maybe you’ve already started?) are you able to answer the following questions?

  1. Who is your intended audience?

Child or Adult fiction? Young Adult or New Adult? Steam-punk lovers, or die hard sword and sorcery epic fantasy fans?

  1. What size project are you aiming for?

Is this going to be a gorgeous and concise piece of prose and a short story? What about a poem? Or does it need more space to breathe and could thrive as a novella (under 50,000 words -ish) or is it going to be a full- blown novel? If you’re thinking about publication, then as a rough guide for a debut novelist, you might want to aim for less than 90,000 words. Although, this doesn’t apply to all genres.

  1. If no one other than your mum reads it, is that okay?

Writing to complete a project takes a lot of investment. The most important thing that any of us has, is our time. If you’re going to invest several months of your time on this beautiful planet, hacking away at your keyboard, and wondering where the letter ‘N’ vanished off to (seriously, where has it gone?!) Then are you going to be alright if it isn’t a storming success?

There are a few lessons that I remember very clearly from creative writing courses and one of them is this. Write what you would love to read. This is probably going to dictate who your audience is as well. I love reading YA Fantasy, historical romance, sword and sorcery, old-fashioned crime fiction and children’s literature. What I end up writing is a strange mixture of those components.

At the end of the day, if I’m going to be living in the world I’m writing, it must be enticing – for me at least. Even if not for anyone else. There will be enough days when I don’t want to open the project document and get to work, so I aim to make the project as interesting as possible for myself. When you love something, it’s easier to be passionate about it and keep slugging away. It’s also easier for others to become excited about your enthusiasm and volunteer their own time to read your story.

If you’ve followed the rule of ‘write what you’d want to read’ and you’re pleased with the result; the chances are that you’ve created something where others can share your excitement.

  1. What is the question?

Stories need a question and they need it fast. Your reader will skim the first lines and decide if they’re going to follow you on this journey. To entice them down the rabbit hole, they need an initial question. Now, many stories will diverge brilliantly from the path I’ll set out now, but the way I approach a new project, is to work out the first question.

The first hurdle is the first paragraph. Why should they bother getting to the end? Therefore, it needs to be something intriguing enough to propel the reader into the first page. Then the first page pushes them into the first chapter… and we’ll get to chapter breakdowns in another post.

Now for some examples:

There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. – Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Isn’t that incredible?! This is the opening from Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which by the way, is a wonderful story. The first line! Now look at the questions we’re forced to ask. 1, what is a sad city? 2, what is the name of the city? 3, will the city find happiness? There are three immediate questions in 26 words and they’re enough to tempt me on…

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.  – Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Four questions in the opening twelve words. 1, who is the man in black? 2, who is the gunslinger? 3, will the gunslinger catch the man in black? 4, Do I want that to happen? Eeeek, I don’t know so I better keep reading!

  1. Don’t worry

Now I’ve raised all the talk about questions, I’m going to tell you step aside from any worry it’s created. The sudden surge of ‘am I asking a question in the first line? Is this a good enough question? What is a question?!’ Because this is just the beginning and the most important thing, is to just get writing. Make your start, aim for a question and forge ahead. After all, you’ve got forever to edit and to bring that opening sequence up to what you want it to be – but what you cannot do, is edit a blank screen.

I hope that this has been useful!  Let me know your favourite openings to novels, or even what you’re working on. I might even share the current opening of The Poisoned Well… I was so pleased that I managed to find a question that could carry the rest of the story along with it.

Happy Writing

Fibi

Escape

I’ve been struggling for a while to get back into my manuscript for the much needed re write. There is a lot going on at the moment that keeps invading. Scottish referendum (please don’t leave us), problems in Gaza, Iraq, Syria and the ebola outbreak.

So I felt it was time to creatively escape and this flashed into my mind. escape

And here is the text laid out in a more readable way:

Free words from trappings and uniform. Mind is drifting in an ever outwards dance with dainty steps. Desire to put ink to paper but not, no never at the moment to include those phrases thoughts to screen. But, but but- it needs to be done. Need to finish, finish and perfect the overall manuscript. They’re waiting for it and then I’ll be onto something new! But would I just be breaking free from discipline? Dreams in jeopardy against that too-fast ticking of the clock.  Time for a little escape and some clearer headspace to EXPAND thoughts into SPACES and ideas. New stories have to come from somewhere and the mind is too full of the must do, must finish,  must think this, must feel this and the guilt is an ANCHOR. NO ONE CAN FLY WHEN THEY ARE TIED TO THE GROUND. Yet here I go around and around and around. There is this pause though. This breath of air. We breathe. Shoulders lift with the shadows taken off. It has all been for something. And to remember remember always not just the 5th, but… for the words to run without FILTER. It is time for a little escape.

Fibi xx

Fortunately this ties in quite nicely with todays Daily Prompt. Hooray!

I believe!

I’m sure you’ll all be sick of me talking about this, but thank you Daily Prompt for a perfect oppertunity! Another reason to believe….

Currently my reason to believe is the generosity of the people around me. A few weeks ago I put out a call for poems, stories, artwork and photographs to pull together in a book. The purpose of this book was to help raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis and the fire fighters charity via Alex’s Adventures.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of work I received back, and the immense quality of so many of the pieces.
One of my favourite things is a poem written by my three year old niece about her favourite person. Honestly, it’s inspired! But there are also some gorgeous short stories and many poems dedicated in love to those who have passed on from this world. I’m so proud of the collection and just feel so grateful to all of the contributors who helped make it what it was.
It’s been an emotional journey, pulling it all together but it’s worth it. I hope it does well as all proceeds will go to charity and help raise awareness for things that are close to my heart.
One final, enormous thank you has to be to a friend I contacted, out of the blue just two days before sending the book to print. I asked, because I knew he was into arty things, if he had any illustrations that would fit the theme. His response was just incredible. He managed to get three amazing pictures back to me, for three poems. They are amazing and so beautiful. His website is Unknown Creatives and they come very highly recommended.
If any of you lovely bloggers would want to review this raw and heartfelt collection that would be amazing! Please contact me 🙂

And here it is! You mean the world to me… a collection made and dedicated to love.

I can’t stay mad at you – Occupational Hazard!!

My cousin Alex is doing ten amazing challenges in ten months to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire-Fighters trust to mark ten years since his sister passed away due to this destructive disease. In the past four months he must have walked, cycled, horse ridden and kayaked more than 300 miles! Not to mention the miles put down by everyone joining in with the cause. So, to help him I decided to pull together a collection of poems, short stories, flash fiction and art work from friends, family and fellow creative people and create a book that we will be able to sell; all profits donated to charity.
I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the submissions I’ve received and they’re still coming in! The theme is You Mean the World to Me. Now, this post is supposed to be forgiveness based and I’ve named it Occupation Hazard. I’ve come a long way around, but I’m finding it hard to read the submissions. They’re so beautiful and so many of them are raw. I’ll be honest; the first reading of each submission is tending to leave me in tears.
I’m not usually an emotional person. It takes a lot to choke me up and I’m certainly not one to wear my hearty on my sleeve – well, that’s what I like to think anyway! But I keep choking on the words that other people have sent to me, in honour of this amazing cause. Don’t get me wrong by any means. I am LOVING pulling everything together and working on something physical which will both help the charity’s and act as a kind of record for what my cousin Alex is undertaking. I didn’t expect to need a box of tissues when reading through though.
Luckily, after the initial waterfall-inducing whammy of the pieces, I’m able to step back a little bit. Or at least, I know enough of what they each are to put them into a cohesive order for the book. Make me cry once, shame on me, make it happen twice – well…well done your creative geniuses for creating such moving pieces.
I forgive you all though.
Thank you.
Fibi xx

Memory lives

More than her years
So forevermore she will remain
More than one who has left us
Because she stays
In the words that we say
And the ones that we don’t
She’s the prayer on the motorway
For everyone to come home safe
She is the one that we ask
To make things okay
She is the hope in the night
That there will be a new day
We remember a smile
The most beautiful face
She is with us
And with us she’ll stay

This is dedicated to the memory of my cousin Melissa Mould who ten years ago passed away due to cystic fibrosis at the age of 19. Her younger brother is doing ten challenges in her memory to mark this and raise awareness for CF. More information about his adventures can be found here: http://alexsadventure.wordpress.com/

 

This is part of my contribution to the collection of poems and short stories I’m pulling together for Alex’s Adventures. The theme is You Mean the World to Me. I’m currently working on a family related vilanelle but it’s a tricky devil.

This was originally posted on http://poetreecreations.org/ and I would have reblogged however the picture put up with the poem doesn’t quite fit! Sorry guys!

 

Fibi xx

I have a challenge for you, should you chose to accept it…

Apologies to those that have already seen this on Alex’s Adventures in duplicate 🙂

You’ve all seen my discussions, posts and encouragement of my cousin Alex who is undertaking Ten Adventures to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire Fighters Trust. Alex has completed 3 out of the 10 adventures in memory of his sister Melissa who passed away 10 years ago.

He’s going up all mountains, kayaking, riding, cycling etc and as I have all of the athletic skill and agility as a two-legged epileptic donkey. I’ve been doing my best to support my little cousin (okay, he does somewhat tower over me these days…) but despite wracking my brains for about six months now, I’ve been struggling to think of what I can ‘do’ to really really help out.

But then, I ordered a gift for my Mum for Mother’s Day. A small, self-published collection of short stories, poetry, flash fiction and musings in a cute little hardback and paperback format. They’ve just arrived and I’m so pleased with the quality of the printing and aaah it just looks lush!

It’s like a genius moment.

I’ve realised what I can do.

I can’t climb a mountain. (I can barely walk in a straight line without injuring myself!)

I can however, pull together a collection of poems, short stories, pictures and art. Publish it with the same company I used for my mums gift and pass on any profits to Alex’s chosen charities.

This is a very good idea!

The title of the collection will be ‘You mean the world to me…’ and all of the collected works will reflect this theme in some way.

It could be a story about a loved one, or a poem someone who has passed away, someone that you just couldn’t be without, a friend or family member. It could also be about your favourite teddy bear or a goldfish. It can be as happy or as sad as you like and any length so long as it’s under 2000 words.

So long as it fits the theme, I’d love to see it!

If you’d be interested in submitting a piece then please e-mail me at inkycygnet@googlemail.com

Fibi

Short Story, Poetry and Novel Competitions Open for Fantasy Writers…

I can’t help but feel a bit chuffed with this post, as it is, all about me! Hooray! In all serious though, please find a beautifully compiled list of competitions and prizes, for fantasy and generally fiction writers to entre, from Featherhead. She has done such a brilliant job in setting up and sorting out the very jumbled list that I sent to her yesterday. A brilliant post!

As Featherhead explains, we met during the final year of a degree. I always aprpeciated having a fellow fantasy-brain reviewing and critiquing my work! She is sucha  brilliant and talented writer and I’m really excited to see where her writing journey takes her!

Thank you again, soo soooo much!

Fibi xx

 

 

A Little Poem: Its those words again!

All the words tumble together

Spinning dancing, sewing , singing

Can’t help but move to the beautiful tune,

Feel the excitement sparking and bursting.

And the words rise up and demand to be heard

If only there were to be a way, for them to flood to the page

Unhindered, images to hands to screen to eyes to share.

A beautiful song will cause bursts of inspiration,

But send me spiralling

Come back down, capture the moment

That excitement, and pin its wings to the paper.

That glittering butterfly of thought and energy.

I love the words, but therein lies our craft, taming beauty to share it again.

The proof of devotion, over and over again.

I always thought that was a silly way to love, anyway

But here I go.