Tag Archives: words

Blades – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Blades - Photograph Sarolta Ban

Photograph: Sarolta Ban

They were my weapon of choice.

Words cut deep, words wound, but mix words with blades and you have the perfect weapon.

They say Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me – they’re wrong.

It wasn’t even what others said, lost amid my world, inside my own head, is what brought me down.

There were words, plenty of them, but they were mine. No one else uttered them; no one else spoke them, but me. Words simmered below the surface, whispering and murmuring, digging and muttering, piercing and cutting. They moved through my bloodstream, through my veins, seizing and taking hold inside my brain – until they cut like knives, like blades determined to bury themselves deep within.

Nothing could dislodge them and their commitment to destroy was flawless, and they worked into my wounds like burrowing wasps brandishing scalpels. No parry was enough to deflect and I was soon forced to choose my own weapon.

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Blades - Photograph Andy Bate

Photograph: Andy Bate

I would dig them out, thrust and plunge, and drive my own blades deep. And I did.

I gouged and lanced and met those words until they flowed like red silk, until they ran and poured like rivers of crimson, until they gushed in cascades of scarlet ribbons, and I could hold them no more.

They say words don’t hurt.

They do.

0000. Divider

Another great picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Sarolta Ban. This hits home.

The second picture, by Andy Bate, was last week’s prompt and certainly sat alongside this week’s for me.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.


The Extraordinary Art of Writing Short Stories

Tips to help you write extraordinary short stories.

I love dipping into an eclectic mix of short tales. Picking up an anthology or collection of shorts whilst waiting in the car for my kids, or reading while working out on the elliptical with my Kindle app on my phone, delights me and utilises what could be wasted time!

Books containing great short stories...

Books containing great short stories…

There’s an art to a short story, and it takes a well-practised writer to get it right. There’s nothing worse than dipping into a tale, finishing it in a few pages and having no reaction. That meh feeling just doesn’t cut it.

You need to be short, sharp, and succinct, and have enough story to make the tale worth telling.

A short story needs to tell a tale in very few words, it needs to grab you and not let you go, it needs to pull you in, swirl you about and throw you back out again! It needs to elicit a reaction. Very often that reaction will either be a smile, a laugh, or a shock, but it has to be a reaction nonetheless. It’s dreadful to read a short and feel you’re just dipping into someone’s high school level homework. Don’t make short stories ordinary, make them extraordinary!

If you’re writing romance, boy-down-the-road meets girl-up-the-road… Shake it up. Don’t give me four or five pages of boy thinking about girl, meeting unexpectedly, and falling in love right away. Shake it up, turn it around…maybe the boy is blind, maybe she walks by every day, she might like him, but not be confident enough to speak – then one day she trips and knocks into him, he recalls her scent and catches her hand… Make me breathe their attraction; make me feel their confusion and their nerves…let the story catch fire!

If the story’s been done before – and let’s face it, most have – what can you do to change it up, twist it, make it different, make it new and inspiring, turn the cliché upside-down? What’s your USP (Unique Selling Point) or as I like UTP – Unique Telling Point! What’s your style?

I honed my writing skills writing Flash Fiction and I hugely recommend it. You learn a vast amount by reading flash fiction, and then by writing it. Most Flash Fiction prompts are words, photos or music. You’re given a set of rules to follow and you create a piece within a particular number of words. It teaches brevity and that every word counts, editing skills, the importance of content, beginnings and endings, grammar, and basic story-telling to name but a few.

I’ve taken part in a variety of flash fiction, and still do. I delight in both writing to a set prompt, expanding my voices and genres, and sharing my work with those around me. My short flash fiction, shared on my blog, serves as an advert for my novels.  If you like my flash, read my books!

Take a look at these short tales on some of my favourite blogs, see how the stories work, how they elicit a reaction, and you’ll see why you need to read more from these writers! Tinker My Heart – A Jar of Fireflies, Dancing at Whitsun – Cubic Scats, Duty – One More Leaf, The Apothecary’s Art – The Last Krystallos, Uninterrupted – Jo Cannon, and At the Museum – Searching for Ingleside. (Several of these pieces are Flash Fiction contest winners)

A short story collection or being included in a compendium or anthology can be great for an author especially an indie author. It’s a way for readers to get to know your writing, your style, without needing to buy your full length novels. This is also a major reason why getting the short story right is so important. If you write shorts badly, they may never move on to your other writing. Share whatever you want on your blog for free, let readers taste your writing, but only put your best work into a collection. If you’re publishing make it worth the money your reader is spending!

Don’t write ordinary tales, make them extraordinary!

When you’re choosing a collection of tales, don’t just read the reviews, make the most of the preview of the book that Amazon allows you to see…take a look at the writing, see if it’s for you..

Cutthroats and Curses a Pirate Anthology, The Anthology Club

Cutthroats and Curses

If you want to read some amazing collections – try these, tried and tested and brilliant works, and something for everyone. And I’ll stick my neck out and say of you want to read a fantastic short pick up ‘Cutthroats and Curses’ and read Beth Avery’s ‘ Roaring Dan Seavey…’, that’s how short stories should be written!

Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales – SJI Holliday and Anna Meade

Finding  a Voice – Jeffrey Hollar

And the Angels Cried and Other Short Stories – Annette S. Thomson

Once Upon a Time, Finding a Voice, And the Angels Cried, Through the Portal, Anna Meade, SJI Holliday, Annette S Thomson, LaDonna Cole, Read Write Muse,

Once Upon a Time, Finding a Voice, And the Angels Cried, Through the Portal

Cutthroats and Curses: An Anthology of Pirates – Michael Wombat and The Anthology Club

Through the Portal – LaDonna Cole and Read Write Muse

Tales by the Tree, In Creeps the Night, Here be Dragons, Moonbeams and Fairies, JAMes Press, Hannah Steenbock, Rebecka Vigus,

Tales by the Tree, In Creeps the Night, Here be Dragons, Moonbeams and Fairies

Tales by the Tree: A Christmas Collection – J. A. Mes Press

In Creeps the Night: 50 Flash Fiction Horror Tales – J. A. Mes Press

Here Be Dragons – Hannah Steenbock

Of Moonbeams and Fairies – Rebecka Vigus (Childrens Tales)

Darrion, Burn, Moth Girl Versus the Bats, Marissa Ames, Daniel Swensen, Michael Wombat,

Darrion, Burn, Moth Girl Versus the Bats

Darrion – Marissa Ames

Burn – Daniel Swensen

Moth Girl Versus The Bats – Michael Wombat

And if you want to try, and read, some Flash Fiction…click on the sites below or my side bar, check out my Blues Buster stories which you can find a quick link to in my Categories.

Five Sentence FictionBlues BusterVisual DareThree Line ThursdayFlash! FridayHorror Bites

So, do you love short stories? What are your favourites and what makes them special?

Are you a Flash Fictioneer? If you want to know more of my Flash Fiction beginnings read:  Being a Flash Fictioneer (like a writing Musketeer…or something similar…). What’s your favourite site for Flash?

Five Sentence Fiction: Words

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without permission)
The sudden explosion lit up the dusk and its thunder robbed him of his hearing as he was hurled across the dusty, gritty road; shock and shrapnel embedded its shards beneath his bloodied skin, but nothing stopped him crawling back across the detritus to circle the remains of the best friend he ever had. Confusion tore at his heart, but despite the ringing noise and acrid smoke he refused to leave, and settled mournfully in the middle of the rutted road to wait.
Black night loomed with shouts and gunshots, then chaos and blasts, and he flattened his ears and his body, and trembled by his master’s corpse. 
Dawn sneaked across the hills and he shivered in the morning cold, until soldiers, bloodied and weary, marched back along the road, and he growled, his hackles raised and ears sharp. He flinched as they approached and their brusque commands failed to touch him; it took a burly trooper’s bristly embrace and soft, whispered words to allow the dog to leave, but never forget.
go and read all the other stories…

Gorgeous Writer’s Keepsake Box

Sometimes books fall apart 😦 or they’re just too old…what do you do with them when you can’t bear to throw them away?
Authentically authory (I know that’s not a real word…), but this wordy, page covered Keepsake or Memory box is gorgeous and made by daughter! Now I want one too!

It’s made from an old shoe box, using torn out pages from an old or damaged book and pva glue. She covered it with my matt finish Mod Podge glue and added a brass cupboard door handle at each end, using her favourite ‘Serious’ Glue from Evo Stick. If you want more info the process is on her blog:  bekahcat.blogspot and see more pictures!
I love it and it looks amazing, even better than the picture shows!
Below added 16th April:
And here is my box…
Made from a second copy of one of my favourite trilogies ‘Abhorsen’ by Garth Nix.
My daughter has some really good ideas! That, and she wouldn’t let me keep my sewing kit in an old ice-cream box if I wanted it out ‘on show’…so it has a new box…voila!