Levelling Up

Your smiling Editor. Cheers.

Hi there. It’s been a while, huh? I hope everything’s still going well with you. I’ve been in a bit of a transition period here at The Fine-toothed Comb. Levelling up, you might say. 2019 has been a tough year for me in many respects, but it’s also been my most successful in terms of …

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Into The Great Western Woods

The Great Western Woods podcast logo.

Hi folks, there’s no flash fiction contest this week, so instead let me introduce you to a good friend of mine, Angeline Trevena. She’s an author, a podcaster, and an all round good egg. If you’re at EdgeLit this weekend there’s a high chance you’ll get to meet her. Tell you what, why don’t I shut up and let her tell you why that’d be a great thing to do? Over to you, Angeline.

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Writing hard.

Evocative image. Scuplture of miners, hard at work. Cramped. Struggling.

The blog’s not been happening as regularly as I’d have liked. It stems from a number of issues but the root of it all is that writing is hard. Coming up with new things to say, or even forming fresh takes on old topics takes a lot of time and effort, and all the while there are voices in the back of your head saying things like ‘Who’s going to read this?’ or ‘Who’s going to care what I think?’

This isn’t news. It’s certainly no revelation for the authors, journalists, and bloggers out there, who rock up to the word-face every day and hammer their heads against the wall in search those precious veins of truth, those glorious seams of poetic prose. Writing is hard. It takes determination to produce, effort to craft, and a real resilience to look at it objectively afterwards. My job is easy by comparison. I can see the whole story in front of me already, trace the arcs of the characters, feel the flow of the prose…and then I can step in to help my authors refine their work, molding it into its final, shining form.

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Flashes of inspiration #1 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Night. A transparent umbrella. A girl sheltering within, silhouetted against a fire.

Happy New Year to you all, and welcome to the first of my Flash Fiction competitions.

You can write in any genre, any format. Experimentation is fun so try to push your boundaries. The images I post might help to evoke a tone or a setting for you but they don’t have to be taken literally. However, each of the word prompts that I post must be used somewhere in your writing. I’d like your pieces to be no longer than 500 words, please.

The submission deadline for this first flash is midnight on Wednesday 9th Jan 2019. Email them to dion@thefinetoothed.co.uk please, as my main address is playing up.

Your image prompt is up at the top and here are your first batch of words, randomly snagged from the O.E.D.

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Flashes of inspiration.

Evocative image. Vivid flashes of lightning in a purplish night sky.

As wiser and more articulate people before me have noted, creativity is muscular; you need to flex it regularly to build and maintain its strength. Writers use many different techniques to exercise their imaginations, from notebooks to role-playing. There is no right or wrong way to do it, only what you find useful and what …

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Sledge-Lit 2018. In the market.

Evocative image: Strategic boardgame featuring a market. Complex. Full of people.

There was an air of relaxed conviviality about the Derby Quad last weekend, but drive and purpose hummed beneath the surface. It seems there’s something about seeing people in the flesh, reconnecting with old acquaintances, and chewing the industry fat that inspires activity. I’d swear more ideas are pitched, bonds formed, and deals struck in …

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It ain’t what you say.

Evocative image: waves break over a rocky wall as the sun sets over the sea.

From my university days onwards, the distance between us meant I’d only see my parents three or four times a year, and then for just a few days at a time. That was usually enough because we tended to slip into old patterns of behaviour: the picky, argumentative parents and the touchy, truculent child. We …

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Channelling the flow.

Evocative image: multiple trickles of water, regimented, carefully controlled, emerging from a dam.

Professional editing is vital but, taken in a single chunk, it represents a financial cost that many independent authors (and indeed some independent presses) balk at. This is a problem because – even if the core work is good – it can be undermined by plot inconsistencies, lacklustre characterisation, or simple technical errors. You may …

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FantasyCon 2018. Sat/Sun. Hanging together.

Bar talk. Andrew Freudenberg and Dion Winton-Polak.

As a novice to the convention circuit, you study the schedule, make careful plans as to what panels and events you most want to attend, and then you spend all your time dashing around, assiduously writing notes, sweating, and occasionally weeping in the corner. It’s damned hard work. You wonder why people do this to …

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FantasyCon 2018. Friday. In the headlights.

Statue of a lion.

I’d had a late night playing darts for the local team. We didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory, so I was a little tired and a little blue come Friday morning. I ended up missing my train by a single minute – an inauspicious beginning perhaps, but one that didn’t worry me overmuch. Perhaps I …

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