Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a Happy Christmas. From Christmas Day until 5th of January, I won't be online regularly, so at best there might a couple of quick posts. So wish you all a wonderful christmas and a Happy New Year.
Doing anything exciting? I will be at mother-in-law's on christmas evening, and then off to USA on 27th to see my parents. Tomorrow is last day at work until 6th, which is excellent :-) Though of course no rest for the wicked, as I still have to work on writing related stuff.
Looking forward to hearing about all of your christmas / new year plans.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Blogging about Blogs - What do you like?

I follow a lot of blogs – so many that I don’t know how many exactly. I just check them through Blogger’s dashboard. Of course there are some I like more than the others; there are some blogs that I consciously remember to check, and the ones that I try to read even when I am very busy, and try to comment every time. Then there are others that I just skim through and only make occasional comments. There are professional blogs, newbie blogs, and in-betweeners blogs. So judging from that, I think I know well enough now what I enjoy and what I don’t. Though I follow blogs that have nothing to do with writing, for the purposes of this post, I am going to focus only on writing related blogs. Professional Blogs This is based on my definition, which people who are well established into their profession. If you have one short story published, you are technically a professional, but not for my purposes because you don’t have enough industry experience. (and no offense intended since you are way ahead than me) What I like from these is facts, and advice from professionals. Editors, publishers, agents – they know what they are talking about, so if they are talking about an issue that I am interested in or confused about, I read it. Granted, I don’t read every post, because I don’t have the time. But I know they are there when I need to go and look up something particular. Non-Professional Blogs (everyone else) These are actually the most important blogs of my blogging experience. While I may find useful information from professional blogs, these are the blogs I love. Because through the blogs, these are the people I get to know These are also the blogs that I try to stick by when I am short of time. These are the ones I take my time to comment. I rarely comment on professional blogs, because there are always hundreds of comments, and I don’t think adding mine makes any difference. I love reading about people’s personal journey as a writer. Each of us comes from different backgrounds, and we all began writing under different circumstances. We learn things differently. So I find it totally fascinating to read about people’s personal experiences. When I read these blogs, I am looking to get to know you, or at least the writer part of you. I am looking to read in your own unique voice. I especially love reading about lessons on writing that stem from experience. For example, when I wrote posts about outlining, it was after my own experiments. That brings me to what I don’t like – I don’t like reading posts when people post very professional sounding writing essays on their blogs. It’s not because they aren’t good or that they don’t make sense. But it’s simply because all these essays are no different than what I have read in all the writing craft books. They don’t tell me what these bloggers have learned from experience. They only tell me theories. Personal experience is the key ingredient in all of my favourite blogs. They all talk about what they are doing, and what they have learned from their mistakes. They talk about what they have tried and what works for them. Through these posts, not only I learn some valuable things about writing that I know are tried and tested, but I also learn about the bloggers as people. I get to know little bit more about them. And since starting to focus on making writing hobby into a career, I have pretty much given up social life (voluntarily because it wastes a lot of my time) my Internet friends/acquaintances are of a great social importance to me. How about you? What do you love about the blogs you follow and what annoys you?

Monday, 21 December 2009

New Year Pre-Planning

As mentioned previously, editing currently is pretty much on stop. I do hope to start again soon, and properly this time, but that's why I am going to wait until after Christmas, so I can start making regular effort, every day. The weekend was spent mostly working on a scrapbook for my sister's present, but I also made an overall plan of my goals for 2010 - 17 in total. I figured that since currently, I am not really focusing on editing or writing with all the Christmas stuff going on, I might as well plan when I am going to do those things. So the yearly plan is in progress and while it is not set in stone, I hope to achieve at least most of those things. Still working on it, so I will post those goals later. With writing, I am not on a total break. Still working on brainstorming for the new book, and hopefully I can finish at least one WB Assignment in December. I am using my NaNo Novel to do that assignment so it should give me bit more perspective on the story. I absolutely love making this plan for 2010 - makes me feel like the new year is full of possibilities. of course also makes me see that I have got a lot of stuff to do, so better get on with it. Are you making goals for 2010?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Editing Ain't Happening

After that all exciting read through, editing has remained on my to-do list. I haven't really done any writing either, because since I decided to work on new project, as oppose to my unfinished ones, I am still working on brainstorming before doing a definitive outline. But editing was to be priority this month. There is a part justification that I have been pretty busy because of christmas, and I am making a scrapbook for my sister which is taking considerable time. But some part is just procrastination. I will have to get over my editing phobia. But this weekend, I have got a scrapbook to work on, hopefully finish and some boring tidying stuff to do (there is only so long I can avoid it :-P) so I am not really going to get into editing mood, but at least hoping to do a few more pages of brainstorming for the new project. So meanwhile, here is a little christmas cheer...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Check Facts

Fiction is fascinating. It is interesting more often because through fiction we live the life of dreams that we may not have guts to do in real life. Of course in some cases, like worlds of science-fiction and fantasy, it is not possible to experience them in real life. But one of the main reasons why we reasonate deeply with fiction is because on some level they relate to us. So to write fiction you must provide basis of reality in your story. Here is a nice little post with some nifty links to help you do just that.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Unfinished Pieces for Another Time

There used to be a time, not too long ago (about a week actually), when I would feel guilty for spending time brainstorming new ideas. The reason behind this that I always thought I should focus on finishing projects that are already open. From earlier days of writing, I have several books stuck at various stages. This year, as I learned more about the craft in a focused manner, I thought I should start focusing on finishing those, and setting them to right. There are projects which were merely ideas or had mere few thousand words written. I set them aside easily enough. The problem was mainly about 4 books, three of which actually have whole first drafts complete, except that those first drafts need a total re-write, plot needs to be worked on, and basically it is much more of a hassle than simply starting something new. But the guilt kept nagging me, so after finishing NaNo, I reviewed them, planning to pick one of them to work on. But as I went through the process, I had one of those “aha” moment. I realised that I didn’t HAVE to do them now. In fact, I was not yet ready to do them. First, I want to make sure that I can complete a book that is of publishable standard. With the things I have learned, and with things I am still learning, it is easier to focus on applying those things to something new. So why not? My old drafts aren’t going anywhere, and if I still feel the urge to write those stories, I can do that at a later date. Though I have already noticed that some things from those stories seep into my current stories. So those plots will need to be altered anyway to make them fresh. No more guilt. As soon as I made that decision, I was perfectly happy. I will just work on writing the new books I have in mind, and let those old ones rest for now. Making decisions is so liberating :-)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

First Impression After the First Read Through

I finished reading my first draft of my NaNo novel between yesterday and today. Total time spent: 5.76 hours Immediate Thought: It's not bad for a first draft Just the first draft, mind you. It needs hell of a lot work before it is even close to publishable standard, but for a first draft it is good. One of the main reasons is because there are very few plot holes, and even those ones aren't very big. It's the first time that I have a consistent enough first draft that is not missing a lot of thing, so it is a big plus in my book. And that is thanks to the outline. I best remind myself that when I am feeling lazy to do outline for the next book. The best thing: Dialogue Epsecially the parts that made me laugh out loud, and there were quite a few bits. No, it's not a humourous novel, but I have a couple of characters, especially a healer who is totally snippy, and his comments just make me laugh. The worst thing: Hardly any description to get the feel for the world When I read the story, I know exactly where these people are, and what their world is like. But I know it because it's in my head. I created it. It's like talking about a city that you have grown up in to someone who has never visited it. You will rarely mention anything special about your city, because take it for granted. It's just ordinary. But when a tourist looks at it, they look at it with fresh eyes, and they need more details to appreciate it. So while my world is build deeply enough, it is not conveyed in the story. Pace: Fast A part of it is definitely due to lack of descriptions - as you can probably tell since I finished reading all 81539 words in just under 6 hours. I would like to keep the pace fast, but perhaps it doesn't need to be this fast. Conclusion There are things to fix, no doubt about that. Writing needs to be improved. There are a lot of grammatical errors. And just generally the whole feel of the story needs more depth - not through plot, that's there, but through writing. What next? Because I am still working to figure out editing method that works for me, I am dividing it into steps. This was the first step, and it worked. It was useful. It gave me the whole feel of the story. Now, I am taking a very short amount of time to fix some common spelling errors and such, or things like putting a wrong name, and also correcting some formatting errors. But this isn't going to be a detailed step. Just a quick one, where I will only be correcting things that I can spot instantly. Anything that requires more thought or decision will wait for a later stage. Once I do that - then the next step will be to look at the few notes I made during the first step, and fix those things.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Editing Journey Starts Today

My NaNo novel had long enough rest. About 2 weeks, maybe a few days less, and for now it's enough. NaNo novel resulted in a good outline method for me. Now, I am hoping it will result in a good editing method. I don't have a preferred editing method yet, because none of my previous edits have resulted into what I would call a successful result - the book that I am satisfied with, and the knowledge that it's as best as I can make it. So that is my intention for this novel. To make it as best as I can make it, and as I work through editing and revising, I will post on what works for me, what doesn't, and will be most happy to hear any tips/suggestions you have for editing methods that work for you. So first step is a simple read through - but out loud. Well, most of it aloud, because even my chatty mouth needs a rest sometimes. As I read through the book, I am not making any particular changes, though in places where it's an obvious but simple mistake - for example a typo where I have typed "and" instead of "end" or something like that, I correct it. But I don't pause to change any sentences or anything. If something strikes me strongly enough to make a note (i.e. reading one particular pargraph, I thought there should be more information from one of the characters) I make a quick note on a post-it with a page number. I don't see the point in printing out a copy so early after the first draft, because I know there will be a lot of editing required so it would be a waste of paper. I will print out a copy after I have gone through quite a bit of editing. Then looking at paper should provide a fresh view. I plan to get through the first step as quickly as possible, to get the feel of the plot and how it feels to read it. Then the real work will start.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

2010 Reading Challenge

I am too tired to do a proper post, so just a little announcement and something for you guys to think about. I started keeping a record of books I finished reading since July 27, 2009. I just wanted to see how quickly I go through them, and basically just keep tabs on my reading. (I like lists) And now I love the list, because what I found suprised me. I keep this list updated on the blog. This is the post, and the link is available under "ongoing stuff" in the sidebar. So in just over four months, I have read 33 books. Hurray for that. And that leads me to think about 2010, because I actually want to set a reading goal too. Initially I was thinking 101 books. I can do it. HOWEVER...I must remember that I am supposed to be writing more. So I have decided on more realistic 75. And this reading challenge is what I would like you to invite for. Of course you don't have to read 75 books. You can pick any number that is good for you. But join the challenge, and we can keep each other posted. And maybe even do some blog chains for the books we read or something. Have a little think, and hope to do this with some of you. Meanwhile, how is your reading going?

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Golden Opportunity for Unpublished Writer

As I was sitting in the bus today, brainstorming a script idea for my WB assignment, the thoughts behind the title of this post came to me. I have never attempted a script before. While I don't mind trying it, my dream remains to write books. But I am glad that I am going to try this. Just as I am glad that I have tried poems, short stories of various genres and novels in various genres. This is the golden opportunity we have as unpublished writers. Currently, we don't have any writing income so we don't expect it. However you are paying the bills, it doesn't depend on the story you write. So right now, you have the freedom to try whatever the hell you want. You have the freedom to experiment. See if you find yourself falling in love with a genre or a form that you never considered before. If your book gets published tomorrow (congratulations), it's fantastic, and possibly your dream come true. But with that publication, there will be expectations. Your agent/publisher/reader will want to see similar things from you - unless you write mainstream fiction. Yes, you can write different things and you can diversify, but I don't think you can do that after just one book. You need to give people a chance to recognize your name as a brand name. So if your first book is a mystery, the chances are, everyone wants your second book to be a mystery too. But what if you suddenly fancy writing a science fiction? Well, you can't. At least not without spending a whole lot of extra time, because you have got a deadline for a mystery novel. But right now, while you are unpublished, you can write absolutely anything you want. You can take the time to decide what you enjoy writing most. You can take the time develop ideas that might not go anywhere, or even take the time to find new ideas even though you already have fifty of them waiting. So my point behind all the rambling is that as much as we want to get published, let's not forget to enjoy this period of being unpublished. The analogy that comes to mind is about single people - ok fine, single women - who worry a lot about finding the right man before a certain clock stops that they forget to enjoy the freedom of single life. When you are married, you will have the experiences of married life, so while you are waiting for the right man to come along, you might as well have fun being unattached. Same thing with writing. Publication will bring its own joys and pains, but until then, enjoy the journey to publication. Learn. Grow. Experiment. WRITE.

Friday, 4 December 2009

2009 Wrap-Up

For AW December Blog Chain our Theme is Wrap-up 2009. I am going to focus on how this year has been pivotal for my writing. I have been writing for several years, but not consistently, and not really in an organised or focused method. In the beginning of this year, I became acutely aware of that, and I realised that unless I did something about it, my dream to become an author was going to remain just that. In February, I came across an ad for writer’s bureau. I have posted here all about the signs behind that and why it was the right thing for me to do. But basically, that decision made the whole year productive. It wasn’t the course itself that changed things. But because of the course, I began to focus on writing. I learned about blogging, started my writing blog, joined AW, and began to connect to some wonderful fellow writers. I finally realised that there was hell of a lot of information out there about improving my craft, and so I began to look for that too. I feel that in this one year, I have made more progress than the last six years put together (Fall 2002 is when I first thought about writing a book). Those years weren’t wasted, because I did write a lot, and so I wasn’t starting with a totally blank page. But that learning wasn’t focused. Now, I know where I am going (I think). So here are a few things that I have figured out in 2009: Short Fiction
  • Short stories for popular magazines (i.e. women’s magazines) are not really my thing. I don’t like to read them, and I don’t particularly like to write them.
  • I prefer flash fiction over short stories.
  • Short stories that I enjoy reading are mostly literary. My favourite place to read them is the New Yorker.
  • Short stories I enjoy writing are quite hard to find markets for, because they are all non-mainstream.
  • A flash fiction can be a powerful piece if done properly.

Novels

  • I don’t lack ideas. I don’t believe in writer’s block.
  • If I am not writing, it’s because (a) I am lazy (b) I am not in the right state of mind (c) I am too tired. Usually, it’s (a).
  • I started off writing in only third person POV, but now I have realised that I am far better at first person POV, so I really need to work on my third person skills.
  • I am not quite sure yet what genre is THE ONE for me – if there is one. But I want to finish books in the three genres I have got going and see how I feel (Fantasy – various different types, Science Fiction, Multi-cultural)

Misc.

  • I have finally figured out the outline method that works for me. I credit my NaNoWriMo 2009 success (full draft at 81K) to that outline. No more unplanned drafts for me
  • The most daunting thing about my current projects I face is sorting through the early finished drafts, which were written without any planning that it makes them much harder than starting something from scratch
  • I love NaNo. For first drafts, it’s a brilliant method, and I intend to do it at least twice a year. Once officially, and once in November.

Reading

  • Reading is just as important as writing, because if it wasn’t for the love of books, I wouldn’t be writing. I am happy that my reading for last three months (since I started recording) has gone well. You can what I have read here. I am going to set myself a goal to read a certain amount of books in 2010, and keep it on this blog.

Life

  • Having a realistic dream to follow changes everything. Having a purpose fills the heart and soul with passion, and makes the life worth living. Achieving that dream might be very hard, but it’s still better than having no dream at all

And in the words of Warner Bros, “That’s All Folks!” I am the first in the chain, and the next person is Claire Crossdale. The rest of the participants are: Lost Wanderer - http://www.lostwanderer5.blogspot.com

Claire Crossdale - http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/ coryleslie - http://corrinejackson.wordpress.com/ bsolah - http://benjaminsolah.com/blog DavidZahir - http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/ RavenCorinnCarluk - http://ravencorinncarluk.blogspot.com Ralph Pines - http://ralfast.wordpress.com/ shethinkstoomuch - http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com Lady Cat - http://www.randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com truelyana - http://expressiveworld.com misaditas - http://misaditas-novels.blogspot.com/ collectonian laharrison - http://lesleyharrison.wordpress.com/ beawhiz - http://beawrites.wordpress.com razibahmed - http://www.blogging37.com FreshHell - http://freshhell.wordpress.com AlissaC - http://alissacarleton.blogspot.com

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Writer's Meme

Erica over at Laugh Write Play tagged me in this MeMe (what the hell does MeMe stand for anyway?), so I am going to answer these questions, and as the tradition dictates, I must tag two people....and the lucky victims are... Jamie over at The Variety Pages Eric over at Working My Muse On with the questions-- 1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have? Unless you count scribbled notes for brainstorming, my NaNo Novel is the last thing I wrote. The first thing...hmm...I am sure I have some of my old poems somewhere. 2. Write poetry? I used to write it a lot in my teenage years. Now it's quite rare. I started writing with poetry. I still remember my first one was when I was 13. 3. Angsty poetry? Not anymore, but yeah, some of my best work was angsty (though I must point out that my English poems were rubbish. But when I wrote them in Gujarati/Hindi, they were quite good. It's funny, because I wrote better short stories in those languages too, but novels, definitely English. Weird) 4. Favorite genre of writing. Not sure yet. Fantasy in a way, because I love to read fantasy the most too, and it meets all the criterias of my escapist nature. However, I also have couple of multicultural WIPs on the go, and plan to write science-fiction, so haven't decide what I enjoy writing the most. 5. Most annoying character you've ever created. None of my characters have annoyed me. It's usually the plot that annoys me, characters are just fine. 6. Best plot you've ever created? Okay, I can see I am not giving very good answers here, but again, I don't know. I would have to have a totally completed book that I am satisfied with before I can decide if the plot created is best or not. 7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created? Same as number 6 8. How often do you get writer's block? No such thing. At least not for me. When I am not writing, it's due to my own faults, lack of discipline or sheer laziness. 9. Write fan fiction? I haven't tried. I have thought about it, but if I am going to work hard on writing something, I prefer to work on something that's truly my own. Besides, creating stories is sooooo much fun. 10. Do you type or write by hand? Both. A lot of my brainstorming is especially done by hand. But now, at least when I am actually writing the story, I try to stick to typing because it's a lot of hassle consolidating everything. 11. Do you save everything you write? Yes. 12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you abandoned it? I am an idea hoarder. I don't abandon them. Even if I haven't touched them for years, I have them saved, and I believe that it's just waiting for one day in the future when we will be ready for each other. 13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written? My favourite things are whenever I end up writing something that ends up making me laugh-out-loud and still does that when I read it later, or when I think about it. I have had a few of those moments, and I love them. Unfortunately, haven't had any where they made me cry, but would love some of those too. 14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written? No one's seen any of my stories so no answer as yet. 15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama? A historical romance was the first book I ever wrote. 16. What's your favorite setting for your characters? I don't have a favourite. It depends on the story. 17. How many writing projects are you working on right now? NaNo novel is the definite one. Other than that, I am considering my options right now. I have 3 half-done books, which would real mess to start with because they are in a horrible state, and I don't even know where to begin. But I also have a couple of new ideas which I am considering. 18. Have you ever won an award for your writing? Nope. 19. What are your five favorite words. Bloody (as in Bloody hell - but only when spoken with British accent) Oxymoron Dithering Muggle Googled 20. What character have you created that is most like yourself. There was a character in one of my WIP that needs a total re-write. She was actually exactly me. Fortunately for me, there were 3 other major characters in that book. In my defense, when I wrote the full first draft, it was very early in my writing career. Eventually I realised what it was, so I deleted that character completely, and guess what - now I have a story, instead of an autobiography ;) 21. Where do you get ideas for your characters? From my head....from that wonderful place knowns as the Imagination Land 22. Do you ever write based on your dreams? No. My dreams are a complex, International Mix, which could be a head-quarters for UN. 23. Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? Happy Endings!!! If I want sad endings or cliff-hangers, I will stick to real life, thank you. 24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? Concerned, yes. Obsessed, no. I pay attention to them, and if I notice something is wrong, I correct it. But I don't worry about it. If something feels wrong but I don't know how to correct it, I move on. That is tomorrow's problem. 25. Does music help you write? No. Music is the devil of distraction. Music distracts me from everything, so I rarely listen to it. I prefer multi-tasking, so my choice of noise is TV, because that works for me. 26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head. Okay I cheated. I had to look something up, because nothing popped. This is from my NaNo novel - "Don't stick your whole hand in one pie, when you can have your fingers in many."

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Goals for Next 10 Days

Why 10 days? Because I have decided to start editing my NaNo novel from 12th of December since it’s a Saturday. I considered leaving it for a bit longer, but I am not going to hurry with editing anyway, and I might even take a break in-between drafts. But I at least want to review it quickly to decide what I am going to do about POV. So in the meantime my goals are: Writing
  • Review half-finished WIP, RAN (none of my WIPs have titles, so I use acronyms from either character initials or place initials), and organise written scenes in separate files. Then work on an outline
  • Work on outline for yet another half-finished WIP, SIM. Just look at it, not necessarily complete it.
  • Brainstorm the shiny new idea
  • Brainstorm something for next WB assignment
  • Resubmit a couple of rejected short stories (I just tend to ignore them when they are rejected once, so I really should make the effort to find new markets)

Reading

  • Finish Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  • Finish Gilgamesh
  • Read tips about editing a book

Christmas

  • Work on the scrapbook for my sister’s present
  • Buy few remaining Christmas presents
  • Post International Christmas Cards

Blog

  • Blog regularly as per usual on Writing Blog, and make sure to read and comment on other blogs (this slipped a little during NaNo)
  • At least one entry on Journal Blog

Misc

  • Finish organising books that have currently turned my living room floor into an obstacle course
  • Email neglected friends/family during NaNo
  • Journal

Fun

  • Play Sims 3

And even as I wrote the whole list, it occurs to me that I am going to have a hell of a time finishing all of that in ten days. So let’s see how far I get with this stuff.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Location Location Location

I have this new idea brewing in my head. If I was sensible I would work on one of the stories that is already in progress, but I am not sensible and creating new stories is just so much fun, so I am focusing on this new idea instead.
Anyway, unlike many of my stories, this one takes place in the real world. Initially my choice of locations included either London or New York, because I love those two cities. I limited myself to England or USA because I have lived in both, and besides English speaking places and western culture would be suitable for the story.
Then I decided London because I wanted to set it somewhere I could research easily, if I needed to get the feel for a location. But today I thought that maybe I should set it in Bristol, because it would be far easier for me to research Bristol than London (since London is 120 miles away, and bit pricey to get to regularly, and I live in Bristol). So now I am bit torn.
Like I said I love London and NYC, because they meet my idea of city. I like the bustle, and the feel of big cities. Bristol is far too suburban for my taste, and I have never grown to love it. There are some parts of it that I like, but because it is a big city it could work for my story, and also it might be a reason enough for me to learn more about the place I have been living in for several years. Who knows, I might actually find it bit more interesting.
There are other cities that come way before Bristol on my list...Berlin and Oxford for example...but again, they are not at my doorstep.
What do you think? How do you write about real-life locations? Any tips, opinions, suggestions?

Sunday, 29 November 2009

NaNoWriMo Finish & Some Statistics

Today I finished the first draft of my NaNo novel. I am not perfectly happy, but then I never am towards the end, because by the time I get to the end I know all sorts of things that are wrong with it. However, I am glad that I finished my goal, and I do have a completed first draft. It's 81539 words, so about 6k less than I was expecting, but I know there is plenty of material to add so that's no big deal.
So some statistics: WK 1 = 27561 words WK 2 = 26933 words WK 3 = 16166 words WK 4 = 10865 words I am sure you spotted the downwards trend there. Highest Word Count Per Day 8376 on 1st of November Lowest Word Count Per Day 131 on 22nd of November I am going to leave the story to rest for a few weeks, but I am considering a major change. Currently it's written in multiple POV, with main character's POV for the most part, and couple of other characters POV on minor scale - I am thinking about changing it to first person POV, because I feel that would make a better story. But just to make sure that it's not a spur of the moment thing because I am spotting lots of issues, I will wait for a while and then read through the story and make the final decision. So that's all folks. That's NaNo over. Now I had better decide what I am going to work on, so I don't drift away from writing habit.

Friday, 27 November 2009

NaNoWriMo - Towards the End

Last few days left before the end of November, and before the official end of NaNoWriMo. For me, first two weeks were excellent. Third week was rubbish. Fourth week has been lazy, but not terrible. Being productive in first two weeks certainly helped, because now even though I am not writing as much as I did then, I should still be able to reach my goal. This week, I have been mostly playing a computer game - Ok, I am weak. I gave myself my reward early :P I just couldn't wait once the Sims 3 expansion pack was out - so I have been stuck playing that. But one good thing I have been doing is to write every day, no matter how small a word count. It certainly helps. It keeps me in the habit, and it keeps my story in my head. It has been hard not to get distracted by other stories, but I am plowing through, and really hope to have my first draft finished by end of this weekend. It is possible if I just get off my behind and write. How is your NaNoWriMo going?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Night - A Book Review

Here is my book review for AW Blog Chain. Previous link in the chain was DavidZahir - http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/ Next link is RavenCorinnCarluk - http://raven.youareannoying.us Rest of the participants Vein Glory - http://podpeep.blogspot.com/ Shethinkstoomuch - http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com Lady Cat - http://randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.com Rosemerry - http://beyondtourism.wordpress.com/ Night - Elie Wiesel I don't make a habit of reading non-fiction books about wars. Occassionally I come across something but usually I tend to stay away from depressing topics. Though there are some stories which one simply cannot ignore, no matter how horrific or how uncomfortable because they tell us something important. Night is one such book. A tiny little thing at less than 100 pages, it is a memoire of a man called Elie Wiesel, who is one of the few survivors of Auschwitz concentration camp from WWII. Wiesel came from a small town where people thought the Red Army will soon defeat the Nazis and they would be safe. When they warned by one of their own people that Nazis will come, they called him a madman. It was near the end of the war, and Wiesel, a teenage boy was studying religion and living his ordinary life. Then Nazis came and everything changed. The whole town - they were mostly jewish - was emptied and people were taken to concentration camps. Almost immediately, Elie and his father were seperated from the women of their family, and Elie never saw his mother and sisters again. The book tells the story of Elie Wiesel and his father's life in the concentration camp. It took Wiesel 10 years before he broke his silence and told this story. It is a horrific story which shows us how cruel humans can be, and reminds us that though there are no concentration camps today, that nature of man is not non-existence. I love this book, because besides the suffering there is another message. Will to survive. Elie had it, and so did many others. It tells us that we as people are far stronger than we imagine ourselves to be. It shows us people's worst side, but also their spirit of endurance. It is also a journey of his faith. Before the camp, Wiesel was devoted to God. Things he went through and saw in the concentration camp made him question that devotion. As a writer, this book is beautifully written. It is very simple, but profound. One cannot help but feel the words and share a little bit of Wiesel's sufferings though I don't think any of us can possibly imagine what he truly went through. One of the main reasons why I love this book is because even though these concentration camps stories are hard to revisit and often we want to ignore the horrific past, it is good to remember that there are people who were strong enough to survive it. And that by knowing their stories, listening to how low human nature fell, we might learn something and improve as a race, be a little kinder and humane towards our own kind. Here is one of my most favourite passage from the book which gives us a glimpse of Elie's trials and the simplistic beauty of his words which I think makes the message sink far deeper, and has more emotional impact. "Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my Faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."

Monday, 23 November 2009

NaNo Slump - Misplaced Attention

No, I am not having a writer's block, or a problem with writing itself. I am simply having distraction issues. Usually I work on more than one project, because I can't focus on one thing at a time. I find myself wanting to do other things. So for first two weeks, focusing on my novel and that alone was fine. I didn't focus on most of my other hobbies. Just total concentration on the novel. It worked, and I did a high word count. But last week, I found myself getting more and more distracted. I still wrote, but it wasn't as much, and it was more of forcing myself to sit down and make the effort. So in the end I did over 10K less in last week than in previous two weeks. And even more shameful - in the entire weekend, between Friday, Saturday and Sunday I had a grand total word count of 1478. Yup, you read that right. 1478. Initially I had planned to finish my first draft by last weekend, but obviously that didn't happen. And then on Saturday, I couldn't resist the Sims 3 expansion pack, so there went the weekend, and not to mention that I am so totally obsessed as I usually am for a week or so until I have done everything. :P So writing is even harder. However, having come so far, I am determined not to fail in my goal of finishing the first draft, so I am planning to have this done by end of this week. It is possible if I stick to reasonable word counts every day. But it's certainly not as easy as it was in the first two weeks. How are you guys doing with NaNo? What is your experience as the month goes?

Friday, 20 November 2009

Let's Play A Game

I have this sudden urge to reorganise my books, or maybe it's just an excuse to sit between piles of books. Whatever. I am doing it. The picture is taken just now, of books resting on my living room carpet. So then I thought of something we can share... Ok here is the deal ...assuming you are near your book shelves (if not, walk in the vicinity of it), close your eyes. Now, pick out five books at random and tell us in the comments sections what they are. If you have the time/inclination then tell us something about those books. How much or how little is entirely your choice, otherwise just leave their names and authors. Let's share a little of our literary tastes. I will start:
  1. Jo's Boys - Louisa May Alcott I love this book, though I do prefer Little Women and Little Men more. In terms of classics, I think Alcott is bit like Jane Austen in that their language and their stories are accessibly and applicable to us today as they were in her days. Besides, I simply love Jo March.
  2. Foundation - Isaac Asimov I enjoy reading this, though I wouldn't say I love them as a lot of people seem to. Foundation series is an interesting read, and something I wouldn't mind re-reading, but I am not a die hard fan.
  3. The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy This is literature at its best. Roy's poetic languages makes this one of my favourites in regards to the skill with words. The story is gripping too, but it is the language that captured me.
  4. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger I only read this book a short time ago, and totally love it. The concept of the story is great, and raised a lot of questions in my mind regards to the control Henry has over his life, due to his time travelling, though he doesn't really know it. The language is simple and easy to read.
  5. Ship of Destiny - Robin Hobb I haven't read this yet. This live-ship series is one of the over 100 books I have got waiting at home to be read. But I loved Hobb's Farseer Trilogy, so I have great hopes for this.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

How Sexy Are You?

No, I don't mean you personally. Sex in books is nothing unusual these days. Whether it's subtly hinted or explicitly drawn, sex sells stories too. It has done for centuries. However, putting that aside, sex - if used well - can also elevate the story by portraying a side of human nature. In quite a few of my favourite books, sex is included. I don't mind. Sometimes, it's good and I read it, and sometimes it resembles tons of romance clichés and I skip over it. In my own stories, there is always romance to a certain degree, and in some stories sex wouldn't be unsuitable. I even had ideas for a few erotica novels, but after attempting to write sex scenes, I have almost come to the conclusion that it is not my thing. That is not to say that my scenes are prudish or don't contain any sexual stuff, because they do. It's just that total, explicit, full sex scenes might not be my thing. They always come out sound ridiculous. I have definitely decided against erotica. That's just not my thing. Of course considering that I don't particularly like to read erotica should have been a hint there. But oh well! Anyway, so back to occassional sex scenes in other genres - like fantasy or mainstream in my case. At this point I have decided that I will continue to write them, but not necessarily describing every single detail of the act. That is working better, instead of forcing myself to write sex scenes. Though I would like to improve my skills for these scenes, no doubt about that. What about you? Do you have sex in your stories? How comfortable are you with them?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Smile and A Moan To Share

First the moan... I lost 963 words, and from the bloody scene that I had hard time writing yesterday in the first place. It was an incredibly stupid mistake of backing up the old version, instead of the new one. So now, I have to re-write that damned thing, and as it is I wasn't feeling fantastically motivated today anyway, so today's word count will be even less. *SIGH* That will teach me to be more careful when transferring files from here to there. Last few points of the outline have been difficult. Maybe it's because it's more muddly middle, I don't know. I am hoping that it will get better. It's really a pain when you have to force every bloody word out of your brain. Okay, so that's the end of a moan!! Now the smiley bit... My entry won for moleskine art. You can see it here. And as a prize, I got to pick a fabulous moleskine sketchbook, which I received today. And if you do check out the entry, read the letters in the skirt from left to right in rows and see if you can see the phrase.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sighing, Nodding & Clichés

Now, 60K+ into my first draft, I am more and more aware of the repetitive phrases and clichés and just general rubbishness of using the same words and gesture over and over again. For example, my people nod a lot, sigh a lot. They also glare a lot, and narrow their eyes a lot. As I write more, when these words come up, I am aware of them but I still write them and carry on because I know that if I stop to think of a better way to write that sentence, I will start editing as I write, and that would then hinder the writing. The frustrating part is that I am aware of that, and I know I have all that to fix when I do begin the edit. On the other hand, the fact that I notice these things now, is a good thing because at least it means that I am spotting some of the things that need improving. Another thing distinctly missing in my first draft is description. I have known this for a while now that I am a dialogue heavy writer. Dialogue comes much easier to me than description, so much so that often my first draft lack majority of description. This time, it's no different. There are very few scenes where I have taken the time to describe the surroundings etc. So that is something that will need to be added with the edit. There is a reason why I am not worrying about it now. I feel that first draft should come from instinct. So as I write, I just get on with what comes naturally to me. If I happen to think of description, I put it in, but if I move the scene ahead without describing things, then I let it be. Because I feel that thinking about that would be another thing that would slow the writing down and also make me worry about what I should put in, how much, how to describe it etc. So if it's needed, it can be added later. So far I have got my outline method sussed, but editing method is still something I need to work on. Haven't found my perfect match yet. I am hoping that this first draft will be in far better condition than any of my previous first drafts, which hopefully in turn should make finding an editing method a less frustrating experience. How do you feel about your first drafts? Are you notices holes and faults? Or do you think you are sailing on high seas?

Friday, 13 November 2009

NaNoWriMo WIN

Just a quick post - reached 50012 just before 5 pm today. So that's official win for my first NaNoWriMo. Now, to plod on with the rest of the book and win my own challenge.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

One more day before getting to 50K & Word Count Motivation

Ok just a little post to blow my own trumpet - tomorrow I shall reach 50K. Today I did lowest ever word count in my NaNoWriMo project - 2105. But because I went out for a meal after work, I knew I wouldn't spend much time writing afterwards. So I had to move my goal to finish 50K from today to tomorrow. Current word count is 47170 So I need to do just 2830 to win the official NaNo But of course that's not where this will end, so I have got quite a way to go before finishing the challenge I want to win - between 85K to 90K Speaking of word count, I am kind of obsessed with them. Not just to post them, but also for myself, with my excel spreadsheet, because it really does help me in writing that little bit more. In fact, when I switch Finn on, and click the shortcut to my NaNo Folder, the first file I usually open is my WordCount spreadsheet, and then I leave it open. Then I open the points I am supposed to work on, and sometimes either the previous one or the next couple of ones to make sure where the story is coming from or going to. If I am having a particularly easy scene, then I just type and don't worry about the word count till I am done. But if I am kind of pushing myself (which is more often the case, especially when I am knackered), then I keep updating my WordCount spreadsheet after few paragraphs, so I can see the number going up, and that helps me write a little bit more. Same logic applies to updating wordcount progress bars on my blog or on AW signature or on NANO website. I look at the bar going up, and I can see how far I have come. What about you? Do wordcount motivate you, or do you hate the sight of spreadsheets or handwritten calculation or whatever?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

NaNoWriMo and 87 Points of Outline

For weeks I have spoken about my NaNoWriMo outline, and how it has helped me. Today, having some leisure time this evening, I shall explain a little more about it, and why it has been helpful in not only shooting forward with the word count, but also with continuing momentum. First let me explain that altogether this outline took me two weeks, but I had been planning the story and knew my characters months before that, so it certainly wasn't a quick job. For this particular novel, it's been a roundabout journey because I was still developing methods that work for me; I had tried many different things and I had changed the story several times. But with going around in circle with this story line, I found a method that will make future stories much easier - hopefully. This may or may not work for you, but hopefully it might inspire you to create your own method. So this outline:
  • It's fairly detailed. About 12000 words total, but taking out all the repeated titles, headings etc. still about 8K to 9K. So pretty long. The important thing is that it is an outline of EVENTS.

  • Basically, I have listed in bullet point 87 things that happen from beginning to end. 87 wasn't a selected number, but that's where the story ended. Under each heading, I have described what that bullet point is supposed to be about. Some points are more detailed than others, depending on how much I knew when I was writing the outline. It's not necessarily a scene by scene outline, because sometimes a scene carries on from one point to the next. It's simply what happens.

  • I was hoping that each of the 87 point would be approximately 1000 words, giving me about 87K of the first draft. I never expected it to be exactly that, as currently I am on 43rd point, and my word count is just over 40K. Some points have been as low as 200 words, and one or two have been as long as 2500. That's something that I learn as I write the draft, and end it where it needs to end. So eventually I will end up with the first draft that is between 80K to 90K, and that's my goal.

  • Personally for me, I think I have found the exact balance that I need between having enough detail so as not to worry about what happens next, and not enough detail so it doesn't suck the creativity out of writing. I have TOLD what should happen in the outline. I have not SHOWN how it could happen. That happens in the first draft. But not having to worry about what should happen next has made the writing process much much easier.

  • All the plot fixing has been done in the outline. I revised this outline about three times, with significant changes. As I wrote it, I found plot lines that didn't work or plot holes that weren't filled. I fixed it before I started writing the first draft. This has been one of my biggest problems with my first drafts, because it totally puts me off editing, and makes me feel like whole thing is unfixable. But with most of the plot holes fixed at the outline stage, the first draft is fairly consistent. I know there will be things that need fixing, but at least the most obvious ones are out of the way. I am hoping that it will make editing less of a nightmare.

  • It has divided writing in small sections. So this morning when I took Finn out of my bag, I didn't have to face the whole novel, just point 42. Simple. It should also make it easier when editing, because there will be a small section to handle at a time, as oppose to the whole book.

So that's my outline. Like I said, I have tried different things and different types of outline, but this is the first that has been useful and I have enjoyed using it, so I intend to stick to it for future books.

And why am I having a leisurely evening you may ask - that's because I have already reached today's target. I wanted to reach 40K today, but I am currently at 40514 words. I will still write a bit tonight, but I am not in hurry to finish a certain word count, so tonight, bit more writing and also more reading.

Have you learned anything new about your writing method or preferences from this year's NaNoWriMo experience?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

NaNoWriMo - ONE WEEK LATER

Are you sick of all the NaNoWriMo posts yet? I hope not, because it is what's occupying my mind at this moment. While I wouldn't say that I am bored of it, the excitement level certainly has cooled off compared to the 1st. I suppose more accurate feeling would be, it's okay to write few thousand words, but if I think about writing a lot, it seems like I am forcing myself, so I eased off on myself a little this weekend, because while I believe discipline is a good thing, I don't think it's a good idea to force myself to write 10K of crap, as oppose to 4K of decent stuff. This weekend I had an ambitious goal of writing 10K per day, but that didn't quite work out because I was in the middle of an excellent book, which I wanted to finish reading. And also, brain wasn't cooperating. However, it is now 22:58 on Sunday night, and I have a nice happy feeling of being productive yet relaxed, because even though I didn't write as much as I was thinking I should, I did manage a respectable 8223 words, and that brings my total word count to 32210. I hope to have the official NaNoWriMo of 50K done by next sunday. Then rest of the time will be finishing my goal of full first draft. What have I learned after the end of the week 1?
  • Getting a head start is always a good thing. - In the beginning, excitement level is high. You are keen to run rather than walk. So run. Do as much as you can, and bank those words. My highest word count was on the very first day (8376 words), and I haven't gotten anywhere close to that word count after that. However, it did start me off on the right foot, and it's a great motivational factor.
  • Having a plan is a good thing - I am sticking to writing in chronological order this time. If I truly wanted to, I could try writing out of sequence, because I do have an outline. But I have noticed that though I remain more or less true to my outline, some things do change or grow, and so I figure that if I stick to the sequence then I can incorporate those changes as I go. Also, as I come to some scenes which are difficult, I am forcing myself to work through them, because sooner or later I am going to have to deal with them so might as well do it now.
  • Relaxing and enjoying other things is not against the law - this weekend I had hoped to just write. But you know what, in the end, I thought what the hell, I wanted to finish the book I was reading. So I did. It was great fun. And as much as I want to be a published writer and as much as I want to create my own stories, I don't want to push aside the love of books that get me started on this road in the first place.
  • Failure is eventually useful - experimenting with different methods of writing is beneficial, because by figuring out what doesn't work for you, you are closer to finding what does work for you.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

NaNoWriMo Success List

For AW Blog Chain this month we are talking about survival list for writers. Those who are participating in NaNoWriMo are talking about that specifically. I have already done my NaNo Arsenal Post, so now I will list what I think will make NaNoWriMo effort a successful one - at least for me.
  1. It is limited, fixed time goal - one month, first draft. That's it. I am not trying to write a publishable book. That comes with editing. I am just trying to finish a first draft. With that one fixed goal, there is no faffing about. No lack of focus. And certainly no flitting around from one project to another.
  2. Word Count Matters (because I am prepared) - I know some people do NaNo by just focusing on word count, regardless of what they write. That is not my purpose. I am aiming for one complete, and hopefully coherent story. But if I were to start thinking about what's good and what isn't now, I wouldn't get very far. So I prepared myself with a detailed outline. I anguished over the plot when I was outlining. So now, writing the first draft, I just have to move from one point in the outline to next one, without worrying about plot holes. It doesn't mean I rigidly follow it, because my outline is quite flexible. But it simply means that I know what sort of direction the story is heading in. That helps. Because then I can start writing without having to worry about what I am going to write next.
  3. I have made this my top priority for this month - again, this helps and is possible because it's for a limited time. For one month I can say that everything else is secondary. I can't do that for a whole year. It doesn't mean I don't do anything else (after all, I am writing this post), but simply that I keep in mind that I must meet my minimum word count goal and carry on forward, and leave myself enough time in the day to do so. And for those with busy life styles, I assure you I haven't got all leisure time. I work full-time, have many interests, and can't stop reading blogs. So you have to make time.
  4. Finn is amazingly useful - Finn is the new netbook I bought. I just happened to want it and get it in time for NaNoWriMo which has been godsend because now I can actually write in the bus when I commute to work. Believe me, it is amazing feeling when I get off from the bus at 8:00 am to start my working day, with 600 words already behind me.
  5. Competition helps - yes, I am competitive. Not insanely, mind you. But when I see other people posting on AW forums how many words they have done in the day, it motivates me to keep writing. Don't push yourself to do what you can't handle, because your life isn't same as everyone else's. You may have more demands on your time than those who stack up words like Paris Hilton stacks up best friends. But, also keep in mind that if someone else can write 2000 words in 2 hours, so can you. It doesn't mean you have to, or you should. But you could. That's the point. To grow. To stretch yourself.
  6. Find joy in productivity - As I mentioned, just having done some words in the morning starts my day with a positive feeling. After those morning words, I am usually not able to write until I finish work, but when I do start in the evening, I am not starting at 0. As I add more words to my draft, I have the joy of creating a story that will be completed very shortly, and then I can work on making it better. It's a joy of creating something that is uniquely your own. It's your story. It's your words. It's beautiful experience.
  7. Aim High - I could have aimed for 50K. But I thought, if I am going to do this, might as well do it extreme. 50K isn't going to give me a full novel. So I am going to finish a full first draft in November. Before November I wasn't sure I could do it. Now I know I can, and I will. It's simply a matter of pushing myself that little bit further.
  8. Have a Reward - You must have a reward that you value after all that hard work. And I am in luck, because Sims 3 Expansion Pack comes out on November 20. When a new expansion pack comes out, I like to get obsessed with it for at least 2 weeks. So when I finish the first draft, I get to binge on Sims 3 for a couple of weeks before starting to edit this NaNoWriMo novel. And you know what? Now, I want to finish this novel as close to 20th as possible, because I so want to get my hands on that game. So find something that works for you.

Of course most of these things could apply to day-to-day writing as well, so take what you like. :) Now, I must actually get on with my writing.

Here is the list of participants in this month's blog chain 1. DavidZahir - http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/ 2. shethinkstoomuch - http://shethinkstoomuch.wordpress.com 3. Lost Wanderer - http://lostwanderer5.blogspot.com/ 4. aimeelaine - http://www.aimeelaine.com/ 5. Ravencorinncarluk - http://raven.youareannoying.us/ 6. Bsolah - http://www.benjaminsolah.com/blog/ 7. Charlotte49ers - http://www.amandaplavich.com/ 8. Angyl78 - http://jelyzabeth.wordpress.com/ 9. truelyana - http://expressiveworld.com/ 10. Claire Crossdale - http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Third Day of NaNoWriMo and How is it going?

Today was definitely the hardest. This morning I managed to write 600 words in the bus on my way to work, that was great. Gave me a very good feeling of productivity. Then, no time for writing during the day. And in the evening, at first I got distracted and then I was really tired. DVD itself didn't take long, so I had time to go for my word count, but just found it really really hard to focus. That's where the spreadsheet comes in handy. I had decided that I wanted to get to 15000 today. So I kept adding my word count to my overall total at every few hundred words. What this did was that everytime, it showed me a lower number that I needed to write to get to 15000. So I kept pushing myself, saying just a bit more. In the end, it came to 38 words more, and then 9 words more. This is the word count for my first three days: 1/11 = 8376 2/11 = 4361 3/11 = 2267 When I look at it, it looks like a downward trent, but of course I know that it isn't true. It's simply dependent on my circumstances. So I am definitely happy with my GRAND TOTAL OF 15004 words. between 65K to 70K left to write to finish the full first draft. Tomorrow's target: 2200

Sunday, 1 November 2009

First Day of NaNoWriMo Over and the Word Count is...

I stopped writing at about 11:40ish at night, and final word count 8376. To be honest, from later part of the evening I was far less productive, taking like 3 hours to write 500 words, because at that point I could feel the tiredness, and my brain didn't want to focus. So even though I was hoping to reach 10K, I stopped when I finished the point in my outline. Of course I am not complaining, because 8376 is a very good start. Working week starts tomorrow, and unfortunately for me, I have got work related plans on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so I don't know how much time I will get in the evenings. Tomorrow's minimum word count goal is 2200 words. How did your first day go? Do you have set word goals for each day?

NaNoWriMo - Midnight Exerpeince

Edit: BigWords at AW very kindly and privately pointed out the spelling mistake in my post title. I thought about correcting it, but then I thought in the spirit of NaNo I shall leave it. It will be a proof of my excitement to get the post done and get back to writing (or it could've been slacking on the forums). Original Post It's 11:26 am, November 1. I have just woken up. Quite fresh and perky, and the reason for that is that I went to bed at 4:30, having done 3295 words for my NaNo Novel. :-) Just a few quick thoughts:
  1. I LOVE OUTLINES. I don't think I would have written that much if I didn't have an outline, because then my tired brain would have had to think more about what I was supposed to write. But because I have an outline, I was even able to do short edits - not proper edits, but go back and insert what I realised later I should have added.
  2. I am too fussy to be happy with any writing software. After all the goody goody stuff I told you about Liquid Story Binder (which still applies), I ended up using MS Word anyway, because LSB wasn't indenting my paragraphs the way I wanted them and that annoyed me. I use Word's "Read" function when I type. I like the look of that. Obviously its' tiny on a netbook, but I got used to it pretty quickly.
  3. Word count shout outs rocks. I had my laptop on the side, with only AW and NaNo, specific forums open. So when I finished 1000 words, or rather 1 point in my outline which was about 1000 words, I took a break, made a coffee, posted on forums. That was fun.

And now, I am seriously trying to push myself to go to that kick-off party. The weather is pretty crap. It's extremely wind, and early it was raining. I hate going out in bad weather (which is why I don't do it much since I live in England). And also, I think I might get more done if I stay home. Maybe I will go next week.

How is your first day going?

Saturday, 31 October 2009

NaNo Arsenal at the Ready

I am as ready for NaNo as I am ever going to be. Well, there are things I could do, but then that will always be the case. So anyway....getting to the point....interested in finding out what's in my arsenal to kick NaNoWriMo butt?
  1. Outline - My outline is finally complete. It's somewhere between a phase outline and a scene outline. I just came up with it based on all the various methods I had learned over time. It is fairly detailed, and I am hoping that because of it I will have far less plot holes than I usually do. If I find it effective then I will do a detailed post about the method after NaNo is finished.
  2. Finn - you know Finn. :) Shiny new netbook. I expect I will be using that at home as well, so I won't have to keep transferring stuff between computers.
  3. Liquid Story Binder & MS Word & Excel - Excel for word count spreadsheet. My outline is created in MS Word, and I will probably do some writing in it as well, and varify the word count. Liquid Story Binder is the new writing software I have downloaded. I prefer it over y-Writer, because to me y-Writer looks quite dated, where LSB has more modern, customizable appearance, and the screens and everything look more similar to MS Word. But what I like about it most is that you can have many windows open at the same time, and you can organise them as you like - overlaping, side by side etc. For small netbook screen, I find it gives me bigger screen than MS Word.
  4. Coffee - *drool*
  5. Coke - Just in case I need cold caffeine
  6. Food - chocolates, crisps, brownies, and to compensate for all that junk one tiny pot of healthy seeds

AND Most Importantly...

7. A Great Deal of Enthusiasm

So what's in your NaNo Arsenal?

P.S. Three and a Half Hours To Go before NaNoWriMo starts

Kreative Blogger Award

Thanks very much to Matt at Pensive Sarcasm for this Kreative Blogger award. :) I do love blog awards. The Rules: 1. Copy the Kreativ Blogger picture and post it on your page. 2. Thank the person that gave the award to you and link back to their blog. 3. Write 7 things about you that we don't know. 4. Choose 7 other bloggers that you would like to give the award to. 5. Link to the bloggers that you chose. 6. Let your winners know that they have the lovely award!

7 Things You Don't Know About Me:

  1. My favourite colour is Green
  2. For outside coffee, Starbucks is my favourite
  3. And since I talked about coffee, to go with it, I love Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Glazed Munchkins
  4. I love old fashioned British accent. Not pinched-nose-royalty accent, but I suppose more standard accent that you hear on TV from more upscale newsreaders or documentary narrators, or Hugh Grant.
  5. I LOVE STARGATE S.G 1 and ATLANTIS (okay, some you may know this, but not all)
  6. I hate insects. All of them. I don't care if they exist out of my sight, but when they are in my space, or in my house, or in any indoor property that I happen to be in, I hate them.
  7. Contrary to popular trend, I didn't want to be a writer when I was a kid. It never even occured to me as a child to consider being a writer as an occupation.

7 Bloggers that I would like to pass this award to

  1. Jamie at Variety Pages - from posts on writing, her goals, and even samples of her writing, Jamie's blog makes an interesting and fun, and often thoughtful reading. I really enjoy it.
  2. C R Ward at Random Thoughts - C R usually has regular topics on her blog, which include writing, detailed descriptions and good deal of thoughts on particular forms of poetry (often unusual ones that I have never heard of), as well as samples of her writing.
  3. Lady Glamis at Innocent Flower - offers indepth post on all aspects of writing
  4. Shonna at Routine for Writers - Interesting posts about how you can make sure writing is a regular part of your life
  5. Todd Severin at My Writing Life - he offers more practical advice and shares his experience
  6. Erica at Laugh Write Play - I have only been following her blog for a short time, but I do enjoy her entries
  7. Three Amigos at The Literary Lab - If you haven't checked it out, do it now, and you will understand no explanation required.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

NaNoWriMo Write-In

I learned from NaNo official website that my local area has a NaNo write-ins. Writers from Bristol and Bath meet in Bristol on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings during November. Thursday evenings are no-no for me, because travelling by public transport at night is something I totally avoid. But on Sundays I am thinking about going. From the description, I have to say that the whole thing sounds more social than writing, though quite a few people mentioned that they do manage to up their word count by encouraging each other. Since 1st of November is a Sunday, I have decided to go and check it out. While I would really love to meet local writers and see how I get along with them, spending Sundays socialising and just talking about writing, instead of writing, isn't what I want to do. If I want to push for finishing a first draft in November, I really cannot afford to waste weekends. Still, worth experimenting. When I thought of write-ins in my head, I always head this idea of people sitting around, mostly writing, occassionally chatting. I accept that to a lot of people this would sound incredibly boring. Someone might say that we might as well not bother getting together. But having been to one-day workshops where we have done just that, I have to say that I find that totally exciting and appealing. If I am sitting around writing by myself, I am prone to distractions. But if I am sitting around writing at the same time as other people, I don't get distracted. I am focused. I think it's the fact that everyone else is writing, you don't want to be the only one not doing it, or when they end up writing 5000 words, you don't want to be stuck at 500. Okay, I admit, I am competitive. Not insane in I-have-to-win kind of way, but more in a if-you-can-do-it-so-can-I kind of way. I will let you all know how my experience with Bristol write-in goes. But what about you guys? Especially the old NaNoers. Have you been to NaNo write-ins? How did you find it?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Post Writing Blues

Yes, I am over it. I am still slightly concerned, but I am plodding along. With this particular story, it's been a hell of a journey. First, I wrote a whole first draft with the same characters but DIFFERENT STORY. That was the heroine's story, and the hero had a sub-plot. By the time I finished that draft, I decided the hero had a far more interesting story to tell. So that's where this story was born. What changed? Everything except the characters, and the main idea of the sub plot. That's the funny part, and that's what gives me the confidence that this story is worth writing. Because the hero's beginning and his destination has remained unchanged throughout all this upheavel. The ways of getting to that destination have changed a lot, and in fact that's what I am still attempting to figure out. I think it's a matter of finding the right route. And speaking of changes, initially, my heroine had 4 brothers. Then there were 3. Now she has 1. This came as a result of writing blues, and I decided that because she is close to her family, her brothers were always around (large cast issue), and they are important enough that they won't be just pushed aside. They were therefore major supporting characters. I figured I had far too many major supporting characters for the scope of this book. This isn't an epic fantasy. This is just standard one-book fantasy. So it needs to limit its scope. It needs to focus on the hero's journey alone for the most part. And while I hadn't minded getting rid of several people, I didn't particular like getting rid of one of my favourite characters. The heroine's twin brother. He was a very cool character. But then I found a way to cheat ;) I got rid of him as a brother. But he will appear as a minor character. Granted, he will be quite different than what he was intended to be - quite evil instead of good - but it's not a stretch for his personality. In fact, I think he will be even more fun as an evil dude. I definitely don't have time to do a detailed outline for NaNoWriMo now, but I am just hoping to have a solid enough loose outline that I can feel comfortable with. I did a lot of work on the previous one, but at least at the end of it, I am glad I found out that it wasn't quite the right way before I wrote 80000 words and not after. (I am sick of that happening now) I think initially with this story - like everything I do - I was trying to achieve too much at the same time. That just doesn't work. But one thing at a time is a concept I have a hard time grasping. Still, this story is turning out to be a strict teacher. And now because of all the bloody hard work I have put into it, I am all the more determined to write it to a standard where I would enjoy reading it. And since I have quite high standards of readings, that's a good enough goal for me...for now.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Feeling the Writing Blues

Yesterday, while attempting to work on my outline for NaNo, trying to figure out questions that I don't know the answers to, I felt the outline was rubbish. The story just doesn't seem as powerful as it does in my head. Then the despondency that it's all shit, and it's never going to get better, and even if I spend all the time writing the draft from the rubbish outline, it will still be flat. I am sure you know how it goes ...when one negative thought starts, the whole lot of them follow close behind. I still think the plot isn't good enough, and while a part of me is worried that I would never complete a book that is good enough, a logical part of me notes that I write much better now than the very draft I wrote many years ago. There is an improvement. It's just damned slow. Still hoping that I can make the plot good enough so that it won't ruin my excitement about writing the book for NaNo. I just wish I had picked a better time to get all frantic. Not long left now to change stuff, but let's see how it goes.

Friday, 23 October 2009

My Partner in Crime - Meet Finn

What were you expecting? My writing buddy? Well, in a manner of speaking that's who Finn is. Remember the post about netbooks? I couldn't wait. I had to have one. And so after research and reading your comments, I had three final choices: 1. Acer Aspire One 2. Samsung N140 (Thanks to Jamie) 3. Asus eee pc 1005H Both Samsung and Asus had far better battery life than Acer, and I didn't like the look of Acer as much as the other two, so I decided against Acer. Samsung N140 and Asus were pretty much in tie. Their specs were fairly similar, especially for my need. The final decision at the end was based on the fact that for pretty much the same thing, Samsung was £70 more expensive. So I went with Asus. It arrived yesterday, and because I feel so attached to it, I named it: Finn. Ok, it is weird to name a computer. I accept it. But hey, if you guys couldn't handle weirdness, you wouldn't be writers :P I have never named a computer before, but Finn is different. Glossy black, totally gorgeous, light as a book, and very handy. I started using it in the bus today, and it was incredibly easy to just keep it on my legs and carry on typing, despite all the potholes and mad drivers. I got rid of quite a few things it came with like MS Office Trial. The only thing I have installed are MS Office 2003 (which I already have) and Liquid Story Binder (A post about this later). Also, as mentioned in the earlier post, I have NOT activated Internet. I think that's wise decision. Otherwise there will be far less writing and much more surfing. Now, I am certain that I will win NaNo, because I can't resist using that little thing. And since I don't have a lot of distractions there (except for solitair and all those other basic games computers come with) I don't have much to do except write. Keyboard is very comfortable, and I really like the flat, mac type keys, as oppose to normal 3D keys. The screen, though small, isn't much of an issue with writing. In fact, for use in public places like buses, it is quite handy because it's more private. Ok, a good writer shouldn't depend on gadgets, but hey, if you got one, might as well enjoy it. :D So here are the pictures, all complete with my lovely wallpaper...