Friday, 31 July 2009

July Short Story Challenge

So how did you do? I have got 2 flash fictions completed - but they still do need editing, so not quite ready for submission stage yet. From next month, I am going to change "Short Story Challenge" into "Word Count Challenge" I have noticed that quite a few of us are focusing on our books rather than spending a lot of time on short stories. So if we do a word-count challenge then we can write what we want, and still participate and hopefully succeed in the challenge. So any suggestions as to how many words per month we should make it? Come on, be ambitious - but realistic and give me some numbers that you would like to aim for.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

AW July Blog Chain

I am participating in AW July Blog Chain, where each person asks writing related question to the next person to answer on the blog. Adina's question for me: What is your favourite subject to write about and where do you get your inspiration? Not necessarily a favourite subject, as that would be too limiting for a writer, but my favourite genres to write are Fantasy and Indian fiction. I have tried writing various different things and so far these are the two I am focusing on, as those are the stories that call strongly to me. Indian fiction simply because of my background. I feel a natural affinity to those stories. Fantasy, because I love it. I love reading it, I love dreaming it. Fantasy offers the ultimate escapism as well as an opportunity to wonder what kind of world one could create. Though I think possibilities are endless in any form of fiction. I have an interest in science fiction too, but I am not quite ready to write it yet, though it is also a definite possibility for the future. My inspiration - it comes from anywhere and everywhere. For example, last weekend I was chatting to my mom over the phone. She said something, and later on that evening I thought what if that actually happened, and voila, I have an idea for a novel. It needs developing, but I have got the main theme. And if I manage to get it plotted, that's what I will be doing for NaNo. For novels, I never lack ideas. For short stories it's a different matter. I have only tried to write short stories with markets in mind, which means following guidelines, and I have really hard time coming up with ideas. But since I have decided that short stories aren't my thing, it doesn't matter. So inspiration for novel - that's always there, because I get inspired from all different sorts of stuff. I have started a story from a name, from a situation. My WIP 1 started when I wanted to explore the lives of three best friends who are moving into adult lives. For a fantasy novel, I thought of a family, then a city they would live in. And then the plot came. I think inspiration is just a matter of thinking WHAT IF. If you ask the questions, answers will come. My question for the next person in the chain, upsidedowngirl - you are a freelance writer. Do you enjoy the subjects/articles you write, or do you pick what's available as a job? What difference does it make on the level of your motivation and enjoyment if you have to write about things you are not passionate about? Is it the act of writing that's important, or the act of writing what you want?

As the Fire Burns Stronger...

You dream about doing something or wanting something for a long time. You act on it, but life gets in the way, or maybe you don’t realise just how important that dream is to you. And then one day…boom…it occurs to you that time’s moving much faster than when you were younger, and that before you know it you will be dead, so better get on with things you want to do. That is how it’s been with me and writing. At first, I just wanted to write a book. Then, I realised that I actually wanted to be a writer. I have been writing for years, but after weeks or even months of disciplined writing, life would again get in the way, and the stories would rest waiting for me to pick them up. I never forgot them, but it was like leaving your children in a boarding school for the whole year and only catching up with them at Easter and Christmas. Catching up is good, but is never the same as living together. But after last Christmas, I began to realise that if I wanted to become a full time writer while I am relatively young, the time had come for serious discipline and hard work. Thoughts and planned mulled in my mind, and then finally in February after signing up to Writers Bureau course, my discipline got on track. I haven’t gotten off the track yet. Now after few months of focusing only on Writers Bureau assignments, I have begun to focus on my books. At first, when I began to collate what I had written and put up the progress bars, I was amazed and happy with the word count I had. Now, as I look at those bars, and as I think about the goals I have set for myself, I feel this fire burning within me to accomplish that. It is often exhausting to worry about that after day job, but the fire burns stronger nonetheless. Writing is not about a job. It is about who I am. To not devote time and energy to something I am so passionate about would be a waste of my life. There are no guarantees if I might succeed in the “real” world, but if I pursue my dream with all the passion I have then I shall definitely have the peace in my inner world that I spent time doing what I love to do (including facing demons of editing dread).

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

yWriter - Do you like it?

In preparation for starting to edit my WIP 1 in a few days, I downloaded yWriter 5 today. I have never used this before. I did download similar thing before, but got put off by the look. However, after reading on several blogs, I got the impression that it might not be a bad thing to try for editing a novel. Have you used it? What do you feel? Any tips to make the whole experience more efficient?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Writing Habits

What are your writing habits? Do you need to write in a specific place, on a laptop or paper? Do you require silence, or do you need a certain kind of noise? When I am sitting down to write at home, I like to sit on my couch with a laptop or pen/paper. I like to drink coffee, and for the noise I usually have TV on. If the neighbour hood is silent then occasionally I might have silence, but generally I prefer to have noise of my own choosing than getting irritated by noise from surroundings. Music, I can’t work with. That just distracts me, but certain things on TV/DVD work great. I also occasionally write in the library or in Starbucks, but that’s not a regular event. When I am writing outside, it’s usually due to inspirational bursts so nothing can distract me. And I work much better in the evenings than in the mornings. Mornings just seem to whittle away, but as the day wears on, my productivity gets better. Share all your quirky/normal habits…

Sunday, 26 July 2009

2009 Writing Goals

Over the course of the year, my writing goals and preferences have changed a lot so it's time to review current goals for the remainder of 2009. I shall update/change it over the coming weeks depending on how things progress. 2009 Challenges and Goals (From July 26 to December 31)
  • AW Forums - 1000 words per day pledge
  • NaNo 2009 - Outline by October
  • NaNo 2009 - November (50K minimum for a first draft)
  • WIP 2 Fantasy - Finish first draft by 4th of October
  • Writers Bureau - Assignment F9
  • WIP 1 Women's Fiction - Read through, makes notes for Edit
  • JBWB - Short Story
  • WIP 2 Fantasy - Type hand-written draft

TOTAL WORD COUNT GOAL - 250000 words

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Mental Book Splurge

And there is one more which has yet to be delivered. Go on know you want to...

Friday, 24 July 2009

Superior Scribbler Award

Superior Scribbler - sounds so grand, doesn't it? I have got Eric at Working My Muse to thank for that. So thank you, Eric. I am truly honoured, because it's always wonderful when someone else gets something positive out of one's blog/writing.
The rules for this award are:
  1. Each Superior Scribbler awardee must pass the award on to the five most deserving people they know
  2. Each Superior Scribbler must post a link to the author and blog that gave them the award
  3. Each Superior Scribbler must display the award with a link to the Scholastic Scribe's original post regarding the award
  4. Each Superior Scribbler must visit the link mentioned in #3 and add their name to the list of awardees
  5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on their blog

I have been around the blog-world and there are many fabulous writers out there. Each one with something different to contribute. Some offer advice or the knowledge they have from their own experiences, others share their own struggles on the path of publication, and there are others who share their stories and the world they create; some are fun, some inspiration.

I am passing on the award to five bloggers who have offered me something... 1. Lady Glamis, Innocent Flower 2. Calistro, Writing About Writing 3. Jane Friedman, There Are No Rules 4. Sarah, Sarah's Writing Journal 5. Col Bury's New Crime Fiction

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Most writing books and articles have something to say about point-of-view character(s). I have read plenty of "rules" and I have seen a great deal of rule breaking in the books I have read too. It is worth noting that in most "classics" from 19th century and before, character hopping was quite common, as was describing one scene from several characters points-of-view. Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" for example is horrendous for that. It doesn't bother me in all stories, but now because I suppose I have read so much about it, I do pick it up and I do prefer a neater structure. One POV per scene - I personally agree with that. Changing from character to character breaks reader's connection with that character. One might be reading a scene, empathising with Joe, and then voila suddenly its Jane's thoughts we are reading about. Not very effective. Yet some of the well-known writers do this. Nora Roberts / J. D. Robb for example does that in her books. In her "death" series as J. D. Robb, she moves from Eve to Roarke and also other characters. That doesn't bother me as much as Virginia Woolf did, because I suppose it's a series so I know these characters quite well. How do you decide what POV you want to use? How do I decide for my books? For most of my stories, it just comes naturally. For a few of them, I have used First Person and for most of them I use Third Person / Multiple Third Person. For the current fantasy novel, I am planning to use Third Person Omniscient - but I haven't used that before so I am not sure how that will work out. Sometimes I had to experiment. I might start out with a Third Person POV and change it to First, or the other way around. When I first started writing, I only liked Third Person, and had a clear disinterest in First or Second. But one of my women's fiction (the one that is 40% complete) started very naturally in the First Person, and I KNOW that is the right way to tell that story. The only one I really dislike is the Second Person. I don't even like to read short stories in it. There is something very irritating about someone telling you "you walked in the room" and all I want to say is "No, I bloody didn't." Never did like anyone telling me what to do anyway. :P What are your experiences using different types of POV? Do you prefer any particular ones? Why?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Blog Look - Your Views?

Hello All, I changed the layout, since my sidebar was getting too long. But you are the readers, and from personal experience I know that if a blog is too annoying to read - no matter how great the material, I am likely to avoid it. So if there is anything you don't like, feel free to leave your comments and I shall try my best to remedy it.

New Women's Fiction WIP Unearthed

I have been working on this for a while, and this is the one I used to do synopsis for my Writers Bureau Assignment. So inspired by recent success with an old WIP, I put together all that I had written in some orderely fashion, and voila, 40% done. Fantasy WIP is still the priority, but I might write scenes for this one here and there, since I have a good outline already.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Writing Advice from Stephen King and Jerry Jenkins

Check out Writers Digest interview with Stephen King and Jerry Jenkins. Quite fascinating answers - and encouraging I think - from authors who have been around for a while. King said he thinks every writer is an ameture. We shouldn't worry too much about it then ;)

A Surprising First Draft Finish

No it's not the Fantasy WIP that I started working on last week. Actually I just happened to open and look at the first ever novel I completed (Women's Fiction). That was the time when I knew nothing of publication, craft or any other practical matters. I wrote a book and that was that. Obviously looking at it, I know hell of a lot needs to change. But funnily enough, there is also a lot that doesn't. I had initially four main characters, and I realised that one of them was just a preacher. So I have taken out all the scenes with that character. The initial draft was 200K words, and now after that deletion, it's 100K. The structure of the story, and the story itself is already in place. All it needs it editing with my increased (hopefully) knowledge of the craft, and also fleshing out on description as I tend to be dialogue focused. I am well chuffed, because now I have a fully finished first draft. So now I shall leave that to stew, and get back to my Fantasy WIP. Once I finish the first draft of that, I will start editing this one.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

What makes a story memorable?

Most of you are presumably book lovers. I should hope you are, or you have no business writing. Of all the books you have gone through, there will be some that stick in your mind forever. Particular stories that when you think of them, make you want to smile or even better, pick it up and re-read it. What are those stories? What makes them memorable? Plot or characters? Of course the ideal thing is to have everything. Great plot, great characters. But does one contribute more than the other towards making it memorable? My personal belief is characters. I love the books with great plots, but when I think about think about a book long after I have read it, more often than not, I will think of particular characters. I may not remember all the details of a murder, but I remember Sherlock Holmes or Poirot. I may not remember how the whole cold-war scenario worked, but I remember James Bond. When I think of Little Women, I think of Jo and Laurie, and Meg and Amy. It is always the characters -the people who make the fiction real, and make it connect to the humanity within us that makes stories memorable for me. I have read a lot about character driven stories vs. plot driven stories. I do believe that they should be driven by both, but without excellent characters, I don't think a good plot by itself would be enough to make a book special enough to be remembered after I have read it already. What do you think? Do you consciously set out to make your story character driven or plot driven?

Working from Outline

It is the first time I have started a novel draft after completing almost full outline. So far I have found it to be a positive experience. Without outline, I usually wrote whatever scenes came to mind, which was fine in terms of inspirational writing, but caused a havoc when it came to putting everything together. Finding gaping holes in a middle of the story is the worst thing, and I usually end up re-writing the whole thing from scratch, so having a direction from outline, I know where I am supposed to go next. No doubt, there will be some changes, and there are things that can't be worked out in outline so they might change the story, but I believe that having an outline is still a very good, crucial step. One just has to remember that it is just an outline, not something set in stone. So if needs to change, then it should. Do you create outlines for your books? Or do you find you work best without them?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Home of one of the Most Beloved Characters of All Time

221b Baker Street, London
Welcome to the home of Sherlock Holmes
Holmes' Violin
Dr. Watson's Desk

Monday, 13 July 2009

Writing Goals for Fantasy WIP

I am aiming for a minimum of 120K words, because I figure after editing, the number will go down considerably, so that should give me some leeway.I don't want daily goals, because some days are better than others. But with weekly goals, hopefully, I can be more disciplined during the weekend if work-week hasn't gone well. GOAL
  • This is going to be a hand-written first draft, my goal is to do 38 pages of my A4 notepad, single side, per week. That should be just over 10000 words per week.
  • Starting today, I should have my first draft of 120K finished by 4th October 2009.

So that's the plan. I will post my weekly progress, and please feel free to rant and rave at me, and call me names, if I don't finish my 38 pages per week. In fact, I would appreciate it.

Outline Complete

The idea for this particular novel came to me about a year ago. I did a lot of planning, wrote random scenes. Last week, I decided to sort out my outline and start a proper first draft from scratch. Over the weekend I did the outline. When I thought I was almost done, I remember I had taken notes so got the notes out from mountains of books. Just looking at it, I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of notes and various scenarios I had written. Somehow, over the year, I had forgotten just how much detail I had come up with. Anyway, managed to go through a lot of it, and the world came alive and kicking again in my head. So finally, today I have finished the outline at 6,951 words. It is by no means full of all details; there are still a few important things which will have to sort themselves out as I write, but at least now I think I have a consistent enough plot to properly start a first draft. I am excited and quite nervous, because this is the first methodical first-draft I am planning to write, as oppose to my usual haphazard methods. So hoping for the best....if this works then I might actually turn into an organised writer.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Diary - Entry 15/15

1 November 1868 Began the second part of 'Little Women.' I can do a chapter a day, and in a month I mean to be done. A little success is so inspiring that I now find my 'Marches' sober, nice people, and as I can launch into the future, my fancy has more play. Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only end and aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please any one. ~ Louisa May Alcott

Friday, 10 July 2009

Writing a Novel Synopsis

I am one of those people who have hard time summarizing anything. My explanations are more like essays. So when I think of writing a synopsis for a novel, it's a daunting prospect. But here is a little help. In this post, How to Write a Novel Synopsis, many basic formatting points are explained, as well as how should one approach the synopsis. Hope you find it useful too.

Diary - Entry 14/15

10 October 1855 I've been in a lazily apathetic, perpetually dissatisfied state for a long time now. Won another 130 roubles at cards. Bought a horse and bridle for 150. What nonsense! My career is literature - to write and write! From tomorrow I'll work all my life or throw up everything - rules, religion, propriety - everything. ~ Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Diary - Entry 13/15

19 August 1952 1 A.M. Face it kid, you've had a hell of a lot of good breaks. No Elizabeth Taylor, maybe. No child Hemingway, but god, you are growing up. In other words, you've come a long way from the ugly introvert you were only five years ago. Pats on the back in order? O.K., tan, tall, blondish, not half bad. And brains, 'intuitiveness' in one direction at least. You get along with a great many different kinds of people. Under the same roof, close living, even. You have no real worries about snobbishness, pride, or a swelled head. You are willing to work. Hard, too. You have willpower and are getting to be practical about living - and also you are getting published. So you got a good right to write all you want. Four acceptances in three months - $500 Mille, $25, $10 Seventeen, $4.50 Christian Science Monitor (from caviar to peanuts, I like it all the way). ~ Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Diary - Entry 12/15

1 August 1950 It is hot, steamy and wet. It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But I remember what it said on one rejection slip: After a heavy rainfall, poems titled 'Rain' pour in from across the nation. Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Coping with Writing Fear

I think most of us here are aware by now that becoming a published writer is not easy. Most of us have had our taste of rejection (I received one just this evening *sigh*), we have come across discipline issues, confidence issues, writers block, and I am sure there are many many other issues that different writers face. So here is a neat little post (and bit scary) about coping with writing fear. The scary bit is about facing difficulties as a "published author" - one does wish that difficulties would end once we get through the hurdle of being non-published. Have a read and let me know what you think

Diary - Entry 11/15

14 June 1850 Once again I have taken up my diary, and once again with new fervour and a new purpose. How many times is that? I can't remember. Never mind, perhaps I'll drop it again; but it's a pleasant occupation and it will be pleasant to re-read it, just as it was pleasant to re-read my old ones. There are lots of thoughts in one's head, and some of them seem very remarkable, but when you examine them they turn out to be nonsense; others on the other hand seem sensible - and that's what a diary is needed for. On the basis of one's diary it's very convenient to judge oneself. ~ Leo Tolstoy

Monday, 6 July 2009

Diary - Entry 10/15

4 June 1831
I wonder if I shall burn this sheet of paper like most others I have begun in the same way. To write a diary, I have thought of very often at far & near distances of time: but how could I write a diary without throwing upon paper my thoughts, all my thoughts - the thoughts of my heart as well as of my head? - and then how could I bear to look on them after they were written? Adam made fig leaves necessary for the mind, as well as for the body. And such a mind I have! So very exacting & exclusive & eager & headlong - & strong & so very very often wrong! Well! But I will write: I must write - & the oftener wrong I know myself to be, the less wrong I shall be in one thing - the less vain I shall be! -
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

On the Craft of Writing

What are, in your opinion, must read books on the craft of writing? Is there any particular reason why you would recommend them? Please share... Here are a couple of good ones in my opinion: On Writing – Stephen King If you haven’t read it already, I heartily recommend it. I resisted it for a long time, because I am not really a Stephen King fan, but finally I gave in to general consensus and read it. While you won’t learn many new things on actual craft of writing, his inspiring story is enough to make it a worthwhile read. Characters, Viewpoints and Emotions – Nancy Kress I bought this because it was recommended as a resource on the website of one of my most favourite authors. Another good, and very useful read.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

A News Report

In the writing workshop I attended last Saturday, we passed pieces of paper with different words around the room, mixing them up. Then, we had to write something for few minutes based on the random words we received. I got: Chipping Sodbury, glass kiln, shocking, coughing, fighting So I wrote this little news item... "A glass kiln in Chipping Sodbury was the last thing anyone could have expected to become the main news for weeks. Shocking as it sounds, this particular glass kiln has people fighting over it. Found in an abandoned allotment in Chipping Sodbury by an old man who coughs more than he breaths, this glass kiln is one of a kind, believed to have been used by a glass blower from 50 years ago. He was famous for his use of Bristol blue glass, and quite mad that one day he destroyed his house, got rid of his possessions and simply disappeared. His curious history and his unique use of the Bristol blue glass has made this kiln one of the prime collector's item. The old man who found it says it belongs to him. The owner of the allotment claims his right, while suddenly the glassblower's heirs have sprung up to stake their own claim. Chipping Sodbury, a quiet little suburbia in the South West hasn't seen such excitement for years."

Finally finished

Finally at about 1:00 am last night, I submitted Assignment F8 to Writers Bureau. I have taken the longest amount of time doing this assignment - though doing it is not the right phrase since there were weeks when I didn't even touch it. This assignment included a short story, for which I used flash-fiction piece completed in June Monthly Challenge. It also included a synopsis for a novel. That took a while to figure out, because I was finally forced to fill in the gaps in my book, rather than focuses only on scenes that came to me willingly. And it included character biographies for 2 of the main characters in the book, which didn't take long. So that's it. Now I have only 2 Fiction assignments left to complete in this course. Next one, I am not too keen on because I have to write a radio story, and for someone who never listens to radio, it will be bit of a hard work.

Diary - Entry 9/15

14 April 1910
I've been reading through my books. I oughtn't to write any more. I think in this respect, I've done all I could. But I want to, I terribly want to.
~Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Diary - Entry 8/15

13 March 1921 [T.S.] Eliot dines here tonight, alone, since his wife is in a nursing home, not much to our regret. But what about Eliot? Will he become 'Tom'? What happens with friendships undertaken at the age of forty? Do they flourish and live long? I suppose a good mind endures, and one is drawn to it, owning to having a good mind myself. Not that Tom admires my writing, damn him. ~ Virginia Woolf

A Writers Health Spa

I just returned from one-day workshop called "A Writers Health Spa" A saturday very well spent. As the name suggests, it was a spa for writing. We started off checking in at the reception by introducing ourselves, then short exercise to warm up, then some time on the running machine where we worked our brains to come up with a story from a random words received from other members in the class. Throughout the day, I worked on several pieces. Some from prompts, some from words. There are some that I would never go back to, but most positive contribution of today is that I have returned with two distinct scenes that could be part of two different stories. So that has got my at least July Short Story Challenge sorted. :) But really, I love these writing workshops. I don't gain any new knowledge out of them but just by devoting six hours to nothing but relaxed writing, brain comes up with refreshing stuff. At home, I usually focus on writing that I need to do - whether it's a current project or an assignment. But in these workshops, I go with the flow. So far I have attended two workshops, and I love them so much that I will have to sign up for more.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Diary - Entry 7/15

24 November 1813
I do think the mighty stir made about scribbling and scribes, by themselves and others - a sign of effeminacy, degeneracy, and weakness. Who would write, who had any thing better to do?
~ Lord Byron

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Diary - Entry 6/15

29 February 1920
Oh, to be a writer, a real writer given up to it and to it alone! Oh, I failed to-day; I turned back, looked over my shoulder, and immediately it happened. I felt as though I too were struck down. The day turned cold and dark on the instant. It seemed to belong to summer twilight in London, to the clang of the gates as they close the garden, to the deep light painting the high houses, to the smell of leaves and dust, to the lamp-light, to that stirring of the senses, to the langour of twilight, the breath of it on one's cheek, to all those things which (I feel to-day) are gone from me for ever...I feel today that I shall die soon and suddenly; but not of my lungs.
~ Katherine Mansfield

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

July 2009 - Short Story Challenge

So it seems that collectively, we did better in June than in May. Hopefully, we will all keep that up and do even better in July. Personally for me, hopefully I will finish a story sometime before the last day of the month. And Adam, you should try before last hour of the month :P So come on everyone, let's carry on with the short story challenge. Here are a couple of themes if anyone is lacking in inspiration:
  • a couple goes to the beach for a day out, and the man runs into an ex-wife who ran off after ten years
  • a story around two brothers of very different temperament who have just lost their mother

Diary - Entry 5/15

18 March 1861
You can't read any genuine history - as that of Herodotus or the Venerable Bede - without perceiving that our interest depends not on the subject but on the man, - on the manner in which he treats the subject and the importance he gives it. A feeble writer and without genius must have what he thinks a great theme, which we are already interested in through the accounts of others, but a genius - a Shakespeare, for instance - would make the history of his parish more interesting than another's history of the world.
~ H. D. Thoreau