Sunday, 31 January 2010

Something New Coming Up

This year I have decided to start bringing in some Guest Bloggers on here. It's not going to be a regular scheduled event. No doubt those of you who have been following this blog have figured out that things happen here on whim, rather than schedules. For this first post, I wanted to have a guest blogger that I know - in the cyberspace sense of course. He is a funny, quirky fellow Englander, and on a personal note, one of the very first acquaintance I made when I found this big wide world of writers. He is also one of the first followers of this blog. I am pleased to announce that my very first guest blooger is going to be Adam Slade. Adam's first book, a fantasy novella, is coming out in May 2010. He is going to share with us somethings about his professional editing experience and tell us about his book. Adam also writes science-fiction and detective short stories. Whether or not you read these genres, I am sure you will get something out of his post. Adam's post will be up on February 15th. So don't forget to visit.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Imperfect beginning? Don't let that stop you from moving on...

I started revising my NaNo novel. At first I was quite frustrated because I know the beginning needs to change, but I don't know how. I wrote beginning of this novel for a script assignment, and for the script, it was perfect. Obviously my tutor agreed, because she gave me an A. But for a novel, it's not suitable. It plunges straight into action. Yes, I know action is all good, but there is such a thing as too much action. My character has plunged into action before the readers have time to know him a little, or even empathise with him. I don't intend to change the beginning much, but just need to show more depth in MC. So it was immensely frustrating, and I felt that if I had to keep looking at it, I would soon get fed up of the whole revision thing. So I decided to start my revisions from the second scene. Yup, first scene can wait until inspiration strikes or until I am done with this first round of revisions for the rest. Because I know that essential elements of that first scene are not going to change, it doesn't matter if I revise everything else first. There will always be parts that are difficult, or things that we have particular issues with, but I think instead of getting stuck on that, leave that and move on to what you can do. It's all about psychology. If you move on, you have one scene that needs a lot of work. If you don't, you have a whole novel that needs a lot of work. And it's not going to edit itself. Trust me. I finally got tired of waiting for that miracle.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Circled Back to Multiple Third Person POV

You might remember my raving about possibly changing POV for my NaNo novel, from multiple third person into first person. After my first read-through, I was almost convinced that the first person was the way to go. I thought it would make the reader connect more to the MC. I knew it wasn’t the only way, because after all, there are plenty of amazing third person books out there where I connect with the MC very strongly. Another reason was that the protagonist is strong enough to carry it off, and also – perhaps most importantly – I feel first person comes more easily to me than the third person. This is quite strange because I started writing in third-person, and a major part of what I have written is in third person. Yet, I am quite sure that my first person stories definitely are better written. So I did an experiment. I wrote the beginning of my NaNo novel into first person. And it worked. I knew the story could work in first person, and I was all geared up to re-write the whole thing. I started doing the new outline, as I would have to get rid of the scenes from other people’s POV and incorporate relevant information through the MC. However, as I was doing that new outline I began to have doubts about my choice, because some of the scenes I was looking at – the scenes from other characters’ POV where MC isn’t present, seemed to add richness to the story. Those scenes offer my story an alternative perspective. Now by this time, I was perfectly sure that this story – written by an accomplished author – could work in either first person or third person. But obviously, it was going to be harder for me not being very experienced at revisions and editing. I continued to work through the outline, and kept stressing over it. And then suddenly, it was clear. I came across a scene from non-MC POV; I realized his perspective makes the story that little bit deeper, and voila, problem solved. Multiple-third person was going to stay. As for my ability, well I was going to have to learn to do third-person well eventually, so might as well start now. It’s not that I can’t do third-person, but I was just going for an easier way which the first person offered me. Though I have come to a full circle, and spent a whole month doing it, I am glad I went through it. It’s been frustrating, and often I want to kick myself for wasting that time, but I know that it was worth it, because having tried both, I am more sure of my choice than I was before. I am happy now, instead of having to wonder two drafts later whether I made the right decision. Also, having gone through this next time I will be more careful making POV decision BEFORE I write, so lesson learned. Experience Gained. Now it’s just a little matter of turning the first draft into a pleasurable novel.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Growing with Experience

My writing has taken a considerable leap in the last year. Not because I discovered some magical key, but last year I realised that just writing when the inspiration struck and working haphazardly wasn't going to give me the writing career I envisioned. So I began a more disciplined approach - okay, still working on the discipline bit. I realised that my writing practice, even if I didn't have a completely finished project to show for it, wasn't wasted. I had learned more with practice. But not enough. So I began connecting the dots of all the things I have learned. I am still doing that. And learning more. While I know that the learning would never really end, I do hope that I will get to a good enough level where I am happy sending out my books in the world. Then I read this... "There is no doubt in my mind that I have found out how to begin (at 40) to say something in my own voice; and that interests me so that I feel I can go ahead without praise." - Virginia Woolf When Woolf wrote this, she had already published several books, written countless articles and stories, reviewed books for The Times, and overall was far more involved in the literary world than I would ever be. It made me think about the value of experience, though I must admit that I can't think for myself that I will be fine finding my own voice at 40, because currently being 40 seems quite a way away, and to even imagine that my own writing will not satisfy me until then seems like walking on a road of failure. (Here I must say that it is nothing to do with being how old you are, but rather how long you have to wait before you get to where you want to be) It's a bit bleak way to look at it, but so is always is. One always dreams about the shiny future; hardships we only observe in the past, looking back in retrospect to see how they make us grow. While I know that I shall continue to write no matter what, because I do that for myself, success most certainly matters. I want to have my hard work paid off. And it's a vicious circle really that until I can make a living wage from writing, I cannot spend more time writing because I have to work. Are you one of those writers, to whom only the writing matters and not the success? Would you keep writing, no matter how long it takes to get published?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

How Formal Is Your Everyday Writing?

This question occured to me as I was writing in my journal, and thinking about Virginia Woolf's diary. I was planning to read unedited versions of her journals, but when I looked at them they just irritated me, because not only it was in the usual 19th cent. style with lots of initials and & symbols everywhere (Jane Austen does that too), but also there were tons of notes on each page, giving us information of what it all meant. It was just distracting. But fortunately, her husband has written an edited version of "Writer's Diary" taking entries from her diaries that relate to writing. He also mentioned in the introduction that he will dispense with the notes and dots so as not to distract the reader. And I am thankful for that. But as I was writing about that in my journal, I noticed my own style. Even my journals aren't completely casual. For example, I nearly always say "I have" or "I am" as oppose to "I've" or "I'm". Even in the stories it is hard for me to remember to do that. I use full sentences. There are rare exceptions like being too tired, or in an extreme need of getting information out in a hurry. But usually even in those circumstances, I write down those notes on a post-it, and then when I transfer them to journal, they are properly written. Same goes for travel journals. Why do I do it? Simple answer is for myself. When I read my journals months or years later, I want things to make sense. I want to be able to read it without getting irritated at bad hand-writing or for things that make no sense. If I am writing emails, I want people to be able to understand what I am trying to say without guessing it. And if I am chatting, I don't want to come across as an illiterate moron who cannot spell things. (yes, I hate the current chat lingo. LOL or BRB is about as far as I am willing to go). Oh yes, paragraphs. Totally hate it when a paragraph is so long, it just all looks like a big block of text. What do you think? Are all these things important only in the work that we are trying to publish, or do they matter in every-day casual interactions too? For me, they most certainly do.

Example of my journal pages. Occassionally they are less orderly, but this is quite standard

Example of casul journal page, a quick map drawing in the museum

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Is Writer's Diary Useful?

There are always opposing opinions about these. Some people say it's totally pointless, while others swear by it. Here is what Virginia Woolf thought: ...I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one's own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the rough and random style of it, often so ungrammatical, and crying for a word altered, afflicted me somewhat. I am trying to tell whichever self it is that reads this hereafter that I can write very much better; and take no time over this; and forbid her to let the eye of man behold it. And now I may add my little compliment to the effect that it has a slapdash and vigour and sometimes hits an unexpected bulls eye. But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and stumbles. Going at such a pace as I do I must make the most direct and instant shots at my object, and thus have to lay hands on words, choose them and shoot them with no more pause than is needed to put my pen in the ink. I believe that during the past year I can trace some increase of ease in my professional writing which I attribute to my casual half hours after tea. Moreover there looms ahead of me the shadow of some kind of form which a diary might attain to. I might in the course of time learn what it is that one can make of this loose, drifting material of life; finding another use for it than the use I put it to, so much more consciously and scrupulously, in fiction. Have you ever tried it? Have you found any useful material for fiction from your diaries?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Book Review: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)

We are doing a Book Review Blog Chain again on AW. It's quite strange that though I read far more fiction than non-fiction, whenever I am supposed to write a review, I am always reading non-fiction. I am not really much of a reviewer, so I write my own experience of the book. This particular book, "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank, trascends genres for me. It is simply remarkable, and no amount of adjectives are going to do justice to what reading experience it made for me. Okay, let's start from the beginning. Most of you have probably heard of Anne Frank, but if you haven't, she was a jewish teenager in amsterdam, who went into hiding with her family during WWII. Anne, along with her parents and sister, and four other people (another family, and a single man) hid in an annex of her father's office for two years before they were found on August 4, 1944. Reading about wars, especially about people's personal experiences is a difficult thing for many people. One of my colleagues owns this book but has never read it. I said to her that she must read it. She said she doesn't like reading sad stories. I dropped the topic then, but it has bothered me. I don't particularly like sad stories either, but we cannot ignore our past just because it is sad. And in cases like Anne Frank's Diary, it is about more than a short story. It is about a person's journey. It is about the life they lived, not the one they lost. I think it deserves to be read. Anne started her diary at the age of 13 when she got one for a birthday present. Soon afterwards, they went into hiding, but throughout those two years Anne kept the diary. What is remarkable is that it is a diary of a teenager, but also a very insightful girl who decided she wanted to be a writer. She called her diary "Kitty" and really treated it like a person, because she had never been able to completely confide in any one person. Kitty was the only one Anne could bare her soul to. Writing became her salvation. Along with the complains about family, and the teenage emotions, as the times passes, Anne's maturity is clearly in evidence. At 14, she is already on the road to search for self, to understand herself and to understand the world. War is of course part of her entries, but majority of focus is given to life; their life in the Annex, and Anne's own feelings and hopes for the future. Anne's parents put great weight on education; both Anne and her sister were clever and interested in learning. They continued to study by correspodence courses while in hiding. But I believe it was Anne's own nature, as well as the circumstances she lived in made her mature far before her years. The kind of things she starts thinking about at 14-15, I did not start thinking about until 20ish. Personally for me, this book touched me very much, because it is the first time that I have "heard" someone in their own words, whose experiences of feelings and of self-search match mine so closely that some of her entries mirror what I wrote in my diaries years ago. It was as if I was exploring my own mind, while continuing on Anne's journey. It's the person who spoke to me. War - while important - was secondary. I do believe that it is a story of a remarkably talented girl, and had she lived, she would have become a great writer. She said that "I want to go on living even after my death!" and she accomplished that with the diaries she left behind. Here are some excerpts: [still an ordinary life] Sunday, 21 June 1942 Dearest Kitty, Our entire class is quaking in its boots. The reason, of course, is the forthcoming meeting in which the teachers decide who'll move up to the next form and who'll be kept back. Half the class is making bets. [different form of fear] Thursday, 1 October 1942 Dear Kitty, Yesterday I had a horrible fright. At eight o'clock the doorbell suddenly rang. All I could think of was that someone was coming to get us, you know who I mean. But I calmed down when everybody swore it must have been either pranksters or the postman. [growing up] Saturday, 22 January 1944 Dearest Kitty, Can you tell me why people go to such lengths to hide their real selves? Or why I always behave very differently when I'm in the company of others? Why do people have so little trust in one another? I know there must be a reason, but sometimes I think it's horrible that you can't ever confide in anyone, not even those closest to you. [a writer] Wednesday, 5 April 1944 ...I'm my best and harshest critic. I know what's good and what isn't. Unless you write yourself, you can't know how wonderful it is... ...I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies. Rest of the Participants in the Blog Chain Are: PREVIOUS - Collectonian - Lost Wanderer - NEXT - DavidZahir - RavenCorrinCarluk - Jackie A - Forbidden Snowflake - veinglory -

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Dinner Party with Jane Austen's Heroines

A little Fictional Creation -by Lost Wanderer Characters Mrs. X - my fictional creation The Butler - my fictional creation From Jane Austen's Books Mrs. Emma Knightley - Emma Mrs. Fanny Bertram - Mansfield Park Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy - Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Anne Wentworth - Persuasion Edmond Bertram - Mansfield Park William Price - Mansfield Park Mr. Darcy - Pride and Prejudice Captain Wentworth - Persuasion Mr. Knightley - Emma

[I apologize in advance for soppiness of the story, but I believe it suits the characters.]

The Tudor mansion just outside Stratford-upon-Avon was the location selected for this most unusual event. It was near enough in familiarity to the guests out of time, so as to make them feel a little at home in this foreign century. All four ladies were also avid Shakespeare fans, and were sure to enjoy tour of the town and see how modern people were still enjoying the bard, albeit sometimes turning the classics in various modern forms of so-called art which no doubt made the author turn in his grave. But that was hardly going to be the most sensational thing, in this entirely unique experience, where fictional heroines of the past were attending a party in the very real world. We shall refer to the hostess of this party as Mrs X. Not original, but entirely suitable under the circumstances, for if her unusual abilities of bringing people to life from books were ever to become widely known, it would certainly get her into trouble. Let us move now inside the mansion, where the hostess was waiting. Mrs. X glanced at the grandmother clock. Five to seven. The guests would be ready soon. Promptness was a trait they all shared. She smoothed the front of her black cocktail dress. She had considered wearing a regency costume, but decided against it. She wanted her guests to meet her as herself, a woman of 2010, not someone pretending to be from the past. She had the ability to bring the past to her. She didn’t know of anyone else who could boast of that. She had every right to be herself. Besides, the women she was about to meet, the women she admired very much, knew a thing or two about being one's self. There was a gentle knock on the door, then it opened, and the butler walked in her sitting room. “They are ready, madam,” the butler said.

Mrs. X nodded. The butler held the door open for her; she walked out to the dining room where a special round table was set for the evening, so all the guests could interact easily with one another. Mrs. X stood by the dining room door, ready to greet her guests.

The first to enter was Mrs. Emma Knightley, looking pretty in a yellow silk dress, and kid gloves. Her fair hair was arranged in a fashionable twirls around her face. Her warm smile made Mrs. X think that Emma was as sunny as she had always been.

Mrs. Fanny Bertram and Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy walked in together. Both dark haired, yet they couldn't have been more different. Lizzy, in an ivory gown, looked around her with unabashed curiosity and astonishment. A little sly glance at Mrs. X fitted dress was also noted. Her greeting to Mrs. X was confident. Marital state hadn't brought a great deal of change in either Lizzy's personality or person, though she was a little plumper, with rosy cheeks and the brightness of eyes that had captured the attention of aloof Mr. Darcy so long ago. Fanny was gentle in her greeting, and softer in tone. She wore a light blue dress, and around her neck was the golden chain that her dear Edmund had gifted her to fit William's cross. The surety of her position in the society, and in the household as a wife and a much needed daughter-in-law, had given Fanny Bertram more confidence than Fanny Price had ever possessed. She still did not dare to think herself rightful of affection or notice, but at least she no longer thought herself undeserving of them. The last to enter was Mrs. Anne Wentworth. She wore a white gown, and her one sign of being now a travelling lady was the exotic peacock brooch Captain Wentworth had bought her when they were in Indies together. Her soft brown eyes looked on openly at the others. Mrs. X and her guests took their seats around the table. As a hostess, Mrs. X felt obliged to start the conversation, and she did so by profusely thanking her guests. "You've no idea how badly I wanted to meet you. Of all the people I've ever wanted to meet throughout history, four of you were the first one my list." Her guests were quite genuinely astonished, and blushed in the most becoming manner. They never thought their lives would interest anyone outside their personal acquaintances. Anne put it well saying, "I am at a loss to understand why, Mrs. X. I cannot lay claim to any heroic deed or any significant contribution to the society. My life revolves around my family. There is nothing out of ordinary about it." "If we weren't fascinated by the ordinary lives of others, so much of history would cease to be fascinating," Mrs. X said. The conversation started slowly while the first course was served, but soon the guests began to feel quite at ease. "Your dress is quite extra-ordinary and sensational. I could not have imagined there would come a time when people would dress in such a manner," Emma said to Mrs. X. "Perhaps you should take it back with you, and see how your Mr. Knightley feels when you wear it," Mrs. X said. Emma blushed. "He shall have to lecture me on my wickedness again. He doesn't do that often now, perhaps it will be fun to give him a cause." "How is the married life going for you all?" Mrs. X asked. "It is certainly better to be in control of one's own household than to be a guest under one's mother's control," Elizabeth said. "And Mr. Darcy?" Mrs. X asked, with a wink. She wondered how the two head-strong characters were getting on together. "He is both wonderful and annoying. We quarrel, we argue and attempt to justify our arguments, and in the end we concede to whoever had reason on their side. I do believe we understand one another so much better now that there is less cause for stupid quarrels. Of course, now we have children to quarrel about where I think they should run as much as they like, and Mr. Darcy would like them to be a disciplined little soldiers," Elizabeth said. "I cannot imagine quarreling with Edmund," Fanny said quietly. "He has guided me throughout my life, and my own mind is so much a product of his example that we have very little cause to disagree about anything." Mrs. X smiled. She imagined that of all the couples, Fanny had the most felicity in marriage. All her life, Edmond had been such a central figure, even more important than her self that she had nothing to sacrifice by being Mrs. Bertram. "Do you enjoy being a sailor's wife, Anne?" Mrs. X asked. "Indeed. I have always admired the navy, and until I married, I had seen so little of the world that I am eager for every new opportunity," Anne said. "I fear I do not have much eagerness to see the world. We go to London to see my sister once or twice a year, but rest of the time is spent at home, in the country. I am often surprised at myself that I feel no desire to go away. Mr. Knightley also likes to be at home, in the peace and familiarity of home," Emma said. "Mrs. X, I wonder," Anne hesitated. "Is it true, what the maid said? That our stories are well known in this time?" "Well known!" exclaimed Mrs. X. "They are so famous that had anyone known you would be here, there would have been riots and government would have ceased us all. Anne, your stories have not only entertained but illuminated minds of many a reader throughout centuries. They have been reprinted over and over again, and transformed in audio and video entertainments. They are taught in schools too." Her guests forgot their impeccable manners for a moment and stared open mouthed. "This is most astonishing," Elizabeth said. "This world is so much more interesting, so advanced that I would have thought they would have found our country ways rustic and useless." "It is not your country ways, but the strenght and appeal of you that has caught people's fancy. It is your wit, Lizzy and Emma's sunny disposation; it is Fanny's sincerity and Anne's gentleness that continues to captivate us all," Mrs. X said. "Tell us about this time," Fanny requested. Mrs. X did tell them all about the 21st century, or as much as she could in such a short time. Her guests listened, interrupting her to ask a lot of questions. None of them could tell you now what they ate that evening, as so much information was shared that eating became a mere automatic act. The four ladies had seen a glimpse of this new era, and they had managed to watch a little TV, but what they hadn't grapsed was the disintegration of social structure and rules of conduct and society that they were so rooted in. "But this must be a total chaos. How could anyone know how one is supposed to behave if there are no guidelines?" Emma said, after she heard Mrs. X description of marriages, divorces and living together amoung couples, as well as tales of broken families. "And such disregard for religion, I cannot fathom," Fanny said, her brow wrinkled. "It seems to me, from what little I have seen, that this world has far more need of religion and guidance of the clergy than us." "Most people would disagree with you, I am afraid. Many people believe that science holds all the answers. There is no need for God," Mrs. X said. "But one cannot find solace from science as one could from God," Fanny said. Being a clergyman's wife, this was one subject where even her shyness could not stop her from insisting upon what was right. Mrs. X was well aware of Fanny's views so immediately said, "I am not disagreeing with you, Fanny. I am simply telling you how things are in this world. Even among those who are religious, there are always conflicts between different religions." "But you must have good things too," Emma said. "Of course. We are technologically advanced; it is quite easy to travel around the world, and new experiences are to be had for the asking. We are not very much bound by traditions or society's limitations. Freedom of the individual is highly sought after, at least in the western world. For women, we are no longer restricted to be housewives. We work alongside men, often ahead of them too. We even had a woman prime minister in this country. She didn't exactly do a sterling job, but then neither do any of the male prime ministers, so even that was equal," Mrs. X said. "Some of your marvels are amazing," Elizabeth said. "Your ability to fly. Oh how Frederick would envy that speed," Anne said. "All the wonderful clothes," Emma sighed. "But would you say all these things make for a happier life, Mrs. X?" Fanny asked. Mrs. X considered the question for a moment. "No, I don't believe it does. Simplicity in itself gets rid of a great many distractions, so perhaps your lives with the limitedness of resources available, are richer for it. But I also believe that happiness comes from one self. If one has the will power to focus on the right things in life, and not get distracted, one can find it, even in our crazy world." "That is precisely what Edmond would say," Fanny said. "Yes, I believe he would. Perhaps of all of you, Captain Wentworth, with his spirit for adventure is the only one who would enjoy this world," Mrs. X said. "Mr. Darcy is too firm in his preferences, and Mr. Bertram is content in his parish. Mr. Knightley likes the domestic felicity, and though he might enjoy a little excursion here, I do not believe he would want to stay for long." "Indeed, he would not," Emma agreed. "But we are all better in our time and place," Anne said. "People should remain where they belong." "Ah, but who decides where one belongs, Anne?" Mrs. X asked. "Our own heart," Anne said. Mrs. X raised her glass. "A toast then to following our hearts." Her guests joined her in the toast, content to enjoy their remaining time, and all looking forward to returning home where they belonged, while they enjoyed the decadently delicious deserts of 21st century.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Dinner Party Delayed

Honoured Audience, I must regretfully inform you that the most anticipated dinner party which promised to bring to life those who reside only in pages has been delayed by a day or two. The chrono-displacement which made a mix-up of dates between the host and the guests is still being resolved. There being some difficulty between the modern English and the languages each of the guests speak, the time is not yet fixed, though it is understood it will be shortly. I hope the delay will not lessen your enjoyment. Warmest Regard, Secretary of Dinner Party Committee Okay, folks - for normal people - sorry I won't be able to post my dinner party post today as I am too tired and my brain is foggy so the guests refuse to behave themselves. But in a day or two, it will be posted.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Guilty Pleasures

This month for AW Blog Chain, we are doing a post about our Guilty Pleasures. Shethinkstoomuch posted before me, and the next person in the chain is Lindzy1954. Guilty Pleasures. I must admit, it was quite difficult for me to come up with some because in books and tv especially, I am bit of a snob, and if it's tacky, I probably won't like it. Then there is the fact that I am of the opinion that if I like something, there is no reason to feel guilty about it. So hardly guilty pleasures. But I have come up with a few things finally... Some children's programs/movies - and I don't mean great stories like Harry Potter or the Golden Compass. There are some which are obviously meant for just kids, but I still enjoy them. Not many, but here are the few things: Disney movies - Atlantis, Anastasia. These two I have got on DVD, and I simply love them. Anastasia even has a sing-along extra feature for songs, and yes, I do that. Only when I am alone though. :P Jane and the Dragon - one sunday morning, flicking through channels, I came across this, and I just found it totally endearing. I even love their title song. Jane is a girl knight, and she works for a king, and lives in the castle. She found a dragon, who has now become her friend. And there is a boy knight who is jealous of Jane because she kicks his ass at everything. Another guilty pleasure is stationary. I do not need anything. I already have enough stuff to fill an isle in a stationary shop, but I just love it. Especially journals. I have a real thing for them. And pens. Notebooks. Stickers. You can see where this is going... Totally unrealistic but hero-always-wins type of action movies/shows. One man cannot fight 20 people at once, and win. That's what the realistic people tell me. My answer to that is, who cares? The action looks cool on the tv, and the hero wins. If I wanted reality, I would watch documentaries. Here is a list of all participants in the chain: Claire Crossdale - Fresh Hell - shethinkstoomuch - - Lindzy1954 - RavenCorrinnCarluk - Forbidden Snowflake - AuburnAssassin - DavidZahir - Charlotte49ers - Fokker Aeroplanbau - laharrison - collectonian - capes&corsets - vfury - Bsolah - JackieA - LadyCat - AimeeLaine -

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Outline Angst

I discovered after several years of hassle that I am an outline person. A good, solid outline makes not only the whole novel writing enjoyable for me, but also gives me a better result at the end. With my last novel (NaNo Draft), I also came up with a method that works for me. So when I decided to start outlining for a new project, I figured it was no big deal. I knew exactly what I was doing. It would be a piece of cake. Well, more like a piece of plastic cake that you can't eat, as it turned out initially. There is nothing wrong with the outline bit. The problem was me. Initially I brainstorm, and in the process I know how some things are going to happen. But even before the brainstorm the idea would have had been in my brain, and I would have a general plot in mind. I started outlining along with brainstorming. What I ended up doing was writing beginning of the outline millions of times. Because I would start doing it, and when I started, I started from beginning. In one session, I didn't get very far. This happened for quite a while. Also, outlining properly means answering hard questions as to how exactly certain things are going to happen. Well, I don't know at this stage how everything is going to happen, so I went off again to something I did know. For a good few weeks then this went on, madness without method, and not much to show for it at the end. Then I decided to do NaNo in February. Here I must interject: Nothing like NaNo to get things moving. At least that's the case for me. As soon as I made that decision, I thought if I don't get that outline sorted I won't be able to start NaNo on time. So then yesterday I started with plain, old fashioned method. I took several empty sheets of paper and a pen, and began to write from the beginning what happens. There are still things I don't know, major questions that need to be answered, but this time, I do not allow myself to go back. It's just like writing a first draft. First, you must get to the end. What I am now doing is going from beginning to end with the things I do know, and where I don't know how or what I write things like - "he does something and something happens". My favourite words are "something" "stuff" "somehow" - yup, very creative. But in one day I made more progress than I made in weeks. I haven't suddenly learned a great deal of information. This information was already in my head from brainstorming and from thinking about the book, but I simply wasn't working methodically enough to finish the outline. I let myself get distracted by things that needed to be sorted, questions that needed to be answered, before making sure that what I knew was going to happen made sense. This is merely the first draft of the outline. I call it my "skeleton outline". Once that is complete, then I will go back and try to fill in the gaps about things I don't yet know. But at least by that stage, I will have a general idea of the whole story and how everything is supposed to fit as a whole, and more importantly I won't be fed up of the beginning by going over it again and again. So there you have it - even outline has creative issues.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Join me for some Fictional Fun

I would like to invite you all to join me in a fun blog chain. Here is how it works: Pick characters from published books, as many as you like and from as many books as you like – but ideally more than one – and invite those characters to a dinner party. The dinner party can either be with you as a host, or with one of those characters as a host. Write a scene about that dinner party. You can write it in any way you want – conversation, action, whatever. And from any POV you want. In the beginning of your post, just give us a list of characters and the books they are from. What other details you give is entirely up to you. If you would like to participate, let me know in the comment section, and I will add your name and link so people can come and visit you. If you know the day you will post, then please post that too. And I hope you will. The more the merrier. We can all post ours during next week (from 18th to 24th January), any day that suits you. I will post mine on the 18th. It’s just something that currently popped into my head, and I thought it would be more fun if other people did it too.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

2010 Reading List

One of my goals for 2010 is to read 75 books. Here, I shall add books as I read them. A public record of the progress, and of course to share with you what I read.

Having gone slightly mental with book buying in 2009 (okay before that too, but especially last year I think), I find myself in posession of over 100 books which I have yet to read. And no doubt I will probably be too tempted to buy more before I have read those, so really, far too much choice and hard to pick the next great novel or non-fiction as the case maybe. But there is a great satisfaction in looking at a large pile of books inviting me.

Feel free to make your comments, opinions about any you might have read. This post will be available by easy access under the "Reading" section.


  1. The Dancers at the End of Time - Michael Moorcock - 08/01
  2. Life in Harem - K. Erhan Bozkurt - 09/01
  3. The Hand of Oberon - Roger Zelazny - 12/01
  4. Write the Breakout Novel - Donald Maass - 13/01*
  5. The Court of Chaos - Roger Zelazny - 14/01
  6. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank - 20/01
  7. Proust was a Neuroscientist - Jonah Lehrer - 02/02
  8. Dying Inside - Robert Silverberg - 10/02
  9. Description & Setting - Ron Rozelle - 15/02
  10. A Writer's Diary - Virginia Woolf - 14/03
  11. Journal to the Self - Kathleen Adams - 16/03
  12. Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice - 24/03
  13. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald - 25/03
  14. No Second Chance - Harlan Coben - 31/03
  15. Gilgamesh - N. K. Sandars. translator - 13/04
  16. Trumps of Doom - Roger Zelazny - 22/04
  17. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien - J. R. R. Tolkien - 25/04
  18. Getting Into Character - Brandilyn Collins - 03/05
  19. The Inimitable Jeeves - P. G. Wodehouse - 04/05
  20. Thief With No Shadow - Emily Gee - 15/05
  21. Artemis Fowl* - Eoin Colfer - 20/05
  22. Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal - J. K. Rowling - 20/05
  23. Stargate Atlantis: Casualties of War - Elizabeth Christensen - 29/05
  24. Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal (audio book)* - J. K. Rowling - 15/06
  25. Science Fiction 101, Short Stories & Essays - Robert Silverberg - 19/06
  26. Journey Into Space - Toby Litt - 20/06
  27. Blood of Amber - Roger Zelazny - 22/06
  28. Sign of Chaos - Roger Zelazny - 23/06
  29. The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J. K. Rowling - 23/06
  30. Forbidden Fruit - From the Letters of Abelard & Heloise - 23/06
  31. Dispatches from the Heart: Love Letters from the Front Line - Jamie Amrbose, Editor - 24/06
  32. Consider Phlebas - Iain M. Banks - 27/06
  33. Nella Last's War - Nella Last - 01/07
  34. Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self - Joseph Galliano - 03/07
  35. On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony - 12/07
  36. Nella Last's Peace - Nella Last - 22/07
  37. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident* - Eoin Colfer - 26/07
  38. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code - Eoin Colfer - 27/07
  39. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception - Eoin Colfer - 29/07
  40. Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony - Eoin Colfer - 30/07
  41. Lord Edgware Dies - Agatha Christie - 31/07
  42. The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie - 02/08
  43. Dumb Witness - Agatha Christie - 04/08
  44. Curtain: Poirot's Last Case - Agatha Christie - 04/08
  45. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe - 12/08
  46. For One More Day - Mitch Albom - 13/08
  47. First Law Book 1: The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie - 15/08
  48. Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne - 18/08
  49. The Pocket Power Book of Integrity - Byrd Baggett - 20/08
  50. Zer to Pidha Chhe Jani Jani - Manubhai Pancholi - 22/08
  51. Sleeping Murder- Agatha Christie - 23/08
  52. The Outsider - Albert Camus - 24/08
  53. Love Story - Erich Segal - 24/08
  54. The Hitch-hiker's guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - 26/08
  55. The Catcher In the Rye - J. D. Salinger - 31/08
  56. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman - 03/09
  57. N or M? - Agatha Christie - 06/09
  58. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone* - J. K. Rowling - 08/09
  59. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets* - J. K. Rowling - 11/09
  60. Tempest - Jamie Debree - 12/09
  61. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban* - J. K. Rowling - 15/09
  62. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers - Rennie Browne & Dave King - 18/09
  63. Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare - 19/09
  64. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy* - Orson Scott Card - 20/09
  65. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J. K. Rowling - 23/09
  66. Writing the Breakout Novel* - Donald Maass - 25/09
  67. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke - 28/09
  68. Execution Dock - Anne Perry - 01/10
  69. Naked in Death - J. D. Robb - 06/10
  70. The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke - 09/10
  71. The Door Through Space - Marion Zimmer Bradley - 13/10
  72. Damnation Alley - Roger Zelazny - 18/10
  73. Storm Front* - Jim Butcher - 21/10
  74. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams - 24/10
  75. Mahatma nu ardhu ang: Kasturba - Navjeevan Prakashan Mandir - 24/10
  76. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams - 26/10
  77. Flights of Love - Bernhard Schlink - 29/10
  78. The Stars my Destination - Alfred Bester - 05/11
  79. Three Hearts & Three Lions - Poul Anderson - 09/11
  80. Memory in Death - J. D. Robb - 12/11
  81. Princess Diaries Book 1 - Meg Cabot - 15/11
  82. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury - 16/11
  83. Buckingham Palace Gardens - Anne Perry - 18/11
  84. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick - 19/11
  85. Ysabel - Guy Gavriel Kay - 24/11
  86. Superstate - Brian Aldiss - 25/11
  87. The Fountains of Paradise - 29/11
  88. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton - 04/12
  89. A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle - 06/12
  90. Princess Diaries Take Two - Meg Cabot - 07/12
  91. Princess Diaries Third Time Lucky - Meg Cabot - 07/12
  92. The Hours - Michael Cunningham - 10/12
  93. The Road - Cormac McCarthy - 13/12
  94. Before They Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie - 17/12
  95. Last Argument of Kings - Joe Abercrombie - 19/12
  96. Fool Moon - Jim Butcher - 20/12
  97. Princess Diaries Mia Goes Fourth - Meg Cabot - 29/12
  98. Princess Diaries Give Me Five - Meg Cabot - 30/12
  99. Princess Diaries Sixsational - Meg Cabot - 31/12

    * rereads

    Friday, 8 January 2010

    Changing POV?

    You would think that with the first draft finished, all you have to worry about is editing and making the book as perfect as possible. Obviously, not if you are me. As I think about revisions and editing, I find myself seriously wondering whether this book should have a first person POV. Currently, it's multiple third person POV, with most of the scenes belonging to MC and others divided between one antagonist and one supportive character. So I have kept point-of-views to the kind of minimum. So why you may ask am I considering first person? Okay, even if you can't be bothered to ask, I will answer. This is supposed to be MCs journey. As there are plenty of strong characters in the book, in the third person it might seem like there are other characters better capable of doing the job MC is supposed to do. In the first person, it would become more personal. MC would relate his experiences - he finds himself in a situation and chooses to do something, and we get to feel his motivations and his feelings (of course technically, we should be able to feel that in a well-written third person too) But I think that perhaps because he is not the only person with strong magic, if written through first person, it would matter less that others have strong magic too. Because rather than being a story about a plot or a world or all those characters (because we go in their heads), it will be just a story about MC. His situation is the only one we have to worry about. Solution - not a solution, yet. But I have decided on a way forward. I will write few scenes from the beginning of the book in first person and see how that feels. I am aware that my doubts maybe because I am considering the first draft where the book is clearly not what it should be. However, before I spend a considerable amount of effort editing, it might be wise to be sure about what POV I want to use. Have you ever felt doubts about POV? Any suggestions, comments, tips?

    Tuesday, 5 January 2010

    Adjusting Brain to Get Back into Routine

    I like going away. The only problem is it takes a bit of time to get back into work habits. This time, I have also returned with a horrible cough, so ended up spending my last day-off sleeping till 2 in the afternoon, and even now, not feeling particularly productive, so this will be a rest day while I catch up on reading some of the blogs. Of course I haven't forgotten my book or my characters. I think about them. They remain in my head. But that's a pleasant pass-time. Now I need to return to doing actual writing/editing. Hopefully, by end of this week, I will start. Considering editing of my NaNo novel, I think the edits will need much longer time for what I want to accomplish, so I certainly need to write something else alongside. Still trying to figure out, which book I am going to choose (I have two stories in mind), and how exactly I am going to do it. Meanwhile, I am at least working towards one of my goals - to read 75 books.

    Friday, 1 January 2010

    Goals for 2010

    Happy New Year everyone. Hope you are not suffering too much from hangovers. I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, and this year I am not going to make a resolution but rather have a bunch of goals that I want to work towards. My goals are bit like my outlines - general structure remains in place, but the insides are fluid. Having had several life plans that changed drastically in my relatively short life, I think the fluidity is important. You have to adapt to your circumstances and of course to the possibility that things that are important to you today might not be important to you tomorrow. So goals they are, in no particular order... Ongoing
    • Journal
    • Blog
    • Exercise (this is the one I have the least confidence in)
    • Read 75 Books
    • Complete a whole Art Journal
    • Edit and Polish Book 1 (NaNo Novel)
    • Create a short list of agents and prepare submission package (NaNo Novel)
    • Start submitting NaNo Novel
    • Write at least 2 new first drafts (we will call them by creative names - Book 2 and Book 3)
    • Edit Book 2
    • Submit already complete short stories (with revisions where necessary)
    • Continue with WB course
    • Find an Agent

    Wish me luck, and no doubt I shall keep you posted with my progress throughout the year.

    What are your goals for the New Year?