Sunday, 28 February 2010

Empowering Characters Emotion

Tomorrow my online course starts with Margie Lawson, from March 1 to 31. I came across Margie recently, browsing through my blogs, and bought one of her lecture packets about editing. I have barely scratched the surface of it, because the things it includes would be more applicable once I have finalised my draft with new scenes I need to add. (That's the reason you guys haven't heard about it yet).

I was quite pleased with the editing packet so decided to have a go at an online class. I debated whether to buy a lecture or attend a class. The price is not much different (only $8 extra), but what made me hesitate was the fact that working with an editing partner and sharing work is significant part of the course. You don't have to do it (I am not going to), but you get the most out of the course if you do, because Margie would only provide feedback on the assignments that are posted in the loop which the whole group can see.

I was wondering if it would be of any use since I will still be working by myself, but in the end decided to have a go, because all of these classes are offered only once per year (as far as I can see), so I didn't want to miss it. Even if I don't post my work, perhaps I can learn from other people's mistakes. It will be worth a try anyway, because even if I don't find it very satisfactory, I will still have the lecture packet at the end of it.

I decided to take this course because I feel that though I am quite good with sad scenes, generally my emotional scenes are lacking in emotions. They don't pull enough punch. So this class might come in handy. Besides, I am one of those freaks who actually loves studying, and I love classes. Actual physical classes would be ideal, but since I don't have free time for that, online would have to do. It's just so much fun learning new things - and I even like doing assignments (No I didn't like them when I was in school. I am not that weird).

So wish me luck, and hopefully I will make good use of this class all through the March. I shall tell you all about my experience either during or after the class.

P.S. - I have just found out that there are 150 people in that class. It's all done through yahoo group, so obviously it doesn't make much difference, but even so seems like a lot of people. I will keep you posted on my experience.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Check out my Guest Post

Hello All,

I am doing a guest post over at the Editing Hat TOMORROW on Sunday, thanks to Adam for giving me my first guest post :-)

Topic: How Writer's Journal can be a useful tool for every writer

I will answer comments there. Hope to see you there - and while you are there, have a nose around Adam's blog. You'll probably enjoy his whackadoodle sense of humour.  I definitely do :-D

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Lies, Truth and Silver Lining

Several days ago, wonderful Jamie over at the Variety Pages, gave me a Silver Lining Award, which I am finally getting around to posting. Thanks Jamie :-)

And a few days ago, another wonderful blog buddy and a writer, Erica from Laugh. Write. Play gave me a Creative Writer Award. Thanks Erica :-)

In order to accept this award, I have to make up 6 lies and 1 truth. Have a guess as to which one is the truth, and I will post my answer later.

1. I love running.
2. I hate cucumbers.
3. I only watched Titanic once.
4. I have lived on three continents.
5. My favourite colour is pink.
6. I wake up on time without an alarm clock.
7. I eat breakfast every day.

And I have to pass this award on to bloggers (and please don't feel that you have to do the same. Do what you want. After all, it's an award, not a punishment).

So the award goes to ...

1. Adam at the Editing Hat
2. Jamie at the Variety Pages
3. Traci at the Writer's Corner
4. C R at Random Writerly Thoughts
5. Ieva Melgalve at Birdcherry
6. Nik Perring at his blog

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Meet My Name

As you no doubt have noticed, the header of this blog did take away the cocoon of anonynimity. Not that I was completely anonymous anyway; all you had to do was click on the facebook icon, and voila!

Why do we make the choice of using a psudonym versus real name? Different reasons for different people; mine was initially becase I wasn't in the habit of handing out my real name on the Internet, and I also wanted to keep my online persona seperate from people I might know in life, especially at work. Lost Wanderer became my identity - so why the change?

Because I am no longer a shadow person offering opinions across the Internet. I am a writer, working towards publication. I am a writer, who wants to have a life-long career as a novelist. And for that, building a brand name is essential. I had always decided that once I built my website, I would switch over, because there was no point in building a website with a fake name. I just hadn't planned on building a website so soon. But since everyone (pointing fingers at Adam, Jamie and Erica) was doing it, I got a case of website envy and decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Jamie over at Variety Pages has been doing an interesting series of posts about marketing for writers, and that got me thinking that at some point, I am going to have blur the line between my job and writing, so might as well start doing it now, and as I learn and grow, the line will be ready to disappear. So when my website was created, I decided to use the same banner for my blog - an act of unifying my brand.

You might ask, why now? After all, I am not a published author. Because it's never too early. Unless you are a genius who is also very efficient, you won't have time to learn everything when you are published. Then you will be busy with book and your publisher and whatever else it may involve. Doing this in advance, when not many people are looking for me on the Internet (this implies that some people are ;) ) gives me a chance to learn and experiment, and pick up new tricks and skills as I go along. It gives me breathing room to make some mistakes and experiment. I am not under any pressure, so I can pick up new tips and skills at my own pace, over long term, and hopefully by the time I need it, I will already be an old hand at it.

So hello everyone - I am Dolly Garland, and a few years from now when you are browsing for books, look up this name and if you like the book that carries it, take those few steps towards the cash register ;)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Blog has a New Name - Don't forget to Update Your Link

As the title suggests, now the blog is called "Writer Revealed"

So don't forget to update your links to

I am sorry for the last minute change, it just sort of happened. I decided my website header didn't match the blog name, so I either needed a new name, or go back to original, and then I figured I needed a writerly name that could become a permanent fixture on this blog. So here we are - a writer revealed - very apt name, since this blog covers recording of my growth as a writer.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Raising the Stakes

I have been making notes on my NaNo WIP, trying to sort through the plot to figure out where I might need changes. There are no plot holes; one plot layer was left dangling which I can deal with. But I have come to realise that my characters' lives are far too easy. My protagonist isn't working hard enough for his happy ending.

I have the tendency to give my people happy lives. It doesn't matter who they are. Even when I play Sims, all my people are happy, healthy, beautiful, rich, and have all the time to pursue their life's dreams. They are not lazy - certainly not. They lead productive life, but I give them all the tools. That obviously is not the case in real life, and should not be in the novel. If everything is served on a silver platter, anyone can solve a problem.

I haven't made things that easy for my protagonist, but he certainly could do with more problems. Instead of having several mini crisis, I have given him few mini satisfactions. At the time it seemed like a good idea, and it made me happy while writing it. And it was fine for the first draft, because remmeber the rule - first draft is a creative process. But now, things need to change.

So once again, instead of running off to start rewrites, I am taking the time to think things through and trying to decide where I can raise the stakes, and how I can make my characters' lives little more difficult.

I am getting quite impatient to write though, because while this editing WIP is stuck at notes stage, my new WIP is at outlining stage. So really need to get going so word flow can start again.

My Website

After spending literally all Sunday, I have managed to design my website. It's now 1:03am, so I think it will be sensible to stop and go to bed since I have got work tomorrow.

So more information will be updated over next few weeks. But go check out the design, and tell me what you think.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Greed for Knowledge

For years, since I first thought of writing a book, I remained in my secluded world. Writers were exotic specie, tucked away in their rooms, not to be visible to normal public. It didn’t occur to me to seek them out. It didn’t occur to me that I could find them at the click of a mouse.

Then last year, taking the helm of my writing career into my own hands, and purposefully steering towards a destination, as oppose to previous drifting in an endless ocean, I discovered this big wide world of writers, editors, agents, publishers – all ever so willing to impart their wisdom. Then through them I discovered another world off the internet, of workshops, conferences, writing craft books. So much information. So much to learn. So much to do.

I read tons of blogs and books, take in all the information, read all the dos and don’ts and all the techniques. Some information I read because it tells me what I don’t want to do or become, and other because it tells me what I should do, and teaches me things I did not know before.

My brain is constantly being updated, and every day there is something new to learn, but I barely give myself time to assimilate that information. Learning information is good, but unless it is actually applied, it’s pretty much useless. Application needs time and patience. I realise that now.

Sometimes I think that I can’t possibly send my novel out in the world until I have learned everything, because I could do something more to it that I don’t yet know. I think that, and I fret, even though a rational part of me knows that there will never be a time when I have learned everything, because there will always be something new to learn. Knowledge is endless, a human life isn’t.

So I have come to accept that I must give myself time to apply what I learn, instead of constantly cramming new things in my mind. I do not need to read every single book on the writing craft, or every single agent’s blog. All I need to do is learn what I can; apply it as best as I can, and keep working on my story until it feels right to me. When it reads as it has been in my mind from its conception, then it will be ready. It may take months, it might even take years, but that’s okay, because while I am learning, and applying, I am already making fewer mistakes with the next book.

What I have learned in last few days’ reflection is that while greed for knowledge sounds far nobler than greed for anything else, knowledge by itself is not enough. Unless it is used, all the time gathering it is wasted.

I have learned that lessons. Now I need to apply it.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Post-It Outline for New Wip & Rejections

This could be called "notecarding" but I am using post-its, because I can stick them in a notebook or a sheet of paper. Just a matter of convinience, and I have pretty colourful post-its. Anyway, to the point... I did a partial post-it outline for a science fiction WIP but never got around to finishing it, so I have started the process for my new Bristol Fantasy WIP. My brainstorm doodles usually end up all over the place, which is why I usually outline on the computer since it's easier to get things together. Or if I write things down, I transfer them consistently. So why post-its? Because while my last WIP outline was very helpful, I realised that I wanted more details. For this outline, I want to try to make sure all subplots are included, all important scenes are included, and in a consistent manner. This is also slightly tricky one because this story will be from first person POV, so while my brainstorm tells me somethings are going to happen - those things happen away from the MC's sight, so when including them in my outline, I need to incorporate them differently. So the post-its are ideally going to be scene by scene. One post-it will include details of one scene. Everything just as it would happen in the book from MC's POV. None of the background information, or how things might occur elsewhere. I intend this to be a straightforward outline which could give me the gist of the story at a glance, so I will know whether I have got everything or at least most things covered or not. Because I know that brain doesn't always cooperate with answers when you ask questions, I have got two colours. All the main scene points will be written on green post-it pads. Then any other ideas that might come to me for those particular scenes will go on orange-pad, so I can then decide what to include and how to arrange everything. So orange will be like a sub-outline for the main green outline. It is quite exciting brainstorming this novel - well it's always exciting brainstorming novels, but this one is just so much fun. I am really having to restraint myself from starting the first draft. But I won't do it. I am determined to have a satisfactory outline before starting the first draft. But hopefully, it won't be too long. AND for some bad news... Two flash fiction rejections in one day. Seriously, I submitted weeks ago and both magazines decided to send their emails on the same day. I am not that surprised because as you are all aware I am not a fan of short stories. But since I did make an effort to write several short stories and flash fiction for my WB course, I figured I should at least make decent effort to submit it to various places. Still, it's depressing to receive those rejections. :(

Monday, 15 February 2010

Guest Post by Adam Slade - On Editing Experience

Hi Everyone, As promised, today is the day for the very first guest post on this blog. I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions, I am sure Adam will do his best to answer them.
Hello, all! The lovely Lost Wanderer asked if I'd like to do a guest post on this 'ere blog. Pfft, silly question! First, a little about me: My name is Adam Slade, and I'm an author of predominantly fantasy fiction, often with a humorous bent. I have been known to stray into other genres, but fantasy is where my heart is. My first published book, "A Reaper's Tale: The Undecided" will be out at the end of May. I'll come back to this a little later. I also have a writing blog entitled "Editing Hat" and a new serial blog entitled "Gumshoe Casefiles" that I created for a bit of humour-writing practise. Go take a look, you might like it. ;-) So, the main topic of this post is my experiences with professional editing; I.E. working with an editor. While I'm new to it myself (this is my first pubbed book), I'm happy to talk about my experiences so far. First up, I'll go through the steps that came after I received my acceptance email and signed my contracts (read 'em carefully, folks!). Shortly after I'd stopped running in tight circles squealing like an overexcited toddler (this process took a couple of days), I was sent a "Welcome Pack" which contained details of how Lyrical works (house rules, contact details for various departments etc), and requests for some contact details. A little while after this, I was assigned to an editor. The way Lyrical works is that a bunch of editors read each approved submission and then decide who gets to work on it. I like to think that they all loved my book and fought like rabid animals to get the opportunity to work with it. What? I can dream! So, the fabulous Cynthis Brayden-Thomas emailed me announcing that she would be my editor, and attached a couple more files for me to peruse. The first was a form asking for details about cover art, blurb, taglines and the like, and the second was a check-list. This check-list detailed all the common errors encountered in manuscripts (excessive adverbs, head hops, ) and some info about house style rules. Cyn gave me a deadline for getting them complete, and I got crackin'. Note - Not all publishers do the "pre edit" thing. Lyrical do, and their reasons make perfect sense; why make an editor do what you should have done before submitting? Thankfully, I'd done most of the things on the check-list before submitting (*cough*), so I had the manuscript (MS from here on in) back to Cyn in plenty of time so she could begin on the scariest part of the whole "book making" process... Revisions! Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuun!!! Well they worried me, anyway. Waiting for the first set of revisions was akin to... um... having a plaster you had to rip off a particularly hairy place... but you couldn't rip it off until you got an email from your copy editor. Ok, that didn't work. Lemme give it another go. It's like waiting for a train... a train containing ninjas... Damnit. Alright, I give up. Waiting for the revisions is almost as bad as receiving the email containing them. (Ooh, I'm finally up to the part LW wanted me to talk about, and it's only taken me a few hundred words and a handful of bad jokes.) 'Nother note - There is a fairly common misconception that an editor is there to "fix" everything, from spelling, to grammar, to gaping plot holes. This is not the case. First of all, if you submit a MS full of spelling and grammar errors, it won't be accepted in the first place; publishers and editors are busy bunnies, and don't have time to fix what you should have fixed before you submitted. Secondly, if the editor did sort all the mistakes themselves, the changes wouldn't be in your voice and you wouldn't learn to pay attention to similar issues in the future. So, revisions. In my case, they were very easy to follow and understand. They went a little something like this:
  • Minor changes like word substitutions were made using "Track Changes,"* so it was a case of reviewing each and clicking accept or reject. In my case there were quite a few, as I had to go from UK spellings to US
  • Larger changes were in "Notes"* at the side of the MS. Most of the larger changes were along the lines of "I don't think this works, for this reason. How about you try this?"
  • In the case of the changes I didn't agree with, I added a note under Cyn's note and moved on. I believe that, by the end of the revision there were no more than 2 or 3 of those.
* (Track Changes and Notes/Comments are available in both Word and it's free alternative OpenOffice. I use the latter.) Despite the lovely Cynthia's reassurances, the first time I opened the MS, it looked like an immense amount of work to get done before the deadline. Once I'd been through it once, accepting or rejecting the word substitutions and making the minor changes, it turned out there wasn't so much to do. In my case the minor stuff took up 75-80% of the time, and was more tedious than difficult. The larger notes (regarding passages that could be reworded, or consistency issues) took a little longer, but even those weren't particularly difficult. After all, it was MY book I was working on; I knew the story and how best to change it without losing anything (in other words how to retain my "voice"). Once the revisions were done with, I emailed the new version back to my editor and began the wait for the second set of revisions. (Insert more failed metaphors here.) In the mean time, I received both my cover art and blurbs, so I'll use this as an excuse to pimp mah book! [Begin pimpage] BLURB: Mal has managed to stay out of the afterlife for 31 years, despite having been dead for the last three. He's a Grim Reaper, and while he may not be the most enthusiastic, he enjoys his "life" too much to give it up to death. But he's got a problem. A troubled young woman's soul becomes bonded to his, and a vicious demon is hired to retrieve it. If Mal can't get her soul free in a hurry, he's doomed to share her destination, whether it be heaven or hell. TAGLINE: Even Grim Reapers have bad days on the job. The release date is looking to be May 30th, providing there are no hiccups in the run-up. Words cannot describe how excited I am! *Happy dance* (I have a fan page on Facebook that I try to keep updated with developments.) [End pimpage] *Ahem.* Shortly after receiving the finalised blurbs, I got my second set of revisions. These were basically the same as the first set, but there were considerably less changes to be made. Most were house rules issues that had been missed the first time around, but there were one or two minor changes (re-ordering of sentences etc) required too. As I write this post, this is the point I'm up to. Once the edits are complete, I shall send the MS off to Cyn, who will read them through (hopefully she'll be over her flu, wish her well people!). Ideally, there will be no further edits required. If that is the case, the MS will be sent to the line editors, who will go through the work word by word, making sure everything is as good as it can be. Think of them as a "second opinion." Once that process is complete, they send the MS back to me and my editor and I read through and sign off on the changes. Next comes what's known as the galley edits. These are the very last part of the editing process. It's where I submit my dedications (family, friends, pets) and acknowledgements ("I'd like to thank the Academy..."). After that, it's merely a matter of waiting (im)patiently for the book to come out! So, that's it for me, I think. I hope I covered everything, but if anyone has questions, I'll do my best to answer them. :) Thanks to my editor, Cyn, for being awesome, and thanks again to Lost Wanderer for giving me the opportunity to chat (and pimp my book). She will be appearing on my writing blog on the 28th of this month, so be sure to come check her out! TTFN, Adam

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Oooooh an Award...

I love blog awards, and my hearty thanks go to Hannah over at Musings of a Palindrome for this one. When awarded with the Over the Top Award, you must mention the person who gave it to you and their blog. (see above sentence). Give one word answers to the following questions and pass on the award... Your Cell Phone? - Black Your Favorite Food? - Pizza Your Hobby? - Reading Your TV? - Companion What Are You Wearing? - Clothes Your Life? - Good Your Music? - Huh? Where Did You Grow Up? - Haven't Your Car? - Bus
AND the award goes to...

Monday, 8 February 2010

Stage Three of the Writing Process: Editing

The final step of the writing process is the longest and hardest. In the early years of writing, I had this impression that a true writer would write a first draft, spell check, and voila! The genuine creatives just sit down, write as they pull their hair out, and then send out their perfect draft to the publishing house. That's what I saw on TV whenever they showed writers, whether in documentaries or in fiction. Thankfully, I learned soon enough that rewriting is as much a part of writer's life, as thinking up stories. It still daunts me, and it is the one step where I am still working on a personalised process, but I am beginning to enjoy it. Looking at the first draft, just the sheer amount of revisions required often makes me feel like I am never going to get the book done, but then when I see improvements that I make, no matter how little, it gives me hope that little by little, I will get there. Currently, my editing process is quite simple. After the first draft, let the manuscript rest for a little while. Then read through, get the feel for the story. This step tells me if I have plot holes. The next step is to fix easy mistakes, like wrong names. Then go through and fix the plot holes, or any consistency issues. Basically this is a rewrite where required, add scenes, delete scenes, without worrying about making the language perfect. Ideally, a short break here and then another read through. (A step I am most likely to skip) Then go through and revise properly, line by line edit. Polish. And hopefully, done! So there it is, a deceptively simple process that takes forever. This is what I am following right now. It may change, but for now, seems like a logical plan. That's all folks. The three stages of my writing process. How about yours? Have you got yours figured out, or is it work in progress?

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Stage Two of the Writing Process: Writing

This is it. The moment I've been waiting for since an idea appeared in my head. This is the time to tell the story. To write. To let the creativity pour out of me. Without restraint. Without worrying about the final result. This is the time to immerse in the world where my characters and I are the only people in existence. Ironically, this is also the shortest of the three stages. I finished the first draft of my current WIP in November for NaNo. Entire draft in a month. Of course that was a bit extreme case, but say even if I were to do it on a more slower basis, in terms of overall hours, it wouldn't take much longer. Having an outline definitely makes it easier, because I don't have to stop to worry about how I am going to move forward. To avoid internal editor from switching on, I open a new document for each of my outline point. I copy a point in the new document, so I can see it as I write, and make sure I don't miss anything. Of course sometimes I may add things that are not included in the outline point, but that's okay. When I am done with that scene, I delete the outline bit, close the document and open a new one for the next point. I find this works better than writing it all in one big document, because then the temptation to go up a page and check/change something is too great. As a rule, I don't change anything as I am writing, even if I know it's wrong. For example, in my NaNo novel, I realised half-way through the book that one of my supportive character's name changed after a few chapters. Instead of going back to all the scenes that he was in, I left it there. When I started editing, it was one of the first things to be corrected. Of course there are exceptions. If I have written/changed something about the scene I am writing or the scene right before, and if it's a small thing, then I might go and change it then and there. The point is not to get bogged down by editing. Writing process must flow fast and smooth. I have found that this works for me. The purpose of the first draft is to get the whole story out. Once it's there on the page, it can be revised and made better. But it needs to be there first. I tried using yWriter and Liquid Story Binder, but in the end, I found MS Word works best for me. For any kind of lists I need, like a list of characters, I use Excel. MS Office covers all I need, and I suppose because I have been using it for years, I am comfortable and familiar with it. I have occassionally written first draft by hand too, but that was mostly because of flexiblity issue. Now that I have Finn (netbook for those of you who haven't been introduced), typing straight on the computer is definitely more practical. So there it is - the writing. I just sit down, follow my outline, and right as fast as I can, or sometimes as fast as the words would flow.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Stage One of the Writing Process: Brainstorming / Outlining

I have combined brainstorming and outlining in one stage, because even though pantsters might find it difficult to believe, outlining is a creative process. Before you huff and puff in protest, let me explain. Up until NaNo Novel in 2009, I was a pantster, and now I am a firm outliner, so I have been on both sides of the fence. Writing has always been the method of learning and remembering for me, and a way to develop ideas. When I was in school, if I needed to memorize things for exams, instead of just reading it, I would write it down over and over again. Even now, the things I write down become more solid memories even if I never look at them again. So when I am brainstorming a story, I write down those thoughts. Of course, like most people, I have creative flashes in random places at random times. But if I attempt to do conscious brainstorming, I can’t do it just by thinking, because my mind is far too susceptible to distractions. For example, if I decide to brainstorm when say taking a shower or walking somewhere – I start thinking about my story, and then a few moments later, I have moved on to something else. Having pen and a paper at hand, keeps me firmly grounded on my subject. From Scribbles to Skeleton Once I have all the scribbles and I feel that I am familiar enough with the story and the characters, and generally have a feel for the book, it’s time to consolidate the scribbles into a skeleton outline. Skeleton outline is a step up from brainstorming, but it is still very much a provisional document. In my skeleton outline, I write down bullet points of things that happen, in the order that they would happen in the book. The length of this outline depends on how much I know about the story at this stage. For example, currently I am trying to decide which book I will write next. I have two options. For one of them I have a skeleton outline that is 4000 words, and for the other one I have a skeleton outline that is 600 words. I have spent far longer with the former idea so it makes perfect sense that I know more about that story. I prefer to move on to my skeleton outline as soon as I have major facts of the story, because that gives me the foundation, around which I can build my story. For example, say I know about two scenes that will happen. The MC will be run over by heroine’s car The MC will escape from the hospital Those two scenes are the foundation. And here is where the creativity in outline comes in. Now, I get to brainstorm some more and think about where and how MC got hit by the car. Did he already know the heroine? Is this their first meeting? Whose fault was it? Did she stick around to take him to the hospital? Why did he escape? Was he hiding something or did he have to be somewhere? How would the heroine feel about this? You get the idea. So now, I am brainstorming, but in a slightly structured manner. I am brainstorming for specific answers. The more questions I ask, the more answers I get, and my outline becomes all the more deeper for it. Sometimes though, I get endless parade of questions and not many answers. But that’s okay. It just means that I need to spend some time at that stage. From Skeleton to Skin Okay, we have got the skeleton. But that ain’t pretty. So now we need to gloss it up with shiny skin. This is the time to add more details. This is where I make sure that entire plot makes sense, and there are no plot holes. This is where all subplots must be tied up. This, in theory, should be the preliminary version of synopsis that you might one day send to an agent. Every single scene that is supposed to happen in the story is recorded in the correct order. If my story is going to be in two parts, then my outline will be in two parts. This is the pencil sketch, over which you will paint your pretty picture. Once I have this, I revise it. Yup, revise the outline. Make sure it all makes sense. That's not to say that it's perfect. In my NaNo novel, I found I had left one subplot hanging after all. But it's still a damn sight better than any other book I have written without an outline. Skin can be Modified So we have got the revised outline. It's all neat and tidy, probably printed off, and looks so formal and final. Except that it isn't. That outline, despite all the work and thousands of words, is still just a map. It is the provisional sketch of a story I intend to write. It tells me facts. It tells me this will happen, and that will happen. But it doesn't show me how all of that will happen. Nor does it make me feel what my hero is feeling. That's what the writing is for. When I start writing, despite the outline, despite knowing what every single scene is going to be, it is still a creative process. Because now, I am trying to tell a story. Now, I am trying to bring a character to life that I want my readers to love. Now, I am trying to make the world that is my own creation, be the kind of place that other people might want to live in. Now, I am trying to use the power of the words. In doing so, it might happen that something changes; a plot might go off in a different direction that I had planned. And that is okay. When those changes occure, I automatically change the outline. Depending on its significance, I might or might not change the actual physical outline (if I am in the middle of writing, I don't want to step out of that process), but I will be aware of that alteration, and will reflect in all the coming scenes. You may ask, what's the point of wasting time on the outline if you end up with changes anyway? I firmly believe that if I have spent enough time brainstorming and outlining, chances of major plot changes are quite slim. Because by spending considerable time during this first stage, I have already gone through many variations of the story. I have already considered the possibilities and decided what I liked best. By not hastily jumping into the first draft, I have given the story a chance to float in my mind and become more concrete. The Moral of the Story Is... Only you can decide what works for you. You just need to experiment and find out. But for me, a combination of organised outlining with creative brainstorming is the all important first step. I suppose outline is the tunnel through which my creativity can be focused into a coherent storyline. Without that tunnel, the creative juices simply tumble into the sea, all over the place and I have to swim around and gather them together.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Three Stages of the Writing Process

I have been writing for a good few years, and I have written several books left at various stages from outlines to second or even third drafts. But it was only since last year that I got serious about taking writing as a career and not just a vague dream or a hobby. So since last year, I have been examining my processes, and trying to find what works for me. When I was writing my first draft of this book last November for NaNo2009, I had a pretty solid plan in mind. Finish the book, edit for two-three months, start submitting. Solid plan. Or not, as it turned out. While I was getting frustrated with POV decision and daunted by editing, I realised that deadlines are meaningless if they don’t produce good result; they are also meaningless if they are unrealistic. That’s when I started to think consciously about the whole process of writing a book, from thinking of an idea to finish the final edits and polish and declaring it ready for submission. That brings me to… Three Stages of the Writing Process 1. brainstorming / outlining 2. writing 3. editing This will be a three part post starting tomorrow where I will talk about these three stages, as I see them. I hope you will find something useful in them, and I look forward to hearing your opinions/experiences about these three stages as you see them. Disclaimer: All opinions and views are subject to change with experience.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Weekly Goals

This week, I am going to try and aim for specific goals. The public declaration is in the hope that I might be more disciplined, and also so I stop adding more things to the list, which makes it impossible to achieve target. January wasn’t nearly as productive as I would have liked (to steal a word from C R Ward, it was craptacular) so I am aiming to do better job in February. GOALS FOR THIS WEEK WRITING
  • Submit a flash fiction story (Title: No Second Chances)
  • WB Assignment F12
  • First Phase Revisions of NaNo Novel Chapters 3 to 6 (Only chapter 3 done)
  • Type up skeleton outline of DWSW (one of the two I am considering to be my next wip)
  • Skeleton outline for Bristol Fantasy (this is second potential WIP for which you guys voted for Bristol as a location against London or New York)
  • Start second draft of DWSW outline - brainstorm subplots
  • Read and work on Chapter 1 of DEEP EDITS (more about this in few weeks after some experience)
  • Finish - Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
  • Read - A Writer's Diary by Virginia Woolf
  • Start - A new Fiction book
  • 3 - 30 minutes workouts (only 1 work out)
  • Take some photos for Website Header (you would this would be easy, but not when like me, you barely spend any time in daylight hours. It's a total pain in the winter)
  • Take photos of journals for journal blog
  • Saturday workshop - experimental art
  • Saturday - journaling on location
  • Organise task list
  • Email long neglected friends (KE, HT, VS, HH, ND )
  • Journal about "Proust was a Neuroscientist"