Friday, September 12, 2014

When a character/s hijacks your story

As I am half-plotter and half- panster, I always have a rough idea of the beginning of my stories, the middle and the end. I am a plotter where the basic outline is concerned and a panster where the individual scenes are concerned. It was the same situation for my current WIP- Scavage, about a pack of wild street dogs. I had a basic plot outline in mind about how the story would start, the scenes that would constitute the middle and how it would end. I was quite happy with my rough plot outline. For a change I had the entire plot mapped out and I started writing the first draft.

Then, I really don’t know why I introduced three new characters (who literally jumped out of the blue). Trust me when I say that these characters caught hold of my hand and made me include them in the story. These three adorable characters not only clamoured to get their stories heard but they have also hijacked my plot in another direction. Right now I am staring at my computer screen with a zombie look wondering where did my plot disappear.

Now I am in a big dilemma. Should I leave these characters alone and go back to my original outline or should I write a new outline incorporating these three characters? I am seriously miffed with myself.

Do you all have any advice for me? How do you handle such situations? What do you all suggest I do?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG Post – Tackling the feeling of not being good enough

I look forward to the IWSG posts every month. IWSG, a support group for writers started by Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh posts on the first Wednesday of every month. We encourage and support other writers through our posts as well as talk of our insecurities, fears, anxieties and doubts. It’s very cathartic, venting out our feelings before other writers. For one they completely understand us and second they offer suggestions and advice which helps us cope. You can check out the IWSG website. To read the other posts click here.

This month I am going to talk of the feeling that all writers undergo. The feeling that we are not good enough. Every writer has faced this feeling at some point or the other. Especially when they have just read an awesome book that left their jaws crashing to the ground. After the brilliant book has been read, we are accosted with a feeling that we will never be able to write such a book. This feeling is also triggered by rejection.

This feeling of not being good enough also hits us when we are bamboozled with an entire host of writing advice: ranging from creating page turning stories, memorable characters which readers remember for a long, long time, ending each chapter on a cliff hangar, introducing surprise twists and turns, nailing that elusive voice, keeping the stakes high at all times and grabbing the readers eyeballs on every page.

Whew! That’s quite an achievement for one book. Keeping all this in mind, we work and work and work lots more on our stories ensuring that every bit of advice is followed and bettered.

Have you all ever felt that you aren’t good enough? How do you all tackle this feeling?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Coming up with unusual book titles and character names

From the time I was studying in college, my journalism lecturer would tell me that though she loved my features and other writing, she thought that I lost out by giving them dull titles. Though I tried hard I could never come up with exciting, interesting or intriguing titles. Titles always gave me trouble.

When I started writing my books, this title torture turned into a nightmare when I had to think of suitable names for all my characters. For middle grade fiction based in schools there were a truckload of characters to name. And trust me when I tell you that, it aint easy giving so many characters interesting names.

For my MG book Academy for PRANKS, I took the smart way out. As the academy had students from all over the world, I researched for names and surnames popular in all the countries. This was the only time I had fun hunting for names.

The only two book titles I am completely happy with are Slunky Doodle (the book currently languishing in a few Indian publishers’ inbox) and Scavage (the book I am writing now). I thought bought these titles were quite interesting and unusual and easy to remember. I hope I am right.

When I read books like Shatter me, Mockingjay, Divergent, When you Reach me, Under the Never Sky, Before I fall, The beginning of everything, In the Path of Falling Objects, Thirteen reasons why, The fault in our stars, I feel sharp twinges of envy. How did all these authors come up with such amazing and interesting titles? Do these writers have some secret abilities that has passed us by?

How do you all manage to come up with unusual and interesting titles and character names? Or like me does this task make you nervous?

Picture Courtesy Bharathi Krishnamurthy