Friday, October 17, 2014

All my writing related mistakes

It’s normal to make mistakes in everything we do. Life is all about learning from one’s mistakes. My writing career is littered with the many mistakes I have made, especially when it comes to my books.

For a long time I submitted the first book I had written, to many Indian publishers. That was more than 10 years back. It was much later I realized that I was flogging a dead horse. Once I pushed that manuscript in my drawer as a hopelessly lost cause, I was at peace. All the anxiety faded away.

Another mistake I made was by querying agents just because they repped MG books. I had no inkling about an agent’s personal reading taste or choice. As the rejections piled up, so did my disappointment. It was only later when one of my blog buddies pointed out that I should query an agent only if they represented my kind of a book. Else, all I would see were rejections.

Another mistake I made when I submitted to Indian publishers was not submitting simultaneously. Simultaneous submissions cut the waiting time for us writers and also make us widen our search.

Depending on one book for too long is a mistake I hope to never repeat. Nowadays, once I am done with one book, I move on to the next one immediately as one never knows which book will capture an agent or editor’s attention.

Follow up is not my strong point as I don’t want to come across as pushy. But it’s a must when it comes to Indian Publishers. Unless and until we follow up we never get replies.

Personalizing the query to a specific agent. Though I never sent bulk queries starting with Dear Agent, I didn’t personalize it either. Nowadays I research an agent, read all their interviews, try to see what books they have repped, check them on Twitter and then mould my query so that it doesn’t look as though I am sending queries at random.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of mistakes, right? I hope never to repeat these mistakes again.

What about you all? Care to share your writing related mistakes so we can all learn from it?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lessons I have learnt from my current WIP

Every WIP (Work in Progress) teaches a writer lots of things. Things that the writer would not have learnt if they hadn’t worked on this particular story. My current WIP- Scavage, about street dogs was a troublesome kid. All through the first draft I had just one thought running through my mind: that I can’t write this story. I am so scared of dogs that when I see dog I run faster than an Olympic medallist. It was natural that I would take my own sweet time to finish the first draft.

Several times during the writing of this book my muse deserted me. During those days I caught up with my other writing and kept postponing the deadline for this story. And I deviated wildly from my original outline with the introduction of a few new characters who snatched the story from my hands and took it in a different direction.

One fine day I said enough is enough. I am the writer. I need to get the story written. And written fast. I sat down and rewrote the outline adding the new characters, warned my muse not to irritate me and wrote the remaining scenes. For reference there was always YouTube.

After the first draft, I moved on to the second draft. Finishing the second draft of this book has made me super happy. Now, I have distanced myself from the story for a few days, to let it stew in its own creative juices. I am working on my first YA book.

This book taught me several lessons. A writer has to be flexible as characters become headstrong halfway through the story and want the story to go in a different direction from the originally outlined one. Another lesson was that the muse is never obedient and that a writer should never depend on the muse and write inspite of an absentee muse. Last but not the least, only if the writer has written the first draft can he start playing magician with the story; adding plot twists, descriptions, character traits, suspense and humor.

What has your current WIP taught you? Did your characters develop a mind of their own halfway through the story?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG Post – Deviating from the original outline

Its time for another IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post. IWSG founder Ninja Captain: Alex Cavanaugh started IWSG with the aim of creating a support group for writers at different stages of their publishing journeys. IWSG members post on the first Wednesday of every month. We share our anxieties, doubts, fears and worries, and help, encourage and support other writers. IWSG has a website which is full of helpful information for writers. And now IWSG will be bringing out a book ‘The Insecure Writer’s Support Group to Publishing and Beyond.’

My Insecurity for this month is Deviating from the original Outline. Though I always have a rough outline on paper, but, when I start writing, I tend to deviate from that outline. Then I keep tweaking the outline to incorporate the new scenes. Sometimes, the outline has changed quite a bit when I add a new character, scenes or take unexpected twists and turns in the story which were not in the original outline.

That makes me half-plotter, half-panster. I am seldom able to stick to my initial outline. Because the moment I start writing, fresh ideas, characters, scenes and twists and turns start dancing in my mind. These were not a part of the original outline.

Now that is making me a bit anxious. Because my final outline is quite different from the initial outline. Even when I plot in detail, while writing my characters start whispering in my ears quite a bit. And I do tend to listen to them.

Do you all have this problem of deviating from your original outlines? How do you tackle that?