Friday, March 29, 2013

Scribblers or God’s of our Universe

I always feel that we writers can be called Gods of our writing universe. Have you ever thought that we writers get to play God with our literary characters. We hold the strings of their destinies in our hands. 

We have the power to breathe life into characters and bring them to life with the stroke of a pen, or, with the tap of a few keys. We are privy to all their secrets. We also have the means of ridding them of their problems quickly, or tormenting  them for several chapters or even killing them.

In our writing universe we can do everything that we cannot do in the real world. Would we create problems in someone’s life like we do with relish in our protagonist’s life? I don’t think so. Do you think any of us can be accused of manipulating people in real life, in the way we manipulate all our characters? God forbid. None of us have a single mean bone in our bodies.

When we write, we become meanies. We shove aside our guilt conscious, and trouble and torture our characters mercilessly. The more we torture them, the higher the stakes rise. To make our characters believable we add heavy doses of problems in their lives. We try to create realistic worlds, create believable protagonists, add loathable antagonists, generously add conflicts of all kinds, and finally resolve it to universal appeal.

Deep down quite a few of our characters reflect our secret desires and passions. Even the not so nice ones. Can you believe it, I am actually jotting down ways I can make my protagonist get into more trouble. I am ensuring that there is trouble brewing in every chapter.    
Are we writers closet control freaks? Is that one of the main appeals of writing? To be in complete control of every aspect of our character’s life?  Or, do we love to create new worlds, new situations and new people? What aspect of writing appeals to you all the most? Do you like playing God with your characters? I would love to know.

Friday, March 22, 2013

All about Pitches

Last week I received an email telling me that my pitch had been selected for the Write On Con Pitch Fest which I had entered a few weeks back. The pitch fest stretches over five days: 18 to 22 March. From Monday I spent a lot of my time reading the pitches (initially only in my group) but later I read many other pitches too.

I read all the pitches in my group as well as the agent's comments on each of them. One can learn so much from reading the agent's comments. Her feedback was insightful and her comments gracious. She made it easy to understand why our query letters don’t get requests for either partials or fulls.

It’s because we either complicate our pitches by adding too many plot points and other details or we simplify it to the extent that we are underselling our story. Either we harp about the plot and ignore the character or we talk too much about the character and ignore the conflict.

When agents read our pitches, they want to know about the 5C’s (Character, Conflict, Choice, Consequence and Confrontation). Once we get these 5 points assembled, our pitches can work in our favour. Even if one point is lacking or ignored, the pitch can fall short and result in a rejection.

I think getting a pitch right is an art which atleast I have not perfected.  I am hoping to work hard on the pitches for the 3 books of my Zespirit chronicles.  A pitch is all about making our query stand out from the hundreds of queries agents receive.

What about you all? How are you at pitches? Does your pitch work in favour of your story? Did your pitch get you your dream agent? Any pitch secrets you want to share with us.

P.S. I completely forgot that today is my third Blog Anniversary. All the deadlines made my head woozy and it slipped out of my mind. How can I forget the day I dived headlong into the world of blogging and met all you wonderful people.

Picture Courtesy: Melissa Crytzer Fry

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review - A Soul's Calling

Today, I am doing a book review of  ‘A Soul’s Calling’ it’s a part travelogue, part hiking adventure about a man who listened to his heart instead of listening to reason. Scott Bishop is a forty something attorney in America, average in every way, except in one way, he can communicate with Spirits.

In one of his communications with the spirits, Scott learns that his soul has been spiritually compromised. To win his soul back he has to undertake a journey to the ancient kingdom of Nepal, to the Mount Everest Base Camp. Armed with an assortment of objects to offer to the sacred mountains, and prayers from the Luminous Beings, he travels to Nepal.

As the journey unfolds, readers are transported to the hilly terrain of the Khumbu Valley, where the mountains come to life, where nature holds all kinds of secrets in its womb. On one hand we see the mountains as physical objects that Scott has to overcome, on the other hand these mountains are also symbolic of the many non-physical obstacles and battles he has fight against.

With a guide and a porter, Scott treks to the base camp to offer his prayers. He travels from one mountain to another, halts at several mountain lodges,  overcomes his fear of heights, gets his body acclimatized to breathing at higher altitudes and climbs endless stairs, before he sees the majestic Mount Everest.

For most of us who can only dream of travelling to the Everest base camp, the book works in many ways. It prepares us as well as gives us the glimpse of what obstacles we will face when we leave the cosy comforts of our houses to brave the thin mountain air, the spartan food and life in guest houses.  

I am not sure whether I would like to call this book one man’s pilgrimage or a sacred journey. It’s both. When I picked up the book, the thought running inside my mind was that this would be a spiritual book. It’s much more than that. The book not just makes us ask ourselves several questions, it also makes us search for the answers within our own hearts. And when the answers are revealed to us, they can take our breath away.

Scott’s Website

A Soul’s Calling is available on Amazon

Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting my writing groove back

At the start of this year I had decided to get my writing life back on track. Last year, the depressing submission process threw me off-kilter. After a few days of wallowing in self-pity, my resilient self (which just hates to be suppressed) rose like a phoenix. I decided I needed to get back my writing mojo.

All it needed was a little discipline and time management. I restarted writing for the newspapers (I had begun my writing career that way). I add the links to all my features that are published in the newspapers on my author page on FB.

I also rewrote a book I had written a few years back. I started submitting it directly to Indian Publishers. I am also working on my MG Paranormal Trilogy. I would appreciate it if you all can share tips or send me links on how to plot and plan a trilogy. You can either email me or add the links in the comments.

This year I have made a conscious decision to write short stories for adults. The first story is floating in my mind space. I even have its titled all worked out.

I have been planning on doing a script writing course from quite some time (as I would love to write a movie script some day). Have any of you done a script writing course? Does it help our writing? I have spoken to one of India’s leading directors (he has several award winning plays to his credit). He conducts script writing courses and he has promised to let me know when the next course will be. The writers who have attended his previous course say he is a genius.

What are your writing plans for this year? Any writing dreams you plan to achieve? Anything new you want to write? Planning to do any writing related course? What are your writing goals/dreams for this year?

P.S. Happy Women’s Day to all my gorgeous women blog buddies.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post - Genre Envy

 Two months have passed since I joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group started by Alex Cavanaugh. We meet on the first Wednesday of every month to share our writing insecurities, fears and anxieties and support each other.

Unbelievable, that I am sharing my third insecurity. Genre Envy. I write predominantly Middle Grade Fiction with heavy doses of Fantasy and humour.  Currently I am working on my Paranormal Trilogy.

Whenever I see writers tackling Science-Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy, I feel several sharp twinges of envy. I don’t think I have read many Sci-Fi books, but, nevertheless it’s something that fascinates me all the time. I don’t know why I have the feeling that it must be very difficult to write it.

Actually, I am envious of everyone who writes genres different from mine. I feel they are way more talented than me. Honestly. Poor little me, tackling good old Fantasy Fiction in this world of high breed genres. Sigh. Life is indeed cruel.

I hope my blog buddies, all the wonderful Sci-fi writers (Alex Cavanaugh, Lynda Young, Ellie Garrat, Shallee McArthur, Lydia Chang will give me tips when I write my own Sci-Fi). 

Let me not restrict getting help from just these above writers. I hope that all of you wonderful writers and blog buddies will help me become a better writer. So that someone out there envies me sometime in the future.

Well, I have shared another writing insecurity with you all. I am looking forward to reading all your insecurities. Do you all suffer from genre envy like me? What’s your envy?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Adding the element of Romance in our stories

I love adding romance in my stories. Never mind the fact that my stories capture Middle Grade life in school, with its sundry problems of teachers, exams and bullies. The fact that my main characters are just 10 to 13 years does not deter me. I try to cheat by giving them crushes, can’t write a full blown love story when my main character is barely in her or his teens.

I feel the element of romance just perks up any story and gives it life. The deep feelings of intense love, stolen looks, blushes, jealousy, possessiveness, day-dreaming, warmth, well I look forward to adding it all to my stories. ( Does this make me a closet romantic?)

All this is making me think, why don’t I pack up the middle grade books and start writing stories where the romance elements play a huge role. Honestly, I would love to write (actually have written bits and pieces of a YA book with strong undercurrents of romance; star-crossed lovers to be precise). Now the secret is out of the bag. I had not told anyone about the YA book.

Let me make a confession. One of my earlier stories based in a jungle, had a strong romantic touch: the gorgeous cat Daisy was in love with the muscular dog Bruno. Their romance had set the jungle literally on fire. Needless to say my editor went nuts and begged and pleaded with me not to corrupt innocent children with this story. I withdrew my submission but did not change the storyline.

After that episode, I am a bit cautious about adding romance in middle grade books. I will leave all that to maybe a YA or a full-fledged novel.

What about you all? Do you all love adding romance in your stories? How do you all think I should add romance in my Middle Grade fiction? Should I shy away from it completely or do you think giving the characters crushes at 11, 12 years is fine? I would love to hear what you all have to say on this?