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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Running out of blog topics

This is my fourth year in blogging and to be honest I am running out of writing related topics. When I had started blogging, I had decided I will stick to a writing related blog. It was a conscious decision I had taken. I did not want to ramble on and on about things which would leave my readers and blog buddies disinterested or bored to tears. And for more than four years I was successful in maintain a writing related blog where I discussed all aspects of writing, publishing and books.

But, from the past few weeks I seem to be running out of topics. Maybe I have exhausted all the topics. Or maybe I have blog fatigue or perhaps I need to inject a new energy into my blog. Or it could also be due to work pressure which sees me scrambling at the last minute to come up with a decent post.

Once upon a long time back I was quite organized where my blog posts where concerned. I would schedule them a few days in advance. Nowadays, it’s a mad rush to get a few decent words typed out. I have run out of blogging inspiration. Day by day I am coming up with a shorter post. And that too just moments before I click on the publish button.

How do you all handle blog topic fatigue? How do you all come up with amazing topics? Any suggestions for me to beat this topic fatigue syndrome?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Struggling to balance everything

Guilt. The emotion that has caught me in its deathly grip. From the past few months I am feeling very guilty about missing in action in the blogosphere. Though I am posting once a week, it’s been quite a struggle coming up with a blog post. Most of my posts are last minute efforts. And let’s not even talk of visiting my blog buddies’ blogs and leaving a comment. I am unable to visit most of my regular blog buddies.

Sometimes I feel I am juggling too many balls in air, glass balls at that, and more often than not, it’s a struggle trying to keep all the balls safe. If I concentrate on my blog, I am losing out on reading books. If I read books then it’s my blog that feels ignored. If I am paying attention to my feature writing for the newspapers, I am late in correcting my students’ assignments. And when I correct piles of assignments, my manuscript is ignored.

And my current work in progress has been deserted from seven days. I am sure the characters are feeling left out and my muse must have gone away with his girlfriend leaving me absolutely uninspired. Even my reading fairy has disappeared. I haven’t read a single book from more than ten days.

I sometimes feel I am doing too much. I should concentrate on just a few things at a time. I have reduced my blogging days from twice a week to once a week. Even that has been further reduced. In the IWSG week, I skip my regular Friday posting. I have stopped playing Candy Crush (trust me that’s a huge tragedy), my long chats with my close friends has been drastically reduced (another big tragedy, but its saving me piles of money as the phone bills are pretty less now) I am doing everything to get more time to write.

The only thing I am sticking on to is my regular workout. If I had to skip that too, I would be one grumpy writer. Exercise energises me. I can’t do without it.

I am wondering how you all manage everything. Is there a time-turner you all possess? Are you all better at time-management than I am? Can someone please tell me how do they manage to get all their work done?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG Post – Trilogy Anxieties

Normally my IWSG post is scheduled atleast one week in advance. With so many things crowding my mind space, this month’s IWSG post had completely slipped my mind. If not for our omniscient Ninja Captain, Alex Cavanaugh, also the founder of IWSG, who came to know via telepathy that I had forgotten about it, so to make me (us) remember he mentioned it in his blog. Thank God for omniscient founders.

IWSG is a support group for writers which posts on the first Wednesday of every month. We encourage and support each other through our posts as well as talk of our insecurities, fears, anxieties and doubts. You can check out the IWSG website. To read the other posts click here.

From ages I have hopes that somewhere down the line I will write a trilogy. But, I am not one of the world’s greatest outliners. I prefer attacking a first draft than writing a detailed outline. Though I have a beginning, middle and end in mind when I start writing, I write quite a bit by the seat of my pants. For a trilogy, I am sure I will have to be a great outliner. Every small plot detail has to be meticulously planned. For that I would need to get a detailed plot outline written for all the three books.

I am anxious about the fact that my kind of writing style may not work for a trilogy. I am wondering how other writers tackle trilogies. Does anybody have any tips for me on how to handle a trilogy? For those who have written trilogies how did you manage? 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adding real life incidents in our stories

This topic has been pecking my mind from quite some time. I am constantly thinking about it. Would it be right to add a real life incident into our stories? 

Would that make our story more realistic or would that be sensationalizing a delicate issue. Last month, a sexual assault on a 6 year old girl in her school in Bangalore sent shock waves all across the city. It led to protests, petitions and also a bandh yesterday.

What happened to that small girl was not only horrifying but tragic and traumatic as well. My heart bleeds for what she and her parents must have gone through. It’s like someone has snatched the little girl’s happy childhood and changed it with trauma and nightmare.

This morning due to rains I could not go for my usual morning walk. While lying in bed my mind frequently went to that girl. And suddenly a shiny new idea dropped heavily into my mind. The idea gripped me tightly while I was doing my workout. The shiny new idea involved a story about that girl. Even while I am writing this blog post my mind is throwing up several scenes.

I am wondering whether my working on this new idea would be cruel, I mean would it be me capitalizing on an incident or trying to sensationalize an issue. I know for certain that I would handle the topic/story very, very sensitively. There would be no frivolousness in it. But, it has me still worried. This is the first time a real life incident has generated a story idea in my mind.

What is your take on my predicament? Do think I should atleast outline the story and see where it takes me? Or should I just dismiss it off from my mind? What would you do in my place?