Friday, May 27, 2016

Getting the readers emotionally involved in the story

I am a part of a site where querying authors share the feedback they receive from agents. Most agents have some kind of a form letter, where they mention that they weren’t pulled in by the writing or that they didn’t fall in love with the story as much as they had hoped or that they didn’t connect with the main character enough, to follow him or her through the rest of the story (all these are polite ways of letting the writers down). Trying to take the sting out of the rejection.

To solve this puzzle of how to get readers emotionally involved in our story, I have been reading many writing craft books. The theory is that the faster a reader’s emotions are invested in both the main character and the story, the more tuned in they will be, the more eager they will be to turn the pages to find out what is happening to the main character and the story.

One way to grab the readers’ emotions as soon as possible is by ensuring that the main character has the readers’ sympathy. If that has been done, then the readers will continue reading, to know what will happen next in the story. By this the writing instructors don’t mean that we must create sad and pitiable characters, they are trying to say that we must ensure that readers connect emotionally with the character from page one. We can do this in ways that suit our story.

In a nutshell the advice we are getting is that we should push the problems our protagonists face in the story, right into the first chapter to snag readers’interest. No hanging around till the middle of the book for it to happen, because by then the reader may have lost interest in the story.

What’s your take on this? Have you followed this in your own books? Do you agree with this logic?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Are people reading books and the You Rock Award

Last week I visited a bookshop after ages. It was nice to browse through the aisles of books. I love holding a book in my hand, reading blurbs and deciding whether I will like the story and the author’s writing style. I enjoyed picking up random books and reading a page or two. I flipped through a graphic novel, many fairytales and several novels.

Sadly, the bookshop (one of the biggest in Bangalore) was quite empty. Except for me and a couple of other people, most of the other shoppers were on the first floor, buying tiffin boxes and other stuff.

Earlier bookshops were filled with eager readers. I just hope the reason the bookshop was empty was that people are buying books online. And not because people have lost interest in books. It makes me sad to see lots of bookshops (both big and small) closing down.

A long time back, bookshops would be packed with children during summer holidays. Children eager to spend their pocket money and birthday money. But, nowadays kids aren’t reading that much. Nor are the adults. The youth prefer hanging out at malls or playing pool or watching movies. But not reading.

I teach creative writing to degree students and I feel very bad that some of my students don’t read at all. The last book they have read must have been a fairytale. But what is heartening is that there are several students who are voracious readers and these students beg me to give them a reading list at the beginning of the semester.

Are you seeing a decline in people’s reading habits? Do you think children and youngsters are interested in books?

On another note one of my favourite blog buddy (Ninja Captain), Amazon bestselling author of the successful Cassa series - Alex J Cavanaugh, gave me the You Rock Award. Getting this award from Alex means a lot to me. Not only is he my inspiration, he is also someone I have connected with big time. He is such a warm, generous and kindhearted guy, that you just want to give him a tight hug and say thank you for being a part of my writing life. His humility (he is a blogging rockstar, he writes amazing books, plays the guitar) just takes my breath away. I am lucky to call him a dear friend. If any of you haven’t yet met him, do so now. Else you will be missing out on a great friend.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A few funny pictures for writers

This week I was unable to think of suitable topic for my blog. My mind was a complete blank piece of paper.

Then I saw these funny pictures on Twitter and Facebook and I decided to use them for my blog or rather build a post around them.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Let me know which kind of a writer you are?

P.S. As to what style of writing I follow, I follow all of them depending on how desperate I am at that point of time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG Post - My Odd Writing Style

I wait for the first Wednesday of the month, so that I can talk of my insecurity for that month. IWSG aka Insecure Writers Support Group gives me the freedom to complain about my writing anxieties, worries, fears, doubts, insecurities, without looking silly as other writers too face similar issues. IWSG members help each other by giving suggestions on how to overcome these writing issues. Check out the IWSG website for helpful writing tips.

I can’t talk of IWSG without mentioning our amazing Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), who started this awesome group to save writers globally from the negative effect of their own feelings. If you aren’t following Alex, you are missing out on a wonderful writer, a warm friend and a super helpful blogger.

I started my first YA novel on 1st April. I have so far written 37,061 words. I make it a point of writing 1000 words every day, hoping that by May end I will have the first draft ready. As of now I have made a decent progress.

Now its confession time. Unlike other writers who spend a lot of time world-building and outlining, I need to start writing immediately. Whenever I start world-building or writing a detailed outline, my mind rebels. I work best when I start writing, when the words flow, then the characters start talking to me.

I just have a basic outline in place; by that I mean I have a beginning, a middle and an ending in mind and several major plot points all plotted out. At that stage there is no extensive world-building.

When I read of how some writers spend months plotting every little detail, I feel guilty. Because for me as I work on subsequent drafts, I tighten the plot, add the details and character arcs and the sub-plots.

How do you all write? Are you a detailed outliner? Or like me do you have a basic outline in place?