Friday, July 29, 2016

Where Does Inspiration Strike You?

Writers are victims of the elusive muse who appears and disappears at will. Like lightning, our muse can strike us any time, any place and anywhere. Sometimes, even twice in the same place.

My muse tends to be very generous whenever it suits him (yes, my muse is a male). Don’t ask me how I’ve come to that conclusion. I just know it. Call it a Woman’s Instinct. Just like my mom knows when I'm dodging the truth.

There have been times when I’m at a party enjoying a marathon chat session with my favourite cousins and my muse is whispering important plot points in my ears. Then, I realize that I was foolish enough to bring a tiny clutch purse which had turned up its nose at my scribbling pad and pen. Then, I quickly wipe my hands on a paper napkin and type the plot points as a message and save it on my cell phone as a draft.

Once, while having lunch with my friends, I made notes on paper napkins, borrowing a pen from a guy having a drink at the next table.

Inspiration has an amazing way of striking me when I least expect it. One of inspiration’s favourite place to visit me is when I’m on my daily morning walk. While walking the ideas keep dropping into my head fast and furious (I get grumpy during the monsoons when I’m unable to go for my regular walks).

Sometimes inspiration strikes me when I’m reading blog posts. I’m not going to name the bloggers (because they may demand a percentage of my royalty for inspiring me).

Sometimes, I feel like tying up my muse in my room, so that he is available 24/7. Sadly, that's not possible.

Where does Inspiration strike you? Which is its favourite haunt? How do you cope with its demands? Any funny incidents that come to mind? We would love to be inspired by the stories of your inspiration.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trying to Avoid Falling into the Trap

Last week I read a thriller by my favourite author. After I read it, I had just one thought running through my mind: I wish I hadn’t wasted time reading it. I felt cheated and disappointed. I’ve read all the books by that author and this book was a cut, copy and post job: the plot was a rehash of another book, the characters had been pulled out from all her other books and the storyline plodded through an expectable route with nothing new to offer.

I wondered why that veteran writer actually wrote this book. This book was an exact clone of her previous books. Word for word. I passed the book to my sister-in-law and she (though she isn’t a writer) said the same thing. Infact she went as far as telling me that she is skipping pages to come to the end.

The worst mistake we writers make is Falling Into The Trap. We can fall into this writing trap due to several reasons; overuse of certain types of clichés and stereotypes, use of a similar style of narrative in every story we write, even though the books aren’t a part of a series, use of similar settings, use of similar protagonists, using predictable sub-plots and plot twists.

I attribute this to the fact that once the writers have discovered a successful formula, they want to milk it for all its worth. Perhaps they endorse the view why mess with something that has worked well. But they forget that what readers adored once, may not find takers again.

Many times I have a strong feeling of Déjà vu when I read the next set of books written by few writers. I feel I have met the characters before. Even the setting has no novelty, it’s the same one as the last book written by the author. The problem faced by the main character and the way the conflict has been resolved is something I had guessed halfway (very often much earlier) through the book.

These authors fall into a self-made trap. They can avoid this by writing something new in every book. Roald Dahl’s books : George’s Marvellous Medicine, Twits, Mathilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate factory, all had something new to offer. So did Rowling’s books.  Though the seven potter books had the same setting of Hogwarts and the same set of characters, each book had something new to offer. There were surprises and shocks aplenty, new entrants who took us unawares, several times the plot took unexpected twists that had readers eager to know what would happen next.

Have you ever felt that a particular writer is falling into the trap? How do you personally manage to avoid the writing trap? Please share, we all can learn from your experience.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG Post – Not Writing Fast Enough

 It’s once again time for our monthly IWSG post. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG is the place we writers hang around online, sharing our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clearing our doubts and learning from each other. As all the writers are at different stages of their publishing journey, there is a wealth of information on the IWSG website.

Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), started this amazing group. We all are thrilled to be a part of Super A’s (my nickname for Alex) group. It’s not easy to emulate this helpful and kind guy. But we are trying.

I’m co-hosting this month’s IWSG with Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, LK Hill, JA Scott and Madeline Mora Summonte.

This month my insecurity is not writing fast enough. When I see some of these writers bringing out two to three books in a year, marketing them, blogging, reading, working on other books, I feel quite insecure. I wonder how do they it. I’m barely able to work on one, max two books at a time. If I concentrate on my writing, my reading suffers. If I tackle my features and book reviews, my writing slips. It’s so difficult to juggle all these balls in the air and not drop a few of them.

To make the IWSG Day more fun and interactive, it has been decided that every month a question will be announced which members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. We can include our answer to the question in our IWSG post or let it inspire our post if we are struggling with something to say. 

The July 6 question - What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received is when the Principal of a reputed school in Bangalore spoke about my book ‘The Lion Who Wanted to Sing’ in her graduation day speech. She called my children’s book motivational and inspiring and urged students to emulate the lion when pursuing their dreams. When I heard about this I was super-duper happy.