Friday, November 30, 2012

Adding Humour in our Stories

Humour is one of my favourite elements of a story/book. If a book can make me laugh, then I tend to read the book again and again. I love books with lots of humour.

Humour is one of the most important elements in our stories and also the hardest to get it right. As writers we have only words at our disposal to depict humour and create humorous situations. I have discovered that there are several ways to add humour in our stories. Here are a few of them.

1.      The names of characters/places/people/objects can be funny. 

2.       Characters can be given some quirks: a twitch, a distinctive style of   
        talking or a weird way of dressing to evoke humour.

3.       One of the best ways of adding humour is through descriptions. Funny descriptions like “she had spread like melted butter.” “A bee could get lost in the hair on his body,” evoke humour.

4.      We can conjure up a Comedy of  Errors through our words.

5.       Dialogues are a perfect place to add humour.

6.      Another way to add humour is through internal conversation.

7.      We have to find new and funny way to say the same thing.

8.     A fantastic way to add humour is via Satire and Irony. Irony is the use of
       words to express the opposite of their literal meaning. Satire is the use of
       irony or wit to attack something. But its also extremely difficult because  
       if not handled well it can  leave the reader confused. I seldom use satire
       and irony as I am not very confident I can do them justice.

9.      Funny metaphors and similes that give a comical twist to a familiar image in a reader's mind are a perfect way to add humour. “ He was as thin as a breadstick.”
       “His chin wobbled like jelly.”

10. One of the best advice I have received for adding humour is to stir the senses. Sensory
      Humour is giving funny descriptions when describing something with  
      the five senses: especially while describing sounds, tastes and smells.
Do you like humour in the books you read? How do you all add humour in your stories? Is there any humour secret you would like to share? Please tell us, we all can learn from it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why writers should be members of libraries?

As a kid I would look forward to my Saturday morning visit to the library close to our house, accompanied by my elder sister. She would generously pay the weekly rental charges for all the books I would borrow for a week from her pocket money. When that library closed down, I was heart-broken. The library owners offered the members the books at one-tenth of its price. Needless to say I bought many books.

A few years later we became members of a club near our house. This club has an awesome collection of books: childrens' books, both the classics and the latest best-sellers, as well as adult fiction and non-fiction books.

For us writers reading books is like doing homework. We need to read both old and new books, get familiar with different plots and themes, learn new styles of writing. Nothing can teach us all this better than books.

As it’s not possible for us to buy every book that hits the shelves, borrowing it from a library is a great option. Not just due to financial constraints, it’s also because of lack of space (we would need a mansion to store all the books that we read) being a member of a library will serve us well. And in case we don’t like a book, we are not stuck with it, we have the option of returning it back and borrowing another book.

I love my weekly visits to the club library. I browse the shelves, flipping through the pages to see if the writing strikes a chord with me and then I borrow the book. I have noticed a strange thing; whenever I borrow a book, I tend to read it fast. But for books which I buy, they just raise the height of my TBR pile.

What do you all feel about libraries? Are you members of any library in your town? How often do you visit a library? Or do you prefer buying books from book shops instead of borrowing them from a library?

P.S. I finally started my Author Page after procrastinating for ages. Take a look and let me know what you all think.

As I will be travelling, my next post will be on 30th November. What will keep me occupied during the flight and airport stopovers are the books I have borrowed from the library. Till then keep writing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting the readers emotionally involved

I have been reading many writing craft books where the writing instructors speak about getting the readers emotionally involved or invested in, both the main character and the story, right from the first page.

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 and know what is happening to the main character and the story.

I have noticed that this theory has lots of truth in it. Every book that has the problem that the main character faces right in chapter one eg: Will Katniss be chosen for the Hunger Games, which faction will Beatrice choose in Divergent, will Sara and her mother be able to leave Sara’s brute of a father and start a new life, will Sadie and Carter be able to save the world from Apophis (snake) in The Serpent’s Shadow, ensures complete and undivided reader attention. Atleast these books made me read them from start to finish.

Most writing craft books I have read talk about grabbing the readers’ emotions as soon as possible, and one way of doing that is by ensuring that the main character has the readers’ sympathy. If that has been done then the readers will read on to know what will happen next in the 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 reader 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? Do you believe in this theory? Have you followed this in your own books? Do you agree with this logic? Please share your views?

Here is wishing all my blog buddies a very Happy Diwali (13th November).

Friday, November 2, 2012

My NaNo Woes

Every year I tell myself that this year I will do NaNo (National Novel Writing Month, writing 50,000 words in 30 days). By October, mysterious forces start working in my path to throw a multitude of obstacles in my way. This year too is no different. I was quite enthusiastic about NaNo. I had even decided on what project I would work on. I had even kind of worked out my daily writing schedule. I had also visualized myself completing the 50,000 words. Sigh. God had other plans for me.

I decided I would outline the NaNo book in October. But the moment October arrived, just like the past two years, life and writing waylaid me. This time it was revisions and edits. I ended up editing a collection of long short stories, a Picture Book, I even wrote two new Picture Books (I have never written a Picture Book before, so I really don’t know how it has turned out.) I also started revising a book I had written 4 years back. I don’t know why I did all that.

In November we in India also have our main festival Diwali. If I were to do NaNo, I would lose out on quite a few days as Diwali is my favourite festival. This year, I will be travelling in mid November for nearly 10 days. So, NaNo is really out of my reach. Maybe next time I will do NaNo and not let anything come in my way.

For all my blog buddies taking the NaNo bus, I wish you lots of good luck. I will be cheering you folks from the sidelines as usual. For those who have done NaNo earlier what was your experience like? Did you complete the 50,000 words it takes to win NaNo? What happened to your NaNo book? Is it out on submission? Is it published? What are your views on NaNo?