Friday, November 21, 2014

Writing tips I have learned till now

This week I had no time to even think of what I would blog about as I had another school visit today (it was awesome) and had to critique a book and review 5 books for the newspaper. I will share the details about my visit to D.P.S (Delhi Public School) in one of my future posts.

Writers across the spectrum share their tips on how to become a better writer. From writing the first draft to revising and editing tips. Every tip is designed to make us better writers. All my blog buddies are brilliant writers, so I don't need to remind them of anything. I am just sharing my thoughts.

1. First drafts should be just the writer and the story. Nothing else should matter. Just get the story out should be every writer’s motto.

2. The main character should be given a few flaws. Readers will identify better with imperfect characters as it reminds them of their own shortcomings.

3. The supporting characters should be strong, preferably with a sub-plot, goals and their own lessons they have to learn in the course of the story.

4. The antagonist needs to be a strong, literally the bad half of the protagonist, its evil twin. Weak protagonists will send out weak vibes which neither build stakes nor increase conflict and tension.

5. There should be atleast two confrontations between the protagonist and the antagonist before the final confrontation happens. This will keep the readers glued to the pages.

6. Don’t just end each chapter on a cliffhanger, introduce a new complication in each chapter. This will keep the interest high throughout the book.

7. Keep reminding the readers of the stakes which are increasing chapter by chapter. Let the readers get a sense of urgency that the protagonist is feeling.

8. Learn the fine art of secrets. Keep some secrets from the protagonist, a few from the antagonist and some from the readers. Not all of them should know everything.

9. Reveal backstory little by little. Avoid info dumping. At each point in the story, only the backstory that will help that scene should be highlighted (I learnt this lesson a little late, my earlier books were info dumps).

10. Pay attention to the descriptions. Animate the scenes with lively descriptions which make the scene come alive in a reader’s mind. Remember to use all the five senses while describing scenes.

11. Concentrate on building that crucial voice: seeing things in a way that readers remember long after they have finished reading the book.

12. Work on settings so that it becomes a character by itself.

13. Don’t ever forget the power of a strong outline. Get the beginning, middle and end very clear in your mind. Be a panster while writing the individual scenes, but plot out the big story.

14. Work on getting the dialogues right. Listen to how people talk, the way they ask questions, the way they answer, the accents they have. Use all this info in your dialogue writing.

15. Never forget the rule of writing daily. If you start ignoring your writing/story, then the story starts playing truant. Even something as less as 500 words a day will help you get to the end of the story fast.

Any writing lesson you all want to add? Feel free to add them in the comments. In one of my next posts I will compile all the lessons into one blog post.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog buddies!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Author Interactive sessions with students

I have been missing in action on the blogosphere from one week as I have been busy with Interactive Sessions with students, which has been arranged by my publishers Scholastic India. This week, I have visited 3 schools and had four sessions with students.

It’s been amazing meeting the Principals, students and the teachers of all these schools. The children have been super enthusiastic, super eager and super energetic. Reading a few pages of my story and talking to them has been an experience I will remember all my life.

Fun Moments from my visit to Edify School. This boy was one of the cutest boys I have met. He ran up to me to take my autograph. I asked him his name. “Yuvraj,” he said. When I gave him my autograph, he said “Wow, you know the spelling of my name.” I was like dude, I am a writer, I know lots of spellings. Then the boy told me that many people get his spelling wrong. This is the second time someone has spoken to me about spellings, the first was my English teacher in school.

Most of the kids were delighted to meet an author. They all would walk up to me and practically want to touch me to check whether I was a real person or an illusion. Many children would stand close to me and whisper in my ears.

Today which is Children’s Day I visited two more schools. It was very hectic and tiring. I have taken a break from visiting schools for a week as I have to dedicate time to read Mark Noce (my critique Partner’s MS) as well as revise one ms of mine and polish another one.

This week, starting from today I will be visiting you all to catch up with what you all have been up to behind my back. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG Post – Doubts and Insecurities

I look forward to the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post on the first Wednesday of every month.  It’s one place I can freely talk about my doubts, fears, worries and insecurities without the fear of being judged. Because I know that many of you all must be battling the same fears.

IWSG has been started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (the author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm and CassaFire).  IWSG is an online group of writers where we all learn from each other and also share our doubts, fears and insecurities as well as support and encourage other writers. The IWSG website is a wonderful resource for writers.

This month I was suddenly stuck with doubts regarding my books. I don’t know why the worries swamped me. Worries whether my bigger books (currently sitting inside several publishers’ laptops) will be liked by the readers. Will the editors love the stories and want to publish them? What will the other writers think of my stories and characters? What will the critics and reviewers think of my writing and plot? Will all of them think that I suck at writing?

Trust me all these worries gave me a nightmare or two. Then, I tried to shrug it off, which is easier said than done, that all writers go through this. That these insecurities come with the territory. I am plodding on with my next lot of books, but somewhere deep inside my mind these doubts are flying around.

Do you all have such doubts and insecurities? How do you fight these feelings? I would love to learn how other writers tackle these feelings.