Friday, December 11, 2015

Reading newspapers and weaving real life incidents into our stories

I have always admired writers who weave real life incidents into their stories. Even when they call their manuscript a work of fiction, there is a strong trace of a real incident/event/ in their stories. I wish I could do that. Infact, one writer told me she looks through the newspapers for inspiration for her stories/novels. 

According to her the newspapers are full of happenings, interesting incidents and small news items that trigger ideas in her head.

When she confessed this to me, I gulped. I definitely read the lead news, but other than that, my eyes just skim/glaze through the rest of the paper. Infact, you can even accuse me of missing many a small news and features all the time.

I have decided that I will take a page from her book (I know I won’t find inspiration for my Middle Grade stories in the newspapers.) But I am going to spend some time every morning reading the newspaper, glance at the rest of the stories which don’t make it to the first page. Who knows what ideas this may trigger.

Though I do advise my creative writing students to read the newspaper daily, I don’t follow what I preach. I know it’s bad of me. But it’s going to change now.

Here comes my question now. Do you all read the newspapers and by that I mean actually read (and not just glance through it)? Another question, if you were to weave a real life incident in your story, which would it be?

P.S. We get so many newspapers at home, just imagine the vast number of story ideas I must have missed. Sigh. Will be careful now.

P.P.S. As I am taking a short break, this will be my last post for 2015. I will be back on Wednesday 6th January 2016 with my first IWSG post of the year. Take care. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG Post – Tackling a feeling of Inadequacy

We have reached the last IWSG posting for 2015. This year has really gone super fast. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) is an online group of writers. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG gives us a chance to discuss our writing worries, fears, doubts and anxieties with other writers who have similar fears, issues and doubts.

IWSG was started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm and CassaFire and the upcoming Dragon of the Stars). To download a free copy of the IWSG’s book ‘Guide to Publishing and Beyond’ visit the IWSG website for details. To read the IWSG Posts click here.

As the year is hurtling down toward its end, I am feeling a strong sense of inadequacy, especially when I read a few of my blog buddy’s posts. I get a shock when I read how many manuscripts they are writing, revising, plotting and marketing. OMG. It’s enough to give me a serious inferiority complex. And when they share their reading lists, I drown in a feeling of inadequacy.

I feel that neither have I written a lot this year nor read enough books. 2015 has been a year where life (family health issues) interrupted my writing every few days. I just managed to revise several old books and write one MG book and a couple of Picture Books and start my YA novel. That’s all. I hope to write a lot this month, but I am sure it won’t be enough as there are just a few days left.

How do you all tackle feelings of inadequacy? Infact, I want to ask you do you all feel inadequate in the first place? Or is it just me?

Friday, November 20, 2015

My Reading List for the next 41 days

Whenever I read on any of my blog buddy’s blogs that they have read so many books in a month, trust me when I say that, I feel very envious. I wonder how do they manage to read so many books, work on their manuscripts, blog, attend to their sundry other chores, as well as manage their day jobs. I am sure like Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh, they all must be having secret superpowers which we all are unaware of. Sigh!Poor little me has to manage with my limited abilities.

My reading has taken a big hit in the last few months. Infact, this entire year I have read just a few books. And hardly any in the genre and age group I write.

I plan to read atleast a few books before this year ends. That’s why I have borrowed the first four books from the library, so that I have to read them fast.

1.   The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I have heard so much about this book from many people. It’s on many agents wishlist. It has also been made into a movie.

2.    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I want to read this book again. I have read it a very long time back.

3.    I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. I have been hearing a lot about this author and her Shopaholic novels.

4.    Johnny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj. This book has been on my wishlist from ages. Thank God its small and I am sure I can finish it in a couple of days.

5.    Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler. I won this book on Tara's blog and Tara paid a small fortune to courier it to me (it reached me three days back). And luckily for me it’s a Middle Grade Novel. I am eager to read it. Ever since I had seen it on Tara’s blog I was intrigued by it.  

6.    5 to 1 by Holly Bodger. I won this book on Natalie Aguirre's blog Literary Rambles. Natalie is an angel in disguise. Infact, whenever she couriers a book to me, I feel extremely guilty about the money she spends to send the book to me. Natalie has raved about this book. I am super eager to read the book.

Which are the books you plan to read in the next few weeks? I would love to take a peep into your reading lists.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Handling contrary feedback without going mad

From the past few weeks I have been lurking on and off on a site where writers share their query experience, and information about which agents reply fast and what is the response time from the other agents. This is all a part of my research to make a list of agents for my current work-in-progress. I want to target those agents who rep my genre and who reply.

The writers (most of them don’t go by their own names, they either have an avatar or a funny sounding name with no pictures) share their query feedback. I have figured out that there is something called a form rejection which many agents send. Then there are agents who say that if we don’t reply within a certain period of time consider it a pass.

And then there are a few agents who personalize their rejections by mentioning “Dear so and so” and also mention the name of the manuscript and the main character and in a few sentences let the writer know what worked for them in the sample pages. I have only admiration for such agents who take the time and effort to give suggestions.

It’s this point that has me reading wide-eyed. Every manuscript amasses a wide range of feedback, each bit contrary with what another has said.

If we writers were to follow every bit of advice, then I think we would be having atleast half a dozen drafts of each of our manuscripts. I wonder how those writers cope with so much contrary feedback. If one agent has liked the setting, the other one says “I wasn’t taken in by the voice,” then the third one says “I didn’t feel a connection with the main character” and the fourth one says “I didn’t fall in love with the story.”

OMG, I went nuts reading all the suggestions and advice. I am wondering whether I can handle all this. I am seriously rethinking whether I even want to put myself through all this. Rejections are bad enough, but when it comes with an avalanche of feedback that can put a writer in a puddle of confusion, its scary. At the back of my mind there are doubts about how much is true and how much is because a disgruntled writer cannot accept rejection?

I am curious how my writing buddies have handled this. How did you go about revising your manuscripts when it came with a string of suggestions, each bit clashing with the next?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG post - Handling a truckload of doubts

This is the second last IWSG of the year. 2015 is now in a hurry to fly by at the speed of lightening. IWSG is one of the best things to happen to a writer at any stage of their writing career. The credit for starting this awesome online group should go to the super awesome and super inspiring Alex Cavanaugh – Author of Amazon bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars. Alex is better known as Ninja Captain in blogland.

IWSG members post on the first Wednesday of every month. Our posts talk about all our writing worries, fears, doubts, insecurities and anxieties. We also help, support, advice and encourage other writers. Check the IWSG website for awesome writing tips.

One of my biggest insecurity and fear is not doing justice to the story I am writing. Yes, I started my young adult novel. Finally! It's quite a change from the middle grade novels I have so far written. I am wracked by anxiety. I know that until I finish the first draft I will be quite stressed out. Every scene I have plotted makes me wonder whether I am getting the mannerisms of a seventeen-year old right. 

Yesterday, I wrote a rough outline, jotted down a few character sketches and wrote the first chapter, all with doubts pecking my mind. The doubts were so loud and strong that I nearly stopped writing.

Later, I decided that to hell with the doubts and anxiety, I will dedicate the month of November to this book. It's my dream to write a love story. And one month out of my writing life is not asking for much. Even if I fail I can always revert back to my children's books.

I wonder how other writers who tackle a new genre or age group manage?Any tips for me on tackling a Young Adult novel?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sharing a few of my writing quotes

Thank you for all your wishes. They pepped me up big time.

I am slowly limping back into my writing and blogging. My over stressed brain needs some time to come up with blogging topics. That’s why I decided to give it a little rest and resorted to cheating.

I made a small list of a few of my writing related Tweets and am sharing them with you.

A book a day keeps boredom away! Invade a bookstore as soon as possible!!

Write what you love to read!

Create a character that readers will love and want to get to know better and hang out with!

Write the first draft as though no one will read it, edit the final draft as though everyone will read it!

Show your support to an author by buying their book/s to read and gift them to others!

A writer's pick up line : "wanna get bookish with me?"

Is reading a book by an unknown/unheard author like going on a blind date?

The most wasted day of a writer's life is the one in which we haven't written or thought about our story!

Writing a book is dreaming with the eyes open!

Stories give the readers a glimpse into the writer's mind!

Writing prompts are yoga for the mind!

Hope you all enjoyed reading my writing Tweets. Let me know which are your favourite writing quotes.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thinking of new Manuscripts and Gratitude

I had mentioned a few weeks back that two ideas are jostling in my mind for attention. Both are ideas for adult novels; one is Young Adult and the other is a Adult thriller. Though I have just jotted down a few points for each, both the ideas are sending me their own thoughts about how they want to be written.

The Young Adult novel ofcourse wants to be written in first person, while the adult thriller is screaming that it wants to be written in the third person. Both the ideas have very sweetly even come up with decent titles. I am actually quite surprised that with all the family health issues I am handling, my brain is still in my thinking of my new manuscripts mode.

Though I have actually not sat before my laptop, even then bits and pieces of the stories are cropping up in my mind. Sadly for me, I have not had the time to write them down. I only hope I won't forget them. Its at times like this that I am grateful to my God and my Spiritual Master -Amma for my writer's mind.

I did steal a little time and start my revisions for my current Middle Grade novel. And I managed to edit and revise 6 chapters. So, I am quite happy with it.

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes. I will be visiting all your blogs in the next few days.

P.S. I feel like the squirrel, grateful for everything that God and my Spiritual Master are doing for me and my family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG Post- When life interrupts our writing

From the past few days, life has constantly interrupted my writing, in one way or the other. And as the Internet was down from the past one week, I could not visit any blogs or access my emails from my laptop. I had my doubts whether I would be able to make the IWSG post on time. But, thankfully the Internet connection has been restored and here I am.

I have somehow got addicted to meeting the deadline for the IWSG posts.  IWSG is an online group for writers. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. This amazing group was started by Alex Cavanaugh - Author of Amazon bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars. IWSG is a place where we writers discuss all about our writing and the million and one insecurities that afflict us in our writing and publishing journey. We also support and encourage other writers. Remember to check out the IWSG Website for awesome writing tips.

This month my main worry is when life interrupts our writing. From the past few days my writing has been going slow, due to a variety of reasons: family health issues, my viral infection and ofcourse the Internet being down (I could not research for my MS). Initially, I was quite upset with myself for not being able to meet my writing deadlines. But, things are really not in my hands. After the family health issue was sorted, I developed a viral fever; the cough is so bad that I am in no mood to even read, forget about writing my book.

I have decided to go easy on myself and not worry about the word count. I am going to take it slow for the next few days and will work on my manuscript after I recover. In the meanwhile, I am going to reread a few of my favourite books.

I am looking forward to visiting all your blogs and seeing what you all have been doing in my absence.

Friday, September 25, 2015

An advertisement to sell one of my characters

I don’t know why by Friday my brain wants to take it easy. Seriously, whenever I have been stupid enough to write my blog post at the last moment, I can never think of a serious or a hard-hitting topic.  The only thing I can come up with is a fun post.

This will be a short post: an advertisement to sell one of my characters.

Name: Nina Mahtani

Age: 10 years, but very worldly wise.

External appearance: Looks like an angel, no wonder she is able to prank people, as no one expects mischief from her.

Occupation: Pretends to be a student, but is a genius prankster.

Nature: Loyal to her friends, gentle when it suits her, rest of the time she is busy cooking up a storm of pranks to play on unsuspecting people. A genius in the making. Respects creativity in other pranksters. Excellent in academics, as well as extra-curricular activities.

Dreams: Hopes the Middle Grade book in which she is the main character gets made into a movie. Has very high aspirations for herself. At the moment she is pretty disgruntled, as I have stopped querying the manuscript (I just hope that she doesn’t play a prank on me as revenge).

Reason for selling: Nina is getting very demanding. She has become an attention grabber. Even after innumerable rewrites, she wants one last makeover, because she believes her story must be read by children all over the world. I really don’t have any more time to spend on her, as my other characters need me.

Price on request.

If you all were to write an ad for one of your characters, which one would it be? I am waiting to read every one’s ad. I am sure the answers will be fun.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My muse is on a dating rampage

I had once mentioned that my muse has a roving eye, a tendency to pack his bags and do the disappearing act, that he was moody, irresponsible (drops ideas and then does the vanishing act), had no sense of a timing (from the shower to the dining table, he drops in unannounced and expects me to leave everything and follow him around). Well, that was just the tip of the ice-berg.

Now, I have realized that my muse has started dating multiple story ideas. Just when I had convinced myself that it was high time I started my adult thriller (though mentally I have been working on it from some time), my darling muse drops another adult novel idea into my head, complete with the names of all the characters (Ria, Rohit, Payal, Kunal,Tara and Siddhant) and what they do, how they look like. My generous muse has even dropped the story title.

And to make matters worse, he even convinced me to start outlining the new story. I started it yesterday and have written around 250 words and made mental character sketches of the different characters. All this is happening while I’m revising my MG book which my critique partner sent back with his detailed notes.

Though I’m thrilled that the new idea has jumped into my head (I always wanted to write a YA novel) I am also scared that I’m working on too many things. Fingers crossed that I keep up the momentum and work on my YA idea secretly (not so secret anymore, since I blogged about it.)

I have decided that this new project will be written alongside my MG stories, so that if I flop in my adult book, I’ll still have my children’s books. I’m seeing it as a win-win situation. And this kind of double-dating two story ideas  is actually quite nice.

P.S The winners of the giveaway of Brutal are Alex Cavanaugh (he has won the Ebook) and Mary Preston (she has won a hard copy).  Congrats Alex and Mary. Mary please email me your postal address.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Interview with Uday Satpathy and a giveaway

Today, I have an interview with Uday Satpathy, author of Brutal.

A brief write-up on Brutal
"Death penalty looms over a schoolteacher who commits a heinous crime with absolutely no motive. The nation wants revenge, and an obscure vigilante group delivers it brutally, even before the trial could begin. Just when the world thinks that the bloody saga is over, two journalists dig deeper into the case. And so begins their nightmare. Treading over bodies of their leads and chased by assassins, they will soon realize that some mysteries should better be left untouched."

Q. Tell us something about yourself?

I work in the IT Industry, serving Life Sciences clients. I am an Electrical engineer and an MBA by education, though they don’t add much to my writing skills J. I am an avid thriller reader and follow this genre a lot. My dream is to write a top-class legal thriller some day.

Q.  Brutal is your first book. How long did it take you to write it?

Brutal took around a year and half for me to write. But, the editing and rework must have taken another six months.

Q. What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a panster?

I am predominantly a plotter, though I don’t believe in too detailed plotting. My plot usually divides the story into 5-6 major chunks and major twists. Within those boundaries, I have a free brush and I can use any colour.

Q. How did you go about doing research for this book, especially the characters of Doctor and Sultan.

My background in Pharma and Healthcare helped me a lot in shaping the character of the Doctor. On the other hand, I had to do a lot of research on Indian Special Forces to make Sultan’s character credible.

Q. I was fascinated with the Kushwaha family and their work. What was the inspiration behind creating such a family?

My inspiration for such a family comes from Robert Ludlum’s works which often talk about megalomaniac corporations and families. His books have had a profound influence on my writing.

Q.  I made an instant connection with the main character Prakash Sinha. Any chance of seeing him in future books?

Oh yes. Prakash Sinha will remain a major component of the realm of my novels. His background in a sleazy magazine, his troubled childhood, his family are some angles which I have not explored deeply in Brutal. These stories will probably surface in the subsequent instalments. In fact, a few more characters of Brutal might make a comeback.

Q. Did you try submitting to traditional publishers?

Yes. I did try submitting to traditional publishers for almost six months, without much success. A couple of them rejected my proposal, while others didn’t respond. At that point I made a decision of not waiting further and showcasing it on

Q. Any tips for writing a thriller?

Invest a lot of time in plotting and doing research. Cut, cut, cut. Remove sub-plots which might bore the readers.

Q.  What are you working on now?

I am working on a sequel to Brutal. Hope it will be better and more gripping than my debut work.

Author Bio
Uday Satpathy is an Information Technology expert in the world of Healthcare and Life Sciences. He has a degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from one of the top B-schools of the country. Brutal, his first novel, was born out of his love for thrillers with intricate plots. He is a movie connoisseur, a cricket fanatic, a quizzing enthusiast and a travel freak. As if that was not enough, he has a special place in his heart for cooking as well.

Author website:
Uday on Twitter

Bloody Good Book has generously offered to give two books (a hard copy and a ebook to two of my followers). This giveaway is open to all my followers. Let me know in the comments section which one you prefer.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Review of Brutal by Uday Satpathy

I normally don’t review books on my blog. Read my last post for the reason I don’t review books. But when a new publisher BGB (who I had not heard about) approached me to review their first book, I was intrigued by their publishing process (its unique and I will blog about it soon) and I wanted to showcase their concept and approach to publishing, to writers in India and abroad. In India as there are so few publishers, I feel that we must give new publishers a chance to show what they have to offer to writers and readers. And when I read the prologue and the first few chapters, there was no saying no. I broke a rule and reviewed a book I had enjoyed reading.
The prologue of Brutal, a thriller published by Bloody Good Book and Westland Books, hooked me from the first word. Brutal, written by Uday Satpathy is India’s first crowd-curated novel. The cover as well as the title sends a chill down one’s spine.
It must be said that Uday has been Brutal with his readers. He has written a fast paced thriller that you need to swallow in one gulp. There is no respite for the reader once they start reading. They just have to finish the entire book in one sitting.
The book starts with crime reporters covering the trial of Nitin Tomar, a school teacher who has murdered eleven of his students. While being led into the courthouse, amidst tight security, the school teacher is gunned down in broad daylight. An obscure militant outfit claims responsibility.
Two crime reporters Prakash Sinha and Seema Sharma who were assigned to cover the trial think otherwise. As these two ace journalists follow the story, they uncover an entire nest of sinister motives, with ruthless people who would do anything to achieve their goals. Their search leads them to the forests of Bandhavgarh, where a similar incident happened 8 years ago.
Prakash and Seema are hurtled from one destination to another at breakneck speed, with a deadly assassin chasing them. One by one, all their leads are killed, leaving them alone, to face their ruthless enemies. The action unfurls at a speed that gives the readers no time to take a deep breath.
The several sub-plots: a doctor on a mission to destroy humanity with a deadly drug, a powerful family who is hell-bent on bringing countries to the brink of a war with their evil agenda, a business magnate who is scared of all the skeletons tumbling out of his closet, all these plots intersperse to make the story that much more intriguing.
At no point does the author let the pace slacken. Holding the plot firmly in his hand, the author with his crisp writing, short chapters that are easy to read, ensures that the readers are constantly sitting on the edges of their seats.
I loved the characters of Prakash Sinha and Seema Sharma, two reporters who make it their mission to rid society of the evil that has infiltrated it and is threatening to destroy it. Both Prakash and Seema, with their own demons to tackle, are absolutely believable and make an immediate connection with the readers. 
Uday Satpathy is a writer I will be watching with interest. Infact, I would go as far as saying, that I won't be surprised if his book will soon be turned into a movie or the fact that Prakash will feature in more books.

P.S. Check out the Bloody Good Book website to know what crowd curating is all about.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG Post – Fear of hurting another writer

I always look forward to the first Wednesday of the month, as it’s our monthly IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post. This awesome and inspiring online group was started by Alex Cavanaugh, Author of Amazon bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars. 

In our IWSG posts, we discuss everything related to our writing: from the troublesome first draft to the million and one revisions we writers do, we also cry over the heart-breaking query process and vent out our writing frustrations, anxieties and insecurities. Let’s not forget that we also support and encourage each other. Don’t forget to check out the IWSG website for awesome writing tips.

As many writers and even publishers request me to review their books on my blog, I always feel guilty turning them down. It’s next to impossible for me to review all the books that people want me to review. For one I won’t get the time to read all of them. The second reason is, I have this big fear that I may not like the book.

So many people who approach me have self-published their books. Trust me when I say this, the quality of writing sucks. Most of these writers haven’t bothered hiring a free-lance editor. As the soft-hearted girl that I am, I hate to hurt other writers, especially when they have self-published their books. I politely decline and wish them good luck.

I’ve nothing against self-publishing. It’s the quality of writing that worries me. This is not to say that the quality of writing that comes from the bigger publishers is good. Sometimes, even the books published by the biggies suck big time.

In India, there are just a few publishers (good ones) and I feel that by being honest in my review, I will be rubbing a lot of people (read editors of the publishing houses, the marketing and sales team who have a say in which book to publish and the writers themselves) the wrong way. Honestly, I’m not here to make enemies. It happened with me once, I was honest in my review of a book, and to make matters worse, the said editor had three chapters of my manuscript. You all can guess the outcome of my three chapters.

I’ve decided that I’ll not review a book that I didn’t enjoy reading. Never mind the fact that it’s been published by a big publisher or I know the writer or the editor personally.

How do you all handle such delicate situations?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weaving stories around titles

I have mentioned several times that I started my writing career by writing short stories. And then features. It was only much later that I started writing books.

When I started writing short stories, I would sometimes get a story idea through a title, that would just drop into my head. Or maybe an image of the character. I never found it difficult to weave a story of 1200 to 1500 words around that title.

 It may come across as crazy, but I have written several stories around catchy titles. I don’t know how it used to work at that time, but whenever the title would jump into my head, so would the main character, as would the different strains of the story, like the secondary characters and the way the story line would move.

I have a similar approach whenever I write my books. No, I would never dare to write an entire book based on just a catchy title. Because for a novel, I definitely need my plot points in place, a rough outline with the beginning, middle and an ending, very clear in my mind.

But, as I can’t give up my love for titles, I use the title method to give my individual chapters nice titles. Each individual chapter must have a title. For me the title works as an inspiration on how to handle that particular scene or chapter. I know it sounds crazy but that is the way my brain works.

What about you all? Have you ever written a short story based on a title that just dropped into your head? What’s your take on chapter titles?

Friday, August 21, 2015

A few writing quotes and my take on them

Today, I will keep it short and simple. A few writing quotes and what I think about them.

Treat all your secondary characters like they think the book is about them. -Jocelyn Hughes

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.- Flannery O’Connor

Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.- Holley Gerth

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.- W Somerset Maugham

Don’t talk about it. WRITE. - Ray Bradbury

If I waited till I felt like writing I’d never write at all. - Anne Tyler

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy and that hard. - Neil Gaiman

My takes on these quotes.

If I were to treat my secondary characters like the book is about them, then my book would be around 1000 pages.

Sometimes I write the different scenes and then link them together, so you can say that only when I read, then I know what I have written.

My writing usually does scare me, especially my first drafts.

After writing for so long, I still don’t know the rules for writing.

Nowadays, I don’t talk, I just write. But talking is fun and much easier.

There are days when I don’t feel like writing, but I force myself to write. With or without the muse, the writing party goes on.

Writing is sometimes easy; the words flow in a torrential downpour, sometimes they trickle drop by drop. Either ways we just have to write.

Which is your favourite writing quote? And what’s your take on that?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Creating a Powerful Antagonist

Most of the time we writers worry about creating strong protagonists who readers will remember long after they have put the book down. Sometimes we tend to forget that to create a strong and powerful antagonist is equally vital.

The Antagonist single handedly drives the conflict. Creates tension. Is responsible for creating obstacles in our character’s life, for dumping problems and anxieties into their lives.

The protagonist and antagonist are two sides of the same coin. Without them our manuscript is incomplete. Having a strong antagonist is as important as having a strong protagonist. While working on my last WIP, I realized that I had paid a lot of attention to my protagonist, but, my antagonist came across as a cardboard cutout. No wonder the conflict in my story had become watery.

During the several rewrites I paid attention to the antagonist. I made him smarter and resourceful. I gave him a few scenes with the protagonist. Played them against each other a couple of times. As the antagonist was the head-master of the school where the protagonist studied, it was easy to have the face-off scenes. I wrote a few scenes where the both the protagonist and the antagonist had a few scenes where they kept the readers in suspense. Secrets propel a story and I used the power of secrets in my storytelling. I tried my best to keep the readers guessing till the last minute/word as to whether the protagonist or the antagonist would win the face-off.

For an antagonist to stand tall against the protagonist we must give them a number of strengths that they can use as an advantage over the protagonist. Similarly, when we give the antagonist weaknesses, it’s these traits that the protagonist can use to their advantage.

I loved Harry Potter as much as I disliked Voldemort. Both were equally powerful forces and their clashes were page turners. They were two formidable forces with an equal number of strengths and weaknesses. I wanted Potter to kill Voldemort come what may.

Is the antagonist on top of your character development? Do you believe that powerful antagonists drive the conflict better? What are the things you all are doing to create powerful antagonists? Who is your all time favourite antagonist in a book/movie? We all would love to know.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG Post – Fear of being accused of copying another writer

With a cousin’s wedding last week and entertaining guests at home, I had completely forgotten about the IWSG post for August. When I visited Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh’s blog on Monday, his reminder jolted my memory. Trust Super Alex (once again Super A proves his omniscience) to come to our help. He is simply adorable.

For those who are unaware of IWSG, I want to tell you that IWSG is an online group for writers. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. This awesome and inspiring group was started by Alex Cavanaugh – Author of Amazon bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars. In our IWSG posts, we discuss everything related to our writing: from the taxing first draft to the breezy revisions, from the heart-breaking query process to the jubiliation of finishing the 100th draft. In between venting out all our writing frustrations, anxieties and insecurities, we also support and encourage each other. Don’t forget to check out the IWSG website for awesome writing tips.

This month my insecurity is being accused of copying another writer. The reason this insecurity surfaced in my mind is, because a few years back, I had started a Middle Grade trilogy. When I narrated the concept to a writing friend, she immediately told me that the concept of souls in my story reminded her of the Horcruxes in Potter. Though this conversation took place during a FB chat, my over-excited brain immediately closed its doors to this story. I abandoned that story and moved on to other ones.

But, from last week my mind has often strayed to that story. I am quite keen to read whatever I have written and see it with new eyes. And also make sure that there are no resemblances to the horcruxes in my story in any way.

It’s not just me, but deep down every writer fears being accused of copying another writer. Infact, it’s my biggest fear. I would love it if someone compares my work to another writer in a favourable way, but when the comparision is anything but favourable it can be quite disheartening.

Is this one of your insecurities too? How do you avoid falling into this trap? Aren’t comparisions with other writers inevitable?

Friday, July 31, 2015

What kind of friends does your MC have?

Friends are an important part of our lives. I’m sure we all look forward to long conversations with our close friends. We confide in them and cry over their shoulders. They are the reason we smile even in the midst of trouble. Our friends understand us better than anyone else.

The same rule applies when we write our stories. Our main characters too need a clutch of friends. Here is my take on few types of friends we can give our protagonists:

    1.  The Sacrificing Martyr – who will sacrifice his or her comfort to help the protagonist. Just like Hermione and Ron who almost always put Harry’s interest before their own. This was visible especially in the last book when they left the comforts of Hogwarts to be with Harry.

     2. The Fair Weather Friends – who will desert the ship when troubled times loom large. The support of this kind of friends is only for the good times. These friends are selfish.

    3. The Voice of Caution – a lot like Hermione in the Potter Series. This type of friend also doubles as a guardian and conscience rolled into one, giving warning about the repercussions of certain actions the protagonist undertakes. This type of friend can put up a fight if they feel that the protagonist is acting foolish or taking unnecessary risks.

    4.  The Idiot – who provides the lighter moments and is the butt of all the jokes like Neville Longbottom  and Luna Lovegood in the Potter series. These friends are harmless and can rise to the occasion if the need arises.

     5.  The Turn Coat – who doesn’t think twice before betraying the protagonist  when it suits them to serve other interests that clash with the protagonist’s.

      6. The Fool Hardy One – this type of friend leads the protagonist into all kinds of trouble.  

      7. The Wise Ones – who have the answer to most puzzles  bugging the protagonist. These friends can be a great source of help to the protagonist.

     8.  The Dependable Ones – these friends can and  will almost always help the protagonist  and will stick with him or her  through troubled times, through thick and thin. Hermione comes to mind when I think of this kind of a friend.

    9.  The Jealous Friend – this kind of friend is fiercely competitive and sees the protagonist more as a rival than a friend. These friends are extremely prone to jealousy and may even harm in a fit of jealousy.

   10.  The Silent One – who seldom offers an opinion, but can be extremely loyal and protective of the MC.

   11.  The Defender – who gets into all kind of trouble trying to protect the hero/heroine. This type of friend picks up fights on behalf of the MC.

   12.  The Lackeys – who hang around the MC as it’s prestigious to be seen in their company. They are like leeches, they can never be depended upon for help.

What kind of friend/s have you given your protagonist?  Did you ponder over the type of friend you wanted to give the Main Character, or did it just happen as a part of the story? Do you take time to create the perfect friend for your hero/heroine? Please share. We all can learn lots from your process.