Friday, October 26, 2012

Tackling Writer Envy

After reading a few Young Adult books (Hunger Games, Divergent, and What She Left Behind) and few Middle grade books (Holes, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and 3 books of the Kane Chronicles) I have been afflicted with a strong bout of Writer Envy.

Everything in these books, from plots to characters, from writing styles to themes, had me gasping in awe. Even in my wildest dreams, I would never have been able to conceive of such plots. The ease with which some of these writers write is awe-inspiring. I am constantly amazed at the number of books/series some writers bring out, one after another. I wonder how do they do it?

Sometimes I struggle to work on the book I am writing and there are few writers who write two series, side by side. Whew! Just thinking of this gives my brain a strenous workout.

Instead of succumbing to jealousy, I strive to emulate these writers by writing more, getting more feedback from my Crit Partners and working harder at my craft. Everytime I read amazing books I go over my own books and search for ways to improve them.

Do you like me suffer from bouts of Writer Envy? Does your jaw drop at the themes few writers tackle? Do you feel a pang of envy when you see books after books written by these writers fill the shelves?

P.S. Lets all hope, that our books may give some budding writer in the very distant future a case of Writer Envy. That would really make it worthwhile.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing Bloghop

Hi, blog friends! I was tagged by my blog buddy Alexia Chamberlynn to participate in the 20th week of The Next Big Thing Bloghop. It's fun because you get to talk about one of your WIPs, and I've chosen one of the books I am currently revising.

What is the working title of your book?
The working title is Rahul and the Magic Spirit.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea like most of my ideas just popped into my mind. I don’t really remember how exactly I stumbled upon this idea.

What genre does your book fall under?
I feel it falls under Juvenile Paranormal Fiction (if such a category exists) with lots of comedy elements in it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
If Darsheel Safary (of the Taare Zameen Par fame) was a little younger I would have chosen him. Can’t think of anyone else now.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I am still working on that. In a nutshell it would be something like this. Nine-year old Rahul Sharma, battling exam fears and a fear of bullies, finds it difficult to control his temper, especially after he is granted an ability to do magic by a Magic Spirit he frees from imprisonment; his magic becomes disastrous for his school teachers and classmates.
I know its not the best one sentence description of my book, but its all I could think of at this point.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully it will take the traditional publishing route. I will not be querying this book, but will approach Indian Publishers directly.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
First draft took me one month. After that there were a few more drafts. I am revising it now after more than 3 years. I wrote a few other books after this and literally moved on with my writing life. Then, for some strange reason I decided that in October, I will revise this book and another one which I had written alongside this.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Not sure which books I can compare it with. But I would like to say that if a child has enjoyed Roald Dahl’s books and the Wimpy Kid Diaries, they will like this book.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
This book was inspired by my nephew when he was in junior school. At that point he was prone to getting nervous before exams. He is past all that now, but the idea germinated in my mind at that time.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It will probably make them revisit their school days. I don’t want to say anything more as I am revising it now, so I really don’t know how it will all turn out.

I am tagging three blog buddies (they have all agreed to be tagged). They are Mark Noce, Ellie Garrat and Robyn Campbell. You can check Alexia’s post here.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and I also hope you all have a great weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Do you pay attention to your sentences?

For the past few months, I have been studying the way other writers use sentences in their stories. Using sentences in a perfect way is an art form which some writers have mastered and others (like me) need to concentrate and work hard on.

Great sentences have a zing to them. I have noticed that long sentences tend to drag and the pace slackens. Long sentences are good for inner dialogues. Well, we need lots of words to describe our inner tension. So the opportunity to use long sentences is grabbed by writers at that point.

But for descriptions, short sentences can be more effective. They hurry the description along.

She sashayed into the room. Like a Diva. Tall. Slim. Fair. Beautiful. Hair that rippled like water. Skin like satin.  

Shorter sentences also add tension. The abruptness of single word sentences can be quite impactful. Shorter sentences give a feeling of pace. They literally speed the story to the finish line.

I ran. The men sprinted behind me. Gaining speed. Closing the distance between us. Their hot breath fanned my neck.

Even for dialogues short sentences are more effective. It’s crisp and crunchy, much like potato chips.

“Listen to me. Go away. I want to be alone,” she said. “With my thoughts…”

I have noticed that great writing has a generous mix of long sentences interspersed with shorter ones. This keeps the fluidity of the pace. Paragraphs of long sentences can turn off readers. But when short sentences are mixed in, the attention doesn’t waver.

I have a confession to make. I am the wrong person to give any advice on sentences. At one time I wrote sentences that were so long that you could wrap your index finger around it two times over. My editor’s suggestion was “ keep the sentences shorter, please.” I am still working on that aspect of my writing. Hopefully, I am getting better. I am sure my two crit partners will be able to make out the change.

Do you notice the sentence structures while you read books or do your eyes just soak in the story without paying attention to the way a writer has created her sentences? When it comes to writing your own stories, do you ponder over the sentences? Or are sentences just a way to get the words across?  What’s your sentence style? Please share. If any of you want to share examples, it will be a great way for us to learn.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Books are the best teachers

 I have got back both my writing and reading groove. Big time. This week I read two YA books: Divergent by Veronica Roth and What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen. Both were wonderful, well written, with great characters and plots that kept me completely hooked to the pages of the books.

Both the books taught me several things:

     1.  Both start with the problem. There is no long-winded first chapter getting to know the MC. We are plunged into the conflict right in the beginning. In Divergent it’s the Choosing Ceremony for the MC Beatrice ( Tris). In What She Left Behind, Sara (the main character) and her mother, plan to leave their house due to Sara’s  abusive father.

         2. Both the books, especially What She Left Behind have small snippets of back story told in a unique way. Sara sees something, it triggers another memory and she is transported back to her childhood. There is just a paragraph or two. That’s all. The backstory is told in such a way that at no point did I feel that it was an info dump.

         3. Both the books have loads of surprises. It’s like the two authors decided the surprises and sprinkled them throughout the book. I took three days to finish the two books. You can just imagine how much writing I must have done in those three days.

         4. The supporting characters in both the books come across as warm and likeable people. Though there are a certain number of people in the two books who are detestable, it’s a deliberate effort on the part of the authors. I liked Christina and Uriah a lot other than Tris and Four (the two MC’s of Divergent). In What She Left Behind, I liked Alex and Matt, both support Sara like two loyal friends.

         5. Sara's voice grabbed me from the first page. I just fell in love with it. Even Tris was super, I  loved her voice too.

My personal take was that both these writers are effortless story tellers ( I am sure they must have struggled like the rest of us in the course of telling these stories) who know how to hook their readers. Have you read both or either of these books? If yes, what did you feel about them? Which book has made you drool over the writing, story, character and world building in the recent past?