Friday, January 31, 2014

I need some help

If you all remember I had spoken about how Gary’s dog Penny inspired me by planting a story idea in my mind. I have started working on that story and have written several chapters. I have managed to nail down the pampered cat’s voice (hopefully, I have got it right). The cat’s parts were not too difficult to write. I have named the cat Brunella.

Now I need to start working on the chapters which feature the dogs. This is where the difficult part starts. I am petrified of dogs. If I see a dog, even a tiny pup, I start running like an Olympic medallist. To counter my lack of knowledge about dogs, I am studying dogs from the safety of my car. As my book is about street dogs, every time I see the street dogs my nose is pressed to the car window. I am studying their body language, how they interact with each other, how they bark etc.

I had planned the book title as ‘It’s a dog’s life.’ Then I thought of ‘Doggy Days’. Which do you all think is better? Or perhaps you have a better title in mind.

Now, I need a favour from you all. Do you all have any tips for me regarding a dog’s behaviour, mannerisms, etc? Any books I can use as reference? Any dog names that you can suggest? Remember, these are all street dogs. So they will be rough and tough, both in looks and behaviour. Any help is welcome.

Pictures Courtesy- Birgitte Necessary. Both the pictures are of her pets.

P.S. I didn't want to put any street dog's picture and scare you all.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Where do you get your story ideas from?

Some writers are lucky, they get their story ideas in dreams, when their sub-conscious mind is hard at work. The next morning the idea remains in their mind and they start developing it. Stephenie Meyers got the idea for twilight in a dream. One of my crit partners Kim Koning too gets quite a few ideas in her dreams. For J.K.Rowling, the idea for the Potter series fell into her head fully formed during a train journey.

Jorge Amado, the famous South American writer regarded himself as a ‘professional dreamer.’ He often said that the greater part of his work was conceived in dreams and he wrote down the images and visions he remembered on waking up. These images were incorporated in his books. “All I am,” Amado said, “is a hard working recorder of dreams. If I didn’t have dreams, I wouldn’t know what to write about.”

One of the most famous writers to draw inspiration from his dreams was Gustave Flaubert. He normally slept five hours a night, but he said, “the sixth hour of my sleep is given over to dreaming.” He would reach for his notebook on waking up and record his dreams, referring to his notes when he wrote his novels and stories.

Though I see a lot of dreams, so far I have never been inspired by a dream. My dreams are just that; dreams. No writing happens due to the dreams. My story ideas come to me from random sources. Sometimes, it’s a title that has been playing around in my mind. The title then inspires a story. At other times it could be a picture I have seen somewhere. Yes, pictures in magazines, newspapers and even blogs inspire me by planting story ideas in my mind.

More often than not, a character jumps into my mind and he or she urges me to write their story. A couple of my books have come out of short stories.

Where do you all get inspiration for your stories? Who or what inspires you? Do dreams spark the seed for an idea? We all would love to know all about it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I read last month

There was a time I could finish a book in just a few hours, maximum in a day. Not so anymore. With all that I am doing: teaching in college, writing for the newspapers, blogging and working on my books, reading not just suffers but also takes a back seat. I forgot to mention that quite a bit of my reading time is taken up by Candy Crush. I am reducing the game time, but still my reading is slow.

Last month I could just manage to read three books:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardener

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross.

I loved the three books. Wimpy kid had me rolling with laughter. In every Wimpy kid book Jeff Kinney has new things to introduce to the readers.

When I started Maggot Moon, I took time to adjust to the narrative voice which was very unique. I fell in love with the writing only half-way through the book.

Belle Epoque was such a lovely book that I have recommended it to my students. The book talks of the high society of Paris and its emphasis on external beauty and opulent decadence. I fell in love with both the story and its heroine Maude Pichon.

This month I will be bogged down with loads of assignments to correct. So, my reading for this month will be limited to just three books from my huge TBR pile. I have already selected the three books.

Everyday by David Levithan

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

Is your reading going for a toss like my reading is going? Which books have you all read recently or plan to read? I would love to know.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Writing goals for 2014

I hate making resolutions. Because any resolution I make on January 1st gets broken by the start of the second week. This year I have decided to do a few things. Let’s call them my writing goals.

This year I want to write more than one book. I have already started the book that was inspired by Penny on Gary’s (Klahanie's blog.) So far the plot and the characters have been jumping around inside my head. I am done with the first chapter. The entire story is quite clear in my mind. The characters' personalities are taking shape in my mind. Its ages since I have been so excited about any story.

I also want to try other options if the traditional route is not happening for a particular book. Its time I moved away from that book. It’s caused me enough emotional distress.

I want to read as many books as I can, across genres and age groups. I have started reading from the Christmas holidays and getting engrossed in another writer’s words is exciting and soothing. Reading always relaxes me and motivates me.

I also want to write a little every day, so that by the end of the month I have made some progress with my story. Sometimes, when life interrupts I am unable to write, but I plan to change that and write come what may.

What are your writing goals or goals related to your writing career? Please share you goals with us as I am sure it will inspire all of us.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG Post – Plotters versus Pansters woes

It’s my first year IWSG anniversary. Last year flew past by the speed of lightning. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) is an online group started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh. We share our insecurities, fears and doubts and help, support and encourage each other.

 IWSG members post on the first Wednesday of every month. Due to the first day of the new year falling on the first Wednesday this month, the IWSG date was postponed to the second wednesday. Check out the IWSG website, its full of useful information for writers.

One of my biggest writing worries is that I am enjoying being a panster more than being a plotter. Earlier I was a plotter: plotting every scene. From the past three months I love the freedom that a panster enjoys. Though I still have a loose plot (beginning, middle and end) in mind when I start writing, it’s the freedom of writing each scene spontaneously that has unleashed my creativity in a big way.

This has me worried as I always feel plotters write better stories than pansters as they have every little move plotted down in minutest detail. Again, it’s a personal belief that a panster’s story may end up with some loopholes or manholes which readers may find a fault with.

Last year when I plotted my trilogy in detail, I realized that it was kind of holding my creativity back. I was unable to write for many days. Frustrated with this logjam, I put away the trilogy and rewrote an entire book in less than a month courtesy my panster method. The ideas tumbled out of my head like a river the moment I decided I would not stick rigidly to the plotting method. I am writing another book using the panster method.

Does anyone else have the same problem like me: half plotter and half panster? If yes please share how you all manage to curb your panster traits.

P.S. Hope you all had a relaxed holiday with your loved ones. Its nice to see you all again.