#writersblock #writingprompts

Hi! Some of us writers some of the time feel as though a barrier is holding us back. We have the will to write but need something to write toward. Let’s get going by using some of the writing prompts. They may not lead to actual stories but you can get words swirling in your mind which may, who knows, lead to a wonderful story.

Here are a few prompts depending on the type of the story mood you want to get into:

Mystery/thriller: Write 500 words involving a missing car, a blue scarf and a gun discovered in some unforeseen place. 

Romance: Two strangers meet on a train which gets stalled for some reason. Write 300 words on what brings them closer to being romantic.

Horror: 300 words. A boat tied at a deserted pier. A person taking a walk in the moonless night.

Fantasy: In 500 words, describe a creature which is a cross between machine and human and what mission they have.

So, whatever genre you like, just pick the prompt amd get going. You can write at your blog and leave the link in the comments. You can also suggest more prompts in the comments.

Happy writing!

How to begin your book? Three ways to get started on your novel

How to begin your book?

It’s a question to which every author seeks an answer every time he or she begins a new work. I believe very firmly that every book needs a different approach. But how to approach the beginning so that your novel can get going with ease and it’s not just that you write better but your readers also enjoy reading it.


There is no foolproof way, but the following tips will help you get your story into gear. Basically you can start your story in three different ways. It depends on you and your style of writing which way you pick to write the beginning of your novel. So do you,

Plan beforehand:

In your mind, you have already charted the beginning, middle and the end of the book. You have a clear idea what you want to convey to the readers and hence you start with where you want the story to take off. This usually involves a peek into the character and a look at the character’s life or what is called as story world. Then you work up to the inciting incident.

You can begin straightaway with action but that’s more difficult to carry off because the reader needs to have a clear idea where or how the action started.

If you are a plotter this would be your favored method to write. Or you could,

Write as you go:

You have no idea what your story consists of. You don’t know the end. You have a brilliant story idea and you can’t wait to put down the words.

In this case, you had better put down everything that comes to your mind. This type of free flow writing or pantsing will require rewrites and probably re-rewrites before you get your story done. So, in any case you will be rewriting your beginning. Yes, you can absolutely do that after you finish the book. In fact, many authors prefer to write the beginning afterwards. It can be crystal clear where it is just a muddy pool of ideas when you began the story.

If you want to write free flow, to avoid wasting time, it’s better to know three things:

The heart of your story – what is your story about. Why should anyone give a damn about what you are writing.

Your character’s journey – What is the endpoint your character is striving for? It can be a physical, emotional or spiritual goal, but it is sensible to at least have some idea of it.

Your story genre – How you are going to tie up the ends may depend on what genre you are writing. In romance, for example, it’s customary to have a happy-ever-after. In horror, things almost always end up worse. In inspirational stories, the protagonist learns a lesson, though he or she may not get what they wanted at the beginning of the story.

Or you can be the one who follows,

Middle path:

If you have a rough idea of how story is going to progress, you can probably choose right away how to begin the story with maximum impact. I prefer to strongly visualize the beginning – often the beginning is so strong for me that the rest of the story has to be stirred to gel with it. I might even change the character’s profession or the location of the story to fit in with the beginning. It might be different or the same for you. But if you fix the beginning right away, you won’t have to come back and face the change again.

Be careful that your beginning straightaway fixes the reader in the location and time of your story e.g. is it medieval India or Planet X-8i4 in 2095 or present day NYC? The reader should be grounded in the setting. At the same time, exposition about what your character has been through in their life or what they did all afternoon is to be avoided. As soon as you can, bring the focus on the moment of action i.e. what is happening that is of importance? What is propelling your story to take off in the direction you have envisioned?

It’s hard to list all the finer points needed to make the beginning shine, but hope this gives you a better idea of how you want to go about writing down the first few hundred words of your novel. Do leave a comment how you liked this post and anything else you want to share or ask about book beginnings.

 

How to write a romance novel for Camp Nanowrimo

Piyusha Vir wrote this lovely post about her difficulties in attempting Camp Nanowrimo. For the uninitiated, Camp Nanowrimo is  a virtual writers’ camp where you can set a target and push yourself to achieve it. Piyusha wants to write 10,000 words, but wants to know how to pen a romance novel during Camp Nanowrimo. You can read her list of queries here:
https://wanderingsoul2015blog.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/how-do-i-write-a-novel/

Piyusha, thanks for tagging me to answer your queries. Since your questions were too numerous to be answered in a simple comment box, here’s my response in the form of a blog post:

Don’t chain together incidents without theme.

A novel is not a running commentary of various incidents. The point of a story is not that protagonist has to get from point A to point B. Well, it can be a useful instrument to form the setting of your story. Eg the hero and the heroine are both going to visit La Tomatina festival and for various reasons have to travel together. In a romance novel, it can serve to bring the characters in enforced propinquity, but beyond that, you cannot use this premise. Neither can you just have your character move from an event like attending a concert to another of attending a wedding. You can have these, but only if these situations serve a  purpose in your story and move it forward. Eg did she see the hero’s ex at the concert and begin to feel insecure? Did he attend the wedding and learn from a relative that she’d had a terrible year because her parents died in an accident?
As your story progresses, the theme tying all the incidents should become clear. What is your story about? In the above example, you could make your theme about redemption. Did the heroine break law when she was angry about losing her parents? Has she since then carved a new and better life for herself?

No lengthy description of the mundane 
Your second query is: do I describe every (boring) detail in the story?
Answer: You don’t have to describe everything. In fact, you should stay away from making that mistake.
A novel has limited number of pages and readers have limited attention span. If you describe every mundane thing, it will waste story pages and annoy your reader. We know how people get ready. You don’t need to describe every act your protagonist goes through to reach the place of action. So, if she’s meeting the hero, it would be sufficient to mention she reached there. Did she take the trouble to do her hair? Was he straightening his tie as she walked towards him? That is useful because it conveys the state of the mind of the character. Otherwise, skip the mundane descriptions.

Don’t add details irrelevant to the story

You shouldn’t mention anything that doesn’t add to the story.
A bird chirping in the distance. Now, that is a natural thing to notice, but in your story you have to add detail only when it brings out emotions and reactions of your characters. Eg your hero is about to stand for elections and receives the  shocking news about the heroine’s unsavory past. Picture him focusing on periphery rather than his own pain and conflicted emotions. Does he hear the chirping of the bird because his own world has come to a standstill? Now the little detail serves to add impact to your story.

Confusing character and characterization:

The query was, “My character can’t go from being carefree and confident in the first part of the story to someone who is always anxious and needs re-assurance in the second part.”
Answer: You don’t change who your character is at the core. The story follows the arc of the character’s journey. The GMC should be clearly delineated. The character in your story has a goal, motivation, conflict. By the end, they may change their goal and hence motivation and resolve the conflict. In a romance, that’s how they find a HEA. In the above example, the hero might find he doesn’t really want to contest elections if he has to give up the heroine. Thus, the motivation to act in the way he has been acting, is now gone.

hcd-cover.jpg.jpg         aar-cover.jpg.jpeg        mtjd-cover.jpeg.jpeg

Romances have a common storyline. Or do they?
Romances have been done before. That doesn’t mean a new story has no freshness about it. When you write a romance, you have to focus on what’s special about your story. What is standing in the way of your protagonists and how they will overcome the issues between them? What twists or self revelations will landmark your characters’ way to finding their HEA? A happy ending is a must for a romance and it’s the author’s job to make it convincing, despite all the odds that have been presented in the book.
Btw the above plot is a budding idea of a new book. Hope you found the example helpful.
Keep writing and good luck for Camp Nanowrimo!