Review versus rating

If you are a writer who has published, you must have had your brush with the reviews and ratings for your book. We all love a five star, don’t we? But it strikes me as I course over the reviews of my book that sometimes even a low rating is okay if the reviewer has appreciated your book and directed the right type of readers or readers who are likely to have a taste for that type of fiction to your book.

So I’d like to ask all authors out there – which is more important to you? A good review or a better rating? Would you be happier if you had a higher rating but the reader left some criticism that you couldn’t digest or a low rating like the situation I described above?

Review versus rating…let’s hear your take on it!

Guest post On Words and Sentences blog: Summerita Rhayne on the dos and don’ts of writing romance fiction

Nikita Jhanglani invited me to share my thoughts about the dos and don’t of writing romance fiction. Here’s my post on her blog Of Words and Sentences – Nikita Jhanglani.

Here’s an extract:

Nikita Jhanglani:
According to you what are the dos and don’ts of writing a romance novel that every aspiring author should stick to.

Summerita Rhayne:
Hi Nikita. Thank you for having me on your blog and giving me the opportunity to share my views here.

The absolute dos that a romance novel needs are these:

Two main characters. My books are M/F romances so they involve a male and female but that is up to the author.
A happy ever after. That is a must. In all romances, things must be resolved and the couple must confess their love and the desire to be with each other forever. Nowadays, a happy-for-now is replacing the HEA in some lines but speaking of personal preference, I go for the mushy endings, both in reading and writing romances. The happy-for-now mostly works if the story is in series form.
Emphasis on emotional conflict. Romance novels are character driven and not plot driven. There’s nothing more off-putting in a romance than characters jumping from one event to another without rhyme and reason. What I find gripping in a romance is the emotional ups and downs. The core question in any fiction is how a character chooses a particular path instead of another when the personal stakes are high but it’s asked most eloquently in romances.

The don’ts are all relative in my point of view. You need them according to the publisher you are working on. Some publishers require Alpha males who are filthy rich so that the fantasy element is fulfilled. Some will require you make the heroine beautiful so the attraction-at-first-sight trope is fulfilled. The list is endless.

Here are the don’t s which I follow:

Use secondary characters sparingly. In romance novels, secondary characters are distracting. Especially if you’re writing a novella upto say 50k words, you just don’t have space to do justice to your main characters let alone complicating it with others. However, secondary characters add fun to the story and provide support to your main cast…Read the rest here

Thanks to Nikita again for hosting me.

Do share your views on the post, folks!

Guest post by Sundari Venkatraman – Tips on being a self-publisher and being successful 

Today I have author Sundari Venkatraman on my blog. She has recently released her new book ‘The Runaway Bridegroom’ on Amazon which is her third self published book. Please welcome her for her chat about how to be a self published author and be successful in this tough market.

Take it away, Sundari! 🙂

…..

Thank you Summerita Rhayne for asking me about my favourite subject!

As I have mentioned during many interviews, I had tried to get my books into traditional publishing for 13 years. Later, I managed to publish one book through Indireads. But even before Double Jeopardy, I had four and a half books to my name and had published all of them as weekly series on my blog. Luckily for me, Indireads refused to publish these books for whatever reason. When Rubina Ramesh suggested self-publishing them on Amazon, I jumped at the chance. Exploring the option with help of Rasana Atreya’s blog on self-publishing, I found that it’s a very simple process where I needed to invest in a cover and editing only. After that, all I had to do was upload the book and market it.

 

On being successful, I think it was nothing short of a divine plan. I am a fan of social media and have always been active on my blog (Flaming Sun has 5,91,008 hits as I am writing this); facebook, twitter and google+. Having worked for a couple of websites under the Network 18 umbrella, what I realise is that the only way to promote yourself via social media is to promote others.

 

  • Visit blogs and post “relevant” comments (believe me, people know when you post something inane without reading the article)
  • Share others’ posts when you find them relevant or interesting (just ‘like’ing is not enough; that does not help spread the word)
  • “Shout” about other authors’ works (you can be truthful and talk about those that you genuinely found interesting but take that extra few seconds to actually spread the word). When your twitter account is connected to facebook, the post automatically gets tweeted.
  • Create an author page on Amazon and encourage your friends to ‘like’ the page
  • Add all book reviews that you have written to Amazon page. The reviewer ranking works to an extent. I prefer to add on Amazon sites of all countries as the reviewer ranking varies with each one.
  • Most importantly, get yourself a blog tour. I get mine done through The Book Club and believe me when I say that sales soar after the tour. It’s a great help as many bloggers get together to review, spotlight and interview the author. Then there are those guest posts that are gaining popularity. People are keen to know what makes the author tick and a one-question plan works better for blog readers than a lengthy interview.

And the rest, as they say, is history J

…..

Thanks for sharing your views and experiences, Sundari. It’s lovely to know about your positive and encouraging attitude and I’m with you on this that authors helping authors can multiply visibility for all involved.

This post is a part of the tour for Sundari’s book, ‘The Runaway Bridegroom’

 

 

 

 
THE RUNAWAY BRIDEGROOM
by
Sundari Venkatraman
 
 

Blurb

 
Chanda Maheshwari’s family is shaken when her thirteen-year-old bridegroom Veerendra runs away immediately after the wedding. The eight-year-old child doesn’t even understand the impact on her life. Unable to face their neighbours and friends, the Maheshwaris move from their village to Jaipur and begin a new life in the city.
 
Fourteen years later, Chanda is studying in a Delhi College. She takes up a temporary job at RS Software Pvt. Ltd. and falls head-over-heels for the boss of the operation. But what about  Ranveer Singh? Is he interested in her?
 
Ranveer’s secretary Shikha is desperate to make him fall for her. All she wants is life-long security with a rich man. But it’s nerd Abhimanyu who keeps getting in the way. Abhi is Ranveer’s second-in-command and Shikha isn’t keen on him as she’s eyeing the main chance. 
 
When Ranveer appears to show interest in Chanda, she’s faced with a new problem. Astrologer Vidyasagar insists that she would get back with her husband Veerendra. Does anyone want to know what she wants? 
 
Chanda feels torn between the man she has fallen for and the family values that have been instilled in her. Will she ever find happiness? 
 
Buy @
 




Meet the Author
 
 
Sundari Venkatraman has authored four ebooks so far, The Runaway Bridegroom being the latest. Three of her books, namely, The Malhotra Bride; Meghna and The Runaway Bridegroom have all been self-published on Amazon under the banner of Flaming Sun. All three books are regularly seen on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ Contemporary Romances list. 
 
A great fan of Mills & Boon romances over the past four decades, Sundari has always believed in ‘Happily Ever Afters’ and all her books promise happy endings. 
 
The Runaway Bridegroom talks about ‘Child Marriage’, an evil perpetrated even in the 21st century in a country like India. While a large number of the country’s population live in the cities and lead modern lives, there are many who follow old customs unaware of the negative impact on the lives of the younger generation. 
 
The book is a work of fiction and of course does not preach. The author has but made an attempt to bring this ancient custom to the eyes of the modern public around the world while bringing a simple solution to the protagonists, the victims of child marriage. 
 
“I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I loved writing it,” says Sundari Venkatraman. 
 
You can stalk her @
         
Check out the Blog Tour Schedule Here 
Hosted by




This Tour is Hosted by 

 Blog hosted by Summerita Rhayne, author of sensual romance, Against All Rules

Guest post by Author Aditi Chopra – Plot vs Characters #writingtips

Today I have author Aditi Chopra on my blog, talking about the importance of plot versus characters in writing. Please welcome her.

Take it away, Aditi!

……

As a writer, do you develop plot first or your characters? For some authors, plot is very important whereas others spend a lot of time on character development. I am fairly new in fiction writing profession, but if I look back at my stories so far, I have invariably always spent my initial time on character development. For each of my stories, I always honed in on the main character – her profession, her needs, desires and personality traits. I asked myself why a reader would find this person interesting. I then went on to develop the appropriate plot.

I believe that as readers, we always invest in people (characters). There are some characters that we completely identify with and there are some characters that we can’t connect with. But invariably what intrigues a reader is the character. If the readers like a character, they will invest time in reading the story.

This doesn’t mean that the plot is not important, it most certainly is. As writers, we definitely need to spend appropriate research and time in plotting. But if you were to ask my preference, I do spend more time or my initial time in character development. If I can bring out my character’s personality in my plot, I am happy with my story.

……

Thank you, Aditi! I agree with you one hundred per cent. Relatable characters or at least characters whose motivation you can understand, are the life and breath of a story. Wish you all the best in your writing! 🙂

About the Author

Aditi Chopra writes NRI (Non-Resident Indian) fiction and non-fiction books. Her fiction stories are rooted in Indian tradition and yet very modern. You can find her at www.aditichopra.com

Tips on #MarketingYourBook – A Guest Post by Adiana Ray

Today Adiana Ray, author of Rapid Fall, is on my blog with some advice about how to market your book.

Take it away, Adiana!

Not really sure if I am the right person to comment on this as I am still taking baby steps myself. I do believe that marketing is a very, very key element in the success of your book what I find frustrating is the lack of empirical evidence showing which tool really works. There are all these self styled pundits on the internet who promise to show you ‘nirvana’ on Amazon but they are singularly lacking in actually linking back increased sales to any step that has been taken besides saying you need to drum up interest on the internet. It is extremely difficult to actually deconstruct the eyeballs/ footfalls or even actual wallets to come up with who is buying your book and why? Without any idea of the dynamics of the target market, resultant strategies are conjecture at best.

Having ranted, there are a few points I would put forward:

Firstly, treat your book as a product; do not get personal about it. Go about selling it as you would say a hotel or restaurant service after all at the end of the day what you are selling is entertainment.

Secondly mixed media seems to be the way to go in promoting your book. You have to get attention and divert it to your product. I think Amish has shown us how successful that can be.

Keep it simple. Don’t get carried away by your own eloquence on the flip side do not talk down to your would be readers either. If your message/ promo/ snippet is too long or too complex there are going to tune off. You are just a click away from oblivion.

Finally, you are going to be bombarded with ways to promote your book on the internet. Don’t waste your time and resources by running after too many. Zero in on your possible mix and be consistent in staying with these tools/avenues/ elements on a regular basis for at least a few months to see if they work. If they don’t, tweak it a bit and move on.

 

Thank you, Adiana. I agree everyone has their own preference for social media and if it’s not working, one should concentrate on what one enjoys doing rather than forcing things.

Great having you here Adiana.

Hope you found Adiana’s advice useful too. Have any marketing tips of your own to share? 🙂

This post is a part of blog tour hosted by The Book Club

 

Rapid Fall

 

by Adiana Ray
 

 

The Blurb
  Sonia and JD’s tempestuous attraction is as stormy as the rapids at Rishikesh. Not even a dip in icy waters can douse the sparks that fly when they are around each other.

JD’s recent divorce, however, has left him commitment phobic and bitter, and he doesn’t seem to want more than a physical relationship. At heart, Sonia is conservative; can she bring herself to accept a modern ‘live-in’ relationship, or will she push him away with her demands for a commitment?
 
Buy @
 
Watch It 

 

Meet the Author

 

The Author’s Thoughts

 

‘Sixteen and counting’ are the number of cities that I have lived in so far. I like to think of myself as a ‘Metronaut’. The myriad city cultures, the food, the hustle and bustle, the people are all elements of life that I thrive on and if you can have an ‘Astronaut’ why not a ‘Metronaut’ after all there are so many more of us out there?I believe in the Zen tenet that every situation has a 1000 truths. It helps me write and it definitely helps when I am dealing with my two children. I like reading, I like cooking, I like travelling and I love sitting like a mindless zombie in front of the TV and if anybody says anything to that….Aha! a 1000 truths come in very handy.I also write under a pen name M.X Steele. Why? My daughter thought Adiana Ray was too boring a name.

I do hope you enjoy reading all my work because I believe passionately that though we writers love pontificating and are totally in love with whatever we write; at the end of it all it is the readers that matter and above all what we write has to be ‘entertaining’.

 
You can stalk her @
                  
Check out The Book Club Tour Schedule 

 

This Tour is Hosted by 

 

This post was hosted by Summerita Rhayne, author of Against All Rules.

Revise or die

(picture from Flickr Creative Commons by marsmettn tallahassee)

10069702514_c12d6823cb_z

 

Does anyone love to revise? Please step forward and take a bow. I have this love-hate relationship with revisions. Afterwards, I love them but in the present tense, revisions are messy, tortuous and just plain headachy. Can you guess I’ve just tackled mine?  After the torture, you do get the shiny golden  fruit of your efforts. But!

You have to go over the story sometimes from backwards to forwards. In case you change one thing e.g. what the heroine is wearing in a particular scene, you have to go change it in every place subsequently which mentions that dress. If your heroine wore glasses and later for some reason you give her 20/20 vision, you’d have to fix every place she was nervous and attempted to slide them back on her nose as a habitual gesture. God forbid if there’s an incident where she can’t see properly and for instance mistakes a person e.g. the hero for someone else, you’d have to delete that particular scene . If heavens are unrelenting and you put that a meeting point for H/h then you might have to…hold your breath…rebuild your whole first draft. Ewww!

Of course there’s a good side to revisions too. They give you a chance to go over the weak points of your story, tighten the wandering dialogue into meaningful (or hopefully meaningful) and the opportunity to go down some new by lanes which might – who knows – give you some unexpected spice for your story. Happens! Then you’re glad you took the courage in both hands and tackled this Minotaur.

The method I find useful in doing revisions is:

FIRST thing to make a list of what needed to be changed.

SECOND to cut and paste each point on that list to the appropriate place in the ms.

THIRD to take a good read of the ms and decide what cannot be changed during revising. Yes, had a tough time with this.  But had to, otherwise I found I was changing too much and losing track. Also during the reading I found it useful to mark any new points I thought should be redone.

THEN you can go about and expand on the points as you see fit. Do go back and reread the whole again and again to make sure everything flows well. Or have a beta reader do that for you. Rereading is again wearing on the nerves. I can tell you a point came when I was developing a rash everytime I opened the file! However, part of being a writer is developing a tough hide. So that comes in handy when you have to do such things. Manfully I did go over it and plan to at least twice more before I publish.

FINALLY, what I’d emphasize is do not delete previous work. If you find your characters going off in a new direction,  humour them a bit, usually you get something worth saving from all the flights of fancy.

Next review and tighten.

Repeat n number of times.

Keep coffee handy at all times.

So there! You might survive.

Do hope you don’t have as messy a method as mine. I recently shifted part of the scene for Tahir and Samara’s story to add pace to the next part and lighten the previous scene. That is I broke up the conversation into two bits. And the surprise was on me because this little stanza cropped up out of nowhere to provide continuity to the original scene.

His gaze fell on her…he was looking at her…Checking her out? She wasn’t sure because Tahir didn’t do it. He was so strictly professional that she usually had trouble keeping up. She’d felt guilty often when her attention changed from a PA to that of a woman. Which was why she had gone the other extreme…tried to conceal every wish to look more feminine…more enticing to him. Pride had made her wrap those wishes, the feminine wiles and impulses and put them away. She had tried to be every bit computer efficient to his work driven attitude.

Now his gaze ran down her legs and dropped to her feet stretched out in front of her. Could feet blush? Hers would in a second!

‘You have very trim ankles,’ he said. Enclosed in black straps circling them, they lay crossed and now tense and vulnerably exposed to his lingering gaze. ‘So slender and delicate.’ He said.

Was he finding her ankles sexy? She didn’t know she should be pleased or annoyed that he was fixating on her ankles!

Saucy but sweet! What do you think? 😉

 

Have you tackled revisions? And if yes, how did you go about it? Did you like doing them or hated them at first but liked them in the end? (Me!). Or was it all uphill for you?

I would love to know, so do share!

Five pointers for your perfect chapter #writetips

Hi people! Here’s a guest post I did for writer friend Maya Tyler about how I judge what is a perfect chapter. The excerpts are from my wip Tahir and Samara’s story. I’ve put them in bold.

Guest Post from author Summerita Rhayne

Guest week concludes with a post from the talented Summerita Rhayne with some writing pointers. Enjoy! 

 

Five pointers for your perfect chapter #writetips

 

Hi Maya, thanks for inviting me to your blog. Lovely to be here. Today I’m feeling rather pleased with myself and I’d like to share why.

Often writing is full of setbacks and frustrations. Characters veering away from the story. Dialogue dragging. Descriptions ballooning into essays…we have a phrase in India – sleeping, weeping and eating (sona rona khana) can be stretched any length and so can the descriptions. You name it, you got it. All writers know, the troubles are innumerable. And let’s not even mention the pov woes. Sometimes I have started on a character’s pov and nearly written almost a whole book. Some characters have lots of internal dialogue 😉

But then there’s the rewarding aspect of writing. When you go back and read something you have written and it’s perfect. You know when your writing says exactly what you want to say in the same tone and without the description of it taking away from the flow of the story. That moment is what you write for! This happened with me yesterday. I was reading a book and as usual comparing myself to the writer and bringing myself down. Thinking I could never get to THE point. Then I closed the book, in a woeful mood and began to reread the work in progress. I came across what is at present chapter seven. And voilà it was there. I had written a perfect chapter. One that satisfied my logic seeking mind and also was re-readable. There are parts in my ms which I like, love or hate and some which could be done better (thank God I’m editing) but this one I’m not going to retouch.

 

So how do I measure perfection?

Here are the things I look for in a perfect chapter.

 

1) Pace

This is the absolute, foremost must for me. If the story drags, reading slows down and becomes weighty to the reader. In this, dialogue is a handy tool. Smart dialogue sprinkled with what action characters are doing, adds to the pace.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter I’m currently liking too much (no knowing tomorrow it may show up some flaw 😉 I like the way the dialogue adds pace to the reading. Do you agree?

‘Samara. Inside. Now.’ Tahir paused a nanosecond near her desk on his way to his office to deliver the imperative.

There was no reason her hackles should rise, she was used to his brusque ways, wasn’t she? 
‘I’ll just finish typing this letter and come.’

‘I said this instant.’ A sharp tap of a blunt index finger on the glass top of her table punctuated the words. He didn’t wait for her response, striding off beyond his office door.

 

2) Conciseness Next thing I work on is brevity. This is a bit tricky because you need to write the necessary action without being clipped. I’d say for emotional reaction, just show small changes in facial expressions or some telling gesture relatable to the character. You want to show anger? Write terse, pithy phrases. Want to show surprise? Just have your character drop something.

Here’s another snippet in which the hero’s mood is conveyed through short pithy phrases.

‘Have you prepared the due diligence report I asked you to?’

‘It’s in my drawer.’ 

‘What’s it doing there? Laying eggs? Why don’t I have it?’
‘Because you hadn’t asked for it.’ Mutiny sparked through her, her pulse rate increasing as she waited for his reaction, sure he would come up with something sarcastic.
He didn’t disappoint. ‘So I have to ask before you’ll do your work?’ His tone was loaded with sarcasm, as soothing to sensitive nerves as a needle bed.

 

3) Description without detraction This is just a follow-on from the above point. Since we don’t want to just leave the reader scratching their head, some description is necessary. Just stay close to what is needed. If we want to feel the breeze, focus on a single object like your heroines hair whipping across her neck, rather than describe the effect on each and every thing the wind is blowing at in the scene.

Soon they were weaving out of Delhi traffic. He turned on the road to Manesar. She slid up her sun glasses, attempting to enjoy the breeze on the open road, finding her eyes straying to him as he leaned back, handling the controls with ease, looking deadly with those aviators and those spikes. Thank God he couldn’t see behind her glasses.

 

4) Show characters’ motivation and emotional state without passive telling Does your chapter focus on their behaviour in synchrony with their internalization? If your heroine is tired, does she misplace things? Put the cookie jar lid on the mixer instead?

In this portion, the beating of his pulse is the external sign of his anger.

‘Do I pay you to cross-question me?’ His brows lifted in what looked like mildly inquiring expression but she could see by the pulse that beat at his jaw that she’d angered him. This man was living breathing fire. She didn’t want to get in the way of his blast.

Or maybe she did.

‘It isn’t easy when you keep on trying to find fault in everything I do.’ She told him, meeting his glance.

 

5) Interaction between the characters propels the scene forward  A punch should mark the end. Something you need to establish or change or the charcaters react to. A chapter – not even a first one – can’t just be there to set the stage for your story. Have the characters act the change or react to the change.

A short time later they descended the lift and came out on the compound. Samara hesitated as he led the way to his silver Audi. She knew he drove it himself. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been in the car with him before but on those occasions they had been in the backseat discussing work. Driving with him seemed much more informal somehow.

‘Let’s go.’ Tahir directed.
‘But the team?’ Maybe she could travel in the company car.   
‘They’ve left. I just feel like a drive today. Why are you hesitating, Samara?’ He moved to the driver’s side, a sudden edge appearing to the apparent soft voice, ‘Not afraid to be in the car with me, are you?’ His drawl sent her hackles up, combined as it was with a mocking grin. 
‘Of course not. It just feels odd to be driven by my boss.’ she said coolly and climbed in beside him, determined not to give him anything to get hold of. 
  She drew her legs in and shut the door, her skirt riding up in the process. ‘Aren’t you wearing your skirt shorter than usual?’ She’d been about to draw it down but now she resisted the urge out of a mutinous impulse she hadn’t known she could have. It arose from the censorious tone he’d used. And the deliberately personal nature of the comment. 
‘I don’t see it’s any business of yours.’    
‘So it wasn’t for my benefit?’ he fired the car and soon they were turning out of the gates.

 

So this is my take on the necessary ingredients to whip up a pefect mousse of a chapter J

Since I don’t often feel like this about my writing, this chapter did a huge uplifting of my spirits…Read more on Maya’s blog

 

#firstdraft – Three R’s to keep in mind while you word-vomit

In this post of mine, I’ve stressed that we shouldn’t edit while writing first draft and the reasons why it’s such a bad idea. It seems simple to say never look back while writing the first draft and most of the time it’s great advice. But at times you have to go back.

Now this isn’t contradicting what i sais before. Let’s see why. When you start your novel, you have ideas sprouting left, right and centre and words pouring on the page. But what when you run out of steam and get stuck? What when the story becomes ‘hard work’? If you are too busy looking at the present scenario in your story, you often run the danger of losing the sight of the original premise with which you began. And that’s when looking back becomes necessary.

I’ve been facing this problem the whole of the last month. Every sentence seemed painfully dragged out to the page. Finally I came to the conclusion that this first draft had to be fixed now or the mess I had would only become bigger. So I went back on my own favourite saying and began to look back para by para where things went wrong.
After a lot of head banging and painful editing I found the problem was in the hero’s background. I hadn’t fully understood my character. Since character is revealed page by page and scene after scene as you write, this is the easiest mistake to make. So the further I wrote the more erroneous was the sketching but I hadn’t been listening to him. Finally I got it fixed and now after deleting thousands of words, I’m back on track. However, still happier and wiser because I’ve found a way to fix as I go along. And I call it ‘The three R’s of first draft.’

As soon as you’re done with a scene – be it of any length or number of paragraphs, think about it. Not actively ponder but just immerse in it as you attend to other mundane activities. That’s the first R – reflect.

If you’re not clear about what it’s there for or if it serves the story, go back and reread. The second R.
Then the third R – reason, if that particular scene really should end here? And if this is sufficient set up for next bit? Speed is good but this is more important. By doing this, I found that I needed more building up towards the next scene simmering in my mind. So hoisting up some patience I sat down to work at it. As you reason, you might do the fourth R – rewrite. And then, you might find that the brilliant scene you planned didn’t even belong in the story or you might find that now it packs even more punch. But either way you have worked  reason into your story and it makes more sense now.

So remember the three R’s while first drafting.
Reflect reread and reason.

Then write.

Writing first draft? Never look back!

Hello there! Some time back I started on a new writing project. I had a new story brimming in my mind. I talked to my editor and what we discussed really set the charting of the characters’ journey in my mind. I wrote out the synopsis and my editor really liked it. I named the characters and they began to ‘talk’ in my mind – which is how a new story always starts for me. Btw what is your process, if/when you write? Do share!

Anyway, I wrote the first scene and then the second. There were a few hitches because when I write, my left brain, the supposed sentinel of logic, walks off whistling blithely. So naturally there were holes. I made the fatal mistake. I went back and reread and began to edit. Uncertainties began to bee-swarm me… maybe the scene shouldn’t start with conversation? Maybe this part of internal pov should be shifted to the next section? Maybe I don’t need this scene AT ALL?

And it went downhill from there.

I wrote more. Then again the internal editor came out and began to thrash my wip. How could this scene fit here? I made changes which led to changes in the previous scene. Which led to doubt in the PREMISE. And toppled the PLOT itself.

Now it wasn’t downhill. It was rock bottom, no, it was in a pit that I had dug it. And then by going over it again and again I kept shovelling dirt till the story just became buried in my own criticism.

I couldn’t go back to the manuscript. I had the least desire to even open the folder now. The story was submerged in the millions of possibilities I had opened to it, instead of the single minded focus with which it began. The fun was gone. And when you aren’t having fun, it shows in your writing.

That is, if you can get yourself to write. I couldn’t. I put that on hold and worked on something else.

What did I get out of it? Two weeks wasted and a flat line on my enthusiasm monitor. But I did get an important lesson out of it. A lesson I knew but for the nth time forgot.

While writing don’t edit. You can’t do both.

John Steinbeck said it best,
“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.”

However *sigh* people like me can’t make use of advice till it’s passed through the filter of their own painful experience.

If you can stop yourself, do. That’s why Nanowrimo is good for first drafts. Do look back and take stock of the story, do alter your plot if it suits the characters but not while writing the first version. Make notes in colour to remind you what you wanted to edit but DON’T EDIT right now. Second draft is for left brain polishing. For the first, let it go whistling. Trashing scenes is much more fruitful when you have it all down there.

So don’t look back. Don’t attempt to fix it.

Just write.

On writing multiple projects

Sometimes writing is difficult and writers’ block is a wall of concrete that doesn’t let creativity break through. But I wonder if there’s a name for the opposite condition? What when multiple ideas fill your mind and you can’t concentrate on just one because you have to do justice to them all? This is what has been going on with me last few months, in fact since I took part in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel writing month competition. Nano was in fact good because it channeled my Muse and made me work on one project. But before and since I have had a hard time getting my mind to stick to anything. There is no dearth of ideas for a change. I get brilliant flashes of inspiration for characters and have written three chapters each for at least three different stories. The characters are all knocking in my head asking for their story to be told but somehow it’s hard to get fixed on anyone out of all three. On top of that I have the Nano novel (more appropriately Nano heap) waiting to get edited! While struggling with the ideas jostling in my head, I have gained some insight into how to write (at least partly) more than one manuscript at a time so would like to share that with you. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re doing multiple writing projects.

Fill character sheets.

Character sheets are very helpful. You can track your character their past and present and whenever you pick up your wip  x, y or z, all you have to do is glance over the sheets and the characters are back in your mind fully formed and raring to get into their story. For a brief character bio, write down three key incidents from their past at different stages of their lives.

Write only one story per day minimum.

If possible keep that for a week. Because yes, it’s true one cannot multi-write effectively. For short stretches it works. And sometimes it even pushes your creativity. But when you’re deep in a story, don’t juggle. When you’re in the idea phase or just beginning for me at least it’s ok to pingpong from one to the next. But not when things get to the dramatic turning points in the story.

Shift between writing and editing.

It actually is relaxing. Because editing is this tiring, never ending, uphill journey which yields results you can appreciate only when done. But writing is creating and much more fulfilling. So going back and forth can really charge you up. So all in all, by following the above ways I was able to work simultaneously at more than one story. Of course it sometimes took me ten seconds to think and type the character’s name because I’d get confused who actually was in the story I was penning down! Occasionally I have left dots to be filled later. Lol!

For now I’ve decided to work on one thing at a time. Multitasking is overrated. Except when you’re actually utilizing the time that otherwise you’d be wasting. Then it’s something like frying out potato fingers while waiting for cake to bake. So if you’re waiting to hear back on something do use the time to get into your next project. Or if you’re editing.

Now I have the Nano heap to tackle….and Camp Nano has started and beckons to join in. I’m resisting because I want to finish the earlier things first. As for the heap, well easy to decide what to do about that. Why not keep the toughest job for the last? All I have to do is shove it to the folder and forget it. Except that isn’t the way to get anything finished! So I’ve decided to be brave and get the editing done. And then to finish those partials!

What are you doing in your writing? Do you hate editing enough to keep procrastinating? Are you juggling with multiple projects? Did you find any tips helpful? Do get back, I’d love to hear from you!