If you are writer who’s even mildly active on social media then you might have heard about the NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. But what about Camp NaNoWriMo?
Camp NaNoWriMo is a spinoff of NaNoWriMo which you can customise as per your own needs. In their own words:
Camp NaNoWriMo is your next, great writing adventure! Every April and July, take the chance to do something new with your writing… with all the flexibility that Camp offers. You can set your own writing goal (you’re not locked into 50,000 words!), and work on any writing project, novel or not.
Camp NaNo Website
It has no restrictions of word count so you can look at it as a flexible NaNoWriMo. It is good for all writers, especially for those who are new to this format of writing because of the flexibility it offers. You can writer either 10K words of 100K – there is absolutely no word count limit (minimum or maximum.)
You can sign up for Camp Nano here and join the most awesome writing community on the planet. This would be my 8th year, and I will be working on the proof of Sinister Town for this April’s Camp Nano.
So what are you waiting for? Going Camp NaNoWriMo today and get started on your writing project. You can even join writing groups there or create one of your own.
Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021?
In this video, I have tried to capture my process of writing a short story. If you are a new writer or are curious about how writing is done, then I am sure you’ll enjoy this video. I you are a veteran writer then I am sure you will be able to relate to it a lot. In any case, I hope you enjoy watching it.
I was contacted by one of my writing buddies for contributing in an anthology, so this story is for that. I have already submitted this story (on 28th December’20) and will update here once it will get published.
For this particular anthology, I had to write on a particular theme, therefore in order to brainstorm the concept for my story I have used Prompt Writing. If you don’t know what it is then read this: Prompt-Writing.
In this video, you’ll get a glimpse into how prompt writing is helpful in coming up with story ideas. Following are the days on which I shot this video and the corresponding time in the video for each writing session:
Characterisation is one of the most important elements of any story, long or short. If you don’t get the characterisation right, chances are that your story will fall flat on its face and no writer wants that to happen! So the best way to make sure that your story stays with the reader long before they’ve turned the last page is to nail the characterisation.
And for that I am here to share the 7 types of characters that can be created in fiction writing. There are the 7 types of character that you can, after reading this post, easily identify in the books you’ll read – even in the fantasy books with complex characterisation.
This post is a followup to the 2 hour Webinar I conducted on my YouTube channel. You can watch it here:
So let’s have a look at these 7 types of characters.
7 Types Of Characters In Fiction
1. Dynamic Characters
Dynamic Characters are the characters who go through a significant transformation in the story. As a result, they end up being different at the end of the story than how they began at the start of the story. The change or transformation they undergo can be for the better or worse.
Examples of Dynamic Characters: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Nevile Longbottom in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Jamie Lannister and Samwell Tarly in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Bilbo and Frodo in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein
2. Static Characters
Static Characters are the characters who do not go through any significant transformation in the story. They remain more or less the same way at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. These are generally strong-headed characters.
Examples of Static Characters: Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Dumbeldor and Hagrid in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Danerys Targaryan and Cercie Lannister-Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
3. Round Characters
Round Characters are characters that are multi-layered, well-developed, possess multiple intricate personality traits and are insanely interesting. They have complex personalities and are mostly reader’s favourites. They help in driving a major chunk of the story forward and often are a part of sub-plots (if they are not the protagonist fo the story.)
Examples of Round Characters: Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Professor Dumbeldor and Hagrid in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Sansa Stark, Jamie Lannister, Samwell Tarly, Danerys Targaryan and Cercie Lannister-Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
4. Flat Characters
Flat Characters are characters that are single-layered possessing 2-5 basic personality traits and are not at all interesting. They appear only in limited scenes in the story and play only a very specific role beyond which their character is not explored further. Most of the times they are unimportant and uninteresting to read, but they do play a key role in a few scenes in the entire story.
Examples of Flat Characters: Crab and Goyle in Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Most characters from Meereen, Yunkai and Astapor and even the Sand Snakes in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Merry and Pippin in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
5. Stock Characters
Stock Characters represent a ‘type of people or personality’ rather than an individual. They portray a specific stereotype based on social prejudices and/or cliches. They are opposite of Symbolic Characters and are usually used to depict the negative traits.
Examples of Stock Characters: Mean stepmother, abusive husband, estranged father, con artist, billionaire bachelor, gentle giant, tough guy, nerd girl, hopeless romantic and so on. Professor McGonagall and Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Jorah Mormont, Davos Seaworth, Melisandre the Red Priestess, Olenna Tyrell in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gollum, Saruman and Sauron in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
6. Symbolic Characters
Symbolic Characters represent a theme or concept larger than them. They always have dynamic personality and qualities and stand for a class of certain type of symbolic traits rather than an individual. They are the exact opposite of Stock Characters and depict positive traits and greatness in a broader sense of the word.
Examples of Symbolic Characters: Professor Dumbeldor in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Eddard Stark, Tommen and Robert Baratheon in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin and in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
7. Foil Characters
Foil Characters are the characters that are used as a foil to highlight the qualities of the main characters. They are generally polar opposites of the main characters and authors use them to bring out the qualities of their main characters indirectly.
Examples of Foil Characters: Draco Malfoy is a foil to Harry Potter’s character in Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Sansa Stark is a foil to Arya Stark and Jamie Lannister is a foil to Brienne Of Tarth in A Song Of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Gollum is a foil to Bilbo and Frodo’s character in Lord Of The Rings series by J. R.R. Tolkein.
So these are the 7 types of characters in fiction. Did you know about them already or was it the first time you heard about some of these? I’d love to hear about what kind of characters you personally prefer while reading fiction books or writing your own stories.
Here are some other great resources on types of characters and characterisation in general:
Storyboarding is a wonderful organising technique, that I feel, is highly underrated when it comes to fiction writing. It is a great tool to plot your novels and to put it all together in a coherent plot-line.
I am an intuitive writer but working on multiple long-form fiction projects can be downright scary at times because you tend to forget where you are in a particular story and what needs to be worked and re-worked on. Things get disorganised and that totally sucks the fun out of writing, even for a Panster like me.
And this is where storyboarding comes in. I used it to plot my first book Deceived and I am using it to plot my other 3 books too. So I thought it was time that I shared a little about how I storyboard. Organising tools can be dealt in any way one finds it comfortable, but many writers feel at a loss when they are to put their story into a coherent form and give it a structure. Therefore, I highly suggest using this amazing tool to streamline your novel and make sure nothing is left out or out of order. It is also a great way to let you know what to work on next and how much work has to go into a novel before calling it finished (which a lot of writers generally struggle with.)
So, here is how to storyboard a novel:
Storyboarding A Novel In 5 Easy Steps
The first thing that you’ll need is a surface, that we’ll call as our base. It can be a cardboard sheet, drawing sheet, whiteboard or even a clean wall. Basically, you’ll need a big surface are where you can plan your novel.
Now select a fitting plot structure for your novel. We all begin our stories with at least one plot structure in mind so if you don’t want to get too technical or like doing things intuitively then stick to the basic ones. If you are a plotter and good at organising stuff, then you might already have 2-3 plot structures in mind for your story, so put them in use now. If you are not into plot structuring or don’t know about it much, then go for the basic 3-Act Plot Structure.
I generally use the 3-Act Structure, developing it into 4 and then 5-Act Structure and then adding different curves of tension and plot-points. I also tend to use the Fichtean Curve a lot in my graphs, especially for tension and pacing.
Once you’ve decided on the plot structure to begin with, draw horizontal lines leaving a gap of 5-6 inches in between them. Draw at least 5 lines so that you have enough space for all your islands.
Prepare a list of scenes that you have already written, presently working on or plan to write. For this you will have to name your scenes for quick and easy reference. For example, if in a scene, the heroine meets with an accident, then simply name it Accident. If suppose there are two or more scenes of accidents then name them Accident I, Accident II and Accident III and so on. These won’t be your final scene names, they are just for your own reference, so don’t fret over them much and waste time doing it.
Step-3: Plot Points
Make a list of all the major plot points in your story – anything of significance that defines your plot. These plot points will help you see your story in an objective way, helping you determine the key moments, the points of no return and the climax and resolution. If you feel something is missing, then better start working on your plot points now, before you go ahead.
Now is the time to take the post-its or the index cards and start putting down each and every scene on them. These would be known as islands. Simply put the heading of the scene and write 2 lines describing it on each post-it or index card. You need to do it for all your scenes and plot points.
I usually colour-code as per how finished the scenes are, for example, the pink stickies I have used here are for the finished scenes, the blue ones are for the plot points, the peach ones are for scenes that need re-writing and the yellow ones for the scenes that are yet to be written.
Step-5: Put It All Together
Now put up all the post-its or tape the index cards as per your plot-line. Go as per the sequence of the scenes and plot points and start putting all the islands on your base.
Note: Do not paste your islands on the storyboard using glue otherwise you won’t be able to move them around without messign up your board.
And that is how you storyboard your novel.
After you’re done, have a good hard look at the overall story and if you feel some scenes are missing then simply create islands for them and add them to the Base.
How do you storyboard your novel? Don’t forget to share your experience with storyboarding in the comments section below!
Analysing a book is too often confused with writing a book review. It is a very common misconception and one that needs to be busted especially if you are planning to become a writer or are one already.
A book review is an informal way of sharing one’s thoughts about any book of the reader’s choice and can, quite literally, be done in any way. There are no rules, no particular way or structure that needs to be followed, it should just be informative that’s all. Whereas a book analysis follows a structure and has to contain certain bits of information in it. It is a formal approach to studying a book and is often given as practice exercises by professors, teachers or lecturers (like myself) of creative writing to their students for some particular book or story, fiction or non-fiction. As I primarily teach fiction, the scope of this post will be limited to fiction Book Analysis.
So let’s see how it is done because a lot of writers, especially in our country where creative writing is not taught in schools or colleges, don’t know the right format for it.
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK ANALYSIS
Before we begin with how to write a Book Analysis, let’s first have a look at the structure of the book analysis so that you’ll know what notes to take while reading the book or text.
Book Analysis is made up of three parts:
It should contain the name of the book, the author, the time period in which the book was written, genre, the time and settings of the book, a brief outline of the plot (preferably in 1-2 sentences) and any other relevant information related to either the book or the author. Look at this as the opening of your Analysis, therefore try and give information regarding the book you’re going to analyse, who it is written by and what exactly is it about as if the reader of your essay has no idea about the book you’re analysing.
2. Main Body:
The main body of the analysis consist of more than one paragraph (2-3 are ideal.) This is where you will have to summarise the book and give brief descriptions of the main events.
This is followed by your analysis of the work – what you think of it and how you interpreted the book you read. Write about the story, main themes and ideas, characters and their development, writing style employed by the author, symbolisms used, the overall structure of the story or any obvious pattern or style used to write it. Also, write about the literary devices used in the book and make a note of any positive or negative traits about the plot of characters you notice.
The conclusion is where you make your main point about the book – do you agree about the book or not and why? You need to present your argument in a respectable and friendly way not showing any kind of bias. using quotes from the book is a great way to support your argument. Though make it a point that if you do not agree with the author, there are instances when it happens, to try and add a line or two showing why do you think the author thinks a certain way – remember to be respectful.
For example, if the author is being misogynistic then try to understand why he is being that way, maybe it is because of the time period in which the book was written and the general mentality of the masses.
So this is the structure of a Book Analysis, Fiction Book Analysis to be specific, though however, for most of the non-fiction stories, especially biographies, autobiographies and memoir you can follow the same structure. Though, if you are writing a critical analysis on a factual book or a research paper then you’ll have to follow a different format which is similar to this one but focuses on the facts and the author’s previous works and thesis heavily.
Here’s a handy graphic depicting how a book analysis is written:
Now le’s have a look at the steps in which you can examine a book critically and prepare your argument:
Reading the book and identifying the main theme, narrative style and literary devices used. Also, keep a keen eye out for the language and the settings used by the author.
Make use of online dictionaries, encyclopedias or articles to understand the ideas that may be foreign to you or to understand the overall mentality or thought-process of the people of certain parts of the world or time period.
Take notes of paragraphs or sentences/lines that particularly resonate with you or stand out.
Write a summary of the story (in about 300-500 words) for your own reference.
Make a special note of how the book made you feel emotionally because it is important as it will form the basis of your argument.
Take note of any illustrations or maps added in the book
Note down your thoughts as you read the book as they will help you in writing the analysis.
Re-read the book or the story again. You’ll have a better understanding of the story and a lot more clarity upon reading the book or the story a second time. You will also come across a lot of things you might have missed in the first reading. I strongly recommend a second reading.
Book analysis can, and if I am being honest then should be, practised as a necessary exercise by creative writers because it is a great way of learning the intricacies of creative writing that can only be learned through reading. Analysing a book helps creative writers to critically study a work of writing that has already been published and therefore, helps them to learn from it and absorb details that cannot be all taught by someone else and can only be picked up through reading.
What do you think about writing a book analysis as a creative writing practice? Do you do it or, like most fiction writers, you dread having to write it? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it so feel free to share your experiences and related resources int he comments below. All comments are welcome 🙂
In the last 4 months, whenever I have delivered a lecture, I am ALWAYS asked about one particular topic, each and every single time with no exception at all – What is a Beta Reader?
Beta Reading is a concept well-known in the writing community but often misunderstood and misinterpreted by the new writers. So, finally, I’m writing about one of the most exciting parts of writing a book – Beta Reading!
But before we proceed, make sure to check out my Resources For Writers page in order to learn more about fiction writing & novel writing.
WHAT ARE BETA READERS?
What is a Beta Reader?
Beta Reader is a person who reads your book and provides you with detailed feedback on your manuscript from the perspective of a reader.
When I say ‘detailed feedback,’ it does not mean a review. What it means is that the Beta Reader should tell you about what they thought of your book overall, what was good in the book, what aspect they did not like or appreciate, what they thought could be better, what felt missing and what they thought worked and what did not in its favour.
You can even create a particular questionnaire for them to help them aid in Beta Reading Report, or simply leave it to them. It is entirely up to you.
WHO CAN BE A BETA READER?
Anyone who is a voracious reader, and by that I mean a hardcore bibliophile, who reads at least 40-50 books a year and has read over 500 books in their life are perfect for Beta Reading.
Good command of the language is very important as well as a good sense of grammar and syntax is necessary when you’re looking for a good Beta Reader.
Where To Find A Beta Reader?
Beta Readers can be a little tricky to find. You’ll have to either get involved in particular circles online or will have to do a lot of research and hunting online. If you are planning to write consistently, meaning it is not a one-time stint for you, then I suggest the former way.
Join the online Beta Reading groups – you can find these on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can follow the #betareading on Instagram and Twitter and go from there. Or you can join or become a part of the websites or forums dedicated to Beta Reading. Remember, being a part of these groups means, you’ll have to volunteer to beta read for other writers as well. Many times people prefer to exchange works with each other for beta reading. That is a good way to start.
Otherwise, I’d recommend starting your own blog/website and interacting with fellow bloggers because most of the bloggers who blog about writing and reading are into Beta Reading.
How many Beta Readers do I need for 1 manuscript?
You can have as many Beta Readers for your manuscript as you can find, but make sure to have at least 5 of them.
10 is a great number but only if you can manage to find that many.
Do they charge money?
Traditionally speaking, no, Beta Readers do not charge money. They can either do it for free or ask for your feedback on something they’ve written in return for their feedback. But in recent times, things have changed drastically and the rise in the ever-growing demand for Beta Reader has given birth to Professional Beta Readers.
Professional Beta Readers are Beta Readers who deliver quality work and therefore are in high demand. Their time is money because everyone wants them, therefore, they charge money and give out their time as per the availability. While looking for Beta Readers, you can always hire 1, or maybe 2, of these professional beta readers and the rest voluntary ones.
But, be careful. Just because a person charges for money doesn’t make them professional. Make sure to check their background, read their reviews or testimonials for their service and make sure to have a sample done for free before paying anything.
And now for the second part fo the topic.
Why Do You Need Them?
The answer is simple, you need Beta Readers in order to make sure that your manuscript reads the way you intended it to. You may know the whole story in your head, hell it might have played in your mind more than a couple hundred thousand times already by the time you finish writing your manuscript, but that does not mean that you have written it all down the same way. As a writer, our closeness to our works posses the biggest problem when it comes to seeing our own mistakes. Therefore, a fresh pair of eyes could easily find out the mistakes that won’t stick out to an author even after multiple read.
Along with zeroing in on possible mistakes, potholes and problems with your plot and characterisation, Beta Readers will also let you know how ‘readable’ is your book. No that is something hard to describe but trust me, just because you’ve poured hours and hours of hardworking in a book doesn’t necessarily mean it reads good. And readability is one of the most important things when it comes to a manuscript.
And lastly, you need them because they will provide you with an important perspective of a reader for your story and will help you analyse if you need to change, develop, add or remove some aspect, scene, chapter or sub-plot in your final manuscript before you do the final round of revisions and edits and start considering the submission process.
I’ll be covering more ground on Beta Readers, the best way to approach as well as brief them and some important dos and don’ts, so keep an eye out for my next couple of posts.
In the meantime, do check out some other articles I’ve written on writing fiction:
Prompt-writing is one of the best tools for fiction writers. Period.
You’ll find various definitions for it on the internet, but for me, it is simply what the name suggests:
A topic around which a short piece of fiction is written promptly.
Generally, the said piece of fiction is in the range of 100-1000 words and you don’t think about it and work on it for days or even hours. You simply look at the topic (whatever form it is in) and write, generally within a set limit of time, say half an hour or an hour. You can revise or edit it later on, but the main part is written promptly. And that is what prompt-writing is really about.
When I say a piece of fiction it can be a scene, a story or an anecdote – it can be anything. Though it needs to be a complete unit in itself, with a beginning, a middle and an ending.
Prompt-writing is great for writing random pieces of fiction, which may or may not be used in your larger fiction works depending on how developable they may be.
It is very similar to Freewriting, but the difference is that in Prompt-Writing a prompt is used to kick-start the imagination and serves as the basis for the writing. But in Freewriting, there are simply no limits, neither of words nor of topics (that is if you are doing a timed Freewriting session.)
It is an absolutely amazing tool for fiction writers because it cures the “blank page syndrome” as well as helps you in maintaining a daily writing habit.
The topics, usually referred to as prompts, can be of different types:
The list is endless…
You can find the prompts online, or create ones for yourself (like I have done) or you can either participate in groups or subscribe to websites who share monthly or weekly prompts such as:
BlogBattle – I used to participate in this after Describli converted into Reedsy. I’ve written many pieces for this amazing prompt battle and Rachel, the creator of the BlogBattle is my long-time blog-buddy. So do check this out!
Hello, writers, and welcome to my Class of July 2020.
If you want to skip the details and register right away, please scroll down to the end of this post.
After having conducted Introduction To The Basics Of Creative WritingandIntroduction To Novel Writing Webinars of 2+ hours each, I realised that writers needed more knowledge of techniques in order to be able to start their novels on the right foot and end them within a specific time (plus-minus a couple of months.) Therefore, I cut down right to the centre of the heart of it and came up with a specifically designed class for writing a fiction story from start to end.
About Fiction Writing Masterclass:
Fiction Writing Masterclass is a 4-hour long online workshop on writing a book. The workshop is on the 25th of July 2020 (Saturday) from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm and also on 26th July (Sunday) from 4:00 pm to 8:30 pm (there would be a half an hour break in between.) It will be conducted by me, author Heena Rathore Pardeshi – an award-winning author and a literary critic and editor. You can read more about me here.
The workshop would be followed by an hour of doubt-clearing and writing discussions for all the participating students who want to talk to me and discuss their writings or book(s) with me. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the market, my own books and my writing journey.
The session would be followed up by another session of an hour for clearing more doubts – the day for it would be decided mutually by the participating students in the workshop according to everyone’s convenience.
Please Note: Because of heavy demand, and upon request of some students, this workshop will also be conducted on 26th July (Sunday) evening from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. So if Saturday doesn’t work for you, you can attend the Sunday workshop instead. They are both the same workshop.
Syllabus for Fiction Writing Masterclass:
Brainstorming a book idea and solidifying it with mind-mapping
The 10 Literary themes and how to choose the right one for your story
How to write the first full draft of your book
Basic elements of story writing
Plotting – The 10 most-important plot-structures and selecting one for your book
Characterisation – Character arcs, inner conflicts, profiling, importance of backstory & using objects (literally and figuratively)
Exploring narration, point-of-views and different styles of writing
How to write scenes – the correct execution of scenes
How to write chapters effectively and dividing your book into chapters How to begin and end the scenes in your novel
How to write dialogues – The 10 golden dialogue writing rules to perfect techniques, style and formatting
How to deal with the problematic middle 75% of your story – Pacing & Tension
What is Show & Tell concept, how to save your book from it and how not to get carried away in doing so
Understanding Climax, Resolution & Ending – the difference and their elements
How to self-revise and self-edit your drafts – a quick guide and a checklist.
How to finish your novel
So here I present the Masterclass that will cover everything a writer needs to know in order to start and finish a full-length fiction novel.
What is so special about this Masterclass?
It covers topics that other “writing classes or specialists” never talk about. Mostly, in my opinion, because they don’t write that much themselves
It is cheaper than any other writing class in the industry especially considering the variety of the topics and the scope of the class
Interactive lecture, where you can ask questions right after we finish discussing a topic
Lifelong support. Reach out to the instructor, me, at any time through my social media platforms and I’ll be happy to answer your query
Special discounts if you later decide to avail any of my writing services – manuscript critique, editing or proofreading. Or any of the publishing packages with Citrus Publishers
Certificate of completion from Citrus Publishers
Complete course notes along with assignments and exercises
Free evaluation of the assignments after the class for up to a month
Details Of Fiction Writing Masterclass:
Batch-1: 25th July 2020 – 11:00 am to 2:20 pm
Batch-2: 25th July 2020 – 04:00 am to 08:30 pm
Platform for the workshop: Google Meet
Fees for the workshop: ₹2,000 per person for Indian nationals and $27 for non-Indians (please email me for bulk bookings and discounts.)
Capacity: 10 students per batch
Once you make the payment, you’ll be sent the payment acknowledgement within 24 hrs.
Upon enrolment, you will be added to my Fiction Writing Masterclass WhatsApp group and will receive some reading materials and some writing exercises to do until the day of the workshop.
The main workshop notes would be emailed to you on 20th July (for both batches.)
What would you need for the Fiction Writing Masterclass?
You will need following for the class:
Laptop, computer, tablet or smartphone – anything would do.
If you are using a smartphone, then don’t forget to download the Google Meet app
A good WiFi or mobile data or internet connection
Printout of the notes that I will be sending you
A notebook and pen to take down notes
What will you receive in the Fiction Writing Masterclass?
3 hours of interactive lecture on writing your fiction novel
In-depth notes on the lecture (on all topics)
Bonus material to help in your writing on the WhatsApp group
Writing assignment and some exercises to defeat writer’s block
Course completion certificate awarded by Citrus Publishers (in printable PDF format)
Being a part of my Writing Pack – that is staying connected to me and other students through the WhatsApp Writing Group for life!
Please make sure to check the email address and the phone number before submitting the form otherwise I won’t be able to contact you.
As a beginner, you might feel the need, a very compulsive need, to note down all he ideas that you get and work on them, but the only thing it manages to do is keep you busy for a couple of months or maybe just days before the steam blows off and your mind starts to wander. And that is something that you cannot afford to do while writing a novel.
When you write a novel, you will be working on it for at least a year, (that is if you are lucky) otherwise you might end up writing it for a couple of years or maybe decades… but lets’ not go there now.
Imagine being stuck with an idea that you don’t like anymore after 3-4 months or an idea that simply can’t be developed further after the first 100 pages. It would be a disaster!
Most writers quit at this stage because they feel that either they cannot write, that they are bad at writing or simply that it is not worth the effort when in reality it is only because of the fact that you picked the wrong idea.
The best way to pick the right idea – a good idea, a solid idea is to not note it down when it comes to you. Yes. Do not write it down. Let it be in your head. Let is sleep there, eat there, poop there and grow there. Give it a couple of months, and only and only if you feel that the idea is growing and simply put – driving you insane because you cannot stop thinking about it then, that is a good idea.
The first place you need to begin, especially while starting a long-form fiction project (or re-starting it), is to discover yourself as a writer – to find out what kind of a writer you are. Because unless you do it, you won’t know how to proceed further, especially once the initial flame of anticipation and excitement burns off.
Typically, there are two types of writers:
Intuitivewriter (also known as Discovery writer)
Plotter (also known as an Outliner)
Now, these are basically the two extreme ends of the spectrum. So consider the figure below:
You will find yourself somewhere in between these two ends, depending upon your unconscious inclinations.
Intuitive or Discovery writers write based on their intuitions. The ideas come to them unbridled and then the details follow, their unconscious as well as subconscious mind working on the idea day and night without them even being actively aware for most of the process. Majority of the story as well as the elements in it, comes intuitively to them. Think of a big cauldron (the mind) on the flames of your unconscious and subconscious mind cooking the soup (the story) month after month, simmering it as it bubbles there, and gets nice and thick, as you (consciously) stir it sometimes and adding bits of veggies and pieces of meat into it. It keeps on cooking and bubbling and improving its consistency, while the writer himself goes on about living their life knowing something is brewing in their mind and that ‘something’ is going to be good!
What their job is to give it enough time and keep on putting as many stirs and veggies and chunks of meat in it as they can, by consciously working not their stories and when it all gets too unbearable – when you feel the urge to jump out of the bed in the middle of the night and stat losing your precious sleep night after night, to grab your laptop or pen and paper and write it all down, then you do it.
This is how the mind of an intuitive writer works.
The downside is, their mind it always hyper -aware of their story and they find it hard to separate the real world and their story-world as it reaches its crescendo. It tends to drive a person mad – imagine all your characters talking in your head and wanting to be written!
Generally, people who are on the emotionally sensitive side, and are more receptive to energies, tend to be intuitive writers. Simply put, they are easily possessed but heir ideas and stories.
This intuitive approach is the same for all kinds of artists – painters, singers, lyricists, etc.
Outliners or plotters on the other hand, are the writers who have to outline their ideas, plot their characters and then work from the inside out. This may turn out to be an absurdly complex process, but it won’t feel like that to an outliner. The advantage is that, it is a very meticulous way of writing. And discipline prevails over creativity, so in this case you have to make sure it doesn’t kill the creativity all together because it possess the ability, and may tend to, suck the joy out of writing by making it feel too mechanical at times.
If you are an outliner, then it should be obvious to you why you get stuck in your writings – because your mind needs an outline or a plan to go ahead. That is simply how your mind works, so no need denying it. Brace it and do what is needed. Learn to plot ahead, learn writing by chalking out a plan for what to write next.
Eventually, when you have worked on your projects enough, you will start to feel a deeper connection with your writing intuition and then will you’ll automatically start writing based on intuition than an outline. But it takes time.
This is why you need to know what kind of a writer you are. You need to understand how your mind works in order to be able to work with it in harmony.
I have more insight to share about intuitive writers than outliners because I happen to be one. I am a highly intuitive person and as a result, I am an extremely intuitive writer. My stories keep me up at night, making me spend a lot of my sleeping time tapping away at my laptop while my cats stare at me like something is wrong with me. When I write, I enter a trance which can only be felt and not explained. All I can tell is, when I start writing, everything else fades to nothing and I forget time and space and enter a world that is not the one we are in. It is my story’s world, I am not me, I am my characters and that is how I do it and I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Although it is emotionally taxing, it is irrevocably rewarding.
As an intuitive writer, I very rarely face the blank-page-syndrome, though on the downside, I cannot force myself to write when I don’t feel like it. So I had to learn to navigate these slippery slopes in order to build a consistent writing habit.
It is difficult, but achievable with time, patience and disciple.
Editing is the process in which a manuscript is modified, corrected and polished thoroughly. In the literary world, there are different kinds of editing. Editing is very subjective, depending upon what exactly is lacking or needs improvement regarding the overall quality of the individual manuscript. For example, in some manuscript, prose needs tightening, whereas in the other the overall plot-structure needs to be fixed, or in some, the scenes are not executed well or the dialogues are lacking in quality, and so on. So the first job of an editor is to determine (based on the sample chapters they are provided by the writer) to determine which kind of editing does their work needs.
Editing is the process of correcting and polishing the manuscript in order to make it stand out.
To understand this better, the editing can be categorised as following::
Now, let’s take a look at the definition of all the types of editing listed above and try and understand them better:
Editing (in the overall sense): Editing involves minor changes that polish your manuscript technically by focusing on the sentence structure, punctuations, spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors, pointing out mistakes in the already revised text. While editing, the overall story remains the same. Here, ‘fixing’ the manuscript’s structure, as well as the overall plot, is the priority.
Copy Editing: Copyediting, commonly known as line editing, is a light form of editing that lends a professional polish to a book. The editor reviews your work, fixing any mechanical errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Copyediting is the least-expensive version of editing. Some professionals divide copyediting and line editing into two separate edits, copyediting being the lighter, grammar-only edit, and line editing being a more intense look at each sentence’s meaning.
Line Editing: Lineediting is often used interchangeably with the term copyediting. However, when it is distinguished from copyediting, it refers to a unique edit that falls between copyediting and developmental editing in intensity. In line editing, the editor looks at your book line by line and analyses each and every sentence. The editor considers word choice and the power and meaning of a sentence. The editor considers the syntax and whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened. Line editing helps in making the prose sing.
Mechanical Editing: Mechanicalediting refers to the application of a particular style, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press (AP) Style. The editor looks at punctuation, capitalisation, spelling, abbreviations, and any other style rules. Mechanical editing is sometimes included in copyediting.
Substantive Editing: Substantiveediting considers a work’s organisation and presentation. It involves tightening and clarifying at a chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence level. Unlike developmental editing, which covers the big-picture issues and deep-level restructuring, substantive editing deals with the actual prose. Substantive editing is sometimes referred to as line editing and can also be confused with developmental editing. Always check with your editor and put in writing what his or her services cover, regardless of the term used.
Developmental Editing: The developmentaleditor looks deeply at the organisation and strength of a book. Think big picture. The editor considers everything from pacing to characters, point of view, tense, plot, subplots, and dialogue. Weak links are exposed and questioned. The editor scrutinises order, flow, and consistency. He asks questions such as: Is this the right number of chapters? Are the chapters and paragraphs in the right order? Are there any places in the book where the pacing lags? Is there a hole in the information or story presented? Are the characters likeable? Developmental editing considers all the aspects of a manuscript that make the book readable and enjoyable. Because of the extensive nature of this form of editing, it is more time-intensive and costly. However, it is worth the investment if you are serious about succeeding as an author.
So these are the types of manuscript editing a writer has to inevitably come face-to-face with, at some point or the other, in their writing journey. So it is always advisable to know these terms before you deal with an editor who might expect you to already know about them. Or better yet, it might save you from a trap if, god-forbid, you end up with an editor who doesn’t know what they are doing (believe me, there are a lot of people who just do things for the sake of it, and of course also for the money.) So educate yourself well, before negotiating any kind of deal with an editor especially while self-publishing.
Character Profile Sheets are a great literary tool that help you in profiling your characters, especially the main characters of your story. They not only help you in being consistent with your character’s traits throughout your story or manuscript but also help a great deal in creating as well as painting the character arc you desire for your story.
Generally, a Character Profile Sheets consists of the main physical, mental, emotional and social traits of your character’s life and personality along with their general likes and dislikes, their taste in music, their occupation, and stuff like what they like to eat, what they don’t their allergies and different kind of health issues, etc, etc, etc. Basically, your Character Profile Sheet consists of everything about your character.
Character Profile Sheets can be as long or as short as your want them to be, but my advice would be to keep them detailed because detailed Character Profile Sheets lead to good characters and good characters leads to good characterisation.
Another great thing about Character Profile Sheets is that it greatly helps if you get stuck in a writing slump. Working your characters is a great way to jump start your brain to getting into the right mindset to start writing again.
Check out my video on Character Profile Sheets on YouTube or listen to its podcast on iTunes.
When it comes to Character Profile Sheets there are three things that you need to remember:
If you are a punster then start with a basic Character Profile Sheet to begin with and add details as you go further because starting with a detailed Character Profile Sheet can be very overwhelming. But if you are a plotter then you can straight away start with a detailed Character Profile Sheet.
No matter how long or short your character profile sheet is or how detailed or summarised it is always make room for character’s background in it because character background is very, very, very important an you need to be consistent with it throughout your story. Take it from someone who has written a book with a lot of characters, always make a room for character background in your Character Profile Sheet.
Your Character Profile Sheet will evolve as you make progress with your manuscript so always keep on revising your Character Profile Sheet along with each and every single draft of your story. Otherwise, there’ll be either no point of maintaining a Character Profile Sheet or it’ll get too confusing for you and ruin your manuscript.
So that’s Character Profile Sheets for you. If you want a ready reference with links to some really good Character Profile Sheets then read this article – Character Profile Sheets(the links are the end of the article.)
If you have any questions or doubts or want to discuss Character Profile Sheets with me then leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
As a writer, it becomes a necessity at some point or the other, to understand as many technicalities of the craft as possible. Whether you’re an intuitive writer or a deliberate one, there will be times when you’ll have to break the literary rules in order to create your masterpiece, but in order to do so, you first need to know what those rules are. So studying literary devices becomes essential and significant in order to become a better writer.
On the other hand, it is not only beneficial to know about literary devices as a writer, but also as a reader. As a reader, it will help you understand the purpose of the writing better and also to know the real focus of a particular written work. And, on a more practical note, it’ll help you write your school reports and book analysis or reviews better and score good grades (I’m sure that alone should be motivation enough.)
I have come to realise that it is a healthy practice to become a well-informed writer as well as a reader.
A Comprehensive Look At Literary Devices
The definition of a literary device on Your Dictionary, an online open dictionary source, is as a technique a writer uses to produce a special effect in their writing.
This definition is short and sweet but leaves a lot of unanswered questions in one’s mind. In order to fully understand the ocean of things hidden behind these two words, one needs to look at it very closely. So here’s my take on these two very beautiful words:
Literary devices are the techniques a writer uses in order to create a unique and powerful yet appropriate effect in their writing to help them influence the reader’s imagination while at the same time helping the reader to understand the writing effectively and on a much deeper level. It adds multiple layers of sense, feelings and emotions to the reader’s imagination and helps the writer in gripping the reader’s conception of their work in a very effective way.
To further understand literary devices better, they can be broken down into two parts:
1. Literary elements
Literary elements are elements used by the writer in the overall scheme of the things. Some of the main literary elements are:
Antagonist – a character, or a group of characters, which stands in opposition to the protagonist, which is the main character.
Characters – any person, animal, or figure represented in a literary work. There are many types of characters that exist in literature, each with its own development and function.
Conflict – A conflict in literature is defined as any struggle between opposing forces. Usually, the main character struggles against some other force. This type of conflict is what drives each and every story.
Dialogues – a technique in which writers employ two or more characters to be engaged in conversation with one another.
Mood – a literary element that evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions. Usually, mood is referred to as the atmosphere of a literary piece, as it creates an emotional setting that surrounds the readers.
Moral – a message conveyed by, or a lesson learned from the story.
Narrative – a report of related events presented to listeners or readers, in words arranged in a logical sequence. A story is taken as a synonym of narrative. A narrative, or story, is told by a narrator who may be a direct part of that experience, and he or she often shares the experience as a first-person narrator.
Plot – literary term used to describe the events that make up a story, or the main part of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence. The structure of a novel depends on the organization of events in the plot of the story.
Point Of Views – he mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story, poem, or essay.
Protagonist – the central character or leading figure in poetry, narrative, novel or any other story. A protagonist is sometimes a “hero” to the audience or readers.
Setting – the time and place in which the story takes place. The definition of setting can also include social statuses, weather, historical period, and details about immediate surroundings.
Structure – the arrangement of story elements according to purpose, style and genre.
Theme – the central topic or idea explored in a text.
2. Literary techniques
Literary techniques are the words or phases employed by the writers in their writing. Some fo the main literary techniques are:
Allegory – use of characters and events in a story to represent or deliver a broader message.
Alliteration – a series of words or phrases that all (or almost all) start with the same sound.
Allusion – an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
Anachronism – the action of attributing something to a period to which it does not belong.
Analogy – a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
Antithesis – explaining an idea or thing by comparing it to something that is familiar.
Colloquialism – use of informal words, phrases, or even slang in a piece of writing.
Consonance – the recurrence of similar-sounding consonants in close proximity, especially in prosody.
Diction – the style of speaking that a writer, speaker, or character uses.
Epigraph – a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme.
Euphemism – a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
Flashbacks – a scene set in a time earlier than the main story.
Foreshadowing – a warning or indication of (a future event).
Hyperbole – exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
Irony – the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
Imagery – use of language and description that appeals to our five senses.
ImpliedMetaphors – a word or phrase that compares two unlike things to more clearly describe them, without mentioning one of the things.
Juxtaposition – the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
Malapropism – the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with an amusing effect.
Metaphor – a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
Metonym – a word, name, or expression used as a substitute for something else with which it is closely associated. For example, Washington is a metonym for the US government.
Onomatopoeia – the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.
Oration – elaborate and dignified speech.
Oxymorons – a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect.
Paradox – a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory.
Personification – giving human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, sensations, gestures and speech, often by way of a metaphor, to things.
Repetition – the recurrence of an action or event.
Similes – a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid
Soliloquy – an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play.
Symbolism – using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind.
Synecdoche – a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa.
So this is the in and out on literary devices. There are a lot more literary elements and techniques but the ones listed here are the main ones so they would be enough if you just want to know literary devices on the surface. But if you want to dig deeper, I’ll be writing another article in future exploring these and many other literary elements and techniques in detail.
If you are a new writer, or an established one stuck in a rut looking for inspiration, do read these articles:
As almost all the plotters would swear by, outlining a story helps a writer greatly in making sense of the story for the readers. We, as writers, know what our story is and how it plays out, the difficult bit is to put in into words in a systematic way and have it make sense to its readers the same way that it does for us. And this is where the story structures come into play.
I used to consider myself a hardcore plotter until I finally realised that I’m more of an intuitive person who writes by the seat of her pants as much as I rely on planning my stories. So now I try to find a balance between pantsing and plotting. And I personally see story structures as an adventurer’s maps – you can have all the adventures you want to have by following your intuition, but occasionally you need the maps to take you where you want to go, especially when you get lost or stuck.
I used the 3-Act Structure for plotting my first novel, Deceived, but for my second and third manuscripts, I needed something more extensive as they are more complex than my earlier work, so I used the 4 Act Structure. In this article, I’ll be introducing the 4-Act Structure and its benefits and use. If you wish to know more about the 3-Act Structure then you can read the following articles I wrote a while ago:
The 4-Act Structure is basically the broader version of the 3 Act Structure in which the elaborate ‘middle’ is broken into two separate acts. This method is very popular among writers especially those who write lengthy novels and the ones who struggle with the ‘infinite middle.’
Act-1: Setup of conflict
Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 4-Act Structure:
What are the advantages of using the 4-Act Structure?
There are many advantages to using the 4-act structure, just like any other outlining tool:
It helps in dealing with the overall story better, in an organized manner (just like any other story structure.)
It assists in specifically dealing with the problematic middle of the story – the 75% part of the story that is a bit vaguely structured in the 3-act structure of story writing.
It encourages in figuring out the problems with the story plot and in combing out the plot holes that would inevitably make your story weak.
It helps in understanding what exactly your story is lacking in order to make it into a near-perfect manuscript.
It even aids in recognizing, and then getting rid of, the redundant scenes, side stories and subplots.
It greatly helps in dealing with the most coveted enemy of any writer – writer’s block, when you get stuck in the inescapable limbo.
It also serves, for many writers, as a quick fix to complete the drafts within a particular timeline. It’s not necessarily a short cut, but can definitely be viewed as an answer to many plot-progression related problems.
When should the 3-Sct Structure be used? Before starting the first draft, in between or at the of the nth draft?
Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve discovered the hard way that it’s always best to first write the first draft by the seat of your pants, no matter if you consider yourself a planner or a pantster, because the first draft has to be as unadulterated and pure as can be, and that would be possible only if you let your imagination take over your mind and the muse and instinct guide your hands. The story structure, whether it is a 3-act structure or the 4-act structure or even the 9-act structure, should be applied for the first time to the first draft once it is complete. Then as you progress, it depends on how often you want to adjust your story according to the structure; you can do it while you write or revise your drafts or before or after that. It is entirely up to you.
I have come to realise that if the story structures are applied to the story in the initial stage of the conceiving of the plot, before or right after beginning the first draft (which is far too complex and difficult than one might think) then it corrupts the authenticity of the plot that otherwise might have been and makes it feel constrained. And such writing often results in an amateurish end product.