Category: Writing

What Is Writer’s Block? And 3 Things to Keep In Mind

There are a lot of people who don’t believe in the existence of Writer’s Block, but let’s face it, even though you don’t want to name it, there are periods of time in every writer’s life when you simply can’t write (no matter how much you want to!) You can call it a “bad phase”, a stupor or whatever the hell you want it all comes down to the same thing – You can’t write sometimes.

No matter what you want to name it, the truth remains the same – This “bad time” or whatever you want to name it wastes a lot of precious time of writers that can be otherwise used for writing.

This is what is called Writer’s Block. Think of it as just something to name this condition for the sake of convenience.

It’s not all bad if you can recover from it in a short while, say a day or a couple of days or even a week. But it gets pretty bad if you simply can’t get over it for a long period of time, say a month. Or maybe more.

I’ve come across a lot of stories of writers giving up when they suffer a prolonged period of Writer’s Block and it greatly saddens me because this is not a solution. Giving up never is.

In 3 years of my full-time writing career, I’ve gone through multiple phases of Writer’s Block, both short and long spells. And if there’s something I’ve learned from each and every time, it is these 3 things:

1.  Make use of this time

Many of us use our extra time for writing. We get a day off, we write. We get an hour off, we write. We go on a vacation, we write. Being a full-time writer also, I use my extra time for writing, so I practically don’t get any free time for other things.

Use this “bad spell” to do the other things like weed the garden, take a small vacation with your family, do the house chores, spend time with your family and friends (god only knows how limited time writers get to spend with others), go for swimming, movies, or do anything else that either needs to be done, or you’ve wanted to do but couldn’t because of writing.

2. Keep feeding your creative mind

Just because you can’t write doesn’t mean you can’t read, or draw or do research or can’t do anything else that’ll work as a fodder for your creative mind.

Remember, our minds are like a sponge, they keep on absorbing and observing things. So when you’re not writing, either read books in your genre or read some refreshing new genre, or sing or dance or do something that you like. But again, don’t do anything that stresses you. You’re just doing these things for yourself, not to please others.

I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books, both in my genre of writing. It always helps me.

3. Don’t give up

It’s okay to take a break. In fact, the way I see it, Writer’s Block is a way for our mind to tell us to take a break. If you’ll notice it generally happens after you’ve spent a considerable time working on your writing projects.

So listen to your mind and give it a rest.

You’ll always bounce back eventually.

Takeaway:

Don’t over think. Relax and take a calming breath. Your mind simply needs a break, it is NOT giving up on writing. So do what you want to do, keep in touch with your creative side and don’t ever think of giving up.

In case if the Writer Block doesn’t go away after a while, then face the truth – It’s not the Writer’s Block, it’s you. You (maybe your subconscious self) are making reasons and coming up with stupid excuses to not to write. So get on your ass and start writing. It’ll be hard, but who said writing will be easy?

Do not give up.

What are your experiences with Writer’s Block?


Further Reading:

10 Questions To Help You Determine The POV(s) For Your Story

Choosing the main Point Of View(s) for your story is either the simplest or the hardest thing you’ll ever come across while writing your book. Determining the voice which narrates or unfolds your story is a tricky thing because if you select the wrong one your story is doomed.

Sometimes (a few precious instances), you don’t have to think about the POV because either you already have it figured out even before starting the story or know which one comes more naturally to you, the one that suits your writing style and feels like the perfect fit for your story. If you find yourself in this situation then consider yourself very lucky because otherwise, you might have a very hard time figuring it out.

question-1243504_640Rest of the time (i.e., for the majority of your writing career), you won’t know how to go about determining the POV for your story. This happens mainly due to the unyielding need for perfectionism. You want your story to be perfect (obviously!) but you can’t figure out which should be the main or the central voice that tells the story.
Ideally, more than half of the times the answer lies in using multiple POVs, but that comes with another set of problems that I’ll be covering in my next article relating to POVs. But what if you don’t know which multiple POVs to use?

When stuck in the latter situation, you’ll find yourself in a dark endless pit which will drive you to the brink of giving up, and we certainly do not want that. So to make the process of selecting the perfect POV(s) for your story, I’ve come up with a list of 10 questions that you need to ask yourself in order to get the answer to your POV worries.

The 10 Questions:

  1. How much you want to reveal? And how much you want to hold back?
  2. Whose perspective will be interesting for the reader?
  3. Who’s in the middle of most of the conflicts?
  4. How much information about the plot/story you want to reveal?
  5. How much information about the character you want to reveal?
  6. How it’ll affect the pacing of the story?
  7. What are you comfortable with? First person? Second Person? Or Third Person?
  8. How’d you like the reader to perceive your character and story line?
  9. Are there any parts of the story that need to be shown through different perspectives or through scenes that don’t have the main POV character(s) in them?
  10. How many stories are you trying to tell? And are these stories a part of the main story?

The process doesn’t end here. Once you’ve asked these questions to yourself, it’s imperative that you don’t only answer these questions truthfully but also try to understand them in detail so as not to mess it up. Once you’ve laid out the answers, 99% of the times you’ll be able to figure out the POV(s) for your story. The remaining 1% is your gut feeling which will either confirm your decision and make you feel like you’ve conquered the world or (at it happens to me most of the times) will make you doubt everything you just did and will force you to repeat the entire exercise again (and again, till you get it right.)

If you want my advice, never ignore the gut feeling. Otherwise, you’ll regret it later on.

Watch my video podcast on 10 Questions To Help You Determine The POV(s) For Your Story:

If you have any doubts regarding this post or want to share your experiences or anecdotes then please leave a comment below.

Further Reading:

Checking In

Due to a really busy month-end, I missed my September Month End Updates post. It was a crazy month end and there was so much to do that I was not able to sit down and pull myself together to write a post. To be really honest, I prepared last month’s Newsletter also on the last day. I know that’s not wise, but it was well worth it.

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Me in the last week of September’16

Anyway, I’m doing this check-in post to share something important with you all.

I’ve been receiving a lot of requests from writer friends and acquaintances for reading and helping them out with their manuscripts. I hate to say no, but unfortunately due to my own writing schedules and reading, I can’t say yes to everyone.
After a lot of thought, I’ve come up with an idea that’ll ensure that I won’t be spending too much of my time reading others’ stories at least not without getting anything in return for all the efforts.

I’ve started to critique novels for a fee. I’m still working as the Social Media Strategist for a publication, but as that barely takes 6 hours per week, I have started to Critique Novels in whatever spare time I have.

You can read more about it in detail here.

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Me as a Novel Critique now 😀

I’ve already landed two full-length manuscripts for critiquing. One is a mystery-thriller, and the other one is a very unique psychological dark fiction. I’m very grateful to have such a splendid start! I’m already booked for this entire month and I’m really excited to see how many more manuscripts I’ll get in the coming months.

I’m sharing this here because I’ve received a couple of inquiries in the past from a few of my blog followers so I thought I’ll make it official here just in case if someone needs a Critique.

I’m open for submissions, but as I’m already booked for this month, I’ll be scheduling the new ones for November (only 1 manuscript) and December (2-3 manuscripts.) You can check out the costing here.

For booking my Novel Critique, please fill out this form.

If you have friends or followers who are authors or aspiring writers, please share this post; you never know who might be in a need of a Novel Critique.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Point Of Views (POVs)

Point Of View, casually known as POV, is one of  the most important literary devices that is used in fiction writing. Determining the perspective from which the story is told is often the making or the breaking point of a novel.

If you make a wrong decision, your readers will be highly disappointed due to lack of plot coherence, and not only this, choosing the wrong POV also affects the bonding between the main characters and the reader, thus, affecting your novel on the whole. But if the point of view is chosen well, the readers will not only love your story and develop a memorable relationship with your characters but will also respect your writing and look forward to reading your other works.

Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that the choice of point of view and its execution shows the writer’s ability, efficiency, and dedication to their story. And in order to make the right choice you need to have an in-depth and precise knowledge about all the POVs before settling on one (or more) for your story.

Definition:

Point of View aka POV is the perspective from which a story is told. Point Of View is what can be called as the voice that tells the story to a reader.

Following are the 3 types of Point Of Views (POVs):

First Person Point Of View

In First Person POV, the narrator is a character himself/herself. The story unfolds as a first-hand experience of the narrator or it can be said that the character is narrating the story.
The information is unreliable as its scope is limited depending entirely on the main character’s knowledge of/in any situation. For instance, if the character is delusional then it creates a problem if you’ll write the entire book from his perspective.

The First Person POV has recently garnered a lot of popularity as a lot of new authors are using it. The advantages of First Person POV is that the reader can relate to the main character quite easily and the bond that follows is very strong. But of course, it requires a high level of expertise to pull it off.

The pronouns used in First Person POV are – I, me and mine.

Types of First Person POV:

  1. First Person Central POV: When the story is told from the point of view of the main character it is known as the First Person Central POV. This helps in developing an intimate bond between the main character and the reader. It often includes internal monolog, personal feelings, etc, which help in making the reader understand the main character inside-out.
  2. First Person Peripheral POV: When the story is told from the point of view of a secondary or a minor character, who can also be an observer, is known as First Person Peripheral POV. This POV is detached and neutral and provides an objective look at the main character.

Popular books written in First Person POV:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Penryn And The End Of Days Series by Susan Ee
Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Second Person Point Of View

In Second Person POV, the narration is addressed from one person to the second person.

The disadvantage of this POV is that it is difficult to relate to. It is a form of direct speech and the narrator or the character refers directly to the reader as “you.”

The Second Person POV is rarely used in fiction-writing, though there are some authors who use it for writing their novels.  It is mostly used for instructional writing and how-to books.

The pronouns used in Second Person POV are – You, your.

Popular books written in Second Person POV:

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino
You by Caroline Kepnes
All The Truth that's In Me by Julie Berry
Booked by Kwame Alexander
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Third Person Point Of View

Third Person POV is the point of view in which a narrator (generally, the one who is not part of the story) tells the story.

This is one of the most widely used POV and most of the early literature and classic novels are written in this POV. A lot of contemporary writers still believe that only the stories written in Third Person POV are good, but of course, it’s their personal opinion.

The Third person POV helps the readers understand the main characters from a distance and many believe that this is what makes it so interesting and capturing.

The pronouns used in Third Person POV: He, she, it, him, her, they, them, its. 

Types of Third Person POV:

  1. Third Person Omniscient POV: Omniscient = All-knowing. In Third Person Omniscient POV the narrator knows and reveals the feelings, thoughts, and/or motivations of all the characters (at least partially.)
    Eg. Unwind Series by Neal Shusterman.
  2. Third Person Limited POV: In Third Person Limited POV the narrator knows and reveals the feelings, thoughts, and/or motivations of only a single character, the main character.
    Eg. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.
  3. Third Person Objective/Dramatic POV: In Third Person Objective POV the narrator knows and reveals no feelings, thoughts and/or motivations of any of the characters. Rather, the narrator reveals only the facts and details about the story.
    Eg. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Popular books written in Third Person POV:

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Maze Runner Series by James Dashner
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Watch my video podcast on POVs:

If you have any doubt regarding POVs or want to share your experiences or anecdotes then please leave a comment below.

Further Reading:

The Font Effect

While working on my first book, Deceived, I hit the much-dreaded writer’s block at a very crucial time – right when my book needed revising. It felt like I hit the bottom of my creative well and I had to abandon my manuscript for almost 2 months.

I was completely devastated and after a few fruitless weeks of consoling myself that I’ll get back to writing soon, I started panicking and then began wondering about my writing altogether.

I’ve had my fair share of writer’s block since I started writing 2 years ago, but this one was the worst I ever dealt with. I tried everything to get over it. Everything. I followed different versions of Writing Rituals, went for jogs, went out for dinners, read 15 books one after the other to break this bad spell of stupor, took full day’s off several times a week, tried writing flash fiction, tried doing Freewriting. But everything backfired and left me completely exhausted. 😦

Every time I tried to open my manuscript, I felt like staring at a blank wall for hours. It really frustrated me that I, the girl-who-was-doing-so-good-with-her-writing suddenly turned into the girl-who-might-not-even-be able-to-complete-her-first-book!

It was literally one of the lowest points in my life because my first book meant everything to me.

At the end, almost giving up on my manuscript, I tried to divert my mind by agreeing to beta read a part of my Australian critique partner’s book. But then the most amazing thing happened!

As soon as I opened her book on my Mac and started reading it, I was struck by how beautiful and neat the file looked. And that was when it hit me.

I closed that file straight away and opened my own manuscript, and the moment I looked at the sad font of my manuscript and I knew why I wasn’t able to work further on it.

I immediately changed the of my MS from Courier Sans to Times New Roman. And…. Viola! Just like that, everything changed!

And the next thing I know, I was revising my manuscript!

I was done revising my manuscript in the next four days, and in those four days, I realized one thing – My book is really good!

You notice how I went from I-should-quit-writing to my-book-is-really-good? This is what I like to call as The Font Effect.

When I started writing my book’s first draft, I used the font Avener Book right till the time my manuscript was ready. Somehow writing in Avener Book helped me write for long hours without any headaches. I really liked it plus it looked beautiful in print. But when I was sending out the inquiries to Literary Agents, I formatted my manuscript according to the standard format and  changed its font to 12 pt. Courier.

Since then my manuscript has been in Courier only, and that’s where the problem began. Somehow my subconscious mind found it repulsive, or to be honest, plain ugly. I developed an aversion to Courier that I still can’t explain. I had a hard time reading more than a page at a time and that too without even it.

After changing the font to Times New Roman, I revised my book three times in one month, then edited it in the following month and sent it to my publisher (with whom I already signed an agreement by then) for the final editing.

Moral of the story – Fonts are very important. And we, as writers, should never underestimate their power.

As I see it, the importance of fonts, in general, is underrated, and most of the time their value gets completely lost amidst other “more important” things.

If you really think about it, fonts are one of the most used tools in a writer’s life.

Can you imagine what the hell would writers do without fonts?

What do you think about The Font Effect? What are your favorite fonts and why do you like them so much?

Feel free to share any stories or experiences you’ve had with fonts (or writing in general.) I love reading and replying to all your comments.

How I Started Writing

In the last six years of my writing career (as of 2019 end) I’ve been asked this questions now and again so I thought that I’ll write up a post on it as I am better at writing than verbally explaining my feelings and thoughts.

It always irks me whenever someone, generally an old friend or acquaintance, pings me or sends me a random DM and begin the conversation by saying “I never knew you liked writing” or something on the same lines. It bothers me because it reminds me of how I let someone else’s expectations get the better of me and forgot, for the major part of my life, what I really wanted to be. It irritates me because I never ever told anyone what I wanted to do, not even my own self. I think I simply didn’t dare to dream about it because it was something unimaginable as no one around me was doing it. So I thought I’d finally answer this question once and for all.

How I Started Writing

Unlike most writers, I was not a child-writer (children who start writing beautiful – or shitty – stories from an early age.) Though I did love reading, or to be more specific, I loved stories. Cinderella was my ultimate favorite, not because she ends up being a princess but because, unfortunately, I was able to relate to the first half of her life more than I can still relate to anything else. I belong to a dysfunctional family and suffered from dysthymia from a very early age so I knew how being unloved and unwanted felt. I used to think that I was living in Cinderella’s life.

I used to spend almost all my time in pretend worlds. I used to line up all my dolls and bears and other toys upon returning from school and pretended to teach them whatever I learned in my classes that day or play with my dolls and barbies cooking food with my kitchen sets and feeding my deal mute friends. I was an introvert and was scared of letting people in my life openly so I have barely any friends. Not to mention, I had no best friend. So, I used to pretend that my 1.5-acre tree-covered property was a long-forgotten island where I lived alone. My father was either busy with his business, or friends or drinking and my mother with her special friends, so you see I had a lot of time to myself as I was barely ever in their company.

I had a very elaborate and distinct imagination and as a result of spending most of my time in my own imaginary worlds and being busy talking to either with myself or my toys, I was rarely sad (which might seem odd if you belong to a normal family but I developed a very complex defence mechanism at a very young age.) I used to share my sorrows with my dolls and never real people. My dad loved me but had barely any idea what I was dealing with and my mum simply didn’t love me (she has gone through some bad stuff in her life because of which she has detachment issues.) And as far as I remember I was okay, if not happy, being that way because it was normal for me to be this way.

So I knew that I loved stories and books (and movies), but I found out that I wanted to be a writer on a very special day. I was in 6th grade and as per my school’s curriculum, we had our 1st ever library period in the very first week of starting of that school year.  I was completely mesmerized because my school library was very different than my local library – it was my school library (you know! SCHOOL LIBRARY!)

Of course, the first thing that I wanted to read was a good book, but our Sister Principal gave strict instructions to our Librarian to let us pick books from a particular shelf only. That shelf had some educational mags and some similar uninteresting things and I hated the idea of being restricted. And by that point, my enthusiasm for being in the school library considerably dropped and I began missing my local library.

So like everyone else in my class I picked up whatever I could get my hands on and began leafing through it when all of a sudden I came across a poem. It was named something like The Tree (I’m not sure now), but I was so impressed by that poem that I wrote it down in my new ‘Library Notes’ notebook. Which was huge for me because until that day I never really cared for poetry.

After that I read it again and again, switching between the mag from which I copied it and my notebook, for the entire period. After that whenever I used to go to the library (once every week) I used to copy down the poems or articles I found interesting. The thing was I wanted to write so badly that having no idea how to write something on my own, I started to copy whatever I thought was good.

And so on I kept doing till finally, I had to give up those mags for studying references. That was the first time when I actually contemplated becoming ‘one of those people who write all this’ and I remember thinking, after all, there have to be a few dedicated people who wrote stuff for these mags and books? You see, for whatever reason, I was simply not aware at that age that writing was an actual career option.

After that year I lost my normal library routine because I got caught up in studying to fulfil my mum’s dream of becoming an engineer. And thinking that writing was simply not a career option for me, by any stretch of the imagination, I never ever told anyone about it (mostly because I buried this dream so deep inside of me that I barely thought about it again.) That is until I started reading again (and that was after my parents’ divorce at the age of 16.)

I started reading and my grades started dropping (much to my mum and step-father’s annoyance.) Still, I kept on reading because that was the only escape I had. I read most of Sidney Sheldon’s books and then started reading Nicholas Sparks. After that, I read Twilight and a few other books. Due to the scarcity of time, I used to read only at nights taking out half an hour or one hour out of my study time which would always end up in 4-5 hours of reading.

After that, I never really left reading, no matter how my grades were affected (and this is something I’m really happy about and proud of.)

Then I got into Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering and finally coming to my senses, I rebelled against my mum and step-father in my 2nd year of engineering and dropped out of it, and married Vishal. And after that, everything changed forever because I finally started thinking about what I really wanted to do. Still, it took me some time to finally realize that I can become a writer and start writing whatever I wanted to. So after I did 3D Animation Film Making I got straight down to it. I created The Reading Bud and thought of starting with baby steps by writing reviews of books I read.

And then later I started this blog to see if I could write something original, and here I am 6 years down the road with a published novel of my own and working on another 3 books.

Takeaway:

Don’t be afraid of dreaming because that is the way you let the Universe know what you want in life. Dream, imagine, believe and work towards it with all you’ve got and soon you will have what you had dreamt of.

Freewriting – Everything You Need To Know

Freewriting is a very important prewriting technique that not only helps you to get over your writer’s block, but also to tap into your sub-conscience mind and see what all ideas and stories are hiding there.

Most of the times, we get stuck while writing a story, or an article, and simply don’t know what to write next, and sooner or later we find ourselves facing the age old problem – “What to write?”

The only thing that can solve this problem instantly is Freewriting. So, now you know why Freewriting is so important.

Today I will not only tell you what Freewriting is but also show you how it is done using a demo I recorded a few days back. I’ll also tell you how to pick up main streams of thoughts, or, as I like to call them, nuggets of gold, from any Freewriting session. (in order to watch only the demo, watch the second video: Ep. 04 – Freewriting Pt. 02)

Here’s my video podcast on Freewriting:

What is Freewriting?

Freewriting is a prewriting technique in which a writer writes continuously (without stopping) for a predetermined period of time, paying no heed to grammatical mistakes, typos, sentence structure or even the general order of words and sentences.

The whole point of doing Freewriting is that when the writer runs out of things to write consciously, he or she will unintentionally start to write unconsciously if they keep on writing. Don’t bother about what you’re writing. Simply keep on pushing till your predetermined time is over. As soon as the time’s up, stop writing. If you’re in the middle of a sentence, complete it and then stop entirely.

It unclogs your mind and starts a downpour of ideas. Most of the ideas will be crappy, but, trust me, you’ll find at least one idea that’ll be worth working on.

Remember, that it doesn’t matter how much you write or what you write, the only thing that matters is that you write.

How to do it?

Freewriting is the simplest of all writing techniques because you really don’t have to care about anything much other than writing. Following is the step-by-step method to do it:

  1. Grab a pen & paper, or your laptop and open your writing screen.
  2. Set a timer for a particular time (anything between 2-30 minutes.)
  3. Write non-stop, without getting distracted by anything, and by that I mean ANYTHING! If you don’t know what to write, then simply start by writing that, “I don’t know what the hell to write but I’m writing anyway….” and so on.
  4. Stop only when the timer goes off.
  5. If you feel that you have more thoughts coming to your mind, then do another session of Freewriting in a similar way.

Freewriting Demo:

Are there any rules?

Yes. Following are the thumb rules of Freewriting:

  • Write in a distraction-free environment.
  • Don’t bother with the grammar or vocabulary.
  • You can write about absolutely anything
  • You can even write scenes or dialogues this way
  • You can even write about a particular topic in Freewriting sessions.
  • Don’t stop till the timer goes off.
  • If you’re new to writing then start with a Freewriting session of only 2 minutes and then gradually increase the time period
  • You can have multiple Freewriting sessions in a day.
  • You can also do a second round of Freewriting session, immediately after the first one.
  • Never delete your Freewriting sessions. Save them on a disk or on a cloud service (personally, I use DropBox.)

What to do next?

When you’re done with your Freewriting session, follow it through by selecting its and bits of ideas out of it:

  • Read what you’ve written.
  • Make notes – highlight the ideas you think are workable.
  • Work on these ideas in your next Freewriting session to get more flesh on the subject.
  • Keep on doing this till you know what are you going to write about and what are you going to write.

Freewriting will help you tremendously in not only improving your writing habits but also to find some of the best ideas you’ll ever come across. Freewriting is a lifesaver when it comes to writing First Drafts, because it is when you write the First Draft of your project you always get stuck wondering what to write next, and that’s when Freewriting comes in handy.

***

If you have any questions or doubts regarding this article then please ask them below in the comments sections and I’ll try my best to answer them as soon as I can. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments as I always love listening to all my readers.

Thank you for reading!


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All About First Drafts

A First Draft is one of the most basic entities of fiction-writing and it lays the basic foundation of a novel. If you’re a writer then you probably might have come across this term more than a thousand times already, and if not then you’ve come to the right place. Just for the sake of it, I’ll start this article with the definition.

You can watch the video podcast of this article on YouTube here:

Fiction Writing Ep. #02: All About First Drafts.

1. What is a First Draft?

A first draft is the first thing you write about a project, a book, a blog post (like this one) or even an idea in general. It simply means writing down your initial thoughts in order to figure out the project as a whole.

First drafts are mostly the unplanned version of an idea. It can even be fragments of a concept written together to help you move further in your story or project later on.

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First draft of Deceived

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

– Terry Pratchet

2. Why is the First Draft important?

First Draft is not important, it is VERY important. If you won’t write the first draft of your novel, your thoughts will be scattered all over the place and you’ll struggle endlessly to put your ideas together coherently in a sensible form. Eventually, you might be able to get your thoughts organized, but it’ll waste a lot of your precious time.

A first draft helps you in discovering your characters, plot, and story-flow, and in building the three main pillars of your project – beginning, middle and ending.

The most important thing and the point of writing the first draft is to get the story on paper. To get it out of your mind and into this world. It’s like giving birth – unlikable to watch but necessary altogether.

It doesn’t have to be perfect because your next drafts will take care of that. All you have to do is, WRITE IT DOWN.

I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.

– Shannon Hale.

3. What is the purpose of writing a First Draft? 

The main purpose of writing the first draft is simply getting to know what your story really is. And in order to do this just let go of any fear and qualms you have about your project because the first draft (FD) is something that you write for your own self.

Don’t worry about the complicated things like story structure, sentence development, world building, character development, conflicts, exposition or other things like that because you’ll be working on these elements later on. NOT in the First Draft.

So, before starting out, be clear about what the FD really is, so that you won’t give in to the editor inside your head and leave your FD halfway like many writers do.

First drafts are simply the raw form of your story; it’s a skeleton in the earliest of stages. Most probably you’ll be working for months on this project after the FD is done, so you can clean it up later on. LEAVE EVERYTHING ELSE FOR LATER, simply get the damn story out in your FD. It doesn’t matter if you’re following a sequence or not or if you’re are simply writing random scenes (I do this a lot in my FDs) or if you’re writing the story backward. It does not matter as long as you’re getting the ideas of your story on paper. It’s totally OKAY! What really matters is that you WRITE.

Remember, most of the time (actually, all the time) the final product is miles away from the idea that you initially began with. So don’t waste your time on detailing or organizing your FDs as it might not even make it to the final MS. But it is still important for you to write the FD because that is what will get you to the final MS.

“The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.”

– John Dufresne

4. How to write a First Draft?

There’s no specific way of writing FDs, but to help you get an idea, following are the two ways in which one can write a First Draft:

Two ways of writing the FDs:

  • Simple Method (Recommended for beginners and pantsters.)

– Sit in a comfortable place and use a simple writing software that you are comfortable with and start writing without worrying about anything, especially not about editing or spelling mistakes.

– Start writing. Just try and focus on your story and forget about everything. If you feel the urge to edit, then simply console yourself by thinking that you’ll edit it in the next sitting.

– Continue writing this way (preferably every day) till you’ve got the entire thing written.

That’s it, you’ve just written your FD!

  • Advanced Method (Recommended for plotters, fantasy writers and for novelists who use specific timeline.)

– First of all, write down the rough outline of your story by using single words or only a few words to make sure you understand what’s to come where.

– Then create an equally rough timeline just so that you have a sense of the timing for whatever events you’ve planned for the story.

– Sit in a comfortable place and use a simple writing software that you are comfortable with and start writing without worrying about anything, especially not about editing or spelling mistakes.

– Start writing. Just make sure that you’re keeping a tab on your story outline while writing. More new ideas will come to you with the help of each outlining point. This will make you write more and get a better perspective of your story.

– Continue writing this way (preferably every day) till you’ve got the entire thing written.

That’s it, your FD is ready! By following this method you have a more elaborate and a clearer FD, which will help you while writing your second draft.


Note-I: Use a writing software that you’re most comfortable to use. Don’t get confused or mislead into using complicated software that you don’t know anything about. [I use Pages and/or Word for Mac. It helps me think straight and write fast.]

Note-II: As I said above, there’s no specific way to write FDs. You can write FDs in any way that is totally different to the ones above.
Again, it doesn’t matter. This is just something I came up with in order to help writers understand First Drafts better.

5. What to expect from First Drafts?

  • Rawness
  • Plot holes (Lots of them!)
  • Rough and incomplete storylines.
  • Raw sub-plotlines
  • Rough timelines
  • Half-built characters
  • Imperfect scenes
  • Weak endings
  • Inconsistent exposition
  • Flawed conflicts
  • Loose ends (a lot of them.)
  • Last, but not the least, tons of ideas!

“The first draft of anything is CRAP, but it’s infinitely better than NO draft.”

– Ben Arment.

6. What NOT to expect from the First Drafts?

  • Perfection
  • Adequacy
  • Complete Scenes
  • Final Story
  • Finished Characters
  • Brilliant Storyline
  • Magical endings

In short, First draft is the first step of a long staircase. You’ll have to be patient; there’s no other way.

 

What to do after completing the First Draft?

Rest? Take a break?

No… Do not take a break from your story after completing the FD. This is where a lot of writers go wrong (at least, as far as I know.) So trust me when I say, this is the right time to plunge deeper into your story.

When you’re done with the FD make sure that you re-read it a couple of times. After doing this you are ready to organize your story.

Move on to the next step of Character Development and Detailed Planning.

Read my articles on:

And then? Brace yourself for writing the Second Draft! (I’ll be writing a detailed article, just like this one, on Second Drafts (SDs) soon. So stay tuned!)

You can watch the video podcast of this article on YouTube here:

Fiction Writing Ep. #02: All About First Drafts.

***

Terms Used: 
FD - First Draft 
MS – Manuscript
SD – Second Draft

***

If you have any questions or doubts regarding this article then please ask them below in the comments sections and I’ll try my best to answer them as soon as I can. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments as I always love listening to all my readers.

Thank you for reading!


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Editing Vs Revising

Many times, new writers and authors are faced with the age-old dilemma where they have to revise and edit their manuscripts. But only some of them really know the difference between the two.

In this short article, you’ll find the basic difference between “editing” and “revising” that will help you differentiate between the two easily.

Editing:

Editing involves minor changes that polish your manuscript technically by focusing on the following:

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 sentence structure is the priority.


 

Revising:

Revising involves major changes that refine your manuscript mechanically by focusing on the following:

Rewiting exsisting thoughts in a better way
Adding new thoughts
Adding new necessary details
Deleting unnecesarry details
Refining the story flow 
Enhancing character development
Using better words and phrases
Rewriting paragraphs to make them better
Clarifying ideas
Enhancing plot growth

While revising, the overall story changes as per requirement. Here, fixing the story as a whole is the priority.

The Next Worst Thing (Annihilation #2) – #Blogbattle

BlogBattle is a weekly short story challenge using a single word for inspiration. You can visit Rachael’s blog to find out more about #blogbattle- Writing Rachael Ritchey.

This week’s word: Leviathan.


Annihilation (Part #1)


The Next Worst Thing

479808518_preview_Leviathan_II_by_MercurialXen

Genre: Dystopian, Apocalyptic Fiction, Young Adult

Lilly, Grandma and I sit in our rocking boat hugging each other tightly, waiting for our doom. Waiting for the Others to come and get us, but all of a sudden a silence falls upon us all like a heavy veil.

I open my eyes hoping against hope that the swishing noises we heard from the water around our boat were not others, but when I look around us all I can see in the dim moonlight and a few odd reflections of moon and lightening on the surface of the water.

The river is eerily quiet as if it’s scared to make even the tiniest of gesture. I squeeze Lilly and Grandma’s hands and move my right index finger to my lips motioning for them to be quiet. The clouds above roar, and thick droplets of water start falling on us making the already dreadful darkness seem gloomier by the second. The darkness around us coupled with the rain makes my heart heavy with fear and my breathing comes in small gasps.

Lightning strikes the dark sky as if announcing the hour of the Others and making us feel insignificant in the vast dark river.

We are bone wet and shivering from the cold. I look at Lilly and Grandma’s pale faces and realise that the temperature is dropping, fast. And out of nowhere a loud wail tears through the silence like a sharp spear making all of us  literally jump out of our skins.

We cover our ears in a feeble attempt to block the sharp and chillingly scream and that’s when I realise that the Others are gone. They’ve left us. But after listening to the second wail it dawns on me that the Other’s have not left us, they’ve run away.

Forgetting about what the loud wail could be, I grab a set of drenched pedals after thrusting one set in Grandma’s hands and start rowing fiercely in the direction in which we were headed earlier. I feel sorry for her, but I can’t help it. Right now we need to get away from this river before it, whatever it is, get to us.

Rowing the boat with all my strength leaves my mind wandering back to the wails we heard. It’s quite again and right now I hate the silence more than ever. All my life I’ve preferred silence over everything, but right now it might lead us to us our deaths.

My mind starts racing again, what could have wailed so loudly? I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of a creature can scream like this. But I do know one thing- I need to make it to the Camp on the other side before Others or that screaming thing get to us.

The wail rises again, this time, it’s louder than before and after a few agonising seconds as the wail drops I realise that it’s not getting louder, it is getting closer. I hope that it isn’t the Others, because frankly, I don’t think anything could be worse that having Others feed on our blood and flesh.

Whatever it is, I’m not a fool to let go of this miraculous opportunity to get the hell out of this river. I don’t have the time to sit here and ponder what could have chased the Others away from living flesh.

Guess we’ll have to find out about it afterwards, that is, if we survive the next ten minutes.

#

Relief floods over every tissue in my body as our tiny boat hits the ground. Without even waiting to catch my breath I jerk Lilly out of her seat and, pulling at Grandma’s hands, I literally drag them out of the boat within two seconds.

We straightaway make a dash for a tall concrete building standing just a few yards away from us. It looks strong and is a quick glance around it ensures me that it is deserted. We hide behind the building taking cover of the darkness. Sitting down with my back to the rough and grey concrete wall, I try to catch my breath.

Lilly and Grandma also do the same following suite. I turn towards my little sister and touch her button nose with my fingers. She hasn’t said a word since last night. And now that I think of it, she hasn’t spoken much in the last two weeks after the Other’s killed mom.

Looking at Lily’s dirt-covered chubby face I feel a pang of anger so deep that I feel a sharp pain in the pit of my stomach. She’s too young for all this. It isn’t fair. I shake my head in frustration and that’s when I hear a wailing similar to before coming from just behind the building.

It’s too close to ignore and run again exposing ourselves. I grab Lilly’s arm making a promise to myself that I won’t let anything happen to her or Grandma, I lean towards my left a little making sure I won’t be seen from the other side. And as I sit there trying to understand what could have made such a noise, the water of the river splashes wildly and I see a 100ft shadow rise from the river.

Words leave my mouth unbidden as panic grips my insides, “What the hell…?” And right then it turns to face me and, locking its with mine, it lets out another wail, but this time, it is so loud that I almost faint because of its impact.

Lily tugs at my hand with her trembling ones and asks me in a shrill voice, “What is it, Kia?”

I turn back to her, my face a white mask of fear, and say in a tiny voice , above the loud wailing, barely audible to my own ears, “a leviathan.”

***


ANNIHILATION (PART #1)


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