Creating Realistic Characters

Creating Realistic Characters is an hour-long webinar on characterisation basics. I will be doing a follow-up Webinar with the advance techniques used for characterisation, so make sure you attend this one.

Webinar Details

Date: 5th December 2020
Time: 11:00 am to 12:00 pm (can go on till 12:30 pm) – Indian Standard Timeย 
Platform: YouTube Live
Link to the Webinar:ย https://youtu.be/70aOMZjtBzc
Link to my YouTube Channel:ย https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGJRUGymFvQJ3m6TdvCzOhwย 

Subscribe and press the Bell Icon ๐Ÿ”” or ‘Set Reminder’ to be notified when I go Live.

Topics:

  • Types of characters
  • Levels of characters – Inverted Pyramid
  • Types of characterisation
  • Character Profiling
  • Backstory
  • Character Arcs
  • Character conflicts or internal conflicts
  • Character motivation and stakes

But waitโ€ฆ thereโ€™s something special this time!

I will be giving away some really exciting gifts for this Webinar! 

  1. 1 Signed Copyย of my novelย Deceived.ย 
  2. 1 Signed Coffee Mug.
  3. A kick-assย Character Profile Sheet Templateย with 50 character traits.

For these prizes, you will have to earn points and here is how you can do it:

  • 1 Point for retweeting/sharing my tweets and posts related to this Webinar – 1 point per tweet/share.
  • 2 Points for sharing about this Webinar on your social media platform.
  • 3 Points for sharing about this Webinar on your blog or website.
  • 5 Points for creating a reel about this Webinar or my Youtube Channel.
  • 1 Bonus Point for any kind of social media shout out for this Webinar.

Please make sure toย Tag Meย in your shoutouts, videos and posts otherwise you wonโ€™t be able to earn any points.

The participant with most points will received a signed copy of my book Deceived and the Character Profile Sheet Template
The runner up will receive the coffee mug and the Character Profile Sheet Template.
The next 8 people with highest points will receive the Character Profile Sheet Template.

So what are you waiting for?! Start sharing and earning points!

Iโ€™ll see you on the 5th of December!

5 Elements Of Plot In Fiction

Plot, one of the 5 main elements of fiction writing, is a term that confuses many new as well as veteran writers. When it comes to Fiction Writing, there is a big difference in the Story and the Plot. If you want to learn the difference between Story and Plot then read this article: Story Vs Plot.

Plot is basically the logical sequence in which events happen in a story. These events and their sequence should make sense and take the story forward. They always follow the pattern of cause and effect or action and reaction and thus have a great impact on the characterisation too. Therefore, while working on a fiction story, it is very important to outline your basic plot before plunging into the depths of structuring.

Let’s have a look at what exactly makes up the plot:

The 5 Elements Of Plot In Fiction

1. Inciting Incident

The event that kick starts the story or the point where the story begins is known as the inciting incident. This is where your story will begin.

2. Crises

The problems faced by the protagonist(s) which forces them into action. Please note crises is different conflict. Conflict forces the protagonist to make a choice or a decision keeping in mind the consequences and then facing those consequences.

3. Rising and Falling Action

Rising Action is the sequence of events which lead to rising tension in the story because of the varying intensity of emotional turmoil the characters go through in the story leading the plot to the Climax. RA includes many patterns of action-reaction in varying intensity which keeps the readers engaged and interested in the story.

Falling Action is the opposite of Rising Action and is the sequence of events that leas to the falling tension in the story because of the resolutions of the sub-plots and side-stories leading to the final resolution of the main conflict. It follows the Climax of the story.

4. Climax

The highest point of tension in the story. The point at which the main conflict of the story is faced by the protagonist of the story.

5. Resolution

Resolution is the end of your story. It is the point at which the main conflict is resolved and all the loose ends of the story are tied up. This is where your story ends.

And with this you can take your first steps into the deep ocean that is plot structuring. These are also the events that have to be decided on while outlining a story, so next time you want to outline a new story or an existing one then begin with these 5 elements.

If you have any queries or want to share your experience with plot lines or plotting then don’t hesitate to comment in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!

10 Ways To Prepare For NaNoWriMo 2020

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month is around the corner and I am really looking forward to it particularly this year because of the entire lockdown situation. I simply cannot wait to get back to one of my story’s draft and start writing again motivated by all the NaNo energy on my social media feeds! I love NaNo and there are more than a million reasons for it, the first and foremost being that it helped me write my own novel!

If you are new here, I’d like you to know that I wrote the first draft of my debut novel Deceived in NaNoWriMo 2014. Though I ended up changing the story later, the foundation was laid in NaNoWriMo’14 itself. Therefore, I have a very special place for NaNoWriMo in my heart.

As per NaNoWriMo rules of participation, a writer cannot begin actually writing the draft of the story that they are planning to work on for the WriMo but they can start prepping for it in advance. In fact, they totally encourage all writers to prepare well and they have a really awesome name for it too – Preptober (Prep October.)

So let’s get down to business and look at the 10 ways you can prepare for NaNoWriMo 2020. It doesn’t matter if you are beginning a new story or working on the draft of an old one, these points would be useful, and even handy, either way.

10 Ways To Prepare for NaNoWriMo

1. Finalise The Idea

The first thing that you’re going to have to establish before working on the draft of any story is to settle on an idea (probably two ideas in case if you’ll be working on multiple projects.)

Unless you’ve finalised an idea or two, don’t even think about entering the waters because WriMo is all about pushing your limits and belting out words. And you can only do that when you are not confused about what exactly to work on.

A lot of people make the mistake on beginning a random project thinking they’ll figure it out once the WriMo begins but mostly those projects either end badly or simply don’t end at all and get shelved.

Read: Finding The Right Idea

2. Develop That Idea

The last thing you want is to get stuck with an idea that cannot be developed further after a certain point. You will curse the day you settled on that idea and it’ll make you lose your momentum making you start all over again with hunting for a new idea. You need to develop your idea beforehand otherwise you’ll end up with a half-baked book.

3. Establish The Theme

Next, you need to figure out the theme, i.e., the main point you (as a writer) are trying to convey through your story.

Knowing the theme of your story will prevent you from straying and wandering from your story and help you to end up feeling lost or, worse, with a confusing plot. You can have multiple side-themes, but we are talking here only about the main theme. If you don’t know about it yet, then first identify it and then work on it.

4. Work On The Plot Outline

You need an outline if you really want to work on your story and at least finish one of its drafts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a planner or a pantster, you’ll have to keep it handy because while participating in a WriMo, you simply cannot afford to lose time fretting over the outline (which you should’ve have prepared in advance!)

There are a lot of people who like to write by the seat of their pants, but the problem that creates in WriMo is that you do not have the liberty to get stuck! When you’re writing on a schedule, you need to have at least some sort of a plan to help you move forward, even if you write intuitively and refer to it only if needed. I strongly suggest creating at least a basic outline for your story before starting work on it for WriMo.

Read:

The 3-Act Structure: Introduction

The 3-Act Structure: In Detail

The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

5. Develop The Conflict

Conflict is the main conflict or the main argument of your story.

The conflict will make your story come alive because it is, by all means, the heart of your story. You first need to establish it and then make sure that it works for your story. The entire story would be woven around it, so make sure you get it right.

6. Build The Characters

The most important thing after the plot of the story are the characters. Characterisation is an entire universe in its own and while working on a story you can either concentrate of putting the story on paper or building your characters, so do it now!

Start brainstorming your character’s personality, physical as well as behavioural traits, their personalities, mannerisms and most importantly their backstories. Get to work now. And remember don’t just work only on your main character but also work on the side characters too.

Read:

Character Profile Sheets

Character Profile Sheets (CPS) โ€“ Part 2

7. Organise Everything

Organise all your notes, scribbles, brainstormed papers, potential plot points that you worked on, POV ideas, sub-plot ideas, scenes and anything else related to your story in one place. Either put them all in one big folder or simply put them all in a file. You will be writing quite a bit in prep, so you will have even more things to add to your file or folder by the time October ends, so prepare for it from now itself.

Read:

10 Essential Tools For Writers

8. Clear Your Schedule

Clear your schedule for the entire month of November, except for the really important things. If it can be done before or after then move it on your schedule and free up days for writing. You do not want to have more than 5 Zero Days (and if you are serious about your story, which I think you should be) then keep those 5 days in reserve for emergencies only.

9. Work Out A Writing Schedule & Space

Try a couple of different timings and find out the one that suits you best. Some writers find comfort in writing late at night, whereas some love writing in the wee hours of morning (I certainly do.) Some like to write in the quiet hours of the afternoon while others like to write in the evening. So figure out what works best for you.

When I say create a writing space, I do not mean to buy a desk if you don’t have one. Write wherever you feel comfortable and prepare that place for yourself. For example, in spite of having a dedicated writing space with a huge desk, I love sitting on my dining table for writing. So I will prepare it by decluttering the table and making space for writing. You can do it anywhere, on the terrace, your balcony sitting area, your garden, on the kitchen island, on the dining table, your bed… anywhere really.

10. Let Everyone Know

Now, this is the last part of the prep. You need to let everyone know that you’ll be participating in WriMo and will be busy throughout the month of November. If they can’t do anything else to support you, they should simply leave you be for the entire WriMo month so that that you can work on your story undisturbed.

Social media is another great tool to announce your participation as it makes you feel excited for your project. Try and connect with your writing community or other writers participating in WriMo to discuss your preparations as well as to know how others do it.


Questions: Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo before or is this your first time? Are you excited for NaNoWriMo 2020? How are you preparing for this Corona- infested year’s NaNoWriMo?

Do share your experience as I would love to know about it!

Related:

My First NaNoWriMo

5 Keys To Writing 50K Words In 30ย Days

Coming next week: Relevance of NaNoWriMo for Indian Writers

Thanks for reading!

Finding The Right Idea

I donโ€™t think I have ever known, not even a single writer, who doesnโ€™t get about a dozen ideas every day. But imagine what would happen if youโ€™d start taking all of those ideas seriously?ย 

Itโ€™ll be chaos! So you get my point? 

Remember, not every idea is a good idea.

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.ย 

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 decadesโ€ฆ but letsโ€™ not go there now. 

Imagine being stuck with an idea that you donโ€™t like anymore after 3-4 months or an idea that simply canโ€™t be developed further after the first 100 pages.ย 
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 โ€“ 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 idea that sticks in your mind is a good idea.


Further Reading:

Discovering The Writer Within

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 wonโ€™t know how to proceed further, especially once the initial flame of anticipation and excitement burns off.

Typically, there are two types of writers:

  1. Intuitive writer (also known as Discovery writer)
  2. 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 โ€˜somethingโ€™ 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 wonโ€™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 doesnโ€™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 youโ€™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 storyโ€™s world, I am not me, I am my characters and that is how I do it and I wouldnโ€™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 donโ€™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.

Different Types Of Editing

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::

  • Substantive Editing
  • Developmental Editing
  • Mechanical Editing
  • Line Editing
  • Copy Editing

Now, let’s take a look at the definition of all the types of editing listed above and try and understand them better:

  1. Editingย (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, โ€˜fixingโ€™ the manuscriptโ€™s structure, as well as the overall plot, is the priority.
  2. 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 sentenceโ€™s meaning.
  3. Line Editing: Line editing 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.
  4. Mechanical Editing: Mechanical editing 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.
  5. Substantive Editing: Substantive editing considers a workโ€™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.
  6. Developmental Editing: The developmental editor 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.

Stream Here: Webinar On Introduction To Creative Writing Basics

Hey guys, if you’d like to watch the Webinar stream of my webinar on Introduction To Creative Writing Basics, then you can watch the entire thing on my YouTube channel (or below.) I have also started taking private classes on Creative Writing and Novel Writing, so if you are interested, then shoot me an email on rathoreheena@gmail.com, and I’ll be happy to share the details.

This is the recording of the Live Facebook Stream of my Webinar On Introduction To Creative Writing Basics. It was a great session with around 11-20 participants (the numbers kept on changing as it was an hour + live session, but it was extremely interactive. The webinar actually begins after the first 10-15 minutes (As I was testing and waiting for everyone to come online for that part.) The session is a bit slow because I had to keep a tab on the comments and questions the viewers were posting and had to pace myself accordingly. Though I hope that you’ll enjoy this lecture and learn the basics of creative writing from it.

As an additional aid, you can download this lecture’s notes from my drive here.

Do let me know if there’s any particular topic you’d like me to discuss in my next Webinar/Lecture.

Thanks for being here.

A Winter Morning

I am a hopeless winter-person – you know, when a person goes overboard in hauling around shawls everywhere, wearing cardigans even when it’s barely cold, wearing socks while sleeping and using a heater or a hot water bag at night to warm the cold feet. I know I am not the only one so I decided to write this piece in order to give a shout out to all those beautiful people who love and adore and cherish winters as much as I do.

***

A Winter Morning

I wake up, suddenly from a dream, and feel the need to get some fresh air. Slowly I get out of bed, not wanting to wake him up as I know he had trouble sleeping early last night. But as soon as I set my feet on the wooden floor of our bedroom, I feel a sharp sting of cold and before I know it, it makes its way stealthily snaking and spreading through my toes and ankles, tickling the bare skin of my feet. I stand up quickly trying to find my slippers when a gust of cold breeze hits my face from the window beside my bed, suddenly my heart swells with happiness – winter is here!

Forgetting what I was about to do next, I quickly make way to the wardrobe, pulling it open frantically, taking out one of my favourite shawls – a pale blue one, oversized and thick. I slip into my slippers pulling the shawl over my shoulders and rush to the study room, which sits next to our bedroom. I open the curtains of theย enormous window on the other side of the room overlooking the front garden of our home and the giant of a Gulmohar tree which happily covers half of the view. My hands tremble just a tiny bit with excitement and what I see fills my heart with such an enormous amount of content that ย I haven’t known in a long time. It’s still somewhat dark outside, but I can see the faint orange-purplish glow of the rising sun slowly and steadily coming in view. I stand there in awe as the chirping of the birds gets louder and the leaves of the trees start rustling with their activity. The sun keeps rising ever so slowly as the world around me wakes up from their lazy dreams and cosy beds.

Both my cats come to me and rub against my legs purring with as much content as I feel from being a part of this beautiful morning. I sit down in front of the big window on the shag carpet and so does my little beauties. I scratch their backs as one of them settles in the crook of my folded legs and the other one curls right next to me on my shawl, her warm back resting against my thigh. They both start purring in a familiar rhythm, the younger one kneading on my legs looking lazily at me, while the elder one looking out the window considering if she should chase the birds off or sit in the warmth of my shawl.

The birds’ singing is louder now and it feels like they are calling out to the sun. Right then I smell heaven – the aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen downstairs, not the instant one, but of strong espresso. I can also smell the faint undertones of hazelnut and smile that he has opened the new packet I bought 2 weeks ago. He was asleep when I woke up, but I think my shuffling through the cupboard woke him up and while I was enjoying the view with my furry-little girls, he went down and started the coffee machine. I think I fall in love with him a little more in that moment.

I look around me, then at my girls purring and sleeping and cuddling around me and when, at last, I hear the gentle footsteps of him coming upstairs, the smell of coffee leading ahead of him, I look at the sun that is almost risen completely now, showering me and the girls in its beautiful bright yellow rays that are filtering through the Gulmohar tree, Iย say a silent thank you to the Universe for all my blessings because at that moment I have everything that I have ever wanted, and will ever need, right there in that room with me.


 

Please note- This material is subject to copyright.

NaNoWriMo 2019 – Update

Hello, guys (After a long, long time!) I am here to share a quick update about my 2019 NaNoWriMo progress. For this year’s I am aiming to complete the 7th draft of Sinister Town and so far, i.e., in 15 days, I have written 29,132 words. I am trying to finish this draft this month itself as this is going to be the final manuscript, more or less.

Here’s how my NaNo stats are looking and I’m happy with the progress so far but I hope that I can keep up with it:

So that’s about it. How about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What are your goals and how far along in your project(s) are you?

Character Profile Sheets (CPS) – Part 2

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.ย 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 isย 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.
  3. 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 –ย Character Profile Sheetsย (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.

Here are some more writing-related articles:

Thanks a lot for reading!

My Writing Projects

Okay so finally I have ventured into the world of Vlogging! And it is as exciting as it is scary, but I am determined.

Do check out my IGTV channel and the video on my Youtube. I hope you guys will like them ๐Ÿ™‚

YouTube Video:

IGTV:

Ciao โค

Monthly Updates: February’19

And finally, I’m doing the monthly Updates post after a long, long time. I loved doing these posts before and I’m really excited to do it now.ย To be honest, these update posts help me in knowing exactly where I stand in terms of my writing and helps me plan ahead serving as the much-needed motivation.

February was a good month for me, not only as compared to January’19 but also as compared to all the months in the last year. I did have some good writing days last year, especially in the second half where I edited a lot and wrote a considerableย number of words, but my muse only came in bursts of 5-7 days at a time and then faded away for good. But this February,ย I not only wrote consistently but was also able to work on posts for my blogs. This makes me feel like I’ve finally reached the headspace I wanted to be in order to complete the projects I’ve been working on for a while now.

Health-wise, it was a good month for me. I even started visiting with my dietician again and slowly getting back into my morning walk routine. Though Eva, my 1.5-year-old cat, got a liver infection probably because of the cat tree we got in January (it happened due to some chemical and we cannot think of anything else as the source.) She had to undergo a very extensive IV therapy which lasted more than a week. 4-5 days into the treatment and the poor girl started running away and hiding from Vishal and me whenever we tried to get close to her in the evenings thinking we might put her in the crate and take her to the vet. She continued doing this even after her treatment was over for around 1 full week. It was disheartening and I’m just glad that now we all are back to our merry old selves.

Anyhow, moving on here’s what I was able to do this month:

Writing Updates:

  • Wrote around 10K words, not counting the scenes I wrote while plotting my projects
  • Plotted and planned the contemporary fiction novel I started working on last year. I call it the Unnamed Project (UP.)
  • Got a new story idea, a really good one! It’s more on the lines of slasher fiction – pure, mind-numbing gory fest. I have already written 8 chapters for it, which is big for me because it has been a long time since I wrote with such fierceness.
  • Learned new ways of plotting and story structures and will try and implement these in March for the projects listed above.
  • I didn’t work on Sinister Townย this month as I was trying to distance myself from it in order to figure out an issue I’ facing with one of the characters and it seems like I’ve figured out what the issue is so distancing myself from it paid off. I’m planning to work on Sinister Town in March.

Reading Updates:

  • Read 2 very disappointing reads: Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent and The Nightmare by Lars Kepler. I had big expectations from both these books: Stillwater Girls had a great blurb (because of which I requested it off NetGalley) and The Nightmare is the sequel to Hypnotist, a book I fell in love with. But both turned out to be very dissatisfying reads and I had to mark them as DNF reads, much to my dismay.
  • Read 4 decent reads by the authors I know: The Afterlives Of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings, Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown, The Memory Tree by John A. Heldt and The Curse Of Time by M.J. Mallon. I’ve reviewed all these books on my book blog, The Reading Bud, so do check out my reviews there.
  • Apart from these, I read a book that completely changed the definition of Classics and Cosy Mysteries for me – The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Greene. My very good friend and co-moderator of RMFAO, Dagny, introduced me to this author and after reading her book and biography, I’m totally blown away by the fact that I never heard of her before and that she is so underappreciated. I’m presently reading another one of her books, That Affair Next Door, and it even better than the one I read for Feb.
  • Overall, I read 7 books this month. Out of these, 3 were for RMFAO 2019 Genre Challenge‘sย Mystery-Thriller month.

Movies & Series:

  • 8 episodes of the 6th season of Orange Is The New Black. It was good as usual.
  • Cargo on Netflix. Not good at all. They totally ruined a potentially good concept.
  • Tidying Up with Mari Kondo on Netflix. It was kind of a life-changing event and I will be doing a blog post soon on how I’ve adapted the Kon Mari method in my life and home.
  • In new releases, watched Gully Boy and Uri – two of the best movies till date in Bollywood.

Apart from this, I hosted a lot of guests (well, the same guests over and over a couple of times) and was busy in taking care of Eva. So the month went by in a flash. I’m just glad that I was able to get some writing done.

Hope February treated you all well. I’d love to know how you spent your month and what progress you made in your writing, reading and other aspects of life. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ciao โค

The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

 

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,ย 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 โ€“ 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 moreย 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: Introduction

the 4-act structure

What is the 4-Act Structure?

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
  • Act-2: Build-up
  • Act-3: Crises
  • Act-4: Resolution

Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 4-Act Structure:

This image is subject to copyright.

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:

  1. It helps in dealing with the overall story better, in an organizedย manner (just like any other story structure.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. It helps in understanding what exactly your story is lacking in order to make it into a near-perfect manuscript.
  5. It even aids in recognizing, and then getting rid of, the redundant scenes, side stories and subplots.
  6. It greatly helps in dealing with the most coveted enemy of any writer – writer’s block, when you get stuck in the inescapable limbo.
  7. 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 anย amateurish end product.

If you want a simpler story structure for your story, then read this:ย The 3-Act Structure: In Detail


If you are suffering from a writer’s block or are facing difficulty in getting ahead with your story, here are some articles I recommend:

My Writing Corner

Most of the writers don’t like to write in one place. And I am no different. I write wherever I feel like writing and it heavily depends on my mood as one day I find the living room very appealing and the next day I seem to find inspiration in the study room while at other times I prefer writing on the dining table in the dining area because I can see every corner of my house from there. But still, there is always one place in a writer’s home that is lovingly known as the “writing corner”, and for me, it is my home office – our study room.

My writing corner โค

I have my very own desk which is actually pretty big and has two side extensions – two smaller tables with compartments – one for the desktop and one for the printer, I suppose. I keep my printer on the desktop table because I rarely use my desktop (and that too only as a hard drive for storing stuff that my Mac can’t store as it has got a massive storage capacity.) And I use the smaller table to keep my papers of the current project (god only knows how many papers I have scattered around the entire house!)

Also, I have a very snazzy and super comfortable chair that not only revolves but also reclines! Both, the desk and the chair were a gift from Vishal who himself has the same setup on the other side of the room (only his desk is pretty neat and has less of pens and papers and more of his layouts and designs and venue lists neatly stacked.

On the right-hand side of my desk (left side in the pictures) there a big window that gives me the view of the balcony outside the room and the gigantic Gulmohar tree that sprawls across our front garden. And the best part is that lots of birds, especially parrots, hang out on the lush branches of this amazing tree. We’ve also set up a small bird feeder right in the corner fo the balcony grill so they come there for that as well. And I cannot imagine a better place to sit in and think about and write my stories.

Camp NaNoWriMo April’18

Hello world, I’m back from yet another break!

Like every year since 2014, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo April’18. For this month I don’t have a lot planned out, but just a basic idea of what needs to be done. I’m mainly going to go for 2 things this time – sorting out the ending ofย Sinister Townย and writing the first draft of a story I’d started as a short series flash-fiction,ย Jessie.

Over the last couple of months, I’d have some really good, strange, outright hilarious and some really amazeballs story ideas and, strangely enough, I wrote them all down. I never really write down random story ideas anymore, I used to write them down very carefully when I started out as a writer, but after I heard the invincible, and my writing idol, SK mention in one of his many speeches, that if you can’t remember an idea for a year (or basically a long time) then it’s not worth

working on. That was the point where I abandonedย scribbling down ideas and, now that I reflect on it, maybe that was one of the reasons for my major writer’s block. Anyway, so I’d been writing down random ideas, mostly because I’d been in a writing slump lately (for like a year and a half now) and so I just wanted something different to write about – something random that would help me in ‘pantsing.’

So I have those story ideas to develop too. One of them is a dark elf story and I can already feel it coming together beautifully as a full-length novel. So I hope I have enough things to write and meet my goal of 50K words as I really need to get back into my usual flow of writing, something that I dearly miss!

I wish all of you who are participating in Camp Nano April all the very best!

Ciao โค

Naming The Writer’s Unconscious – A Little Girl And Her Puppy

I always read craft books not once, but several times. I guess that’s the best way to reallyย get the techniques and the wisdom they have to offer. Lately, I’ve been re-readingย Bird By Birdย by Anne Lamott and came across a concept, more like a paragraph or two, where author Lamott mentions about naming the unconscious:

“My friend Carpenter talks about the unconscious as the cellar where the little boy sits who creates the characters, and he hands them up to you through the cellar door. He might as well be cutting out paper dolls. he’s peaceful; he’s just playing.”

I paused at this particular bit, as I did the first time I read this book, and started thinking about how my unconscious would be?

Here she describes her friend’s version as a boy sitting in the cellar. But I don’t like the pictures of him sitting in confinement. I like her version of the unconscious better, “instead of a little kid, there’s a long-necked, good-natured Dr. Seuss character down there, grim with concentration and at the same time playing.”

So as I said earlier, I thought about my unconsciousย and this is what I came up with:

A Little Girl And Her Puppy

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

My unconscious, The Boy In The Cellar if you will, is a Little Girl. And this Little Girl is me, of course.

And the Little Girl is not alone; she has a puppy with her. A GSD puppy of about 4 months. And yes, this puppy is Tiger, my deceased pet.

So that’s my unconscious.

The Little Girl sits in the middle of theย aangan of my childhood bungalow, on a stone-tiled floor on a thick faded rug calledย dari. She’s sitting cross-legged, wearing a beautiful white frock that hangs loosely from her thin wiry shoulders. Her dark-roasted-coffee-brown hair hanging down in waves reaching her waist.

Fair as she is, she has a small mouth and small ears but big brown curious eyes. She’s sitting with her coloring book sprawled luxuriously in front of her among her uncountableย Camlinย crayons of every color you could possibly imagine. They are the ones that her father gave her.

Now she’s bent over her book and scribbling away with cyan color. She looks happy today.

The Puppy is sitting beside her in a relaxed fashion that only 4-month-old puppies can manage. His head is resting on the girlย small knee. He is looking at whatever the Little Girl is drawing with his droopy doggy eyes that look like they’re falling down. He’s a healthy Greman Shepherd and is big enough to come to her knees when she’s standing. He loves the Little Girl immensely and enjoys looking at her draw.

As I said, she looks good, happy. That makes me feel very good. And the important thing is she is not alone, she has the Puppy with her.

She loves drawing and therefore she is always drawing something or the other. Sometimes it takes her days, sometimesย weeks and sometimes months or even years to complete a “masterpiece.” And when she’s done, she looks up from her work and calls me and hands me over those drawings.

Sometimes these drawings are so clear that I can clearly see what she has come up with, but sometimes they’re all blurred and abstract and it takes me a while to figure them out, to understand what is it that she wants me to see.

This is how my ideas come to me or rather delivered to me by my unconscious.ย The Little Girl is not a fragment of me, but she

The Little Girl is not a fragment of me, but she is me. This is how I get countless ideas for my books, characters, plots, sub-plots, short stories, flash fiction pieces, poems, etc.

This is how I write.


Takeaway:

If you are new to writing or if you are struggling with it, then I highly suggest this exercise. It’ll help you attain the very focus you need to center your creative mind.

What about you? Have you ever thought about how your unconsciousย works? Do you have a particular image of that unconscious?


Further Reading:

If you liked reading this article, then you might like these as well:

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 aย 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 exerciseย 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 onย 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.

giphy
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.

excited-baby
Me as a Novel Critique now ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve already landed two full-length manuscripts for critiquing.ย 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!

Freewriting – Everything You Need To Know

Freewriting is a very important prewriting technique that not only helps you to get over your writerโ€™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 donโ€™t know what to write next, and sooner or later we find ourselves facing the age old problem –ย โ€œWhat to write?โ€

The only thing that can solve this problem instantly isย 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. Iโ€™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 unconsciouslyย if they keep on writing. Donโ€™t bother about what youโ€™re writing. Simply keep on pushing till your predetermined time is over. As soon as the timeโ€™s up, stop writing. If youโ€™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, youโ€™ll find at least one idea thatโ€™ll be worth working on.

Remember, that it doesnโ€™t matterย how muchย you write orย whatย you write, the only thing that matters is that youย 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 donโ€™t know what to write, then simply start by writing that, โ€œI donโ€™t know what the hell to write but Iโ€™m writing anywayโ€ฆ.โ€ 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.
  • Donโ€™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.
  • Donโ€™t stop till the timer goes off.
  • If youโ€™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 youโ€™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 Iโ€™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!


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under aย Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


The views expressed in this article are my own.ย This blog is under strictย copyright lawsย and allย trademarksย have been registered.ย  If you want to use content on your own site, you must ask permission first before you do so under the restrictions. Thank you!