Tag: how to overcome fear of writing

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. 

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 is very, very, very important an you need to be consistent with it throughout your story. Take it from someone who has written a book with a lot of characters, always make a room for character background in your Character Profile Sheet.
  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 – Character Profile Sheets (the links are the end of the article.)

If you have any questions or doubts or want to discuss Character Profile Sheets with me then leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here are some more writing-related articles:

Thanks a lot for reading!

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 really get the techniques and the wisdom they have to offer. Lately, I’ve been re-reading Bird By Bird 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 unconscious 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 the aangan of my childhood bungalow, on a stone-tiled floor on a thick faded rug called 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 uncountable Camlin 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 girl 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, sometimes 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. 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 unconscious 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 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:

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.

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


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

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.

20160713_143304
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.

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


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

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 3-Act Structure: In Detail

In order to utilize the 3-Act Structure efficiently, there is a need for a systematic sequence of elements to be followed that carries the story forward.  In the 3-Act Structure, each act has some particular story moves and by following these particular set of acts, you can rest easy that there will be no place for errors in your story.

If this structure is new to you and you’re wondering about what the hell it is, then check out the first part of this article- The 3-Act Structure: Introduction.

Here’s a list of the 3 biggest advantages of using this structure:

  1. It helps you to stay connected to the theme/idea/plotline of the story.
  2. It helps you to look at your story from a broader and better perspective.
  3. It helps you to recognize the unwanted elements in your story and helps you in cleaning up your story.

Here’s a chart that I made which will give you the gist of this structure.

3-AS by Heena Rathore P. (All rights reserved. Please contact the author before using this image.)
3-AS by Heena Rathore P. (All rights reserved. Please contact the author before using this image.)

ACT-I

Introduction

  • Introduction to the MC(s)
  • Introduction and laying the foundation of the fictional world (in case of Fantasy)
  • An introduction of the circumstances surrounding the MC and the secondary characters.
  • An introduction of the main relationships.
  • Introducing the main hook of the book.
  • An introduction to the conflict.
  • Establishment of the main relationships that were introduced earlier.
  • Introducing the antagonist (or, at least, hint stuff about him/her.)

ACT-II

1) Complication

  • Elaborate the conflict by making more difficult and dangerous.
  • Introduce a backstory through flashbacks or an old memory (or in any way you want) in relation to the conflict.
  • Make the MC solve/fight the conflict in his own way.
  • Keep the antagonist in motion. Make him do something. Anything. Don’t leave him out otherwise the plot will get boring.

2) Destruction

  • Destroy the MC physically and/or emotionally after he tries to solve/fight the conflict.
  • This part should be the lowest point in his life.
  • Make sure to make it look like there’s no way out.

ACT-III

Resolution

  • Show MC getting over his fears and disappointment (add a convincing source of motivation.)
  • Defeating the antagonist or being defeated himself (whatever suits your stories.)
  • Make sure to clean up- explain anything that needs an explanation. Do not leave any loose ends.

So, these are the 3 Acts explained to the best of my knowledge. There are innumerable variants of the 3-Act Structure but this is the one that I follow. It’s my own version and it works beautifully for me. I hope that it will help you as much as it for me. I wrote my first novel, Deceived, using this method and, therefore, I trust it completely.

I’d like to conclude by giving you a small advice- 50% to 75% is the mark where most of the stories go weak. So, pay special attention to the 2nd part of Act-II, i.e., the Destruction part.

What about you? Have you ever tried the 3-Act Structure?
Leave a comment below and I promise to get back to you ASAP.


 

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

Character Profile Sheets

Characterization is the most important aspect of writing a book. Whether it’s a short story or a long one, you need characters, and that too strong ones. They are the building blocks of your story as they provide substance and an extra dimension to it.

Many people believe that in certain genres, such as mystery-thriller, romance and horror, the story is the main hero and not the characters, and therefore it’s okay to have even half-decent characters to play along when it comes to writing in these genres. But being a thriller writer myself, I think that it is totally wrong.
Whether it’s thriller, mystery, horror or even romance, you need strong characters to add depth to your story. And if you want to write a memorable book then characters are indeed as important to your story as the plot itself, irrespective of the genre.

I’d like to state a few examples here to clear this myth:

Agatha Christie’s characters – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, are the two  most memorable and strongest characters in the world of mystery books. If you’ve read even 2 books of each then you know what I mean.

In the same way Nicholas Sparks, the king of romance books, creates such memorable characters that the readers fall in love with them and remembers them forever, such as Noah from The Notebook and John from Dear John.

And the biggest example is that of the most epic characters of all, Harry Potter from Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

 

Harry Potter
Harry Potter

 

So the bottom line is a writer should try their best to put in 100% in terms of handwork and research when it comes to characterisation. And in doing so, one amazing tool that helps tremendously is Character Profile Sheet.

Character Profile Sheets are exactly what the name suggests. They are simple worksheets which help you to create detailed and distinct personalities for your characters. They can be as short as a single page or as long as 50 pages. The basic idea is to help you create your characters and give them a solid form.

Here are the character sheets that I’m using for my second book, Sinister Town:

20151204_124414
These sheets are from Creative Writing Now (link below)

Character Profile Sheets (CPS) dramatically helps in organising the important facts about your characters at a later stage in your project. When I was working on Deceived, I had 3-4 timelines to maintain and 5 complex characters to remember. The CPS I prepared for all the characters and timelines proved to be a lifesaver. If it wouldn’t have been for these sheets I would have been still writing the first draft for it.

Being a hardcore planner, maintaining CPS is like a second nature. I can’t even think of starting a book without having them with me. But if you are a pantster and hate having to write them in advance, I’d still suggest you to create at least a basic or just a fact-based CPS for the 2 main characters (again, at least.) It won’t hurt to have all the facts about your character in one place to make sure that there are no consistency issues in your book.

CPS are a must but having said that I’d also like to say that a character’s complete personality is not formulated. So allow some time for your characters to grow. It’s not necessary to stick only to the CPS, improvisation is necessary as well as beneficial because you can’t know fully about a character unless you start writing the book. So, BE FLEXIBLE.

You can create your own CPS or download from the ones listed below. If you want more you can get thousands (and maybe more) from the net, but if you’d ask me, 2 are more than enough.

These are the ones that I hand picked:

Some really helpful CPS Resources:

Other stuff related to Character Development:


What are your experiences with CPS? You love them like me or it’s something that you don’t like? Feel free to share your views in the comments below.

Have a great day!

Ciao ❤


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Note: All views and opinions shared in this post are my own.

5 Keys To Writing 50K Words In 30 Days

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and everyone is going nuts preparing for it. And why the hell not? It’s the biggest writing project or festival of the year! well, at least for the creative writing community.

For those living under the rock, NaNoWriMo is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.
– Wiki

In the year 2014, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and having no idea how to write so much in 30 days I failed miserably with less than 2000 words. It was my very first attempt to write my first book (or for that matter to write anything substantial.) That year I hated NaNoWriMo from the bottom of my heart and decided never to take part in it ever again. Sigh… If writers are one thing, it’s dramatic.

Anyway, after a few months, I came to know about JuNoWriMo and decided to give it a try as it is not as hyped as NaNoWriMo and thought “What the heck.” Failing in NaNoWriMo 2014 helped me understand my weaknesses. So I chalked out a rough plan and went headfirst with a bowl of determination and a solid outline for my novel. And… I not only completed the first draft of my book with 52K words but also developed a habit of writing 2K per day.

After that the very next month I took part in Camp NaNoWriMo in July 2015 and won it with 64K words! It was the second draft for Deceived. Since then I’ve been writing 1K per day (on and off), which is actually quite good according to many big writers. Still, I try to write more whenever possible.

In this journey from 0 to 1-3K words per day, I learned a lot of lessons. Now I always look forward to all the NaNoWriMos, Camp NaNos and JuNos every year because today I have something that I didn’t have that first year, and that is confidence. Now I know what it really takes to get 50K+ words in 30K. And to help others who are struggling to get those dreaded 50K words done this NaNoWriMo, I’ve come up with 5 keys that are the most important factors for cracking NaNoWriMo and even to write a good amount of words daily even after NaNo.

5 Keys To Write 50K Words Within 30 Days

1. Planning:

I used to think that I was pantster, but it took me almost 8 months of pantsing to realize that I’m a hardcore plotter. Pantsing is not something that people really understand. Most of the people like to believe that they are one because pantsing does not require any preparations. They think that it is easy. But what they don’t know is that pantsing is not as easy as it seems. You really need to be a hardcore spur-of-the-moment pantster otherwise you’ll be staring at a blank screen for most of the time.
If you are struggling with your writing then more than 90% chances are either you think you are a pantster or your planning is falling short. Now when I say planning I’m not talking only about outlining your novel. No, planning also includes deciding or preparing a plan about what all you need to get done in the next 30 days. It can be as easy as making a simple bullet point list of stuff you need to get in NaNoWriMo.
Remember, the more you plan the easier it will be for you to write. At least, you won’t be facing the “Blank Screen Syndrome” and wondering “What the heck should I do now?”

Being a hardcore planster, I do a LOT of planning when it comes to my novels. For poetry, I write by the seat of my pants. It takes a lot of time, discipline and patience to plan your novel, so do a bit of research before you start planning and learn some tricks of the trades such as Character Profile Sheets, the 3-Act StructureFreewriting, First Drafts, different Point Of Views, the concept of Writer’s Block and Naming The Writer’s Unconscious and the difference between Editing & Revising.

Word of Advice: If you ever feel stuck somewhere you can try mind mapping and brainstorming.

Read my article on Being A Planster at Portobello Book Blog.

 

2. Setting Goals:

Just setting a simple aim or a deadline won’t work if you really want to hack this 50K code. You need to really think the goals through. Anyone can do the math to know the average word count they need to write daily in order to complete the 50K limit done in 30 days.. but how can you be so sure that you’ll be writing each and every day for the next 30 days?
My advice (at least to novices) is to keep at least 4 off days, let’s call them Zero Word Days – ZWDs, while planning because you’d need at least 4 days off if you want to write efficiently, especially when you’ve hardly written anything at all regularly before. I can write up to 1K to 3K words daily, even in non-NaNo months, still, I prefer keeping 4 ZWDs because it’s always better to be prepared for the worst.

And get this, even if you don’t need all the 4 ZWDs, you’ll only end up writing more than 50K the way I ended up writing 64K words for Camp NaNoWriMo 2015. So instead of having a goal of 1.6K per day (50K/30), try writing 2K per day. That way even if you don’t feel the need for any ZWDs then you’ll be writing 50K in just 26 days.

If you feel that you are under some sort of writing pressure, then use one of your 4 ZWD and take that day off (if you’re following my way then you have the absolute liberty to take it easy and enjoy for 4 days.) Go out and watch a movie. DO NOT sit in front of the laptop and sulk watching other’s progress because it will lead to writer’s block. Just relax and forget about writing for a day. The next day you’ll be surprised to see that you’ll be ready to write again and that too with a renewed sense of excitement.

Sticking to the word count is great, but never, and I mean NEVER EVER, stop yourself from writing more than the everyday word limit. Someday you might feel like you can have a 3K day or a 5K day and maybe even 10K day. Do it! Whatever you do don’t stop. And from the next day do what you’ve been doing earlier. Stick to the word count. The idea is not to write less than 2K.

 

3. Writing In Intervals Or Slots:

I love this way of writing and I prefer to call it SLOTTING. I’m not sure about everyone, but so far I’ve interacted with more than a hundred authors and what I’ve gathered so far is that writing in slots is always better, and even more effective, than writing in one sitting. Now there are exceptions but I’m talking about the most common cases.

For slotting, you can write either in word-slots or in time-slots:

  • Word-slots – In one sitting I can easily write 1K. So, if I sit 3 times a day to write my novel or any other project for that matter, I can easily write 3K a day. And that is exactly what I do. I always settle for 2-3 slots a day. Morning, afternoon and/or evening. This way I can write without stressing out and can easily get other stuff done too.
  • Time-slots – If you want to write in time slots, then start with 1/2-hour slots, 2-3 times a day, no matter how much you write, but at the end of the day make sure to complete the minimum number of words you’ve set as your daily target.

If you are a beginner and want to write 2K per day like I explained in the previous point, then you can go about it like this: Write 500 words in one sitting, 4 times a day. But 4 times is a lot, isn’t it? So what you can do is write 500 words, then take a 20-minute break. Do not write in these 20 minutes. You can either read something or do a house chore or better yet take a nap! Then after 20 minutes write another 500 words. Repeat this in the evening. This way you’ll be writing 2K per day very easily.

 

4. Determination:

This is where most of the people balk, especially in the long run. You really need to be determined about writing and completing your goals. Don’t let anything or anyone come in the way of your writing. Write like your ass is on fire and the only way to save it is by writing… Just write!

If you’re struggling with a particular scene, then leave it and move on to the other one before you get irritated and stop writing altogether. If you like quotes then I’d suggest you write some of your favourite ones on a post-it or a note card and put them up on the wall just above (or next to) your writing desk, where you can see them while writing.
If you feel like quitting, think about why you started writing in the first place.

Also, you’ll have to be determined to achieve all the goals you’ll set for yourself. Instead of focusing on writing 50K within 30 days, try and focus on writing 2K every day (or whatever your goal is.) This will make all the difference.

 

5. Prioritising:

Ah… Now, this is an important one. Sometimes we get so excited about writing that we totally forget about other things and just write madly. It’s okay to do this if you have some really great idea that you just can’t miss, but doing this, again and again, is not as good an idea as you might think. Trust me, it’s not a healthy practice. If you choose to go on like this, then sooner or later you’ll be overwhelmed and develop a writer’s block. And we don’t want that, do we? The only solution to this problem is to prioritize.

Remember, each and everything is important. If you’re writing that doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to leave the house dirty or make other family members do your work. Nope, it’s not acceptable. Once in a while, it is okay but being a writer is not about writing in November only. You have to write each and every day of the year, so set aside time for everything that you are supposed to do. Remember you won’t get the time, you’ll have to make it.

Writing is your craft, your love; don’t make it a punishment for others.

I’m a fitness freak so along with all the house chores and writing I need at least an extra hour for my walking, jogging and yoga. So, I get up at 6:00 am and make it a point to finish my exercise and yoga routines by 8:00. And then I carry on with my day like any normal day.
So, all you need to do is prioritize stuff and make sure that you do all the necessary things.


Note: All the pictures used in this articles have been taken from Pixabay unless stated otherwise.
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