Monday, 27 April 2009

Pen Names

How do you feel about them? Personally, I am happy to use my own name, and in fact would prefer to. But what about when you want to write in multiple genres? Is it wise then to use a different pen name for each genre, or use your name for everything and hope that readers don’t get confused? What about quite closely related genres like science-fiction and fantasy? Would you use a same name for them, or different? How do you come up with pen names? I, for example, don’t have a middle name so I am pretty much stuck with first and last name. I may use my maiden name for something, and married name for another but that’s about it. To come up with a name entirely different just feels weird because my name is very much a part of my identity. What are your opinions, views? Do you intend to use pen names in your writing?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Short Story Challenge - Further Details

I am delighted to say that the interest shown has far exceeded my expectations. But with interest, there are also some questions. So I will explain my view of the challenge here:
  • It will be a monthly challenge. Beginning on 1st day of every month and ending on the last. You are encouraged to start on the 1st, but if you are super-fast story writer, you can start any time.
  • The purpose is to have one story completed, revised, editted and ideally submitted by the end of the month.
  • Submission - you don't have to post your story here, or on any blog or online. The submission refers to actual paying publications.
  • The purpose behind the monthly challenge is that if we write and submit one story per month, we increase our chances of having fiction published greatly. Regardless of what other writing you do or don't do, you know that every month you will have one thing to send to an editor.
  • To participate and encourage - post comments on the beginning of the month in the challenge post (I will put one up every month), say you have started, give some details if you like. You can mention your progress, encourage others. If you finish it let us know.
  • For those who would like to be encouraged on their own blog, just put a challenge post on your own blog, and leave the link in my comments section so anyone who wishes to come and encourage you, can easily find you.

P.S: Those who have recently signed up, I will add your names to the participants list shortly.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ripped to Shreds (I am so happy)

Yes...I do mean it. My short story has been ripped to shreds, and I am thrilled.
Ok, that was the let's start from the beginning.
I signed up for Jacqui Bennett Mini Course. It basically means, Jacqui critics 4 short stories under 2500 words. To begin, I had to send her any story. Mine was 2600 words, but I did ask permission first. It was returned, not with negative comments as such (in fact she said it did have some originality and good ending), but with "proper" editing. If one word could be used where I used to, that was a red mark. If there was a description where it wasn't needed, it was cut.
Just looking at my short story with all the editing comments has made me realise how much severe editing I need to do. I must admit, I am one of those people who doesn't hang around too long after finishing a story. I do hurry up the sending, when I shouldn't. Let it be a lesson.
For the second assignment I have to write a story based on a scenario I have been given. This is where I have a problem. I am supposed to target one of the regular magazines, which I call "womanly" magazines. They are fine, of course. Their stories are fine too. But they all require happy happy stories, and I just can't think of many good happy/fluffy short story ideas. I tend to come up with the ones that end unhappily. Oh well, it's called a challenge for a reason.
I don't know whether Story 3 and 4 are supposed to be assigned or free, but I look forward to it...sort of...

Lemonade Award

Thank you Eric for nominating my blog. :) That's so sweet. So now I have to follow the rules.

Nominator - Eric

Nominate ten blogs and let them know they have been nominated Ok this, I will have to follow in installments. Most of the writing blogs I look at are by professionals. I think this award should go to hard-working novice writers, who make their blogs entertaining/useful to others. So I will nominate a few people now...and more later, as I get to know more people. (no one ever became great by following rules completely, so you got to bend them a little)

Adam's blog, my muse is a vampire, is always entertaining with his special British wordings. I can actually imagine him sitting at his desk saying "bah" to his computer.

Justus' blog, Across the Multiverse, specializes in sci-fi/fantasy. Since I love sci-fi/fantasy, I enjoy reading his blog.

Jenna's blog, As The Plot Thickens, is another fun read.

More nominations promised, I really need to go and actually write something.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Writing Plan for 2009

I love making plans, and I love making lists. I make so many lists and spreadsheets that it is a subject of amusement for my husband. My usual announcement would be something like this, "I made a new spreadsheet today about such and such." My husband smiles, and shakes his head.
So today, I made a preliminary writing plan for remaining 8 months this year. My April goal setting worked out really well, so I am hoping it may help with the rest of the year.
Over all, including short stories, assignments and novel I estimate writing over 150K words in the next 8 months. Not a lot in itself, but hell of a lot when I only have evenings and weekends, and some of them will have to be spent editing, revising, and some of them will be completely unproductive when life interfers.
Some things on the list are "hopefully complete" because I call 2009 "Year of Learning" - that is the year to learn how to be a published writer. Pick up skills from Writers Bureau course, and through that try new avenues of writing I have never considered before, like non-fiction. So a lot of this year is going to be an experimental year. But 2010 - forget olympics - the far more significant matter is the start of my "Year of Hard Work" to be a published writer.
So to make my goals a little more realistic and achievable, now I will divide my preliminary plan into monthly plans. God!! I am obsessive.
But you know what ...when you have a list of goals and at the end of the month you can cross everything off, it is very satisfactory.
So go on...try making your own plans.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Writing Sunday

Despite the hiccups, I did manage to do the re-write for my short story and even started re-write on the novella last night.
So plan for today...
  • finish re-write of the novella (only the beginning is there)
  • further writing on the novella
  • do another edit on the short-story

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Where has the day gone?

Twelve hours ago, I planned that I would edit a short story, edit beginning of a novella and then do further work on that.
Twelve hours later...I am still editing the short story. It's not that it took me so long, but somehow, I spent less time on that story than million other things.
I surfed the net, social networking, read a book, and I even tidied my desk to perfection along with a neat little reference table on the side.
I hate days like these, because feeling of unproductivity just makes me feel crap!! Especially because I work full time, so if I waste weekends, they cut up on a lot of my writing time.
So I shall turn the negative around in a postive now - or at least half-positive. Once I post this, I am going away from my laptop (at least turning around to my desktop), and finishing that damn edit.
Tomorrow, I will have productivity oozing out of me. I hope...

Friday, 17 April 2009

Short Story Challenge

I am thinking about starting a short story challenge - one story to write and submit per month. It would be great if anyone else is interested, then we can push and prod each other, and hopefully accomplish at least one story a month. While my goal, like most other newbie writers is to write novels, but in recent practice with short stories I definitely feel that it offers great advantage of learning to write tight. The things you learn through short stories, can make a better novel. Besides, there is the side bonus of having something to submit regularly - and therefore, increasing the chances of acceptance and being a published fiction writer. I hope it's tempting enough for some of you... so come'll be fun... Challenge starting from May 1 I am adding names and links of participants in a widget to the right. You have to meet the challenge monthly to keep your blog link and name in there. Hope little advertising is a slight motivation. ;) If you want to join the challenge, tell me in a comment below so I can add your name, and don't forget to check back on 1st of May.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

A Handy Editing Checklist

Take a look at this article which shows 12 things to pay attention to when editing.
It is especially good for beginners, because even though most of the things are pretty obvious, for beginner writer, having a check list may help in making sure that nothing is forgotten.

Radio Station for Writers

I am not a radio person. In fact, in my entire life, I have listened to a radio only handful of times. Yet, now I will be a regular radio listener...because I have found Writers FM.
Wow...who knew there was a radio station for writers!!
If I hadn't come across it accidentally, it would have never occured to me look for something like that.
Anyway, it is excellent so when you get a chance tune in at

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

First Paid Publication in Print Magazine

I have got my first PAID print credit :) Okay, so it's a reader's letter - not as satisfying as having a short story - but it's a Letter of the Week. And more importantly, I get £25 for it.
It's even more exciting because I had a personal wish of wanting to be paid for writing, any writing, before my next birthday. My birthday is in 3 weeks, so excellent timing.
My Letter of the Week is in Women's Weekly's latest issue of 21/04. Wow...never thought I would be so excited about a letter.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Book Advance

I came across this essay while browsing through New York Times websites. Very interesting information about book advances.

Writers Bureau Assignments

Goals for April got a great productivity boost thanks to a nice break from work. Over last few days, I finished and submitted, writers bureau assignment F5, F6 and F7.
I have already received F5 and F6 back, with positive comments, though both had one significant problem where I dumped back story in the beginning. Obviously, didn't notice it when I was writing it. But once the tutor pointed it out, it's pretty obvious.
So now, re-writing and finding places to shove those back stories somewhere.
It's a shame my fiction section is coming to an end. I am really enjoying the fiction part. That's the reason why I have done all the assignments rather speedily. I have a feeling that once I get to non-fiction, my assignments submission speed will not be as good as it is now.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Importance of Outline

I have learnt the importance of outline hard way. When I first started a novel, many years ago, I started writing whatever scenes came to my mind. That is the approach I used up until recently. It worked in terms of the scene that just happened to land smoothly in my brain, but eventually I would find all these unfinished pieces of work with gaping holes in the middle.
What happened when I tried to fill those holes? I either had to change other information in completed scenes, or the holes remained because I didn't know how to bridge the gap from one scene to another.
Finally, I learnt my lesson. Inspirational writing is all very well, and I still adhere to it. But now, I keep a seperate file called, "Misc. Scenes" where all these random scenes go. If they happen to fit in the outline, great.
I am still polishing this approach, trying to streamline my outlines, because I often find that once I get an idea, they start running wildly. And before I know it, I have more information than I can put in a book.
So now the next step - a very hard step - is to slowly write outlines for half-completed novels, ideas, and then I will most likely have to rewrite everything. But better to do it right then to produce less than what I am capable of.

Finally a post after days of writing

I was on a self-imposed ban from posting anything on this blog, until I had at least finished some of my writing goals. I am happy to say that this easter break has been productive, though not as much as I would like, but then my task lists are always unrealistically long. Still, overall, I know by the time I am forced to give up my wonderful night shift of writing and have to get up at times that I currently go to bed at, I will have the contentment that I always get after productive writing sessions.

So what's finished:

  • Writers Bureau Assignment 5, completed and sent
  • Novella plotted, outlined
  • Skeleton draft of Novella completed

Other things in progress:

  • Edit of a short story
  • Research on various aspects of writing, market research
  • Reviewing information for WIP novels to do a proper outline before doing any further haphazard writing

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Write or Die

Do you find yourself distracted when writing? Or perhaps the internal editor keeps looking over your shoulder?
I found this nifty little thing, called Write or Die! It's a pretty, simple but useful thing. You can either choose how long you want to write for, or how many words you want to write. Once you decide, you click "Write" and a simple text box opens. You start typing. When you stop, the screen starts turning colours. You can pick various levels of strictness, and based on that you might get some pretty annoying colours flashing or even sounds. When you finish your goal, you get a victory sound.
I wouldn't use it all the time, but sometimes when you just want to get into writing and are finding it hard to stick to, I think it may offer a productive diversion.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Naming Characters

A rose by any other name may still smell just as sweet, but a character with a wrong name could end up looking like a right plonker.
I have been trying to come up with names for the main characters of my novella. Now imagine, my alpha male hero being called Herbert, or a kick-ass heroine called Jean (apologies to all Herberts and Jeans...I am sure you are all lovely people). It just doesn't sound as cool as James Bond or Scarlett O'Hara.
But I have been doing some research, and of all the sites I have searched, this one is my favourite:
So now, I just have to pick two names out of my short list. Then I can get on with more plotting. Writing about nameless people is not nearly as satisfying as writing about those with names - giving them a definite identity.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Writing Goals for April

These are the goals I posted on AW's April Goals thread. Since I have made a public proclamation, I must stick to it, or I would have to have a good dunking for shame. So the goals are:
  • Finish writers bureau assignment 5, 6, 7 (they will have to be edited and submitted too)
  • Edit and submit a short story from assignment 4
  • Edit and submit two flash fiction pieces
  • Submit at least 5 articles on Suite101
  • Plot a novella, create an outline, and start working on it
  • Work on WIP novel

It is pretty ambitious for an evening/weekend writer, but since I have a 10 days holiday over Easter, I am really aiming to get a good chunk of this done then.

I will stick to it...I will stick to it...I will stick to it....I will...I will...I will...

Waiting, Waiting, and Waiting Some More...

Not me, it’s my characters that are waiting. Impatiently, I might add, while I get my act together and give them something to do. I am trying to plot a short story for one of my Writers Bureau Assignment, and also plot a Novella. For both of them, I have got main characters, I have got the setting. I even have some conflict, and vague ideas about the beginning. What I do not have is a plot. It is rather frustrating, because I can see these characters sitting there, getting antsy to get some action. None of them are very patient, and none of them like waiting. Occasionally, I have times like this, where things just take their time to fall into place. The best way that works for me is to sit down with a pen and a notepad, and start writing. I start writing what I know, and then keep repeating it in a different way. Once the process gets going, bits and bobs of information start coming in. If I manage to have a good brain storming session then I end the session with much more information than what I started out with. Sometimes the whole plot just comes to me randomly, but at other times, like now, the plot just doesn’t stick. There is no good or bad about either case, because when the plot comes easily, there is usually something else that becomes a pain. In any case, if it goes smoothly, brainstorming is a wonderful process. But if it doesn’t, then it becomes incredibly frustrating. Because I just want things to HAPPEN. So today is the day for making things happen for at least one set of characters. I am devoting entire day (not the evening) to only thinking about them. Ok, sometime, I may have to think about work that I am doing, but for the most part, I think I can keep these people in the background and find something for them to do. So get ready my little darlings, because your days of peaceful lounging are numbered.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Indian History Articles

I have started writing articles on Indian History on Suite101. Research is turning out to be quite interesting. I always wanted to learn more about Indian History anyway, so now is the time. Still got several article ideas ready, just need to find the time to write them. Presidents of India
6 articles submitted 51 is the goal for 2009

Writers Bureau Assignment

I received my fiction assignment 4 back today from the tutor, with hardly any red, and most positive comments. That is most encouraging.
Now, working on next assignment. Short story plots are getting bit difficult to sort out - for a short story. I get ideas which could make books, but not sure how to write them under 2000 words. Something to figure out...
I have the setting. I have characters. Now I just need a plot. Piece of cake ....very hard, stale cake, maybe.