Category Archives: Guest post

Wrimo India Meetup 2016 – Delhi takes the lead

A report on the first Wrimo India meetup of 2016 which was held in Delhi this evening,  by Wrimo Piyusha Purnima Vir.

The first Wrimo India meet of the year was held in Delhi, this evening. It was a fun event with seasoned and newbie writers and even non-writers joining us for a fun-filled chat about writing, expression, stories and experiences that shape our lives.

Delhi meetup5

Rain and a lack of space may have resulted in a change of plans from the original meeting place at India Habitat Centre but we quickly figured out an alternative and upon selecting a beautiful green spot in a shaded area, squatted on the ground in front of the Information Centre and got talking. In fact, when it started pouring again, we all huddled under umbrellas and continued talking, attracting amused looks from curious spectators.

The Craft of Writing

The discussion started with veteran  Wrimo, Arjun S Menon, sharing some light on NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo for the benefit of those who were not aware of them.

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We then got talking about the craft of writing and the processes and methods each of us use. The meanings of being a plotter and pantser and the benefits of each were discussed; with some participants sharing which method they preferred.

We rued the absence of a mind-reading app that could convert thoughts to words and spoke about speech to writing apps and handwriting reading apps. That took the discussion in the direction of a very interesting topic – which was a more effective and creative way to write, by hand or by typing.

Telling Stories and Making Friends

Opinions were shared and personal preferences talked about. The conclusion was that though writing by hand has its own charm, typing is more convenient and widely used. One of the brilliant suggestions, which found concurrence with all others, was put forward by Aashi. According to her, those who wrote by hand could bribe their siblings into transcribing their written notes or manuscript to computer.

Delhi meetup2

Our favourite topic of discussion was each of those present sharing their best and worst stories – some of the incidents were hilarious, while others thought-provoking.

Madhulika told us about a story she wrote on the twin atomic bombings while Esha shared how she wrote a horror story which she herself hated.

Prayank shared how he would meet up with friends and then write stories about them. They would read it on his blog later and hound him into telling them who it was based on. We all collectively gave him permission to make us characters in all his stories while threatening him to make sure we were all portrayed as heroes.

We were privileged to have been joined by a professional dancer who drew some wonderful comparisons between writing and dancing as a form of expression.

Let’s Meet Again

It was a great way for strangers to catch up over a common love for writing, and become new found friends with numbers being quickly exchange and Facebook friend requests sent hurriedly.

Delhi meetup

We were all so benefitted by this meet that all have agreed to meet again next week, this time for a writing session. The next meetup is planned for Saturday, 20th August, 2016. Please follow this blog or join the Wrimo India group and ‘like’ the Wrimo India page on Facebook to get advance information and further details about the meetup.

Some of us stayed back to enjoy the ‘coffee’ part of the meet-up, while others opted to stroll in the rain and headed to another event – the book launch of ‘In Light of Darkness’ by Radhika Maira Tabrez.

 

Piyusha is a sometime sane reader, part-time crazy writer and full time wacky alien. She blogs at https://wanderingsoulwriter.com/ She has successfully completed two Camp NaNoWriMos and is eagerly awaiting November.

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ZERO HOUR WITH VAISHALI MATHUR (Executive Editor, PRH India) – Some insights, as collated by Ritesh Kala

During October, Sonia Rao, the NaNoWriMo ML for All India, organised a number of interviews and workshops in Wrimo India to get participants geared up for November. As part of this series, Ms. Vaishali Mathur, who is the Executive Editor at one of the most important publishing houses in India – Penguin Random House India – joined us for an online interview. She was amazingly patient with everyone, and took the time to answer every single question posed.

There were many insights, some which surprised me, and some which I have always known. An interesting point for me was that brilliant writing trumps almost all other considerations.

The following are the key takeaways from the interview:

  1. No market for short stories / novellas. Similarly, there is a very small market for science fiction. Traditional fantasy may be difficult to get published, as it would be compared to the books coming in from international authors.
  2. Ebook and paperback rights go hand in hand. Publishers will not do paperback only deals.
  3. Getting a literary agent can be important even though publishers accept manuscripts directly. It was clearly stated that manuscripts coming in from agents get read and considered first.
  4. Publishers do not reject a book outright. Also, how an author has been published earlier does not impact his chances now. What they do look for, is the author’s network and marketing capabilities.
  5. Publishing excerpts or even books on online platforms like wattpad or even social media are not held against a book. However, publishers will then consider how these postings have been received.
  6. Publishers are open to submissions from international self-published authors. This could be one way for authors to enter India, if they are willing to part away with India ebook rights.
  7. Publishers expect the author to shoulder the burden of marketing. This is especially true for first time authors. The author’s platform is something which can be the difference between acceptance and rejection of a manuscript for a debut author.
  8. A quick summary on things to keep in mind when approaching publishers:
    • For an editor to become interested in a proposal, it should ideally be short and crisp, with 3-5 sample chapters and a well written author bio. An author should look at getting an editor for the chapters being submitted, at the very least.
    • Poorly written proposals and proposals that begin with author’s story of desperation turn editors off and they thus have a higher chance of being rejected.
    • Also, a manuscript which is way too long for its genre will have a much lower chance of being accepted.
    • Besides this, it is fine to send the proposal to multiple publishers at the same time, but it is a good practice to mention that this has been done. Also, it is better to mention if the book is part of the series, and how many books there would be in the series.
    • The top three things to keep in mind when approaching a publisher are: You are competing with the best in the world, so writing has to be absolutely brilliant. Then pushing the book right from the word go and lastly, enough marketing.
    • Above all, the author should be sincere and should have complete belief in his work.

The above points resolved a lot of grey areas for aspiring authors. While the general guidelines as mentioned above hold true most times, I do believe a few things would change from publisher to publisher.

About Ritesh Kala:

ritesh_3

Ritesh is the founding partner of Read Out Loud Publishing LLP, a company started with the objective of bringing great literature to India. Read Out Loud is a Book Marketing and Book Distribution Company which aids authors to bring their books to book stores and online sales platforms in India. Read Out Loud also produces audio books.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn
Know more about Read Out Loud HERE.

HOW I FINISH WRITING 50K WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO IN 3-4 DAYS by Zubin Garda

Since the last three years, Wrimo Zubin Garda has been completing his 50,000 words by the second or third day of NaNoWriMo. All have congratulated him, some with a tinge of envy and most with an incomprehension, wishing for some answers.

The cat is now out of the bag. Here’s Zubin, as he reveals to us his secret method (hint: it involves a LOT of writing):

HOW I FINISH WRITING 50K WORDS FOR NANOWRIMO IN 3-4 DAYS

I have been doing NaNoWriMo since 2013. Every year, I complete my novel (aka 50000 words) in only 3-4 days. It gets a lot of compliments, a few surprised faces and a rare few, with whom I’ve shared how I do the same, slapping their thighs as enlightenment dawns and shouting “A-ha!”

What I would like to do today, is share with you, dear reader, how I do this. Remember, this is how *I* do it. As always, your mileage may vary (but I doubt too much).

Firstly, there are no secrets. No magic formulae. Yes, there is a dependency on a particular piece of software. Other than that, anyone can do it.

So, rather than sound all preachy and patronizing, without further ado, here’s how I do it:

1) I take NanoWriMo seriously. Very seriously. Just how seriously? Well, every year, I take leave from my day job to work on writing the novel for a full week. Yes, I take leave for a full week, just to focus on writing the novel.

2) Wait a minute, did I say “writing the novel”? Actually, I don’t write novels. I don’t type them either. All this is done using Dragon Naturally Speaking (a speech recognition program). What, you’re still WRITING and TYPING those huge chunks of paragraphs instead of dictating them to your butler (ahem…your PC)? On a good day, I’m blowing around 110-120 words per minute. On a bad day, I’m clocking around 80-95 words per minute. Since any day is good and bad combined, I hit around 100 words per minute as a long-term average. Human beings are built evolutionarily such that the rate at which you speak, is EXPONENTIALLY higher to the rate of typing. Speaking is in Human DNA. Typing, well, you get the idea. So, an average speaker, will ALWAYS overtake even the world’s fastest typist. It’s simply the way humans were meant to be. Makes sense to speak to the PC then, rather than type it out, does it not?

3) I dictate only 3 sessions, for 2 hours each, every day. Sounds trivial. Until you see an average of 100 words per minute * 60 minutes = 6000 words per hour. Multiply that by 2 hours, I get 12000 words in one session. 3 sessions, so 12000 * 3 = 36000 words per day! That means I can finish my novel in 2 days flat! But, reality intervenes. It’s impossible to dictate even 100 words per minute continuously for 2 hours straight. Plus, even though I dictate in 2 hours sessions each (with 3-5 hours rest between each session), I still don’t have the discipline to bang it out for 2 hours straight. All this makes me type at around 70 words per minute. Which, you can calculate and get 70 * 60 minutes = 4200 words per hour. Which means 4200 * 2 = 8400 words per session. 3 sessions means around 8400 * 3 = 24900 (approx. 25000 words per day). THAT would also allow me to hit the target in 2 days, but again, I don’t REALLY sit for a FULL 2 HOURS per 3 sessions. You know, email, food, TV, surfing etc. right in the middle of my sessions’ two hours also. (I know, I know, I take breaks, but hey, cut me some slack here, I’m only human). The point here is not to tell you how much to write, but to give you the understanding of the full power of the speed of dictation, instead of typing/writing words.

4) Outside? Visiting someone you don’t want to? Wife dragging you out for shopping? Well, whenever I am outside, and have a quiet moment for myself, I open my ANDROID phone’s voice recorder (hey, iPhone works too!) and record my story. Right there. Yes, RIGHT THERE, outside, without my PC. When I come back, the recording, saved as a .Mp3 file is IMPORTED into Dragon. And Dragon magically TRANSCRIBES it to words! No need to re-type and re-dictate things again!

5) Next, remember, its called the novel WRITING month. Emphasis on the word WRITING. So I plan, outline (around 15-17 pages), do research and build up GSU (Goals, Stakes and Urgency) and simple character sketches BEFORE I sit on my PC to dictate. Ditto with the novel’s THEME and CONCEPT.

6) Finally my sainted family ensures I am not disturbed during the 3 writing sessions of 2 hours each during the day. And though this is not an absolute requirement, it does help tremendously.

7) Dragon Naturally Speaking. Available in normal and Premium. Hits around INR 10500/- ballpark. You can buy it. Or, there are “other” avenues (wink-wink).

So, as you see, there are no alchemical solutions to manufacture, nor the need to search the world for secrets. Simple mathematics and the power of dictation and help you blow past the month of November as if it didn’t exist. 🙂

However, as a final ode, remember I do all my planning, outlining, researching and building up of the GSU in LONG HAND. Yeah, you read that right. I take my fountain pen, a 400 page notebook and begin conceptualizing. Sometimes as early as middle of September. The advantage? I never run out of words to say or get to stare at a blank page wondering what to write next.

So, what’s your recentest wordcount? 😉

ALL ABOARD and a lunch date with the Author, Kiran Manral – by Archana Sarat

I  read Kiran Manral’s new book, All Aboard, last weekend. It was an exciting mix of love, romance and travel. Published by Penguin, this 224 page book would keep you happily engrossed with its vivid descriptions and clear prose. It was a surprise to me that Kiran hasn’t been on a cruise. It was obvious that she had done intricate research before penning the novel. You could feel yourself on a cruise when you read the book.

I was honoured to be a part of the blogger’s meet to launch the book. We were an eclectic mix of travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, book bloggers and authors. I was there representing  Wrimo India (the Indian Chapter of NaNoWriMo). Sonia Rao, the NaNoWriMo ML for India , was unwell and I was elated that she had chosen me to take her place at this event.

Unexpectedly, most of us were women and one poor (or should I say lucky?) gentleman joined us. We met at 212 All Day at Phoenix Market City, Kurla. Kiran had carefully chosen a sumptuous lunch for all of us. Good food and good conversation flow together. We spoke about travel, writing, publishing and marketing. Being women, the conversation gradually flowed into husbands, children and parenting, as the hapless man looked on.

The Author-signed Book
The Author-signed Book
Sayin' Cheese - Selfie with Author Kiran Manral (left)
Sayin’ Cheese – Selfie with Author Kiran Manral (left)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The All Aboard Lunch meet, the authors, and the bloggers inspired me and taught me so many new things that day. For instance:

  • As far as marketing is concerned, Facebook cannot compete with Twitter. Along with their names, everyone exchanged twitter handles too and I felt so ashamed to share my ancient profile with a prehistoric photograph of me. It’s high time I updated it.

 

  • Kiran Manral is a prolific writer and that is only because she is a disciplined writer too. Shunali Shroff, another author I met there, told me Kiran switches off her phone (Wow!), shuts her door (Wah! Wah!) and devotes herself to writing from 8 am to 1 pm every single day. You inspire me, Kiran!

 

  • Detailed research can help you write about any place or topic. You don’t really need to experience it firsthand.I learnt this from Kiran’s book.(Ofcourse, the easiest way to do your research is to experience it, but it is not always conducive, especially for those love to write about crime, like me!)

 

  • No one there had successfully sailed through  NaNoWriMo and it made me feel so proud that I had done it twice. It was the confidence boost that I needed to attempt it again this November.

If you are looking for a crisply, well-written light read or if you love to read about travel, cruises and exotic places, Kiran Manral’s book, All Aboard, is just right for you.

(Archana Sarat is a freelance writer and author. While on most days you can find her tapping away on her laptop, sometimes she does turn her hair loose and paints the city red. She shuttles between Chennai and Mumbai, the two cities she loves passionately. Her works are published in various popular newspapers and magazines like The Times of India, The Economic Times, The SEBI and Corporate Laws Journal, The CA Newsletter, Me Magazine, the Science Reporter, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and many more. Her debut novel is expected in 2016.

You can catch her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter).

Keep calm Nanowrimoers, it’s not 30th Nov yet – Ruchi Vasudeva

                      

keep calm      

So you’ve taken the leap into the giant wok of Nanowrimo and now find yourself floundering in the slippery oil of written – and unwritten- words. All around you, people are announcing they have crossed the mark, causing the pressure to mount as though you are the last wicket of Team India on the crease, required to score a winning six. A difficult but not impossible task. So keep calm. Not the count-to-ten type of keep calm. Rather, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and get typing. Yes, buddy, this is no time to be complacent!

Before we discuss the strategies which might help us go on, let’s examine why we lose our cool in this war of words J

Causes of panic

Help! I didn’t save my file The very top-of-the-list problem. And the most dangerous. It’s one of the things easy to know in theory and far easier to forget in practice. Nowadays you have a number of ways to backup. Dropbox. Pen drives. Hard disk storage. Even easier to do, just email the work to yourself. Back up, back up, back up…should be your hourly or rather every minute mantra!

My Muse has absconded! Muses are so apt to do that. Just when you need them the most. Though you might wish to, you can’t catch and bring back your Muse by scruff of his/her neck. The blank screen is the writer’s arch enemy but you have to find a way to beat it. One sure way is to read over what you’ve written and find that link, that off shoot that you forgot to explore. Now is the time to blend that loose thread in your story and make it stronger. Maybe your character left an old job to take up the current position. So why did she leave it? Get to the reason and it might show you a side of your character you never thought existed. Now you can write with a deeper understanding of your character.

For more ways to beat the writer’s block, check out this post from me.

Inner editor has woken up! The Inner Editor. Visualize Skeletor. Doctor Doom. Mahishasura. Inner editor is the enemy of the state for Nanowrimo-ers. There is only one weapon to tackle it. Only one word. IGNORE. Or prepare for your Nano winning dream to crash. This is not the time to worry about inserting the proper synonym or tempering your excessive adverb indulgence. Whether you write ‘walk quickly’ or ‘run’, just describe the action and get on with it. December is for fussing over things like that.

Now the positive steps to take to win this race. How to have that voice in your ear saying Bhaag Milkha Bhaag! 😉

To do’s

Seek inspiration Fill up the well continuously. Read. Take a walk. People watch. Take and make use of writing prompts from fellow writers…easily hounded at the Wrimo group J

Writing sprints I’ve personally found they are the best way to hike up your count. Sprints are great to make you focus and streamline your thoughts. Join in as many as you can.

Take proper rest and exercise. The mind is fresh only when the body is. Writers are all too prone to posture related troubles from spending too many hours bent over the keyboard. So do make sure you take stretching exercises or simply walk around a bit every half an hour. Your mind will be healthier if your body is fitter. So rest your eyes and your back and you’ll be more revved up than ever.

All the very best to all the participants. Remember that you’ve already won because I’m sure you’re doing better than you would have without Nanowrimo (at least I tell myself that to keep from sliding into deep depression of non achievement ;)) Kudos to the ones who’ve made it and the rest, don’t worry. It’s not 30th November yet!

Keep well. Write with love.

 Bio

Ruchi Vasudeva is a doctor by profession, a teacher by vocation and, in her own words, an author by destiny. The writing bug has long resided in her and a contest held by Harlequin for Indian authors gave her a golden opportunity to have her dream realized. She debuted in August ’13 with her book ‘Bollywood Fiancé For A Day’. Her second book is out in December, both being published by Harlequin. She also won a contest for getting a short story published with Harper Collins. She writes romantic fiction with conflicted characters who come into their own in their quest of reaching out for love. She loves to write about spirited heroines getting hurtled out of their daily life as soon as they cross paths with their rather challenging heroes.

She lives with her husband and two kids. When not bent double over the laptop, she might be found with her nose in books or at the movies or glued to the telecast of Team India or Chennai Super Kings in action. She likes to take long walks which help in brewing story ideas! 

Help! My Word Count Meter has stopped ticking – Adite Banerjie

So, you think you can write a novel in a month?

Difficult but do-able, right? With a bit of dedication, some discipline, a healthy dose of writer’s passion and lots and lots of caffeine you can overcome the beast that mocks you for actually taking on the challenge.

The first blush of an idea, the hot rush of adrenaline.I was primed and ready to wage war with words. And I jumped into the NaNoWriMo arena.

The words came pouring out. My fingers were flying on the keyboard and the wordcount meter (WCM) kept ticking at a steady pace. I was in NaNoWriMo heaven.

But then life happened. A few days away from the computer and I hit a roadblock. On getting back, I found that mymojo had disappeared and my inner warrior was no longer all pumped up and ready to do battle. Panic time!

I’m sure the scenario that I have painted above is precisely what many among you have experienced. But do not despair. It’s not the end of the world and you can pull yourself out of Word Count Hell with a bit of patience, grit and lots of coffee <insert your preferred beverage here!>

Here are a few tips for those times when your word count meter (WCM) has stopped ticking.

Think non-linear. Some writers work with an outline. Some don’t. If you’re like me, and can only think of your story in a linear fashion, i.e. x happens, then y, followed by z, try to reverse that. Why not think of m, and c or h. In other words, write the scenes that pop into your head, in no particular order. It’s most likely that once you have written one scene, it will be followed up by another, and OMG, yet another. Give the sequence (a cluster of scenes that follow in quick succession) a title and save it as a different file. You can always cut and paste that in an appropriate place in your manuscript later on.

Think conflict. Yes, that’s right and no, I don’t mean that you should go pick a fight with your spouse. If your WCM has stopped ticking, it probably has something to do with the plot or character development. Chances are the conflict in your story has petered out. Try to introduce a scene or a character that ups the stakes for your main character, put her in a tight spot, make life difficult for her. You will soon start thinking up ways of getting her out of trouble and you will be on your way again.

Think competition. A fun way to set the WCM ticking again is to compete in the write-ins and sprints that are going on round-the-clock on the Wrimo India Facebook page. Amidst all the fun and laughter, virtual cookie and chocolate sharing (and stealing!)  bring out your competitive spirit. Use some of the prompts – or don’t – but jump in. It will get you out of your funk and somewhere along on the way you would have kickstarted your mojo and WCM again.

So, good luck WriMo’s and don’t let the WCM stop ticking.Now if only I could use some of my own advice! 😉 Cheerio!

—-

Adite Banerjie is a screenwriter and a freshly minted romance author. Her debut book “The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal” was released by Harlequin Mills & Boon in September 2013. She is currently working on her second book for the same publisher. She loves to blog about writing at www.aditebanerjie.com.

The ABCs of NaNoWriMo – Nikita Azad

While it’s great to have a plot ready by November 1st so you can just start typing (or scribbling) till your fingers hurt (or still go on even then) what I find as the biggest challenge is names; whether it is names of people, places, institutions – anything. At the NaNoWriMo 2013 Kickoff meeting in Mumbai, the discussion revealed that there were a few others who shared this dilemma. So I thought I’d help out a little bit.

Why are names so important when a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? It’s because for some of us, it’s impossible to take the story forward without knowing what your protagonist’s name is. How long can you keep calling the main character of your story ‘him’ or ‘her’? And it’s not just about the protagonist. It’s people like the best friend, boss,  villain, who need to have names too. For me, it becomes hard to imagine the person, their mannerisms, characteristics, if I don’t have a name to go along with it. So I devised a plan as simple as ABC. Allow me to elaborate.

At the beginning of NaNo when you’ve just started your novel, nothing is set in stone; not even your story, because the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words. It’s about getting those words out there and everyone knows that the permutation of those words will change when you edit your finished novel. Those changes can, and mostly will, include a change in important elements such plot, dialogues, characters and their names, and in some instances, even the entire story. In short, what you need to keep your story moving forward in November is something to work with even if it is temporary.

To take your mind off the inane complexities of choosing a name and to enable you to make quick decisions, all you have to do is think A, B, C…. For instance, my protagonist, Anahita from Blue Bells High School was best friends with Czar Doctor and they lived on Elmer’s Street. Elmer’s Street?? In  Mumbai??? It’s ridiculous, I know! But, did you see what I did there? I picked a name from each letter of the alphabet, originally on a temporary basis, till I could think of something else. So from each letter of the alphabet, pick the first name that comes to mind and that will give you something to move forward. It’s how movies have Work Titles till they find a better name.

This totally worked for me. It made me write the story knowing where they lived, what their names were, what school they went to; without having to give it a second thought. And you know what? These are the names that stuck. Even though they don’t live on Elmer’s Street anymore, my characters are still called Anahita and Czar. Once I created them and their personalities, it was hard for me to change their names.

But sometimes, you don’t want every single thing in your book to be named alphabetically. So let’s look at an alternative strategy. You could play the ‘STOP’ game. It’s a two person game really, but it makes the work a lot easier. Remember how we played ‘Name-Place-Animal-Thing’? How did we decide the alphabet? I am not sure if there were other ways, but what we do is, one person mentally recites the alphabet at any speed and the second person’s job is to simply say ‘STOP’ at any time. The letter that the first player was saying (in his/her head, obviously) is what you name your character from. Again, it’s a lot easier if you think of the first name that comes to your mind.

Say you are thinking of names for a Hotel and you were stopped at ‘R’ it could be the Royal Star – not the most creative name but it was the first one to come to my mind. And if, while editing – preferably after November 30th – I felt that I didn’t like it, I could always change it by going through the traditional creative thinking route or the ABC way… 😉

 
Nikita Azad, based out of Mumbai, aspires to have a book deal (or two) before she hits the big three-oh. She may travel without make-up supplies, but you’ll never catch her without a book in her bag and a story in her head. Four years ago, she let go a possible career in finance to write seriously (that has been a point of debate, though.) On the way, she found she loved paper crafting and has been creating customised hand-made greeting cards for almost three years now and spreading happiness in her own little way.
 
 
You can see her craft work at www.infiniteemotions.com.