Tag Archives: novel writing

Shatrujeet Nath

Already on the other side – A peptalk by Shatrujeet Nath

What can one do in 72 hours? Write a lot of words? Perhaps you have 30K words left to write? Or perhaps you came to know about NaNoWriMo today and are wondering if you can do the 50K words in 72 hours? Shatrujeet Nath, well-known author of The Karachi Deception, and the The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series, tells you how it is done.

Over to Shatrujeet Nath, then:

A young Buddhist monk, journeying home from his monastery, took an unfamiliar road in the hope that it would get him home faster. His path, however, soon brought him to the banks of a deep and wide river, boiling with rapids. The monk stared in despair at the seemingly impassable obstacle barring his path, wondering how he would battle the raging currents and get to the other side.

He was on the verge of giving up his journey and backtracking when he noticed a famous Zen Master walking on the opposite bank of the river. The young monk hollered over the noise of the river’s churning waters to make himself heard. “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river?”

The Zen Master stopped and looked at the youngster who had hailed him. Then, pondering for a moment, he looked up and down the river bank. At last, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted back, “My son, you are already on the other side.”

Often, when we are in the midst of a pursuit of our own, we come across our own personal ‘impassable rivers’, and we struggle to find a way to the other side. The prospect of crossing over and completing the journey seems so bleak and daunting that we are even willing to forego the journey and turn back.

But, as the Zen Master so rightly pointed out, we are all already on the other side; it is just that we are so intimidated with what lies ahead of us that we discount the value of everything that we have put behind us in our journey.

To use another Zen example, a master and his young pupil are climbing up a steep mountainside. The climb gets more and more arduous higher they go, till they reach a point from where the last mile to the mountaintop is bare rock. The pupil throws up his hands and tell his master that he is prepared to give up on that last one mile that will take him to the peak. The master tells the pupil to turn around and look down into the valley from where they have ascended.

Pointing, he tells the pupil, “You are not giving up on the last one mile. You are giving up on the 20 miles that you walked to bring you here. You are giving up on that stream whose cool, clear waters refreshed you on the way up. You are giving up on that great tree that shaded you from the noonday heat. You are giving up on this gentle path that made it easier for you to walk. You are giving up on your faith that has carried you so far up the mountain.”

We all make ourselves a promise and get into a contract when we set out to do something. There is so much of ourselves that we then put into what we want to achieve and make happen. Throwing all away after having come so far is the greatest injustice we could do ourselves. It is just so much easier to persevere a little more, stay the course.

As the Zen Master said, we only have to realize that we already are on the other side.

 

About Shatrujeet Nath:

:Shatrujeet Nath

Door-to-door salesman, copywriter, business journalist & assistant editor at The Economic Times; Shatrujeet Nath was all this before he took to writing fiction full-time. He debuted with The Karachi Deception in 2013, followed by The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series. At present, he is writing volume three of the series, and is also scripting an ambitious Bollywood movie project for a large, Mumbai-based production house. Shatrujeet lives in Mumbai, but spends much of his time in the fantasy worlds of his stories. He can also be found at facebook.com/Shatrujeet Nath and @shatrujeet.

Krishna Udayasankar

Empower Yourself: A peptalk by Krishna Udayasankar

As NaNoWriMo 2016 begins, we at Wrimo India are always excited to read the peptalks from our beloved writers from India. We have a very fine lineup of writers this year too, and they will be cheering wrimos forward with their words of encouragement and motivation. Today, we have with us, Krishna Udayasankar, author of the well-known Aryavarta Chronicles and her latest book, Immortal. Over to Krishna, then 🙂

Let your choice empower you – Krishna Udayasankar

Congrats on signing up for this year’s #NanoWriMo. Now let me tell you a secret: I’m actually a bit in awe of you.

You see, the toughest part of writing a book is deciding to do it. I’m a six-books-and-counting author, but even now the beginning of a new manuscript feels like a mix of lifting a gigantic mountain,getting undressed in public and fighting off a really mean monster, all at the same time.

There’s the practical side of it; the sheer effort, the discipline required, the juggling a gazillion things in daily life, be it a job, kids, a household or health or…anything really. What sane person would add one more thing to their “to-do list,” and that too out of choice?

Then there’s the emotional side of it, the fear and uncertainty – a universe of what-if’s that make it so much easier to not open the Pandora’s box called “writing.”

You see, the toughest part of writing a book is deciding to do it!

What if I can’t finish? What if it sucks? What if I don’t find a publisher. What if I’m published but my book doesn’t sell?And let’s not forget that ultimate mean monster – call it time-sink, call it writer’s block, or call it simple blankness but it’s there… that state of wanting to make words on paper (or on a computer screen) but helplessly unable to do so.

I could tell you that every writer faces these problems and they never really go away no matter how much one has written or published, but I’m guessing you want to kill me right about now. Before you do, hear me out:

This sucks. This is illogical. This is painful.

The fact is, this is as good as it gets. It really, really doesn’t get better or easier than this. This sucks. This is illogical. This is painful.

And yet, here were are.

That right there, is the key. You’ve probably figured this next bit out, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of why we do what we do.

We write because…we must!

We write, sometimes because we want to. But mostly, we write because the alternative – to not write – would… well, it might not destroy us, but it would come pretty close. But that’s the last thing we want to admit, to the world or even to ourselves. But we write because we must, and that is a very, very powerful thing.

They say history is made by those who show up, and you have shown up, you’ve decided to write, to do this, even though there may be many reasons not to. You have made a choice, a decision. You’ve signed up for #NaNoWriMo. Recognize that, acknowledge it and use it to empower yourself.

There may be days when you don’t make your word count, there may be days when you think of giving up. On those days, remember that fiery feeling in your belly that brought you here, even though it seemed to be the craziest place to be. The good news (finally), is that the problems don’t go away, but neither does the euphoria, the sheer thrill, joy, ecstasy – whatever it is you get – of writing.

You are here. From this point on, it doesn’t matter what you produce, how much you produce, whether it’s the best literature ever or a rocking-good action thriller or anything really. You are here. You’re a writer.

Have a great #NaNoWriMo and may the muse always be with you!

Warm wishes,
Krishna Udayasankar

(All pics kind courtesy: Krishna Udayasankar)

 

ABOUT KRISHNA UDAYASANKAR:

Krishna Udayasankar

Krishna Udayasankar’s bestselling debut series of mytho-historical novels, The Aryavarta Chronicles (Govinda, Kaurava and Kurukshetra; Hachette 2012, 2013, 2014) have received critical acclaim. She is also the author of Three, a novel based on the myths and legends surrounding the founding of Singapore; Objects of Affection, a full-length collection of poetry (Math Paper Press, 2013); an editor of Body Boundaries: The Etiquette Anthology of Women’s Writing (The Literary Centre, 2013). Her latest novel is Immortal – a contemporary fantasy-adventure novel that is “part American Gods, part Indiana Jones.” She is also the current Writer-in-Residence at Fort Canning National Park, Singapore, and her short fiction and poetry also feature in many print and online anthologies.

Krishna holds an undergraduate degree in law and a PhD in strategic management. She lives in Singapore with her family, which includes three bookish canine-children, Boozo, Zana and Maya, who are sometimes to be found at her laptop, trying to make her writing better.

Grab your copy of Govinda, Kaurava and Kurukshetra, here, here, and here respectively.
Immortal is available here.

A Celebration of Creative Writing: A literary collab of Readomania and Wrimo India

At 3pm, on Monday, the 12th of September, Kunzum Travel Cafe in HKV, New Delhi saw an eager-beaver crowd of wrimos and non-wrimos throng it for a workshop on creative writing, “A Celebration of Creative Writing” jointly powered by Readomania and Wrimo India.

This two hour session was an interaction with these three well-known writers:

3-authors

The session opened with an introductory welcome by Dipankar Mukherjee, followed by an introduction of the three authors and a brief about what to expect from the two-hour session.

The authors spoke about their journey of writing their first novel – the initial idea of the story, their process of writing, the struggle to get published and also the challenges they faced during and after their first book. It was a lively and interactive session with the audience asking questions and authors sharing their experiences, creative writing tips and advice.

The first speaker was Sriram Subramanian, author of Rain, who told us how he got into writing.

sriram

“I wanted to write something that would blow up everyone’s socks off,” he began, explaining his high ambitions for the book and his style of writing.

He shared the journey of his first novel which still remains incomplete and unpublished. His second novel, Rain, is the story of a man who is seemingly an atheist and questions the existence of God.

 

Sriram shared the thought process behind Rain and how the final draft came into being. He told the audience that Rain was based on one theme – the debate between reason and faith and had a story or arc of a characters that wasn’t a blind believer in God to begin with and whose experiences makes him question his faith even more. The book is about how the protagonist deals with it.

Sriram admitted there were two movies, Waqt and OMG!, with the similar theme of a man’s disbelief in God; the impact of natural calamities on his livelihood, and the extent of man’s limitations against such acts. He then went on to explain how his novel Rain is different from both movies.

Sriram pointed out the following differences –
  1. There is no act of force majeure in this novel.
  2. The moment of ruin is not early on in the story but halfway through the novel.
  3. It is a series of events and not one single life-altering moment as it was in Waqt and/OMG!
  4. The ending is different, too. The protagonist is experienced and wiser and yet still holds his beliefs.

The floor was thrown open to audience questions.

Question: “How much is autobiographical?”

Sriram: First novel almost all is autobiographical, for most writers, said Sriram. Second one that I writing now still has shades of me in it. But the third one is completely different.

Question: “How much of your character remains an atheist?”

Sriram: He remains a sceptic, but based on logic and rationality rather than blind disregard.

Question: “How many rounds of edit do you go through before you think it’s ready/complete?”

Sriram: There were several. Even at self-editing stage, I did a round of developmental editing followed by line editing. Then again two round of spell check and a final read through, so four rounds before I sent it.

Radhika Tabrez, author of ‘In Light of Darkness’ then took stage and narrated her journey of her first novel.

While wielding audience questions, Radhika advised the participants to figure out that one story that they feel most strongly about and cannot manage without telling it to the world.

rads

“Be dispassionate about your own work, and while it’s difficult initially, with time it gets easier. “

She advised that if during the process of self-editing, you give thought to what’s important at the core, you will find the irrelevant parts jump at you automatically for them to be removed. 

Manjula Lal, author of ‘ThePresswallah’s Journey’ who has also read both the books shared her feedback, after which she spoke about her own book.

She also narrated her experiences of working in newspapers, publishing houses and her journey as an author. She told the participants how she tries to be different as an author than what she is as a person. This meant that even though her novel is based on her experiences it may not necessarily be a reflection of the real her. This revelation was interesting for the newbie writers who for the first time realized it was possible to keep the two entities (of the person and the author) separate.

manjula

On her own journey as a novelist, she shared her frustrations, challenges and her journey of rejections for two years before Readomania expressed interest in her novel.

Her simplistic approach came to the fore when she said that a good book is one where you don’t struggle to reach the end.

That was not just surprisingly easy to imbibe but also encouraging for the participants as they realized they could well manage writing such a book.

What made the discussion even more interesting was that the Ms. SutapaBasu, editor of ‘ThePresswallah’s Journey’, herself a bestselling author with her novel ‘Dangle’, was amongst us and shared her insights and advice.

Some important take-aways for the participants –

Character driven/plot driven

Plot-driven is one where the story has an entire arc where the story unfolds, has a conflict that resolves and has an end. It is narration of an adventure where the protagonist may encounter and overcome challenges but the experiences do not change his as such. The reader’s interest is held together by ‘what’s next?’.

Character-driven is one where the story is about a protagonist’s journey, so they need to be strong enough to carry the story on their shoulders. It is a quest where the person beings with a different set of beliefs and principles, and by the end of the novel is a different person.

 

Creative Writing
POV

Point of view from the first person narrative or third person limited and third person omniscient.

How to avoid head hopping? Change in POV can be done across scenes or better still, across chapters (but never within the same scene or it amounts to head hopping).

Characterization

develop the person as if it’s a real person – give them quirks, likes, dislikes, give interesting traits, all along the way (right from the beginning).

Don’t let them become predictable.

Action

events should unfold interesting action. Don’t let scene not have anything happening in it.

Relatability – Seek reactions from people who are in the same profession as your characters.
Quality of Writing
  • Do not write as you would speak. Spoken English is very different from written English.
  • Let your writing sit for some time before you read/edit/approach it again.
  • Go through multiple rounds of self-editing, with a three-month gap between each edit, before sending it to a publisher.
  • Avoid Indian English. There is a huge difference in the usage of the words ‘marriage’ and ‘wedding’.
  • Introduce variation in length of sentences.
  • To be a better writer, read.
  • To improve upon a piece of writing that you think is not impactful enough, try reading it aloud.
Readability – 

Ask yourself, “what is in there for the reader? What is in there that prompts the reader to question or ponder, without it being preachy?”

(How to avoid) Plagiarism

Be extremely well read to be aware of what’s been done/written before. And after that try and narrate everything in your own voice. The settings, characterizations, treatment/resolution of a crisis would give an element of originality to your story, even if it’s been done before.

On taking Back -ups

Email your writing to yourself.

The engrossing session shot well past its time of two hours and had to be cut short with the organizers deciding to do away with the creative writing exercises due to lack of time. It concluded with a joint note of thanks from Readomania and Wrimo India. Participants were requested to share their feedback on the event page, along with a reminder to keep an eye out for more such events.

Overall, it was a great learning experience for all those present.

This report is written by Piyusha Vir, who is the NaNoWriMo co-ML for Delhi Region.

piyusha

Piyusha is a sometime sane reader, part-time crazy writer and full-time wacky alien. You can either find her on her blog Wandering Soul – writing insane articles that defy all logic; or in the kitchen trying to salvage the burnt chicken that her father will turn up his nose at. She, in partnership with a writer friend, has also recently started a writing-related venture – Beyond Coffee and Words.

 

Readomania is an Indian-based publishing house, making a splash in the Indian publishing industry with its different and interesting collection of offerings like Defiant Dreams, Dangle, Cabbing All the Way.

New writers and aspiring authors can publish their short stories, poems, and write-ups for readers and feedback on their online platform – readomania.com 

Wrimo India is the India chapter of the non-profit organization – NaNoWriMo. It was founded by NaNoWriMo ML for India region, Sonia Rao, as a safe space for wrimos to hone their writing craft through sharing their writings and giving and receiving feedback. We conduct write-in sessions, talks and meet-ups, to encourage aspiring novelists and NaNoWriMo participants to attempt writing their own novels. Know more about NaNoWriMo by visiting their website- nanowrimo.org.

Connect with Wrimo India on Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/NaNoWriMo.India/

(Pics courtesy Readomania and Piyusha Vir).