Tag Archives: Wrimo India

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.

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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).

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.

Delhi meetup6.jpg

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.

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.

BROKEN PROMISES – A Peptalk by Shomprakash Sinha Roy

Let’s pretend for a minute, that we haven’t lied to ourselves over and over again – as kids, we had those dumb new year resolutions and birthday commitments that none of us could stick to. Through high school, those last minute ‘revisions’ perpetually reminded us of our failure to comply with the one basic un-natural part of an otherwise terrible life – routine.

We’ve all done it. Broken a promise, swallowed our guilt, compensated for them with ego issues and we’ve all moved on from the horrors of our past.

And then some of us wanted to write. I did, and if you’re reading this then there’s more than a half-decent chance that you did, too. A short story to begin with, a novella to feel good about yourself and a novel, maybe – a novel, just to tell yourself that you can. And it isn’t exactly as simple as a diet plan or a workout regime – there are no tangible results in this department.

There lies the dilemma – you might’ve written ten thousand crappy words or a hundred words of pure beauty, but you will never know if the outcome was worth the effort. As a published author, I wish I could say something to negate that theory, but I really can’t. There will always be times when pages after pages, words after words and manuscripts after manuscripts will fail miserably in the cruelty of your own critique.

Why then, must we continue to do what we once dreamed of doing? Why must we let that tiny child-like voice in our head win? The one that keeps telling us that our lives could possibly become a whole lot more meaningful, provided we were ready to slog for it? Why must we create anything at all, when we know that it will all come crumbling down one day?

These are valid questions, I kid you not. Happiness, however profound it may appear at the outset, is temporary. It is perhaps this great design flaw in our species, which motivates us to run after things that have the potential of making us happy. Money, material acquisitions, food, sex, love – the idea of being cared for by someone other than yourself, they’re all little lynchpins towards that one surreal goal – happiness.

So the question really is, does writing make you happy? Does it, even for a second, alleviate the pain of all those years behind you? Does writing make you forget who you are, where you are right now? Does it make everything else seem so mighty insignificant that you could just write… or die trying?

If it doesn’t, you should stop right now. Because as harsh as it may seem, this is at once the tiniest and strongest obstacle you will ever face. Life as you know it will go on, and there will be a million urges to quit midway. People will tell you that your work is hard to understand, that it’s full of typographical errors, that it’s either not commercial at all or worse – too commercial to digest. People will inspire you, like you, admire you, push you, threaten you, hate you, insult you, they will tell you things that generate deeper pathos than George R.R. Martin’s character development techniques.

So if you’re someone like me (someone who has a history of breaking promises backing them up) and if writing doesn’t kick the living devil out of you, maybe you shouldn’t do it at all.

But you don’t want to hear that, do you?

No.

You are in pursuit of a greater dream. You, dear Wrimo, have embraced a journey that ends in victory or death, but never in embarrassment. You just followed every word of this post and felt your blood pumping through your veins, fighting the urge to close this window or maybe just throw your device away. You know what that is?

That’s a shard of your ego trying to carve its place where another, stronger emotion deserves to exist – discipline.

I’ve never been a strong proponent of the concept, but then again, I’ve never been a scientologist either. So I guess I can talk about it. More specifically, I need to say this on the Wrimo platform because had it not been for NaNoWriMo 2012, I would never have finished writing my first manuscript. I don’t know how my stars were aligned, or if the zodiac guys decided to call it an off-month or something, but November 2012 proved to be the month where my inhibitions about quality, temporariness and ego fell through. I was churning words faster than I had ever done before, and it all came down to one thing.

Discipline.

The urge to endure through the difficult phase of keeping a promise intact. The early mid life crisis of those who have dared to fall in love or maybe just to read a poem and appreciate it for what it is.

It is the one thing that separates ‘good’ from ‘easy’. And it will lead you to your path, however obscure your goal might seem right now. Of course, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you it was possible to write 50,000 words in just under 72 hours. It is humanly possible, yes. But the desire to accomplish that feat cannot be driven purely by instinct, or some twisted form of revenge.

So accept it – the temporariness, the void, the possibility of a million failed books, the sheer unfairness of the publishing world – let all of that go down the drain. This is war. It’s you against yourself.

You can’t afford to lose that one, right?

So write.

About Shomprakash Sinha Roy:

Shom pic

Shomprakash Sinha Roy is an author of fiction, of Indian origin. A marketing managagement alumnus from the Indian Institute of Business Management New Delhi, he has three titles on shelves so far (The Pink Smoke, Life Served Hot and 21 Things About Romance). With honors like the Whistling Woods International Young Achiever Award (2013) and a Forbes Nomination (2014) backing him up, he still cherishes his first literary win – NaNoWriMo 2012, where he finished writing his first manuscript. He stays in Bangalore and is a fan of grunge music.

For more about Shom, click here and for his books, here.

 

HOW TO GET OVER THE NIGHTMARE OF MID-NOVEMBER – A Peptalk by Aastha Atray Banan

For me, the thought of writing is fascinating. But the actual exercise a nightmare. I find it very hard to sit down, collect my thoughts and then just go at it. But when I do, I usually don’t think much about it, but write as it comes to me. I don’t make plans, or strategize what which character is going to say or do. I just write as it happens in my head, in that moment.

Long periods of writing nothing have taught me that sometimes, cliché as it sounds, reading is the only way to get inspired. I read when I have nothing to write about, or can’t get myself to articulate what I am thinking or feeling. But I don’t just read anything. I re-read. I re-read books I have loved along the way, books that made me want to be a writer. I read books that comfort me, either with their stories of lovers and families, or with lines and passages that are so beautiful that I am struck by what wonderful people writers are and how much the world needs them to make sure we never lose that loving feeling.

And so I often find myself reading Jane Eyre, that dysfunctional, melancholic tale of a girl who never just gets a break, even when she falls in love. It may be a sad love story, but it is also one that says, that love triumphs everything. I also read Rebecca, which is so beautiful in its sadness it makes my heart stop. It deals with that familiar emotion – the feeling that we can never match up with a person our lover once loved.

I also re-read Agatha Christie’s classic and brilliant book And Then There Were None every time I want to be reminded of the fact that writers are geniuses. They can do anything in their books! I also read any of Haruki Murakami’s books, just to know that a writer has the capability of changing lives by just a sentence.

Once I am inspired by these great writers, it’s easy to get back to writing. I realize that I am doing something that very few people get to do – put my thoughts and feelings on paper. And if I touch somebody’s life by doing that, well, then it’s the cherry on top pf the cake. Writing is hard, but it’s also cathartic, and when you write, you can be anyone, and do anything. So, writers, don’t give up. Your book could speak to someone miles away from you. Write for them.

I know right now, you must be feeling tense and nervous, and even overworked. It’s tough to stick to deadline and word limits. Nobody knows that better than me, a journalist who has daily deadlines. But get rid of the self doubt and just keep your focus where it’s needed most: on the writing. Pick a time in the day where you have nothing else to do, be it early morning or late at night. And just start writing, whatever may flow from your fingers. You can revisit it later and edit. Know that, at the end of it all, you will be proud that you wrote so much. And it will give you the push needed for the next project.

Best of luck.

About Aastha Atray Banan:

Aastha

Presently an assistant editor with Sunday Midday

Twitter: @aastha82

Instagram: @aasthabanan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aastha.atray

Books:
Games Girls Play (RUPA Publications)
His Monsoon Bride (Mills &Boon)

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? 😉

LOLLYGAGGING AND THE ART OF ZOOMING THROUGH NANOWRIMO – A peptalk by Krishna Shastri Devalupalli

Dear Na-No-Wri-Movers & Shakers,

If things have gone according to plan, you are all in front of your keyboards or touch-screen devices searching for that elusive first word of your high-speed novel.

Or, in front of typewriters or blank paper with fountain pen in hand, if you’re old fashioned.

Or, staring at the blank wall of your cave with a sharpened stone in your hands, if you’ve been transported to the Palaeolithic age via a time-machine made by S S Rajamouli’s art department.

Either way, you have 50,000 words to go and 30 days to do it.

That makes it 1666.66 words per day. That’s silly, isn’t it? What’s .66 of a word? Seriously.

I would’ve made it 25 days. A round 2,000 words per day. I tell you.

Be that as it may, here are a bunch of tips that’ll get you zooming through this like a jackrabbit on whatever it was that Lance Armstrong was having.

  1. Brag
    Get on FB/Twitter/Monkey Mail or whatever else your social media platform is and tell everyone you wrote 15, 653 words on the first day. Half the competition will drop out. Even if you don’t complete your assignment, who cares, you’ve got 3698 ‘like’s. I’d kill for that.
  2. Dress Right
    You’ve got the right duds on, half the battle won, dude. If you’re writing a period romance, dress in appropriate gear. Breast plate, thongs (for the feet, silly), codpiece, etc. Have a horse on standby. Personally, whichever genre I’m writing in, I wear an old Bombay Dyeing towel and an angavastram tied around my head like a turban. The former reminds me of Lisa Ray’s early ’90s ads and the latter keeps my head from exploding. Cool, right?
  3. Retell
    This is India, dudes – the land of a million copyright-free stories – where forty-year-olds go to sleep, nursing a warm glass of spiked milk, only when their wives tell them the same stories their grandmas did. So don’t break your lit-fest-craving-bestseller-hallucinating heads thinking up new plots. All you have to do is retell, repackage, rename and win this shindig. Where is that old Amar Chitra Katha collection, I say?
  4. Lie
    Announce, with immediate effect, that you’ve got a big-time publishing deal. You’re not lying if you’ve seen it clearly – even under the influence of over-the-counter hallucinogens. The thatastu devatas, prone to floating about without a care for no-fly-zones, might just say ‘So be it.’ Which is basically their job description. If that doesn’t happen, at least you’ve temporarily paralyzed the competition.
  5. Use Big Words
    If you’re running out of plot twists, do what I do. String up big words together in lyrical sentences. So what if they’re meaningless. Half the award-winning books are, too. For example, here’s a beauty I’ve used in several permutations and combinations:

The foofaraw of the hortatory was perspicacious. But did I prognosticate? Nay, you, pettifogger – poltroon that, you can’t lollygag me with your scofflaw!!

It is imperative to use several exclamation marks, semi-colons and hashtags.

All the best, my friends. More later.

About Krishna Shastri Devulapalli:

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is an illustrator, cartoonist, book designer, columnist and writer. He has written two novels, Ice Boys in Bell-bottoms and Jump Cut, and a play, Dear Anita.

How To Be A Literary Sensation: A Quick Guide to Exploiting Friends, Family & Facebook for Financial Gain his first work of non-fiction will be out in Nov 2015.

He is currently designing a car that can run purely on the gas generated at literary festivals.

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).

Milan Vohra asks, “Who said you should write?” – A NaNo2014 peptalk

There are way too many things we think we should be doing. At this point, at about 4:45 a.m. as I write this, I can think of about 199 things, off-the-cuff. They range from deep, soul-growth ‘shoulds’, like “I should meditate everyday”, “I should volunteer at the old age home next door every Sunday”, “I should be gentler on myself” … to more mundane ‘shoulds’ like “I should change the wi-fi password so my son lives more in his books and less on Facebook”, or “I should start making sprouts from scratch at home!”

There is something about the word ‘should’ that almost always makes me want to mentally suffix the word ‘but’.

‘I know I should, but…’

So let’s come back to the start. Who said you should write? Nobody held a gun to your head and said “Hey! <<Insert your name here>>, you should write!”

Why should you kill yourself and not watch ‘Gone girl’ before it’s gone from the theatres? (Reviews notwithstanding). Why should you have to wait till the dog is walked at night, the doors are locked, the rajma soaked and even the neighbour’s TV has gone silent so you can finally hear yourself think? Because you think you should write?

‘Should’ in my experience is a word best used to get teenagers to do the opposite of what you want them to do. “Sweetie, you should stay in bed all day today.” There’s a very good chance the kid is going to demand to know why.

So when that annoying voice in your head stopped you from meeting your friend for coffee, because it said you should write, did you ask the voice “why’?

Let me share a short true story. Some months ago I agreed to write a screenplay for somebody. After the initial delight and disbelief that somebody wanted me to do it though I’d never written one before and was even willing to wait for me to be freed up from my existing commitments – a delayed reaction set in. “I know nothing about writing screenplays!” “Aren’t there all sorts of rules about formatting…text that must be centralised, words that need to be capitalised?” What on earth was I thinking!?

“I know!” I told myself. “I should order some books on the craft of it and get educated.” Books, bought, speed reading initiated. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Heavy underlining. No words put down yet. “I should attend a workshop on it and fast track the whole thing.” I did. Only, another idea kept popping up in my head and on my pages. Seducing me with its possibilities and distracting me constantly from the screenplay I was supposed to complete by November 15th! The ‘hauvva’ or bogey-man of the unfamiliar format grew bigger. I was now waking up in regular cold sweats. “Silly silly me. I should get that software they all said is so brilliant at the workshop.” I did. It spoke in Geek to me. More tick-tock. Tick-tock with wings!

Any of this sounding familiar yet?

“I know I should write, but…”

But, but… I’ve gone and planned the story with characters living in countries I know nothing of. And none of these characters are even Indian! Of course! “I should research everything about these totally foreign characters, even the flavours of ice cream popular in these places!”

I should remember to back up. I’m sure I did. Yet – the software gobbled up most of what I’d done, one night before the deadline.

Every single ‘should’ that had built up into a series of obstacles merged and immobilized me into a ‘deer caught in the headlights’ reaction.

‘I should just quit!’ It was like a chant in my head. It would be so simple to call the guy, say, ‘I’m so sorry, here’s your advance, please take it back, please.’ Then I could sleep. 0h, I so wanted to sleep. Also, I wanted to cry. So I did. I had a quick, alone, why-me, poor-me cry.

And then I forced myself to write. Just one sentence, I told myself.

I sat back to look at it. “I should finish this screenplay.”

MV 1A

 

I heard my inner voice ask, ‘Why?’

Tentatively, I struck out the word ‘should’. Above it I wrote another word. ‘Could’

MV2 (1)

It felt a little liberating. That word ‘should’ carries so much pressure.

Maybe. “I could finish this screenplay.” Hmmm…

It felt better but still sounded iffy. I wasn’t convinced.

I added some more words to the sentence.

MV3

I made one last revision. Struck out that ambivalent ‘Could’ and replaced it with a decisive ‘Would’

This is what I finally had.

MV4

“If I really wanted to, I would finish this screenplay.”

I tell you, it was an epiphany!* Now when I saw that statement, I knew with a deep knowing that of course, I really want to! I knew when I took the assignment on, it excited me. In a good, scary way. It challenged me to do something new and actually I had grown to like these people in my story. I wanted to see them through to the end. To that last Credits Rolling shot.

I’m guessing you signed on for NaNoWriMo  for a similar reason. Because that good scary feeling when you decided to challenge yourself is something you chose to do. Because you really wanted to! Tell yourself this, with love, as you make those words appear on your page. Tell yourself…

MV5Final

And you will!

From someone who wrote and lived to tell the tale,

Milan

About Milan Vohra:

Milan Vohra is an author, advertising consultant and an insomniac. She enjoys writing ad campaigns by day and fiction by night. One of her short stories won a nationwide Harlequin contest and brought her into the international spotlight as the first Indian Mills & Boon author. Her book “The Love Asana” became an unprecedented bestseller and also brought her priceless experiences like being on a BBC show with the legendary Penny Jordan. The Love Asana is now being translated into several languages. Milan has also written YA (Young Adult) stories for Penguin in ‘Love like that and other stories’ . She has written short stories on subjects like sexual abuse and its genesis, transgender identity conflict for Unisun Publishers in ‘Vanilla desires’. And another soon  to appear in a Harper Collins anthology. Milan has written a musical comedy called “Maid in India’ and scripts for Season 1 of the Emmy award winning show Sesame Street for Indian TV. Milan’s latest book is ‘Tick-Tock, We’re 30’  by Westland Publishers, It is a fun, reflective rom-com about old friendships, new chemistries, and imperfect urban relationships.

Milan’s real claim to fame, she says, is that she is the world’s best worst dancer.

You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

* thanks ‘Heal your life’