Monday, October 9, 2017 1 Comments

What Ruins A Story? What Authors/Readers Have To Say




The world of story is a wonderland. If told well, you can live them. But, not all stories are wonderful. Why? What ruins a story?

In this post, I'll be sharing some expert views on this topic.  Before I start, I'd like to clarify that when it comes to my opinion, I'm talking as a reader.

So, let's get straight to the points.

Boring Writing Style:

Writing style is not just about lyrical prose, it's also about execution and the voice that connects the writer to the readers, and this connection is crucial. Once I was reading a Literary fiction by an acclaimed author. While the writing was flawless, I did not enjoy reading the book as it was too descriptive, without any what next factor.

Beautiful storytelling is about interesting writing style and smart execution. No matter how interesting the plot is, a story does not interest me if I don't like the writing style or if the story isn't executed well.

Lack of Research:

Madhuri Banerjee, one of the most popular Indian authors (of 8 books), says, 'Lack of research kills the charm of the story.'

When we think about research, we tend to believe that it is needed only for heavy or some specific genres. The truth is - research (however, different kinds of) is important and essential for even a common story. It makes the story authentic.

Recently, I read 'Empire by Devi Yesodharan', a historical fiction. Even though I was not fond of this genre, I liked this book for it's a very well researched book.

Too Many OR Minimal Dialogues:

Dialogues are important but too many, unnecessary dialogues are boring and immature. Characters don't have to say something about every single thing. Dialogues should be interesting and witty; must indicate or reveal something about the characters and situations, plus they should move the story forward.

When it comes to witty, interesting dialogues, I'd like to mention dialogues of Will Traynor from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Jugnu by Ruchi Singh (that I read recently, and loved! If you enjoy reading romances, read this book).

Poorly Fleshed Characters:

When you read a story, the characters are your companion. So, it's very important the you feel that special connection with the characters. 

Kavita Devgan, author of Don't Diet and an avid reader says, 'As a reader, if you don't feel for them or even against them are a kill joy. You should feel invested in the protagonist and even the sidekicks. Like in The Spy by Paulo Coelho, one lives the life of Mata Hari along with her. That's good story telling.'

Overdose of Information:

A Writer is telling the story, right. (Most of) The readers are not writers, right. But, readers are intelligent enough to grasp what the writer is saying. Trust your readers. Also, sometimes overdose of information acts as spoilers.

'When authors giveaway too much information for a reader to process and then proceed with the story; it takes away the joy of reading' says Namrata, author of Metro Diaries, editor and popular book reviewer.

Slow Pace:

Slow reads are not my cup of tea.There are many unfinished books on my bookshelf, mainly because most of them were painfully slow, and I couldn't manage.

'In my very personal opinion, lack of pace or slow actions, and lack of intrigue ruin a story,' says Saiswaroopa Iyer, author of mythological/historical fiction Abhaya and recently released Avishi.

Predictability:

When asked on Twitter, Swati Rai, popular book blogger said, 'Predictable endings ruins the joy of reading.'

Unpredictability is one of the most important ingredients of a story. However if told well, I can enjoy certain genres like love stories, even though predictable but unpredictability, of course, enhances the pleasure of reading.

When it comes to unpredictability, I'd like to mention Sriramana author of Frankly Spooking for the 'what next' factor in his stories.

Lack of Coherence:

Clarity of voice is important. And, even though it's fiction, it has to be plausible. 'With coherent narration, everything just snuggles in place,' says Deepa Govind, a reader and blogger.

That's all for now. What's your take? Share your views.







Share/Bookmark
Monday, October 2, 2017 2 Comments

Book Review: One Enduring Lesson by Jamal Merchant



When it comes to choosing a book, two things attract me - Book cover and blurb. One Enduring Lesson by Jamal Merchant (Rupa Publications) has a captivating cover that offers a glimpse of lovely love story. However, this book can not be categorized as a love story.

One Enduring Lesson tells a thoughtful story of Rahul Saxena, son of an Indian father and British mother, who aspires to be a successful film producer. Out of job and rejected in love, Rahul decides to move ahead and leaves London to live in Mumbai to study film making. But, his life and Mumbai have different - some shocking, some enlightening - plans for him. He meets different women and eventually falls in love with one.

This book talks about the culture, people, lifestyle and challenges of  the city of dreams, Mumbai as Rahul (turned Radium) meets various people and bizarre situations.

How and why an aspiring film producer turns into 'Radium'? How he tackles the difficulties? Would he be able to complete his studies and become a successful film-maker? What about his love story? You will have to read One Enduring Lesson to find the answers.

Style/format-wise, One Enduring Lesson is a different book. It's somewhat a collection of inter-connected stories in the form of Rahul's different experiences in Mumbai. These stories or experiences cover almost every problem/issue of different parts of India. It reflects the social structure of our country.

Overall, it's a nice and thoughtful read, but the problem with this book is its writing style. The writing style overly follows the (reverse) rule, 'Tell, Don't Show'. The writing fails to build up the intrigue, which is sad because there are some intriguing elements in the story. Also, Rahul, the main protagonist seems to have instant and foolproof solutions to everybody's problems except his own problems. It was a tad annoying and impractical.

One Enduring Lesson is a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds (Quoted from the blurb). If you are looking for a light yet thoughtful read, go for it.

About the author: Jamal Merchant came to England from Tanzania, East Africa, in 1972, and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1976. He then settled in London where he is now self-employed as a property finance broker. Jamal has travelled widely including to India, China, Egypt, USA, Canada and the Middle East. His interests include reading, current affairs, movies and cricket. One Enduring Lesson, a love story based in India, is his debut novel.


I received the book from the publisher for an honest review.





Share/Bookmark
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 8 Comments

My Dearest Book, I Wrote You A Poem!



A dream in my hands
An eager step towards a
Beautiful journey

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My dearest,
On a lonely, sunny afternoon
A few murmurs, a blurred vision
Floated in my mind
You stirred
A figment of imagination,
An ephemeral dream, I presumed
You smiled, a promising smile that stuck
Refusing to go away
You made me restless
But brought solace too
Giving me a new horizon
You, my little precious book, encouraged 
With a million quirky thoughts
Embracing me and promising, yet again
A new, beautiful journey




Imaginary Garden invites us to write a poem, dedicated to our dearest book. As a first time author, of course, my dearest book is my own book, We Will Meet Again. It was a great learning experience and the connection I developed with my book and characters while writing is exceptionally special!

I loved this idea! Do you like this idea? Then write a poem for your dearest book, and share. :)


Sharing With Haiku My Heart


   

Share/Bookmark
Thursday, September 7, 2017 7 Comments

Book Review: Empire by Devi Yesodharan




'The strangest flowers,' my brother said, 'have come out of ordinary grass.'

Even though I am not fond of historical fiction (or maybe I haven't tried reading them seriously), I enjoyed reading Empire by Devi Yesodharan (Juggernaut Books). And, it's a big thing as a reader - enjoying the genre you don't read much.

I love books that have women as central protagonists, and Empire, set in the times of Chola dynasty, has Aremis, a strong and only woman warrior, who not only beat all the boys in a tournament but also qualifies to be the throne guard of the Chola King.

'It's not enough to be better than everyone else. I have to be better than their fantasies.' Aremis thinks.

Greek by origin, Aremis or Yavani, still a foreigner among Cholas, has no family and she is not supposed to fall in love. Not allowed to look attractive. 

Empire also tells the story Anantha (Also called as Avvai), the commander of the Chola armies, who develops a special connection with Aremis, which eventually damages the trust she has built in the eyes of the King. Especially when an important battle is waiting ahead!

How her life changes after becoming the throne guard? Why her special connection with Anantha damages the credibility of Aremis? An asset to the kingdom, would she be allowed to fight the battle? Will the Cholas win the battle? You need to read the book to find these (and many more) answers.

Written in first person from two Points of View, this book is intriguing, imaginative, and seems very well-researched. The language is neat and well-suited to this genre. It reflects the culture of the Cholas and spirit of the fighters. 

Characters do (or the author make them do) justice to their roles. The author has expressed the longing and loneliness of Aremis really well. 'There are a few memories so vivid it's like looking at them through a window.'

The fights of Aremis, as a quick-witted, dark warrior with dagger and bow, seem impressive. 

Just one thing - I think, for this story, it would have been better (more vivid - expression/appearance-wise) if it was written in third person PoV.

Overall, this book was a wonderful reading experience, and it has inspired me to read more historical fiction, especially with strong female central characters. If you like reading historical fiction, you must pick this book. Even if you are new to this genre (like me), you should read this well-written book.


I received an (Advance) Review Copy from the publisher for an honest review.


Sharing with Chatty Blogs








Share/Bookmark
Saturday, September 2, 2017 1 Comments

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Kanchana Banerjee

I love everything that deals with writing and books. Writing tips, writing journey (struggles), book reviews, book recommendations, and 'author's interviews' -  if I find any such posts, I'm off to read that!

Today, I am in conversation with Kanchana Banerjee, author of A Forgotten Affair (Harper Collins). Kanchana Banerjee is an experienced freelance writer (that reflects in her writing), and switched to creative writing with her debut novel, A forgotten Affair.




She believes, 'There's always a time and place for everything.'

She is one of the most disciplined and dedicated writers I have met (online, actually). So, let's talk!

Welcome to my blog. Tell your readers something about you and about your writing journey.

I always knew writing is what I would do. Nothing else was ever an option. So I worked with few newspapers before becoming a  freelance features writer. Then veered into corporate writing. I also knew that someday I would write a book. Everything else I did along the way was in preparation of that. Now I’m home, in the world of fiction.

You had been a freelance writer for 20 years. What prompted you to write fiction? And, how challenging/different you think creative writing is?

As I said above, it was a natural progression of things. I wrote features for a very long time. Topics I like to write on are – relationships, people profiles, life in general, changing landscape in society & etc. so it’s hardly surprising that I write relationship stories.

You have won the contract of A Forgotten Affair by pitching your synopsis in just 3 minutes. Sounds pretty impressive. Can you please share some pitching tips for aspiring writers?

Allow yourself to be nervous. It’s ok to be. Build on that nervous edge to do your best. Tell yourself again and again that you’ll not let go of the moment. Own the moment. Let your passion speak. Prepare well but don’t read from a script. If it’s doesn’t swing your way, don’t curse yourself. you win some, you lose some. You live to win another day.

Tell me something about A Forgotten Affair – where did you get the inspiration from?



I write on relationships so I observe people around me. I have seen some of my friends and some elderly aunts in the family in emotionally abusive relationships. It has disturbed for a very long time. The fact that women themselves don’t realize and accept that they are being minimized; it just horrifies and angers me.

As a writer, what you think ruins a story?

Over telling or over justification. Don’t tell all about the characters. Reveal bit by bit about them. Keep the reader surprised and anxious to read on and know. Don’t justify a vile character. Allow them to be bad just for the sake of being bad. And don’t let the characters be inconsistent.

Is there any particular genre you find difficult to write? If yes, which one?

I don’t think I would be able to write an erotica. It requires a certain sensibility which I don’t have. 

Would you like to share something about your future projects?

I have finished Novel 2. Novel 3 & 4 are fully etched out in separate folders in my lap top. They all deal with relationships, are reflection of the contemporary times we live in but also very different from each other. I am very superstitious about my writing and believe that if I talk about a work in progress that will never see the light of day. So my lips are sealed.

You are a very disciplined/dedicated writer. Tell us something about your writing process.

The idea of the plot and the protagonist comes to me together. I then allow it stay in my thoughts. I keep thinking, jotting down points and allow the idea to grow. Then I start writing a detailed character sketch of the protagonist and the other primary characters. This allows me to get into the skin of the characters, their life and the story I will tell through them. Then I do chapter outline of first 10 chapters, after which I begin writing. But I have seen that somewhere around 15,000 words, the story decides to take over and tells me, “To hell with the chapter outlines, follow me.” I always heed. The story tells and I follow. I’m very weird in one thing; I need to know the end of the story. So after writing few chapters, I know how I want the end to be. So I write it down. so far I haven’t changed the end. So I know the beginning and the end; then all that’s left is to reach the destination.

Writing and getting published is difficult. What is more difficult  –
Finding ideas
Finishing the first draft
Editing
Marketing?

Writing, ideating is tough but it’s the most enjoyable part of the journey. It’s a happy tough. Editing is heart breaking. I’ve had to chop and delete portions that I loved writing only to realize later that they weren’t doing anything to the story, hence had to go. Marketing is the necessary evil in the whole book journey. For me it is the toughest because marketing doesn’t come naturally to me.

Is there any book that you found overrated/underrated? Have you ever read a book that compelled you to think – I wish I had written this! Which book is that (if yes)?

Yes, I have found a few books over-rated but I don’t want to mention them. books that I wish I’d written – there are many. I wish I’d written Kane & Abel, Palace of Illusions, To kill a mockingbird, Thorn birds, Kite runner…to name a few.

You were very clear about your career since you were a teenager. How did you manage to stay so focused?Please share some insights.

It’s just the way I am. I know what I want and I know what I don’t want. Some people get clarity out confusion and I know what I want. So that’s that.

Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Read a lot. Write a lot. Think about what you are writing. Don’t be in a race to write more. write better. That’s what I follow.

Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure to have you on my blog!





        
      


1   

Share/Bookmark
Sunday, August 20, 2017 4 Comments

Book Review: The Girl Who Loved A Spy by Kulpreet Yadav






From the back cover -

'Everyone is imperfect, and everyone deserves to be loved'

Monica - a 30 something ex-model is fighting for love

Andy Karan -  a young ex-army, investigative reporter is fighting for truth

KB - a wicked business man is fighting for money.


'The Girl Who Loved A Spy' by Kulpreet Yadav is a crime thriller that tells about Andy Karan - who secretly works for Indian Intelligence Service, his love of life and his undercover mission to find the truth and save the nation from the vicious KB, the owner of the magazine Andy and Monica work for.

This mission is going to be tough and different for it involves Monica, Andy eventually falls in love with. So, will Andy succeed in his mission? What about his relationship with Monica? Well, you need to read this book to know the answers.

This is my first book by Mr. Kulpreet Yadav and I liked the writing - it's descriptive, creates nice imagery and helps you understand things better. The cover is smart and apt.

Andy's character is admirable. I liked the way the author has compared Andy with his namesake from the Mahabharat - Karan. 'Your name is Karan, and you can never win. Whatever you love will be taken away from you. You are are cursed, Karan.'

However, I felt that no other character makes any impact. Not even Monica and that was disappointing as I was expecting a strong female lead. Also, the Andy-Monica love story seems half-baked, no emotional development is being shown in the story as the blurb (and the title) reflects.

'It's not that Andy wants to live forever, but this is one case he can't afford to lose. Not just for the truth, but for the first time in his life, for love.'

Their love story, their feelings are not intense enough to justify the statement (and the title) above. The thing is that it wouldn't have affected the story if 'The Girl didn't Love the Spy'.

The book is engaging and you will find yourself turning the pages, but I felt the author has made this book a very easy read, giving all the information away beforehand even though there are some points where there was scope for strong cliffhangers and psychological twists to enhance the unpredictability factor (that would have been more thrilling!).

Nevertheless, this book was a nice, interesting read. If you enjoy crime thrillers, go pick it up!

I thank Mr. Kulpreet Yadav for sending the review copy for an honest review.









Share/Bookmark
Saturday, July 29, 2017 2 Comments

New to Freelance Writing? Things You Need To Know


I am a freelance writer and author (of We Will Meet Again, a contemporary romance). My works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, New Woman and Woman's Era. 

So, naturally, anything related to freelance writing interests me. Recently, Blog Chatter, a wonderful blogging community (if you are a writer or blogger, you must follow Blog Chatter) initiated an interactive and enriching discussion on freelance writing. There were some questions that we discussed on Twitter that (and Blog Chatter of course) prompted me write this post.

Here, I am trying to answer some questions and share my learning and experience. Question & image credit goes to Blog Chatter. 

Freelancing is a very broad term. Since, I am a freelance writer, I am going to talk about freelance writing.



My answer to this questions would be 'Yes' but I can't resist myself adding that 'it's difficult'. If you want to consider freelance writing as a full-time career option, you need to be focused and dedicated. It demands a lot of patience as it takes time to flourish. It involves extensive research and smart marketing skills. You need to make serious/long-term professional contacts and most importantly, you must be very prompt when it comes to ideas and deadlines.

Your chances to succeed as a freelance are fairly high if you manage to get frequent international gigs.







Or Do you have a modus operandi for freelance jobs?

The first thing you need to do is to find suitable markets, and for that you should study the market. Never send your ideas without studying the market (magazine/newspapers/websites) and its guidelines. Because if you do this, there could be two adverse effect - 

1) You may not know if your ideas/style is suitable for that particular market. 
2) The editor would know that you are not familiar with the market and it may ruin your (first) impression thus your chance of getting the gig. 

Also, always address the editor by her/his name.

The second important thing is to learn to write striking pitches. Your pitch is your first impression. And, do not hesitate to follow up. Editors are busy people. Sometimes, you need to remind them, and it's okay.




In my opinion, the biggest challenge of freelancing is to market yourself as an efficient writer. Making contacts and building relationship. If you are smart enough to develop the trust and a long-term relationship with the editors, your chances are high. 

Another challenge is to keep your pockets full of different ideas. It is advisable to find your niche, but I believe you should learn to work out of your comfort zone to maximize your success as a freelance writer. You need to find unique ideas (This is another topic for some other time) to stand out in the market. Even if your idea is common, you must learn to tweak them. Think out of the box.

Then, you must have the ability to reach out to experts for interviews to make your pieces authentic. And, last but certainly not the least, you must meet your deadlines!





Honestly, I haven't worked much with foreign clients, but whatever my experience is, I believe they are more approachable and responsive. Money is smooth. But yes, you can't trust blindly just because it's an international market (and money is good). You must check with fellow writers who have worked with international magazines/newspapers. Connect with successful Indian-international freelance writers. LinkedIn can be a helpful source for this.

You may follow 'Make Living Writing'  and 'The International Freelancer' to understand the International freelance writing better.

If you want to succeed as a freelance writer, I would advise you to read 'EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FREELANCE JOURNALISM (BUT DIDN’T KNOW WHOM TO ASK' by Kavitha Rao and Charukesi Ramadurai. It's a must have for new freelance writers as it will answer most of your questions.

So, that's all for now. I hope you find this post helpful. Please share your insights (even queries, if any). I am all ears! 




Share/Bookmark
 
;