Writing Tips that Make No Sense

Hey there welcome to Anasua’s Bookish world. I am really sorry for the long absence. It had been a busy month for me. Durga Puja the biggest festival of Kolkata (Calcutta) had been in the beginning of this month. Then before the frenzy was over Diwali shopping and preparation began. Along with that my work as a mentor and life coach continued. To top it all, I am also 20k words down on my upcoming novel Kingdom of Clay Book 1. So, you can imagine, I could not schedule time for a blog post in this rush.

Thankfully, the festive time is over and I can once again go back to my normal routine. Yes, I had read a lot. I am reading a lot too. But that is a different topic which I would discuss in a different blog post. Right now, I am going to talk about writing tips that totally puzzle me.

Thanks to online resources we have everything at our disposal. Just one search and viola we have a flood of search results. Writing tips are available in abundance as well. But the question is – how many really works? When I was getting started as a writer, I followed writing tips like crazy. I was totally into it. I would strictly follow every tip that I could find. I thought that would make me a better writer. I was wrong. So, today I am going to list a few tips that almost ruined my writing career.

Show Don’t Tell

I am really not sure who invented this rule. I would love to sit with this genius and have a lengthy discussion. Show don’t tell. This is storytelling, not story showing. Hollywood shows stories and many times poorly so.

There are times writers forget that the stories we remember and connect to begin with Once upon a time there was a king. That is telling and showing cannot surpass that. Of course, there are times you need to show the scars and the pain. But other times tell the story with honesty, please. We are storytellers. We don’t show stories. Stephen King is a storyteller who does not try to show and look where he is right now.

Write what You Know

This advice made me really doubt Agatha Christie. Write what you know huh? Well, if she had been writing what she knew how come she was not behind the bars? This is a rule which I would like to burn in public and then bury it six feet down under. Who invented it anyways? Who writes what they know? Only non-fiction, self-help writers with A-Type creative disorder write what they know. This is not for us the fiction writers. I don’t think high fantasy would have existed had everyone wrote what they knew.

Kill Your Darling

This is not a spiritual journey. This is writing. Yes, to me this is spiritual. But come on, this is not Nirvana. You don’t have to kill things you love. Getting attached to the writing style might create adverse effect on writing. But that does not mean you should omit all the sentences that you love. If you don’t love what you are writing, why should others do that? Yes there are times we create paragraphs that are not required in the story, yet we fail to get rid of them. Those are the times we should kill that darling. But it is about that particular darling, you don’t have to kill all your darlings. Please.

Now, these three advises are the ones I get to hear all the times. I have tried to follow these (except write what you know – that is absolutely rubbish). Eventually I gave up. Of course, just because I find them to be useless, you should not abandon them. If they work for you, all the best. But for me – well I rather tell a story; I rather plunge into the unknown and keep my darlings close by.

So, that’s it for now. I will be back soon with my reading update.

The Name of The Wind…A Discussion

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The Name of The Wind…A Discussion

Hey there, welcome to Anasua’s Bookish World. I did not post anything for a while. I just could get disengage myself from The Name of The Wind. I had to finish reading it before I did anything else. The book had ruined my resolution of finishing one book a week. It ruined my TBR list of the month. It more or less wrecked me. While reading it, I felt derailed. I am still in that state. So, forgive me if I get messy or disorganized. This is the first book in a long time which held me so tight under its spell that I did not even bother to make any notes. I am not referring to any thought right now. Therefore, I might not be able to follow a structure here. It is so like Kvothe and his life.

Okay first thing first, this is the story of Kvothe. He is narrating his life story to a man called The Chronicler. Therefore, to like the book or to enjoy it, you would have to like Kvothe. Also, this is a character driven story because the MC is narrating his life to someone. So, if you don’t like character driven plots this might not be for you. I love stories where characters take the front seat. Also I like first person narration, so I expected to like this story despite the mixed reviews. What I encountered wrecked me totally. This is not an entirely spoiler free discussion. So, if you want to read this book without knowing anything about it – please come back to the post later on.

The Plot

Kvothe takes three days to tell the story of his life. The Name of The Wind is the first day’s narration which follows Kvothe from childhood to adulthood. It shows how Kvothe becomes the Kingkiller.

Okay so, the story begins or rather Kvothes account of his life begins with a happy note. Then it all got wrecked. He lost his parents in the most horrific manner and then at the age of 11 he faced life in its cruelest form.

What I really liked about the storytelling is the touch of realism. When Kvothe finds his parents lifeless bodies he goes numb. It is his way of dealing with the grief. I totally understood this. I remembered experiencing the same feeling standing by my father’s lifeless body. That scene broke open a door and brought back memories I had locked inside. After so many years I finally sat and allowed the waves to sweep me back in time. It was disturbing. But in a way, it was needed as like Kvothe I also found that the memories don’t hurt any longer. Those moments have become just images which brought no feeling anymore.

What Worked for Me

Everything worked for me here. This is a gush post so the next section I am omitting. I am a high fantasy writer. So, this book worked as a tutorial for me in a way. I learn a lot about world building from this story. I lost myself in this world. The way Kvothe’s character has been built up is a lesson every writer should learn from. Patrick Rothfuss is an amazing story teller. He takes the story from nowhere and builds an empire.

Kvothe is the golden boy every parent wants. Yet, he has been dragged down to the street and made to beg. This is not the story of an underdog rising to fame that we so many times see in high fantasy novels. Here Kvothe is the hero who makes so many mistakes. He also admits them saying I wish I would have done it the other way or something like that. It has been an absolute pleasure to read this book.

I found that the readers either love Kvothe or they hate him. I also read one review (I don’t exactly remember in which website) where the reader has compared The Name of The Wind with The Twilight. The reviewer said that the novel is Twilight for guys. I don’t know about that as I have not read Twilight and don’t plan to read it either. But I remember leafing through the pages of Twilight once and putting the book back in the shelf and never to look at it. The Name of The Wind on the other hand forced me to keep turning the pages. I am overwhelmed by the intensity of the story, the depth of the character and of course by the writing style. It is so poetic and lyrical. It is like a magic wand that takes you to the world of the fiction and keeps you there.

Conclusion

Okay, if I don’t stop here I will go on gushing about it. I am delighted to read this book. I am still lost in the world of this novel that I will take a break from reading for a while. I don’t want the trance to break just yet. So, I will be back with bookish blog posts later on. I have a list of mysteries to read in the fall. I also have some horror books ready to dive into. I will talk about them shortly.  I am waiting for The Wise Man’s Fear now.

A Little on My Notebook Collection

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Hey there welcome to Anasua’s Bookish World. This is not a book update as you can see in the title. This post is about my notebook collection. I am crazy about notebooks. I am a pretty old fashioned person. I love pen and paper. I love to write by hand. Though it is not possible for me to write my novels long hand then copy on my laptop, I make it a point to plot my novels in notebooks, using pens. It feels amazing.

I don’t use notebooks for novel plotting or character planning only. I use notebooks for a lot of other reasons. I have a pile of notebooks, none of which I have succeeded in finishing up. Yet, I cannot help buying more when I see a pretty one. So, without much delay let’s dive into the topic.

Manifestation Notebook

Well, you might have already guessed by my reading choice that I believe in magic. I also believe in faith. I believe that when we put our faith into something we manifest that thing. You might call me crazy, a lot of people do. But I believe in manifestation. I write down my intentions in a notebook with red pen. Red is the color of manifestation. If you write down your wishes in present tense in this color, it gets activated. I have got result, so I know.

For law of attraction, I use a simple spiral notebook. For the writing, as I have said, I use red pens.

Goal Journal

I write down my goals. I write down my reading goals, writing goals and even fitness goals. For this I use a small blue spiral notebook. It is easy to carry around. I also have a bunch of post it notes. I like to look at my goals frequently. It helps me stay motivated.

Reading Journal

For this I have a beautiful pink journal which I had bought years ago. It had become old, yet I love it. I write down the reviews of books I read in this journal. I use multiple color pens to write in this. I call this journal, my colorful journal.

Reading Running Notes Journal

This is a simple exercise book which I use to take running notes of the books I read. In this I write down my rants, my thoughts and almost everything that passes through my mind while I read a book. This is a pretty disorganized one. Later while writing my blog posts or reviews in my reading journal, I usually refer to this notebook.

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Idea Journal

This is a small five subject notebook. This I use to note down my plot ideas, character ideas and names of the characters. This is the journal that endures most of the torture, poor thing.

Morning Pages

Well, this is my most ambitious journal. I rarely use it and when I do, sun usually bids goodbye to the world. So, though I call it morning pages, I write in it after dusk.

Spiritual Journal

I do note down my spiritual experiences in this. This is more than a gratitude journal. Here I write down the experiences of my meditation sessions. In this journal I also write about crystals. I love crystals and have a collection of different crystals including rose quartz which is my absolute favorite. Someday, I will feature my crystal collection here for you all to see.

Daily Dairy

This is the most ignored one of the collection. I rarely write about my days. I don’t like to go through the mundane task of writing about my days as I have a strict routine which I follow. So, this usually lies around my desk.

Storytelling Journal

This one is a useful one for me. When I create characters I usually write first person accounts of their stories. It seems more engaging and I get to know my characters better this way.

Letter to Myself

This is a fun journal which I have invented. Here my future self writes letters to my current self. This is a kind of therapy which I found useful when I get demotivated. Who can motivate you to chase your dreams better than your own self? So, I do it every now and then. I write to myself and tell myself to write one more line.

There are other notebooks lying around. But these are the mostly used ones. I had an old dairy which I bought just for the yellowish pages. It felt so good to have it around. Then I lost it while shifting my apartment.

So, that’s it for now. I will be back with more bookish things or crazy things soon.

Festive Time Read – Ambitious Holiday TBR

Hey there, welcome to Anasua’s Bookish World. I am really excited to tell you all that my city Kolkata is gearing up for the biggest festival of the year Durga Puja. It is a four day long festival. We Kolkatans usually stretch it to five day, lol. We are the laidback people who love life and enjoy living. So, starting from 3rd of October to 8th of October is going to be Durga Puja. This means holiday time. This means festive time. For me this also means reading more time.

People spend the 4/5 days roaming around, looking at the deities and lightings. Kolkata becomes the queen of the cities during this time. If I could disengage myself from my books, I will surely share some photos of the city during its biggest festival time.

So, back to the topic, since I will have 5 long days of holiday, I am planning to read more. I have a holiday time TBR list set for myself. I will get the books at the end of this month or I will download them on my phone. The list is ambitious, I know. But then again what’s life without some impossible dreams…lol

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Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

This is not a long book. This also comes with high rating and positive reviews. I am fond of historic fiction. So, I think I will try to read this book during the holiday time. I believe I will be able to finish it in one sitting.

And Then There Were None

Even though this novel is a famous one, I am yet to read it. So, I think this festive time is the right time to get to it. Because this is not a long novel, I will be able to finish it fast. So, I am definitely going to read this book next month.

The Fifth Mountain

I am ashamed to tell you that this book is sitting on my shelf for ages. I bought it and then I forgot all about it. This is the right time I think to dust off the book and finish reading it.

The Haunting of Hill House

Among horror novels, this is regarded as a great one. I think fall is the right time to dig into the creepy setting of the book. I am not going to buy this as the book is not available in the bookstores. If I want a physical copy, I will have to order from Amazon. With the festive time delivery rush, they are sure to either make delay or they will deliver the wrong product.

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The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings Part One

This is probably the most ambitious one of the entire list. The novel is 1000 pages long or so I heard. Therefore, I will not be able to finish it in one sitting. So, this one I am only going to buy (yes, I am on a book buying ban. No, that’s not going to stop me from buying books) this novel and I will steal snippets from it while reading the other books.

The Old Man and The Sea

This has been on my TBR for a long time. Since I want to read as much as I can during the holiday season, I will definitely read this book. This is a short novel which would not take me more than two hours to read.

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The Dark Vault

The Dark Vault

This is another ambitious addition to the list. This book is 600 pages long. So, I will not be able to finish this in one day. But I am hoping to read a good chunk of it during the holiday.

So, that’s it for now. I am going to buy The Wise Man’s Fear soon. I am totally hooked on to The Name of The Wind. I will write a detailed review of the book, though it does not need my input. This is a work of a poet and I am glad to be able to finally read it.

I will be back with more of bookish things soon.

My Reading Life Update…

Hey there, welcome to Anasua’s Bookish World. Today, I am going to discuss my reading life. Because I have given up my full time job, I have more time in my hand for reading. I snatch away bits and pieces while working on my current projects. So, I am reading more nowadays. I am so glad that I have resigned. It had been one of the best decisions of my life.

Anyways, enough small talk. Let’s discuss my reading life.

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Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood of Bone

To be frank I am struggling through the book. It is fast paced. It has all the fantasy elements. It has magic too. Yet, the book does not work for me. I have not DNFed it yet. I will finish this book, I promise that. But it will take some time. Right now I am just reading a couple of pages each day to reach the ending of the book. I would not pick up the second installment for sure.

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The Name of The Wind

The Name of The Wind

I heard mixed review of this book. Readers are divided into either loving it too much or simply hating the book. That got me curious. So, I bought the book. Its size did not unnerve me as I am used to thick books. But it made me a little uneasy. I saw myself reading this book and then setting it aside and then picking it up again. Normally that’s what I do when I am reading a thick book. Only The Count of Monte Cristo got me hooked till the end.

To be frank, I am glad I decided to read this book. Kvothe is one of the most interesting characters I have come across so far. I have totally lost myself into the world of the book. The narration has the right element to embrace a reader. It is poetic, lyrical and engaging. It creeps up and wraps itself around the heart. I am loving the book. It is so good. I am sure to read the next installment as well.

The story follows the life of Kvothe from childhood to adulthood. Here Kvothe is telling the story of his life. He takes three days to finish his story. The Name of The Wind is the first day which shows Kvothe’s growing up time.

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Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon

I downloaded this book simply because of the review. It is called a fantasy masterpiece. Because I have put myself on a book buying ban right now, I did not buy the book immediately. Instead I decided to go for the e-book.

Before even beginning to read, I got frightened. It book has a long list of characters. This means, it is going to be a complicated book. I don’t mind complication. But I need physical copies to deal with fictional complications. I will keep updatin Continue reading “My Reading Life Update…”

To Outline or Not to Outline – That is the Question

Hey there, welcome to Anasua’s Bookish World. Because, I am a reader first and a writer later, my world will forever be bookish. So, I will forever welcome you all to my bookish world.

So, as promised, today I am going to discuss outline. There is debate among the writers about this. They are divided into groups. Some claim it is absolutely necessary. These writers are the ones who will not write a single line of their novel without knowing everything about it. They need to know about the world. They need to know about the characters. They need to know about the ending.

And then, there are the writers who like to go about the novel writing without a road map. For these writers outlining is a technical process. They allow the story to grow as they write it.

Now, the question is – which method is the right method. The answer is both and none. If it works for you, it is right for you. If it does not work for you, it is wrong for you. There is no right way or wrong way of doing this. You need to make the decision, you see.

Outline

Outline and Genre

I believe that genre plays a big role in deciding whether you should make an outline or not. While you may get away with a rom-com without an outline, you might not survive if you are writing a whodunit. This is because, when you are writing a whodunit, you need to pay attention to a lot of aspects. You need to have a long character list. You need to create red herring. You need to create a time frame for alibi. You get the point I guess. Without an outline all these are not possible. Or, so I think.

You will definitely need an outline if you are writing a fantasy novel. Usually fantasies come in series. To write a series, you will need to place a road map before you. If you don’t need one, I envy you.

Because, Kingdom of Clay is a high fantasy series which has a lot of characters, I need an outline. Technical or not, without an outline I will simply loiter aimlessly around the plot.

I found that creating scene list works well for me. I create short character bios. Once I am done with that, I create lists of scenes the characters will play in the novel. This is nothing more than one-liners. I put word count target beside each scene. So, I know how much to pull and when to let go. Of course I don’t stick to it all the times. But this is more or less, my way of outlining a novel.

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Why Outline

Mainly, I think outline gives you an idea about where to go when the mid-life crisis hits. This is the middle of the novel, I am talking about. Usually in the middle everything starts falling apart. In such a situation an outline helps. The problem occurs when we cling to the outline. There should be space for changes. You might take out a chapter or add one as you go ahead.

Just because I am a supporter of outlining novels, you would not have to do it. My genre is too wide spread. I cannot afford to go astray here. So, I create the road map to follow.

I don’t use anything fancy for this. A small five subject notebook does the job for me. I use a section to note down what is happening in the novel. Sometimes keeping track becomes the most difficult task.

To make the job easy, I keep some sticky notes handy, just in case I need to remind myself anything the next day. I usually use my laptop as the notice board.

So, that’s it for now. I will be back soon with more of bookish things.

World Building – A Fantasy Writer’s Greatest Challenge

Hey there, welcome to Anasua’s Bookish World. Even though this is a post on writing, ultimately it will lead to books, right? So, the world remains the same – bookish.

I have reading update. But I am not going to talk about it here. For that I will come up with a separate post. The fact is my reading speed has slowed down a bit. My writing speed on the other hand has increased. I have started writing Kingdom of Clay Book 1. I am 2000 words down already. Right now, I am going through the writer’s high – walking around with buzzing head and unfocused eyes.

Truth to be told, I started writing Kingdom of Clay on a whim. I could not take it anymore. The story kept buzzing inside my head, insisting me to tell it. I gave in. Last night, I just started writing it. I am so glad I did. Never before I felt such a rush of creativity inside my head. The more I explored the better I understood the characters and the story. So, you might say I am telling myself the story right now.

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Kingdom of Clay – Map 1

The World of High Fantasy

Fantasy world building is difficult. Anyone who has written even one high fantasy novel knows it. If you look at the first map, you will see three kingdoms. It means three books. It also means three worlds. You can imagine what I am trying to say right?

I started with nothing but a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. I did not even want to draw a map. Yet, slowly the first kingdom, the one I am going to feature in the first instalment, came out. It did look like a kingdom to me. I was so happy to see it.

From that kingdom I tried to create a story arc. I tried to create an outline of a trilogy. I failed. One kingdom seemed too small for such a large undertaking. I understood writing trilogy or series takes a lot of work. I like to know the ending of my stories before writing them. Here as well, I had to create a short synopsis before drawing the other two kingdoms. The synopsis is nothing more than a paragraph which covers the entire series in few lines.

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Kingdom of Clay – Map 2

Exploring the High Fantasy World

Once the outer layer is done, I focused on the fun part. This is the part which makes me feel divine. This is putting things inside the world. I have not drawn a larger map yet. I will do it soon and share it here.

The idea, as I found, is to putting pieces of puzzle in the right places. As the story demands, you place things in the map, like I need a river near the cultivation fields. So, I put one there. You might be wondering what the black tributary is all about. It has a back story. It tells the tale of a curse. This river will play a big role in the story. Also there is a part in the map colored in red. This is the land of blood (that’s what I am calling it right now). This land demands sacrifice every year. The king must make it or the dynasty falls.

As I drew the map, the initial outline of the map actually, I made notes. Whenever I start writing a novel, I also open up a new project notebook for idea dump. In case of fantasy, I needed a five subject notebook.

Elements of Fantasy World

I have experience of writing contemporary novels. I have written Call My Name which is a fantasy set in this world. I did not anticipate the amount of work high fantasy requires.

From history to religion to climate, everything needs to be created here. Even though I enjoy doing the research work, I also realized that I must build the world as I write the novel. Or, else I will not be able to meet the deadline.

I will tell you more about Kingdom of Clay and what I am learning from the high fantasy world building. Hope to bring you more on this soon enough. I will be doing a kingdom naming session shortly. So stay tuned for that. I will also introduce you all to the characters of the novel. Meanwhile, any suggestion on high fantasy world building is welcome.