Saturday, 13 April 2019

Pacing... and why it can make or break your story

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers
Welcome to Week P of Authors Tips' A to Z of Writing. 

If this is the first time you are visiting this Series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week, it's time to take a closer look at Pacing.

It's often easy to mistake 'pacing' with the genre of your story or its characters. One would assume that a thriller where the protagonist is racing against time to save the world needs to be fast-paced whereas a story that deals with the easy going life of a gentle old lady who lives a quiet life in the hills would obviously be more slower paced. Fact is, that the ebb and flow of a story has little to do with the genre or characters and more to do with the pace of the narrative or its momentum.

Sure, a thriller will need to have a more 'hurried' pace than one in which an old lady is reminiscing about her life. But even in a thriller you need to give the reader some pause for reflection. To vary the pace so that she is not overwhelmed by all the frenetic action. Similarly, in the second type of story, you will need appropriate action placed at the right moments so that the reader doesn't abandon your book altogether!

Much like the tides, a good story ebbs and flows. So what determines pacing? The combination of description and dialogues and how you mix it up is critical to pacing. Here are some points to keep in mind.

Quicken the pace by having shorter descriptive paragraphs. Punchy dialogue with a few lines of description is great for writing scenes with tension or action.

Slow down the pace by providing description of the surroundings or even some elements of backstory or getting into the head of the character. You need a combination of both because in life and in fiction there is tension followed by calm. 

Backstory should always be given in small chunks or else it will look like information dump. Worse, it will stop your plot from moving forward. 

Balance is critical to your story. Make sure that your chapters have the right mix of fast and slow paced scenes. That will ensure that your readers stay engaged with your story.

Happy Writing and do share your thoughts about Pacing in the comment box below.

Don't forget to check out the other P posts in the series.

P for Prologue by Devika Fernando

P for Process, Productivity, Plotting by Saiswaroopa Iyer

P for Procrastination by Preethi Venugopala 

P for Proof-reading by Sudesna Ghosh








Monday, 8 April 2019

Devika Fernando on Why She Loves Writing 'Scandalous' Women

 There is a new book on the indie publishing block and it's called The Indian Prince's Scandalous Bride. Better still, it's been written by the fabulous DEVIKA FERNANDO.  I simply love the title and all that it promises on its pages (ahem!). When I asked the author why she likes writing about 'scandalous' women, here's what she had to say. She has very helpfully added an excerpt from the book, which simply wants me to pick up the book right away! Over to Devika!

'Thanks a lot for having me over, Adite. Ashley sends chocolate, and Vivaan sends flowers,' - Devika. 

THE INDIAN PRINCE’S SCANDALOUS BRIDE – that’s a title that captures attention. At least I
hope so. ;) I chose it for two reasons: Firstly, all of my royal romances have a word beginning with S in the title (Special | Stubborn | Surprise | for Book 5 Secret).

Secondly, I wanted to highlight how unlikely it seems that these two protagonists find their happily-ever-after. They’re polar opposites: a fiery redhead from England who works as a wedding planner and has had very bad luck with men so far; a prince from India who isn’t supposed to marry for love and should never indulge in holiday flings either. But as happens in real life too, love cares little for logic. I can’t tell you why Ashley, the heroine, is scandalous because that would be a spoiler. But I can tell you one thing: she’s a modern woman, someone flawed and relatable. And in a way, that means that all of my brides in the royal romance series are “scandalous”.

I don’t write classical heroines who are rather meek, swoon and moon over the hero, are flawless angels and would know the answer to everything. I write women who feel authentic, who could be one of your friends or someone you wrote about on the news. And yes, such ‘normal’ women DO enter the world of the royals, as many real-life weddings prove. My heroines can be single mothers, divorced, introverted, mixed-race, orphans, abuse victims… They can be sassy, mule-headed, volatile, have trust issues or love their independence… Because that’s alright and that’s also how many women are in reality. And it’s all the more fun to write such characters and pair them with royalty. They deserve that bit of magic, that better life, that chance at loving men who are far from ordinary but also far from perfect themselves.

Here’s how Prince Vivaan meets the “scandalous” woman who’ll turn his world upside down:

The first thing he saw after an incredulous slow blink was a pair of long, slender, and disturbingly naked, legs. The pale kind you rarely found anywhere out of Europe. He blinked some more, registering that there was most certainly no nude foreign woman in the garden—but that made the sight only more enticing. The shapely legs with feet in strappy leather sandals belonged to a woman in a summer dress of emerald green that didn’t fit into this place. Sure, due to their global business dealings they had vetted visitors on the premises occasionally, but mostly men; if there were women, they were dressed in snazzy business suits or sophisticated costumes, sometimes even in traditional Indian garb. This dress was
different. Modest by international standards, with elbow-length sleeves and a neither too loose nor too tight cut, it was currently hugging the woman’s every curve and exposing a tantalizing sliver of even paler thigh as its wearer was kneeling on the stones and leaning towards the water of the pond.


Swallowing around a dry throat, Vivaan scolded himself for ogling the stranger like this. He’d been treated to his own share of being ogled ever since childhood, and he detested it. But he couldn’t help himself. Who was this woman more likely to be encountered on a piazza in Italy or in a river-side park in Paris? And what was she doing here, all alone and unaware?

Wait, was she alone? Belatedly, it occurred to him to scan their surroundings, half-expecting a bespectacled diplomat accompanying his secretary or a potbellied European aristocrat who’d swoop in to claim his trophy wife. But there was nobody to be seen. It was only him and the water nymph, who chose this very moment to lean forward even more, with a soft grunt and then an unladylike squeal.

Vivaan had barely torn his eyes away from another inch of bared thigh when the figure righted itself with a splash of water and a twirl of fabric. His breath catching in his throat, he studied the rest of this mysterious visitor that was now revealed. The woman was sitting on the stones, completely oblivious of him standing several feet away as she stared enraptured at something in her right hand, dripping water. She had a mane of reddish brown hair, catching the sunlight to gleam in tawny and amber shades and giving her even more of an ethereal, magical feel. Her profile revealed a strong chin and a full mouth. She moved her hand, and what she was so reverently holding in her palm glittered a startling blue.

Vivaan sucked in a much-needed breath as realization dawned. His feet carried him closer and he blurted something out in English before he could think twice of it. “Stealing the royal family’s jewels will not remain unpunished, you know.”

For more info about Devika's book, check out this link. 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Opening Lines - Begin Strong to Hook your Reader

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers
Welcome to Week O of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.

If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.


Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing.


This week it's time to take a closer look at 

Opening Lines.

A great opening line grabs the reader and doesn't let go. That's what every fiction writer aims for. The opening needs to be compelling enough to pull the reader into your story and keep turning the pages. However coming up with the perfect first line is easier said than done. The good news is that you can work on it after you have finished a draft and revise it after you are done writing the story.

Here are some points to keep in mind while writing the opening lines of your book.

Set the tone of your book. If you're writing a romantic comedy it should come through in the opening lines. If you're writing a suspense novel, there should be a hint of intrigue. For my romantic comedy/chick-lit 'Wedding Shenanigans' the opening paragraph was:

Wasted. The word popped into Rayna's head the moment she opened her eyes, shot her long shapely legs out of the sheet covering them and rolled out of bed. Only to have her staggering right back onto the soft mattress as her world spun out of control for a brief second. Her head pounded as if a brass band had embedded itself inside her skull and was banging out a raucous beat on tinny drums.
Right off the bat, the main character and her current situation is introduced and you get a feel for the tone of the story.

Beware of gimmicky openings The purpose of a great opening is to draw the reader into the world of your characters. It has to intrigue as well as stay true to the premise of your story. Lines that are intended only to add shock appeal will be a big turn off, if your story doesn't deliver the promise of its opening lines.

Opening with conflict Starting your story mid-action is a great way to hook the reader. When you know the inciting incident of your story, it helps you to visualise the scene that you should open your story with. Your opening could be slightly before the inciting incident occurs or at that very moment. Conflict ensures that there is already enough going on and the reader gets pulled into the narrative quickly and without fuss.

Writing Style and Consistency Of course your writing style will determine the opening scene of your story as much as the events. And like tone, the style should also be uniform throughout the book. Change of tone and style mid-way can be jarring and pull the reader out of your story.

Hope you find these tips useful and do share your thoughts  in the comment box below.

Happy Writing!

Don't forget out to check out the other O posts in this Series:

Outlining your Story by Ruchi Singh

Own your Writing Craft by Preethi Venugopala



Thursday, 21 March 2019

"My characters lead my story" - Malika Gandhi #AuthorInterview



I recently met Malika Gandhi on an online forum and had an opportunity to talk to her about her books. She writes in the paranormal and historical fiction genres which I think makes for a very interesting combination. A mother of two, she lives in the UK and loves to "escape into the world of words and images". Read on to find out more about Malika....

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer? 

I began to write at a very young age but became serious when I was in my twenties. My debut Freedom of the Monsoon took me four years to write and then a year more in editing. I remember when I held the proof copy in my hand and I felt grateful and so happy to have achieved this!

Since then, I have written two more books, Where the Secret Lies, and Lost in the Haveli.


Apart from writing, I am also an artist and I love to learn. I am doing A Level English & Literature and I hope to do an A Level in psychology afterwards.

I live in the UK, in the East Midlands and I am married with two boys. My life is pretty normal, so to escape into the world of words and into the visual world of images is my way to release my creativity.

You live in the UK but all your books are set in India. Is writing a way of exploring your roots? 

I never thought of that but it could be. I have been to India in my teens and haven’t returned since, although it is on my list of things to do. I was born there but was brought up in London, so India does fascinate me. I suppose subconsciously through writing, I found India.

Could you tell us a little bit about your books and why you think readers will love them? 

Freedom of the Monsoon revolves around five individuals, pre-independence. We see their struggles when Mahatma Gandhi calls the British to quit India. It is a time of confusion and turmoil and the whole country is affected in ways no one could imagine. It is also based around love, marriage and Indian cultures and traditions.

Where the Secret Lies and Lost in the Haveli are both ghost stories with a twist. The first book is set in two different time zones – the past and the present where a girl from today meets a girl from yesteryear. The second ghost story is about a trapped spirit who yearns for forgiveness and we see her past clearly as the novel progresses.

These books are for people who love the genre of history and the paranormal/ghost and I hope they do like my tales.

What is the most exciting thing about writing and what is the most challenging bit?

The most challenging is the editing and making sure the story fits like a glove with no holes at the end of the day. The exciting part is writing it. When I write, I don’t plan. I just let the characters take over and I let new ones emerge. They lead the story and they tell me what they are going to do and where they are going. J

Do share a favourite excerpt from one of your books. 

Extracts from Lost in the Haveli.

He is able to touch me as if I am physically alive, because he does not see me as a threat, he believes that I’m  a normal girl that lives somewhere in the city. He is one of the very few that I trust, and deep down I think if he looked deep inside his soul, and realised what I am, I would like to think that he wouldn’t banish me, but rather he’d somehow try and protect me.  Although, I could be wrong and it is something I do not wish to test, so I must still be careful when I appear before him.

... “What happened that day was not your fault.”
“But she still haunts me on the anniversary of her death, every year since she died. Mama wouldn’t talk to me after the incident when I was alive, and then when I died she arrived to torment me. Can you explain why that is?” There were tears in Aanchal’s eyes.
“I cannot, I am sorry.”
“Please go, I need to be alone. I beg you, please.”
The spirit faded, his image became blurred and smudged once again.
“Please think of what I have advised. Leave the girl alone. It won’t do you any good to pursue her...” The echo of his voice faded as his image did, and at last, it stopped ringing in the dense silence that followed.
Aanchal stood still for a moment, looking over to the space where he had been standing. The shimmer of his existence had illuminated the dark room, and had long disappeared leaving a sense of foreboding darkness.
Why did the spirit come to see her like this? It had been two years since his last visit, and that time, it was to caution her to not frighten the villagers with her nightly walks in the village, or he would have to intervene. She shuddered. Would he have dragged her to the Other Side against her will?


What are you working on currently and what's it about? 

I have moved away from the genres History and Ghosts. I am now writing the first book of a series called The Witches of Panay. It is Magical Realism with witches, shape shifters and other creatures associated with the world of fantasy.

The Witches of Panay is about a teenage girl, Pia who is taken on a journey. A journey she didn’t want and didn’t expect. She grew up with her aunt and her cousin and knowing they were witches. Pia and her family live in Robin Hoods Bay, in Yorkshire, and lead a pretty normal ‘human’ life until there are disturbances in the air.

The Witches of Panay are looking for her and the stones and they want Pia. With the help of her friends, Max, Jenny, and her cousin Fleur, the four set out on a quest to find the answers to Pia’s questions. Perhaps this could lead to her missing father, mother, and sister. Where are they and are they still alive? Pia also finds out she is a Fire Witch and this comes with a whole lot of complications and responsibilities. She wonders if she is she ready for such burdens at such a young age?

The Witches of Panay is full of action, mysteries and some romance. As the novel gets underway, it becomes darker but and more mysterious.

Thank you Malika for sharing with us your journey as a writer. Wish you all the very best with your writing.


To connect with Malika, check out her social media links below:

Facebook    Twitter   Blog

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Monday, 18 March 2019

Niche Markets in Romance Writing

Welcome to Week N of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.

If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing.

This week it's time to take a closer look at Niche Markets 

A few weeks ago I'd posted about the importance of knowing your Genre as it helps readers to discover your books. A genre like Romance -- which incidentally is the top selling category -- has more than 100-plus sub-categories. These are often called 'niches', a marketing jargon for specialist sub-categories. While some of the more popular ones like romantic suspense, chicklit, paranormal romance, historical romance, etc. are evergreen favourites, as reading preferences evolve, new niches emerge from time to time. For instance, a few years back the super-duper success of E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey sparked off a new niche of BDSM within the sub-genre of Erotic Romance.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Let's take a look at some of the hot new niches in the Romance category.

Clean and Wholesome Romance: It seems like the fiery trail of erotica books that the success of the Fifty Shades series had left in its wake, has begun to peter off. Clean romance or closed door romance, as many people like to call it, is making a return. Here the heat level is tepid at best and explicit sex on the pages is a big no-no.

Science Fiction Romance is a relatively new niche that is rising on the popularity charts. And as the name suggests it is a mashup of the two genres. So you can expect love to blossom between an alien and a homo sapien along with some galactic action. If you haven't yet tried out these books, here are a few recommendations from Ali Williams, Managing Editor of Pink Heart Society : Gideon's Riders series by Kit Rocha, The Galactic Cold War series by Robyn Bachar, and Tales of Inthya Duet by Effie Calvin.

Speculative Romance is a brand new entry which is more like an off shoot of science fiction romance and has elements of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and romantic urban fantasy. Some best selling titles include In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard, A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper, Off the Grid Trilogy by Alyssa Cole.


Highlander Romance Sparked off by the super duper success of the Outlander series, authors like the hugely popular Maya Banks are spinning off romances set in Scotland.

Diversity Romance There has been a growing trend towards protagonists who are multi-cultural. Alternative sexual orientation (LGBQT) too is another niche. Differently abled characters (such as those with autism, ADHD) are making romance novels more grounded in the real world. Helen Hoang's bestselling The Kiss Quotient with an autistic female protagonist is a case in point.

Romance authors clearly believe that Variety is the spice of romance. So, what is your favourite niche to read and write in? What kind of new sub-genres have you come upon recently? Do share your thoughts.

Don't forget to check out these N posts in the series....

N is for Non-Fiction by Sudesna Ghosh

Names: Do they Matter? by Preethi Venugopala




Sunday, 10 March 2019

Cover Reveal of Devika Fernando's The Indian Prince's Scandalous Bride

Devika Fernando is a prolific Indie author whose romances are a delight to read. She has written more than 10 romance novels. You can check out her books here.

She is also one of the authors who contributes to the ongoing #AtoZAuthorsTips series which you may have read on this blog. 

Today, it gives me immense pleasure to share the cover of  her upcoming romance novel, The Indian Prince's Scandalous Bride...

Over to Devika to introduce her new book.



Ever since I started writing royal romances, I wanted to set one of the stories in India. Now I’ve made this dream come true. “The Indian Prince’s Scandalous Bride” is the 4th book in the Romancing the Royals series, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Here’s the cover and blurb. The book is due for release next month.

BLURB

Wedding planner Ashley Davies has left England behind to organize a royal wedding in India. She’s expected a cultural shock and lots of unforgettable memories – but never in a million years would she have thought she’d fall in love. When the mysterious and irresistible Vivaan turns out to be none other than an Indian prince, it’s time for her to make a decision: risk everything for the sake of what feels like so much more than a holiday fling, or resist their forbidden attraction and save her job as well as her heart?

Prince Vivaan of Yogeshpur certainly doesn’t want to get involved in the organization of his brother’s grand wedding, but then a free-spirited and smart redhead from England captures his interest. Suddenly he finds himself eager to get to know a woman who would never receive his mother’s royal seal of approval. Should he give in to his feelings or stay away from the ‘scandalous’ wedding planner?


THE SERIES

Have you read the other books in the series yet? The first three novels are each set in a fictitious kingdom as well as in a real country such as Maldives and Germany. They are sweet contemporary romances and can be read as stand-alones with happy endings. Click on the links to find out more. Book 1 is a free download in most countries!





 Don't you love the cover? I simply can't wait to read it!