It’s ALIVE: Free EBook GIVEAWAY

Grab you copy. GO!

Charming Mr Stewart, an easy romantic read about a young widow who has a two year old in tow, and is fighting an urge to decline a great opportunity for her career, in a crazy effort to avoid the extremely charming Mr Stewart. Who just so happens to be someone who won’t take no for an answer.

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It’s available on Kindle, and as of today, till it 8pm Sunday afternoon, 3rd Dec (Aussie time), the book is absolutely FREE. Grab a copy for your self, tell your friends and family who’d love a read to grab a complimentary copy while they can.

Have a best friend who is a hopeless romantic? Know someone who loved Pretty Woman, or Bridget Jones, or couldn’t help feel charmed by Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You? Pass on the word.

I can’t wait to hear how you found it. And that link again for you: https://www.amazon.com/Charming-Mr-Stewart-Eva-Acharya-ebook/dp/B06VV2HGDW

Share the joy. As they say, happiness grows when its shared.

Love,

Eva

 

 

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Writer’s Process: How Stories Evolve Over Time

Writer’s Process: How Stories Evolve Over Time

I know what you’re thinking. I haven’t done an anecdote piece in a very long time, perhaps a little more than a year since my last piece on the writer’s process. There are as many writing styles out there as there are writers and narrators. Our job is to bring you a story, the best way that that story can be portrayed, but by no means should you think that the purity of that story has always been the same as the final product. I don’t mean the multitudes of editing we do. I mean the entire story itself, changing, morphing into something far removed from the initial stories that pop into our heads, or even the one that gets written down by first draft. Even at this point, the likelihood that the story has already changed somewhat from the initial story, or even drastically, depends on the story. 
So how do these stories evolve? In many ways, it all depends on the outline process. When writers obsess over a story, we usually think of the big picture, what happens to start the story off, point A, to what moves the story along, point B, to how the story ends, point C. It’s not so simple once the writing process begins. I’m not an outliner technically. I don’t sit there and write out point by point what the story is and how it progresses, there are other writers out there like myself. The others, the organized ones, will often have few pages of the story outlined from point A to Z, because frankly speaking a story isn’t as simple as A, B, C, it’s much more complex than that. Writers like myself, we will rethink and rethink the story several times in detail in our heads before we feel comfortable enough to actually start writing the first draft. As I’ve said before, we are the seat-of-our-pants kind who write instinctually. It’s odd to say this but, that’s exactly what I do. I write instinctually, free form. I write chapter by chapter, a bit like how other writers look at their outline and follow a bullet point, I start off knowing where I want the chapter to go, but I have no idea how I’m going to get there, I just know that once I start writing, the rest will flow. Bit risky but it works, maybe not for all, but it still works. 

In this process of outlining, whether in our heads or on paper, this is the first hurdle the story passes. This is the first checkpoint where the story has the potential to change from the original piece we think about. Why? Well, simply put, our minds are very good at abstract thoughts and making connections, however it’s another matter of putting it down on paper in a legible and easily understood manner. Or even something that makes sense. So the story that looks silver screen ready in our head may show kinks in it that needs modifying at Checkpoint 1. 
After this comes a gigantic Checkpoint 2: the writing of first draft. An entirely long and draining process in itself, not without its own problems and challenges. This checkpoint is constantly working itself through the writing process. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of how many little minute changes the story goes through because we are so engrossed in writing it, getting that story on paper first. This is the hardest step. This is the step where several chapters in, we may suddenly find huge problems in story, character, relationships, or dynamics, scenes and settings that simply do not gel. The main thing here is to focus on getting that entire story down on paper and not get bogged down by sandpit of problems. As we write this bit, we may discover new directions the characters take, leading the story entirely in a different direction from what you intended. At this point a writer has come to a fork in the road: do you stick to your outline, which by all means is simply a guide, or do you take the lead the character is giving and go into unchartered territory? It’s a matter of choice. In most cases either one of the paths will lead you to finishing the story and not being happy with it, or unable to finish it and give up entirely, or at least put this story on a back burner. If your are wondering what I myself would do at such a junction, then I will let you know I usually follow the character. After all, it’s their story and if they take you down a certain path, it’s most like for a reason that will show up later in the story. After all, you are the boss. Just because you follow a character for a little while doesn’t necessarily mean you have handed over the reins. 
When that first draft is done and you’ve got the bare bones with a little bit of flesh hanging off it, then you can pat yourself on the back and take a break. It’s well deserved. 
Sometime, we are so engrossed in the whole process that our minds stop working properly and we give into character whims that don’t necessarily need to be there nor benefits the whole story. This is Checkpoint 3. Even if we don’t re-write or even go over our first draft, as writers we have the entire story now etched into our minds. After a few days break or weeks, or sometimes months (yes, I’m guilty of this), we usually work out in our head how to iron out some rough edges, where we need to truly focus on working extensively during the editing process. This is where we are making the next lot of changes that gets put into place when we start editing. Sometimes the changes will only be minor, to small sequences, scenes, or chapters, or characters and setting, and other times you will find that a huge chuck of the story needs to be thrown out and written again from another story point. This happened with my first novel, In Strange Company (on Kindle and paperback through myself). After a long hiatus away from the first draft, when I went back to editing it, I realized most devastatingly that I needed to write the entire first quarter of the book from scratch. It didn’t fit in with the style of the rest of the book, the characters had changed and evolved so much in the end that that needed to be addressed in the beginning, and so a long trudge began. For a writer working on her first novel, this was the hardest time. The time when you question the vocation, question if you are right for the calling, etc. This Checkpoint 3 is by far the most challenging to writers and the gentle egos. 
Stories also change during editing. Time and time again, we will go over the book, and minor things are constantly changing and shifting slightly, honing that story. At this point, Checkpoint 4, stages of editing, your story might have drastically changed from where you began. For example, Charming Mr Stewart (also on Kindle) changed drastically from where the story began, about a widow running away from possibility of love, only to have it chase her in turn, to something more evolved, about a widow who gains her power and her right to heal the old hurt. Not exactly the same story is it?
Checkpoint 4 is as far as a writer can go alone on this road. Up until this time, our journey is lonesome, but no more. Checkpoint 5 requires us to push down our fear of criticism and the premature nature of the final product and invite expert opinions and scrutiny. This is where external editors come into play, and if you are extremely lucky to be affiliated with a publisher, then I’m sure they have been involved from an earlier stage. They may ask you to consider changing some plot points in the story, or character personalities, or given you a heads up on all your strengths and weaknesses in the story. Tell you what’s working and what simply will not do. This is a healthy stage for us. It forces us to take a step back from the story and look at it from a reader’s point of view, which after all is why we are writing in the first place, for the readers. This point may again see various changes through various stages of reading and re-reading and proofing. Ironing out those final little kinks in the story. Making the transition from point A to point Z as smooth and as indecipherable as possible, so that readers like yourself and I can not even sense the difficulty the author may have gone through, from initial point of origin to the final product. 
The final checkpoint in a way is you, a selected group of beta-readers, the genuine pigs or test subjects who get to read the final product and give feedback. This point may prove very valuable to how the book is being received, and if there are any problems, a last change to make the change. 
What you read, is not what always was. What you read is a result of an incredible effort and devotion at various stages. What you read, is an accumulation of faith and self-doubt used well. What you read is simply fascinating, because it started life as a single thought in someone’s gray-matter. A simple thought. And thoughts are powerful. They can suspend us into someone else’s imagination and propel us forward, make us lose hours, or regret reality when we re-emerge.

The Keeper (17)

Something was falling gently from an ornate ceiling and Mona was mesmerized. She lay in her bed knowing that she was hallucinating but she didn’t care. She’d been inclined to day dreaming a lot since she got her freedom back. Yet something didn’t feel right. Part of her wished she was back in Lucifer’s strange but wonderful home. Part of her thought she was crazy, and that part was probably right.

Instead of forcing herself to snap out of the day dream, she embraced it. All its magic, all it’s obscurity that there could be beautiful red rose petals falling down towards her from the dark ceilings but never quite reach her. She’d extend her arms up to reach them part way but they’d vanish before they ever touched her. Strange, she thought. She was not much of a rose fan and here she was, enchanted by a hallucination that somehow made her think about beast.

‘I wonder what you’re doing right now.’

An image of a lonely man walking around the grounds of Lucifer’s home pierced the floating image above her briefly. The man languished away from her vision, assisted by a cane. Mona followed as if she were walking right behind him. ‘Master, it’s time. You need to ask her. Maybe she will say yes.’

The man turned partially. ‘I will not put this on her.’ He looked a little familiar.
‘But master. Beauty may say yes.’

She stopped. Were they talking about her? But who were they? The man rested by the dying apple trees in the orchard. He turned, a hopeless smile on his handsome, yet tired young face. It was the man from her dreams, the one that asked her to marry him for he only had a fortnight, whatever that meant. ‘And what are the chances of that, Mr Lighthouse, for a monster like me?’
‘But you’re not a monster,’ Mona uttered under her breath as she stared at the young man floating above her bed, and for a moment there she thought he heard, for the look in his eyes intensified. Something familiar about them, like she’d seen those eyes before. But where?

‘Belle!’ Came the frantic screaming of her sisters and as much as Mona wanted to stay there and look into the eyes of her dream she had to leave. ‘Something’s happening to daddy!’
The dream bubble burst immediately and though she felt torn, Mona ran out her room double quick to find her siblings hovering over their fitting father instead of calling for an ambulance.
Mona paced to and fro of the disinfectant smelling corridor. She’d had countless teas and coffee from the waiting lounge. She couldn’t sit and wait, nor calmly go home like her brothers and sisters had done. It was their father in an ICU recovering from a massive heart attack.

‘You’re father is asking for you Miss.’
Mona nodded at the nurse who’d come out just to let her know. She wiped her tear streaked face dry and calmed down before going in.

‘Quiet a scare you gave us.’

Her father stared at her a long moment. ‘Tell me about this Beast. Is he truly terrifying?’

‘Daddy. You should be resting.’

‘Did he treat you well? Gave you food? Clothed you?’ He stared at her. ‘My dear Belle, was he kind to you?’

Something made Mona burst into tears. Perhaps it was that she had almost lost her father, or perhaps it was that what her father asks were all true and so she suddenly missed her friend very much so, missed him like never before.

‘He was too kind, daddy.’ She cried into his palm. ‘Too kind.’

‘Then what are you doing here my child?’ He wiped her tears. ‘You have very little time.’

Her father smiled at her reassuringly and fell into a gentle sleep, leaving Mona wondering. What did he mean by she had very little time? Little time to do what?

‘I only have a fortnight…’ The young man’s voice echoed in her head and his eyes covered her vision, those familiar honey coloured eyes.

‘Who are you?’ She muttered that night in bed as sleep took hold of her. ‘Tell me who you are? Why do I feel like I know you?’

‘It’s me, Belle.’ He said in that familiar voice. If only she knew where she’d heard it before. ‘It’s me.’

‘Beast?’ Into the night she spoke. ‘Is that truly you?’

Tell me why I’m editing again?!

I absolutely get terrified when editing my own works. Absolutely terrified. Not excited as I do when I write. The terror comes from the fact that I know I will be slicing and dicing, in true ‘kill your darlings’ style, and yet, yet, it will still not be perfect enough, flawless. Why? Why must this be such a hard task?!

I know that most writers, myself included love writing. We do. Other people find solace in shopping, in getting pampered, in sitting around by the beach and lounging, etc. the normal stuff you know. Writers find joy in writing. We do it because we love the rush of a new world that captures our imagination: the characters, their flaws, their stories. 
We feel elated when we finish our first draft. I still remember the first time I finished my first novel. I think I may have literally done a jumping-giddy-run-on-the-same-spot dance before realizing I was standing in front of med building waiting for my friends to escape their microbiology lab. 

  
But the thing is first draft of anything is always crap. We wouldn’t give it to anyone to read before we have had a chance to run through it and smooth it out somewhat. The real writing happens on the editing table. Which becomes excruciatingly painful to writers starting out, and still quite hard for others who have been through the grill before. 

I’m doing a final comb through of ‘Rule of Thirds’ before sending it for final edit. This is how it’s looking…

(Read sample chapters: http://www.tablo.io/evacharya/rule-of-thirds)

  

Mind you, it has already gone through two rounds of editors. Editing is a job that never finishes, truly. And it’s not just a grammar here and punctuation there. Editing sometimes completely changes the landscape of a story from its first draft. I’m learning to kill my darlings and it’s not easy. If you are writing a piece you want to publish, I guess you have to make sure it’s as good as it can be. So my advice, don’t be in an impatient rush. And the other, DONT BE AFRAID TO DELETE WHAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, or what is redundant. Cull, cull, cull. 

I must do these myself: 

– remove adverbs and replace with verbs (i.e. Words ending in  -ly)

– remove the words ‘very’ and ‘that’

And many more. I’m learning the art of editing my own work through examples on pinterest. Hey, it’s been helpful!

Two weeks ago I swept through the whole MS (manuscript) and it shed some weight from 100,000 words plus to under 86,000 words. 

Today, I’m starting another sweep based on feedback from beta-readers and have a feeling the story will loose some more weight. I’m not worried about the story becoming skinny, I’m just worried I may loose some aspects of the story if I’m not careful. I mustn’t leave a tale full of holes! 

Bit of a nail-biting moment. Yikes. 

Ideal writing space

Lets face it, if you are one of us who are inclined to write, we are somewhat obessive about how or where we write. Our best writing is done in spaces that are most comfortable. The most inspiring. In order for this, the space needs comfort, the space needs to be beautiful, and most of all, if our idea well is facing drought, it is capable of giving us a bucket of water and telling us to use it wisely. 
At the moment, my ‘writing space’ is my bed. My best time to write is just before I fall asleep. In other words, I wish I had a designated space which would be anywhere else but my place of rest. I do have a desk in a literal nook in my room, and it’s just not that inspiring. I am surrounded with blank walls, which really doesn’t help the ‘well’. 
I was browsing Facebook the other day and some one had shared a post on she-sheds. What? Of course, this meant I had to find out what in the world this new trend was. When I saw them, oh did I wish I had one of these!

   
 I mean, look at these divine things. Like a little private cottage you can decorate anyway you like. To suit your own style and needs. I can almost image what mine would look like if I am ever so lucky to have one in the future. I really want one. It can be my ‘writing space’. I don’t care for the trend that suggests these she-sheds are an answer to man-caves. I just love the idea of having a hide away, away from the gadgets, surrounded by items that can inspire me to continue writing. 
  
This is what mine would look like inside. I can see myself sitting by those beautiful windows looking out to nature, the smooth grains of wood where my writing notepad will sit waiting eagerly for me to pour stories on. 
What would your ideal writing space look like? 😀

FYI: Writers have the most trouble writing of anyone!

Well, before I dig into this piece, I’d just like to express your surprise which no doubt peaked your interest in this particular post. ‘What the?!’, ‘How’s that possible?’, ‘Absurd!’, ‘Don’t be silly. Why would writers have trouble writing?!’

Yes, laugh at the idea, but this idea isn’t just mine but shared by a lot more people than one tinny-tiny Nepali writer and a naturalized Aussie (a.k.a, me!)

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Thomas Mann pinned that donkey’s tail quite accurately. I confess! I have a lot of difficulty writing. It’s not just the act of writing that is painful but all the aftermath, the emotions that are hard to handle, the anguish whether you did it well, how it will be perceived etc.

Think about it. A writer lives in the story realm for a very lengthy process: from inception of story, to character development, story development, writing process, countless editing process, and then the final draft! No one else, not the reader, nor actors of screenplay/plays etc. spend as much time being the character as much as the writer. Nope. No one but the writer knows that character, and ALL other characters, their motives and drive in a single story in such depth. In fact, I think I’m safe in telling you all that when these characters are written in stories, writers ‘become’ the characters. We don’t just understand the characters and try and portray them as an actor would, but for the duration of the writing process, we are the characters of stories, telling ‘our’ story. We see, feel, say, touch, taste everything the character does in that time we are them – or at least it feels very real, every situation they are in.

Now, go back to Mann’s statement; that writers have the most trouble writing. Can you not see why this is now? We are not only being the people who the stories are about, but we also have to learn to separate ourselves in an odd way simultaneously so than we may be able to jot down the story as we ‘play’ it. Then, to add more weight to this task, we have to constantly be aware of the POV of the story: whether first person, third/omnipresent, and the structure of the language, words and their meanings etc.

It’s all a lot to handle. No wonder sometimes the question ‘How do you write?’ gets asked, and I guess we will all tell you, we do not know how. All we know is that it is ‘one word at a time’ like Stephen King once noted. One word at a time; for our mental capacity is already so preoccupied with a hell of a lot more that is going on than on the actual ‘task’ of writing.

When I write, I’m not apart of the writing to be able to pause and look on what I’ve done so far. That tasks comes when we take a haitus from a story and need to jog our memory. No. When I write, my main trouble is in the story and how it may be unfolding.

After all the writing and editing comes the hardest thing I have to do; release the story with excitement and apprehension.

Will it do well? Won’t it? Will it read well or won’t it? Will they (the readers) feel the characters, be in their head, or won’t they?

Will they like me, or won’t they?

Yep. At the end of it all, the main reason we struggle to write reveals itself: me! The idea that the author invests so much time on their characters that it is said, (and I wholly agree) that each character possesses something of the author, they are the author. And who wouldn’t be nervous being scrutinized by readers such?

Not me. Hell, I’m even a tad nervous every time I post something or other in this blog. Why? Anxiety. Did you like it, or not? And that is the naked truth!

Your mind is a fog! Or was it a car?

Here, choose one option: YOUR mind is a FOG, or a CAR?

Don’t understand where I’m going with this? Read below.

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Can you guys read that? Geez. I almost can’t. But here it is again, in visible English:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E. L. Doctorow

Either Doctorow was a genius, or a man in need of some sleep because he’d been awake all night writing. Wish I could do that! Whatever his reason for deeming writing as an act of driving in a fog, I think he was onto something. I don’t quite remember where I was or what I was watching, but a couple of days ago, there was a program on that showed few writers talking about the writing process and I was almost hysterically laughing not because I’ve lost my mind, but because these writers were saying things that sounded normal to me, but wouldn’t sound so to others.

What was so funny? Well, it was what they said about how they write that was funny; they were mentioning how they (we) don’t know what we are writing till we write it.

Now that I’ve come across Doctorow’s quote, I think I will forever describe this crazy sense of writing direction as akin to driving in a heavy fog, and not being able to see beyond the edge of the headlights.

That’s how it is, you know, writing a story, novel, poem etc. You have an idea, a bigger, but vague picture of what the story will be, but the exact shape is unknown. When I start writing, I usually have just a vague idea of the story, except the one thing that has triggered the story. The trigger can be an idea, a dialogue, a character, an event, an image, a glimpse, etc. anything really. That’s the only thing I’ll know in detail when I start out. The rest is really a journey of discovery as I follow the story, then follow the characters, and sometimes find that the beast is morphing, hopefully for the better.

So my question again, is my mind fog or a car?

I think it’s fog really and not the car. I’m actually never really driving the story, but the story is driving itself through the fog, finding it’s path, and I, the fog, move, morph, get out-of-the-way so the story can find it’s path. We all know how a foggy day turns out, with bright sunshine, so I actually can hold my chin up high knowing that because of the fog, the story has found interesting pathways it would not have normally taken had there been a GPS attached to its windscreen.

My mind is a fog. Be the fog. I’m a fog!

PS. Weather update: No fog predicted tomorrow. But finger’s crossed!