Thursday, 31 December 2015

My reading list of 2016.

My reading list of 2016. 

Finally, my books have arrived to the USA and that gives me the pleasurable opportunity to pile them and take a picture.
These are the books that I will use as the dumbbells to exercise my mental muscles in 2016.
The books that I plan to read but are not here because I don't have the physical copies of these books with me are-
1- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
2- Rise of Hastinapura by Sharath Komarraju
3- Brutal by Uday Satapathy

Why is my own book IAm16 ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture there in the list?
Other than plain narcissism, I have one better explanation.
One of the best ways to be objective about the Craft as a writer is to read the work again after some time. This time gap settles things down in head. Now, when I read the work, I learn a lot from it in terms of craft. Some good things, that I will continue to do in future in other books. Some not-good things, I can improve upon in my future works.
Debashish Irengbam, eager to meet Me, Mia and Multiple.



Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and author of the novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture
Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam



Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How I started writing Yin Yang Series

How I started writing Yin Yang Series



What is a book series?
The Wikipedia definition of book series goes as follows:
Fictional series typically share a common setting, story-arc, set of characters or timeline.

  1. Some works in a series can stand alone—they can be read in any order, as each book makes few, if any reference to past events, and the characters seldom, if ever, change. For example- The Hardy BoysMy first book of Yin Yang Series- #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against rape culture is a stand-alone novel.
  2. Some series do have their characters go through changes, and make references to past events. Typically such series are published in the order of their internal chronology, so that the next book published follows the previous book. Example- Harry Potter series. My second book of Yin Yang Series, which is at editing stage at the moment will fall in this category as it has many cross references to first book.
  3. There are some book series that are not really proper series, but more of a single work so large that it must be published over two or more books. Example- Lord of the Rings; Dark Tower series by Stephen King. My third book of Yin Yang Series will fall in this category. It’s more like the second part of the second book of Yin Yang Series.

How did I end up writing a series?

I had not planned to write a series when I started working on my first novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture. But in chapter 12.5, the last chapter of the novel, there was a scene that my first two Beta Readers whose opinion are life and death to me, unanimously said that it will kill the climax of the novel.

Till that point, I had started trusting the voice of my character Aarush Kashyap so much that I knew if he says, this is what he has done, I have to mention it or he will haunt me.
I cried for two days, literally CRIED, and urged my Beta Readers to give me a green signal to let this scene be a part of the book. Their ruthless hearts didn’t melt seeing my plight. 
Fortunately, after my relentless crying my second Beta Reader, my younger sister Payal Desai, said, “If you love the scene so much and you are sure this is what Aarush has done, why don’t you write another book on this.”
And I was like- WHAT?
And Aarush Kashyap’s voice inside me was- WHY NOT?
So, I started writing second book of Yin Yang series from the VERY NEXT day after finishing the final draft of the first book.
It had taken me two years to write my first novel. I was ready with the first draft of the second novel in three months straight.

My next blog is going to be about:
How to insert teasers (without them turning into spoilers) in a series?


Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and author of the novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture
Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam



Friday, 18 December 2015

Mind Nap

I love when Aarush Kashyap talks to me but I love it even more when he goes silent for days and months. It's during this time of silence that I grow as a writer.
They say, the sleep is important because that is the only time when the body gets rid of the toxins and gets rejuvenated for next day. That is what I do when Mr. Kashyap goes silent in my head. I take a Mind Nap.
Okay, long chase sort. I am doing ‪#‎Brainstorming‬ and ‪#‎Research‬ for‪#‎Book3YinYang‬

Research


Fortune is generally used by Machiavelli to mean the nature of circumstances, which, if favorable, are to be exploited for one’s own end and, if unfavorable, are to be overcome or minimized by appropriate action. It is not intended merely to imply luck and, whether favorable or unfavorable, it is never an excuse for inaction. 

‘Ability’ is used to translate Machiavelli’s virtu. A key word in The Prince and the Discourses, it implies physical and mental capacity- intelligence, skill, courage, vigor- in short, all those personal qualities that are needed for the attainment of one’s own ends. The term almost invariably carries no implication of virtue in the moral sense. 
Pg-15 The Prince By Niccolo Machiavelli 

Research #Book3YinYang

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Method Writing- Day to Day- 15th December, 2015

WORK IN PROGRESS.
A writer needs to work at 3 fronts in day to day life
1- Production- What he/she is writing at the moment- In my case,‪#‎Book3YinYang‬
2- Publication- It's the entire process which takes place AFTER the first draft of the novel is written. In my case, ‪#‎Book2YinYang‬
3- Platform- The work a writer does to spread word for the existing work. In my case, ‪#‎IAm16ICanRape‬: The War Against Rape Culture.
And this is how things are going:
PRODUCTION
1391 words.
#Book3YinYang
PUBLICATION
Payal Desai- The Final Document size for #Book2YinYang is 673 pgs- 1.5 space, Courier Final Draft. That is an inevitable side-effect of being a screenplay writer- I EVEN THINK IN COURIER FINAL DRAFT!
Anyways, so this is the length, and let's say we have 2 weeks of December and a total of 8 weeks of Jan and Feb for ‪#‎SelfEditing‬ ‪#‎FixYourFiction‬.
That gives us 12 weeks for self editing 673 pgs.
That is around 58 pgs a week. If we work 6 days- that is more like 10 pgs a day.
I also need to finish ‪#‎AdditionalResearch‬ that takes place after first round of‪#‎BetaReading‬ is over.
In March, I hand my second baby over to Neil D'Silva and Varun Prabhu atPen Paper Coffee for professional editing.
PLATFORM
Query 101- ‪#‎DAY4‬
(I will write it as a separate post later in the day)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Query Letter- 101 ‪DAY-3

Query Letter- 101 ‪#‎Day3‬
MY ACTIONS
1- I read the Query Letter- ALOUD. It is very important to read it loudly because sometimes there are sentences that sound okay on page but DON'T sound okay when someone else reads it.
2- I make the required editing.
USEFUL SITES
1- I go to http://carlywatters.com/ and read her blogs. They are very helpful.
2- I read http://www.rachellegardner.com/ another lit agent who knows the skin of writer in and out and writes brilliant and helpful blogs
3- I read- http://thewritelife.com/querying-literary-agents-your-top-…/
WHAT I LEARNT FROM QUERY SHARK
"I want to work with authors who are meticulous about their work. Sure mistakes happen, and we've all reupholstered our guns one time or another, but in a query, you've got time to let something sit, to read it out loud, and do all the other tricks that help you find these bugaboos." Says Query Shark
1- Don't give away the entire book in a query. There's no reason to read the book if I know what happens. The query should cover Act One AT THE MOST. Just the precipitating incident is often better.
2- The purpose of a query is to entice me to read the pages, not fill me in on the whole story.
3-A good taut query is 250.
4-You don't need platform to write a novel. You don't need to tell me why you're qualified to write a novel. All you have to do in a query is tell me about a story I want to read. It's harder than it looks.
5-Complex family relationships need consequences if untangling them is the plot of the novel.
6-Don't open your query with a rhetorical question. Not now. Not ever.

Intuitive Writing is a Wow feeling

I never thought of myself as a writer even though I started writing poems at the age of 4.
I am a clinical psychologist.
I never thought of myself as an author till I wrote my first novel.
They say, a child gives birth to a mother.
In my case, my novel gave birth to an author.
When I wrote the novel, I DIDN’T FOLLOW ANY SCHEDULE.
The writing followed me. For more than 8 months, I looked like Zombie. I won’t go to beauty parlor to wax my legs for months.
I have no idea what obsession my characters had with morning but they would chirp in my head at wee hours with morning birds.
And this is after I slept at 2:30 or 3:00 because I was hanging out with them!
So, I think, the best writing is INTUITIVE and so powerful that it changes the DNA of a writer.
For my first novel, I didn’t follow any schedule. Now, with my third book, I try to bring discipline but not because I don’t enjoy my writing time, but it is because I need to take care of other things and can’t live in my make-believer world for ever.
So, I have to tell my characters everyday, “Guys, please stay there, I will be right back with you tomorrow. And meanwhile, keep chattering in my head. That is your playground. No issues!”

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Query Letter- 101 DAY-1

Query Letter- 101
DAY-1
For weeks to come if you don't find me anywhere in cyber space. Look for me at http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
I will hang out there.
What I learnt today?
While drafting query letter, following 4 questions must be answered.
A query letter MUST tell an agent what the book is about
a Who is the main character?
b What does he want?
c What is keeping him from getting what he wants?
d What must he sacrifice to get what she wants?
Let's learn with an example, how will I draft the query letter of IAm16 ICanRape: The War AGAINST Rape Culture.
a Who is the main character? Rudransh Kashyap.
b What does he want? He wants Aarush to be brought to justice. He wants Aarush to be punished according to the severity of his crime.
c What is keeping him from getting what he wants? Juvenile Justice System of India.
d What must he sacrifice to get what he wants? He must take a stand against Juvenile Justice System of India and demand justice against his own blood.

Query Letter- 101- Day 2

Query Letter- 101
This is what I have been doing for past few days. Everyday I go tohttp://queryshark.blogspot.com/ and read the blogs. Then I go and read my query out ALOUD. EVERY TIME!
I want my Query to sound perfect.
I plan to do this for a month- yes, in case you missed- 30 days- 2592000 seconds.
What I learnt from Query Shark Today-
1-Do not start the query with a rhetorical question. This isn't a philosophy class, it's a business letter. Get to the point.
2- Don't be afraid to be plain.
3- Don't be afraid to write very simple sentences.
4- Fancy is not the equivalent of good.
5- You only need the first act in a query. Leave us wondering what happens next.
6- Don't tell me about what the story will evoke. Evoke it.
The only way to do that is with the story. What happens. What's at stake. What are the choices being made.
7- You have no idea what your readers "notions" about anything are. Don't assume.
8- A query is not a synopsis. You've got way too much information here. You need to set the stage only so the reader will want to dive in to the pages you include with the query. You do NOT want a complete run down of the book.
9-Read more. And I don't mean read for pleasure. In fact, you should probably just start with writing out by hand the text of a novel you love. This will get you in to the bones of the novel. You'll really see it for the first time if you're writing it out. The physical act of writing also helps your brain to see what works. Not typing on to a computer screen. Actual hand writing.
9- Don't waste a single one of your 250 word allotment on what the next book is about. Focus solely on this book.
10- Focus on enticing us to read more, not reciting what happens.
11- A query isn't just about the book, it's about how well you write and revise.
12- "Winston Smith has been a foolish man, and on Christmas Day of 2012, it's going to cost him his life. "
13- Don't quote the novel in the query.
This is a great opening line. Do I want to find out what happened? You bet.
14- Don't reveal the outcome of novel in the query. You destroy any desire to read the book to find out what happens.
15- Limit your sentences to 10 words on the revision. Then figure out which sentences need to be longer. No sentence should be so long you can't say it aloud without taking a breath.
16- Queries are not novels. The style you employ for your novel may not work in your query. Write your query to be read by someone reading at a brisk pace.

2016 Reading List

In 2016, I plan to read 4 books a month- a total of 50 books a year. Not a new resolution. This is a resolution I make every year. But I have not been able to meet it. But I am yet again ready with determination to improve the number for better in 2016.

This is my strategy-
1- I plan to read 2 novels a month. As I am a novel writer, it makes sense that I must read good novels. As Stephen King says, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”










2- I plan to read 2 non-fiction books. I am a natural non-fiction reader, so I can't do without them. Now, out of these 2 books, one book has to be either about CRAFT or RESEARCH for my novel. And one book can be for fun. Yes, I read non-fiction for fun! Call me weird!















And then there will be a list of books that I plan to finish during the whole year. They are more like reference books or GO-TO books.



Friday, 11 December 2015

Recycling of Stories.

One of the best things about being an author is that stories don't die in mind. Even when a story that is as good as waste material is buried in the mind for long enough, it becomes fertilizer for another story. A writer fears that she has lost a story forever and then, at most unexpected moment, the story comes back to the author with much more maturity in it's look.

It's like that famous Salim- Mehrunnisa story. They shared their first kiss when Mehrunnisa was 16 and then went their separate ways only to cross each others path again when Mehrunnisa was 34. This time he fell heads over hills in love with her because during all these years, her beauty had just matured.



I was 18 years old when I started writing my first novel. It was called "Devil is Dead"-- don't judge me for the title and question why it sounds like the title of a titillating B-Grade Horror movie, my sense of aesthetics was yet to develop. (Not that lovers of Aesthetics will give me 10/10 for the title of my first novelIAm16 ICanRape: The War AGAINST Rape Culture.) Anyways, it was about a dark theme.
I wrote 50 pages of the manuscript in a notebook. And as Abhay says in the play "Iss Kambakt Saathe Ka Kya Karein" "50 page likhe aur yeh duniya ek mahan upanyasha padane se vanchit rah gayi"
Subtitle- Wrote a mere 50 pages and the world was deprived of a great novel
For all these years, I thought I have lost that novel because it won't come back to me. I have matured as a person and as a writer.
What I failed to realize is that may be in one of my novels, one of my characters is yet to evolve.
My evolution won't decide the content of my novels, it's where my characters are!
While writing ‪#‎Book3YinYang‬ I stumbled upon the possibility of using the story of my first novel as a major subplot.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Lesson- 1 of Self Editing by Kirtida Gautam- BRING TIME GAP BETWEEN FINISHING THE FIRST DRAFT AND FIRST ROUND OF SELF EDITING



Today I officially start working on the first round of self-editing on the second book of Yin Yang Series. Payal Desai , my brilliant Beta Reader is also helping me with the editing process.

Lesson- 1 of self editing

BRING TIME GAP BETWEEN FINISHING THE FIRST DRAFT AND FIRST ROUND OF SELF EDITING

Let the work sit down in your mind. I finished writing the first draft of the book 2 months back. Meanwhile, I received feedback from my Beta Readers and I let the work settle down in my head.
I had made this mistake with ‪#‎IAm16ICanRape‬: The War AGAINST Rape Culture. I didn't give any time between finishing the work and SELF EDITING stage. As a result, I could not bring the required objectivity about the chunks I needed to SHIFT-DELETE.
I don't plan to repeat the mistake with Book 2. And therefore, I have let time lapse since my first draft got over.

There are 2 distinct advances of this process (especially when a writer writes the series)
1- The step out line of the third book is ready, so now I know more clearly then ever what are the parts I need in the second book and which parts are not needed in the story but more like my obsessive renting on page.
2- I am not as EMOTIONAL about the work any more and that helps me taking RATIONAL decisions.

A writer MUST be EMOTIONAL about his writing. An editor MUST be RATIONAL about her editing.

Stereotype:
Emotional goes with HER
Rational goes with HIM
But are we not talking about the Yin-Yang series here?

‪#‎MethodWriting‬ ‪#‎Book2YinYang‬ ‪#‎YinYangSeries‬ ‪#‎KirtidaGautamWorkInProgress‬ ‪#‎SelfEditingForFictionWriters‬

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

21 GRAMS OF MY BOOKS.


For every book, I have a particular chapter which I call the soul of the book. It's that 21 grams, may be a small part of the book, but I know that the whole book is written for this one chapter.
In IAm16 ICanRape, chapter 6.4 and chapter 10.1 are those chapters for me. Everything else is periphery, these chapters are the center.
For my second book, there is a chapter 15.9- I call it soul of my second book.
Today, my characters gave me one such chapter for third book. If the step out line doesn't change much, then the chapter would be numbered 17.6. The title of this chapter in my head is NAKED.
Yes, I always have names of the chapter in my head.
Chapter 6.4 I call- Aarush and his fantasy world
Chapter 10.1 I call- Facing the Father

#MethodWriting #KirtidaGautam #IntutiveWriting

Monday, 26 October 2015

WRITING IS ADDICTIVE



Today I officially started writing the 3rd book- technically- part 2 of second book.

Today I am officially starting to write the third book of Yin Yang Series. Technically, it is part 2 of the second book. I had kept this work on halt for past few weeks because I was moving to the USA. Today, I will be moving in my apartment and same day I wanted to start with the work. It will take me some time to write this book because lot of research is needed.
The second book of the series came out too organically. As a matter of fact, I NEVER STOPPED WRITING THE FIRST BOOK. It is just that I published part of it because it was good enough to tell the story in totality. But in my mind, my characters continued with their lives and did so many things that surprised even me- the writer.

But for this book, I will need to have my data in place. So, as the book needs-
1- More research
2- Plus, I have moved to a new country, I need to make new adjustments and commitments around the time I have to write.
I think it will take me around 6 months to finish this book- the first draft.
But I felt great because after weeks today- I wrote something. I wrote just 143 words- but they felt good. Meeting my characters again in my mental space is always a wow feeling.

Monday, 19 October 2015

BIRTH OF AN ANTAGONIST


In the first TREATMENT, a 15 page document depicting the structure of story, of my book IAm16 ICanRape, Aarush Kashyap was hardly a character worth noticing. He was mentioned here and there like most of the time a spoiled brat from rich family who commits certain kind of crimes are portrayed in Hindi films.
It was during one of brainstorming session with my spouse Mrityunjay Gautam that the idea of creating a very strong antagonist surfaced in my head. He said,
"At the moment, your protagonist fights a winning battle. Your antagonist hardly gives him (Rudransh) any struggle."
I looked at the 15 pages (which by the way, till that time I thought is a work of genius, now I look back and think, WHAT THE HELL WAS I WRITING?)
That was the genesis of an antagonist who stays in the mind.
Most of the people don't like Batman: The Dark Knight because of theBatman, but because of the Batman - Joker.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Writing for me is like watching a movie in MIND

Method Writing
How do I write?
I write exactly the way people watch a movie. Except in my case, the movie runs in my head.
So, I take a seat. I don't grab popcorn because many of my stories don't go well with popcorn. But I surely sit at the edge of the seat.
I hear songs. Lots of them. To me the songs I pick kind of navigate me through the story.
And then, I start writing (actually I voice record most of the things that I write).
After the recording is done, I go back and hear it again and again. Some of my best scenes are the ones which are the EXACT transcription of the recording.
But sometimes, I do fill in the information to reach to the point where the recording starts.

Kirtida Gautam is the Author of #IAm16ICanRape- a novel that questions the Juvenile Justice System of India and raises the voice AGAINST growing rape culture. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Intuitive Writing


I don't need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me

~ Ray Bradbury

First let us understand the meaning of the word Intuition.

Intuition, a phenomenon of the mind, describes the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. The word intuition comes from Latin verb intueri translated as consider or from late middle English word intuit, to contemplate.

Human beings gather the knowledge about their environment by one of the following two methods-
  1. Intuition- With mind
  2. Sensation- With one of the five senses


When a person uses sensation to gather the knowledge of his/her environment, s/he is using the faculty of observation over intuition.

What is Intuitive Writing?
Intuitive Writing is a method of writing in which the writer creates the fictional world by paying more attention to the dynamics of mind.

What is Sensory Writing?
Sensory Writing is a method of writing in which the writer creates the fictional world by observing the world around him and then trying to replicate it in the fictional world.
There is no right or wrong method. They are different methods.

My experience with Intuitive Writing-
While writing my first fiction book #IAm16ICanRape, a psychological thriller that raises strong objection against the growing Rape Culture in India and questions the Juvenile Justice System of India, I experienced the power of intuitive writing for the first time in my life.

This is how the process went-
  1. At first, I read and researched about the topic of rape for one and a half years
  2. During the same times, I would often write around 2-10 pages every day even when I didn’t had any particular thing to write
  3. Then I wrote around 100 pages of character sketches. The details of the character.


And then I started sweating. I had done everything that had to be done and yet the muse had not turned up at my door. I didn’t know what the story of the novel would be. I was scared beyond words.
I knew in theory there is something called intuitive writing, but I had not experienced it till that point in time. I wrote a one page pitch of the novel and kept reading it over and over for next few days. 

And then, one day, while I sat at my laptop, a scene started playing out in my head as if I was watching a movie. I wrote the scene exactly the way it played out in the head.
The scene became the chapter-9.1 of my book. I knew I had to place it in the beginning even though it came much later as an incident in the plot line. With this one scene, I started writing my step out line in such a way that the characters who appear white in the beginning continue to look darker and darker as the book progresses and vice versa.
I wrote the step out line in a week, but as the book progresses most of the scenes of original step out line were changed by scenes that came out more organically from the characters. I had to be open to the idea of changing the story as the work progressed.

Today, I can assure every writer with complete confidence when they will let the story brew in the recess of their minds for long enough- they can experience a phenomenon called intuitive writing, which is pure bliss.

Link to the book-