Killing your readers – or, How NOT to write!

Have you heard of the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest?
It has been around since 1982 and it connotes a very intriguing challenge – participants must write an “atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel” and the most atrocious entry wins a prize every year.

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Jealous of other authors? Is that a bad thing?

We are at the letter J in our series on “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing

If you’ve read the previous posts on the subject, you’ll recall that the eight of us – Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Paromita Goswami, Adite Banerjie, Ruchi Singh, Sudesna Ghosh, Saiswaroopa Iyer and I – are blogging on a myriad of writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week.

This week I’m going to talk about jealousy as it applies to authors.

Jealousy, as per Wikipedia “refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, over relative lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a comparator, a rival, or a competitor.”

Do writers experience “insecurity, fear, concern”?
Sure they do, but it is usually over wondering if anybody is going to read their work or like their stories or come back for more.

Do writers experience “insecurity, fear, concern”…in reference to a comparator, a rival, or a competitor?
I hate to say ‘hell, yes’, but I’m afraid it is true, so…Hell, yes!

The evidence that the green-eyed monster lurks in writing circles comes from the shenanigans that accompany literary contests where winners are declared based on the number of times the book has been downloaded and the number of positive reviews they’ve garnered.

The following image is a screenshot of a facebook post by a well-respected blogger who was appalled to receive an offer of the nefarious kind.


When authors start paying for downloads and reviews of one’s own books, and then offer money to bloggers and readers for posting deeply “deeply negative reviews” of other’s books, this is a sure sign of insecurity.

Just because there are vicious and deeply insecure writers out there, does not mean that jealousy is necessarily a bad thing. If one were to think of it as ‘literary envy’ instead of as ugly, toxic, painful jealously, it can serve a useful purpose.

It can make you want to be a better writer than you are already. It can make you want to connect with others who write in your genre – thus broadening your network of support and learning.

If you do ever feel green – and you will because you’re human after all – then here’s what you could do:

  1. Smile.
    Not only because you’ve just confirmed that you’re human, but also because stretching those muscles prompts you to rearrange your emotions to match the smile.
  2. Write something nice ‘about’ or ‘to’ the subject of your envy. Share in her success and maybe the success fairy will visit you too. Believe it! If nothing else, being generous in the face of all the greenness invading your soul will make you like yourself a lot more.
  3. Read the work of the people you envy. You might find something about their writing style or their character development or dialogue delivery to inspire you.
  4. Avoid negative authors who make you feel bad about yourself – even if they do this indirectly by bragging about their accomplishments (real or imagined) and their reviews (organic or paid for, who knows?).
  5. Find a team of writer people, and non-writer people, and dogs, and cats who make you feel good and optimistic and positive and stick to them like glue. If, on the other hand, you do better alone, prefering to write in isolation, do remember to pop up once in a while to absorb the positive vibes of a supportive group.
  6. Remind yourself that success is transient – it’s here today, gone tomorrow, so there’s little point in worrying endlessly about it. Besides, any day could be your day, so work away at making it happen.
  7. No two writers are the same. Even if you envy another’s writing style, find your own niche through trying, and trying again. Keep at it. Hard work – and learning as you go – always pays. Be patient.

Lots of love and luck!

Read other posts related to Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing

Adding a dash of humor to your writing

This week I’m going to talk about adding humor to your writing.

I can’t write a blog on humor with mentioning my favorite author.

“If you take life fairly easily, then you take a humorous view of things. …making the thing a sort of musical comedy without music, and ignoring real life altogether.”
PG Wodehouse

PG Wodehouse’s comic genius is something to aspire to; however, not all of us write comedies. What, then, is the point of adding a comic touch to our writing? Indeed, in that case, what is the purpose of this blog?

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Google Play Books for self-publishing authors

This week I’m going to talk about publishing on Google Play Books.

I’ve used Amazon KDP and Smashwords, and have always wondered about Google play Books so I thought I’d read up a bit about it.

In the words of a writer for the Independent Publishing Magazine:
“What more could a self-published author want? The world’s largest search engine combined with the world’s largest e-bookstore.”

Um…my research threw up
some interesting findings and the chief one is that it isn’t as easy
as all that.

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Flashback in Fiction

What is a flashback?
It is a scene narrated in the present timeline but it pertains to something that happened in the past – something that took place before the current story starts.
A flashback refers to an event so compelling and powerful that it sits in the character’s memory – and it has contributed to make the character who she is.
How can you tell if your story needs a flashback?

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He said, she said: Dialogue Tags

This week, I’m going to talk about Dialogue Tags.

If my book characters say something, how will readers know who spoke?
How will they know who said what when they can’t physically see or hear the characters?

Through dialogue tags, that’s how. Dialogue tags are phrases or sentences that tie or tag a character to a particular dialogue.

Consider this conversation (Example A):
‘What on earth are you doing?’
‘How is it any of your bloody business what I do?’
‘It is my bloody business because this is my bloody house!’

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Is your writing clichéd to the hilt?

A cliché is a phrase that is symbolic or figurative rather than literal; for example: I am over the moon. Really? Clearly not, unless you are in a space ship, in which case it is a literal situation and therefore not a cliché.

A cliché can be an idiom, as in the example above; a metaphor [it was the final straw]; a simile [she sank like a stone]; or a proverb [knowledge is power].

At one time, eons ago, it was considered natty to use such phrases in speech and in writing. The concept was still new and they sounded clever.

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B is for Burnout

This week, the letter is B, and I’m going to talk about Writer’s Block and Burnout.

Let’s first distinguish Writer Burnout from Writer’s Block.
I read an interesting take on the topic at Litreactor.com:
When the voices in your head refuse to speak to you, it is Writer’s Block, but when they’re shouting at you to put pen to paper, and you simply cannot, that’s Burnout.

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A is for Anti-heroes

Welcome to “Authors’ Tips – A to Z of Writing”

This is a new series of blog posts where eight of us – Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Paromita Goswami, Adite Banerjie, Ruchi Singh, Sudesna Ghosh, Saiswaroopa Iyer and I – will post on a myriad of writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week.

We are starting with the letter A, a very good place to start, and Adite has set the ball rolling with her post on Authenticity in Writing. I am writing on A is for Antiheroes

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