Thursday, April 24, 2014

#atozchallenge: U is for Understand Your Story #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme:  Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing 

 The last week of A to Z is upon us-- I can't believe three weeks have flown past. I want to send up a cheer for my  co-hosts Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ and Pam, without whom this challenge would not be what it is-- a mega-networking event, but with a personal touch.

In case you haven't had time to stop by their blogs in the last week, make sure you drop by today-- they deserve your love and support for all the effort they put into the challenge :).

Today we discuss Story, without which there's no fiction. Fiction is story, and stories are one of our biggest needs as humans.

Here's what some storytellers have to say about Stories:

 “We live by stories— our own and those of others, real and imagined. It’s how we relate and stay connected on the most personal and intimate level. We need stories, the story process, to maintain our balance and our identity. We don’t think of it this way because we don’t have to. We just do it…Believe it or not, it’s one of our deepest social needs.” -- Jerry Cleaver

“I am a story teller. If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon.” -- Philip Pullman

"Anecdotes don’t make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about."-- Alice Munro

"Storytelling is ultimately a creative act of pattern recognition. Through characters, plot and setting, a writer creates places where previously invisible truths become visible. Or the storyteller posits a series of dots that the reader can connect."--Douglas Coupland

"Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences." -- Anne McCaffrey
How do you tell a story? What stories do you remember and why? Which of the above quotes do you like?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#atozchallenge : T is for Twists and Turns: #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme:  Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

Three weeks of intense blogging, that's what the A to Z challenge has been about so far. How many posts did you schedule in advance? Did you follow a theme? Did you wing it?

I scheduled most of the content for the posts on this blog, other than these greetings. I check in each day and click 'Publish' after checking if everything is ok. On Daily (w)rite, I'm writing a story a day, though I've often dreamt about them this month, mostly when awake!

And, if you haven't visited them yet, please go say hi to my co-hosts who made this challenge possible: Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Heather, AJMJ,  Pam and Stephen!

If you've been to their blogs, I have for you yet another topic for discussion on Fiction: Twists!  Twists in a story leave a reader gasping, and make them wonder why they didn't see it before. 

There is no formula for devising a great twist, because every plot is different and any number of things can work in a story. My trick for twisting my plot is pretty simple: Reader expectations...You want to give readers what they expect, but not in the way they expect it. ---Janice Hardy

 Try to think of what, within that fundamental situation, could go surprisingly wrong, yet seem believable and reasonable, within that context, when it happens...Your twist must satisfy and improve upon what it substitutes for, not just change it to something else. --- Ansel Dibell

A plot twist is basically an unexpected direction that the narrative takes.  They are designed to keep the reader guessing, to maintain a level of interest and atmosphere, and to move the story in a new direction – in other words it helps maintain the momentum of the story and helps to move it forward. Plot twists are also useful for wrong footing the reader by making them think something might happen in a certain way, when in fact the complete opposite takes place and thus it surprises them.  The idea is to make the reader comfortable with the story, and then change direction.  This ploy keeps them turning the page. -- A J Humpage

Look for events, developments, and twists that work in two or more ways at once, or that have multiple implications, meanings, or consequences. These can be among the most powerful elements in any piece of fiction.--- Scott Edelstein

Good twists are enormously hard to come by, and I think the best ones are earned ones. The idea that a story can take a left turn on you, it's easy to do, but it has to be done very, very carefully, or else you risk losing the audience's trust.--Damon Lindelof


Do you love plot twists as a reader? As a writer do you try to raise questions in the minds of the reader, then answer them? How do you plan twists?
(Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Heather, AJMJ,  Pam and Stephen!) - See more at:
(Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Heather, AJMJ,  Pam and Stephen!) - See more at:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#atozchallenge: S is for Show, Don't Tell #fiction #writing #quotes

 Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

I've been doing the AZ rounds, and enjoying myself, making new discoveries, meeting new readers and writers. What about you?

Today on Amlokiblogs I want to discuss the sage advice given to writers, "Show don't tell."

Show, don't tell is a technique often employed in various kinds of texts to enable the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author's exposition, summarization, and description. The goal is not to drown the reader in heavy-handed adjectives, but rather to allow readers to interpret significant details in the text. The technique applies equally to nonfiction and all forms of fiction, including literature, speech, movie making, and playwriting. ~Wikipedia

I have to admit that this piece of advice/ technique has improved my writing, but one of the things I learned is that the difficult part of the skill lies not in "Show don't tell', but in making a choice: what and when do you show, and when do you tell? Sometimes I end up summarising an important event in my story while writing about a minor one in a detailed scene. Does this ever happen to you?

Here are a few writers talking about this technique
“Show the readers everything, tell them nothing.” Ernest Hemingway

 "Needless to say, many great novelists combine "dramatic" showing with long sections of the flat-out authorial narration that is, I guess, what is meant by telling. And the warning against telling leads to a confusion that causes novice writers to think that everything should be acted out -- don't tell us a character is happy, show us how she screams "yay" and jumps up and down for joy -- when in fact the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language.” Francine Prose

  “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov

“You don't write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid's burnt socks lying in the road.” Richard Price

Have you ever come across writing which could do better with less showing and more telling? Which of the quotes above do you agree with and why?

Monday, April 21, 2014

#atozchallenge : R is for Rewriting #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

The A to Z Challenge is past its midway mark, and we're still at it, blog visits, comments, making friends. I feel exhausted, but also rewarded. Meeting so many nice new people gives you a buzz nothing else can.

In the world of fiction, nothing kills buzz faster than the rewriting phase. Personally, I like it, it gives me perspective, and like tweaking everything I'd gorged out in the earlier drafts. And sometimes for me, rewriting is not just tweaks, it is re-imagining. I've gone and thrown away entire short stories and novels, because I felt I could tell the story better in some other way, or because the characters needed more room or less.

Here's what authors who know what they are talking about have to say on the matter:

“The first draft of anything is shit.”--  Ernest Hemingway

"Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need." -- Helen Dunmore

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.”-- Stephen King

"I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times--once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say." -- Bernard Malamud

"I have rewritten--often several times--every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers." -- Vladimir Nabokov

"There's no reason you shouldn't, as a writer, not be aware of the necessity to revise yourself constantly. More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina. I can rewrite sentences over and over again, and I do. . . .And I think what I've always recognized about writing is that I don't put much value in so-called inspiration. The value is in how many times you can redo something."-- John Irving

"Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material."-- John Steinbeck
Do you rewrite your story? How many times do you do it? After reading a book, did you ever wish a writer had rewritten more of it?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

#atozchallenge : Q is for Questions #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing
The A to Z Challenge is chugging ahead, and I'm struggling to keep up, blog visits, comments, making friends. I'm writing a story a day on Daily (w)rite, and that itself is proving to be daunting.

But I shall win this thing, and I'll do what best I can to be a good cohost. Visit my fab fellow cohosts if you haven't yet-- (Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Heather, AJMJ,  Pam and Stephen!)

Today we talk Questions on Amlokiblogs-- the sort of question a writer needs to raise or answer in the process of writing fiction. Here's what authors who know what they are talking about have to say on the matter: 

I think kids want the same thing from a book that adults want - a fast-paced story, characters worth caring about, humor, surprises, and mystery. A good book always keeps you asking questions, and makes you keep turning pages so you can find out the answers.---Rick Riordan

I'm always looking, and I'm always asking questions.
---Anne Rice

I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied - about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works - and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling.
---Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the 'what if - what then' approach to writing and illustration.
---Chris Van Allsburg

Sure, a good story raises lots of intriguing questions, but there is one question at the white hot center of all the others.This is the “Major Dramatic Question,” or MDQ for short. Every good story has its unique MDQ. Think of it as the story’s nucleus. It’s a centrifugal force that propels the story along its path of action,  accelerating it steadily and breathlessly toward a climactic conclusion. And once the MDQ is answered… the story is over.
--- Daniel Noah

Do you ask questions as a reader? As a writer do you try to raise questions in the minds of the reader, then answer them?

Friday, April 18, 2014

#atozchallenge : P is for #Plot #fiction #writing #quotes

 Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

 Third week into the AZ challenge and I'm cruising along on auto-pilot-- so many blogs, such little time! I really need to make time to visit back and comment on everyone who has stopped by both my blogs. *No pressure, whew!*

Today on Amlokiblogs we're talking Plot (I may have lost my plot, life-wise, but that's no reason to stop plotting fiction now, is it?)

Plot is a literary term defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, in a sequence, through cause and effect, how the reader views the story, or simply by coincidence.~Wikipedia

I let my characters dictate my plot in my short stories and that has landed me in hot water with my novel WIP. I can't help it-- I get stuck if I start thinking of plot and character separately-- let's hope I can bring myself out of the corner I've painted myself into.

Here are some stalwarts of fiction talking about Plot:

"Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution." — Michael Moorcock

"All fiction is about people, unless it's about rabbits pretending to be people. It's all essentially characters in action, which means characters moving through time and changes taking place, and that's what we call 'the plot'." --Margaret Atwood

"Once a novel gets going and I know it is viable, I don't then worry about plot or themes. These things will come in almost automatically because the characters are now pulling the story." -- Chinua Achebe

"Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."-- Kurt Vonnegut


Do you worry about the plot of your novel? While reading a novel, do you ever wonder about its plot?