Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Internet and the Writer

As a writer, I can safely say that the internet is a boon and a bane to me. So easy to waste time and energy getting sidetracked by Facebook, or by some research you knew you had to do. One click leads to another, and another and by the time you’ve scrolled through umpteen pages – it’s lunch time and you’ve written but a single paragraph.

1. Research

Everything is so much easier with the internet at your fingertips. Whether it be looking up a word or synonym in a thesaurus or finding the perfect name for your character from sites like

I’ve researched agents, publishers, scrolled through dozens of blogs to learn about the publishing business, or to check on my favorite authors. You want it – it’s there.

2. Agent Tracker

Looking for agents for your book just became that much quicker and easier. All you need to do is type in your criteria into your favorite search engine and within seconds you can find all the literary agents you could possibly query.

3. The Miracle of Email

Once upon a time, you had to send your query and first pages in by snail mail. Not only did it cost a bundle, waiting twelve weeks or more for an answer was completely unfeasible. Nowadays, with a click of your mouse you can send your query out to as many agents as you want. How great is that.

4. Google Earth and YouTube

With Google Earth and the ever-expanding world of travel blogs, you can journey anywhere in the world and garner some cool virtual insight into places you know you’ll never be able to afford to visit. I had to do some research on Kolkotta and while I lived there when it was known as Calcutta, there’s a lot I’ve forgotten. Somewhere, someone has visited it and uploaded a wealth of information just for you.

5. Online Forums

I’ve used online forums like Absolute Write to check what others have thought of different agents – whether they respond back or just throw your precious words on the scrap head. I’ve also answered questions on sites like Quora so that others can benefit from something I know.

Just don’t waste your time.

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Keep Your Muse Well-fed

Keep your muse well-fed, or watch her vanish. She is like a never-ending hunger that needs food but fails to get filled. And that’s good. She, the muse, is what brings that creativity to you. Feed her well.

What is the Muse?

The Muse comes from Greek mythology. They were nine goddesses who embodied the arts and  inspired the creation of literature and science. The muse can descend at any time, and if the recipient is not ready to receive, she will disappear and that inspiration will be lost.

Ray Bradbury, prolific science fiction writer, was a big proponent of the muse. He fully believed that when she descends and gives you the gift –  that story controls you. In a 1980 essay he said, “My stories have led me through my life. They shout, I follow. They run up and bite me on the leg— I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go, and runs off.”

If that’s not the muse, I don’t know what is.

How to Feed the Muse

1. Gather Experiences 

All those adventures and impressions from childhood and beyond should be collected and stored away to be used when needed. Snap up the landscapes, the textures, the foods, the experiences, the flavors to be given new life in a novel of your own.

2. Read Indiscriminately

Those writers who read only one type of genre are starving their muse. Can you subsist on just chocolate? Likewise, the muse is nurtured on every type of novel. Trashy romance or classic Hemingway – they both do their job in providing the variety that the muse requires in order to inspire that wonderful story that lurks within you.


3. Cop a Phrase, a Word, a Line

Write down fresh similes, fragments of paragraphs that you enjoy reading, or words that tease your tongue,  and action verbs and adjectives that you wouldn’t normally think to use. Then when you’re stuck, look through these lists and one of them might trigger the right inspiration.

4. Write with Enthusiasm

Writing is a joy, not something that you should feel you’re forced to do. Sit down to your computer with anticipation and wonder about what will come from your mind down and in and out your fingers. Enjoy the sensation of creating.

6. Surround Yourself with Like-minded People

Forget about people who are negative. Surround yourself with other writers who are supportive of you and your craft.

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Impersonal Writing

Take a look at any newspaper article and you’ll have a good example of what impersonal writing is. That works well and good for a reporter as they are just stating the facts about a particular situation. However, if you are a creative writer, then you need to instill some personality into your writing style. That is the very essence of creative writing.

First Person Point of View

When writing a novel, the personalities of your characters need to shine through – otherwise your story will fall flat. You need to get right into your protagonist’s head and into his/her point of view. Writing in first person will help you to do this. You’ll notice that urban fantasies and young adult novels often use this approach so that the stories are up front and – well, personal.

Omniscient Point of View

Yes, omniscient point of view is quite often used in novels, but while it may seem easy – it’s not.

Credit: Fablehaven Wiki – Wikia

The best omniscient writers are those that infuse that omniscient voice with a personality as well. Many children’s books like The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and the Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull are two examples of wonderful novels written in the omniscient voice

Stick to impersonal writing if you are writing non-fiction. That’s where it works. If you are writing fiction, work on instilling the characters with their own personality.

You won’t be sorry.

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Reading for Pleasure after Writing


There’s one problem with reading for pleasure after writing a novel – it’s tough to do. That’s because you can’t help critiquing the writing to a certain extent.

It’s a mark of how good the writer is, if the ‘critiquing’ part of your brain gets shut off, and you can enjoy the momentum of the novel to its fullest.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
 Groucho Marx

And it makes sense. After all, now that you’ve honed your craft, it’s so much easier to pick out passive language, poor plotting, weak characters, limp verbs and so on, and so on.

On the flip side, when reading a book by a master writer, you get to enjoy all the lavish words and descriptions, the fresh similes and metaphors and you get to feel envious – wishing you were the one who had written all those beautiful lines.

Choosing a Novel

I’ve watched myself choosing a book at the local bookstore or library, and find my habits quite interesting … and something for every writer to keep in mind. I check the title (yes, I judge a book by its cover!) read the blurb, then read the first paragraph. Quite often I toss it, if the first paragraph, sometimes even the first line doesn’t grab my attention. It’s rare for me to pursue reading something that I don’t feel pulled into, immediately.

Here’s my trick to now enjoying a novel – I give that critical part of my brain a sleeping pill and for the time that it’s out cold, I enjoy the book. When done,  I re-read the story and give my inner critic leeway to judge … and learn, copy down phrases to inspire me and enjoy the pleasure of a well-written line.

For those novels that are duds – I cheer. If those stories could get published, then there’s hope for my books – because, after all, I am so much better a writer than they.

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