Messing with my Writer’s Voice|Writing Fiction

Hello Friends,

I hope you’re having a fantastic Monday so far. Mine isn’t going too bad. So, I’ve hit a dead end again and I think it has to do with my writing voice. My biggest struggle with my current WIP(work in progress) is not the story itself, it’s how I want to tell it. This story has been writing itself in my head for years and I started working on it way back in 2016. I should’ve finished by now. But I’m still struggling with how it’s executed.

The story can be considered women’s fiction with a touch of romance. It’s about a young woman’s journey to finding a place she could belong. I know that sounds basic but it’s all I can give away for now. What I want to talk about today is writing voices.

Everyone has their own style and manner of storytelling. Personally, I’m not a fan of choppy sentences that sound the way we speak. I don’t mind that in dialogues, but not within the narrative itself. That is because I learned to write this way from an early age so it makes me cringe to write choppily. However, because many readers said they won’t read a book written in third person, I resorted to writing and rewriting in first person. I’ve tried first person present tense, first person past tense. But the manuscript just doesn’t sound like me or mine.

For instance, I can’t write with a flow. I always have to be mindful that my high-school dropout protagonist doesn’t have a vocabulary like mine. To tweak my own words to sound like my character’s(in terms of narration not dialogue just to be clear), is not the way I see myself being published. I feel like the narration needs to roll off the page as easily as it rolls off my mind. If that makes any sense at all. So I’ve been stuck because I stopped progressing my own writing to please readers of this particular genre. Which is probably the worst thing I could’ve done because I now feel like I’ve lost my ability to write the way I used to.

I know first and foremost we should always write for ourselves, but it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to deliver what readers demand. I mean, there is a business side to everything.

Currently, I am exhausted of this current WIP having spent years rewriting it in many different ways. I want to move on to my other 30 story ideas but I would lose much sleep and sanity if I don’t get this particular one right.

Have you ever experienced something like this?

xo Kat

Is Third Person POV Dead?|Writing Fiction

Just like anything, I’ve come to realize that writing books is a business in itself. At the end of the day we all want to be our authentic selves in hopes that at least one person will receive it positively but it’s also true that we write for an audience. Particularly in the romantic genres, in the last few years I’ve been seeing a lot of first person present tense POVs. I read it but it doesn’t always read well to me, because that’s my preference. Everybody has their own tastes even when it comes to reading.

I’ve asked the question first person vs third person in a couple of writing groups and the group with majorly romance writers and readers favored first person. Recently I read on a blog that reading in first person helps the reader connect to a character better as it reads like you’re inside of the person’s head. The blog also went on to say that when something reads like a chick diary it’s more relatable. While that may be true, authors who write in third person are still successful in publishing. Some of which I enjoy quite a bit, like Nora Roberts, Susan Mallory.

It’s mostly on the indie scene I see first person being more preferable and that’s scary for someone like me who is choosing to go the self-publishing route. I have written in first person, I’ve switched entire books in first person but I’ll tell you where it goes wrong for me.

I spend a few sentences throughout my story noticing things that my characters may not necessarily notice. For instance, my MC who is a guy may not care what the color of a curtain is or the set up of a bedroom. There’s also the self-description thing that makes me cringe. Personally, I find it hard to describe myself or brag about myself and again, not all of my characters care what they look like but I do want my readers to have a feature or two in mind. And I find that reflection thing that I see ever so often in other books is not really my thing.

My writing voice is also not my character’s voice. I enjoy using different words to describe and elaborate on things and I can assure you my main character may not always share that vocabulary. So it’s hard for me to articulate the story that I want in my main character’s voice. I don’t head hop because it’s confusing to readers and even me as a writer. I do focus on one character at a time but just in third person POV. It’s called third person limited whereas the other is called third person omniscient. This I will cover in another blog post so stay tuned for that one.

Lastly, I have been writing in third person POV as early as the age of seven. In school, I had tons and tons of essays to write and I even started writing my own stories so I had time and practice with writing in third person. It’s why it comes more naturally to me as a narrator.

What POV do you prefer and what are the challenges you face? Why is one or the other easier for you?

As always thanks for stopping by. Here’s the link for my newly created Facebook Page if you want to keep up with me there. https://www.facebook.com/Bookish-Kat-582027968799821/ I always love discussing bookish things with bookish people! Find me on Instagram @bookishkat7

xo Kat

 

 

Creativity Woes| Writing Fiction

Lately, I’ve been questioning my creativity as a writer. I’ve always felt like I had good stories to tell even though I hit dead ends when I do begin to write. There’s at least eighty summaries I’ve written, waiting to be explored upon. My brain is pretty much always working, plotting, brainstorming, creating. But sometimes, silence is all there is and it scares me. If I lose that part of myself that creates, I would be losing a lot. It would cause a heavy impact on my life. I don’t even want to think about it right now.

I’ve been digging into my brain trying to understand what’s been holding me back from completing anything this past year. It’s a mixture of self-doubt and time management. But it’s also the fact that I sometimes feel very low about myself as a creator of stories. I’m on this high when I get an idea and start plotting. I feel awesome when I write a brilliant sentence. But there’s always this fear that my book will be….well, shit. It’s a tough pill to swallow.

This past year has been great in terms of networking with other readers and authors. It’s definitely been helpful, but there’s also the fact that I’m not writing anonymously anymore. People know who I am. Previously I would use only twitter to market my books, but no one knew who I was. In the self-publishing world, you really have to market your book and yourself as an author. It’s something I want, and it’s something that terrifies me. I love being invisible. I’d love my stories to gain recognition but I don’t want that recognition as person. Does that make any sense to you? Well, I’ve learned that it doesn’t work like that and I think it’s why I haven’t been working as hard as I should be to finish my stories. I’ve been procrastinating because the next book I complete and start promoting will make being an author so real. It’s not that I can’t handle criticism, I can. I know I’m not the greatest writer. But it’ll remove a piece of my soul if my book can’t speak to at least one reader. So, I’ve been questioning my creativity very harshly, wondering if I even have the capacity to weave a story that makes any sort of sense.

xo Kat

What are you reading this week?

Outlining Your Story Helps You Write Better

Last year, I’d managed to finish two novellas without a particular process or schedule and since then I have been struggling with planning and completing stories. Every time I’d sit down and try to write complete mayhem broke out. In between normal life and daily duties, I could not utilize whatever spare time I had to write something of significance. I’m still struggling but I took time out to really study the writing process before jumping back into writing. So far, it’s been effective. I’m happy for myself, that I’ve recently started writing again, something that I just need to do.

I was under the impression that to be an author you had to be beyond intelligent and just know everything, that one can just sit down and write a perfect novel in one shot. When I started experiencing writer’s block despite knowing where I wanted my stories to go I realized that I needed to halt and revamp the way I approached writing. Dialogues are easy for me as I’ve always wanted to be a screenwriter since my tween days but it’s the details, descriptions and making my characters emote that I have the most trouble with. As my research progressed I learned that extensive research and planning goes into a story. At least for me, it was a new and different approach and one I decided to try out.

I did plan before but there were always holes in my story. I had the core idea, knew who my characters were and what was going to happen but it’s the how that hindered my progress. After trying to outline my story, I realized why I should’ve done this a long time ago. I consider myself very novice at writing but it’s something I love and I want to pursue so I had to get it right. I am still trying to get it right. So instead of just writing based on small notes I’ve made, I outlined an entire story from beginning to end and it felt almost as satisfying as completing a book. Bear in mind this is just the beginning. After completing a first draft, there’s lots of edits, formatting and modifying that needs to be done but I’ll elaborate on that more in another post.

Here’s how I outlined the story that I’m currently working on…

  1. OneNote. I came across this program, that’s free on all platforms by the way, called OneNote. It doesn’t save like a word document, it syncs and you’ll be able to access your work on multiple devices. Sometimes a thought might hit you and all you have is your phone on hand so I find this very useful if I quickly need to make a note or addition to anything. (I will create an entire post how I use OneNote for outlining and writing with pictures.)
  2. Writing Chapter Summaries. I used to write one entire synopsis and a few details here and there about scenes and dialogues that I already know I want in my story. I’ve started writing one liners about each chapter and it didn’t start in order. By the time I kept adding paragraphs to the one liners, I noticed my story tying together to make sense. (Note: If at this point your story sounds chaotic, worry not. It will tie together. Remember that this is just the beginning of it and your work will always be tweaked as fast as your ideas come along.) This is one thing I like about chapter summaries, if you feel like adding something different, it gives you room to work. Unlike just writing your book and half way through you realize that you need to redo the entire thing. So outlining your sub plots save you all of that. Once you’re satisfied with the outline, you can then begin to write.
  3. Character Profiles. Previously I would make a brief description of my characters such as dark hair, green eyes, tall, short…whatever their job was, who their family was. Sometimes I’d add new characters as I wrote and sometimes I’d want to take out a character that wasn’t making sense anymore but I couldn’t. So planning out my characters well and outlining the entire story, helps me know from the beginning which characters should be omitted as well as if I need to add a character somewhere down the line. I also ran into problems when I called my characters doctor or accountant and in the middle of the story I had to research details of their job descriptions. My advice is to research these details and any information about their jobs…note their likes, dislikes, behavior, families previous to writing. It has helped me in a big way so far.
  4. General Research. As much as us fiction writers make up a lot of details we still need extensive knowledge on how things in our stories function. For example a hospital…if a lot of our story is set in a hospital revolving around the people that work there, we’d have to know what goes there, who is in charge, their responsibilities, what equipment is placed in what department…things like that. You get the idea.
  5. Don’t leave holes. One of my biggest mistakes when planning a story, I’d leave out a lot of details thinking I’d polish it during the editing process. This causes more chaos that you’d think. Plan your scenes, and elaborate as much as you can before even beginning to write. It helps you write with a flow as you have noted exactly what you want to convey in that chapter.
  6. Sketch your Plot and Climax well. All stories have some sort of issue that needs to be dealt with which can either break or make your story. Make sure it’s a convincing and sensible one as well as your climax. I’ve read many books where the entire build up was brilliant only to have a rushed ending with an unconvincing plot. I’ve also written stories like this, sadly. So that’s why I feel it’s important to pay attention to your plots and sub plots along with the climax.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

The Challenges of Writing Romance

I enjoy both reading, and writing in the romantic genre. I think my obsessions with a good romance started at an early age. The first trigger was Indian movies which I looked at quite a bit because of my mother and most of them were centered around romances. For some reason the library at my high school carried Mills and Boon novels and I fell into that very quickly. My fifteen year-old mind went places, if you know what I mean. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mills and Boons, they are a set of romantic books published by it’s parent company, Harlequin Enterprises. Most of what I read was set in a historical period and till date I enjoy reading romances set in the far past. Not everyone enjoys romances or its sub genres but I do. I love a happy ending, flawed characters that grow, the essence of drama and love. I love it all. One of my favorite authors as an adult is actually Nora Roberts. She’s my hero when it comes to reading romance. Her books usually have strong characters and suspense or a little mystery so it dramatizes very well.

And because I enjoy this genre so much, a lot of ideas or plots that take birth in my head end up materializing into a romantic story. I have plotted and outlined so many of these romantic story lines and even though I can almost always see the ending, it’s hard to complete. It may seem like an easier genre to write compared to sci-fi, fantasy or crime fiction but it comes with it’s own challenges. If you run into similar problems or have any input, please feel free to drop me a line in the comments.

  1. Creating subplots. The template for most romance stories are similar. Boy meets girl or girl meets boy and they instantly click or click over time. The thing that would separate your story from another writer’s story is your subplots. Both or one of the main characters will need an issue to resolve.
  2. Repetition. Romances are a difficult genre to write because much of what we fantasize or dream about has already been written. It’s unnerving when you question every dialogue, every scene.
  3. Creating Interesting Characters. The earlier romances that I read had weaker female characters who suddenly came into thier own after finding love. In more recent times we see stronger female characters. I often find I write bland characters and need to make them do something drastic or have an annoying quality to appear more engaging to a reader.
  4. The Problem & Climax. Every book, romance or not needs a problem in order to reach the climax. The problem needs to be engaging and convincing enough for readers to want to get to the climax. I’m left doubting my work more than I would like to. The climax also has to be a suiting one. For example, not all love stories have a happily ever after ending. It all comes down to the fear I have of disappointing readers. I’ll talk more about that in a separate post why that’s not a great idea.
  5. Simple love or sexy love. When it comes to writing erotica, I’m still having a hard time. I am uncomfortable with writing intimate details, for the fact that I won’t allow my parents to read something with adult content. I’m also a sucker for back in the day romances…you know the kind with love letters and chivalry. It’s difficult when I sit down to write and all that’s playing in my head is “Clean or dirty.” I wish so many stories didn’t call for it, unfortunately it does.

Thank you for reading! xo Coffee Doll

Writing Hiatus and What I Did Wrong As a Writer

pencil-1486278_1920This January(2017) makes it a year since I started my eBook writing project. I completed two contemporary romance novellas sometime during the first half of last year. I knew they weren’t good, or even readable even but it’s something I just wanted to complete. I self published on Amazon Kindle and since then I’ve taken down one of them for rewrites. I think I left the second one up as not to hurt my small ego.

After those two books which were the first and third part of a series, I started another writing project, and then another and then another. Here’s where I went wrong.

Impatience. I think this was the main thing that flopped my entire project as a self published writer. I read a lot of books published with Kindle Unlimited and when I say a lot, I mean I can knock off a book in one sitting. It rarely ever takes me more than two days to complete a Kindle book. A lot of what I read on Kindle are contemporary/erotic/dark romances and historical romances. I just love stories set in the past especially in places such as England and France. I do enjoy a good highlander romance as well, and most recently, Viking stories.

Back to my point, I read a lot and I see other authors releasing books like crazy and I get impatient. I know I have my ideas and plots, my characters thought out and I just want to get it out as fast as possible. In doing that I skip loads of the outline and planning process, and I get stuck. I’m left with chunks of the story and plot holes.

Bad planning. The first story that I decided to go with wasn’t a very interesting one, however I took time and care in plotting my scenes and characters. The same with the second. And it kinda worked. But on reading some of these Kindle books which I thought were written well but didn’t take a whole lot of planning, I decided on short cuts. Instead of following my own style and principles in carving a story, I was trying to do what other authors did, books that I left negative reviews on. I thought if people could love and review a not so well written piece, they might read mine. My introductions are usually well detailed but I started jumping right into the story where the two main characters met. I felt as if a lengthy and informative introduction might bore readers. I made shortcuts in my story and it had an effect on my characters and overall plot.

Time management. If you’ve read some of my previous posts or even the about section, you’ll see that I have a preschooler and a toddler, and my days are often booked and busy. Some women do it with grace but I’m not one of those. I do it with coffee and I’m often overwhelmed. I’m not a very focused person all of the time and it’s a downfall of mine. When I first started writing, my husband was supportive and still is but at that time I literally sat by my laptop and worked on my book day and night. He handled the kids and things around the house. As the year progressed, I realized that my life can’t be this way. At some point in time I have to revert to my duties as mother, wife and errand runner. I also study which should be taking up most of my time as well. In my head I thought I’d take a month or two, write my eBook as quickly as possible and then take a rest period to catch up on everyday life, but I soon found out it doesn’t work like that. So I thought I’d write for a couple hours after I put the kids to bed but I’m so exhausted by that time that nothing worth reading ever gets written. I just can’t keep up with everything. I’m not a quitter though, writing is my passion. I just need to revise my schedule and try to fit everything in as best as I could. Currently, that’s not happening.

Can’t decide on a genre. I love reading all genres, from romances to thrillers, fantasy to crime fiction…I love it all…and I love to write it all. An idea doesn’t come in the form of a genre to me, it just comes. Sometimes I’m having a hard time with a script and I feel the need to change the initial story and cross genres. For example if I feel like I don’t have enough for a plain romance, I’d try to make it a suspense or dark romance. It all really comes down to properly outlining your story, and that’s where I’ve failed drastically.

Can’t stick to one story. I do get stuck in the middle of a story most of the time even when the climax and resolution are clear to me so what do I do? I have all of these ideas in my head so I get started on another project and think to myself I’d just get back to the first project when I’m not so blocked up anymore. What happens is, by the time I get back to the first one, I’ve lost momentum. The story sounds ridiculous to me. I wonder what on earth was I even thinking? It sounds like a preschooler wrote it and then I feel like I can’t even finish that project.

Not staying true to myself. I do struggle with staying true to my story and characters. Organically a lot of my characters are flawed and they do very wrong and absurd things but I tend to rewrite and sugarcoat it thinking I’ll be judged for how dark I write my characters. I soften them up and then they become like pieces of furniture. This is something I have to stop doing altogether. I need to stop thinking of what kind of readers I will attract and just write my darn story.

To close this off, I’d just like to say I’m a novice writer. I call myself a writer because I write. A lot of work needs to be done before I can put out a book to my satisfaction, hence I’m taking a writing break(from eBooks). I need to become more organized in my craft and evolve as someone who can really believe they’re a writer. I wish to focus on my blog a little more as it’s something I’m also passionate about and have been putting on the back burner.

xo Coffee Doll

Image: pixabay.com