Friday, May 22, 2015

Superheroes

Remember when superhero movies used to be all about good always triumphing over evil? Sure the hero would face some conflicts of his own but the minute he donned on his superhero costume, all of it would be sorted out along with the criminal activity in his hometown. The pictures had so much color and the theme would be constant and light. The audience were assured that even though the hero was going through some trying times in the first half, as soon as he got his powers, everything would be fine and the climax would have a mind blowing action scene where the whole city would finally hail the previoulsy misunderstood hero. That was the fun quotient in watching these superhero flicks- that it made us feel safe knowing that there will always be an end to evil. However, in recent years, superhero movie have just not been as comforting. The real world is in a state of turmoil. There are wars, earthquakes and mindless killing of innocents by maniacs. At this trying time, when we seek solace through movies and try to convince ourselves that one day "good' will overtake all evil, we are presented with movies that do little to put our minds at ease. Fiction has never entirely been fiction. The audience only accepts a fictional work if they can believably relate to it. That means a lot of work is put on by the writer to mould their characters into people the audience can without hesitation say: " hey I know these kind of guys. My friend/relative/neighbor is exactly like that. This works when creating a normal character sans any supernatural power. But superheroes are superheroes. They are supposed to live extraordinary lives and as they fight off their enemies in the dark and in disguise, their personal lives are without any emotional dents. Their friends and families wonder where they are when they're supposed to be spending time with them, but that is just a trivial scene a writer will add to give their heroes a little depth- a hero's life beyond their superhero duties. That cannot be said of the superhero movies and shows that have been released recently. The heroes live depressing lives and they have to constantly struggle to keep any relationship afloat be it their family, friends or girlfriends/boyfriends. They face injustice in their true personas and try to fend off evil once they wear their dark costumes and search for their enemies. Do they always win? They do not and somehow that is just so depressing because if a superhero cannot stand in the face of adversity then what chance do we normal folks have? It was while I was watching a multi superheroes movie and saw all the devastation being caused by the antagonist that I was caught up in my own thoughts and wondered if the world could be truly saved by there superheroes. Onscreen, in their skintight uniforms and distinguished weaponries they do look like the saviors of the world. But it is when their personal stories are told that some of the superhero sheen wears off. They suddenly become ordinary people just like us who suffer the same normal problems and while they manage to somewhat save the world (for now), their personal lives are in disarray. Movies now days do mirror the bleak realities of this world bit can superhero movies please be exempted from this current fad where the creators are more interested in producing "darker and grittier" films? At the end of the day, we all want to cling to the hope that after every all the hardships we face and all the calamities the world suffers, good and humanity will rise above all that. And that even though there are no real superheroes, somewhere out there is a hero who will always choose to be good.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stay or Stray





There comes a point in a writer's journey when they must decide whether to compromise their vision or not- to stay with what they believe in or stray and give in to what is demanded out of them.
It's not an easy decision to make because for a writer they not only want to be appreciated for their work but also be published and have their books be purchased.

A couple of years ago, when I started on my journey to become a writer, I was drawn to young adult stories. I had an idea that was different from the books popular then. I held off writing that particular story because it was risky and I didn't want to fail at my first attempt to write a whole manuscript.
I surveyed various bookstores and went through the trends and the popular young adult books.

Literally every book that I picked was on vampires. I selected various books from different shelves and red the blurbs: she closed her eyes as he leaned forward to kiss her. The next thing she felt was his teeth pricking the skin of her neck.

I'm paraphrasing the above lines but I was annoyed that the only books being sold for young adults were about vampires. In fact I was asked several times if I was thinking about writing a story on those creatures.

Here's my answer: I won't write a whole novel on vampires. Why? Because they are overdone. The myths on vampires have been distorted and manipulated in many stories. I'm not saying I didn't like a single Twilight book/movie or can't stand watching an episode of Vampire Diaries. In fact I am a huge fan of Vampire Diaries but I still won't work on a vampire story because pretty much every aspect on vampires has been explored in the aforementioned titles.

I always did want to write something different, something that would challenge and inspire me. 'Repeated Lives' was a risk for me, but I could not, not write it. The story was aching to be born so I wrote it and fortunately for me, it was accepted for publication.

Then there is another story I'm currently working on. This story deals with a few disturbing elements and would be excruciating to write. Currently, I'm working on parts of the story that introduces the character and conflicts. But how these conflicts have been created and how they will be solved- that is going to be some real hard work.

The story at the moment focuses on mild elements and I could continue the flow in this way and tone down the disturbing parts.

However without showing the intensity of them, my character loses all credibility and will lack from a clear motive.

It is a hard decision and like many writers, I could wrap up the disturbing parts in complex layers of story and deviate the reader's attention away from them.

On the other hand, I get to grow as a writer by writing something difficult and challenging.

A hard decision to make and fortunately I have some time before I make a decision and take the story to a whole new level.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Exhausted Writer



A popular advice all writers are given is to write every single day. As a struggling writer, I find this advice isn't really expedient.

Though practicing your art everyday helps hone your skills, actually writing every day is only a frustrating exercise.

A writer not only writes- they must read, research and find inspiration to work.

When they force themselves to write every day the result is often disastrous. The sentences are hackneyed, the characters don't seem believable and the story is just ribbons of plot tied shabbily to each other.

The main part of writing is inspiration that can come from anyone and anywhere. For me its always been music, but I don't always wake up feeling inspired.
There are days when I'm so mentally exhausted from doing research or working on chapters for my new fiction, that writing another chapter is just so daunting. I guess the brain needs a break too every now and then.

At this time, when my head feels like it's being baked, forcing myself to write will NOT produce a great piece I can be proud of.

It will be a jumble of messy plots that won't be connected to the story and I would have ruined my whole manuscript.

Instead of writing, I think it's important for the writer to take a little break. Take a long walk sans technology- no phone to take unnecessary pictures or selfies (a cringe-worthy word in my opinion) or check your email. It should be just you and the nature.

Listen to music, watch a comedy, just anything to relax the mind so that it can start producing good work again.

Also, use some time to research your story and learn new things you can add to the story and make it a more informative and entertaining read.

I do find however, that taking long breaks away from writing results in losing interest in the story, so these "breaks" should never last for more than 4-5 days in my opinion.

Writing is an endeavor and should be fun. In my experience, my readers quickly picked on all the parts of the story that I didn't have fun writing. It came off forced and didn't add anything to the story.
The parts and the chapters that I did have fun writing elicited a good response from my readers.

Writing is hard and it takes a lot out of the writer. The least a writer can do is enjoy themselves when they're working.


Because writing without passion and inspiration is just like living a life without fun and music.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Why Reviews are Important






Now that the writing and editing part is done, the author gets to step back and watch their hard work be published and made available to readers all over the world. It's a shining and proud moment for us to see all our hard work being put up for everyone to see.

And now it's the readers' turn to do their part. What do they have to do?

Review of course...after reading the writer's creation.

Here's why reviews are the most important part of the whole writing and publishing process.
For the reader it's a chance to voice their opinions. Just like you have the chance to review products, as a reader you have the prerogative to review an author's "product" as well.

One of the benefits of writing a book review is that you get to analyze the story and understand all that the writers' are trying to teach and portray through their stories. You get a chance to consider the writers' vision of the world and hence develop a different perspective to see things all around you.

When you write a review, you get to share your interpretation of the story with the world too.

For a writer, reviews are extremely important. If they receive a good review, they derive encouragement from it and continue to pursue their dream. It's hard to stay motivated in this competitive profession and reviews are a surefire way to make them stay anchored to their aspirations. They also find out from their readers all the things that appealed to them in a particular story. Through that feedback, they can use it to work on their next story and insert all those "popular" elements.

Unfavorable news is a writer's nightmare. But if they can extract any good thing from that is that some readers are kind enough to offer constructive criticism that helps the writer avoid mistakes in their next work.

Reviews help shape the writer and build their own unique writing style.

Still not convinced that you should write book reviews? Here's another reason.

Putting up reviews will show writers that their books have been bought. Seldom, some publishers won't be regular with submitting sales reports to authors; vanity publishers even tweak and alter the reports a little so that they don't have to pay the author. The author unfortunately will find themselves in a position where they have no proof on whether or not their books have been sold.

It's a rare occurrence but unfortunately it does happen to some authors.

This is where readers can help by reviewing on sites that sell books. Reviews give writers evidence that their books are being sold and they are not being cheated out of their royalties.

The one thing all readers must remember is that a writer is putting their heart and soul into their writing. They spend many hours creating that one story that will not only entertain the reader but help them escape into a wonderful fantastical world.

The least a reader can do is appreciate a writer's hard work by leaving a review, whether good or bad to show them that they have at least been read.


And sometimes that is all we writers want.