Taking forward our theme of ‘The Art and the Artist – Writing a Book“, We are back with the Live session of Mused! The positive response that we received on the first episode was a great motivation for us to bring to you, more fun, informative and useful content that will help you with Book writing. This episode was divided in three sections. Our host, Summaiya Naveed, shared some practical tips on enhancing your writing skills. If you missed the live session, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading this blog to get a summary of the entire session or just click here to watch it now!
What we discussed
In this Live session, there were three main concerns that Summaiya put forward. All of these issues highlight the difficulties faced by young authors in writing or publishing their books. The first segment dealt with:
1. Common Mistakes In Book Writing
In the first section of this episode, Summaiya talked about the common errors that most writers make while writing a book. First and foremost is the issue concerning tenses. While writing anything, we are usually taken aback by a stream of emotions. This diverts our attention from using proper tenses. Very often, you keep shifting from one tense to another which then affects the story. To avoid this, you must make a conscious attempt to keep proof-reading the story over and over again to alter any such errors.
The second mistake pointed out was regarding plot holes. Summaiya explained the concept of plot holes in detail. She defined them as any gaps that a story-line leaves which consequently fails to make sense of the story to the reader. This plot hole could be a hanging conclusion, a half-baked character or even introducing a new character mid-story and failing to weave them in with the rest of the story. Summaiya also highlighted that plot holes count as a weak story-line which again, leaves a bad impression on the reader. To keep your story strong, make your protagonist and each supporting character reach a conclusion. Any story-line left incomplete will weaken the weight of the plot of your story. To fix this mistake, she suggested we emphasize on important events in the story. Summaiya gave the example of the novel, ‘Hunger Games‘ in which, the ending of each chapter marks an important event. In this way the reader can predict an upcoming event and brace themselves for it.
Lastly, summaiya talked about flat characters and a robotic tone. Both of these mistakes are almost the same, as they involve a lack of insight into the world of your story. A robotic tone, summaiya explained, is flat, factual writing. By stating events of a story or attributes of the character it is hard to keep the reader glued. The reader wants to know where exactly is the story coming from. Providing descriptions that a reader might relate to will help them connect with both, your story and the characters.
2. How to fight Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is a temporary condition when an author loses the ability to produce creative content. Summaiya explained in detail, that writer’s block is not permanent and does not mean that you can never write again. A lot of writers do not talk about their writer’s block due to the stigma attached. This does not help them, rather adds to their stress and anxiety. Another reason for writer’s block is neurological disturbances. By sharing a recent research on writer’s block, Summaiya pointed out that stress, anxiety or other neurological problems trigger the writer’s block. To fight this situation, it is important to maintain your mental and physical health. Talking to friends, family or fellow writers at literary groups on social media will help you overcome this phase and resume writing.
It is also helpful, Summaiya suggests, to not be hard on yourself and take a break. During this time, explore another creative activity that you might find interesting. Writing freely, without any limitations or requirements may also help in this case. Sometimes, we are unable to write because we have to constantly follow guidelines. Writing for yourself, with no set rules or fear of criticism can help you fight a block. For some people, making changes to their surroundings can also be refreshing. Change your daily routine, fix your cupboard or just treat yourself with your favourite food!
A lot of people have this pre-conceived notion that writers are sad, depressed souls who have climbed an Everest of tragedies. Young authors thereby are particularly inclined to feel sad and unhappy in an attempt to become better writers. It is however, only a misconception that all good writers are unhappy people. Mental health is a very important factor in improving your writing skills and tackling a writer’s block.
3. Why do Books get rejected by Publishers?
Another problem faced by a lot of new writers is rejection by publishers. It is important to know why publishers reject your work and what are they looking for? Summaiya puts it in a very simple way for us to understand.
1. Predictability of your Story
Firstly, she talked about predictability of your plot/story. A very basic story is one where the upcoming events are quite obvious, everything goes smoothly and all characters reach a happy conclusion. Such stories become quite tedious and monotonous. A story has to have something that keeps your reader gripped, curious and connected.
2. Misuse of Punctuations
Secondly, bad punctuations is a big issue for editors. The first thing a publisher will notice about your book is technical errors. If you have a badly punctuated structure, you instantly leave a bad impression. To fix this problem, summaiya suggested we revise our punctuations and read as much as possible to learn.
3. Inconsistency and Lack of Innovation
Third and equally important, Summaiya discussed the problem of inconsistency and lack of innovation. She explained how as an editor herself, she comes across a lot of manuscripts that look very promising in the beginning but get de-tracked mid-way. Either the writer loses inspiration to write and just rush to the end of story, or they start dragging events by adding too much unneccesary details and the reader’s interest is lost. Furthermore, a lot of writers refrain from exploring new techniques or ideas and simply follow a pre-existing linear timeline. To explain this point Summaiya used the phrase “Old is not gold in writing”. By this, she meant that readers do not want to read about the same topics or stories over and over again. She also urged writers to write on relatable topics that are relevant today.
Last, but definitely not the least, came the issue of Plagiarism. In countries like Pakistan, there are very weak rules and regulations regarding intellectual property. In such countries, intellectual theft and plagiarism are big drawbacks for writers. Plagiarism is basically stealing someone’s content and using it as your own. It is a crime to steal someone else’s work and also ethically incorrect to do so. While most of us do not directly steal ideas, we take inspiration from a work and fail to give credit to that particular person. It is thus important to provide a reference of whatever you’re taking inspiration from. Facts, data or information that you use in your own research should also be cited or quoted.
This wraps up our second Live session of Mused. We hope to keep bringing new, informative episodes to help you with writing. If you share our passion of writing and want to contribute in this mission to develop the literary Industry of Pakistan, sign up with us at Daastan. Stay tuned and catch the next Live session this week!