Sunday, September 15, 2013

writing (and life) lessons

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend told me he realized he wants to write a novel. We got into a (3 hour) discussion on things to consider and it took me back to the little lessons I've learned throughout the years. The best part about writing is that I'll never consider myself good. In fact, I don't even use an adjective but the word "becoming". I'm always becoming. 

I wanted to share three lessons about various aspects of writing (and then a few of life). 

Getting started:

1. If you have a genre in mind, read at least 50 books in it and study them. How did the author create a compelling first chapter? Why did you want to turn the page? What did you think was done poorly?
2. Dedicate (read: protect) time to write. Since nobody is asking you for drafts, you are the only keeper of a deadline. If you don't take it seriously, nobody else will.
3. If you find yourself lagging, take a shower or walk or do the dishes. I call this my "half writing" time. I do another task, keeping the book in the back of my mind. With enough time, a conclusion of some sort arrives. 

Making a Sympathetic Character:

1. Humor always helps
2. Make his or her motivation clear and if possible, make that motivation conflict with the other characters'
3. Have the character on a journey. It can be completely psychological but there should be a sense of evolution from the beginning to end. 


1. Change! Change the setting, conflict, insert a subplot, take the reader by surprise, etc.
2. With each page, ask yourself, "Is there a sense of tension and theme here?" With each chapter, ask yourself, "Did enough happen where if I skipped this chapter, the reader would be confused?"
3. Sprinkle in some secrets if possible; some hints of mysterious backstory or hidden relationships. 


1. Learn from the moon and the way it only reveals as much as it needs to
2. There's an inverse relationship between the amount of experiences you've had and the amount you judge others
3. Controlled chaos is the best kind


  1. Those are some awesome lessons. Like the one about the moon only revealing what is necessary.

  2. What great tips- really gave me some things to think about as I embark on my first large writing project.

  3. Inspiring tips! Thanks for this, Saumya!

  4. I wish I had these tips when I started writing. Especially the life ones--beautiful. :)

  5. Rightly said Saumaya, these are the very tips every good writer would give to other writers.