One of the positive sides of the pandemic is that I got more time to read. I originally set my goal to read 60 books in 2021, and completed that around October time. To date, I read a total of 73 books so far! I’m quite proud of myself. Virginia Woolf once said : read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river. I definitely feel a little bit of that rubbing off, because I almost never struggle with writer’s block – it’s pretty easy for me to weave a story from a blank page. Of course, then there is re-writing and editing, and that’s a different story. But generally, I do feel the massive reading that I do aids my writing.
In this post I’m going to share three precious writing lessons I’ve noticed from some of the most enjoyable authors I’ve come across. They’re all fantasy authors because well, that’s without a doubt my favorite genre!
I read her Broken Earth books, and wow, it’s fantasy writing that people will study about years later, I’m sure of it. Something from Jemisin that I’d be interested to experiment with is how she drips the world building into the narrative with passages from “scrolls” or history books of that world. She puts a bit of this at the ending of every chapter, so that through these “chapter endings” so we are able to know more about the world she created. How she uses different point of views to indicate different points of time amidst the centuries is also something quite cool.
Megan Whalen Turner
I think MWT has some of the best plot twist writing skills ever. It seems she does this by “playing around” with the narrator’s perceptions. As a reader I feel like my default is to sympathize with the narrator (unless if it’s a serious antiheroine, which is a different matter), so what the narrator perceives is what I perceive as a reader. Thus when the narrator is “shocked” as the twist is revealed…well my jaw is dropping as well.
Shadow and Bone trilogy was not my favorite, but Six of Crows duology completely went off the charts. It was followed by King of Scars duology. Something I learned about Leigh Bardugo is how she gives vulnerabilities to her characters. For example, take my favorite character Inej Ghafa. She is amazingly strong, and given what we know about her traumas from the Menagerie, her character becomes incredibly three dimensional. The pains and flaws are so relatable to the readers, thus the characters feel so real.
Worldbuilding, plot, and character arcs. Pretty great writing lessons there, in addition to the sheer enjoyment of reading their series!
The Nisha sequel is another novella format with 24 thousand words (the first one had 21 thousand words). There are two backstories: Faris’ and Saad’s backstories which I had actually written last year right after I finished Nisha. Then I put it away and started writing narratives for Sketches and Regrets.
The plan was to pick back up on the sequel in December. Away at a small island diving and writing -sounds pretty dreamy, doesn’t it? Well, too many things happened that month (read about my dad getting Covid). I’m just glad we all made it through the year.
Thus here we are at the beginning of 2021 and I had no other excuse. I thought if I was going to write I might as well hack away and punch at the keyboard. I think something about the years of concert pianist training paid off because I am VERY disciplined. And I can punch at keyboards pretty fast 😀
Battle Scenes in the Nisha Sequel
What was challenging for me was the first battle scene between some of our heroes and their enemies: the Aklums. I never wrote a battle scene before and didn’t know where to start. Research saved the day. This writing blog had great tips on creating fast-paced battle scenes.
I also read up on some epic battle scenes from Tolkien and Nancy Springer (The Book of Isle). After that, there was not much else but to just go and try it. One Sunday afternoon I woke up super early (about 5 AM) to condition myself. I drank some water, opened the laptop, and just dove in.
I’m so glad I kept at it because the next battle scene became easier. There are 2 battle scenes in this sequel, and they are crucial to the plot. The feeling after finishing the last chapter of the sequel is exhilarating!
A writing mentor Devika Brendon posted this on her Instagram several months ago.
Well the draft is now in the trustworthy hands of my editor: Chriswan Sungkono. Wish me luck everyone!
Nisha is available in eBook and audiobook format at the shop.