Showing 15 Result(s)

Where Do Ideas Come From?

One of the overused questions asked of writers is where do their ideas come from. It may be too trivial, too basic, but too important not to be ignored.

Writers, like other artists, maximize the use of their five senses and translate them into their art. Writers, like other artists, are keen observers. So keen that they know what color is on top of the traffic light, how many tines are there in a fork, or what is inscribed at the bottom of a paper bill — simple, everyday objects that seem too obvious for ordinary people to take notice of. Aside from the use of the senses, here are other sources of ideas:

Newspapers

The old-fashioned broadsheet or tabloid is still a good source of story ideas. Scan the news and even the other parts of the newspaper like the classified ads, you’ll get an idea or two to jump start a story or an article. An article about a female college student/prostitute who killed her “sugar daddy” gave me an idea of a scene I wrote a few months back.

Magazines

The glossy magazines feature different kinds of stories, so varied that some of these magazines became specialized or focused into a particular niche. Scan the stories, even the fillers, you’ll get some catchy phrases and intriguing ideas to add into your writing. For example, an article I read about freelance writing inspired me to write my opinion on it. Also, catchy phrases become titles of a future article or novel.

Books

Reading not only hones your vocabulary skills, but also inspire you to write your next story. Reading a not-so-familiar book many years ago triggered me to write my novel, Number One Fan.

Biographies

Lives of other people show us how was it living in their own time. We get to see not just a character but also a lifestyle different from ours. Somehow their lives inspire us to write a story for others to learn from.

Stories and legends

There are some stories that keep on burning because they don’t die and people remember or mention them repeatedly. Folklore, fables, and even urban legends could be an inspiration of your next novel.

Dreams

Believe it or not, dreams could also be a good source of story ideas. My husband’s dream became my inspiration of a comics manuscript I’m planning to write.

Songs

I used to write down nice phrases that came from songs. The lyrics of Randy Crawford’s “People Alone” inspired me to write I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious.

Ask “What if?”

 Asking this question somehow challenges you to provide possible answers and in the process creates a possible story.

 Overheard remarks

Eavesdropping for the sake of getting ideas? Why not? I write these overheard remarks and make them patterns for dialogues.

Once I got an idea, I put them down on writing. As a writer, I should not rely on memory because there are times memories fail. A writer is a journalist and therefore should have a handy notebook and pen to jot down these ideas that burst abruptly.

Now, it is your turn. Go get yourself a notebook for the sole purpose of jotting down ideas. The size and thickness should suit your need and desire. I suggest that you put tabs to separate different sources or categories. Make it a habit to write it down and don’t let it escape your memory. Happy idea hunting!

Banned Books and Martial Law

Banned Books & Martial Law

This year, the world celebrates Banned Books Week from 22 to 28 September. It is an annual event every last week of September that celebrates the freedom to read. It brings the whole book community, librarians, booksellers, publishers, teachers, writers, and readers together in shared support of this freedom.

Banned Books

There are books that are unorthodox, controversial, or even ahead of its time. History has shown us how books have influenced leaders and intellectuals. Every era in history and every government have its own set of banned books that some are even relevant or still banned today. Reviewing the course of history, banned books follow the pattern of censorship. And if we look deeper, it stems from fear — fear of educating and empowering the readers to choose or decide.

Martial Law

It was also in September 1972 that Martial Law was declared in the Philippines. That era was marked with censorship, accusations of subversion, curfew, military discipline, and unexplained disappearances.

I’ve heard of these banned books while I was growing up. In fact, they said once caught with these banned reading materials was tantamount to being accused of subversion.

Until now, there is an increase in book censorship complaints around the world. The complaints range from the books’ controversial moral views to the book’s portrayal of sex.

Recent Book Ban

Recently, a school in the United States has banned the Harry Potter books because the magic spells written on the book are true and can summon evil spirits.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1999 and since then the book series has gained popularity among young and old readers alike. It became a best-selling children’s literature. The series also became a successful movie franchise and has a Broadway play spin-off.

I like the Harry Potter books, I owned five of them. But why ban them only now? Sure, there were those who challenged the book series back in the late ’90s and early 2000’s because of its wizardry or witchcraft. But banning them then only fired up the curiosity and publicity of the series.

Banned Books I’ve Read

I myself have read some of the known banned books. Most of them were banned during their heydays and are now accepted and circulating. Here is a list of banned books I’ve read:

Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo

Jose Rizal was 29 when he published Noli Me Tangere, a novel written in Spanish that depicts the social life of Filipinos during that time. El Filibusterismo, a much darker novel, is more aggressive it its depiction of the call for change.

Both novels have symbolized the oppression, the double standards of society, the inequalities, and the desire for changes. These books were banned by the Spanish authorities including the Catholic church because it was, for them, were blasphemous and seditious.

Nowadays, these books are read in high school as part of the curriculum. Once you read and analyze the books, it still show the symbolism Rizal used in portraying the cancer of our society which is still prevalent today.

Celso Al. Carunungan’s Satanas sa Lupa (“Satan on Earth”)

The book has a subtitle, “Nobelang Pangkasalukuyan” (“A Present-day Novel”) and was published in 1970. Written in Filipino, the story depicts the character change of a good citizen turned corrupt congressman and his family’s lives.

This novel was banned because it portrayed a First Lady who desired to run for Vice-President. In the early ’70s, it was rumored that Imelda Marcos plans to run as Vice-President of the Philippines. When Martial Law was declared, Carunungan was one of those writers arrested, detained, and accused of subversion.

After the 1986 EDSA Revolution, the remaining copies of the book were released to the market. I was able to get hold of one because it became a required reading in our Philippine Literature class. Then someone borrowed it and never returned.

Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ’70

A short novel if you’re going to base it from its size but it is a good story of a family in the midst of the Martial Law era. Fictional but it portrays the need for social equality and justice. A movie version came in the 2000s but I prefer the book to understand why it was banned.

Aside from Dekada ’70, Bautista also wrote Gapo and Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? These three books were challenged to be banned from the public but were critically-acclaimed for its writing.

I knew I have these three books with me somewhere in my bookshelves.

Carmen Navarro Pedrosa’s The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos

Published in 1969, it was subsequently banned during Martial Law for obvious reasons. The ban was an outright censorship because no one would like to be exposed of his/her dark secrets.

I’ve read this book during the ’90s when I had the chance to borrow a copy from someone who was pro-Imelda Marcos.

David A. Yallop’s In God’s Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I

If my memory serves me right, this book was banned by the Catholic Church here in the Philippines. Published in 1984, it is about the death of Pope John Paul I which details death by poison, some involvement of an Italian mafia, and Opus Dei.

But a few months after the death of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, I saw a copy of this book, at the bottom-most shelf, in a well-known bookstore in Makati. I bought the book because I knew it was a rare find. Unfortunately, the book was borrowed and never returned.

Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

Published in 2003, this book was banned in some countries after Catholic leaders considered it offensive or blasphemous. Other scholars have written books that refute some of the claims mentioned in the book, although the book is just a work of fiction.

Nikos Kazantzakis’ “The Last Temptation of Christ”

I was a student at the University of Santo Tomas when I heard that the film was banned by the Catholic Church in 1988. The film was based on the book of the same title first published in 1955. I may not be able to read the novel but I have a copy of the film.

It was banned because of its portrayal of Jesus Christ — being married to Mary Magdalene, then to Mary, sister of Lazarus, and having children with the latter — which the church considered blasphemous.

Arthur Schnitzler’s Dance of Love

This is the original translation of the German play which was banned in the United States for 50 years. The play portrays the psychology of sex and depicts different relationships — which begins with the prostitute and the soldier and ends with the count and the prostitute.

D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The book was published in 1928 and was banned for its obscenity. It was written in the late ’20s when depicting sex on books was still a taboo. Considered a literary classic for its poetic depiction of eroticism.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

Published in 1949 but banned in the Soviet Union in 1950 because Stalin thought that the satire was based on his leadership. The concept of Big Brother and government control is somehow relevant these days that this book is worth reading again.

As a writer, the right to read also encompasses the right to choose. Having books that were banned or challenged doesn’t mean you’re a subversive or a filibuster. Reading books that bring out suppressed issues open the public’s minds. Let not censorship keep us in the dark.

Idea Is Not Just a 4-Letter Word

Have you ever thought how authors come up with their ideas for their novels?

You may have browsed writing books and magazines and have been told that an idea comes from an endless list of sources. But how do authors come up with a novel from an idea?

In this article, let us see how it works by spelling idea itself.

I – IOTA OF TRUTH

Always remember, for every idea, absurd or otherwise, there is an iota of truth behind it.

Take for example the idea of Superman. Clark Kent may be an alien who grew up on Earth, but there is a scientific truth behind clairvoyance, intuition, and other extrasensory human powers that were magnified in the Superman story.

They say that truth is relative, so what may be truth for you may not be an acceptable truth to others. Do not fret. You do not need to please everybody with your writing. Just believe that your idea has somehow an iota of truth in it.

So have that idea ready and let’s move on to…

D – DEVELOPMENT

Of course, we have entertained so many ideas in mind that we do not know which to choose. They say that there are only eight stories in the world. If that’s the case, then try the mix-and-match method and see if an idea or a mixture of two or more ideas work.

The Bestseller by Lila Ramsey plus The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie plus the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star produced a story about a mad serial killer who wants his victim to guess who will be his next kill.

If you look at stories, books, and movies, you would notice that most of them combined an idea or two from some old stories, books, and movies, too.

So now that you have developed an embryo, let’s try to…

E – EXPERIMENT

How are you going to express the idea?

The format — be it prose or poetry, novel or screenplay, full-length or short feature, — depends on your choice. Experiment on how you would present the idea. Some stories are better on film, some on print, and some made well in both.

Trust your gut feel when experimenting. Not only on the format but also on the way it is presented. Would you go linear — beginning, middle, end? Or would you go a la Quentin Tarantino style — middle, end, beginning, middle? Would you present it in the first person point of view or the third person point of view? Do not be afraid to experiment.

And now we go to the…

A – APPLICATION

At last, you have decided on what you plan to do with the idea. The last step is to apply the idea by writing. Once you see the words appear on paper, you will see and feel how the ideas take shape into a good yarn of a story. Write everything down at first. Revisions and editing would come later.

Be a sculptor by starting with a large chunk of wood and slowly carve out the unnecessary parts to form the best literary art — your novel.

Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.Louis L’Amour

So if you have a story idea that you would like to write, go ahead. If you think there’s a truth in it, and you can develop it, don’t be afraid to experiment and express it in writing. Good luck!

bookshelf

Being Paid to Read a Book and Write a Review

I’ve been reading books since grade school but I’ve started doing book reviews in 2012.

I remember when I revived my old Webs.com account and started a blog category I named “My Bookshelf”. The original plan was to write a review on each book that I have on my bookshelf literally.

However, technology has introduced us to e-books. Scrolling on a tablet or cellphone made reading much easier for me. And I enjoyed reading both printed and electronic book formats since then.

2012 was also a time of social media frenzy.  Out came the social media platforms for book lovers.

BookLikes and Goodreads

I’m not sure which I got first: BookLikes or Goodreads. But I’m sure, it was during around this time I created an account on each platform. The good thing is, they both work in sync. So whatever book I rated on the one platform, it will appear on the other. And if I posted a book review on my blog, I would just provide a link on these platforms that will lead the readers to my website.

However, there are web visitors who prefer staying on one site rather than being led to another with a click on a link. I tried to provide a written review but the fear of doing a duplicate content prevented me from doing so.

Being Paid to Read

Recently, I got the opportunity to be paid or rewarded to read a book and write a review on a website. The pay could be the book itself (which is also available on Amazon for a price) or it could be a minimal amount (in US dollars) depending on one’s reviewer score. I just started out and have posted a few reviews already. Those reviews I’ve submitted will stay on their website and if ever I’ll share it here, it would be just a link to that page or I’ll tell about it.

I’m Open to Any Book Suggestions

Also, as I’ve mentioned in one of my pages, I accept requests for book reviews. And last month, I received an email from a publishing company to review one of their publications. I’m so honored.

If you would like to send me books for me to read, send it to: Marissa N. Uycoco-Bacsa Professional Services, McArthur Highway, Poblacion 1, Moncada, Tarlac 2803 Philippines or if e-books, send it to: info@issabacsa.com (for PDF and e-pub formats) or creativemixedmediafreelancing@gmail.com  (for Kindle format).

Just so you know, I read both fiction and non-fiction. For fiction, I prefer mystery, crime, suspense thrillers. Although I also read romance, historical fiction, comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi.

For non-fiction, I prefer biographies, autobiographies, self-help, psychology, health, true crime. Although I also read about food and travel. It seems that I can read almost anything except fan fiction.

8 basic plots

Did You Know That There Are Only 8 Basic Stories in the World?

I’ve mentioned this before, I attended a screenplay writing workshop in 1999. A few months or a year after, I bought a book Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Raymond G. Frensham. Unfortunately, someone borrowed the book and never returned it to me.

Anyway, I remember the first part of that book. It mentioned about the eight basic stories. Frensham said that there are only eight stories in the world in which other plots — be it film, TV, books, and even games — were based upon.

When I first read about it, I said, “What?!” And then, I thought it made sense because I kept on seeing films and TV shows that have similar plot lines.

In this book, Frensham listed down the eight stories as follows:

ACHILLES

One of the stories in Greek mythology, the plot depicts Achilles as a strong hero but with a flaw which is also the cause of his own downfall. Thus, the phrase “Achilles’ heel” connotes a weak spot. This only proves that nobody’s perfect and almighty. There will always be something that could go wrong which leads to a failure or even death. Examples of this story include Superman (the kryptonite), Samson and Delilah (when his hair was cut), and the Titanic (they said it was unsinkable).

CANDIDE

The character is based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella, Candide, ou l’Optimisme.  The plot depicts Candide as a good and innocent hero that could never be put down. His optimism kept him rising up despite the challenges around him. Examples of this plot include Forrest Gump, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Mr. Bean.

CINDERELLA

Who doesn’t know the Cinderella story? Based on an old folk tale, the plot depicts a persecuted heroine and the typical rags-to-riches or dream-come-true story. The protagonist started as someone common, unrecognized, and unfortunate, finds true happiness, fulfillment, or reward in the end after many ups and downs. Examples of this kind of plot include Pretty Woman and Rocky.

CIRCE

In Greek mythology, Circe is an enchantress who uses her knowledge of potions and her magic to transform her enemies into animals. The plot depicts a cunning character who seduces a naive character into a trap as a form of revenge. This type of plot could either show the chase, the innocent and the victim, the spider and the fly, or the hunter and the hunted scenarios. Examples of this plot include Othello and Dangerous Liaisons.

FAUST

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German tale who made a pact with the devil in exchange of unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The plot depicts a theme of the debt that must be paid when fate finally catches up with the protagonist. Examples of this kind of plot include The Devil’s Advocate and Bedazzled.

ORPHEUS

Orpheus is a poet and musician in Greek myths and legends. When his wife Eurydice died, he grieved and went to the underworld. His music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone that his wish was granted with one condition: Orpheus and Eurydice should walk back to the upper world with Orpheus going ahead of Eurydice. He should not look back until both of them reach the upper world. However, when Orpheus reached the surface he looked back and saw Eurydice fade away. The plot depicts a protagonist who has everything and everything is taken away at an instant forever. Examples of this story include Dr. Zhivago and Rain Man.

ROMEO AND JULIET

Based on Shakespeare’s play of the same title, the plot depicts the tragic love story. It follows a formula: boy meets girl, both belong from opposing sides, boy loses girl, then boy finds girl again. Examples of this plot include West Side Story and When Harry Met Sally.

TRISTAN

Based on an Arthurian story, the plot depicts the typical love triangle. Tristan was one of the Knights of the Round Table and was assigned to fetch Isolde whom was about to marry Mark, the King of  Cornwall. Examples of this kind of plot include Fatal Attraction, The Graduate, and The Wedding Planner.

In 2004, a book from Christopher Booker entitled The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories discussed nine archetypal plots, but only approves of the first seven. However, three of those nine are considered genres (comedy, tragedy, and mystery) and not plots.

I believe that it is good for writers to be familiar with these basic stories. A good mix and match would do the trick in coming up with a new story to tell because come to think of it, even if these were already told, there are still unique ways on how to tell them.

Do you agree with this list?

 

the first trilogy

The First Trilogy (in Original Filipino Text)

Looking back from where I started, I couldn’t help but smile. It brought back memories and at the same time it showed me a pattern — either a pattern of growth or a pattern of style. In 2015, I decided to release in e-book format my first trilogy which I wrote in December 2001 to April 2002.

Publishing an e-book online gave me a big challenge: translation. I tried several times to translate the trilogy into English but I realized that it would be better for me to stick with the original Filipino text.

The first novel, Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,), was full of text messaging jargons and misspellings and translating these into English might diminish or worse, taken out of context the meaning and nuances of the “language” prevalent at that time.

By now, you can no longer see available copies of Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,) and Can I Use My Love Line? Also, the third novel, I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious, was never published because of its homosexual story. At that time, the romance genre and the Philippine pocketbook publishing industry were not comfortable in releasing romance stories about gays.

18 years have passed and many things have changed. I guess it’s about time to let my readers know about my first trilogy. You’ll read I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious for the first time.

This trilogy is also important to me in three ways: (1) it opened the door to the world of freelance writing, (2) it paved way for me to explore other writing formats, and (3) it only affirmed my resolve that everything comes in threes.

The first book was published in April and the second one in June 2002. Actually, I had no idea that I’ll be writing a trilogy.

Right after submitting Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,) that was the only time I thought of a “what if” situation which turned out to be the story for Can I Use My Love Line? And while writing the second novel, I thought of another “what if” situation and decided to unify them all. Thus I wrote I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious.

Reading this will bring back memories of Nokia 5110 and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? It also brought out a part of my character. Laugh and cry as you read along. So go ahead and download your FREE copy now.

writing myth

Don’t Be A Victim Of This Writing Myth

Once upon a time, we believed that writers get a stroke of inspiration from the muses. They sit down and pour out their emotions and transform them into words on paper. It was the stroke a an Inspired Genius.

But like the muses, those writers were just myths. Writing doesn’t work that way. And if ever you believe in this kind of myth, you’re harming yourself as a writer.

Writing is hard work with blood, sweat, and tears. Behind successful novels is a process. And when we talk of a process, it has stages that we have to go through. But those who believe that the Inspired Genius myth exists, they don’t know what is really happening behind the scenes. Instead, they see the finished product and wants to get there fast.

What happens when you believe in the myth of the Inspired Genius? You’ll show the three signs of writer’s block.

THE PRESSURE

Because you believe in the inspired genius myth, you start to do the same. Sit down, wait for the muse to inspire you, and once stimulated, write. But what if you’re not yet inspired? You get up, look for inspiration somewhere else. And you end up doing something different other than write. This is one reason for procrastination. And it’s hard to get back to sit down and write. Fear sets in and you’ll get scared to try again.

Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath

LOST STEAM

They sit down, write brilliant prose, then run out of steam in the process. You’ll reach the point where you don’t know what to write next.

SELF-DOUBT

Believing in the Inspired Genius myth can make you doubt yourself in the process. You’ll lose confidence in your writing once you compare your piece to someone else’s novel. “How I wish I could write like that!” But what you don’t know is, you’re being unfair. You’re comparing your failed draft to someone’s successful novel. What a big disparity!

So what do you do once you have these signs? Accept the harsh reality of the writing life. Authors don’t wait for inspiration. They show up on their desk, sit, and write like it’s the only work they know. A brilliant piece of writing comes from a pile of messy drafts. Writers spend months or years planning their novels. Even those writers who join NaNoWriMo plan first before starting to write their draft.

Joining NaNoWriMo can be an exciting challenge. Write and reach the 50,000 word count by the end of November and you’ll have your first draft. But if without a plan, you’ll end up revising a lot to the point of losing steam and starting all over again.

So start planning your novel now in time for NaNoWriMo. I’ll try to make one, too. I can’t let myself feel the pressure, lose steam, and cast self-doubt now. Writers who are susceptible to this myth’s trap should bounce back.

book series episodes

When They Say That Your Writing is Episodic

After winning Honorable Mention in a screenplay writing contest, I lent my screenplay manuscript to a  co-worker for her to read. When she returned to me the manuscript, she said, “…the story is good, but it’s episodic…”

Hearing the word “episodic”, I immediately agreed because in my thoughts the story was also based in some episodes of a TV series, given that there are five stories running parallel to each other in one full-length narrative film.

Actually, “episodic” means the novel or story is made up of a series of events or episodes that are loosely tied together and only the main character connects them all. This is one way of constructing a plot but this technique ends up having no character change.

Episodic writing dates back even before Cervantes wrote Don Quixote. Episodic writing also graced TV series of the ’60s and the ’70s. And growing up during the ’70s and seeing those TV series, it somehow influenced the way I write.

So how would you know if you’re writing something episodic?

1. The character is reactive rather than proactive.
2. There is no story question.
3. The reactive character does not operate from his strengths

Now that you know how to spot them, what can you do to save it?

1. Give your protagonist (and antagonist) a goal.

In episodic stories, the main character is put in an adventurous situation (more likely a quest) and goes to finish it. However, the goal tends to be shallow that the reader would ask, “so what?” Therefore, you make the main character proactive, making him decide for his actions by himself and not from other characters’ influence.

2. Give your two main characters (protagonist and antagonist) significant strengths and some weaknesses.

Make them more human. Balance the strengths with a few flaws that readers can relate to. Readers would also relate to the antagonist’s motives if the characterization is done well.

3. Decide on the obstacles that the characters will encounter on their way to their goal.

Make the protagonist’s goal difficult for him/her to achieve so that the readers will start to ask, “will he/she fail or not?” Just be careful not to make it contrived or coincidental.

4. Decide how your characters will react to these obstacles.

Let the protagonist and antagonist think and react to every problem that comes their way. I remember an advice from a famous writer that we need to push the protagonist to the corner until he/she couldn’t do anything but to fight back.

5. Make sure the scenes move the story forward and logically flows from one scene to the next.

One good characteristic of an episodic writing is its being fast-paced. However, since episodic writing are loosely tied, it tends to slow down the whole story overall. Look for loopholes and tie those loose ends!

If you like more info on creative writing, subscribe to my newsletter and be updated.

guilty

Guilty

I wrote Guilty back in August 2002, right after submitting the manuscript of Living In a Lie. The idea came from an article I’ve read from an old copy of the Reader’s Digest. If I’m not mistaken, the article was entitled, “Why Do I Defend Criminals?” something like that.

While writing the story, I used the casting call method in developing the characters. I had in my mind the pictures of a well-known actress and a well-known teenage actor to play Rita and Paolo respectively. Whenever I write a scene, I would imagine how would the actress portray Rita — the way she moves, talks, and reasons out. Same with the teenage actor portraying Paolo.

I remember writing down the draft on an intermediate pad, on longhand, just to get the story out of my mind. After one chapter, I typed it on a short bond paper, double-spaced. Yes, I was using Voltaire’s typewriter then which he lent me since I don’t have a computer at that time yet. It was during that time that I’ve observed that one page of a handwritten story was equal to one page of a typewritten manuscript.

At that time, I wrote the story with Paolo’s transformation in mind. The original ending was a heart-tugging, emotional, unsent letter from Kaye addressed to Paolo. I remembered having the Mayor, Kaye’s dad, handed that piece of letter to Paolo a few days after the trial ended. My purpose was to show that the Mayor had accepted the court’s decision in acquitting Paolo.

The letter was Kaye’s reaction to what Paolo and his friends usually say that it was Kaye who reformed Paolo from a drug addict to a boy with a sense of direction. In that letter, it was revealed that Kaye was thankful to Paolo because it was Paolo who prevented her to commit suicide on the day that they first met. It was revealed that she had been depressed with her family’s situation, too. It was really a tearjerker.

After submitting the manuscript, my editor told me to change the ending. “Make it something hopeful,” he said. So I was instructed to type the new ending at the office, directly on the office computer, because the story was about to be printed. I guess, it took me a few hours to change two chapters at the end.

After submitting my revision, I moved on to the next projects. So I almost forgot this novel’s production.

Four stories after, sometime in November 2002, we (me and the other writers) had a falling out with the editors. I wasn’t paid for my last story that I’ve written. That was also the time I decided to venture to another medium: komiks. A few months after, karma had taken over so I don’t have to do anything.

Anyway, I’m presenting to you the e-book version of this novella. It’s much shorter than the others that I’ve written. And I do hope that you’ll enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.

research

Who Cares? Just Make It Up! It’s Fiction.

As a fiction writer, that title is something easy to say. But as a journalist, writing should be based on facts.

I’m not a professional journalist but I’ve been a news writer and managing editor for our school paper back in college. Writing news follows an inverted pyramid pattern and has to be factual and up-to-date. With that kind of training, my logical side has this tendency to put down facts in my fiction, yet my creative side wants to mangle with these facts to bring out an incredible story.

But readers nowadays could tell if a novel or story was well-researched or not. And once a reader had sensed a not-so-well-researched story, he or she could drop the novel and walk away.

All writers will agree that even crime fiction writing still needs to be researched. An author should take time to look for facts regarding characters, places, events, business establishments, and even the industry where these characters work. It could be by reading books and other printed materials, watching films and videos, or interviewing experts on the subject matter. Whatever kind of research and information related to the story has to be taken in and noted down.

Most of the time, I have more information than what I need or would use in the actual novel. But that’s okay, better to get the facts straight first and discard the unnecessary information afterwards.

How much research will I put in my fiction? I would say enough to make the characters, places, events, or business establishments realistic and logical for the readers to relate with. At the same time, something enough to provide me the creative liberty to put in fictional elements to make a story become larger than life.

Research should be used more as background information to give me the confidence to write about the story without sounding too ignorant or too all-knowing.

I’m taking my time to do research for this novel I’m currently writing. Good thing I have a good set of reference books and an online writing tool that helps me map out my story as I research. I’m even contemplating to interview a criminal lawyer cum police officer. If you know someone I could talk to, feel free to contact me through this website.

Number One Fan deleted prologue

Deleted Prologue: An Exclusive Peek

Here’s the deleted prologue from my novel Number One Fan which you can only read exclusively here on this site.

During NaNoWriMo last November 2012, I wrote a prologue to start my story. I thought it would be a good idea to explain a certain backstory of the main character. There are some novels that used this technique and it worked for them in the past.

At that time, my working title was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which I had taken from the nursery rhyme clue in the story. Since I decided to use the first person point of view, I wanted to establish Regine’s character as a journalist and how she came to present the story.

However, times have changed. Authors and editors don’t recommend the use of prologues anymore. So sometime in April 2013, during the revision process, I decided to delete the prologue, went straight to chapter 2, and started the story from there.

The Deleted Prologue

A WORD FROM REGINE STA. MARIA

BEFORE WE TOOK our Christmas break during Grade 4, our English teacher instructed us to keep a diary and start writing on it by New Year.

I excitedly told my mother about our assignment when I got home. I asked her to buy me a diary.

A few days later, my mother was stabbed to death. I didn’t witness the actual crime, but I saw the killer went out of her room carrying a bloody knife that fateful day. I don’t know why the scene was still vivid in my memory except for the killer’s face. I was ten years old then and that memory haunted me only until recently when I came to terms with it.

Christmas morning, my aunt handed me my mother’s last gift. It was a Hello Kitty diary with a small lock and key on the side and a matching ballpoint pen. I couldn’t wait to start writing on it, referring to the diary as “Kitty” just like how Anne Frank called hers.

Writing on it for the first time felt like talking to a friendly cat that silently licked my wounds to heal. I felt Kitty reciprocated my writing with filial devotion and affection every time I poured out my feelings with words. I’m not a pet person, but Kitty the diary became my virtual pet, my form of catharsis, my form of therapy, and my intimate friend.

Mae West once said, “Keep a diary and it’ll keep you.” Right now I have lots of journals stacked in my drawer.

My journal writing has evolved into different forms — unsent letters, dialogues, lists, idea maps, doodles, sketches, or a combination of two or more forms. It kept on evolving.

The story you’re about to read was taken mainly from my diary. In fact, it helped me decide what college course and career to take. I took up A.B. Journalism because I wanted to be a newscaster just like my idol, Alma Perez. I wished to be famous like her. But no one warned me to be careful on what I wished for.

Although this story could possibly happen to anyone, I never thought that it would actually happen to me. I took the poetic license to write the story like fiction to include Number One Fan’s side. I could vouch for the authenticity of his story based on the audio file he sent me and some accounts from reliable sources.

To distinguish the difference, I would tell my story in the first person point of view and his in the third person (and written in italics, too).

Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read Number One Fan, please download a copy now.