The Delightful Life

The Delightful Life

Beholding the sunrise,
As I trace the ocean’s footprints on sands,
The drenched shore slips from under my feet,
Life becomes a delight.

Trailing through the woods,
As I listen to the rustling leaves that
Share with me the recitals of the Summer,
Life becomes a delight.

Humming that old song,
The forgotten lyrics of which
I happen to effortlessly sing,
Life becomes a delight.

Looking out of the window,
As I lull into thoughts that
Urge to kindle my imagination,
Life becomes a delight.

Weaving itself into a fabric of chronicles,
As the yarn of my words
Brings me to my self again,
Life becomes a delight.

Diving into the limitless love in those eyes,
As I happen to lose myself,
I happen to find myself, yes,
Life becomes a delight.
©Suyog Ketkar

The Write Stride: A Conversation with Your Writing Self

The Write Stride: A Conversation with Your Writing Self

My first book on technical communication is available for pre-orders on Amazon. Secure your copy today and save 20%. The book releases on 6 June 2017.

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Five Things I Must Do as a Writer

Five Things I Must Do as a Writer

There are a lot of write-ups that I prepare but rewrite numerous times before sharing. Then, there are times when I write but I don’t share. Whatever I do, as a writer I do these five things, which this post is all about. I’ve shared the post on Medium. If you too have a list of your own, please share it with me.

Happy writing!

What’s the Difference Between Book Blurb and Synopsis?

What’s the Difference Between Book Blurb and Synopsis?

As I ready my book for its release, there are a few things that everyone tells me to do. Two of which are to write the book blurb and synopsis. This post is for those who confuse between the two, much like I once did.

For those who are rushing, here is the gist: Both project the book to different sets of readers. So, the simple difference is that a book blurb SHOULD NOT contain the conclusion because it is your book’s sales pitch, while a synopsis is a 200-word version of the book itself. Think about suspense, drama, and questions when you are writing a blurb for your book. But, give one-sentence answers to those questions in your synopsis.

Here’s the elaborate version:

What is a Book Blurb?

A book blurb is your way of selling your book. Like the book cover is one of the biggest selling points for any book, a book blurb helps sell the idea of the book to those who are in search of reading something either new or out of their usually picked genres.

There is one big difference though between a book blurb and a synopsis. A book blurb does not include the ending. Your fans, readers, and prospects wish to read your book. You can make it more exciting by raising some questions without giving away hints about the answers. Through the book’s blurb, you can give an idea about the plot and about why is the suspense/flow of events bothersome/intriguing, but do not let the ending spill out to the prospective readers. This drama is enough for them to make the purchases. But what do you do if you are writing a nonfiction because you can’t use drama, for sure? In such cases, you can use questions; questions that intrigue the readers; questions that make them think; questions they had, but could never answer.

What is a Synopsis?

Your publishers get hundreds of manuscripts every day. So, if they would read each one of those, they would take a lot of time to finish the publication process. Your synopsis makes the job easy for them. In simple words, a synopsis is telling “what’s your story”.

Like we discussed, the book blurb does not contain the ending. But, the synopsis should contain not only the gist of your story but also how things conclude. If it is a work of fiction, tell the publisher how the protagonist brings the bad forces to justice. If it is a work of nonfiction, tell the publisher how you as a protagonist bring off things, or so to say.

Tell the publisher who the protagonist is; about what challenges the protagonist is confronting; about why it is the time for the protagonist to prepare for and face the battle of their life; and, passively, about how facing challenges makes living worth it.

There is one important point for you to consider. Follow the tone of your work. If it is a work of fiction, follow the tone of your novel. Be romantic if your novel is about love, romance, and togetherness. Be funny if your novel is full of humorous incidents.

Why does understanding this difference matter to me?

I want to sell my book. I want everyone to appreciate what I’ve written; not because I have written it, but because their reading it will make a difference to their lives. I want the readers to acknowledge my addressing some of the questions they have had. And, because understanding this will help me create content that addresses the right audiences rightly. Words matter. And, so does the impact they create.

Happy writing.

How Technical Writing Makes Me a Better Fiction Writer

I just published this post on Medium. This post brings a new train of thoughts. Thoughts that lead me to think more for and about those who use what I write for. Hopefully, I will learn to write better. Hopefully, I will have something new for you, too.

Let me know how you found this post. Until next time, then! Happy writing.

What Writing a Book for Children Taught Me

No, I am not breaking that I am writing a book for children; it is just another random thought that stuck me when I was researching on improving my writing skills. Turns out, one of the best ways I can improve my writing skills is to write books for children. I will write a book for children, but that’s far from even a start, as of now.

The big question of whether I will, one day, write and publish my own books still remains unanswered. But, I don’t want to confuse writing with publishing: they are two different things. And, for now, it is writing that I want to concentrate upon. This post comes at a time when I am learning to write. It’s been a while since I began writing frequently on this blog, and I believe the time has come to take things to the next level.

Now that I know that I can communicate my thoughts, and that the writing (Or is it typing?) flows as freely as my thoughts, I should try to bring all my energies, and the free-flowing thoughts, together to write better. Hey, I didn’t want to make this post look didactic… and I haven’t even begun yet. Never mind. There goes the rule number one: get thoughts and words to flow together.

When I began thinking on writing something for children, the immediate next question was: What should I write about? The thought of writing for kids was fine, but I was clueless about what I would write about. You see, there lies another rule. Even before you finalize on what you want to write about, and share with children, you have to be clear about how you’d write that. I mean your writing has to be so smooth that children (from age 3 to 10, roughly) will understand everything that they either listen to or read. Still, here are those rules that came in handy as I made a start:

  • Keep sentences short: Well, you are writing for those who’ve just stepped into the world of books. So, you better make it quick for them. The shorter, the simpler. The simpler, the better.
  • Use bigger typesetting: Use a bigger font size. And, preferably use the non-capped (sans serif) type font. For those who don’t know much about typesetting, the sans serif fonts are those fonts that do not contain the extra caps at the corners of alphabets. Such fonts are readable even when smaller in size, and largely appear informal, friendly in approach.
  • Don’t offer side notes: Unlike the way I did in the previous point, don’t use side notes and additional information that might break the flow. Remember, you are writing for someone with far lesser span of attention.
  • Let pictures do the talking: Use pictures that are colorful; that share an action or event from the story; that can help them imagine the rest of the characters. Seeing is believing; let them see the story for themselves. Avoid monochrome pictures, unless they are simple enough to understand.
  • Focus on grammar: You have to keep sentences short, but you don’t have to play with the rules of grammar. Grammar is like mortar; words are like bricks. If you use only loose bricks, the wall will not stand (or, stand for long). Also, stick to one tense across sentences, as much as possible.
  • Use imaginative relationships: See how I have been figurative in my comparison of grammar and words with mortar and bricks. Use comparisons that can help children build cross-referencing or poetic associations. Make them think; at least, for a while.

Those are some points about how I’d prepare either myself or my content. Now, some points regarding setting pages:

  • Cut short: Delete those sentences that do not contribute to the story or poem. This means, lesser content for me to bother about and for the children to read and understand.
  • One thought, one page: Make sure that the sentences don’t run into the subsequent pages. If so, break those sentences. That’s because, children might find it tough to reconcile their understanding of those sentences that involve more than one event described in sentences that run across pages. Children will most likely skip sentences if they have to turn pages back and forth to understand what’s going on. In fact, I’ve observed that most children hardly turn pages back and forth: they go along only one way.
  • Check for punctuation: Don’t use a lot of punctuation. Instead, let the pictures talk for you.
  • Leave with an afterthought; but not always.

Of all these rules, I’ve come to understand the following two as the most important:

  • Don’t lecture: No one wants to be taught. Learn to share.
  • Be a master weaver: If I can explain the story in just three sentences, I can expand it across the fabric and weave it into a story.

Then, there are other things like:

  • All black and white; no shades of grey (not the color, but the message)
  • Only happy endings
  • Don’t end with a question

But, it depends on who I or you ideally wish to address. Readership varies greatly within this age group. When I look back at the rules, I see that there’s a lot of similarity between what I do every day as a technical communicator and what I’d love to do as a children’s writer. Here’s the greatest of all catches: I understood, all the things that apply to the children’s books, apply to technical communication as well. I can’t exclude even one. I wish to come up with a book that will fancily be a part of every child’s bookshelf. Until then it is all black-and-white documentation (No, not the color, again).

My Non-Work Time Activities

Last month, on one of our regular visits to a temple, my wife and I met one of her cousins. During our interaction, which mostly concerned our families, we got to know something about each of our job profiles. One of the questions during our conversation was, “What do you do when you are not working Suyog?” That was a good question because I did not have a proper list of activities that I do when I am not working.

So, not exactly a non-work time bucket list, but here’s what I enjoy doing:

Reading

This is one of the must-haves. You can see me lying down on a couch with a book, especially on the weekends. It is so much relaxing to not be governed by the clock. But, unlike a lot of us who do not like reading from their mobile devices, I like reading from my iPad mini or Windows Phone. It’s so much easier to carry those, especially when I’m traveling.

I’ve not written much on what I read, except for this list of must-read books for technical communicators. I don’t have a typical list, but I could come up with some names that I liked reading the most. I am sure you too have a list of your own. If you don’t, get inspired and make one!

Cooking

Yes! It is one of those activities that I love to do when I am not working. I help my mother and wife in the kitchen. And the best part is that we don’t have a list of favorites. We cook what we feel like at that moment. So, cheese and garlic bread, Indian Chaat, fruit shake, milk chocolates, snacks, Khao Phat Che (Thai fried rice)… the list is endless.

Food

Photos of some of the delicious dishes. I wish you could taste those!

Playing

I love to play strategy-based games on my iPad mini. When I am not helping my wife in the kitchen, I am accompanying her (at least I think so) by sitting there, playing games on the iPad. It is fun to talk to her, pretend as if I am listening, and still managing to do what I want to do! I bet she’ll laugh when she reads this!

Photography

There are a lot of those “aspiring photographers” who you see are carrying a DSLR, but apparently not knowing how to completely put those to use! Fortunately (or otherwise), I own only a point-and-shoot, compact camera.

I get to use the camera only during monsoon, but I don’t give up on the occasional chances that I get once in a while. I like macro photography and look forward to the day I get to buy a good-quality DSLR. I know the basics of photography and I think everybody in my family likes to see me cultivate a hobby like that. My current bouquet of photographs is available on Flickr.

Some macro-photography experiments.

Some macro-photography experiments.

Writing (mostly, blogging)

But, that’s not all I do when I am not working. I love to write. And, you’ve seen me write quite often on topics that relate to my profession. I currently am working on a book, and I hope to complete (and publish) it someday. <I have my fingers crossed to that!>

I’m sure that even you do something to spend your non-work time. I would love to see you share something.

My must-refer list of books.

This is one post, which every technical communicator has in their blog: A list of the must-have, must-read, and must-refer books in technical communication. I see that the list of books, which is although basic, will soon have some more names. But, I know you will like this one!

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