By: Ratna Vira
Read Part 1 here: HOW to WRITE a BESTSELLER! A bestselling author reveals!
Writing, like all other professions, requires discipline and routine. I would also like to add a footnote – writing is lonely business; it is your relationship with your laptop that transcends the mundane to create something spectacular.
Like most things in life, the writing process becomes more comfortable if we break it down into simple goals and decisions. A back of the envelope calculation will help us break down the manuscript into Chapters and word count. If we set ourselves the goal to tell our story in 50,000 words, then we will need roughly 20 Chapters with 2,500 words each.
A commitment of roughly 400 words a day if we write every day of the week barring Sunday. Although this may seem daunting, it really is not because we are committing to moving the novel forward by a page every day.
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Personal experience has shown me that there will be good days when the words will flow, and your fingers will find it challenging to keep pace with the ideas your mind conjures up. And then there may be dry spells when writing seems impossible.
Suppose you want to make it through to the completion of your novel/manuscript. In that case, you must take on the regimen of a professional writer and set a daily word count and achieve that count every day despite a busy life and other commitments. The big idea of the story is creativity at its best. Still, the catalyst that converts that to a manuscript is hard work and diligence even if you have a full -time job, a family to take care of, or are a struggling student there is no magic mantra or short-cut that I can suggest.
I read somewhere that one must read in big swallows but write in small sips and that really sums up my writing experience.
Every story needs to start somewhere. “A story needs a break in a pattern to get it going.” And that is important because it is the reader’s introduction to the writer’s world of events and characters.
As I mentioned in last week’s column if you are writing about a day that is like any other day, it is most likely a routine, not a story. Something must happen for the ball to start rolling, for the story to unspool.
It may be a good idea to look at your own life for inspiration. An event that changed your perspective may be an excellent place to start. In the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.’ Fiction writing is a way to make sense—or make a story—out of the events and emotions in your life: of the interplay of emotions like jealousy, anxiety, love and maybe loss.
Some of those events may present themselves as mysteries, especially if you are pulling source material from your childhood—for children, adults are a mystery. Why are they doing what they are doing? Why do they cry or rage or stay silent? As children, we inhabit the adult world but do not quite understand it.
I would go further and say that most people read books to escape into the story, to live vicariously through the protagonist and books transport us to different worlds and world views.
SO. WRITE CHAPTER ONE.
Before you start, you need to make some fundamental decisions regarding point of view and tense. Important to point out that most novels are written in the third person past tense.
For example, she looked out at the Gurgaon night from her balcony; the golf course was so brightly lit; it was almost like day.
She was standing close to the old railing, which seemed too low to be safe.
Or you could write in the first person past tense.
I looked out at the night; so bright it was almost like day.
I was standing close to the railing, which seemed too rickety to be safe.
Now, the first example, third person, is the most common style, because it allows you the luxury of changing locations and characters at any time and telling parallel stories.
In the second example, you have the disadvantage of being locked into a single point of view and a single storyline.
But it gives you easier access to the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist.
So just take a decision on what style would best suit your story and publish in the New Year.. For that, begin now!
Also Read: Understanding the new Future of Art in COVID times! With Thomas Sellin.
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