Funny how sometimes you don’t notice the most obvious things, and that is even truer in creative writing. Here are some of my early misadventures and miraculous discoveries while penning Krish.
Though unconsciously done, when I first started writing, I imitated (poorly) my favourite authors. Of course, that inauthentic voice failed to resonate, compelling me to trust my own instincts, then, miraculous as it seemed, the prose flowed with natural rhythm.
Only on reading the drafts aloud, did I notice how energy gushed out of the writing, like ink from a cracked cartridge. Passive text, coupled with excessive description had led to dry, unwieldy sentences. Switching to active prose, with a discerning sprinkle of adjectives and adverbs, breathed life into the writing.
Reading dialogue out loud proved to be particularly helpful, highlighting stilted and unrealistic conversation.
Speak for yourself
One of the many qualities of good dialogue is making it sound unique to each character. Hence, having fully developed the characters, with individual personalities, backgrounds and belief systems helps, so they are able to speak for themselves, in their own particular styles.
After many hours of writing and re-writing the first chapter, I remained dissatisfied. Why? Because I’d been too preoccupied with the readers perspective, after all, the first chapter, not to mention the dreaded first sentence, makes or breaks a novel. Realisation dawned eventually that I would never complete a single page, if I continued to second guess the readers. Their preferences, like mine, will be subjective and no one size is going to fit all, so, I trusted creativity to do its own thing.
The first draft of the book had been rammed full of plots and twists. However, though exhilarating, the novel also turned out to be exhausting to read. As plot point followed plot point, hard and fast, there was literally no breathing space. It became clear I had to stop manipulating the pace of the story. Deciding to hand the reins over to the characters, I let them drive instead. Lo and behold, their story began to flow with the natural grace of a babbling brook, and the arcs waxed and waned like the moon, in satisfying cycles.
Another downside of the original, plot driven approach was that the characters had remained relatively under developed, which resulted in their appearing wooden. I had underestimated the level of detail needed to bring a character to life. Again, I entrusted the characters with free will, to decide whatever they wanted to be. Soon, as though by magic, they morphed into fully fledged beings, with unique emotional, mental and spiritual personalities.
Though I have always written stories, it wasn’t until I enrolled on a creative writing course that I learnt to distinguish between good and great storytelling. Technical and creative rigour are essential to crafting enduring tales. In an attempt to master these disciplines, it is imperative to practice, pactice, practice and, practice some more.