Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Happy Writer's Day - Interaction With The Students of Daksha School

When Anita asked me if I would speak to the students of her school Daksha School, on the occasion of Writer's Day, I instantly agreed. I believe everyone should write and I do my best to get everyone to write, so here's another opportunity. I have become a big fan of the Simon Sinek 'Why-How-What' - Golden Circle model and use it as the template for all my speeches, presentations, talks etc. It was on Zoom for the 7th, 8th and 9th class.

Why Write?
I wonder how effective school would be if the children were not allowed to write and only read. What would happen to the learning process without writing?

1. Writing organises thinking. When we put pen to paper, we have to think, we have to organise our thought and present it clearly. If there are any gaps in our mind, we can see where the gaps or doubts exist. With writing, what is hazy in our mind, gets clearer by the end of the process.

2. Writing is an honest process, we can't cheat ourselves when we write, so many times we get answers.
3. As we write, we also get new ideas. We can create something better out of what appeared hazy.

All these are great qualities to develop - an organised mind, a clear mind, a creative mind are always an asset.

When I wrote my first novel which is yet unpublished I wrote about the dilemmas of a young man who is struggling to balance his own understanding of the world and what others expect from him. What is honesty, what is good and bad, should I win or be ok with losing, what is success. Actually, these were questions that were bothering me and by the time I wrote that novel, many things made sense to me.

Write about what bothers you, what moves you, what you need to understand.

You can use writing to get clarity about anything. You can journal, diary, write a blog, a story. Let's say you're worried about something in the past or the current COVID situation or the future. writing about it in your journal, as a story, helps.

1. All of you should write about day-to-day incidents that bother you, interest you or move you. It helps express what's inside.

How - Writing Process
Anyone who can construct a sentence can write. Writing is not about flowery language, big words etc. It is about communicating an idea clearly and powerfully. Let's look at the process of writing a story which is probably the most complex form of writing - among other forms.

1. Start with a core idea.

Pick themes from what you know to begin with (don't imitate other writers too much, or set stories in foreign lands, start with your life, an incident, and go deep into it)

A premise that can be explained clearly in two lines. If we can't explain it clearly in two lines, its not clear in our mind yet. When I wrote the story for Golconda High School the two lines were.

"A school cricket team full of losers wins a championship to save the school grounds.'

2. Paragraph, 1 page - beginning, middle and end

Beginning - Introduction, Setting, Characters, What they are doing, Problem

Middle - How the character struggles to  solve the problem, and how the problem becomes bigger

Ending -Character solves the problem, finally stakes everything in the process for what he/she wants, which makes him/her a bigger and better person for

3. If you expand on this outline, you can develop this into a short story of 2500-3000 words, 3-4 pages. By now your plot and structure are in place, you must develop character backstories, and make them real and interesting.

Writing should be believable - the reader should identify with the characters - likeable. research may be required.

2. Start with a 2 line premise. Expand with a beginning, middle and end. Develop interesting characters.

A short story should not take you more than a week, a novel 70000 words, not more than 3 months. Don't worry about the title etc. That comes last.

After you finish put it away for a while, then go back and edit it. Cut out the parts that are slowing it down, revise, revise until you feel good.
I rewrite almost 100 times sometimes.

Types of writing
Non-fiction (history, bio, events, reportage)

Tips for beginners (VS Naipaul)
- No long sentences (10-12 words)
- Each sentence should make a clear statement
- No big words
- Don't use words you're not sure of
- Don't be abstract, be concrete
- Write every day, more you write the better you get
- Read

How - Getting Published
- Proposal - synopsis, sample chapters
- They evaluate
- Agreement, royalty
- Editorial team
- Publish
- Marketing, movies, TV

Other ways to get published are
- Self-publishing (publishers,
- e-book (self publish on amazon etc)
- Blog (as easy as creating your email0

Write every day, the more you write the better. Write about what you know, what you feel strongly about. Don't imitate. Western settings. Instead, write deeply about your current setting.

Professions for Writers
Novels, Books
Scripts for movies, TV
Business - Content, Communication
Technical writing
Social media

Write. Start with a diary, a journal, a blog. It makes things clearer,, makes your opinions sharper, makes us more honest, it heals and mostly, it helps us create new worlds for ourselves and others.

Words have the power to change the context. Engage in Deep Work.

There were a lot of questions at the end from the students and good ones too - how does one motivate oneself, how to choose a theme, should one write for the audience or for oneself, my favourite authors, how to make a book interesting, a couple from Harshini about the 'elevator test' and 'purple prose' - two terms I was not aware of (the 'elevator test' was about how characters are stuck in an elevator - a test of their character, and 'purple prose' is about using elaborate and ornate prose), so I ended up learning from the session too.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session and hope the children had fun too.

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