Saturday, July 24, 2021

Writing Insights - Conversations With Krishna Shastri Devulapalli

 Continuing my chat, I asked Krishna if he could share a few more insights after the fabulous one he gave me last week. Krishna was happy to and we had a chat about it. Here are a few more. 

(The first one is this - 'A man goes to the door and unlocks it is not the story. What goes on in his mind when he does that, is story.' Brilliant.)

Krishna told me he had got into a habit of discussing scenes and writing of shows and movies critically as he watched them with Chitra - something which he feels helps gain some insight or another. I agree. Craft based discussions are always going to help with insights and makes us better writers. Like this one!

1) Write the familiar, not the cliched

Krishna spoke about the subtle difference we have to make when we are writing a story or a book - between what is familiar and what is cliched. We are all looking for something familiar, which is what the writer must present in a new and interesting manner, and not merely write in a cliched manner which turns off the reader. It must be familiar, but not a stereotype. And the converse is also true.

What appeals to us as a reader or a viewer is what it familiar, but if we have cookie cutter types of characters with no depth they add no texture to the story because even the writer does not know the backstory of that character and why he is there - he is merely placed there because of lazy writing and because certain stereotypes worked before. They are all the same - if you have seen one, you have seen them all.

2)    Don't describe the person, let the reader imagine

Don't describe the appearance of a person. As a reader, one must imagine the person. Physical attributes must be written in such a way that the reader doesn't even know that the character is being described.

3) No adverbs, use 'he said' and 'she said'

Except for volume (loudly, booming etc)    

4) Chekov's gun 

Krishna spoke of Chekov's gun, something I never heard of before. It is used in murder mysteries he said. When you have a gun, you must use it in the story. If you show a white man in a story there must be a reason why he is white. There must be a payoff. 

"Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that suggests that details within a story or play will contribute to the overall narrative. This encourages writers to not make false promises in their narrative by including extemporaneous details that will not ultimately pay off by the last act, chapter, or conclusion." Writing 101 Masterclass

Also, show stuff in a way that there is a space for the reader to make the connection, the discovery. Readers love it when they make the connection to what has been revealed before and when it pays off.

5) Comedy writing

Comedy is a very precise thing. When I write comedy I want to make you laugh from line one to the last line. An analogy should be damned funny. Comedy writing needs long sentences - I use long sentences and juxtapose them with short sentences.

It is in the juxtaposition of unlikely things that comedy lies.

Example - Ambujam mami enjoying a KFC.

6) Character building 

It depends on what you are writing for. If its commercial writing the central character and his goal must be clear. Also to me a detective is interesting when he is an unlikely detective. All super heroes have personal problems. As the story unfolds he faces obstacles from two directions - one from the external story and one from his personal story.

What appears like an obstacle to the character in the story, is the actual story. (absolute gem)

What looks like an ally turns into an adversary and vice versa it makes it interesting. 

7) Story should like a crisp dosa

The story should be light - like a crisp dosa - not heavy. Light and satisfying.

8) Enter late, exit quick

In any situation, come in late into the situation, and get out as quickly as you can from the situation (makes sense in real life too). Cut to the crux and get out.

9) Endings

I don't have full clarity about the entire story and many times find it difficult to find the ending. Some writers I know get the ending first and work backwards.

10) Cadence

I want every scene to make sense. every scene should be making sense. One writer once said that if you take one scene out, the entire film should collapse, so tightly should it be written.

Krishna feels that may be a bit too intense - he says he likes stories or scenes where two friends talk abstract stuff. 

11) Texture

As a writer I think we should fight both sides. I think it gives texture. If I wrote my novel 'Jump Cut' now, I would have added more meditative moments. I would have got a different ending with a different texture.  

12) Bittersweet is best

I asked Krishna if the hero in my current novel should win the cup and also get the girl, and he emphatically said No. 'What's the point. A story should be bittersweet.'


13) What makes characters interesting

Krishna spoke about an actor who once said 

"If I play a villain I play him likeably. If I play a hero I play him as a flawed person."      


Superb Krishna. Looking for more from you, next week.

No comments: