Over the last one and half a month I’ve been silent on my blog, I haven’t posted anything. But, I had not given up on writing. In fact, on a whim I started to write fiction. A project which started as a short story soon turned out into an eleven thousand worded novella. But, why did I write fiction in the first place? If you remember I started to write this blog as a test – to see if I have the discipline, drive to take on more writing projects – fiction being one of them, and finally one day I took the plunge. As a kid I enjoyed Chandamama Kathalu, Kaasi Magili Kathalu sitting on the lap of my grandfather. The promise of adventure in those stories was one motivating factor for me to start reading. As I grew up and picked fiction – mysteries, classics, drama, pulp fiction – I still missed adventure. Other than Sherlock Holmes whodunits & Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventures, nothing came close. But, it was with ‘Da Vinci Code’ that I found adventure again. The book seemed to have invented a new genre all together because suddenly the local bookshop’s aisles were filled with similar titles. I don’t want to know how much of that book was true or how much of it was false, all I knew was that it held my attention, and took me on a journey filled with puzzles, cryptograms, danger & history. I loved it. Soon, I followed it with Dan Brown’s other books and then with Sigma Series of James Rollins, Jones & Payne stories of Chris Kuzneski and with Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone. Cheap, trashy books? Say what you will, these books satiated my hunger.
But, one thing bothered me. None of them were based on any myth/legend/story out of India. My beautiful country with its million gods has enough legends, stories to last a lifetime, but, none apart from one or two averagely made films showcased any of its rich history. India a land where the line between history and myth blurred more than anywhere else, where Rama and Krishna – Gods – once existed, was poorly represented. There have been some books which reinvented our scriptures in the vein of Lord of the rings, but, that was not what I was looking for. I wanted someone to play with these legends, myths, ask a what if? Create an improbable scenario, suspend our beliefs and take us for a good ride. I wanted someone to create a work of art that rivaled the Da Vinci code’s of the world.
So, do I mean to say I created one such work? No, absolutely not. I just wrote a story to amuse myself which my wife and a few close friends happened to enjoy. But, before I share the link with you, I’d like you to take you through my journey.
Process: Writing the story was a spur of the moment decision; motivation for which I mentioned in my previous post. But, when I actually put the pen on paper or in this case, finger on the keyboard, words were difficult to come by. I had a few scenes loosely constructed in my mind and nothing else. I could write those scenes first and think about the others, but, I didn’t want to do that. So, I let the scenes run in my mind where they kept churning. In the meantime I researched on the background of the story, facts, history on the internet. With this new information in place, a few more plot points started taking shape. Then it was deciding between first or third person. First person view point would make the journey more intimate, but, I felt this story demanded a third person view point as there were a few scenes which needed description. With this, I started writing the first chapter. I knew the story would be short because I was not going to stick to character developments or descriptions in this book, all I was aiming for was an entertaining story. As I started writing, dialogues (which I tried to keep as realistic to the characters as possible) quickly took precedence over the plot moving the story forward. Half way through the book I stopped writing because I didn’t know how to take the story forward — there were plot loop holes I was not sure how to bridge. I did not revisit the story in my mind for a few days deliberately occupying myself in other work. After a few days I sat back to write and things started to come together. In the absence of deadlines/pressure my mind had somehow worked things out. I could now bridge one scene to another till the end. In a few days time the story was complete. But, this was only my first draft. A lot of rewriting lay ahead.
On the other hand, I started sharing each chapter as I wrote to few people close to me like testing a beta app. I had their feedback when I started to revise the story. After three to four drafts the story started looking better. There were still points I could write differently, but, I was happy with the outcome. It was time to share with all.
Technology: I collected my research, and wrote the story in Evernote. I had previously written about the software in my blog and it turned out to be a great place to write. Then, I used Scrivener to put the content into a presentable format.
- Let the story brew in your mind and leave it for sometime before coming back to it when you are stuck.
- Use what you read/saw – Steve Jobs once said, ‘Great artists steal’. Though the plot was original I confess I borrowed some ideas from the movies I saw, the books I read and tweaked them to make them my own. And, by borrowing these ideas I feel my work has become a tribute to all those great minds.
- Take feedback — a writer always writes with an audience in mind it could be him/her self or a select few individuals. I was lucky to have a close set of friends who spent time in giving their opinions and pointing out the loop holes or inconsistencies. Use your friends.
- Over come the fear – Self doubt is good, it keeps you humble. But, it can also hinder the process. One big fear I had to overcome was to write that ‘great novel’ which everyone would like. I don’t think there’s any such work. All books start with a limited audience in mind. When I started writing I had my son. If he reads this story would he enjoy? That’s the only question which moved me forward.
- Rewrite – The first draft is always terrible. Rewrite till you are satisfied and let their be gap between these revisions. When you come back after a break, your eyes will pick up new mistakes/inconsistencies which you previously missed and provide you with few points that can be included.
- Ship – There can never be an end to the rewriting process, there is always something you can change, always something that can be written well, but draw a line somewhere and ship the story.
Ask: If you still see typos, grammatical errors, please reach out to me at: Contact
Here is the link to the story: Uncharted