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Posts Tagged ‘screen writing’

What makes a Dark Knight or a Transformers or a Star Trek work? Think about it. There are so many action flicks out there. What then makes a handful of them stand out? It is the underlying character story and the structure of the film.

Here, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two of Hollywood’s hottest writers share their screenwriting secrets.

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You know how us Indians, almost all of us universally, have been brought up on the funda that life is a constant grind? And that all we can do is struggle and hope for the best? And as a corollary, the oft repeated verse from the Gita – Karmanyevadhikaraste Maphaleshu Kadachan is quoted? (Methinks it’s the only thing people have read in the Gita. Certainly, it’s the only one I’ve read. I tried to read the whole book, though. Honestly I did. Many times. I gave it up every time. Almost all Hindu texts, to me, appear to be misogynistic rants.)

It’s a whole load of crap. Let me tell you where I’m coming from:

Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions: When I first started writing, I just wrote because I had a story that excited me. And I knew I was writing it well. That’s it. I just wanted it published. I knew it was good enough to be published. More importantly, I believed it was going to get published. And lo! Within three days of submitting the MS I got a contract. The second one followed. And now there, are expectations that I’ll churn out a third one before the year is out. My life is harder now than when I first began writing! Which brings me to an unrelated but important observation – getting success is easy, maintaining it is hard.

Blog: I started blogging because I write a journal-like entry every morning anyway. So I figured, why not put it on the Net? And let’s face it, it gives me a platform to voice my opinions, pontificate and popularize my book (soon to be books). As an added advantage, it allows me to put up favorable reviews and edit bad ones. Other than that, I’m the laziest blogger in the whole world.

Therefore, it came as pleasant surprise when I did a search for my blog and found it tops in many directories! I don’t know how and when that happened (Certainly, my blog doesn’t inform me when someone links me). It’s not that I consciously cultivate readership. I don’t go that many other blogs. Or comment on them. I just don’t have the time. When I’m not writing my novel, I’m writing for TV. And when I’m not doing that, I’m writing film screenplays. Then there are newspapers and magazines who want my ‘expert’ opinion on something.

Sales of Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions: I’ve never harangued my publishers for better publicity and promotion for the book, knowing their efforts are inadequate and lots more could be done. I don’t do that because I believe the product is good enough to do well without it. And it is in the bestsellers list every time. More importantly, it’s not dead stock. Every book store I ask tells me the book is a ‘fast moving item.’

There was this one books store in Powai which didn’t have the book in its display. When I asked a salesman about it, he helpfully got up and tried to locate it for me. While he was searching, I asked him why it wasn’t on prominent display. He stopped, shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. “It wasn’t a moving.” My heart sank. Anyway, after a few minutes of fruitless searching, he went back to his desk and checked in the computer. And looked up, dazed. “We had fifteen copies. It’s sold out! We’ve placed an order for more.”

Which brings me to another unrelated important observation – in things like books, movies and almost anything to do with popular culture, it is word of mouth publicity that counts. Sure, splashy campaigns in traditional media help in generating visibility, but they don’t always translate into sales. I read many reviews and author interviews in newspapers but I don’t rush out to buy their books. I wait for an opinion from a friend I trust before I fork out the money.

Anyway, to come back to point of this rambling and long winded post, new age stuff with its emphasis on ‘abundance’ and ‘getting what you want is easy’ really works! All you have to do is believe.

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On average I get a phone call a day from a journalist who’s doing a story on chicklits. Sure, the themes vary. Someone’s doing a story on the emergence of new age Indian writers, someone’s doing a story on young professionals giving up well-paying, established careers to pursue writing.

Chicklits are hot. But before you give up your own career and make a retirement plan based solely upon earnings from novel writing, think again.

The phenomenon of Indian readers lapping up original creative writing in English by Indian authors is relatively recent. Before this, any book by an Indian author that sold about 5,000 copies was considered a bestseller. Gasp! All that many? But consider the average cover price of Rs. 200. At the average rate of ten percent royalties that worked out to a princely sum of Rs.  1,00,000. Thrilling!

And while Chicklits and Dudelits have managed to cross the 5,000 copies barrier, the million mark is a tad more distant.

Then why write? Apart from the fact that you must, of course. You must write because whether or not your sales propel you into the Fortune 500, there are a lot of fringe benefits. Based upon your fame as a writer, you get to write columns and copy for a bunch of other stuff. And who knows, maybe your book will get made into a movie and then you’ll have proceeds from film rights to add to your hitherto miserable kitty.

So, as I have been saying before, it’s best to develop related crafts. Screen writing, book reviews, columns, copy for corporate brochures etc.

And who knows, maybe someday (hopefully soon) Indian lit will find and international audience, like Bollywood has in recent times. Then you are truly made. I’m keeping my finger and toes crossed.

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