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I met up with a friend over the weekend and he asked me what was new in my life. I told him that my second novel had been typeset and was on target for an early 2010 release. (Come to think of it, he was more an acquaintance than a friend because friends already know, courtesy me harping on incessantly about it.)

As I was basking in his fulsome praise, out came the spoiler. He asked what was next and I told him I’m attempting something different for my third, and since it’s an area relatively unknown to me, I’m doing research. Since when, he asked me. Since two months, I told him. Be careful, he warned me, you look like you’re stuck in a research rut.

And then I came back and caught Steven Soderbergh waxing about his latest offering, Che on the telly. And he was talking about them getting stuck in a research rut and having to wade through a veritable information glut as a result.

That got me a little anxious and I immediately booted my laptop and hacked out a detailed (I already had a fledgling plot in mind) plot. Then I broke it down in order of scenes. How does the novel open, what happens next, what happens after that, where is plot point I, where is the interval, what is plot point II, etc. That’s how I usually write. It’s impossible for me to think up a story in terms other than a screenplay.

And you know what, it really helped. Now I know exactly what information to seek, instead of aimlessly reading up trivia.

At that point, I was feeling so good about myself that I even hacked out the first five hundred words. And then someone told me that that day was Naag Panchami and a very auspicious day for new beginnings (tautology, or what?). That augurs well for the project, n’est pas?

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