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Posts Tagged ‘writing fiction’

Whenever stuck for ideas, the news is your best source. It certainly is my best source. Just recently I was stuck for an idea for a character whose public profile was impeachable but who had a sinister private profile. And then Lt. Col Shrikant Purohit came along.

When the news first came out, it left most of us reeling with shock. A member of the Indian Army, the one institution that still commands respect, engaged in terrorist activities, why the idea was outrageous. Or was it?

Look at it from his point of view.

(Disclaimer: This is pure speculation and is not based on any facts)

He was probably a loyal member of this stellar organization, serving his country without question in inhospitable and downright hostile areas. He was probably engaged in counter insurgency ops in J&K. He was probably freezing his butt off patrolling at Siachen in knee deep snow.

For what?  To protect an openly ungrateful people and a government that doesn’t care. Through unjustified brickbats and unfair pay commissions he remained stoic and his patriotism was unshakable.

They caught several terrorists who were later let off for political or other reasons (prisoners for hostages kinda exchange). And (behold the mother of all ironies) one of these very rascals later went on to become a prominent political figure whom Purohit was forced to salute! It is just too much. And the straw that broke the camel’s back. Is it any wonder that the Mumbai Police openly refused to salute Gawli (or was it protect, or both)?

Of course this is only a general outline. Many people snap under unrelenting stress, and in a variety of ways, not necessarily anarchical. To explain his leanings towards militant Hinduism, you’d have to first concede that he was an Alpha male type personality, and then go back and reconstruct his childhood. To begin with, you’d have to consider that he was probably raised in a middle class Hindu household with allegiance to the Sangh, which was not a terrorist organization.

Even at this stage, to him, religion was private and had no place in his professional life at all. But gradually, he saw the rise of Islamic terrorism and, what seemed to him, a persecution of Hindus. This rhetoric was, no doubt, inculcated by a newly radicalised Sangh. He knew that the Government would not do anything about it, only pander to minorities. And that he had to do something if he had to arrest the inevitable downward slide of his beloved country into chaos. Here he probably saw Israel, with their prompt and retaliatory bombing, as an example. And a religious vigilante was born.

If you undertake this speculative exercise, bam, you’ve got a character. Hell, you’ve got a story.

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So this journalist calls me yesterday to ask me what I thought about the rise of the ladki lit. Quoting verbatim from some article: “Ten years after the publication of Bridget Jones’s Diary, the genre of fiction most recognisable for its pink cover art of stilettos, martini glasses and lipsticks, is now being colourfully infused with bindis, saris, and bangles,” she asked me what I thought about the rise of ladki lit.

Back up a moment here. Ladki lit?

“You know, Indian chick lit,” she clarified.

Ye gads!

But when I think about it, I kinda like it in a reverse snobbery kinda way. You know, like we all liked Govinda-David Dhawan comedies. Someone. Anyone!! NO ONE????!!!

Okay, so that was just me.

So far, chick lit had been sub categorised into Mom lit, Mystery lit, Wedding lit, Latina lit, Teen lit and so on to give every woman what some snobbish anonymous editor claimed in Boston Weekly Digest, ‘a chance for women of every colour and age to be portrayed as annoying, shallow twits.’ Methinks, this is editor is also one of two things:

  • a) An unpublished author who masterpiece was rejected in favour of a chicklit novel, or
  • b) A published author whose literary masterpiece failed to garner a quarter of the sales of say a Marian Keyes or Helen Fielding.

(There is a reason this editor chooses to remain anonymous)

But I digress.

Coming back to the point, it’s only natural that the term would find an Indian avatar. And it does. I’m just thankful it’s not laundiya lit.

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June 30

I resisted when someone suggested using Final Draft for my screenplays. I had worked out the formatting in word and couldn’t be bothered to learn newer software, no matter how much better it was.

That friend, may his screenplays always get made into award winning films, persisted. He gave me a CD, installed it and even imported the screenplay I was working on in it. Still I did nothing about it. Then one day I had some time. I didn’t particularly feel like writing so I decided to fool around with Final Draft.

Actually this urge was prompted in part by the realisation that I was guilty of the same syndrome that I had once famously accused my father of. I had very haughtily pronounced my dad a dinosaur when he refused to learn computing declaring that pen and paper had served him well thus far and it would too going forward as well.

Anyway I mastered Final Draft, and is wont to happen when any new software comes along, I can’t imagine how I had survived without it. My life was then divided into ante Final Draft and post Final Draft.

Till now.

Recently someone suggested and yWriter4. yWriter4 was rumoured to have been developed by a magician. It was credited with fixing scripts and manuscripts by itself. It was rumoured to do the writing by itself.

When I first heard about it, I thought the claims were fantastic. I no longer think so.  Though I haven’t explored it fully yet, I can safely say that I don’t think I’ll do any writing without it.

yWriter4 breaks down your manuscript chapter and scene wise. Each scene can be tagged according to characters and locations. You can also tag each scene according to motivations, goals, and conflict and rate them on a numerical scale. This can help you up or lower any ingredient.

yWriter4 also helps you find frequently  used words and phrases in the manuscript so you can figure out if you are ODing on the he grimaceds, or said wrylys, or she yelpeds, or she screecheds or he crieds.

yWriter4 also breaks down your MS according to the number of words in each chapter and scene which is very helpful in terms of cutting down on the skippers, i.e., the portions readers tend to skip. As you can imagine it helps with the pacing and keeping the MS tight.

Plus many more features which I haven’t explored yet. It can supposedly break down the MS according to different characters’ POVs. You can tag characters’ biographies and backstories. You can do the same with locations and scene and send link backs so you can tie loose ends.

Truly magical. Ante yWriter4 ends, post yWriter4 begins.

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