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Dr Manjiri Prabhu
Thursday , October 04, 2012

A recap of the writing process: From imagination to penning the words


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Well, this is the last post in this series on the basics of novel-writing. From imagination to penning the novel, we have come a long way. Let's have a quick run-through of the salient features that we have discussed so far. 1) First and foremost, you have to be motivated to write from your heart and not your head. 2) To be a writer, you must be highly imaginative, observant, flexible, ready to work very hard, be confident of your work, be self-disciplined, have lots and lots of patience, and most important of all, be open to criticism. 3) Begin by writing what you like to read. 4) Write for yourself. If you like what you write, then there's a chance that others will too. 5) Ideas can come from almost anywhere. Relax, keep your mind open, observe everything and everyone around....


Tuesday , September 25, 2012

Chapters and the length of the novel


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Today, let's talk about the Beginning, Chapters and the length of the novel. I think by now everyone knows that the first page or pages of a novel have to be catchy. And by 'catchy', I mean intriguing. A reader will usually begin going through the first page and will only proceed through the rest of the book, if it holds his/her attention and is interesting. Agreed that there is no guarantee to a reader's taste, since readership habits vary from person to person. But as a writer, you can take precautions. The first page of your novel is very important. Your book can be a Romance, Mystery, Science-Fiction or a simple rendition of what happened one night - in any case, your first page has to have the capacity to pique the reader's curiosity. It should inform a little, hint at more to come and introduce the....


Tuesday , September 18, 2012

Dialogue - Part Two


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Have you ever listened to the dialogues in a film and thought, 'wow, what dialogues!" The reason for your appreciation is not only because, in a film, they are well written and delivered with emotion and finesse but also because they reveal a lot of the character as well as the story. Dialogue within a book has similar traits. In a film, the dialogues between the characters appear when the characters do, interspersed with the cinematic visuals. Similarly in a book, the dialogues inter-weave with the narrative. One very important feature of Dialogue is that it has to make a point. The point could be in the form of revealing something i.e. giving added information that until now the reader had not been offered. The added information could be a part of the plot or more of the character. Dialogues are words mouthed by the characters,....


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dialogue - Part One


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Dialogue is the conversation, usually between two people or two or more characters. Sometimes, it can be dialogue a character has with himself/herself. These are his thoughts or reflections which can appear in the form of conversation with his/her inner mind. There are some important facts about writing dialogue that a writer must remember. First, when you write dialogue, it must seem natural and realistic. The word realistic, however can be very deceptive. Too much realism could lead to confusion! Here's an example of how a verbatim dialogue can appear in print! "Give me a cup of chai yaar! Hi Rakesh, what's up? Yeah man, last night (the cell phone rings) excuse me-Bolo! Where are you, man? I've been hanging out in the canteen for ages- Arre yaar, how much time for my chai? And get me a bun with the chai, hurry up - Rakesh,....


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Third person multiple/ omniscient


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Let's touch upon the Third Person Multiple. Think of a scene from any of the currently running Television serials. After a dramatic announcement, remember the way the scene goes on and on to show the reactions of the different artists in the scene. One after the other, the close-ups of the characters follow, revealing their shocked or surprised faces, as they try to express their feelings with their facial expressions, prompted by blaring music...Now also imagine that instead of just seeing their faces, you can hear what is going in each character's head. Well, that is exactly what a third person multiple or omniscient narrative does! The third person multiple is omniscient - meaning it moves around in the book, taking us from one character to another, either one after the other or in succession, helping build the story through the different angles of the characters. Often,....


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Third person singular or limited


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An important narrative style is the third person limited. The third person limited is similar to the first person singular, except that instead of writing as "I did. . ." you write in third person, i.e. "he said" or "she ran. . .". The writer stays with one character in the story, usually the hero/ heroine, and projects his/ her side of the story. The reader gets to experience the situations that the character falls in through his/her thoughts. Here's an example: "A small path led off the house premises, down the hill to the beach and she strolled in that direction. A cool breeze struck up a dialogue with her hair and absent-mindedly she tucked a loose strand behind her ear. The sea looked inviting as the waves rolled up to her, dislocating the sand from under her feet as they receded. Strangely, Raveena felt a deep....


Tuesday , August 21, 2012

First person multiple


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Sometimes, the first person can take the 'voice' of several characters in a novel. Put simply, it means that the same story can be told by more than one person, at different times in the story, unraveling different angles in the story. Which also means that this is a very exceptional and very difficult narrative style. Not simply because of the manner in which the narrative runs, but also because each voice that speaks has to be distinct in speech, and faultlessly faithful to that particular character. This is especially true if the narrative runs through several characters. One perfect example of this kind of writing is the famous classic 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins. This book is a classic mystery, masterfully narrated by an extremely well drawn out string of characters. The novel begins with the first person singular narration of Sir Walter Hartright. After....


Tuesday , August 14, 2012

First person singular


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"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. . . ." This is the famous opening line of the novel 'Rebecca' written by the great writer Daphne Du Maurier. Rebecca is an excellent example of writing with the first person narration. As are her other novels like 'My Cousin Rachel' and 'The Scapegoat.' Writing in the first person narration can be difficult but very interesting. And certainly not to be avoided. Usually, the first person singular is the 'voice' of the main character in the novel. It is a style which immediately brings the reader in contact with the thoughts, ideas of the character and the situations in his or her life. It is a little like writing a diary, but not your own of course. It is your character's diary. And you have to be careful that when you write in your character's voice, you....


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The narrative style or technique and point of view


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So, you have done your research and you have a plot and you are now ready to write out the story. But the essential question is: what narrative style or technique are you going to use? From whose point of view will you write the story? Who is actually telling the story? Is it the chief protagonist? Or are several characters taking over from time to time? Or is it the author narrating the events? First, let's understand what Style actually means. Style is a question of approaching the story, either in first person singular, third person singular or plural or as the omniscient narrator. The most commonly used narrative styles in novels are the first person singular and the third person singular or plural. For the moment, let's just consider these two popular styles of narration. Let me try to simplify this for you -....


Tuesday , July 31, 2012

After plot, of course the story


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In the last two sections, we read about plots and characters. Now let's understand what a story means. A story is an account or a narration of imaginary incidents or events, facts or experiences, which has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. And like a plot, a story is also made up of certain basic elements. It stands for a combination of similar necessities: S for Structure T for Technique O for Originality R for Research Y for Yearning Like we discussed in the plot, a story has to have a definite structure - a Beginning, a Middle and an End. Why is that? Because any story has to take off first, level out in the middle and peak to a climax or a punch in the end, for it to make any real impact on the readers. In other words, sequencing your story into different....


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More about Dr Manjiri Prabhu

Dr Manjiri Prabhu is an academic, author of several novels, a short filmmaker and an animal lover. 'Imagination To Ink' is her 16-part series on writing and its aesthetics.

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