Everything I know about writing books in one article
Hi, I am a writer.
What right do I have to call myself a writer? Well, in the course of the last 5 years, I have written 5 books, a movie’s screenplay and dialogue, numerous articles, ghost-writing, copy, web content, and stuff I may have forgotten about. Also, since I am a stand-up comedian as well, I have written a lot of jokes, and some of them have worked.
I was talking to a friend a few days back and he asked me about the process of writing. He says he likes to write, but a corporate job doesn’t allow the luxury of writing for yourself.
So, in this article, I will attempt to explain what I have learnt about writing and we will only focus on books here.
To start with, there is nothing like perfect writing.
Just like any other art form, it is open to interpretation. Yes, there is something to be said about accuracy in grammar and sentence construction. Having said that, each sentence could be constructed and expressed in multiple ways, and that’s where personal style comes into play.
This is how I write. Some people who have read my recent book tell me that reading my work is like talking to a friend, which they appreciate.
I like it that way, because the purpose of my writing is to express something I want, and have the reader interpret exactly what I want him to understand. This is unlike painting, where the painter would be happy to let the user interpret what they want from their work.
Mostly, I want to be understood as I mean it.
Now, let me go step by step. As mentioned above, I will focus this article on book writing and different genres that I have attempted to write. I have written short-stories, philosophy, poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
1. How to write short stories
Short stories are relatively easier to write, for me. The only problem with a short story may be, is that it is short. It leaves the user begging for me, if it is interesting enough. In my book Snippets of life from an eccentric, I have written 10 short stories around 10 different subjects. The purpose of the stories is to make the reader feel good about life.
Here is an extract from the book:
“Sujoy had turned 27 just a week back.
He was sitting quietly facing the river with his legs immersed in water-thinking about his life. He was happy, for he had achieved success much beyond what was expected of him. It did not always seem possible or easy. He was himself not sure, many times. But he had always been hopeful.
He was now an engineer and had a salary of Rupees 80000 a month, a respectable salary in India. He had a beautiful wife whom he loved a lot and his parents were proud of him. As he sat amused with himself, he looked back.
Sujoy belonged to a small town in India.
His parents were poor and had worked hard to make sure that he received good education and does not have to go through the physical drudgery that had been their lives.
Sujoy’s parents ironed clothes to make a living ever since he remembered. They would go to collect clothing items from the houses in the precinct where they worked, in the morning, iron them all day and then deliver the ironed clothes in the evening. That was how their lives were spent, almost the entire lives.
He saw them working day and night in the hope that one day, when he becomes something, they will be proud and their efforts would have paid off. They did not know what exactly he will become. Their definition of success for him was a job that paid him at least Rupees 15000 a month.
When Sujoy thought about his parents, he realized that they had never asked or wished for anything for them and had devoted entire lives to his upbringing. He remembered asking his father once, “Papa, why don’t you go and buy some handsome clothes for yourself?”
“I do not need any, I am happy to see you in the best of clothing and that is enough for me,” his father said.
“Are all parents like this?” he had thought. His mother would mostly subscribe to the opinions of his father. He did not remember her ever asserting views of her own.
He did not have any siblings. He had wondered, “Why?” and had assumed the answer that his parents had been wise enough. It was better only to have children you can support rather to send them begging!”
The story doesn’t end here. It is an extract from the story on hope.
A short story needs to come to the point faster than a novel would. The author of a novel has the luxury to indulge himself and describe the characters, the places, the dialogues in detail. A short story writer doesn’t have that luxury.
However, for someone who is starting out to write, I would highly recommend writing short stories. It strengthens your writing muscles and make you ready for your writing work ahead.
One of my books is on the philosophical doctrines of free will and determinism.
I don’t expect that book to do well commercially, but I will release that to the world in some time. I have been holding it, for many years, and it continues to stay as a manuscript.
The below is an extract from the book:
“You know, apparently the answer to these questions is yes. The universe works in harmony and life operates everywhere. At an individual level, people seem to be making certain decisions which have a positive or negative effect on their lives.
Does it not seem to you that Nature, whose job is to govern the functioning of the entire universe has some control over what, is going on at both the micro and macro levels? We all would agree that it controls the world at a macro level; it is the micro levels we have problems with because the micro level means you and me.
Whatever way I think about it, somehow nature has made me certain that it is totally controlling me and every moment of my existence. I know that many of you are finding it difficult to agree with me and are debating it within yourself, but may be, if you are unable to understand your motivations, the ecosystem of your motivations, you will realize that you cannot quite explain the reasons and if you cannot quite explain the reasons for your motivations, there is nothing you can quite explain about your life. Acceptance becomes your solace.”
This book, I argue with myself, quite considerably, is perhaps my best work in writing. I don’t know if I will be able to do as much research for a book, as I did for this book.
If you wish to write philosophy, you need a lot of research. This book was an outcome of an enormous amount of secondary research. I read almost everything available on the internet and a few books to reach the conclusions I have presented in this book. You will have to do the same if you were to write a book that needs research.
This book is called Free Will: The essential illusion
The book is essentially a non-fiction book but analytical in its execution since I have been trying to analyze and arrive at a conclusion through the book. If you were to write something analytical, you will need to research it- through primary and secondary mediums.
I love poetry. In fact, I started writing with poetry. However, I don’t write poetry as much I used to anymore, because I couldn’t turn it commercially viable but in my book 101 Quirky Rhymes for kids, I have written 101 poems for kids. Each poem is entertaining and educative. That was my purpose for each of those pieces.
You will need your purpose too. Here is extract:
Papa is the shade
When the sun simmers
Papa is the cool breeze
In the height of summers
He doesn’t shout
He doesn’t spare
When there is a need
Papa is there
When there is nobody to be found
When I am feeling low
He will care
Papa is there
Loud and hysterical
Witty and funny
Poking and teasing
All the time, everywhere
Papa is there
I wish I could say it well
I wish I could bare
How much it means to me
That Papa is there.”
Write poetry, with all your heart. Poetry is conversation from one heart, to another.
Frankly, fiction is the most interesting of all writing, and the most creative. I would highly recommend anyone considering writing fiction to read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
I did. My book The Unlikely Couple is a work of fiction and an unlikely love story of a girl who finds herself in unlikely relationships. I wanted to drive the message in the book that love is over everything and hopefully that stays in the soul of the book. I couldn’t find a traditional publisher for the book yet, and hence it is currently unpublished. I am quite proud of it, though.
Below is an extract from the book:
“Raga was silent, and looking at Sachi.
“I know what you are saying, Sachi. But I request you to just give me some time. I haven’t thought much about the future as yet and I didn’t think there was a need to think about it either. But now that you are asking me these questions, I do need to think about the future.
For now, can we just give each other some time? We have just met and we are just beginning to get to know each other. You may not like many things about me or may not feel that I am the right person for you if you know me more. I need to know you more as well. I know I suddenly fell in love with you but I do need to convince myself that I can sustain this love I have for you. Let’s give each other some more time and in the meanwhile, I will also decide what I want from my future.”
Sachi heard him intently and as always, she felt that Raga was speaking from his heart. She accepted.”
Fiction is creating life inside books. Go create it. Let your imagination loose and create the world you want to create.
As I mentioned earlier, even my second book is a work of non-fiction. But it took a lot of research. However, my recent book, which is available on Amazon, in good times, as a paperback, but only as a kindle version at the moment is a work of non-fiction carved out of my life experience and my journey of finding happiness.
I am so proud Happiness in your skin has made so many people happy. I am sure you have learned something during the course of your life, and you can write those experiences in a structured format, and perhaps create a book out of it, like I did.
Here is some happiness in your skin for you:
“Listen to your mind. Listen to your heart. Listen to the voice that resonates inside you. Shut the noise that society makes. The voice of a group of people can possibly not answer convincingly what is meaningful for you. It comes from inside you. Meaning resides inside you.
Therefore, you need to find something that meaningful for you. If spending 2 hours with your dog makes you happy-it is meaningful-because it makes your pet happy and you love you see him happy.”
Go create your own happiness or your leadership guide. Non-fiction is easier to write, relative to fiction because it probably already rests inside of you. Do you have it?
This article is already over 2000 words. I thought I would also speak about publishing and the options currently available for writers, but that’s for another piece. They say the attention spans are getting shorter.
In conclusion, I would say that the only way to really learnt to write is by doing it. They don’t teach us a lot of things in school because a lot of those things can only be learned by doing them. Writing, is no different.
Like Picasso said, ‘all art is autobiographical.’ If you have lived a life worth writing about, write it down. Otherwise, create it in fiction.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. Please comment what you think of the article and clap if you like.