A Writer’s Weapons

Yesterday, I came across this very intriguing Japanese folk story.
It was about this person. His neighbours and people across the street were always afraid of him, because of a very peculiar thing that happened every day. As a perplexed neighbour describes, “Every night after the Shyuske returns from the fields, a terrific, blood curdling scream bellows out of his house. Every night at exactly 12. Whenever we ask him about it, he just stares at us in utter silence and with dead cold eyes. We have stopped asking now.” . Weird Indeed.
Shyuske’s cousin Kintaro visits him one time, and on his first day, he comes across this story from the village people (village people. Really?). That night, after dinner, Kintaro anxiously waited for the clock to strike 12, to understand what really happens to his brother. Precisely at 12, Kintaro saw something very weird. All of a sudden, his brother started making these weird, loud noises standing by the window and after a while he stopped and went to  bed.
The next morning, curious Kintaro asked his brother about the events of the previous night, to which Shyuske smiled and replied, “The last owner of this house told me how this was a bad neighborhood. Most of these people living here are into bad things. They harassed the poor guy a lot. But I have to live here because this is closest place to the fields. So I came up with this plan. They will not fear police, but no one dares to mess with the supernatural.”

What a great story. Opinions will vary from school to school but what struck my fancy was Shyuske’s intent. He was absolutely clear about what he wanted to do and left no stone unturned to find a way and implement it to the tee. For me, this is very essential to writing. A writer with clear intent writes the cleanest stories. Intent gives purpose and direction to writing. It helps the reader to latch on to your train of thoughts and see things from your perspective.The next story is also very interesting and has actually happened.

There was once a man who chewed paan (beetle leaves) everyday. He would always have a paan in his mouth.And there was one more thing that he’d do.
Everyday, while on his way to work,the man would spit out the remaining paan on a giant stone. He kept doing this for years and gradually the stone turned red from all the paan spit.
One fine day, our protagonist was on his way to work when he saw a huge crowd in front of the stone. To his utter surprise, people were actually worshiping the stone! They thought it was a blessing from some deity. Men were donating wads of money, women had brought their children along to seek blessings of the lord.
The man was bemused. He did not have the heart to reveal the truth.

What this story shows us is, packing is important.It’s just not a great concept, but the way you write it, that makes for a good read. What would ‘The Fog Horn‘ be, but only a great idea, if it wasn’t for Ray Bradbury’s piercing documentary. ‘The Raven‘ would be a drab poem, without Edgar Allan Poe’s grim and dark portrayal of themes. The relic that people were worshiping was just a stone, but the red colour made it a reincarnation of god himself. That’s how strong proper packaging can be.

So there you go. Intent in writing, and proper portrayal of your intent. Those are two of the greatest of writers’ weapons. Armed with these, you can create magic in the greatest theater there is- the human brain.

Oh, and the first story, I just made that up. Wanted to make my intent clear.

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A Comic Situation

I flip through the pages of my old Champaks and Chacha Chaudharys. The pages are still crisp and the yellow tinge adds a hint of value to them, as time does to wine. I can’t help but wonder, where those days of halcyon went?
Comics meant everything to me as a kid. And not the Marvels and DCs mind you. What fascinated me were the Billloo, Pinki, Raman, Sabu, the affable Chacha C and not to forget the Nagrajs and Dogas. Our very own Diamond and Raj comics were dearest to me.
But with each passing year, the quality of content deteriorated and so did my (and probably others’) interest. Diamond is as good as non-exist ant and Raj comics have lost the art of story-telling.
It puzzles me, when I get hold of one of these ‘modern’ Chacha Chaudharys- should I cry at the lame and stale one-liners or should I laugh at the alarming frequency at which the colour of Chachaji’s turban changes every 5 pages. Sometimes, I hardly ever get through 5 pages!
Comics in India is AILING. We need more Prans. We need sharper minds and willing people going into this floundering industry. Comics are a significant part of our history, and they ought be preserved.

Brain Games

Sub-conscious brain is perhaps the most powerful tool that man has been gifted with. The problem is that its like a double-edged sword. And most of us do not know how powerful it is and upon mastering its control, how much more fulfilling one’s life can be.
For better understanding, let us take the example of ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’ and ‘Karthik calling Karthik’ . For the uninitiated, these are B’ wood films deal with the adverse effect of sub-conscious brain, or mental disorder, in short. However, what both the films portray, is how strong a person’s inner will can be. It can create a completely new person out a man/woman and it can adversely affect our conscious self.
Although both the films show sub-conscious brain in a bad light, what is undeniable is the fact that sub-conscious brain has surprising, almost super-human powers.
Controlling our sub-conscious brain is the ultimate self-realization of a human being. And the only way this can be achieved, is by developing a strong-willed conscious brain. When we truly and consciously believe in our abilities and wishes, a connection between both the mind-sets is snapped closed. And then our sub-conscious brain unleashes its effectiveness.
But the belief has to be unabashed, true and pure.
Take for example walking- You never fall on solid ground because you are supremely and truly confident about your walking-credentials (I know, I’m overrating the art of walking.). But the second you are blind-folded, you stumble. That’s not because of the blindfold, it’s because your conscious mind red flags the thought of falling and the sub-conscious mind doesn’t waste time in realizing it.
So, try to believe in your goals and aspirations. Act as if they have been achieved. If you want to be happy, BE HAPPY. Or at least act as if you are. The results will surprise you.

The Fact About Fiction

The world has seen a lot of talented fiction writers. Their ideas were new, appealing and gave a new meaning to their (and others’) lives. But what was that one thing that made them so special?
There are hundreds of ‘writers’ guide’ that keep incessantly gloating about doing things ‘differently’. In fact, if something is stale, it is these rhetoric. But then, (I hate to sound repetitive) what was the thing that clicked for these brilliant minds?
We are born and brought up by our parents, and by the time we are capable of brewing intelligent thoughts, we develop what I like to call a ‘cast’. The ideas that come into our mind must fit into this cast, lest it displease a section of our society. It is like writing for others, we are more interested to make our ideas and writings sound sensible rather then making them sound interesting. Sample this: You won’t ask your neighbour if he or she likes beige or metallic interiors when you are painting your house, would you?
Of course, sounding somewhat logical is called for but your fantasy should follow your logic not the world’s norms.
That’s what these fiction writers did, they could shake off the constraints of trying to justify their writings and write for themselves, ending up with classics and bestsellers.
But, its easier said than done (as every cool and awesome thing on self-help blogs and books is). Even the best writers can never completely uproot what they go by in the real world. At a certain level it will influence one’s writing. But such a touch is involuntary and is either unpalpable or pleasing.
You can go “Oh that’s easy,” but you’ll know exactly how tough it can get, when you write. At the end of every line, you’ll be asking yourself, “Oh, what will people say to that?”. These kinds of thoughts are very hard to ignore. But, once the self-realization sets in you’ll find such questions melting away. You’ll want to know how YOU will react to a line, and that’s when your imagination will really take over.
It’s not Mr President’s G8 speech, its your world that we are talking about, your playground. So go, play God.
Its all about realizing that only YOU can write a book that you will love to read.

Mapped-Writer’s Brain

Recently I realized how much I banged my head on what I should write. I also realized how much our writing is influenced by our presumption of readers’ perception. I believe that a writer’s mind has what I call scopes (well I tried ADize the theory ;-), one that urges the writer to write what the readers want to read, one that urges him to pen down whatever his inner thoughts and feelings suggest and one which is a bit of both.

The first one is the safe mode. It tells you to write was the audience wants and is generally associated with rookies. I have to admit that even I was in sync with this scope, and its vestiges continue to exist in me. More often than not, it ensures that you are loyal to your readers, but the success depends heavily on grasp of the language and muses. Good way to start off, given that you don’t get the knack of it.

The second scope is the hard to hit and few have such a mind-frame. Can’t write much about it, I have never been in that mode. What I can tell is that it is comparable to subconscious brain, very powerful but equally hard to connect. Your work may not have many takers but it does manage a cult following.

Third and final scope is the purple patch and what I mean by ‘a bit of both’ is a mix of both styles of writing. THIS is hardest to achieve. Why? Because you have to volley between to mindsets with poles-like contrast. Having said that, most writers, (well, at least the ones who have gone through the grind) are in this frame of mind. Strange, but it is a fact.

Initially I had thought of ending it here, but later I had conflicting thoughts on the idea.
It came to me that a writers mind is too complicated to map and that there is a fine line between the second and third scope. In fact it is so fine that can’t be considered a line. Hmm…. food for thought. What do you think? Drop in a line.