By Raja sir
Values are given words and words are shared with the readers who try to get nearer to the values conveyed by the writer. Though I have taught Literature for more than two decades, I had never given importance to the fact how much others can benefit from my experience. Then came a prophet, Mr. Walter L Jones, and everything changed for me.
A huge majority of the writers are often trapped by an illusion that structure is their ultimate goal while writing a story. Structure is a kind of God to them. Undoubtedly, structure is an inevitably important part of your story but it might as well destroy story if excessive attention is paid to it.
There is no dearth of hit movies and novels in the markets flooded with new releases. They seem to be fulfilling all the requirements of story but I feel that they seem to be contrived, uninspired and lifeless and one can feel that the writer has moved with a plan.
These kinds of writers are merely mechanics who assemble the different parts. Some linguists call them Story Mechanics. They plan the structure, syntax, length and so on and according to the prescriptive requirements contrive a story. It looks like a fancy paint job. Many of the Great Masters like D.H.Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Stevenson, Dickens, Rudyard Kipling had perhaps never heard about the blueprints, plan, sentence arrangement because they were guided by the values they had in mind. They were the writers who could be called Story Weavers. Such writers begin with subjects or concepts they are passionate about and the structure draws its form from the material. Their characters are people before they become characters. In their stories events take place first and then they become a plot. They keep values before theme and a genre is secondary to a world they develop.
I will call these writers Storytellers or Story Weavers. Their stories have the power to captivate the mind and the fullness of human emotion. The spontaneity guides them through their story to make it involving, engrossing and mind arresting. They take you along in their world of values and emotions.
Shall we start now?
To my students I tell not to think about structure for the time being. Forget about characters, plot, theme, genre, etc. First of all try to draw an inspiration and then develop it. Next comes exposition and finally the act of storytelling.
Your inspiration can emanate from many sources: it can be an overheard conversation, a story written by somebody else, a newspaper article, a journey, a place, a real life character, an event, or an encounter, etc.
First of all a suitable environment is needed. Some writers prefer a secluded place and some write while listening to music. It is your personal choice and to suit your mood you should find or create the environment. The compromise with it may not be what you want. Tools may be chosen according to the availability or your preference. Keep one thing in mind that any creative art ought to be , by necessity, performed in seclusion, for many geniuses will come in between to comment upon the incomplete work and as a result depress the writer.
Developing the story is the second stage
Now you try to populate the story with the people you want to keep in. Don’t ever think about the end product. write a few lines about all the characters and what they are going to do in your story or what is going to happen to them in your story. Forget about style, diction, length, etc. because they will take care of themselves as you move along.
Generally, a good exposition can tell people what the story is about. It is the writer’s choice whether he wants to give hints about the characters or expose them with the progression of his story. In some cases you will have to be careful about the exposition because the target group of readers may not be as well equipped in their reception as you might think. EXPOSITION if handled properly can add to the strength of the main story.
Storytelling should begin as casually as opening a packet of cigarettes or waving a hand to a passing friend. Start writing as if everything is happening in front of your eyes. Sometimes, it happens that a writer is spellbound by the grandeur of a sentence that he or she has written but immediately after that the pen stops moving because the power of the preceding sentence frightens the writer and he is trapped in the comparisons whether he or she should try to maintain the standard of the preceding sentence or write naturally. Don’t ever fall into such traps because they will take you deeper into the structural maze and your story will be comprehensible only to you or a few cursed souls who might try to find out what you are trying to say. One or two amazing complex sentences can prove to be an icing on the cake but if you try to make the whole cake like that it might be nothing more than a big lump of sugar.
The final point is to reread and rewrite what you have written. In some cases editing by a better qualified person may be helpful but if you are sure that your words are deliberately arranged by you to convey a particular meaning or sense, then don’t go for it. Spellings, spacing and other formalities can be performed by any editing software or by a learned person. In some cases your distorted grammar is the requirement of the story. My main objective in writing this paper is to convey a clear message to the writers or the aspiring writers to start writing with a deaf year to reviewers or critics because I have concluded that “A critic or a reviewer is a creature who tells a writer what you have written.” Though he or she as a critic or a reviewer might be miles away from the reality. Don’t laugh! I also tell the writers what they have written.