BENGALURU: Anjum Hasan is the author of novels such as The Cosmopolitans and Neti, Neti, and has been nominated for various awards such as the Man Asian Literary Prize. She talks all things fiction:
To write good fiction, you have to be passionate about fiction as a genre — reading it, thinking about it and, through your writing, talking to it. I believe all writing is a conversation with other writers so unless you know which ones you’re talking to, your writing is unlikely to strike a chord.
Writing fiction is often thought to be about having a story to tell but I believe cultivating a style is equally important. On the other hand, ignoring the rudiments of narrative logic just because you are able to write “well” is unforgivable too. Nirad C Chaudhuri’s warning often sounds in my ears: “There is no such thing in literary works as good substance spoilt by a bad style, or poor substance undeservedly accompanied by a good style.”
You don’t become a writer unless you write and discard and sharpen and go over your words every day. The best teacher is writing itself which reveals the possibilities and limitations of your writing to you.
Any experience or observation, however seemingly banal, can become the basis of good fiction. You don’t have to live a grandly exciting existence to write interesting fiction, but neither does curiosity about other people’s lives hurt.
Don’t be orthodox in your beliefs about literature and writing.
Learn to write
A 12-week writing (fiction or non-fiction) workshop called Bengaluru’s World-Famous Semi-Deluxe Writing Program, helmed by the three aforementioned authors, will start from July 23. It will also include sessions with writers such as Rohini Mohan, Somak Ghoshal and Vanamala Vishwanatha. For applications and other details visit the website: http://shoonyaspace.com/event/bangalores-world-famous-semi-deluxe-writing-course/
My own preference is for the writers who value the perfection of the sentence - Flaubert, who is believed to have started it all, but also writers closer to me in time such as Anita Desai and Amit Chaudhuri.