BENGALURU: Everyone writes but few turn out to be authors. Similar to Behrman in The Last Leaf, we have all come across people who talk about that book they “will” write but never get around to it, until they no longer have such desires.What then does it actually take to become a writer? Three seasoned city-based writers, who are masters of different genres, share some tips.
The perfect ‘crime’
Author of the two crime fiction Mr Majestic novels that are set in Bengaluru, many other books, travelogues and columns in prominent national and international publications, Zac O’Yeah gives us a lowdown on the basics of crime and thriller writing.
You need characters that are interesting enough for people to invest time in; only if the reader cares for a character does it matter if he/she is in peril or experiences something else that is thrilling. Even the most “thrilling” situation can be deeply boring if you don’t care about the people you read about.
You need an interesting location. Any small town in India will do since we haven’t read many thrillers about places around us. But a detective novel set in Bombay or New York or London is a little more boring since those places have been “done to death” already.
Meaningless writing is always a bit of a problem. The larger issue is that many people who want to write or who are already writing, seem to be surprisingly lazy. Considering that your article will remain forever online or your book will be in libraries for generations to come, one would expect writers to take more care and rewrite, edit, polish, fine-tune, get as close to perfection as possible.
Work on your plot as a novel needs to be meaningful.
For travel writers — take lots of photos and carry 1 kg of Immodium!
Start by reading competent thriller writers such as Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy and myself to just get a basic understanding of what good writing looks like on the page. Old writers can also be useful to study carefully, such as RK Narayan and Mark Twain, who both have left a lasting impact on literature. One should not necessarily read what is at the top of the bestseller pile.