The Rock-Solid Self

Waves of sorrow
Smother me. I still stand ashore
Solid, as a rock.

© Suyog Ketkar

#haiku #micropoetry

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5 Must-Haves in Fiction

Writing fiction is not easy. I wouldn’t hesitate twice to say that it is one of the hardest things to do.

“You must engage the readers by immersing them into your world of effortless words. Your book must contain good-flowing, solidly built sections and chapters, each of which should have pages that build the story. The readers should be able to relate to things, places, characters, and descriptions you may have written.” The Internet is loaded with such suggestions. The takeaway, for me, is that writing about how to write fiction is easier than writing fiction.

I have now come to shut myself from such advice for I know how my readers feel about my writing. I belong to a non-native English speaking background and most of my readers are from this part of the world: complex and lengthy narration will lose the readers. I must use simple words to narrate a story. But that’s not all. Here are a few more points I consider when I begin tidying up the first drafts:

Find Your Voice

Listen to your voice as you read or write. This makes it easy for you to do an initial round of editing even as you are writing your initial draft. I know some people go about writing their first drafts as if they are vomiting their ideas over their documents. But I find this approach difficult to follow. Even as I speak, I continue to edit my sentences for comprehension and simplicity. It does slow down the writing (or talking), but only initially. Talk to your readers as if you were sitting before them.

As for your novel writing, you must also be clear about what you want your protagonist and antagonist to convey. Both of them should have a compelling story to tell, a logic to their acts, and a reason based on which they judge the right and the wrong in their lives. The way they will act will direct the flow of your story; the characters themselves will lead your story to the conclusion.

Script the Emotions

Positive emotions leave readers with a positive mindset. Depending on what story—or what side (perspective) of it—you wish to tell, you may choose to reserve the same feeling for the aftertaste of your novel: positive or negative. After all, not all stories might have a happy ending. A positive lasting impression, for example, might make your readers feel that you had things sorted for the protagonist toward the end of the novel.

For the most part of writing a novel, I wish my protagonist to face as many challenges as possible. The challenges for them must begin with the very first chapter and they must continue to slump further down into the spiral of increasingly difficult challenges until they realize there is no way they can turn back. That moment when they have left nothing to lose anymore is then the perfect time for me to introduce them to a miracle/event/person that helps them set things right again.

My current project is a fiction where each chapter ends on either a cliff or its resolution. Every chapter has acts that underpin a central emotion to tell their story. It is the ups and downs of emotions that I seek to deliver through the story.

Describe the Life and Times

Certainly, the novel revolves around the central character of the protagonist. But is it the only story that I wish to narrate? No. I wish to tell a lot of other, connected stories through the story of the central character. My protagonist holds the stories of multiple characters around them. The story of the protagonist is as much other’s story as his (his, in my novel). There are dedicated sections within my novel that describe the life and times of the other characters. I want that because this helps smooth the edges around my central character.

Rewrite

The most boring, the most time consuming, the most ignored, but perhaps the most important part of writing a novel is rewriting it. Every single sentence you write must have been written over and over again. Whatever I have written so far in the draft has been rewritten at least twice. And I will consider rewriting the required sections again before sending the final copy to the editors for further steps.

At times, I do not find anything wrong with sentences. But when I put those sentences together, I realize the amount of rework required to bring the intended meaning out. I wish to tell a compelling story compellingly, so I continue to rewrite the story until I get to a point where the story sounds, appears, and feels compelling enough.

Be Conclusive

Toward the end, whatever it might be—or, howsoever good or bad it might be—tell the readers that the story for the characters in your novel concludes like it the way it does by providing the perspective of the protagonist/antagonist. Tell the readers what the lead characters have to do with the ending. Tell the readers how the story has changed the reality for the lead characters and made them different. Tell them what changed from the time the story began to the time the story concluded. The readers might not like the approach. They may not even agree with you—that’s OK. But, they will certainly thank you for not leaving them hanging midair for the conclusion.

These are the five absolute must-haves for me. Tell me what are yours?

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AKA Life

The macabre imaginations of non-existence.
The morbid interests of people show in my choices.

The manipulative judgements by the wishful mob.
The maniacal interpretations of the merciless souls.

The connection between fate and celestial geometry—often fashioned.
The coherence between life and logic—often conjectured.

The jolts of life.
The jeering people nudging me to the pyre—not at all a surprise.

The velvety words. The coarse assumptions.
The visual appeal of inaudible emotions.

The deceitful intentions.
The demanding expectations.

Life is a smorgasbord.
What else, after all, do I expect it to be.

© Suyog Ketkar

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Micropoetry: War Medals

Medals symbolize
Not what’s won but also lost.
That’s, the untold story.

© Suyog Ketkar

#micropoetry #haiku

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Movie in Review: Housefull 4

It is only over weekends when your work is done and you have nothing better to do, do you realize the true potential of such brainless work of fiction—in a good spirit, of course. And to appreciate the creativity (if there is any) and to spend time with your family you then head toward the nearest theatre to watch movies like the Housefull 4. It is neither a directorial blunder nor is it any fail of the mediocre acting skills of most of the actors that you can completely put the blame on to. Yet you chose to come to the movie. So, now, don’t complain. In a nutshell, the movie is a good 1.25 out of 5 stars, and, maybe, an additional point for Akshay Kumar. That still makes it a one-time watch. As always, a detailed review follows.

For a change, I will begin with what I did not like about the movie.

First, there is no story at all: there are three brothers but the story revolves around only one of them: this is akin to 3 Idiots, which even though was title one, but was based on only one of the ‘idiots’. If there could be any other name outside of the ‘Housefull’ franchise, it would be Bala, the character played by Akshay Kumar. The story of his (and everyone else’s reincarnation) revolves around his recalling his (and others’) previous births. No wonder people joke that Akshay Kumar has done an official promotion of Ayushmaan Khurana’s Bala that is set to release soon.

Second, the character of Ranjit underpins the characters of every other guy, excluding, of course, the villains. This is truly irritating because then you have the entire Madhavgarh that aimlessly hums the same disgusting mannerisms of their Maharaj. All of that while his daughters giggle shamelessly. But then we are far from logic. Besides, if you can have ‘Pasta’ in 1419, why not the absence of logic?

Third, the comedy revolves around PG-18 jokes that even though you understand, but will never enjoy it when overdone. On some occasions, I found the language to be rather offensive. For instance, they equate Donald Trump with Donald Duck and they use Baahubali songs and character names. It is good though that every single dialogue sounds as if is spoken by the very person impromptu: the best thing about such dialogue writing is that the very effort of writing goes unnoticed.

Fourth, the girls are there for the very purpose of creating a screen presence with you guessed what: their clothes (or the absence, thereof) and their acting (or the absence, thereof). But, much like Akshay Kumar, the girls’ squad relies equally on the shoulders of Kriti.

Fifth, I can never fathom the reason actors like Rana Daggubati and Sharad Kelkar would have done a movie like this, especially, the characters like theirs. How could they? Also, Riteish’s screen presence did not match up to the stardom that he enjoys. I wished to see more of the roles of the other two brothers.

Sixth, aside from the ‘Bala’ track, no other song happens to strike the chord. In fact, when you get off to leave as credits appear, there is only one song that you remember. But then it is overused in the movie. Speaking of credits, I watched the credits, too. Surprised? Well, I wasn’t, for I enjoyed the credits more than the movie. I watched how the cast and the crew had so much fun while filming the movie.

Not all isn’t wrong with the movie.

The character of Giggly is such that you will enjoy both her previous and current birth: Jonny Lever and his daughter have slipped into their characters effortlessly. Sharad Kelkar’s role is underpowered, but his screen presence is as good as that of Akshay Kumar. If there is a lesson that Rana must learn, it is that often people love (or hate) their protagonists not for what they do but for what they could do. Sharad’s voice, eyes, and the sardonic laughter spell that magic for us.

Chunky Pandey has secured a chunky (pun intended) role for himself. This time, his career lasts for a span of over 600 years (pun intended, again).

Situational comedy is difficult to achieve because you must rely on the critical triad of actors, script, and the background score. They managed to pull off a couple fo sequences of situational comedy, which is both a rarity and a treat to watch. Thank you, Bollywood, for a change.

Bobby Deol is still one of the most handsome and most well-built actors. Two of his biggest challenges are taken care of rather well in this movie: acting and dancing. He has done both quite convincingly. Given what others have contributed, aside from the talented Akshay, Sharad, and Jonny, his acting is far better than all of them—including Parikshit Sahni and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

For the cast, the crew, the budget, and the locations, if there’s a name that truly justifies the movie, then it is Housefull. But, the story and the acting are far from helping it lend that title to movie theatres. Even after the courageous ones, like us, registered our presence, the movie theatres weren’t ‘Housefull’. But, should I even be writing so much for a movie like this? That’s one question I ponder as I end this post.

🙂

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The Name that Wasn’t

No voice, no noise.
No reflection of oneself.
No definition; none for assumption.
I am not myself.

Now here, now there.
I pity myself.
Now this, now that.
I am not myself.

Neither today nor tomorrow.
I can’t portray the inner self.
One’s thoughts, another’s actions.
I am not myself.

Neither from the rain
Nor from the draught.
From where do I then
Glean myself?

I am but a name
That tiny nothing
Neither more nor less.
I remain myself.
© Suyog Ketkar

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