Of punctuations and grammar. And on writing.

I have spent a large part of last few days thinking about Nidhi Kapoor and Prakash Mohile. For the uninitiated, these two are the lead protagonists in my latest attempt at writing fiction. I dont have a name for it as yet, I am open for suggestions. But its a novel length piece of crime fiction (about 80,000 words spread over 20 - 25 chapters).

But the thing about cooking fiction is that you have a vague idea of what you want to write about. You come up with a setting, you draft your characters and place your characters in the setting and try to bring that vague idea to life. You take liberal doses of inspiration from things that you have read and experienced in the past. And you mix these and some other things into a concoction. Finally you try and put this mix into words.

And this is where you fuck up. When it comes to actually putting pen to paper. Especially when you are not a native speaker of English and you are brought up in a society that discourages use of Hindi. As a result, you grow up confused and you dont have command over either language. You think in Hindi, translate it in English and then you write. As a result, the grammar and the meaning of what you want to say go for a toss. If you try thinking in English, since your vocabulary is so tiny that you cant find the right words to put your thoughts on paper. So, when you want to talk about a good looking woman, you can only use words like gorgeous, beautiful, brilliant, awesome. Since you dont know synonyms like astonishing, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, exalted, formidable, frantic, grand, imposing, impressive, magnificent, majestic, mind-blowing, moving, overwhelming, shocking, striking, stunning, stupefying, wonderful, wondrous, you get repetitive and monotonous. And despite your brilliant narrative, the text becomes boring. And then you cant pin point your mistake.

So today while I was stuck on the third chapter of the Nidhi Kapoor saga, I decided to make a list of things that I dont know and I need to work upon. Here is the list. If you can help, I am willing to pay for it...
  1. When I use quotes to denote a dialogue or a statement by a character, do I put a full stop after closing the quotes? Or before that? What if my character is asking a question? Does the question mark come after the quotes? And do I put a full stop after that? And yes, I did clear CAT with flying colors.
  2. What is a good way to break paragraphs when you are writing something? And are there any established norms for the same?
  3. The difference between choose and chose, loose and lose, anyway and anyways, even though and despite. And a million other common mistakes that non-native speakers like me make
  4. Vocabulary. I read somewhere that an average human being knows about 15000 words. The great writers however know some 100,000 66, 000 words. I am sure I dont know more than 10,000. I need to work on it. Can someone help me with some tips on these? 
  5. Formatting for readability. How do I format my text that it is readable. I know that people dont really read every word but they skim through the text. So, how do I format text so that while skimming, you focus on the essential bits, that are important to a crime fiction? Is the F pattern true for fiction as well?
  6. More people like Pressfield? I read his blog regularly and love his advice to people like me. He's really really good. Are there more people like this? I dont want self-improvement advice. I want insights from people who have been there and who have done that.
Thats it. I just need these 6 things. I already have a brilliant support group - a set of people to whom I email everytime I write something - for feedback. Most of them are busy and cant really respond fast enough but they give me enough insights and I really value their inputs.

Thats it for the time being.

I am also looking for an editor who can work with me on correcting these grammatical errors that I make in my texts. And a researcher, who could help me plug loop holes in my text. Anyone?  

1 comment:

SudS said...

I'm not sure how much of writing can one 'outsource' - researcher, editor, grammar nazi, vocab expert... tomorrow you'll be outsourcing the whole damn thing.

You're not even 3 chapters in ... persevere and write atleast half of it .. and once you get there, then write the balance half. And once you're through with the whole thing, THEN get down to editing and correcting facts and everything else.

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?