Saturday, July 2, 2011

Idiot's guide to writing a book

Pre Script - Previous Image Removed as some copyright issues cropped up. Plus the guy had the decency to ask politely.

"The greatest trick Chetan Bhagat ever pulled was convincing the world that he can write. And like that, poof. Everyone's an author.... " – Prajith VM

Do you suck at your current job? Or that you like to blabber so much but nobody wants to listen? To much free time at hand but a slow internet connection? Maybe you wanna appear intellectual to a lot of people and finally finally get some respect. Or just plain want to get laid?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you need my advice. And the advice is to write a book. Yes you heard me right. Write a book. No no, don’t worry if you don’t have a story in your head, haven’t written a leave letter without googling leave letters before and can never be sure whether that was a ‘quite a show’ or ‘quiet a show’. That all can be taken care of. Basic necessities are that you should have done what most people in this country have done; done graduation from a college and work at a corporation, and of course have Microsoft Word installed in your computer with spelling and grammar suggestions on.

Of course it is going to be lengthy process, I mean writing a 100 page book even with a big ass font can be quite pain staking, and might take weeks to finish, but the place where you should be spending your anyways-worthless time is promoting your book. If J. R. R. Tolkien had spent 10 years promoting his book rather than writing it, he certainly would have died richer.

And the trick to this whole thing is writing something which your target audience can identify with. And who is your target market? Here being an MBA helps, no wonder they are churning out books faster than you can say “What the fuck! Another one?” But if you are from IIT, or been there, or appeared for it entrance exam or at least can spell it it’s a sure thing then. Then you too can add it in your book title or sub title or whatever like Love story of an IITian, Girls of IIT, Missed IIT kissed Russia and the likes, because once a Mr. C. B. wrote a bestselling novel about IIT guys and that has become a standard formula ever since, and we will stick to that formula now.

So the first thing is having a protagonist with whom everyone can identify with he’s your garden variety every-man a normal boy who has average looks, average money and slightly above average IQ and was a Ghissu in his whole academic life, not that their lives makes exciting stories but they are the people who are going to read your book, the really cool kids are out there having fun, they don’t give a shit about your book or anyone else’s for that matter. So this totally average guy (read Underdog) who’s life’s high points were eating Ratanlal’s hot samosas, scoring the highest in maths, mom’s secret recipe Paav-Bhaaji and scooter ride with friends is going to have something extraordinary happen to him. 

How is that? By meeting his dream girl. How he meets her is what sets the tone of the book. So after a struggle he enters starry eyed into a new world which like what is promised to every kid in India (get good marks in your 10th class then you are set for life, get into a good college then you are set for life, get into a good MBA college then you are set for life, get a good job then you are set for life, get in your boss’s good book and so on….) holds infinite joy and the one thing what every boy long for, yes it’s what you think it is, a girl. Now your readers have done nothing more than asking a girl for notes, or scrapping them “Hi can we be frands?” and so would your protagonist be, he either runs into the girl by chance like she is looking for a maths tutor or gets a puncture, or wants to photocopy and nobody there to help but the photocopying whiz kid or the best is she is crying on the stairs after her good looking, rich and muscled but evil boy friend broke her heart and she is looking for a shoulder to cry on;  or she talks to him first, that’s another of their fantasies. And they hit it off instantly. Slight variations can take place depending on where your novel is set in, though it has to be in the sacred three; the engineering college, the MBA college or the office where the protagonist enters the dog eat dog corporate life for the first time. Don’t try to write something like ‘Love in the times of Cholera’ or having the American civil war as the backdrop, it’s fall down on its face.

Also important is how you would describe her. You can’t write she was a stunner with 36 Ds or she had dragon tattoo over her butt crack which peeked every time she bent over! No! It has to be something your mom would approve of, maybe a few struggles after but approves of. So it must go something like she had pretty eyes  and with hair falling over face she looked like an angel, or she looked very cute and pretty in her olive green t shirt and dark blue slight flared jeans (you need to add superfluous details like that to appear a real writer). You need to add in a couple of friends, losers like him but good natured and trust worthy and having a few personality quirks for comic effect. Doesn’t need to be realistic, just whatever tickles the funny bone of the average guy, it could be anything like the guy who does to Mandir every Tuesday on his cycle or the South Indian who doesn’t know chamatkaar from balatkaar. But all this is frivolous, joists to the BIG THING!

And the big thing is ….. …. SEX. Oh yes the grand daddy of internet searches, the king of movie interests and the Holy Roman Emperor of Book Sales. And why? Two words. Sex Sells. You need to have that. You can get a little creative here, no no don’t worry not really. Only about which flaw or rather spice she has which leads to sex, like maybe she goes overboard with vodka martinis or maybe she wants comfort sex after something tragic happened to her or she is plain vanilla nympho who sneaks in your room at midnight to do it. This is where you need to get descriptive, you can skip the details like which parts of anatomy went where or how you fumbled as it was your first time (which in reality everybody does, really) but you can say that it was magical or you like having sex in confined places. In case the boy gets the girl in the very end then you can throw in a couple of Cougars who lures the boy to have the big bang with them, and albeit being tempted the boy keeps his chastity. Of course the boy was not playing the whole charade for getting into her pants so the whole thing has to be unplanned and at the spur of the moment, like in the back of the car or on the roof while her parents are watching TV.

And the final touch is the antagonist. Yes like all formulaic stories this too needs a villain, he can be your austere HOD wanting to flunk you for dating her daughter, or your prurient boss who also has eyes on the office hottie who just magically fell for you or the seven evil exes or the plain old conservative would be father-in-law who doesn’t want you to marry her daughter because you are not of the same caste, religion, financial status or part of India. And he needs need to defeat him with his wit and thorough and enduring good nature (because he doesn’t have anything else), or his knowledge of how to deliver a baby with a vacuum cleaner. So that in the end Aal Izz Well. For comic effect keep adding delirious monologues about them in the narrative like “he looked like a cross between an orangutan and an ox with the brain of a mouse, his moustache was like a fig tree over which the crows shit” Or “seeing her hand in the Aniket’s hand my heart felt like it was dipped in oil in McDonalds fry their fries only it was being heated by the fires of hell and the lava of mount doom”. Your moronic readers will confuse these with wisecracks and being imaginative.

Add a few trite and contrived settings, a little baloney and few over simplified suggestions for giving the finger to the man, to appeal the anti authoritarian readers (or rather their delusions of being anti-authoritarian or at least their never ending fantasy of having the balls to say no to their boss or professors once in their life)

Almost as an afterthought, if you think that being a good author you need to have heavy words in your novel or you just want to differentiate yourself from the LS (low society) pulp fiction routinely occurring in the book stalls of the railways stations you can put in an Ill conceived and totally unrelated poems like:

In the morning I can’t see the light
Love for her is so big a fight
If she can give me hug that is tight
My life will be alright

No need to sweat, there are plenty of half wit poets all around whose poems or prose (you don’t need to even know the difference between those two) you can use and add them as special thanks. Or even better you can run the thesaurus on every word of your paragraph once in a while so that a paragraph like this can appear –

Her ethereal beauty shimmered in the iris of my heart’s eye for a fleeting moment but in the very moment I ambianced the full measure of my ardor ad infinitum for my lady. Even the angels crooned an enchanting tone for the entity known as me and everything in world abated. There was no febrifuge for this fervor and I knew I was going to scale any knoll for her as our souls minueted and my heart retorted to the pavlovian and my our eyes entered into an eternal shibboleth.

And Voila! You have a novel for yourself. Now go to R. Publications and prepare for book signings, launch ceremonies and criticism from assholes like me! 


  1. After being ditched by friends for the party this read was some consolation...:)...also was about to share an idea with you but now definitly wont...:)

    Keep coming...

  2. Nahi nahi bol bhaai. Ek saal mae itne bakwaas ideas diye hai ek aur sahi :-P

  3. This one's your best so far. Although, I haven't read all :P , but this sure looks like a winner.

    On second thoughts, may be you should write a novel :D

  4. @Ankit - Thanks. It takes talent to spot a winner, that too so fast :-P

    And yes I'm planning the same, just need to cook up my equivalent of chamatkaar/balaatkaar speech. There is formula for everything else :-D

  5. seems to me that you really do have a lotta time on ur hands... reading all these books in so much detail and writing a 30 page synopsis on the same when u clearly already know what its all about.. quite a smartass i must say!! I think v all definitely know whos got time on hands at their office n definitely not a slow internet connection!!

  6. Using someone's achievement as a tool to hit him under the belt is really not appreciation worthy. Coming from some who is an IMI passout, it's worse still. Yes, you've a right to your opinion but maligning someone's hard work and labour on a public forum like this is really not done.

  7. @Nimisha - Actually it was 3 page. And of course I got a lot of time with me, I work in Infosys, it's a Majja company.
    @Tumpa - It's not a public forum, it's my blog and I didn't use anyone's name, except maybe Chetan Bhagat's.It was generic and wasn't aimed at any particular person.

    @Both - Please re-read the last line of the post.

  8. --Just a few analytical words --
    Tumpa or watever your name is- If you have think Andy is trying to use the achievement as a tool to hit someone, then it was better that you wouldnt have paid heed to him. But the fact that you wrote so suggest that may be u r just trying to tag it is an achievement.

    Nimisha - All of us have lots of time and we put it to best use as we all are smartasses. Hope you dont have any problem with that. You also had all the time in the world to read the so called 30 page long synopsis and then to leave a comment.

    Andy - Hope no one sits on hunger strike asking you to remove the blog, in that case my blog wouldn't mind the pleasure of hosting your golden words.

    The War is On !!

  9. Awesome.......One of my most hilarious reads till date especially d thesaurus para

  10. Dear Amit,

    Thanks :) Haven't had such a laugh in a long time !! You know, I certainly don't think, 'I have think' - anyway, i seriously suggest that you ask your writer-in-the-offing friend to explain what I wrote cuz, no offence meant, I don't think you got any of it. Anyway, all the best and goodnight !

  11. @ Anirudh: as soon as u post it on ur damn FB account it becomes part of a public forum... n FYI using someones book cover n using some lameass photoshop graphics on it is reference enough.. it doesnt always have to be a name...

    @Amit : I actually dint end up reading the 30 page article coz i got bored n wanted to make better use of my time which is a concept tht ur writer friend clearly does not understand.

    Newy.. have a great day at office tomo u too... lots of other stuff to look at to thrash... all d best!! :)

  12. @Amit, Tumpa and Nimisha - Please don't start a flaming war here. Flaming over the internet is like competing in special Olympics, even if you win you are still retarded.

    @Tumpa - Glad that you had a good laugh, that was the primary intention of my post.
    P.S. - I hope my grammar and punctuation are OK. I don't want more red circles.

    @Nimisha - What you started hating it without even reading it fully ??

    Anyways, you are doing the exact thing you are mad at me for. While I'm trying to be civil to you.

    And I know Sumit is your friend(and I assume Tumpa's too) but no need to get so worked up. I've satirized a lot of people and things before and in this post, where is your activism for them?

  13. Dearest Tumpa,

    Good that you had a laugh. I am not a writer and not an expert in grammar too probably the only reason i landed up in IMI :)

    I did find out the grammatical mistake (which you have rightly pointed out) after i posted, but i thought being an MBA yourself you will get what i meant to say. Anyways try to read it ignoring the grammatical mistake, so you get what i wanted to say. If even then it is not clear then you can let me know and thanks for giving a good timepass on a sunday evening.

  14. Nimisha,

    I think my friend understand the point more than even you do.

    You got bored of reading his 3 page blog and called it a 30 page blog and said this, that and what not.

    Now think of the frustration of a reader who tried to read 100 pages of such a boring book, the synopsis of which even bores you to write such comment. The reader has every right to say anything about the book and the author. It just happens to be that the author is your friend. Although my friend has just written the blog on new generation authors citing your friend as an example.

    But you should appreciate the fact that being a fellow IMIian he did bought the novel and read it.

    FYI... Freedom of speech and expression is a natural right guaranteed under the Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India. Freedom of speech and expression implies the right to express one’s thoughts and ideas freely via any medium, such as gestures, signs, verbal communication, print media, radio or television.



Have something to say? Say it here