Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Makes a Good Writer???

There’s this 1 question that I often think before starting and ending a book… “What makes a good writer?” What makes a person readable, bearable and finally likeable??

This question am sure should interest a lot of writers, bloggers and just readers.
So am starting this tag thing so that all of us can brainstorm what makes a good writer (I cant get rid of my newly learnt office jargon, damn!). Lets start with our 3 points of “what makes a good writer”. I start with myself…

For One, A brilliant writer is the one who is a perpetual storyteller. Every little, minutest of things in his work has a unique story to tell… A little story maybe, but a wonderful one for sure. Like how Mr. Rushdie has this story of ‘an inherited nose’ in his Midnight’s Children that runs through the epic novel like a never-ending Pagalguy CAT thread (a weird analogy, but never mind).

Two, the writers we love understand us. They know when the readers want to be surprised or shocked or happy or sad… They know their audience just too well. JK Rowling knows the pulse of kids across the globe. Chetan Bhagat knows the youth’s sensibilities beyond gadgets and fast food. & a Ruskin Bond knows that his audience is looking for a quite moment and he gives them just that with his description of the hills and the trees amidst a little story in the background.

Three, Writers are men of courage. Period. They don’t fear exposing a group or a religion or a even an entire nation. So many of the great writers of our era are actually desh-nikalass. Neither do they fear describing repugnant things like ‘dirt and dung stuck on the back of an old sandle’, ‘the smell of sweat’ or ‘the texture and density of excreta’. Hehe. Seriously, writers do this brilliantly. They actually observe and describe stuff like shit as a work of great art!!!

So What are your 3 points ??


Varun Reddy Sevva said...

My take:

1. Simple language / topic: That's why Chetan Bhagat scores above many modern Indian English writers. He writes in a plain language, when he could used all nonsense jargon and complicated his books. No nonsense means more audience.

2. Depth / Freshness: A writer must explore different scenarios in different books of his. He may stick to one genre, but he must explore a particular topic idea in depth so that the readers are immersed in it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did this brilliantly with each short story covering some aspect in depth, but not too deep to bore you. Sidney Sheldon has exploited this to good use too.

3. Adventurous and thinking: A good writer needs to think ahead of the times. He/she needs to explore new scenarios and grab the reader's attention. Instead of just technological angle to things, they must look at the olitical and social aspects too. That's why Jules Verne and Wells are two of my most loving authors. Their take on the scenario was more political than scientific.

I know this is a narrow thinking process from my side, but my main area of readings are sci-fi and mystery/thrillers. So I tried to highlight certain aspects of who is the better among the lot.

Varun Reddy.

AlladdinJasmine said...

@ reddy
lols - Chetan Bhagat sells and thats why he scores above others (and he is from Sci-Fi, mystry/thriller - your genre :O) ...good writer as per the blog it seems to be meant in writing and not in sales.
Saying something is good merely because it is accepted by many is a misplaced criteria I would say coz had that been true we should have hold on to traditional thought of earth being center of universe.

#2 Why should a writer/artist explore different scenarios! Sequels would never had been hit in that case?

#3 - too subjective - are romantic novels always adventurous? There are many other ways to grab attention too

Sugandha said...

@Varun.. Good observations! I like the depth & freshness wala point... Thats so true of great writers.

@Prat... Lateral observations again :P But to each his own :-)

Varun Reddy Sevva said...


#1: He scores and hence he sells. Plus him choosing Rupa publishers was a good strategy as Rupa made it a inexpensive book and he was able to reach out to a wider base. For exampl, many of my friend bought his books instead of just borrowing as they were cheap. And you classify his genre so early as he has just 3 books so far. He hit where it matters... People say that "The Alchemist" is excellent book, but hey I found it boring. Each audience has a diff. mindset...

#2: Sequels have the same storyline and not just same scenario. I think the Sherlock Holmes explains what I meant clearly... HP series explored the genre of Wizardry and has 7 diff. scenarios.. This was my context...

#3: I was specifically referring to Sci-fi genre in this case... I am not a fan of romantic novels as they are mainly a waste of time as such... Ya by being diffeent one can grab attention... Like Barack for example, his books explore a diff.side to life and a story of a black man rising to such heights must be good...

As I said I am more of a sci-fi fella than a general reader... So I know many of my statements were bound to criticizm... Thanks anyways for highlighting them...

Prat Mitt said...

@ reddy

Seriously man, I am flattered by your ability to deviate discussion to a point where you can add some points ;)

Lets followe ur bullet point format here :D
#1 "He scores and hence he sells." - a declaration from you side, and I dont think I can change a Judgement statement, its your verdict, m happy for that.

But I wonder, how a qualification of good writer includes choice of publisher?? I would recommend all writers across the world to join Business research firm or ammedia publishing house for a couple of months to get hang of that!!

Anyways, point is, I did not gave judgment that is Chetan Bhagat a good writer or not (and thats what I meant that you missed it) coz, there cannot be set parameters to judge a writer. I simply state that logic you used to defend - A majority liking something and that why it is good - it is flawed, example of sun and earth again.

HP series itself I think is embodiment of same scenarios - M bad at giving summary, but here it is - HP is told to us as a special wizard but like Nagraj has to be rescued n number of times. There are a variety of creatures looking different but having same powers.

Sherlock Homes has theme as adventure-thriller(mystery) and thats needs to have different background but generalizing it to all authors!!

Again, your point of view that romantic novels are a waste of time. How can you state that? M not an avid reader of either genre, but I am certain that they do satisfy the creative instincts of an author and merely they not being adventurous does not qualify them is criteria of a peninsular mind. (My personal view, Star Wars are complete crap, and if we take as art, lets include movies, the adapters of good books)

I state my opinions - I am not here to criticize, I am not a social worker to correct others, think what you want and enjoy!!

Sugandha said...

World Peace!! -->>

ray said...

Hi ,

I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be wow.. u write well.. Why don't you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog Random Remarlz took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)


Varun Reddy Sevva said...


Well, that's why I love arguements - as long as you are not wrong, you are right... And deviating a topic is an art I have attained by practice and practice (just something that comes unconsciously when you know that perhaps you are fighting a losing battle)... Well are are entitled to his/her opinions and I respect that too... Cheers to World Peace!

And ya, just one point I wanna clarify - I said Bhagat was good not because he sells, but because he was able to connect and hence he sells. What I wanna tell (I am usually not good at expressing thoughts clearly and I am sorry for that) is that CB is also a writer... He writes - that's what a writer does...

And ya, my def. of scenario is diff. from urs and so sorry again...

And FYI, I also find starwars as too much crap (too much sci-fi sucks)... I don't like romantic novels because of my mindset... Sorry for calling them crap as many ppl like them too...

Worst Devil said...

Hey hi.......

ofcourse i do remember you hows life...i have read many of your post..they are really good...keep writing..