Mystery Writing Workshop by Zac ‘O’ Yean at Kala Ghoda Fest 2014

IMG_5718 IMG_5720Mystery Writing Workshop by Zac ‘O’ Yean at Kala Ghoda Fest 2014

  • Save any Ideas you get or come across while reading by jotting them down in different folders of genres in evernote. For hard copies of ideas put them in different boxes – say horror ideas, thriller ideas, romantic ideas etc
  • What should be your target? Writing Book? That’s a Goal, you need to keep a vision ahead and plan your future novels
  • On Reading: Keep a wide / diverse genre. If youare writing comedy you should take inspiration from serious autobiographies also (Contrast Reading for bringing out the best in writing). Read good as well as worst books to understand the thin line of difference
  • Write from the perspective of readers. They should feel they have invested their time and money well
  • A Bad Story is only an INEFFECTIVE Story
  • 3 Purposes of a Good Writer
  1. Entertainment (Dialogue Writing – Based on Craftsmanship – should be of IQ of people expected to read this and be thought provoking. Can be learned with time)
  2. Aesthetics (Customised style of writing – it is like brand creation – what makes your novels more you. This should be your talent, cannot be learned)
  3. The Point (The story should make some sort of point – a drive home message – say truth always prevails – this sets a theme for the entire novel)
  • What does a good story contain?
  1. Tragedy
  2. Conflict
  3. Suspense
  4. Believable happy ending
  • Detective Story guidelines
  1. Starting point should describe a MISDEED (Mystery)
  2. Investigation (unravelling mystery in bits and pieces)
  3. Solution in the end (maybe happy or satisfactory)
  4. Suitable Explanation

Detective story may or may not have a moral. You should give clues at different points, some false clues too which later turn out to be dead ends – reader should be able to crack it and if he/she does that, it should be with an element of doubt – give sufficient clues to keep the reader interested

  • How to achieve the above?
  1. Think in terms of Action: Start the story with active lines in first pages / chapter. Passive lines (explanations, details) will make it heavy reading and might make the reader put the book down. So say you can establish characters in first chapter and keep second chapter for explanations
  2. End every chapter with cliff hangers
  3. Skip writing the part which the reader will obviously skip while reading – Remove long descriptions – figure out a way to make the story exciting
  4. You should be able to justify every page of the novel, it should only contain necessary stuff
  5. Theory of Painful Writing – Your book can be the best thriller if you write about what will scare you the most – face your own fears – as you will be able to relate to it and write it better – Story plot should include interlinked cliff hangers in chapters / scenes / mains / events
  6. Characters: Victims, Witnesses (Hero / Protagonists), Suspects (Erotic), Red Herrings (Seems like criminals but victims or vice versa), Criminals, Investigator
  7. Chapters: A good book should have 25 chapters (4000 words/chapter). So once you write the story edit it accordingly. It is important to get an outer perspective as its very hard to edit what you yourself have written
  8. Conceptualisation: You may start with plot or characters. Avoid basing characters on people you knows in real life. Plot Idea may come from characters / setting (milieu) – say what could be the worst thing that could happen to you in Bombay of 1990s? Milieu –The time zone of novel and background city in which it is written. Choose an unexplored part of country, say India – there are very few novels on our city or villages
  9. Benchmarks
  • First 1000 Words – something complicated should happen
  • 30000 Words – First tragedy has happened / glimpse of face of monster – Turning Point
  • 45000 Words – Symbolic moment of Truth – Metaphor – Main character decides to take revenge
  • 60000 Words – Point of No Return (hero knows the killer now)
  • 75000 Words – Crisis peaks (it seems world will end in next 10000 words)
  • 95000 Words – Final End
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