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Showing posts from July, 2018

Does the Air Feel Right by Avantika

When political figures write memoirs, it’s often a study about the politics of the past. For instance, Tun Dr. Mahathir’s ‘Doctor in the House’ chronicles his life in politics and mentions his past struggles and successes. Andy Marino’s ‘Narendra Modi: A Political Biography’ is a story about a man before he became one of India’s most powerful and controversial leaders. The common element in both their books is that stimulated the emotions of their readers. This is what you should aim for when writing your story.

When someone reads your story, they must finish the book and say, “I felt like the writer got under my skin. It’s as though he was writing my story.” When this happens, you will know that you’ve created the right atmosphere in your story. The way in which you can create the right atmosphere include using the five senses, describing images, and creating the right mood.

The five senses 
To create the correct atmosphere, use the five senses of touch, sight, taste, sound, and heari…

Creating Excitement by Avantika

When I first started writing, I read numerous books. There was one autobiography that I’ve never been able to appreciate. It’s of a local tycoon and I can barely remember his story. Nothing captured my interest from the dialogue and setting to the people he encountered. I tried to analyse the ways in which I would make the story better if I were to rewrite it. And I accepted that to make his story truly stand out, the very least I would do is add a few elements such as conflict, jeopardy, and tension.

The element of conflict 
Conflict in a story refers to anything that acts as an obstacle to achieving his aim. When you assess your story, consider if the events are running too smoothly and whether the protagonist you are being opposed or tested. There is not a single person whose life’s journey is without some sort of problem. Similarly, in yours, there must have been a fight somewhere, an accident and theft or something that disturbs the narrative.

Clearly, not all conflict has to be h…

What Did She Say by Avantika

“I can remember the gist of my conversations with Shekar. But not every word,” said Sara. This is a common comment I hear from those who write biographies. They have a need to provide documents and tapes of conversations before anyone believes their story.

“It’s evidence,” Sara says.

True, but it’s not always necessary. There are ways of getting around this. Let’s look at my article ‘Umbrella of Faith’ which was published in the New Straits Times (https://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/10/umbrella-faith). My story was a profile piece about the architect of Masjid Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Dato Dr.HjBaharuddin Abu Kassim.

From a monograph written by Azim A Aziz, ‘50 Years National Mosque: 1965 – 2015’, I already knew that Dato’ Baharuddin hates domes. When we met, I asked him about this. This is what was eventually published:
“Eeee,” he shudders. “I benci (hate) domes.”
Determined to avoid the use of onion-shaped domes and the Mughal designs made famous during the Colonial era, Baharuddin chos…

It’s All About the People by Avantika

What did you love most in your favourite biography or memoir?

For me, the answer can be found in one of my favourite autobiographies, Khushwant Singh’s story, ‘Truth, Love and a Little Malice’. In the inside cover of this book, it is stated that he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 by the President of India. He returned this award in 1984 to protest against the Union Government’s siege of the Golden Temple, Amritsar. I knew immediately that I wanted very much to read his story. What manner of courage did this man have to return a national award? What was his background and who provided him with such a sense of identity and pride that he was willing to do this?

An Accessible World
The world already knew these men as great people. What made both the stories more accessible was that, through their words, I got to see their humanity, insecurities, joys, and sadness. Also, they narrated major historical events and their interaction with people from all over the world in an interesting w…

The One Thought by Avantika

Whatever the length of your story, it must carry the reader through from start to end. You still need to map out your story from start to finish to have an idea of how it’ll all pan out. The story must flow in logical order. To ensure this, you have to look into three aspects: theme, structure, and plot.

A theme is the essence and backbone of your story. Roughly speaking, the structure divides your story into the ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’. A plot comprises the elements of a story that go into making it better. Before you start writing your story, you must know what each of these means and how to use them. It will help you answer an important question.

Can you answer the question? 
Each time I’ve had a new book published, one of the first questions people have asked me is, “What is your book about?” If I cannot tell you what my book is about, how can I expect anyone else to know what it’s about?’

As Laura Backes says, “I think with any story the key is to find the universal, timel…