January 24, 2014

Repetitive Scenes

Dear M,

We don't notice the recurring themes / scenes / thoughts / words in our own writing. Especially when we have been writing for several years. In the initial phase, we would remember every word, every line, every thought that went behind our stories because we would be reading it over and over again. But as time passes, the older writing fades from mind. We end up writing something very similar, in a recent story.

I noticed recently that my stories always revolve around a certain period in the history of our country. Our generation does not have the luxury of being part of the independence struggle, or the world war, or any of those exciting times. If we wish to write about those events, we need to research and understand what it must have been like. (Some day, perhaps.) As of now, I would write about events I have known. And there are a couple of them standing apart in memory or in the stories I have heard from people around me. Events which I might have been part of, but was too young to remember much of; events that were so real, so close, that a shudder goes up my spine when I remember it.

And these events draw me to them like a magnet and in three isolated instances I noticed that I tried to include these in my story. While it could be done harmlessly, we could also mess it up for the reader, who might dare to read a second book of ours: Oh !*groan* Why does this author have to write about that event in every single novel?

We certainly don't want that, do we?


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  1. Khaled Hosseini makes repeated references to the unrest in Afghanistan and almost all of Sydney Sheldon's novels have a very beautiful female protagonist who becomes rich and powerful. While the themes may be recurring, the novels themselves have different plot points, different sentences, different narrations. It's still a joy to read a good author, and this is especially true in Hosseini's case...