How to Write a Creative Novel

The very first thing that every single aspirant, who reads articles and watches videos on YouTube, about, “Write a novel in 2 weeks, or 30 days,” or whatever the time may be, should bear in mind, it is not that easy. You don’t own a JK Rowling wand, that you’ll generate a story by a single swish and flick. Novels need time, they have a specific language, a formal set of words which aren’t used in our daily lives, their structure, flow, plot, etc. you have to vouch for them all. Not everyone has the mind so powerful, so to generate a whole new world and create characters.

If you digested my previous sentence, we can now move forward towards a more important discussion. Your first draft is going to be garbage, bear that in mind. Like every good painting starts with artist, dropping paint on the canvas, you also have to take everything out of your head and place it on the paper. But the question is where to begin? And how to start?

Plan

The very first things that you ought to do is to plan. What are you going to write about? What genre are you going to write? Is it going to be a Love story or science fiction? Magical world or mystic? Action or mystery? You need to decide it first, before even grabbing a pen in your hands.

Background Knowledge

It is very important, for you don’t have that much knowledge about that specific genre, your novel is doomed even before being written. If you are going to write about the science fiction and you have no idea about the basic concept about science, or you are going to write a historical novel and you are not aware of the history of that time (when the novel is set), then how can you write?

To avoid this, novelists do research, they run their investigations. Kamila Shamsie, one of the most renowned novelists, when she started writing, Burnt Shadows, she studied a lot about the Nagasaki bombing, before penning the incident down.

Create an outline

Create a rough outline. Note it down on your diary or keep a board where you can draw a rough sketch about your story. Remember one thing, it is only a rough outline and can be modified or completely changed, depending upon the flow and pace of the novel.

Setting

Time and place of the novel. For realistic novels both the time and space are important but for wonder worlds, only time matters and in some cases even that doesn’t. But since we are being general here, so, you need to keep the space and time of the happenings in your mind.

While you are deciding the setting, you need to be explicit about it. The city, Where in the city? Lane? House? And what exactly happened there.

First-person or third person?

It is very important, who is narrating the story? Is it the author himself? Or a character in his novel? If latter then, which character? Is he involved in direct action i.e. the protagonist himself or one of his sidekick? Or an omniscient narrator? Or the story is being narrated by different narrators, each narrating his side of the story?

In most of the novels, a third-person narrator narrates the story.

The Protagonist

It is the center of the story, around whom the whole story revolves. He is one person, who is going to be looked up to during the entire story. For most of the times, he is highly flawed and has to go through a transitional period, where he is dropped in the situations which he can’t escape with effortlessly. His character is tested again and again unless he reaches a breaking point where he has to make a choice. That choice would change his fate forever and he is would never be the same again, both by making the choice and by evading it.

Suspense

Divide your story into small bits. Don’t make it easy for the reader to see everything. Make things subtle and sensible at the same time. There has to be logic behind everything that happens in the plot.

You can divide the story into different parts, where you can conceive a few parts of the story linked, left for some other chapter to be revealed. The best example is JK Rowling’s Snape. One of the most complicated characters, whose story was sustained by the author to be narrated right before the final battle. She used this technique of fragmentation throughout the series of Harry Potter but always left something for readers to think after revelation. Like at the end of Philosopher’s stone, Quirrell tells Potter that Snape was trying to save him when the former was trying to kill him. Just like that good suspense is always there, but it is so subtle that no one notices it.

Circumstances and conflict

No novel is complete without it. There has to be something which keeps the protagonist going. The circumstances which put him in the situations from where he can’t escape easily, it generates a conflict between him and time. He needs to come out of that conflict, it is like his life depends on that.

In Reluctant Fundamentalist, Changez is subject to criticism for his faith after 9/11. The condition that he is in, or the depression that he is suffering through, it is killing him from inside. If he can’t make a move or show any intent to come out, it is very difficult for him to keep going.

The takes the protagonist to the breaking point, where he has to make a choice. Though you don’t need to keep conflict on the very first page. But you should keep it somewhere in the first chapter.

Stakes

Why should a character make a choice? What is it that drives him? What makes him come out of his cozy world, and face the risk of losing it all? Which force keeps him going?  Is it worth, doing all that? Why does he care so much about that thing?

You need to have a clear picture of all these questions inside your mind.

Deadline

Like I said before, a novel can’t be completed in weeks or months, it is a whole adventure. Every time you write a story, you find yourself passing through that. The same happens you’re your stories, you live in that cosmic world over and over again. You read it for one perspective, then you do it for another. So, it is a long process.

As far as the deadlines are concerned, you have to make small targets. With the outline, prepared and written somewhere, you have to make your mind to reach your target before a particular date or time. When you have reached the target, prepare for the next and then for the next.

You cannot write the whole novel in a day, there is a maximum number of words which you can write in a day and can’t exceed that. Know that number. For me, I can’t write more than 5000 words of fiction in a week. So with that rough estimation, the first draft of your novel can be completed in 20 weeks. That means almost six months. This is followed by the editing and preparation of the second draft, it also takes, if not the same then a month or two lesser than the previous time.

Feedback

Writing the novel is one of the most flamboyant feelings in the world, but you need to be patient, before showing your work to anyone. Find someone who can give you advice, and give honest feedback. Bear in mind, it will probably break your heart, but you need to be ready for that.

But before being rated by someone, do it by yourself. Make a thorough survey of your work, correct the obvious grammar mistakes, fill in the gaps and give meanings to the storyline. Check for the choice of words and other literary factors. When you are done with that, get it read by just one person and get his feedback. Take his critiques, if you find that logical, work on them if not then move on.

When are sure that you have written an engaging story and the readers would love to have read your work, then comes the next step, which is to get your work edited. You can hire a professional, who can do it for you. Make sure you hire someone aware of the modern age novels and contemporary literature, for if you end up stuck with a Dickens or Wilde fan, your work is good for nothing. Not that they are not good, it is because they are too good.

Every novelist and writer has his style and way of narrating a story, comparison at any stage is the meanest thing that can be done to a writer. There is one more, setting the rules. No one can set rules for writing.

Reunion

A boutade

That separated us

Throwing in different dimensions.

Small quarks of plasma, orbiting around different suns

Wondering in the free space, for billions and billions of years.

When you pushed the comets inhibiting you, strike the earth giving our plasmic world a life.

Floating in the oceans, scraping through time, racing through the millions and millions of years.

We kept evolving, yearning for us to unite.

A boutade

Billions of years ago, separated us only to meet at this point.

Where I stand on this mount, watching you walking down the isle smiling like a regent princess.

You and I won’t be separate anymore.

We’ll sink in each other.

We’ll never get apart.

Wanderer

A wanderer

Walking through the stratums of incertitude

Dubious of his destiny

He keeps moving and going

Life

Like the thread on the ground

Keeps twisting and turning

Heads up

Eyes straight

He keeps pulling the thread

Untwisting and unfolding

And Straightening it up

It’s what he is to do.

It’s what the destiny wants him to do.

Carving his own paths.

Smoking the soul in the dead.

Dark and Scary – A Breakdown to the Caste system in Pakistan

 

Centuries before Christ, Aryans started migrating to the east of the sub-continent, by classifying their people into soldiers, priests, and peasants. At that time, they would have no clue that their adaptation would go on into shaping the texture of one of the most expedient lands on earth- the sub-continent. Like ancient Greeks, they too had a similar system with Brahmins; the philosophers and preachers, Kshatriyas; the specialized and trained men in arms, and Vaishya’s; the working class comprising of artisans, merchants, tradesmen, and farmers.

The inclusion of Shudra’s on the basis of Jati i.e. caste on the basis of occupation, came in pretty later stages, and by the time the system had completely marred. With that in order, a whole new system of discrimination started, which affected over 300 million people worldwide, especially in South Asia. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are its major affectees.

It is very hard to tell the exact number of the clans around the globe, as mere Pakistan abodes near 700 clans of different castes belonging to Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashtun, Saraiki, Arabic, and Turkic origin. Every clan has its own heroes whom they look up to and share his story with pride.

The system which was lauded by philosophers and people at that time, as an impeccable method to stretch identification towards different communities and groups around the globe, had in no time became a curse, where the caste was used to define the certain traits like morals, ethos, virtues, principles, etc. of every single individual belonging to that creed. Where good traits like pride, generosity, loyalty, and composure were associated with allegedly superiors castes, the traits like misery, self-centeredness, cheating, unreliability, etc. were linked to others.

Like the Brahmins Vedic Varna, Syed’s in Pakistan consider themselves at the highest ranks. They call themselves the descendants of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and claim their supremacy from that association. While there are many amongst them who oppose this notion and reject the undeserved respect they get in every single gathering they go, but the majority is living in this superiority complex. Most of them do not marry their daughters outside their families, in order to keep their bloodline free from foams. Castes like Rajpoots, Jutts, Balochs, etc. link themselves with traits like courage, honor, and valor. They are known for their vanity in their descent and believe that they are untouchables. Like Syed’s, they also prefer to marry their children in their clans. Whereas the castes like Machi’s, Chammars and Chura (Janitor) are considered low who are never given a chance to live a reputable life because of their race.

Pakistan which got its independence, on the basis of two-nation theory, vowed to dissociate itself from the old Hindu system, which was a root cause of racist society, but it failed to meet its goals. Despite all its claim on the world forums, all citizens of the state are not equal. Racism is so deeply enrooted in the foundations of the subcontinent that it would take centuries to wave the effects of this taboo. Taboos are the truths, at times hidden, most of the times concealed, but their breaths can be felt.

Bigger dilemma is, not only do the lower castes but even the religious minorities are also not free from this curse, the maximum number of janitors in the country are Christians, who are not given a chance to rise and live equally to their majority counterparts.

This is an appalling situation and it needs to be revised. The religion, followed by most of the countrymen, do not leave any room for discrimination and declares no one to be superior to the other. Even common sense cannot accept the notion that the personality of a person be determined by the castes he belongs to and not by the person himself.

While judging itself is a crime on the part of humanity, judging a person on the basis of his clan is a repent-less sin. Kids need to be taught about the ethos of humanity and morality, rather than being fed with the lame stories of courage and valor of their ancestors. Parents have to let go of the status that comes with their castes and raise a generation who curse racism. If we keep nurturing the coming generation with the same racial assertiveness, we can never meet the lines of the developed countries.

Altercation

Repined from the Isles of mind

Rendered by the curse of insomniac nights

I walk alone in this dark alley

With a torch in my hand

I know not, if I’ll find that Gold

For I have been in these streets before

And always returned impoverished

The address delivered to me is always changed

New houses, new shacks and quarters, I find

Every time I take a turn

The gangling structures of unfathomable desires

The dark moats of untrenching expectations

The rocketing skies of spindling hopes

All of them throw a string around my neck

And pull, whenever they want

The torch in my hands, drops

The shackles of these unprecedented games

Trick me, and I fall

Every single time.

But not anymore

For the strings attached

Will be cut with a knife concealed in my sleeve

And I’ll pick up that torch again

To find that lost treasure

To scavenge my inner peace

Astray

There is a void inside my chest

A hole which keeps expanding.

Not a day passes when I don’t feel it

Consuming me.

The din of which, pains my ears.

I feel dead inside.

The part of me which contained it

Is lost.

The other half fading in the quest of its Doppleganger.

Running around

Calling it’s name

But it never calls back.

It is gone. Gone for good.

Abyss

I am afraid

I am afraid, For these hideous nights haunt me.

They pull me from the heights of delirium

And pound me be the brink of these dingy moats.

I am afraid.

I am afraid that these caliginous tides of disguise would sail me down, with them.

Piercing through my body

Drifting like a flood

These stormy winds keep pushing me as I

Hold the trunk of credence and call my Shepherd.

But he doesn’t come.

I lose my grip and fall deep in the abyss of those tenebrous trenches.

Where, concealed under the veil of rusty leaves

Shackled by the chains of norms I see; My messiah calling me for help.

Dejection

A wound which inflicts through the chambers of heart, is very much different from that of a physical wound.
In physical injury, everyone knows that you are suffering from a pain. No matter what it is, there is a high chance of having a company with you at that time; to console you, to wish you better health, and to pray for a speedy recovery.
When a physical injury occurs, you can wash the wound, clean it and place a bandage. Though, it does pain for a few days, and in some cases, few months, but you always get recovered. There is always remain a glimpse of hope, to be the same again.
But the other wound; it breaks your soul, it tempers the mind, it disposes the body. You are walking, you are talking, even, you are laughing, but inside you are crying. No one sees, what is going inside your brain. All the battles that you fight in an ultimate war between hopelessness, despondency and wretchedness, are invisible to the world. Every second feels like a decade and every minute, a century. The pain and the agony of that wound, drenches you, deep in the depressions of disguise. No one consoles you, or wish you luck to come out of it. You can’t even wash your wound or clean that stain and there is no bandage to help it heal. A conglomerate of pessimism takes hold your body and soul.
Irony is, every singles time, you pass through such state, you never come out the same. A part of your natural self, dies. Each time you compromise, you lose a bit of your soul. In no time, you become a person that even you don’t know about. You look at your previous pictures, and rewind those memories in your mind, then you look in the mirror and see your current state and can’t help but wonder, “Is it really me?”
You isolate yourself, away from everyone and lose interest in all the things, you previously vouched for. All you want is to sit lonely in a dark room and do nothing; letting these evil thoughts, rot your brain. Even the people with strongest nerves, lose their mettle to this tumor. As a result, you start distancing yourself from the world, you try to find comfort in animals, sports, video games, comics, books, hence everything that helps you to avoid a crowd. In no time, an aura of distrust develops, and you stop trusting people, in fact, you start despising them. A lot people lose their conscious, and start doing drugs or drinking alcohol. For them the only peace comes from that drug, they inject in their veins. They become a psychopaths, walking on the roads of crime. They run after money, and think that it would provide them comfort. But it doesn’t. They go a step ahead, when everything becomes numb, they they fall in the deep slumbers; slumbers where after they never wake

Black holes- From myth to reality

A century ago, if someone had told you that after the next few generations, we’ll have the technology where one could talk to a person on the other side of the globe, we would not have believed it. But we witnessed, and science made it possible.

Just like that, a century ago, while devising the general theory of relativity, Einstein suggested the constellation of the high gravity objects in the cosmos. It was thought that their gravitational pull was so strong that even the fastest object in the cosmos- light- once entered, could not have escaped it. Hypothetically, they are the objects created by the destruction of the first stars, which were billions of times more powerful and stronger than our sun that and sustained the bulk of energy causing them to collapse and form a Black hole. Einstein found the idea to be so naïve that he didn’t believe his own theory.  But it did inspire one of his fellow Germans.

Karl Schwarzschild, who participated in the World War I, but was sent home after being ill. He devoted his entire time until his death, in seeking the exact answers for Einstein’s field equation. His work, published under the title “On the Field of Gravity of point mass in the theory of Einstein” presented the solutions to the unsolved problems of the veteran physicist’s famous theory.

The famous Schwarzschild radius formula, calculated the radius of the event horizon, above the surface of the mass, shrinking in to a singularity.

Since then, it had become the center of the attention for the several theoretical physicists. From Hendrik Lorentz to Arthur Edington, every one tried to understand the complexity of the mystery behind these massive supernatural objects of the universe. Though all these greats of the game played their part in the bigger picture, but none dared to name the object. After almost fifty years, John Archibald Wheeler came up with the term, “Black Hole,” hence giving them an identity for the first time.

Then, came the doyen of physics and mathematics in the modern times, Stephen Hawking, with the idea, “Black holes aren’t really black, they emit radiations.” He suggested that if the pair of virtual particles- the source for radiation, which are usually a pair of positive and negative energy- pops at the event horizon, one particle will get sucked while the other would go sky rocket. The phenomenon was named after Hawking as Hawking’s Radiations.

But it remained the mystery and lot of people abated the idea of their existence. So, a group of few like-minded astronomers gathered and started yearning to get an actual image for these objects. It was a difficult task, as the black holes presented no light whatsoever, but thanks to Hawking, they knew that they do emit radiations. So, billions of dollars were spent and a telescope was designed that could detect those radiations and get an image for the black holes. Eight, such telescopes were installed at the different positions around the globe. Finally, after years of rigorous efforts, an image of a supermassive black hole has finally been acquired; a super massive black hole, staging at the center of messier 87, distancing at about 55 million light years away from earth. It has been hailed as one of the biggest breakthroughs in the modern day science. But now the question is, was it worth to spend billions of dollars on such project? Or was it just out of stubbornness of few scientists to prove their point?

A supermassive black hole, like the one photographed, is also present at the center of our galaxy, which is called Sagittarius A. Likewise, one such super massive black exists at the center of almost every single galaxy. Studies have found that these supermassive black holes and the orbiting stars are directly co-related. The greater the black hole, the faster do the stars revolve in their orbits. They play a fundamental role in the genesis and evolution of the universe. As already discussed, they are present at the center of every galaxy, so they provide stability, not only to the stars around them but also to the neighboring clusters. It is thought that, had the first stars not transformed in to black holes and absorb the energy in the aftermaths of big bang, it would not have been possible for the universe to evolve, hence the existence of life itself. So, this explains as to what gives them such importance in the cosmos.

With years to come, the future looks bright. And who know, the discovery of Hawking’s holy grail, the Theory of Everything, is next.

Education in Pakistan; Where are we heading?

During an interview on television, the renowned poet and Lenin peace prize winner, Faiz Ahmad Faiz delineated the education culture of schools at the secondary level, during his time. He explicitly stated that it was considered mandatory on students’ part that they should know to say a poem or write a ghazel at the secondary level. Everyone student was well sentient about the use of basic poetic expressions and judge the flow of the verse by reading it.

Unfortunately, it is not the case anymore. Education in Pakistan is drenching in the dark swamps of an impending system, which is merely exporting the bulk of exam winners, who have none to least knowledge about the basic theories they study in their course.

Currently, over 260000 schools are working in Pakistan, of which 180000 are of Govt. sector, while the others are private. These schools bore almost 40 million kids within their walls. While the quality of education in Govt. schools is appalling, the private schools are also not so different in their stature. Though they have increased the literacy rate to 240% from its previous ratio, yet that is not all which required from them. Producing a generation with sound and up to date knowledge about science, arts and literature should be the priority, which is missing at the kernel.

The curriculum taught in schools is primitive and dysfunctional. Science lab is considered a forbidden land for anyone below the 9th class. Even when they are allowed to visit labs, they are prohibited from touching the lab instrument and are advised to observe as their teacher performs experiments. The age when the students of developed countries are discovering new stars, our kids are matching the needles behind each other, watching through a prism or a glass lab.

The condition of literature is not a secret to anyone. After years of being taught and read by the generations, the James Hamilton classic, Goodbye Mr. Chips was finally bid farewell. But it gave fuel to another debated as it was not replaced by another novel, instead, with the biography of The Holy Prophet (PBUH). For the record, there is nothing wrong about teaching the students about the life of Prophet (PBUH) but it should not be at the expense of compromising the crux of the course.

The biggest dilemma observed during the course of studies is connection of everything with religion. The twelve years of formal education when a student must be accommodated with every concept about life, literature, culture, arts, science, and humanities, so, his brain can evolve and be open new realities of the world, he is circumscribed within the boundaries defined by the culture and system that he is in. Every concept or theory which questions or deviates from the religious teachings is discarded. Sadly, Almighty becomes the ultimate subject in the interpretations of romantic Urdu poetry.

The culture of cramming is the final nail in the coffin of this deuced system. To me, cramming is not a surprise, as the students don’t have other options. When teachers are held accountable by the administration for providing the results, they in order to save their jobs, focus on getting the work done without heeding on the basic requirements. For students, competition has become the single driving force which urges them to score the maximum in the minimum time to get admission in their favorite colleges. Understanding and knowledge become irrelevant at this point because passing is certainly more important.

Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” But let alone imagination, even knowledge here is a second priority. This can’t go for long. Drastic measures are required to cope with these challenges. An updated curriculum at all levels along with a group of passionate people, who are willing to combat the pretext of primitive standards and elevate the degree of education, are needed. If it doesn’t happen, the future of this country is doomed.