Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Good writing Vs Bad writing

Image courtesy: Google


There have been so many books that are churning out in the market nowadays that every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to be a writer. No, I don't blame them. Writing takes a lot of effort, the good ones at least. But it pains my eyes to read the really lame ones. The kind I got when there was a flat 50% sale on Flipkart and I just couldn't control myself from clicking all the Indian authors that I was curious about. 

Yes, I have encountered really bad writing (no grammar, cliched plot lines, annoying protagonists to name a few) when it comes to reading Indian authors. Why is it that only writers int he Indian market seem to think that writing can be treated so casually? The least you can do is proof check. At least the editor should have done that before the book goes to print. Of course, this should be after you have a story that's worth telling out loud.

I'm in no ways condemning any writer(s) with this post. I really appreciate the effort and discipline it takes to write a full fledged book. But what surprises me are the so called best sellers which can be labelled as simply average. Thanks to the wonderful world of social media, marketing books even before it launches off seems to be the ideal strategy nowadays. 

I happened to read a book the other day by a supposedly popular Indian author. I have read many articles and interviews about her and she was highly praised in all of them. So, when I picked up her book I had a minimum set of expectations. But what I was left with was a sour aftertaste. The book was one of those kind that made me want to climb into its pages and smack the characters. It was that irritating. 

Of course, the fact that the book was written by a teenager was another thing. Maybe it was just too amateurish for my taste. But what pained me was that the story line seemed to be lifted right out of Fifty shades of Grey (which I never liked, there I said it!). But even the story line there was much more polished that its cheap Indian imitation. Again, I repeat, I really appreciate the effort that the writer has taken to write a full fledged novel. But is it worth writing a book simply for the fact that she wants to be read? What was funny was that a lot of people actually seemed to read her and given good ratings too.

Is bad writing really excusable? Even the controversies regarding Chetan Bhagat have raised many a eyebrow. But as much as I have enjoyed some of his books initially, the quality seems to be dropping at an alarming rate. Maybe I won't pick up any more of his books henceforth. Though I must admit that he has given a moral boost to a lot of writers to come forth with their stories. And thanks to him, I now flee when I see the words "IIT" and "Love story" together on the cover of any book.

We also seem to be living in an era, where the popularity of a book seems to be directly proportional to the author's good looks. Kind of pathetic, I know. But this is just something that I have observed in the Indian market. Mind you, I'm not saying that good looks is all you need to write a book, but the "young crowd" seems to be lapping up and vying for the attention of a particular writer that I'm talking about. I have seen love stuck teenagers who have gone to ridiculous extents on his Facebook page. We shall not go into the details, anyhow! And most of his books seemed to be around the same lines. The few I have read at least. 

Pardon me if I'm wrong, but these are just my honest opinion. It's a breath of fresh air when I find good Indian writers and the substandard work that I have read pales in comparison. There are so many good writers out there, people I've read on many wonderful blogs who deserve a much better chance than these so called published authors. Those names I would not think twice if I were to buy their books. Yes, a lot of bloggers are underrated. 

Again, I'm selfishly glad that there are bad books that are selling quite well in the market. At least, it's getting published. So, maybe, there's hope for small writers like me too. Of course, I fervently hope that mine stands a better chance in being labelled as "good writing" rather than just the best seller tag. And by good writing I mean a story which can be related to, one that has good grammar, punctuation and even characters that are actually believable. 

Image courtesy: Tumblr

What do you say? Is it better to have no writing rather than bad writing? Or should the two never be compared? I can't help but feel a relief whenever I pick up classics or even the thrillers and the light reading that's published by foreign authors. It's like a soothing balm for my eyes after the literary pain it has been subjected to. 

I have nothing against Indian authors in general. In fact, some of my favorite writers are of Indian origin. Anita Nair, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Shashi Tharoor, Jaishree Misra and Shobhaa De- to name a few. These are some of the writers I absolutely love and who have inspired me to write the little I have till now. And what I have learnt is this- conduct your research properly before you set out to write a book. Write it because you believe in the story and not just because it should sell. Write a book which a reader can relate to, where he can see a bit of himself. One that lingers in his/her mind even after turning the last page. 

Concluding with a beautiful quote by Toni Morrison- “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” And I must say, couldn't agree more!


28 comments:

  1. I agree with you Aathira. I feel No writing is better than Bad writing especially when it comes to a full length novel. Why torture the reader so much? :-P And yes, I definitely want to read a book that is written by you :)

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    1. Thank you, Reema :) You pick up a book by a popular author with a minimum set of expectations and when that fails, you tend to be disappointed.

      And about my book, it's still a dream :) Just hope that you are not disappointed whenever it comes out!

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  2. The last lines, couldn't agree more :) Is it just me or every other college passed out wants to write a book on how great his/her love story is. I am definitely reading a book written by you :) (that said, I should go read mango chutney now. Sigh! I am quite late already. )

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    1. Trust me, it's not just you. Every other person seems to think that their love story or hate story, for that matter seems to be the thing that everyone must know about! And thank you, Shanx :) Do read Mango Chutney and let me know your thoughts :)

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  3. I agree with each and every book and this is exactly why I do not do book reviews. I might just hurt a lot of people. Why do that on my blog when I can just shred the book in the privacy of my room. Yes shred!
    I cannot wait for your book babe!!
    I am sure about your writing!!

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    1. Thank you, Darling! This is exactly why I didn't do a book review on the book that I was talking about. I consider it a waste of time to review those books which are hardly worth reading.

      And thanks a bunch for the vote of confidence. You will be one of the first few to know when I do write that book that I'm still dreaming about :) xoxo

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  4. Aathira, seems to me like you might need to go elsewhere in the world - I mean non-Indian authors other than Vinodini Iyer (as she's an exceptional storyteller though I see you already know her) - to read novels. However, nowhere, even here in Canada is perfect. I read one such book as you mention, albeit it was non-fiction and it was the most absolutely dry, boring, dull, I-could-have-written-that-and-much-better book than her! I empathize with you; she self-published. If the publishers don't accept you, do it yourself! We'll all read you! ;) <3

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Elly. I'm not saying that all the non-Indian authors are outstanding in their writings, but when I go for certain genres like thrillers, I like to enjoy my Jeffrey Archer or Dan Brown compared to their Indian counter parts. As long as the writer is able to communicate with you through their words, then things like Indians/ non-Indians ceases to matter.

      And yes, I love reading Vinodini's short stories :) She is a gifted writer!

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  5. ...oh and painful to read her book. I vote no writing is better than bad writing! ;)

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  6. I don't read much so I can't agree/disagree on this. But recently I've started noticing that creativity has equal number of lovers and haters. A stupid movie would make a 100 crore and a very good one would be happy with just 10. Similarly, people who don't read much and have average education would probably like an average/under-average book. Bloggers would definitely NOT feel the same. All I am saying is that there is a market for not-so-good books and if average writers are getting some attention from that market, I don't think there is any harm.

    But yes, this should not deter the good ones from doing an awesome job. Just like we need stupid Dabang to get Bollywood going, we need Queen to stay positive for its future!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Nisha! Yes, though I'm not sure whether I can comment with confidence on the movie industry, I do agree on the quality of books that are coming out and are going ahead and making it on the bestsellers list. And what I have noticed is this- it is usually the school and college goers (the teens) who are usually reading these 'light books'. I am NOT saying that all the metro reads are crap, in fact, I do enjoy reading breezy reads, the ones that are not too taxing. But then, I am someone who feels that when a story can be improved, some extra effort should be taken.

      Again, what those books have taught me is to appreciate and see the much better books out there in a new light.

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  7. I completely agree with Nisha ...word by word. Even Rab ne bana di jodi made 100 crores...the writers wrote a script so pathetic ..and got the King of Bollywood to act in it..It is so weird. The same people thrash Chetan Bhagat. One has 2 agree that the book '2 states' was much better than the movie. Even though it is a cliched love story the book was very much enjoyable.There are bloggers who deserve to enjoy the Chetan Bhagat status and fame but they dont make it as much.

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    1. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts on the topic, Anita. Movies are another thing altogether. I have never been a fan of Bollywood and a lot of movies seems to be gaining the blockbuster title merely based on the superstars who have acted in it. Anyways, not diverting into movies for the time being. I do agree about 2 states. I have enjoyed the book much more than the movie. Although, for that matter, if you take any movie that are based on books, you are bound to be disappointed. I always am when I see a movie after reading the book.

      It makes me sad that there are bloggers who deserve so much more, but fail to get a chance. Let's just hope that those truly deserving gets a fair chance in the future at least.

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  8. I see only good in it as long as number of readers is growing in India. Earlier very few people read and those who are currently reading all these average books, will try other authors and it will help writers to flourish. But yes, some books are irritating to the core.

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    1. Yes, that's a positive impact that these books are having. But I am left wondering, is it really worth to read sub standard stuff when there are so many brilliant writers out there? At least in the long run, such readers should make a progress from staying stuck with those average books, if they genuinely want to improve their reading habits.

      Thank you, Saru!

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  9. Yes, some of the stories have way too bad, I just push it off half way through
    Shoba De is my fav too!!!

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    1. Thank you :) I'm guilty of abandoning a book after few pages if I don't find it engrossing as well!

      I love how Shobhaa De weaves stories that are fast paced and hooks you right from page one.

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  10. It's like a cocktail out there. I feel that the interpretations one thinks people might have on reading their book are overestimated. I would say it's good that people are taking writing more seriously and coming out but I also stress that before coming out, we need to make sure it is worth the whole thing.

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    1. I agree, Keirthana. It's great that a lot of new writers are coming out. But if a story can be improved before it goes for printing, then efforts must be taken to ensure that the reader has a smooth reading experience.

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  11. Agree with you Aathira on many points here. Sometimes I feel its a matter of luck to be out there with your book AND have people give rave reviews. yes, can be frustrating for struggling writers who might be much better than the already published ones. Even in case of the blog world it is the same. A popular blogger has everyone raving on the comments section no matter how the post is and while many a good writing goes unnoticed elsewhere :-)

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    1. Thank you, Uma. I agree with what you have said. Luck definitely plays a small part. It is sad that there are so many wonderful writers out there who are not getting a chance. I know for sure that if I see certain familiar names on the cover of books from the blogging world, I wouldn't think twice about buying a copy. Because I know for sure that I won't be disappointed.

      Yes, a popular blogger will always have comments on their posts. But as long as you are happy with what you have written, you shouldn't be too bothered about the number of comments you get on a post. But I do agree that while it may give you a boost, it shouldn't be the sole criteria to decide whether a post is worthy or not. :)

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  12. I have never written a full length novel but yes, I too have raised the question many a time. There has been a drastic fall in Indian fiction writing - it has become almost a situation where anything and everything gets published. And that is sad... I also wonder if a certain amount of fault does not lie with the editor and proofreader... what are they doing besides boosting the ego of the writer? At a time when they should be discussing the intricacies of grammatical tense errors, they are letting bad vocabulary to slide !

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    1. Yes, it is sad that the quality keeps falling down. But I must say that the story should be intriguing enough, or even a simple story should be narrated well. And of course, editors and proof readers must do a better job in polishing off the drafts before publishing it. Thank you for your thoughts, Roshan :)

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  13. P.S. Have added the "follow to dashboard" feature on my blog as you requested :)

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    1. Yay!!! Thank you! I'm already following you now :) It was a hassle earlier since my inbox was getting cluttered and chances are that I would miss out on some posts. Can stalk you much better now ;)

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  14. Liked your blog .... good work...

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