Literature has defined various ways of writing a novel – its characters, methodology and handling. Various instructional courses are in trend for aspiring authors on how to write a novel. Some are assiduously followed in the ambition of being a successful author. All these structural models are on the basis of classification of the genre of a novel i.e. romance, erotic, thriller, social, murder-suspense, motivational etc. All these archetypes are created to give an evocative description to the product. The market acceptability in relation to commercial success is also under consideration.
This limits the originality of the creator and subjects him to the confines of known patterns of successful literature. Successful by past proven standards, which some people attribute as the corporate vomitus of an attempted creative endeavour. Corporates can efficaciously market a product, but cannot think anew creative. Irrespective of known sorts, novels broadly fall under four groups:
- Uninteresting with lack of depth
- Uninteresting but makes us ruminate
- Captivating read without significant impact
- Interesting with significant deep insight
Before discussing other aspects of framing a storyline, I confess that I consider first few pages must be enthralling to captivate the reader to carry on. Today where storybooks seem to be at the backseat over other futile endeavours, appeal to a potential reader is prime. Good or bad, if there isn’t a reader to turn the pages, the whole effort is wasted. This raises another vital issue – who is the reader? Each reader has his or her own backdrop and exemplar. Environ is prime as the mental maturity stems from it. The key factor for a potential reader is the groomed panorama – his expectations. One who is accustomed with the presentation of 19th century masterpieces may deem 20th and 21st century works to be not in line with his thought. To him it may be difficult to accept the 21st century way of expression not up to his/her taste. Over years the mode of expression has undergone a radical mutation. The socio-cultural manacles often limit the thinking in a new light.
Creativity is not re-brewing old wine in a new bottle. It is new mode of expressive thought out leaping the confines of age, sex, culture, civilisation, era. It is expressive thought in relevance to the theme of storyline.
If one were to satisfy the reader ignoring the core of the character and theme, it would amount to hypocrisy. It would be in lines with commercial misadventures than truthful efforts. When an originator crafts, the prime focus in his mind is the theme and validity of characters – not on similar ones of the past, but one relating to today’s context. If a section of the reader cannot evolve with time, he is stuck in the fetters of his past archetypes. Evolving out of forlorn concepts is the essence of authentic creativity garnished in a new style. Not many authors have the courage of breaking the manacles not only in style, but also in mélange of the defined genres. In customary ones known predictable variants have been explored by various authors. What if a poetry or short story genre is mingled to shape a new storyline? It doesn’t have a defined category but a new approach. What if the storyline is fascinating with an authentic notable theme? Who knows, it could churn up an array of new genres not written before.
In the routine flow of information woven into a storyline this exclusivity catches the reader. When I finished my first Bengali novel, I was advised to translate the English dialogues to Bengali by orthodox traditionalists of Bengali literature. Much to their dismay, I stuck to my way of presentation with not too bad a result.
Another issue crops up. What is erotic fiction? What is classic literature? The definition of the word ‘erotic’ varies not only with economic and socio- cultural rearing. Rather it is on the context of the theme. Eroticism is tainted term more than sex. It involves propagation of gene as per laws of nature for perpetuation of human race. While going through a software called “Grammarian” which I am sure many authors use, I came across two categories ‘Sexist Phrases’ and ‘Slang Expressions’. A person from lower strata often use these phrases in their dialogues. If I were to scribble the exact dialect in a conversation to portray the character vividly, would it termed as ‘slang’ or ‘sexist’? From 20th to 21st century literature has undergone a radical transformation. So has our expression of language – from the poetic myths to sharper ones, which portrays the essence of character in a conversation. To understand its significance, it is crucial to shred the traditional restraints and delve into the essence of the novel. Only then can one understand its relevance. With an evolving literary milieu, there has also been a change from old expressions to new ones many conveniently making its way to the dictionary. It may include words from other languages too. This is a part of evolution process. Only time can judge which withstands its test.
Coming to the point of the quality of literature. All books are not for everyone. Each creation has its own set of readers, contingent of their archetype. An author is versatile, one who can break his style, genre and pattern in every of his creation. One who cannot, falls in the trap of a corporate (or thought wise limitedly biased) yarn. If an author can be identified by repetition of his style, theme or storyline, he has worn out. In other words, he hasn’t cultivated enough to re-fashion himself. This amounts to being fruitlessly stagnant in his creative endeavours. Many renowned authors fall in the trap and attempt to churn out the previously successful pudding with a different icing, which sadly gets rejected.
The best way to assess a novel is to forget the name of the author and judge it on the validity of storyline before passing a verdict. Of the four broad classifications I highlighted earlier, the one which is an interesting read with significant insight stands the the passage of time. My humble opinion would be not to channelize creation on a set pattern of familiar genres, but to read it as creation, irrespective of name, honours of the author, without a bias of categorical pattern and appreciate (or denounce) the creation as a whole, without prior bias or midway prejudice.