Friday, May 27, 2011

Lessons I have Learnt from my Favourite Books

Every book that has  joined my favourite list has taught me lots of  writing lessons. Roald Dahl’s books taught me the benefits of wild, wacky and wicked humour. His unique characters: the grumpy couple in The Twits, the funny Mr Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, the adorable George in George’s Marvellous Medicine who  gives his Grandma a  medicine that makes her grow and grow and grow, has  nurtured in me the urge to create characters that kids will love. I am still trying to do that. Though you have been a great teacher, Mr Dahl, I am a slow student.

J.K.Rowling with her seven book saga on  witches and wizards taught me the benefit of creating unique settings and plotting in detail. Each Potter book was   full of surprises. Every question I had in my mind was answered by Rowling as though she  had read the questions  via telepathy. Rowling has made me see the benefits of extensive plotting especially when we plan a series. I am constantly amazed at how Rowling managed to hold a firm grip on all the characters, the various plot threads, without her books   plunging into dull terrain. Her ability to offer something new and interesting in each book made me  gasp.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, another of my firm favourites has urged me to create characters that this generation of gizmo friendly children will enjoy.  For a person like me not blessed with techno abilities, it’s difficult to emulate Colfer. The humour in the Fowl books makes them  wonderful, as do all the characters.

Rick Riordan the author of the Percy Jackson series who has dished up history  in a fabulous never seen before way, makes me rush towards Indian Mythological Creatures to see if I can rustle up some of Riordan’s magic. As of now, none of the Indian characters want to join my literary world. Perhaps they don’t trust me to write their stories.

The Princess Diaries books by Meg Cabot taught me the art of staying true to the target readers. The reason the books are so successful are because they echo the mindset, desires and attitudes of the generation they are catering to. Its important  that our stories resonate with the readers  to make an emotional connection.

What have your favourite books and authors taught you? What is the reason you read them again and again? Please share  your views with us.


  1. Yes, I'm in the world-building process right now and I'm trying to research exports and imports in the Saleucid Empire (ancient Asia Minor). *__* Yes, I am insane, but if you listen to the news on how nations interact with one another and evolve, this is how economies and therefore hatreds are made. LOL
    So once I'm done world-building, I'll have plenty of fodder for plotting out the series.

  2. Lovely post! I adore the writing of Alexander MacCall Smith. He has several different sets on the go but they all offer wonderful, gentle philosophy. Apart from the 'making it look easy' writing style I always learn something too.

  3. You have a writers discerning eye for detail and plots....I have been inspired by Jhumpas Interpreter of maladies.The characters jump out from words. Arvind Adiga in The White Tiger uses the power of brevity and yet conveys it all. Simple potent powerful.

  4. A few books like The Sky is Everywhere taught me that poetry amongst teen readers is not dead. Yay!

  5. Great list, now you've made me want to go back and read Roald Dahl's works again!

  6. I've never read Percy jackson, But I keep hearing great things about it. I'm going to download the sample from Amazon. I'll let you know if I get hooked! Rick Riordon has so many books out and they all do so well.

  7. I haven't read most of those books yet Charlie Chocolate factory has to be everyone's all time favorite. Sometimes even the books teach you more than just the subject matter. :)

  8. I think it's wonderful that as writers we can learn through reading the works of others. I most enjoy writers such as Archer, Twain, Herriot, Durrell. What they have taught me is how to weave humor into my stories.

  9. I think Eoin Colfer is such an amazing writer! His books just zing with awesomeness!

  10. Great list, Rachna. Everyone should read Roderick Townley's fiction and poetry. I loved his trilogy, The Sylvie Cycle. You need to read them, Rachna. :-) I too love Percy Jackson and Dahl.

  11. So true. I never even thought it this way in terms of different genres. Your post is compelling me to read out of my box.

  12. What a great post! Dahl is one of my favorites too. Every time I reread one of my favorite books, I learn that you can go on a bold and daring adventure without ever leaving the comfort of home.


  13. I have many favorites, it is hard to choose. One of my long time faves is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. I love the characters and the plot..I think also it would make a great film. :) Have a wonderful weekend!

  14. I love YA fiction... Madeline L'Engle created characters that I longed to emulate... smart, young women doing important things with eternal consequences, supportive families that generally valued dreams and intelligence... wow, sigh.
    Keep going Rachna; you are on your way!

  15. i think every book teaches us something one just needs the eye and desire to learn from that book.

  16. What a good question! Now I'll have to think about my answer...

    Shakespeare taught me to value every single word and the depth it can bring to a story. He also taught me practically everything I know about the English language.

    Austen taught me to understand my characters and their motivations. I still want and need to learn sublety from her.

    Dahl taught me to trust my imagination and let it guide me down wild and wacky paths.

    Arundati Roy taught me to use every sense, to smell and touch and taste the story as much as see and hear it.


  17. Ooo . . .great questions.

    Stephen King has taught me that less is more; that you don't need to use 30 words to describe something when 15 will do.

    Jasper Fforde has taught me there is no limit to the imagination and to not be frightened to take risks.

    There are so many more, I can't list them all!

    Ellie Garratt

  18. "As of now, none of the Indian characters want to join my literary world. Perhaps they don’t trust me to write their stories."

    Perhaps you just haven't listened with the right part of your creative mind. The part that is confident in the lessons you have learned from all the great writers in your chosen genre.

    Be yourself Rachna. Be open to unusual concepts. You'll bring these characters to life in the proper time.

    As for your questions: for me its all about the world building and characterization. I love action and philosophical novels. Terry Goodkind, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Sandra Brown, Tami Hoag, Jodi Picoult . . Even novels set in the contempory times take some world building as the character sees it.

    Tension, conflict, morality; all are built through the characters. Yep, I take lessons in those I love, and even from those I don't love.

    On a side note Rachna; I haven't ignored your request for my take on HP7. You've made me think so much about my comments that I've devised a blog post on it, and a segue to a second post on critiquing. Thank you for the inspiration.

    The short answer is she tried too hard (without success) to wrap up too many loose ends, and didn't properly tie in the Deathly Hallows story to the defeat of Voldemort. And of course, that Voldemort defeated himself with a rebounded curse.

    I'll be posting a more indepth response later this week. I hope you stop by when its up.


  19. A great pointer for me! I've never read authors with such an eye.

  20. Hi Rachana,
    Thank you for the visit and the follow.
    Good that I found a like-minded personality.
    Great thoughts here from the vast ocean.
    Thanks for picking up the precious pebbles
    from the ocean of books pebbles.
    Keep writing. Keep inform, I joined in,