The hero

In any great story, one finds a protagonist and an antagonist. These may be one or many individuals. But it seems that humans tend to like reading books with such stories and watching movies with such stories.

Many times, the hero undertakes a journey and, in the end, the villain is defeated in most cases in the climax. It appears that there is something in the human brain which makes one want to read and watch such stories.

In writing any story, it is usually recommended to know the end before writing. Also, it may be good to start with creating a really good villain right at the outset.

Who’s it for?

Who’s it for?

What’s it for?

These are probably the two most important questions to be asked before launching any venture, be it a business or writing a book.

Identifying your market segment let’s you write something or build something that could have a really good chance of succeeding.

This analysis is for a novel I would like to write one day in the future.

Today, I do not have a story or a target audience in place. So, I am just thinking aloud about the idea of writing a story with a specific target audience in mind.

To take a common example, the Twilight series was written for young adults. Out of a fan-fiction written for Twilight, came the Fifty Shades series, which ended up being targeted towards a romance-reading, adult female audience.

Worldview

Since reading them in high school, I have been influenced by classic works by people like Dostoevsky, Dickens and Dumas. Apart from these, I love reading classic Indian philosophical and religious texts. Taking these and adding ideas from a number of modern non-fiction authors, I would like to combine my limited life experience and come up with a tale.

Who it’s for

It is for people interested in reading an old-fashioned story which turns out to be interesting and gripping.

What it’s for

The goal is to give people a window into the world of imagination and where it can lead us. Books can transport us to different worlds and change the way we look at the world.

Where there is a fit

A story such as this may resonate with who it is targeted towards. I feel like the target audience can be quite small initially. Depending on the feedback, the audience could be expanded.

Where there is a mismatch

The target audience may turn out to be too broad (like “all adults”) or vague or undefined.

P.S.

There are so many themes and tropes to explore. Having plenty of material to pick from can be a bad thing at times because one needs to be careful in selecting the best stuff. One wants the result to feel good long after having written it. It seems that whether it has any effect on the reader and finding the magical utility is a matter of trial and error.

Without a doubt, reading books has changed my worldview several times over. I have been moved by too many authors and their writings to recount everyone.

For example, Brothers Karamazov showed me the different types of human nature and how, on many occasions, we can sink to our lowest. In the midst of such situations, Alexei Karamazov stands out with his peaceful and godly nature. The Count of Monte Cristoshows the Count doing crazy things to seek revenge and regain his own.

Even the popular books of today have an their impact wherein people get to identify their own dreams and desires in these stories. I’d want to inspire people, both young and old, to follow common sense, not do stupid things and respect ancestral wisdom.

Figuring out the “why, how, what” was quite useful.

why> As humans, we somehow have the tendency to want to tell a story employing both our imagination and creativity and to read such stories.
how> Have to commit to write around 1000 words a day, spending an hour and half of spare time. With this, accounting for holidays etc, the target is to complete the book in around 3-4 months.
what> The end result being a quality product.

Classic works

The novels of Dickens, Dostoevsky, Dumas, Hugo and others never seem to go out of popularity.

The Greek classics such as Homer’s writings even today enjoy lot of attention.

Similarly, the Indian epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, not to mention the scriptures such as the Vedas seem to have plenty of recognition.

Perhaps these works will keep enjoying such fame for posterity.

All these are great examples of the Lindy effect which  states that if a thing has been around for a long time, it is likely that it will be around for longer. This applies to things such as books, ideas and technologies.

Overcoming the resistance

Steven Pressfield, in his book The War Of Art, says that many of us have several creative talents inside us. But, because of some mental blockages or apparent external reason (which is shown to be ultimately internal), this creativity never comes out to be shared with the world.

Eventually, many people take their hidden genius to the graveyard.

These words ring very true to me as I witnessed my father, who was a most creative poet, singer, composer and author. He never really pursued his talents and hid them from the larger public. Sadly, he passed away suddenly of a brain hemorrhage and he never saw his songs see the light of the world.

As Pressfield says, there are and were many Picasso’s and Proust’s walking around us with all their potential hidden inside them. All it takes is to overcome this internal deadly force, which can be called the “Resistance”.

Resisting allegory

J. R. R. Tolkien, while writing the Lord Of The Rings, mentioned that this novel was not meant to be taken allegorically.

It is interesting to note that Tolkien resisted the temptation to make his fantasy an allegory. He created incredible backgrounds and back stories for his tales.

Needless to say, people have interpreted The Lord Of The Rings variously, including some who have seen “nefarious” allegories in it. This is not something to be scoffed at however. Each of us sees the world differently.

In contrast, the Roman à clef genre of works are written specifically as an allegory. A key which maps the fiction to the real world is usually published.

Learning from Seinfeld

When watching the TV series, Seinfeld, on one of my many rewatches of this timeless series, I sometimes go back to front, i.e., new seasons first, then old seasons. When doing this I was fascinated to see how the storylines and characters were so well thought out quite early on.

It is almost as if the characters’ fate and stories were predetermined. I think especially where George Costanza and Kramer end up in the last few seasons makes total sense when watching the first few seasons. This showed how the series creators had this great vision from the beginning of how the series was going to pan out and finally conclude. Of course, as the seasons went on, minor changes were made. But they did not fundamentally alter the vision of the series.

Famous novelist John Grisham advises fiction writers to know the ending before beginning to write the first chapter. In his foreword to The Lord of the Rings, J.RR. Tolkien mentions that the chapter ‘The Shadow of the Past’ was one of the oldest parts of the tale much before the other chapters. I think this too is quite illuminating.

This idea could easily apply to other areas of life too. For example, when starting a software project, it is good to have an idea of how the end product is going to look like from the start. It may also pay to have a end of life strategy in place from the beginning. The same may apply to business ventures etc.

Another example of this approach is how bitcoin has evolved. The original creator behind Bitcoin undoubtedly had some approximate idea how the currency would eventually turn out, and especially because they made it peer to peer and decentralized, it has become self-sustaining and antifragile. A similar decentralized protocol which has sustained and grown is BitTorrent.