Feedback received till now

So, here is a summary of feedback received till now on my long fiction attempt. By the time it was completed, it had around 20k words. That’s the longest I have written till date🙂

  • Characters other than Smriti and Rohan had potential, but have not been developed: This is one thing that has been intentional. Because I wasn’t confident about being able to develop many characters. Just two characters have been a struggle for me and even with just two there are many issues that need to be addressed. So, this one I will skip for now.
  • Dialogues are to-the-point and not sufficiently emotional/realistic: This is something I definitely need to work on. My own assessment is that I have been unable to give the characters their individual voices. They speak in similar fashion and the voice is mine. Any references or examples on how to tackle this will be highly appreciated!
  • Some scenes look forced just to make a point: Again something I need to work on. Will have to re-read the story after a break. If more people felt this way and can point out the relevant scenes, it will help.
  • The story is too much like a bollywood flick and not good/deep enough: I don’t have any comments on this🙂 I think it’s a question of reader’s choice and some people may not want to read this kind of story. That is fine with me.
Any other feedback?
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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started Pothi.com, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe (http://instascribe.com) with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: https://jayajha.wordpress.com Twitter: @jayajha Facebook: http://facebook.com/MovingOnTheBook

7 thoughts on “Feedback received till now

  1. I agree with #2 and #3. Both the characters in the story were similar. Even when smriti wanted to let go and be a child it was not portrayed well. That lacked the masala which would have made the novella more interesting. It may be a good idea to keep the characters a little away from yourself. In other words pick the ones whom you cannot even dream to be or never want to be like. At the same time you should know how they behave.

  2. Hey Jaya –

    having suggested a few of the feedback.. here is some elaboration. My $0.02 :):

    a. Dialog: “artist type” folks with whom i have had pleasure to work with tell me that observation is key. these guys go to public places for doing their work e.g. a cafe or a city square. they get inspiration from observing people, their languages and how they interact in different situations. Also movies with brilliant sketching of characters and dialogs help. Guilty of recency effect here: i finished watching a bunch of Guy Ritchie’s movies over this weekend and will recommend them highly for sketching characters and dialogs. A good example is the Brad Pitt character (Pikey) in “Snatch” (I bet $10 if anyone gets a word without subtitles :)). Just a top of the mind example

    b. Forced Scene: you seem to have started with a defined perspective, that drives the value structure, for your protagonist / other characters. all the events follow this perspective and thus become predictable for the reader. E.g. i would have guessed how the wine episode will end without reading it. Unpredictability / multi dimensional personality help the story and let the reader savor and interpret. IMHO, a good story-teller is someone who just describes an interesting event and let the reader enjoy (that is why art such as painting or poetry, that can generate complex interpretations, are more evocative than say a clear differential equation :)). Imagine the wine episode ends with Smriti drunk to her gills, making a fool of herself and still not regretting it the next morning. Now that is out of the typical value structure that i had in mind for a girl like Smriti and this texture of her character is fascinating. It gives the reader a chace to love / hate Smriti. in either case, you got the reader hooked. There can be a much deeper philosophical discussion on: what are values / knowledge / perspectives and how the author dissociate to be true to the story that i will enjoy🙂 but i guess generally the lesser predictable your characters are, the more interesting the story becomes. You might find predictability in some other scenes (started counting a few but leaving it for you to discover :))

    Happy Writing!!!

  3. @Nikhil – I will probably release an e-book version (pdf/epub) soon. Print will take some time. I would like to work on it more and also generate enough material for a print book. Too thin a book doesn’t work very well.

    @Random Bits – Thanks for the elaborate comment. For the purpose of discussion, I am wondering if you are emphasizing too much on the unpredictability factor. Just to get unpredictability, you can not lose the character consistency. Smriti is a character who has one given in to what others wanted her to do (getting married) and has paid dearly for it. Recovering from that has been tough. Walking out and starting from scratch is by no means easy. She isn’t going to give in to other people’s wishes easily ever. Even if it is for much more trivial things. In general, she is not aggressive outwardly, but she protects her territory fiercely. The wine scene here is not to establish some kind of moral value system of the girl. It is to establish this part of her personality, which will not accept people’s opinions against her own. She will start giving in to Rohan, but much later. It will happen once she develops that respect and trust in him. By that time even Rohan would know her well enough to be aware of where to push her and where not to.

    See, I am goading you into doing some work for me😉 Why don’t you give me an example of some other scenes too😛

    • Point taken about consistency. I was not suggesting you make characters unpredictable to the point of being mad🙂. One can think of it as a spectrum (which discussion is not). At one end, you have characters with strong perspective that always behave according to it (readers can pretty much decode the next steps). At the other end, you have total cuckoos. I was suggesting to pull the slider a bit to the other side. Unpredictable might be a strong word. What about “quirky” or “a little impulsive”?

      Strong characters from great stories (mythology to present day literature and even real life), have some quirk / texture / flaw that doesn’t fit the ideal mold. Lord Ram made Sita go through the agniparikhsha and forced her into exile, Lord Shiva beheaded his own son, Lord Krishna ran away from a battle and fought dirty in Mahabharat to kill Dronacharya, Arjun fought Pitamah Bhishma with Shikhandi as shield, Yudhisthir was a gambler and Bhishma sided with the wrong. Premchand’s timid Nirmala elopes with an untouchable and Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet makes mistakes in judging Darcy. Sholay’s Jai and Viru are petty criminals and drunkards. You can give me examples of characters who are flawless (hence predictable) and yet popular. But then we are venturing into Barjatya’s movies🙂. IMHO, complex, quirky, textured characters are more enjoyable. What’s the quirk / texture with Smriti or Rohan? After a few events one feels that Smriti and Rohan are predictable and the events don’t remain exciting. Totally personal opinion. Take it with a handful of salt🙂

      I will see your goading and raise you some more:). These events sounded predictable to me: Meteoric rise and MBA for Smriti (only an MBA, including yours truly, thinks it as a reward :)), Smriti being super-smart that she finds a flaw with a professional firm’s work (by the same yardstick the firm is dumb to peddle such report, Rohan is dumber to take it to the board and the board is dumbest to consume it. Please sign up Rohan for Stat 101 correlation vs. causality :)), Smriti is super-hardworking that she works when she is ill even if the work seems not so important, Rohan is so love-struck that he spends days in the hospital while being a CEO. Aditya and Father are dinosaurs bordering unadulterated evil

      And here is the raise: an interesting cliché is Rohan being a divorcee. It is predictable as a divorcee stacks up nicely with another divorcee. In such examples, we can see our implicit beliefs spilling out subconsciously. Imagine, never-married Rohan is Robert Redford (my wife and wives of my friends think he is the handsomest star ever. We, the beer-bellied and balding guys, don’t see what the fuss is about. But I digress :)), Zuckerberg and Tendulkar rolled into one and still falls for Smriti. Or Rohan is 3 levels below Smriti, 5 years younger, lesser educated, never married but makes Smriti laugh and they fall for each other. Now these are interesting to me. What say?

      • A lot of it is difficult to comment on, since you seem to want a different story than what I have written😉

        But let me clarify on some of the things about the existing story and characters.

        * Smriti being super-smart about the reports from a professional firm: Well – the reality is that you don’t need to be super-smart to find flaws in such reports – yes even well reputed ones. You only need to be naively attached to your academics, which Smriti has been. Most of the MBAs and Economics graduates I have seen do not understand some very simple Statistical concepts and it is the same set of people who create many of these reports. The result shows. Smriti, on the other hand, paid attention and picked up on those concepts (and so did you I guess :P) I guess I will not be able to convince you that this is the reality, but I am super convinced with my personal experience.

        Why was she so naively attached to her academics? Because of her mother. Her mother had brought her up with the single point agenda of making her independent financially. That meant having a good career and the only way she knew of achieving that was doing well academically. So, she always insisted that Smriti paid attention to her studies. And Smriti did that.

        * MBA as a reward: As an MBA – I actually do not think MBA is a reward🙂 I am a strong critic of MBA in real life. But what is happening here is this. Ever since Smriti lost her mother, she had no guardian she could really trust. When she walked out on her marriage and family, even a pretense of having any relations in her life was gone. When Rohan came into her life, he not only took the place of a lover in her life, but also filled up for the other relations that she missed, especially that of her mother as a guardian. And Smriti strongly associates her mother’s guardianship with her concern for her career. Rohan is not thinking of this so consciously, but somewhere he has realized this connection and is trying to make up for the relations she has lost.

        * Meteoric Rise: Well, if you look at her rise from “professional” point of view, it is “unfair” (quotes intended, because I have my doubts about the fairness of what is normally considered professional). What Rohan has done for her is actually favouritism. For any other employee he wouldn’t have cared. But he was attracted to her. And in the process discovered her in a way, you would not discover a mere employee. She is not a woman of world – so to say. She won’t be able to progress so much on her own. She is a survivor, she will fight it out for her existence. But not for meteoric rise, because in real life, you can’t always pick you battles. And she is not the kind who will fight all the battles for professional progress. When she does not like facing it, she will simply duck. Rohan goes all the way out for her. He lets her pick her battles and fights the one she chooses to duck. There is nothing professional about it. But its not only a fatal attraction for her that is making him do this. He finds her useful even professionally. Somewhere he sees her complementing himself. He is no longer looking in her what she would look for in an employee. He is now looking for a partner beyond the definitions of good and bad in strictly professional terms.

        Overall, their relationship is not a relationship of equals. Rohan is more of a giver and Smriti is more of a receiver. Part of it also comes from the fact that he is older, financially much better off and also a man of the world. Smriti, on the other hand, despite having fought for her survival, is a woman of her own world. That makes her less suitable to be a major force in real world, which Rohan is. So, they are not equal, but are complementary.

        Their past has its battles. A lot of it is inspired from real world incidents and characters around me. Their present has nothing realistic about it. In real life, I haven’t come across two people who genuinely complement each other. Their present is a fairy tale love story. And that as been intentional on my part. I wanted a feel good factor, which I have achieved with this – at least for me.

        The character of Smriti that I had in mind will not fall for a quirky lover. She needs a mature, understanding lover, who can also be a guardian to her. Hence, even if clichéd, we have a man for her who has been there, done that.

        * Father and Aditya: Well – Aditya is not a dynasaur. He is what Smriti calls him. A weakling through and through. He is a tribute to the weak and pathetic men I have come across in my life🙂

        Father’s character is not explained much. But he is an insensitive person. Especially towards the women in the family. He is only concerned about his family’s pride and izzat in the community. Such people do exist. When he hit his wife, he wasn’t thinking of murdering her. Getting physical was routine for him. It was just another such incident and as usual he didn’t bother to stop and see if he had hurt her too badly. This time she had a fatal injury. But being the insensitive person that he is, after he discovers it, his first priority is to save himself as it will directly affect his family’s izzat if people knew of the real incident.

        Smriti’s brother inherits the same insensitivity from his father. Somewhere, her mother has been so occupied with Smriti that she failed in the upbringing of her brothers. She had no time to imbibe some of the sensitivity about women into them, which other members of the family, including their father, was not in a position to do. So, even after he knows of the reality of the “accident”, he looks at the incident from his father’s eyes and does not blame him.

        As I mentioned earlier, most of it is inspired from some real life incident. So, none of these characters are unrealistic. Depending on one’s background, one may or may not have come across these characters.

  4. Dear Jaya,

    Well this is my second comment. I know I’m commenting much late (almost going to be 3 years of the story) and my comment might be irrelevant at this point of time. But I feel like to comment after reading other comments and your replies.

    When I read the story it was start to finish at one go (Precisely it took less than 1 hour to read). Before starting to read I was skeptical to read it or not because of the length but once I reached the end of the first part I was compelled to carry on next and completely mesmerized in the story until I finish it.

    I am not a critic or any intellectual type person. I’m just an average reader with a taste of “good” writing. My definition of good writing is anything which captures my attention and increases my curiosity to read what is next and of course with easy flow of writing. This story has everything that I can call it GOOD and that’s why I liked it instantly. When I finished it I felt good. I felt good about the lead characters i.e. Smriti and Rohan who overcame their own difficulties in life and united happily. Everybody loves a happy ending, doesn’t we? And I’m not different either. At one point of time I felt it could fit to be a Bollywood movie. But later thought they would botch up such a lovely sensitive story with all the routine song and dance stuff.

    When I was reading it I was not judgmental about the situations or the background. I trusted the writer’s ability to develop the characters and carry out the flow and she did it well. The question never raised in my mind that the backdrop could be anything other than office. Any writer would choose the plot and the surrounding of the story to her/his familiarity of the characters.

    I would not like to be a critic for the sake of criticizing. Nothing is perfect in this world. As someone has pointed out about Lord Ram, Krishna and others about their shortcomings, this story might have some. But if I have enjoyed it and found it good then what is the point to find any loopholes. Why don’t we enjoy something purely without thinking of the shortcomings.

    Thanks Jaya for presenting such a nice story. I would love have a copy of this story as a PDF e-book.

    Lalit

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