Tag Archives: story

The Forgotten Son by Dev Popat – a Review

The Forgotten Son by Dev Popat – a Review



What? A book by a fifteen year old? Aren’t they usually out playing cricket or sitting indoors glued onto their computer screens? But the fact is that young Dev Popat has written and published a book of his own. What a feat!

Now about the book … almost every Indian is well-versed with the plots and at least a few subplots from the epic Mahabharata. There are scores of characters – lovable, awe-inspiring, mighty, impressive, despicable…. Dev has picked one of the most misunderstood and wronged characters and made him the protagonist of his first book ‘The Forgotten Son’.  The hero, Karna, abandoned at birth and forsaken by those he looked up to, is one character from the Mahabharata you don’t hear about as much as you’d want to. His face off with his enemies, his initial infatuation with the woman he could never have, the only friendship he forges and stands by steadfastly – all this and much more has been dealt with by Dev in a style of story-telling that is simple yet engrossing, informative yet interesting and entertaining. He has done his research well and isn’t just narrating an oft-told tale that we think we know so well. So kudos to you on that, Dev.

The book itself is eye-catching with the colours and illustration on its cover and I think the title indicates more than the fact that ‘this son’ was forsaken by almost everyone, even those that should have been on his side the most. It also seems to remind us that this brave, honest and faithful man, son of our soil, has seldom received his fair share of the respect and awe he rightfully deserved.

To sum it up, this is a well-written first book by Dev and I hope he keeps writing and continues to impress…


Six Stages of the Writer in Me

Six Stages of the Writer in Me

These are the stages (and some difficulties) I go through as a writer of novels (having written a second one, both unpublished and a couple of partially completed novels as well, the stages been pretty standard every time)

  1. The excitement following the conceptualisation of a theme, building characters, the plot. I can’t wait to start writing the novel. I am so excited that I may even dump other half-done projects quite unceremoniously.
  2. The writing part. The creative energy flows. The characters that had been lurking in my mind comes alive with their many foibles, troubles and problems. The first parts of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together.
  3. Period of uncertainty. Half-way through the novel, the plot isn’t thickening the way I wanted it to. I worry that it doesn’t meet my initial expectation. This is also the period when a project can go into limbo if another better and seemingly more thrilling story has popped into my head.
  4. I persist. I plod on tapping away on my keyboard. The story has to move on and reach the end I must. I suddenly see that the word count isn’t in keeping with the ideal number of words for that kind of genre. So I ease down a bit. In my worry that this may also be one of those has-been projects, I’ve been going at it too quickly.Hence the shorter narratives.
  5. Another reason I’ve been hurrying up is that I can’t wait to get to the end. It is exciting for me as well to know how the last bit will turn out (although I know it in a gist). Quite a bit of the story has written itself by this time. New thoughts have arrived during the writing process. New characters have introduced themselves with a promise to fill in a certain unforeseen loophole that needed to be fixed.
  6. The end. Phew! Quite a ride it was. I remember a point in time when the whole story and plot had the makings of a best-seller. But I am not so sure about that any more. Only time will tell. Meanwhile I am happy I even wrote it down. It wasn’t all that easy and I managed to get it done. So I pat myself on the back and give myself a treat because I just wrote myself a story.

Your own box of story ideas – how to get it

Your own box of story ideas – how to get it

Someone read the blurb of my first book yesterday and asked me this – ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

A lot of my stories have just happened. Inspiration, though, as always comes and goes. The best stories are written down immediately. On the other hand, if you are not in a position to write the entire thing down, just keep a little note pad handy to make quick notes. I have my story ideas all jotted down neatly and it has been collected over the past ten years. About eighty percent of those ideas came to me during the first two years. If you don’t have a notepad when inspiration strikes, then you can save a few important cue words in your mind, like ‘girl, shop window, pretty dress, salesman’. Run this through your head a few times and chances are, the idea will stick around till you find a book.

Are you one of those susceptible to seeing strange dreams? If you’ve tried to find meanings in them and failed, maybe you can use them for your story-telling.

Songs are a good source of inspiration. Choose one with meaningful lyrics and possibly a catchy lilting tune. Close your eyes and let your thoughts wander. One of my best stories was inspired by a song and even to this day, I am reminded of the song even if I so much as see the title.

The books and fables you’ve read through your growing years, and later, can help too. Look at any mythological story from a different perspective. Chitra Divakarunni’s ‘Palace of Illusions’ is a retelling of the epic Mahabharata as told from Draupadi’s perspective. Draupadi thinks like a woman of the 21st century. The entire novel was riveting despite the story being old. So tap mythology. Pick up a story from the good old favourites, folk tales or the stories Grandma told you. Even a fairy tale perhaps. I grew up loving stories like the very simple ‘Kaatje’s Treasure’ and more complicated ones like ‘Peer Gynt’ and ‘Blue Baba of the Marsh’.

A role reversal in a story like ‘Goldilocks and the three bears’. Exercises like these help a writer to limber up. It also helps one to take an unbiased view on things and work on the various shades of grey that makes each character what they are. Movies like ‘ET’ and ‘Avatar’ stand out from other sci-fi movies because for once the aliens were not aggressors. It always helps to look at things differently.

A role reversal in a story like ‘Goldilocks and the three bears’. Exercises like these help a writer to limber up. It also helps one to take an unbiased view on things and work on the various shades of grey that makes each character what they are. Movies like ‘ET’ and ‘Avatar’ stand out from other sci-fi movies because for once the aliens were not aggressors. It always helps to look at things differently.

Listening and looking around helps a lot. The idea is to blend in and not appear too obvious though. You are not an eavesdropper or a weirdo, you are merely a story-teller looking for stories. Conversations and sights give great beginnings to interesting stories. I once saw an old lady sitting by the side of the road and watching a couple of vegetable vendors coming down that path. I’m yet to write down the story that vision inspired.

Newspapers are an amazing source. Read interesting news tidbits and see what it can inspire. A personal favourite was written after I read about a man who supported his infirm mother and brother both financially and physically. They, in their stead, kept taunting him until he attacked them. My story has nothing to do with that man or his family but grew from the thought – how much can one do for others while taking flak without breaking down?

Here are more visions that inspired pleasant, vague, sad or funny thoughts—

A boy on a cycle peeking into a car and seeing two pretty young girls inside;

Another one sitting on a high wall and wistfully watching a game of cricket being played by children whom he cannot join because of social differences;

A mother angrily leading her daughter down the road…

It can be the beginning, ending or the very crux of a story. The genres could be  romance, humour, sci-fi, horror or anything else one likes. And it would actually help if one stayed away from the obvious…like ‘romance’ for the plot with the boy on the cycle and two girls in the car.