How Do I Write A Story? ( Munshi Premchand’s Note: Translated from Hindi)

 

Main Kahani Kaise Likhta Hun ( How Do I Write A Story?)

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My stories are usually based on some inspiration or experience, which I try to paint in dramatic colours. However, I do not write a story simply to describe  a certain episode. I wish to depict some emotional and philosophical truth in it. Unless I get a  starting point like that, my  pen does not even rise. Once I get the base, I create the characters. Often, the study of History gives many plots. But no incident can become a story unless it showcases a psychological truth.

Until I can perceive the entire story from beginning to end in my mind, I do not sit down to write it. I create my characters with a perspective that they are truly  conducive to the story. I do not consider it necessary that the basis of a story has to be an interesting incident; in fact any occurrence with a psychological climax can serve the purpose. Recently I have written a story in Hindi called, ‘Dil Ki Rani'( Queen of My Heart). I had read in Muslim historical narrative an episode in the life of Taimur; which had reference to his wedding with Hamida Begum. Quickly I had the thought of a dramatic improvisation of this historical event. Hamida Begum had learned  combat skills from her father in her childhood and had participated even in military skirmishes. Taimur had killed thousands of Turks. How could a Turkish woman fall in love with a foe like that?  The answer to that question would determine the story climax. Taimur was not handsome, so it was necessary to create in him some  naturally good and  heart warming quality that would attract  such a very fine woman to him. That story developed in this manner.

A lot of news that one hears can serve as the foundation of stories. But an incident does not become a story with mere style and a  beautiful, perfect vocabulary. The climax is critical, and it has to have psychological insight. Also the way the narrative progresses is important,  so that the story climax keeps coming close. Whenever I get a chance to emphasise on the disposition of anyone – and  create poetic and literary  colour effects around it, I make maximum  use of that opportunity. This colour is the life of any story.

I write frugally. I have never written more than two stories in a month. Often months pass by when I  write no story at all. I get incidents and characters but the psychological substructure is very hard to find. Once that problem is solved, it doesn’t take too long for me to write a story. But one cannot describe the whole process of writing a story in these few  paragraphs.

It is an intellectual concept. People can learn to write stories by learning the process , but as in poetry or any branch of literature, one has to have a natural love for it. The nature creates plots by herself, creates dramatic hues, provides vibrancy, accumulates literary finesse, unknowingly all these keep happening.

Yes, after finishing a story, I read it myself. If I find something new, some sparkle of intelligence, some freshness of reality ,  a page turning effect,  then I might consider it to be a successful story. Else I conclude that it has failed. Both the failed and passed stories have got published- and often those stories which I considered ‘ failed’ were much appreciated by my friends! And so, I do not trust my own test too much.

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