The Art of Storytelling | Damyanti Biswas
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Damyanti Biswas is the bestselling author of two stunning thrillers. Her latest book ‘The Blue Bar’ is the first of the ‘Blue Mumbai’ series of books. She shares about her art of storytelling with our readers.
How did the writing bug bit you?
My training is not in writing; I am a trained fashion designer. That is what I used to do back in India. Then long, long, long years ago I got married, I came to Malaysia and I had no job and my husband wasn’t happy with the fact that I had no job, because obviously I refused having a job. So, he said, “Well, you have an honours degree in English, you read this book called the World is Flat, and you can write. I am sure somebody will buy what you are writing.” He bought me this really old second hand laptop with two keys missing, I and Y. And I copy pasted them off the internet and wrote an article which I managed to sell for 20 USD.
But, after I started writing, I kind of developed a few clients, put word of mouth, and then they said, well one of my editors said, “You know, your writing is too flowery, you are writing about domaining, computer architecture, you are writing about health issues and you are … it is too flowery, why don’t you go to like a writing workshop and get rid of that bug,” and here we are, I am still getting rid of that bug. So, that’s really how it happened. I never planned to be a writer and even now I think more of myself more as a reader, not so much as a… Writing or storytelling is something I do. I don’t really feel like I am a writer.
“All writers and their writing journeys are different..”
I never thought I will end up as a writer, I just kind of liked writing a lot, like not enjoyed it, but I felt compelled somehow. So, I would try not to write for a while, because writing has always made me miserable. I really don’t know who these people are who find so much joy in writing, it gives them so much pleasure, it makes their heart sing and this cuckoos and birds flying and larks flying, that doesn’t happen to me. I am a miserable person, my writing is miserable, it makes me miserable, I can’t help doing it, so I do it. I think all writers are different just because all people are different, so part of the journey is finding out who you are and then who you are as a writer and I don’t think that journey ever ends, that just goes on.
Let’s get to know more about conceiving the plot of ‘The Blue Bar’
I have spent some time of my life in Mumbai, not too much, but a fair amount. I started writing this in this storytelling workshop in 2018, by Romesh Gunashekara and he gave us this writing prompt. He said, “Write about somebody who is being watched, but they don’t know they are being watched.”
That became the first chapter of ‘The Blue Bar.’ There is Tara, who is at a crowded railway station and we know that there is something going on because she is acting as per instructions on the phone and she is posing and in the end we realize that she is to leave this station in 3 minutes and she doesn’t know what will happen if she doesn’t leave the station in 3 minutes and we know that somebody is watching her. So, that became the first chapter.
On reading and writers who influenced Damyanti’s storytelling
I have to method act my way into my writing. I am not technically trained, so I have not really done MFA and nobody has taught me how to write. I have attended a few workshops here and there but I am mostly self taught, so my teachers are all dead. They are all dead and few feet underground, because those are the books that we read.
Back in India, we were reading what everybody else was reading. I was reading Sydney Sheldon, I was reading the entirety of Shakespeare. There was this Bernard Shaw, and one whole month I was rude because Bernard Shaw was rude. I was copying all the dialogues and being very sarcastic. So, that is where I am at. For me, when I write my characters, I don’t know if they speak as much but I begin to write like that, so I kind of method act my way in to it. I don’t really have lot of specific techniques. Now, with four novels that I have written, I feel that I have a bit of my own technique.
Also read : The Introvert’s Guide To Build A Personal Brand
We will be back with more writing insights on techniques from Damyanti Biswas, stay tuned.
Image courtesy : Damyanti Biswas website
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