Writing without formula (1) : 5 Cs of Writing

Writing walks the thin line between art and science. In this piece, I am sharing the possible science behind it. For the art bit, you will have to go deep in yourself and activate your inner voice.


I use a simple checklist that I call the 5 C.s of writing.

1. Commencement– The initial three pages of the book have to hook the reader. In this Age of Expression, there is a tower of babble that is standing right at the centre of our civilization. The options for amusement have grown in geometric progression while our attention spans have dwindled in the same proportion.  As a writer, in the initial pages itself, I have to make sure that I have convinced the reader to continue further. To be convinced of this point, all you have to do is count the number of books that you started but never finished…

2. Context This is one of the most critical choices I make – where and when to set my stories. In my first book, A Flawed God, I set the initial part of the novel in the Capadocia region of Turkey in the contemporary times of rampant capitalism because it has some mysterious underground cities that matched the secretive nature of the Collective that the protagonist joins, a kind of secret society of underground heroes who are battling to reform the corporate world. In my second, End of Story?, I have set the book in the contemporary media and advertising world that is spawning millions of spurious stories. Following a story about a farmer suicide, the protagonist and the reader is transported deep into Gond tribal territory of Maharashtra in the Vidarbha region. This area offers very interesting and off beat locales including the Ghotul scene that has become a big hit with my readers.

3. Characters – Without endearing and enduring people populating your writing, the plot can only sustain that much interest. People love heroes and villains and they love to see quirky characters. All my reviewers and readers have commented on my character building efforts. Actually, in my books, I don’t focus as much on the plot as I do on the characters and context. With a very broad plot in mind, I build characters and let them loose to interact and co-mingle in a context that I have carefully chosen.

4. Conflict It’s the conflict that brings in the interesting twists and suspense in the plot. The conflict should be something that includes but is larger than that between two characters. Like in End of Story?, the protagonist and his wife are in perennial conflict but the real issue is the conflict created by subliminal propaganda ads in society and the subsequent conflict between the protagonist and his boss in which the latter is killed. The entire book is written on the eve of the protagonist going to court to give his testimony in the murder trial of his boss.

5. Climax A lot of writers emphasize on a good ending and I couldn’t agree more. The more stunning and unexpected the climax is, the more you can expect your reader to talk to others about your book.

While these 5 C.s may be of some help to you in constructing your story but please don’t think that I am asking you to use them like a “formula”. If you do that then your readers might invoke the 6th C to describe your writing. I’ll leave you to guess what that might be.

— By Arjun Shekhar 

After 7 years of corporate citizenship, Arjun Shekhar decided to begin his own venture.&nb
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He is the founder of Vyaktitva, an organizational development firm that works with companies, NGOs and individuals to bring out true element of their character.

His second book – end of story?, is a thriller that features questions as chapter headings to run through a plot featuring an unemployed journalist’s experience with subliminal advertising

Featured author at writersmelon. Do take part in the on going contest to win a signed copy of his book !

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   A mentorship series on writing effectively and beautifully. You can find previous posts here

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