Rushdie, often referred to as the “dean” of the magical realism literary genre, rose to prominence when he wrote the classic “Midnight’s Children” (1981), which not only won the prestigious Booker Prize, but also the “Booker of The bookers too. However, eight years later came the fatwa against Rushdie as a result of the “Satanic Verses”, a death sentence issued by some Islamic authorities, which put him in daily danger and consumed years of his life. His most recent book “Quixote” (2019), which was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, tells the story of a confused Indian-American man who travels across America in pursuit of a TV host. famous with which he became obsessed.
As the literary world prays for Rushdie’s speedy recovery, we bring you 6 writing lessons from the author extraordinaire.
1. Borrow from lived experiences
In his memoir “Joseph Anton” (2012), Rushdie wrote that when he told his father he wanted to be an author, he exclaimed “What am I going to tell my friends?” . Interestingly, a similar scene appears in the novel “The Satanic Verses”, when Gibreel Farishta, one of the main characters, tells his father that he is going to be an actor. It’s just one of many real-life elements woven into Rushdie’s fiction. They give fiction that bit of truth it needs to be believable. Including bits of a real conversation could bring your dialogue to life.
2. The different characters are all distinct voices
Rushdie still focuses on vocals. He wrote in his memoirs that you have to know how people speak to tell their story. The way the characters speak says a lot about them, their personality and their story. Thus, the writers must give their voice to the characters. By reading passages of character dialogue, readers should be able to tell the difference. Each character should have a different vocabulary, attitude, and body language. So before you write, think about how your characters speak.
3. Research, Research, Research
Rushdie’s novels are known to take place in a variety of locations around the world and over time. And to recreate these settings requires extensive research. In fact, the clearest evidence of her research is the four-and-a-half-page bibliography of her 2008 novel “The Enchantress of Florence”! Thus, an intimate knowledge of each environment is required, which can be acquired either by visiting there or by details found on the Internet, blogs, maps and satellite views.
4. How you write = What you write
Rushdie pays particular attention to language and how he uses it to tell his stories. In his novel “Fury” (2001), when the narrator is introduced to the female love interest, he completely loses touch with reality, describing her: “Extreme physical beauty draws all available light to itself, becomes a shining beacon in an otherwise darkened environment. Why look into the surrounding darkness when you can look at this benevolent flame. Why talk, eat, sleep, work when such radiation was displayed? So, it’s important to think about and understand what your characters are going through and how your writing might reflect how they’re feeling.
5. Writing is a constant process
In an interview with Vinita Dawra Nangia, Delhi-based author and editor, Times of India, Rushdie revealed that he was always clear about becoming an author. However, it took him nearly 13 years to debut. In the meantime he also worked as an editor and his first novel “Grimus” (1975) was critically rejected. But the one thing he constantly did in the midst of it all was write. From Rushdie’s background, you could tell that writing isn’t easy and sometimes the risk outweighs the reward. But there is joy in the creative process.
Watch the full interview here:
6. The first thing to do every day should be to write
In the same interview with Dawra, Rushdie said, “My theory has always been that every day we wake up with a bit of creative energy and it’s possible to waste it. If you’re making phone calls or answering e- mails, so here we go. My view is always to do the writing first. Everything else can wait.”
Also Read: His Fiery, Provocative Sense of Humor Remains: Salman Rushdie’s Son Zafar Rushdie on His Dad’s Health;
Rushdie turns off the ventilator and speaks, the day after the attack: Agent