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How to appreciate a book better (Part 3)

Post by: Deepti Khanna

In the past few weeks we spoke about how autobiographical traces, visualswriting style and character sketches can enrich a book reading experience. In the final part of the series we shall tell you a little about how sub plots and choice of words bring a sea change in the book reading experience


Sub plots
Subplots are important to any novel since they weave dimension and complexity into stories. For instance in the novel There’s No Love On Wall Street, the main story is about Riya Jain understanding how dirty, difficult and unglamorous the life of an investment banker is. In this book the sub plots author Ira Trivedi has weaved in are Ivana’s story, who is Riya’s close friend and fellow intern who is sexually and emotionally used by her boss with a false promise of offering her a full-time job at Goldstein Smith. The other and very important sub plot created by the author is that of Jonathan, the Vice President at Goldstein Smith, who plays with Riya’s emotions.


It should be noted that each subplot is structured as a complete / standalone story, although it is never floated independently. Each subplot connects to the main story, adds value to it and throws light on the characters. A mark of a good sub plot is that it should appear to be an integral part of the story, without which the main story would be incomplete.


Wherever a subplot comes from, it is structured like the main plot with a well defined beginning, middle, and end. However, sub plots have lesser twists and turns and are also far shorter in length.



Choice of words
The words used by the author, and the order and way they are used, make a huge difference to the pace of the novel. This applies to any genre of fiction. Every writer makes sure that when their final product is picked up by us, the story should take over completely and we should get so immersed in the fictional world that we forget that this is just a story that we are reading. Using words that support the storyline is important for the author. 


We can judge a good novel by reading the first few pages and making sure that the author has avoided too many, unnecessary, and misplaced modifiers and adjectives. This reduces the pace of the narrative considerably. If the author does not pay attention to this we will be left with no choice but to simply leaf through the pages. Epithets undoubtedly add depth to the narrative but it is important for the author to be choosy and only use what adds to the scene.


To illustrate, in the novel Chanakya’s Chant, examine the passage: Her name was Vishaka – it meant heavenly star – and she was undoubtedly a celestial creature. Her translucent ivory complexion with just a hint of aqua, her sensuous mouth, and mischievous emerald eyes were partially covered by her cascading, silken, auburn hair as she bent over his face, planting little pecks of exquisite joy upon his eyes, nose and lips. Paurus lay on the silken bedspread in the chamber of the pleasure palace. Sounds of a Veena wafted in as one of courtesans played from Raga Hindol – the raga of love. Along the wall of the room stood a golden basin that had been filled with pure rose water, and opposite it stood a large golden lamp that had been lit with sandalwood oil. Paurus was in a state of tender bliss.


In this passage, the use of epithets, slow pace and detailed description adds to the beauty of the narrative and tells us about the abundant, beautiful ambience and how Paurus was enjoying himself to the fullest. So the relaxed, slow narrative does not hurt us, but adds to the plot. But such words used to describe a mystery or what should be a fast paced novel will seem highly inappropriate.


We hope this series of blog posts have been informative and have helped you enjoy books in a completely different light. 

1 Comment

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I likes to novels.
Sat,Dec 15th 2012 9:47 PM