Monday musings: Writer—a creator or a narrator?

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The Muses Melpomene (tragedy), Erato (love poetry), and Polyhymnia (sacred poetry, hymns), by Eustache Le Sueur. Source: Wikipedia

 

I’m Samreen Ahsan and I’m the author of multiple award-winning books. Many people who didn’t know me as an author, or who knew me before I started writing, have asked me what inspired me to write. Some people also ask how I develop a story in my mind; is it the start or the end I write first? When you write, is there a specific time of the day or an entire day dedicated to the writing?

Honestly speaking, there are no specific answers to these questions. For me, the rule of writing is: there is NO rule of writing. You don’t create a story—the story comes to you. It’s like a revelation. It can come to you anytime, anywhere. There are some places and events that help you strengthen your storyline but of course, there is just one thing, one tiny ball of thoughts you need to prick, and boom—the story starts to flow in your mind. The characters talk to you, haunt you in your dreams, stalk you everywhere, asking you to write and write and write. You cannot concentrate anywhere unless you listen to those characters and write whatever they want you to write.

When a reader asks me why a certain character acts in such a way, or someone leaves a review saying: it should have been this or that way—I do not have answers for those comments. The story is how my characters came to me, the way they behaved, the way they felt. I write whatever they want me to write. It does sound like a paranormal activity and I’m sure many of the authors would agree how much the characters haunt you, and keep haunting you unless you finish their story. It may sound like a curse, but I find it a blessing.

In this way, a writer is never alone. She has the characters to travel everywhere with her. There is an unseen world, parallel to our world, which we, as writers, carry in our heads silently. We see those characters talking to each other, we observe their behaviors, and narrate it.

I love to travel and I always imagine my characters while discovering the new places, always thinking what if this particular character visit this place. I try to see these places from their point of view.

My first book, A Silent Prayer is set in city of Toronto, where I live. The places mentioned in the story are based on my personal experience. The plot is based on mythical creatures, the Jinn mentioned in Holy Quran, and part of my faith is also believing in their existence. For some, it may sound like believing in vampires or dragons but this is how it is. There is no explanation when it comes to faith. You either believe it, or you don’t. Religion does not really provide you any logic.

My second story, Once Upon A [Stolen] Time is a romantic fantasy, set in both modern and medieval England. If you ask me, what was the inspiration: just like my main female character, I am also obsessed with castles and palaces. I always wanted to write a story that revolves around a haunted castle but I couldn’t prick that tiny ball of thoughts for sometime. Then out of nowhere, I had a dream and I pricked that ball, that one single thread you keep on pulling, until your story is fully developed, characters coming out of their shells.

I have written romance novels so far, but I don’t think this is the only genre I’d write in the future. It depends what kind of character comes into my mind and what kind of incident triggers the story.

There are some characters in my stories that change drastically and when I write about them, I also get surprised by how much they develop from the start to the end of the story. The entire story doesn’t come in one go. It comes in phases. Sometimes, despite what you thought at initial stages, the story takes a totally different turn when you actually write it. It’s those characters that argue with you and want their way and you have no other choice than to listen to your characters and let them lead the story.

I’m just the narrator for my characters. I help them fabricate their story, and show it to the world.

Samreen Ahsan is the author of The Prayer Series: A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded, as well as a new series beginning with Once Upon A [Stolen] Time. To find out more about her and her books, visit her:

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