Author of the Week | Aditi Tripathi
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? July 14, 2018. That was the day I finished my first novel, Crossing the i’s and Dotting the t’s. A basic Indian teen fiction
Hey bibliophile! I know the theme for this week was slightly obvious but we know that it is important to address our collective ignorance towards our country and remember the efforts that have been made by the first leaders of our country. The next week is about a disease that has taken away lives and changed many more.
This week’s author is Aditi Tripathi. She has written 2 novels so far and she started writing when she was 16. The vibrance of her work will leave you awestruck.
So, what was the first book you ever read? How old were you then?
Huh. I don’t know the first book I ever read, probably some picture book. But the first book I remember reading, all on my own, was when I was six. It was a Hindi, Amar Chitra Katha comic on Chanakya. One of the many from the collection my parents had given me on my birthday. Still have all of those and they made me kind of fall in love with the glorious figures from India’s past, which I guess later affected both my love of writing about India and studying Indian history.
How many Books/Short Stories/Poems have you written? Which is your favorite? Are there any that ended up getting shelved for the time being?
Till now, only two novels and a couple of poems. The favorite being my latest, Bhabra—a literary fiction novel. The others seem plain embarrassing at times. With short stories, I have a bad habit of starting one and then leaving them unfinished. Got about seven unfinished shorts on my computer which I need to revisit sometime soon. For the time being, I’ve shelved writing the spin-offs and sequels of my first novel because of my current project that just felt more interesting.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes! That’s the best part of being a writer, especially on Wattpad, the wider chance of interacting with readers and my favorite authors, texting them personally, or even reading the inline comments. It’s a privilege even published authors miss out on. We get to see the reaction of readers on every line while that’s impossible in traditional settings. And that’s the biggest motivation for me. Readers usually leave sweet and complimentary comments and in general, it’s a positive experience. I guess I’m not popular enough to get any actual hate haha. Though my favorite comments would be readers praising/relating with/thirsting after characters, those are in equal parts funny and flattering.
When did you write your first Book/Short Story/Poem and how old were you?
I’d been a reader till about 16/17, but then I failed 11th grade and for anyone, it’s just a terrible situation, especially people from India where academic pressure is immense, so I simply started writing my first novel to distract myself from the crushing depression. Seeking validation from Wattpad when I couldn’t get it anywhere else, and the community here didn’t disappoint. I remember making great friends on forums and stuff and just in general connecting with authors. Fell in love with writing in that process.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
July 14, 2018. That was the day I finished my first novel, Crossing the i’s and Dotting the t’s. A basic Indian teen fiction. While by no means a great book--heck I can’t read it without cringing, you know the first book syndrome--but the high you get after finishing a creative project is so addictive you can’t help but chase it all the time. The high is as elating as it is satisfying. This purest form of pride upon completing something you’ve wholly made from scratch.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I enjoy writing imperfect, sometimes flawed main leads. Women mostly though my current work follows young men in their late teen/the early twenties. I want the main leads to work and fail and rise and cry and improve and learn before they earn the readers’ trust, love, and support. Just love subverting Mary Sue against the dark villain trope. The dichotomy of black versus white seems uninteresting to me (which I guess also explains my obsession with Mahabharat).
Where do you get your information or ideas for your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
For all kinds of plot-related research, there’s no better and cheaper source than Guru Google. But for ideas, I mostly rely on observation. I do love consuming content, as all creators do, but my main source of ideas and plots is just observing humans around me. People I know and like, yes, but also strangers. I’m that creep in the metro who’s always quietly absorbing every conversation and outfit and accent and dialect, making mental notes for writing or adding details to characters.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
Writing is less about writing and more about revising, planning, detailing, and formatting. My initial impression about writing came from those montages in films where people get hit with inspiration and spend weeks on their computers until their perfect first draft is ready. Add that to your list of pop culture lies, because in the actual process, no matter how good you are or how much you love the craft, you would always have to push yourself to write. Which is a good thing otherwise people won’t ever appreciate the effort that goes into the process.
What does your process of writing look like? What is the hardest part?
The middle. The middle. As exciting as reading the build-up to the climax is for readers, for me as a writer it’s often a drag. I’m always more excited to write what’s coming next, the lowest point for the characters, and then their eventual rise. Perhaps the middle is also hard because I lean more towards a discovery writing process with a pretty brief outline.
What do your family and friends feel about your work?
My family is proud my friends are loud. While I cherish their reactions, they love me too much to criticize my writing seriously. Except for one of my best friends, Aditi Sharma. I’d always run by ideas with her, and we’d observe people in the metro together while going to college, spitballing for ideas. I’m grateful for her frank feedback on everything, even a mere idea in its initial stages.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t read your first work, you’ll get discouraged. Finish your draft and only then reread it with a critical eye, it’ll be much easier to improve after your manuscript is done. The same goes for posting on Wattpad. Don’t be too critical while writing a chapter otherwise you’ll take ages to update, edit it only after it’s all done. Oh and research on the basics of grammar, paragraph formatting, dialogue punctuation, etc. Just know the language rules.
Who is your inspiration in the field of writing?
Would it be too pretentious to say the authors of Mahabharat? I mean, I love a lot of modern-day and classic authors but no piece of literature has impacted the way I perceive and write characters more than the great epic. This is hilarious because we still don’t know the exact author of Mahabharat. It’s traditionally attributed to Rishi Vyasa of course, but historically it’ll be more accurate to say that several additions were made to it by nameless court writers, poets, and folk artists. But yeah, all the authors of Mahabharat inspire me. They were able to weave in a plot filled with political intrigue, social commentary, spiritual philosophies, the ethics of war, and just a whole set of morally grey characters people still debate upon, thousands of years later. What’s not to like?
Has your writing style changed since you first started writing? If yes, in what ways has it changed?
Yes, I think it has gotten more descriptive. There’s more showing in my writing now as compared to my first novel, so that’s nice I guess. But I still struggle with making the prose crisper and removing filler words.
What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?
The honest answer is the simplicity of contemporary. Since most of my inspiration comes from observation instead of imagination (God is that a bad thing for a writer? I don’t mean I’m unimaginative, just that’s not the primary factor in idea hunting) it made sense to write contemporary teen fiction and adult literary fiction. Even my current project, though a new adult urban fantasy, has characters based more on observation. So for now it’s impossible for me to completely escape contemporary themes. Though my dream project is historical fiction set in early twentieth-century India.
Would you consider yourself a planner or a pantser? Or both? Is your current system working for you?
Both. Leaning more towards pantsing. I think the official author tube term is “discovering writing process” which, yeah, kind of describes my process. I always start with a rough outline but you know with contemporary it’s really difficult to predict every single plot detail in advance, most of it depends on the character. I just figure out my character motivations and write their actions/reactions accordingly. The downside is that if my characters haven’t been properly fleshed out, then that leads to loads of blocks.
What do you love the most about your writing process?
The initial rush of starting a project. The excitement, the newness of the setting, the anticipation for first reactions by readers. Just everything about the beginning. Followed by the satisfaction which follows the end of a project. The high of having written.
Does music help or halt your writing process?
Music helps channel my emotion and imagine exact settings at times too. But while I’m writing I need silence.
Are your characters often inspired by real people?
No, not really. Not people I know. But I often see strangers in public places and get inspired by their appearance, their way of speaking, their mannerisms. So I guess the correct answer would be that my characters are inspired by my guesses and conjectures about real people I don’t exactly know. The rest is imagination. Makes sense?
Are there any specific ways that help you out of your reader’s/writer’s block?
Talking to people, discussing the point I’m stuck at with fellow writer friends Shubhodiya (chaashnee on Wattpad), Sanya (Sanya_Goel on Wattpad), and my friend Aditi. Also consuming content helps me escape my block.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Nothing. My younger writing self took to writing to escape her morose reality and insecurity. She wasn’t thinking of anything else but somehow proving to herself that she could finish something without failing and in a way that helped her, me. Discovering my subsequent love for writing was just a bonus. But that hadn’t been the goal.
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