Balaji Venkataramanan: A Novel in a Year

This post is part of a series called Duckbill Ideas for Creative Classrooms, where our authors write on subjects related to the curriculum and schools.

Writing a novel might seem a challenging task for children. Author Balaji Venkataramanan, author of middle-grade novel Flat-track Bullies and a software engineer who works for TCS, breaks down the process of writing a novel and offers tips to children on how to achieve this.

The process outlined below is how Balaji wrote his critically acclaimed novel, and he conducts motivational workshops for children to inspire them to become more confident writers.

Step 1: Get yourself an old notebook.
An old rough book or assignment notebook should work fine.

Step 2: Pay attention to details.
By details I mean things that others don’t pay attention to, like the lizard on the wall (Has its tail grown back?) or the line of ants at the corner (Have you found their homes yet?) Or that mongrel near the mosque (BTW, is it a he or a she?). Or the way the auto-rickshaw guy talks.

Step 3: Spend half an hour a day reading.
Just read anything—newspapers, magazines, storybooks or even medical prescriptions. Now, this reading will not immediately turn us into writers but it will keep the brain exercised. Yeah, the brain is a muscle, after all.
Exercise makes the biceps grow.
Reading makes the brain grow.

Step 4: See the funny side of things
In that old notebook, make a note of all funny incidents that happen at school, special classes, the playground or wherever you go during the course of the week.
It need not necessarily happen to you. Make a note of things that happen/happened to your friends as well.
Note: If you have trouble doing Step 4 please read Step 2 again.

Step 5: Write four pages over the weekend.
Spin a story around all the funny incidents collected over the week. (Clue: Just the way you come up with the excuses. Just kidding)
Two pages on Saturday and two pages on Sunday would make it four pages for the week.
That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Step 6: Give a nice title to the story.
No, don’t waste time on this, when you are starting. Just get started and the title will come to you as you progress.

Step 7: FREE – yeah, Festival Offer …
If you follow the first seven steps, you get the following for free
• An outlet for your feelings
• A confidence booster
• A novel!

Number of pages in a week : 4
Number of weeks in a year : 52 (Yes that’s right, check the calendar or Google).
4 x 52 = 208 pages in one year.
And yes, a book!
If it’s good enough, you might even be able to publish it. Like I did.


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