5 Writing Lessons from Arundhati Roy

By on Mar 21, 2014 in Writing Tips from Famous Authors


Are you looking for some tips from professionals that may help improve your writing? Do you want to know the difference, or the secret ingredient that makes some writers stand out from the crowd? We’ve got the help you need! And, not just any professional, we have got “Arundhati Roy”, winner of the Booker Prize in 1997, to help you out with your writing! Here are some tips from her, which may inspire your writing style or may even help you write better.

1. The Voice

According to Arundhati Roy, in order to write better fiction and non-fiction stories, you need to understand the difference in voice between the two genres. She describes the difference between the two voices as the difference between “dancing and walking”, where dancing refers to fiction. You need to study the two sets of voices closely and distinguish one from the other, in order to write good fiction and (or) non-fiction.

2. Best Book?

Arundhati Roy says, “I’m not even sure that there is such a thing as best book”. Books are not about that. According to her, the accolades or the prizes that a book or the author receives, for example, the booker prize that she won, is all down to a roll of the dice. Prizes are for the readers, and not the writers. The process of writing a book, and seeing it come to life, is what truly matters to a writer. According to her, the process of writing a book is a very lonely, yet wonderful process. At the end of the process, the writing of the book and making it come to life is what matters, rather than the prizes that it wins.

3. On Selfish and Generous Writers

She states, “I’ve always said that amongst great writers there are selfish writers and generous writers”. Selfish writers leave you with the memory of their brilliance whereas generous writers leave you with the memory of the world that they have evoked. According to Roy, writing must be an act of generosity, not an act of self-indulgence. It’s important that you keep in mind that you’re not going to burden the world with what it did for me or didn’t do for me.

4. All your Characters are a Part of You

Another thing you need to keep in mind while writing, is that the characters you create, are all a part of you. You’re invested in all of them. “They may not all be very nice people, but I am not a very nice person”, she says.

5. Great Stories Have no Secrets

And finally, her thoughts on the secret to a great story: “the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again.” They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t.

“In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.” – Arundhati Roy.

Image credit: Nick Gulotta on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Pranay Kanagat is a freelance writer who has a love for writing on various subjects. In particular, he enjoys creative writing. He is also studying for an Engineering degree.


    1 Comment

  1. I appreciate this opportunity to learn from a master storyteller.

    Leanne Dyck

    March 21, 2014


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