Sunday, September 29, 2013

ART OF WRITING II ('intention')



The ‘intention’ to correct the ills of society has gripped many a writer. One of the first of this genre was Charles Dickens. Through his works, he stirred public opinion against many a corrosive practice that plagued society. Child labour was of them and he tackled it with such zeal that many an adult of later years owed his childhood to Dickens. The current trend in India is to stir public opinion about dowry deaths and other atrocities committed on women. Many writers have made this crusade their main intention and one hopes for their success.
     To malign public figures is the intention of some writers. They are always on the prowl for scandals connected with people who are well-known. Celebrity capers seem more exciting than similar instances of lesser mortals. By doing this, they add glitter and glamour to sin, thus tempting gullible readers into following in the footsteps of their subjects.
     The satirist is a writer whose intention is to amuse while throwing light on the evils of society or political depravities. Jonathan Swift was a master craftsman in this art. His Gulliver’s Travels is ostensibly an amusing tale of a stranded traveler but under this cloak lies the bitterest attack on political farces. To be a writer like this, one has to have a thorough knowledge of what is happening and the ability to write with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. After Swift, R.K.Laxman has mastered this art in his cartoons.
     P.G. Wodehouse is the best example of a writer’s ‘intention’ to amuse. There is nothing but unadulterated tomfoolery in his works. Situations are bizarre sometimes, events turn topsy-turvy and characters are down-right absurd. There is an air of incredible belief in what’s happening but not for a moment does the reader probe into probabilities or possibilities. He just goes on a carefree ride with the author, the only casualty being a ‘stitch in the side’. This unsullied bid to amuse is the most important tool of a humorist. Some of R.K. Narayan’s works have this quality.
      To inform is a very laudable intention a writer can have. Today is the golden age of the print media with increasing literacy opening up the doors of knowledge to many. One advantage of this ‘intention’ is that the writer needs to have a deep knowledge of the subject and a flair for putting it across palatably to the reader. This intention is just what men of science, medicine and other technological areas need. As long as they are true to their intention, they are not expected to entertain.
     ‘To keep myself occupied’ is the intention of some writers. A very good pastime and to be encouraged. Writing requires such concentration that all one’s mental resources are harnessed and it also ties down the person to a desk – this automatically keeps him away from mischief.AS Francis Bacon said..’Writing makes a perfect man (woman!)’
     So, before you write, stop and think – what’s your intention? Honourable, we hope!