8 Pakistani Authors on the Art of Writing

30th Oct 2017

On writing for the right reader:

“The only way to be a writer is to assume that someone who is reading it knows more than you do about everything in the novel, including how to write a sentence – and that’s the reader you’re aiming for.” – Kamila Shamsie

On providing an inclusive reading experience:

“I think of a novel as an amusement park. Or an aquarium. Or a city. It’s just a place you go to have an experience, and so I’ve tried throughout to write very sparely and sort of write short, brief novels, that can still cover a lot of ground, because so much of the narrative work is happening inside the reader’s head.” – Mohsin Hamid

On discovering and staying true to your distinct expression:

“As you write, you become more conscious. Every story has a voice. Let that voice guide you and not the audience.” – Musharraf Ali Farooqi

On overcoming fears of taking risks:

“[The hardest bit was…] reading what I had written. Staying with the idea. Not knowing if anyone cared about what I was writing. Not knowing where to end a paragraph. But I guess, like in life, the hardest bits turned out to be the most rewarding. The writing became better, or at least more fun for me, when I took a leap in the dark and went to places I didn’t know.” – Mohammed Hanif

On the importance of reading and drawing from experience:

“My first novel, The Bride, is based on a story I heard in the mountains. To begin with I thought I would write a short story, but it grew into a novel. I had no prior experience in writing fiction. I think all the reading I had done had unconsciously taught me the value of creating tension, suspense, characters… the skills a fiction writer needs.” – Bapsi Sidhwa

On the power of writing:

“Paper is the strongest material in the world. Things under which a mountain will crumble, you can place on paper and it will hold: beauty at its most intense; love at its fiercest; the greatest grief; the greatest rage. (When I start writing) I begin to think of it in another manner: what caused it, and, beyond the despair, what is the moment of hope in here? I must find that.” – Nadeem Aslam

On having the opportunity to address the underbelly of society:

“If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth.” – Saadat Hasan Manto

On character development:

“Whatever you write, write as a mother, be a mother of the murderer as well as of the murdered.” – Bano Qudsia