Thursday, December 6, 2007

Writer’s block

Being a writer in the ad world is difficult. Having to accept changes in the copy, or even getting it outright rejected is part of every copywriter’s job. But the kind of changes that are made, and reasons given for rejection, mostly make every writer quiver like an aspen.
There are times when I picture my favourite writers taking their piece of work for a review. And I imagine the kind of things they would hear. Now that I have stopped trembling, I am finally able to write this out.
Listed below are some of my favourite quotes and the reactions, I think, would have ensued.

“She had a penetrating sort of laugh. Rather like a train going into a tunnel.”
No, no, Wodehouse, the analogy is just not correct. It’s difficult to picture. And let me remind you once more that ‘good egg’ is not an appropriate term of appreciation. And I strongly disapprove of the ‘Jeeves’ series. At least try it with different characters.

“Call me Ishmael.”
Look Herman, this is not okay. We need an opening line that is relevant to Moby Dick and his life. Can we have the first line throw in some cues about the sea or ships or something?

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep
but I have promises to keep
and miles to before I sleep
and miles to go before I sleep”
No Robert, you haven’t got it right. And why repeat the lines? It looks like you had nothing better to write, and so just put the last line twice. I’d call that lazy. Change the last line.

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.”
Ayn, my girl, first of all, the sentence is just too long. Cut it into two. Better still; just delete the second half of the sentence. Instead, say ‘nor vice versa’. Let me do it for you. There. Better.

“When all at once I saw a crowd,
a host, of golden daffodils.”
William, I’m not sure ‘host’ is the right word here. Change it to something better.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane, this reflects a know-it-all attitude. How can you be so sure? It’s not correct to generalise things like this. Changed the beginning of the sentence to “It is generally believed that”.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
No way, Charles. Where is the revolution in this? Where is the tale of two cities? There is a gross disconnect.

“We are crying the oceans in our tears.”
Of course not, Gregory. This is a gross exaggeration in the name of creative liberty. I don’t like this. In fact, I don’t like the story at all. How can a foreigner accept, without any resistance, a name given to him by a common village woman? And want to be known by that name? It sounds too contrived. And Shantaram, of all the names available? For starters, change it to ‘Rahul’.

1 comment:

Raindrop said...

so apt n witty.
u wrote it with such ease and flair that anybody who hasn't read the masterpieces will know it too :)