Several folks in my network write– columns, blogposts or books. I am dedicating Fridays to reading and pondering over a couple of them each week.

Ever since I became interested in the intersections of neuroscience, psychology and writing, I read differently. If you are a writer or interested in writing, you may find my analysis useful.

The first book of this week is “Name, Place, Animal, Thing” by Vrinda Baliga. I was introduced to her recently by a reputed author. Her stories have won awards and rave reviews.

I read only one story from her book so far: “At Loose Ends”. As a highly visual person, I was delighted to find another visual writer. She gets you to see the settings, her characters, the time of day, the landscape. The creative strategy that she has used in this story is fascinating. Instead of taking a perceptual position as one of the talking characters, she inserts herself as an element of the plot by being the katputli herself. What it does is two fold: one, it provides for double dissociation from what is immediately happening between the characters. So as a reader, although you are drawn into the microplot, you always remain aware of the big picture, the blind spots, the macro. Two, it creates that unearthly feeling in the story, where the living and non-living collide, of multiple stories existing on the same realm. You connect with the unsaid, unexpressed in you. Powerful strategy.

The second book of this week is “Fragments” by Janaki Nagaraj. I have known her for many years and she is one of those rare consistent bloggers in the Indian blogging world. To move from blogposts to a book requires a change in the way you approach writing. I was very excited to find out how she has transitioned.

I read two stories from her book. I will rest this analysis on the story “The Homecoming”. This story is also visual but in a different way. You enter into the person of each highlighted character and see what they see. You also sense what they felt as they saw it. It is a kinaesthetic story. The creative strategy is quilting where you have a set of similar patches and then another set of another kind and another and you stitch it into a pattern. The quilt pattern is decided by the author, the reader gets to slowly see it as the events get stitched in.

The focus of this book is on the nuances of relationships and histories that make them. The focus of Vrinda’s book is the complexity of human nature in a complex world.

Two very different creative undertakings. And yet for us writers two terrific resources on how to think of our plots differently.

All the best for the success of both books.