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English CBCS Notes – Creative Writing and Translation

What is creative writing?


Creative writing is an art of sorts - the art of making things up. It is writing done in a way that is
not academic or technical but still attracts an audience. Though the definition is rather loose,
creative writing can for the most part be considered any writing that is original and self-
expressive. A news article, for example, cannot be considered creative writing because its main
goal is to present facts and not to express the feelings of the writer. While a news article can be
entertaining, its main purpose is to present the facts. The purpose of creative writing is to both
entertain and share human experience, like love or loss. Writers attempt to get at a truth about
humanity through poetics and storytelling. Whether one is trying to express a feeling or a
thought, the first step is to use one’s imagination.

Techniques of Creative Writing –

1. Plot – Plot is the literary term defined as the plan, design, scheme, pattern or sequence
of events in a play, poem or work of fiction and the organization of incidents and
characters in such a way as to induce curiosity and suspense in the spectator or reader.
In his work Poetics, Aristotle talks about the plot which he called mythos. A simpler
approach than that of Aristotle was explained by E. M. Forster in his work Aspects of
the Novel (1972).

Structure of the Plot – In 1863, a German critic named Gustav Freytag published
his work titled Technique of Drama in which he discussed the structure of the plot,
otherwise also known as Freytag’s Modal which is as follows:-
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i. Exposition – It is the beginning of the plot usually concerned with introducing


the characters and revealing the setting. It also focuses on the relationship of all
the characters with one another, their goals and motivations and their role in the
story.
ii. Rising Action – It starts with a conflict which is a struggle between two forces.
It may be internal (within oneself) or external (between two or more
individuals). It may also be both internal and external. It consists the beginning
of a tension which continues with the development of conflict.
iii. Climax – It is the significant turning point of the story that determines how it
ends. It is the point of maximum tension after which the circumstances must
change. It usually lies somewhere in the middle of the story and determines the
ultimate fate of the protagonist.
iv. Falling Action – During the falling action all the loose ends of the story are
tied up. It shows the effect of the climax. There is a final confrontation between
the protagonist and the antagonist and one of them decisively wins.
v. Denouement – The term is derived from a French term denoer which means
‘to untie’ and a Latin term nodus which means ‘knot’. It serves as the
conclusion to the story. All the conflicts are resolved and the questions raised
during the course of the story are answered. In a tragedy, however, it is known
as catastrophe. Also, the knots that need to be untied by the denouement are
known as aporia.
 Anagnorisis – This term comes from Greek literature and means discovery.
After the rising action is over, the main character makes a critical discovery
which pushes the story towards the climax.
 Peripetia – also derived from Greek literature, it means reversal of fate. After
the critical discovery and the climax the falling action begins which is the
opposite of what has been happening in the story so far. In other words, the fate
of the main character is reversed and the plot gradually starts moving towards
the conclusion.

Types of Plots –

 Simple plot – A simple plot has a single storyline that moves in a single
direction. It contains one layer and therefore, at times it may be one
dimensional in nature.
 Complex plot – A complex plot is the opposite of a simple plot and the
story does not move in one direction. The action either goes back by the
medium of a flashback, also known as analepsis or skips forward with the
medium of a flash forward, also known as prolepsis. It has a multi-layered
story and therefore, it may be multi-dimensional in nature. Aristotle called a
complex plot imbroglio in his work Poetics.
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 Parallel plot – A story that contains parallel plots has two stories that are
equally important and run parallel to one another. Just like parallel lines, the
action in both stories does not overlap in any way.
 Multi-plot – A story with multiple plots has more than two stories that
exist together. It is not necessary that each story has to be equally important.
There may be just one main story while the others are secondary or the
several stories may be treated in any way that the writer deems fit.
 Sub-plot – The sub-plot is the secondary plot in any story. It is that part of
the story in which the secondary characters are involved. The sub-plot may
or may not be related to the primary plot of the story.
 Plot hole – A plot hole is a gap or inconsistency in the storyline that goes against
the flow of logic established by the story’s plot so far. It also includes a blatant
omission of relevant information, unlikely behaviour or actions of characters,
impossible or improbable events and events and statements that contradict the
earlier events of the story.

Plot Devices –

 The MacGuffin – Coined by the famous Hollywood director Alfred


Hitchcock, this plot device has either an object or a person as the primary
focus. The entire action of the story revolves around finding that object or
person. Eg. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
 Red Herring – This plot device is used by the writer in order to divert the
reader or the audience from something significant. In other words, to lead
to false and/or misleading conclusions. Eg. Usually horrors or thrillers lead
the readers or audience to false conclusions in order to maintain the identity
of the real culprit a secret so as to maintain interest.
 Chekov’s Gun – This plot device gets its name from the Russian writer
Anton Chekov and is also known as foreshadowing. It is a caution against
using any unnecessary props in a play or a story. If the writer shows a gun
then it must be fired otherwise there is no need to show it. It is also a way to
prepare the audience for future action.
 Dues ex Machina – This plot device is lifted from Greek tragedies where
it was traditionally used. In Greek mechane means crane which is the
machine that was used in order to implement this plot device. In ancient
Greek tragedies and actor used to play God and needed to be lowered on
stage from above. A crane was used for this purpose. The entire name of
the plot device is a Latin phrase that means an impossible event in the end
to solve all problematic situations. In modern times the crane is replaced by
various types of harness.
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2. Characterization – It is the method used by the writer to reveal the personality of a


character, develop them and convey information about them. It can either be direct
where the writer ‘tells’ the reader what the personality of the character is Eg. The
patient boy and the quiet girl were both very well behaved. Or, it can be indirect where
the writer ‘shows’ what the personality of the character is like. There are five ways of
revealing all that is there to reveal about a character in an indirect manner. It is
mentioned as follows:-

S T E A L
Speech Thoughts Effect on Others Actions Looks

Speech – Whatever is expressed by the character in spoken words.

Thoughts – Whatever the character only says in his/her mind.

Effect on Others – How the character makes others around him feel.

Actions – How the characters behaves with others via facial expressions and gestures.

Looks – What the character looks like in terms of appearance. It includes clothes.

Types of Characters –

a. Flat characters – Flat characters are simple characters that are also known as static
characters. They are two dimensional in nature and are identified by one or two traits
only. They have very little capacity for personal growth and appear in a limited sense in
the story. Eg. Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.
b. Round characters – They are complex characters and are also known as dynamic
characters. They are multi-dimensional in nature and have many character traits.
During the course of the story, they undergo major growth and development. Such
characters are usually the main characters in any story. Eg. Mowgli from The Jungle
Books by Rudyard Kipling.
c. Protagonist – It is the chief character in any work of fiction around whom the story
revolves. It is a round character and is also known as the hero. Eg. Becky Sharp from
Vanity Fair by W. M. Thacekray.
d. Antagonist – Also, known as the villain, the antagonist provides the conflict in the
story and always opposes the protagonist. Eg. Voldermot from the Harry Potter series
by J. K. Rowling.
e. Anti-hero – In a work of fiction an anti-hero is generally a protagonist who in some
regards is noticeably contrary to what a hero generally is. In other words, all heroes are
supposed to have some heroic qualities like goodness and courage but when the chief
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character in a story demonstrates the opposite traits, he is known as an anti-hero. Eg.


Lucifer or Satan from Paradise Lost by John Milton.
f. Stock Character – It is a stereotype character that recurs repeatedly in a particular
literary genre. They are inspired from widely known and typical cultural types and often
used in parody. Some examples are – mad scientist, cruel step-mother, jolly fat man,
etc.
g. Foil – In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character in order to
highlight particular qualities of one another. They are usually an opposite of one
another. The contrast may be demonstrated by physical or temperamental difference,
different social or economic background, etc. Eg. Michael Henchard and Donald
Farfrae from The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy.
h. Confidant/Confidante - (Male/Female) – It is a character who plays only a minor
role in the action but serves the protagonist as a trusted friend to whom he confesses his
intimate thoughts. It is also a device employed by the writer to reveal the inner-most
thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. Eg. Dr. John Watson from the Sherlock
Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

3. Setting – It refers to the place or location of action. The setting is used by the writer to
reveal his intention behind writing the story. It is either simple or elaborate in nature. It
is simple when it makes use of few changes and elements and elaborate when it makes
use of many. It is also used to lend credibility to the story and also helps in making the
story and the characters more plausible. The two components of the setting of any work
of fiction are:-
 Time – The time of any story refers to the time of day, the month or season
and the year or era in which the story is set. This helps the writer to define the
character, the props, the action as well as the mood of the story. It gives the
story an authenticity.
 Place – Just like time, the place also helps to define the character, the props,
the action as well as the mood of the story. It refers to the geographical location
as well as whether it is set indoors or outdoors or whether it is rural or urban,
the type of building it is set in, for example a hut, a castle, a palace, an
apartment, etc.

4. Narrative – The term narrative comes from the Latin term narrare which means to
recount. No story can be written unless there is narrative in it. It is the method that the
writer uses in order to reveal the plot to the reader. It also refers to the format of the
story. It is through the narration that the writer tells the story to the readers and moves
the action forward. There are several elements that combine together to make the
narrative of any work of fiction.
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Elements of Narration –

i. Point of View – It determines the person from whose perspective the story is
viewed. It is of three types, the first person point of view, the second person
point of view and the third person point of view. In the first person point of
view, the writer makes use of ‘I’ and therefore, it appears that the writer is also a
part of the story. Such works are usually autobiographical in nature. The second
person point of view makes use of ‘you’ and is rarely used in traditional fiction.
It is mostly used in interactive fiction which includes books in which the reader
is given a number of choices and the choice that the reader makes determines
the course of the story. This gives the reader the feeling as if they were a part of
the story. The third person point of view is the most common and provides the
greatest flexibility to the author. It makes use of ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘they’, etc. In this
type of story the narrator is an uninvolved entity who lies outside the text and
usually does not participate in the action.
ii. Narrative Voice – The narrative voice in any story is either reliable or
unreliable. It is reliable when it does not mislead the reader and helps in taking
the action forward with the help of facts and believable events. When the
opposite is true, the narrative voice is considered unreliable.
iii. Narrative Tense – The narrative tense is simply the tense in which the story
is written and determines whether the story is set in the past, present or the
future. Sometimes the entire story is written in one narrative tense while some
other times the action of the story may skip from one tense to another.

Narrator – The narrator is a person who tells the story. There are several types of
narrators. They are explained below:

Narrator

Extradigetic Intradigetic (Inside the


(Outside the text) text)

Homodigetic Hydrodigetic (Does not


(Participates in action) participate in action)
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Forms of Creative Writing –

 Poetry – It is a literary work that is written using metre, rhyme and rhythm. It
expresses the feelings and ideas of the writer and therefore, is subjective in nature.
 Prose – It simply is written or spoken language that does not have any metrical
structure. In other words, it is written without using metre, rhyme or rhythm. Also, all
literary works that are not poetry are written in prose form.
 Essay – It is a short piece of writing on a particular subject that has been chosen by the
writer himself.
 Composition – Just like an essay a composition is also a piece of writing on a
particular subject but the difference is that in this case the topic is given to the writer by
someone else.
 Drama – It is a literary work that is enacted on stage with the help of actors who wear
costumes and follow the stage directions.
 Novel – It is a story of approximately ten thousand words or more. It conveys a story
using various creative writing strategies.
 Novella – It is similar to a novel in all ways except its length. It is relatively shorter
than a novel but longer than a short story.
 Short Story – It is the shortest in length among the novel, novella and short story. All
the other elements are the same.
 Biography – When a person writes the life story of another person in a sequential
manner it is known as a biography.
 Autobiography – When a person writes one’s own life story in a sequential manner it
is known as an autobiography.
 Memoir – As the name suggests, it is a work based on memory. When a person
chooses some significant incidents from one’s own life in a random order, it is known
as a memoir.
 Travelogue – When a person makes a record of his travels to any place and writes
about them in a book form it is known as a travelogue. These records may be of
specific cultures, customs, traditions, food, clothes, sports, weather, famous landmarks,
people, etc.

What is translation?
It is a branch of applied linguistics and is inter-disciplinary in nature. In simpler terms, it is the
process of converting a text written in one language into another language. The conversion of
something from one medium to another is also known as translations.
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Definitions:

1.) Crystal (1987) – “Translation is a natural term used for all tasks where the meaning
of the expressions in one language is turned into the meaning of another whether the
medium is spoken, written or signed.”
2.) Brislin (1976) – “Translation is transfer of thoughts and ideas from one language to
another, whether the languages are in written or oral form...”

Key Concepts of Translation:

 Source Language – It is the primary language that is being translated. It is the


language in which the text is available and therefore, it is known as the source language
text.
 Target Language – It is the secondary language into which the text has to be
translated. The final text that one gets after the process of translation is complete is
known as the target language text.
 Transliteration – Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script of a
language to another that involves swapping letters. For example when one writes ‘Mujhe
ghar jana hai.’ it is transliteration because the script of the English language has been
used to convey the meaning of a Hindi statement.
 Transcription – When the words of any language are written using the phonetic
symbols it is known as transcription. Usually transcriptions of words are given in
brackets in front of words in any standard dictionary. Some examples are given below:

Word Transcription
Sheep /ʃiːp/
Ship /ʃɪp/
Sip /sɪp/
Hair /hɛː/
Air /ɛː/
Jam /dʒæm/
Cut /kʌt/
Put /pʊt/
School /skuːl/
Bring /brɪŋ
Class /klɑːs
Cherry /ˈtʃɛri/
Pillow /ˈpɪləʊ/
Book /bʊk/
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Back /bak/
Sister /ˈsɪstə/
Chair /tʃɛː/
Enough /ɪˈnʌf/
Dancing /ˈdɑːnsɪŋ/

Types of Translation: In 1959 a Russian critic named Roman Jackobson wrote a book
titled ‘On Linguistic Works of Translation’. In it he described the three basic types of
translation. They are as follows:

i. Intra-lingual translation – It is the process of translation completed within the same


language. For example when a difficult text is either reworded or paraphrased in the
same language.
ii. Inter-lingual translation – It is the traditional process of translation when a text is
translated from the source language to the target language.
iii. Inter-semiotic translation – It is the process of translation where the source
language text is translated into some other medium rather than text and vice versa. For
example when a beautiful painting is created about a poem or a song is written about an
ancient urn.

Translation Strategies: Two French scholars named Vinay and Darblenet wrote a book
titled ‘Stylistique’ in which they talked about the various translation strategies which is nothing
else but the methods through which the process of translation is realised. They are broadly of
two types and are mentioned below:

I. Direct Translation Strategies: As the name suggests, these translation strategies


are direct and therefore, there is an obvious equivalent that can be lifted from one
language and used in another.
a) Literal translation – It is the word for word translation that is not very accurate
and is also the machine translation where a text is translated with the help of
computer applications like Google Translate.

b) Calque – It is the literal transfer of expressions from one language to another. For
example ‘Think of the devil and the devil appears’ becomes शैतान का नाम लो और
शैतान हज़िर |
c) Borrowing – When a word from the source language is directly transferred to the
target language and is used as it is since it does not have any satisfactory equivalent
words. For example जलेबी |
II. Indirect Translation Strategies: Also known as oblique translation strategies, they
are indirect transfer of words and expressions since exact equivalents are not
available in the target language.
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a) Transposition – It refers to the interchange of the parts of speech that do not affect
the meaning of translation. For example I want water becomes मुझे पानी चाजहए |
b) Modulation – It refers to reversal of point of view. For example ‘It isn’t expensive.’
becomes ‘It is cheap.’ Also, in spoken translation when ‘Some.’ Is spoken with a falling
intonation is becomes a statement but when it is spoken with a rising intonation
‘Some?’ it becomes a question. This is also called modulation.
c) Equivalence – When the same meaning is conveyed through a different expression in
the target language. For example ‘Killing two birds with one stone’ becomes एक तेर से दो
जनशाने |
d) Adaptation – It refers to cultural references that need to be altered in order to
become relevant in the context of the target language text. For example a baby shower
becomes गोद भराई |

Problems of Translation:

 When proper equivalence is not available between source language and target language,
it becomes a problem of translation.
 When cultural ideas and concepts do not match from one language to another then
also it becomes a problem of translation.
 Since there are no articles in Hindi so when an English sentence that contains articles is
translated, for a non-native speaker it becomes very difficult to understand.
 Sometimes there is also the problem of ambiguity. For example the English sentence
‘This is Rahul’s picture.’ may have more than one meaning so it becomes difficult for
the translator to make sense. This sentence may mean that either Rahul made the
picture or he is in it.
 Certain kinship terms are not differentiated in English which makes it difficult for a
translator to make sense. For example all uncles have different names in Hindi like
चाचा, मामा, ताऊ, etc.
 There is also problem of omission. For example ‘There are five boys in the class.’
translates to कक्षा में पाां च लड़के हैं and not to वहााँ कक्षा में पाां च लड़के हैं |
 In Hindi, gender is shown by verb, whereas in English, it is reflected in the pronoun.
For example ‘He goes to the market.’ and ‘She goes to the market.’ are a set of
sentences in which the gender difference is shown through the pronoun but once they
are translated in Hindi, the difference is depicted through the verb ‘वह बाजार जाता है ’ and
‘वह बाजार जाती है ’ |
 Some common swear words also do not have equivalents in other languages which
becomes a problem of translation.