Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie teaches you his techniques for crafting believable characters, vivid worlds, and spellbinding stories.
SALMAN RUSHDIE: We are what one could call the storytelling animal. We are the only creature on the Earth that does this unusual thing of telling each other stories in order to try and understand the kind of creature that we are. When a child is born, of course, the first thing the child requires is nourishment and safety and love. When those things are met, almost the next thing that the child asks for is tell me a story. Even when I was a young boy, I said I want to be a writer.
I had no plan B. So it’s been one of my great fortunes in life to be able to do the thing which was the only thing I ever wanted to do MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, Salman Rushdie. MAN: The winner of this year’s Booker Prize is Salman Rushdie. MAN: Winner of PEN/Allen Lifetime Achievement Award. WOMAN: Sir Salman Rushdie was knighted today. WOMAN: Winner of the Best of the Booker. [MUSIC PLAYING] SALMAN RUSHDIE: I’ve been doing this a long time. I published my first book in 1975. So I have a bit of a track record here, 20 books.
I hope I’ve learned something along the way. If that can be communicated, then it’s worth doing, you know, because maybe it’ll just give you some shortcuts, which I had to find out the hard way. A lot of the skill of the writer comes from your understanding of who you are and what you need to say to the world.
I think my way of doing things is different from others because it draws on cultures from around the world from my country of origin, which is India, through Britain to the United States. I’ve spent my life in those three countries. And it gives me an international perspective, which I hope will be different than other people. I would say whoever you are tuning in, you must be somebody for whom books are important.
Many writers, I would say most writers, are born out of readers. If you want to make that transition from one side of the page to the other from being the reader to being the author, then maybe this will give you some signposts of how to make that journey. I’m really excited to be here to do this because I felt that I was being given the opportunity to do something I’ve never done before, which is to talk about language, to talk about character, to talk about form, to talk about everything there is in the art of being a writer.
I think the thing that I would just like to say is first of all a warning and secondly an encouragement. The warning is that it doesn’t come easily. It took me 12 or 13 years of not being successful before I was at all successful. So you have to have a kind of absolute determination and drive that this is who you want to be and to hold to that in spite of disappointments and reverses. So that’s– that’s the warning.
The joy is that when you do write something good, it’s an incredible exhilaration, you know. You really feel that you have, first of all, done something for yourself.
01. Meet Your Instructor
02. Determine How to Tell Your Story
03. Flesh Out Your Story’s Structure
04. Opening Lines With Power
05. Drawing From Storytelling Traditions
06. Conceiving Characters
07. Bringing Characters to Life
08. Revealing Character
09. Setting as a Character
10. Your Unmistakably Unique Worldview
11. Observing the World
12. Developing Your Narrative Style
13. Building a Surrealist Story
14. Researching the Novel
15. All Writing Is Rewriting
16. Editing and Feedback: The Confidence to Share
17. Develop Your Relationship With Writing
18. Salman’s Global Canon
19. Seven Useful Tips for Writers