How to write a timeless literary masterpiece

Timeless literary pieces are timeless because they speak to our inherent nature, answer eternal questions or raise questions that we had always asked in different ways. They speak about what is fundamentally relevant to society and people, no matter how much the world around us changes.

The tricky thing is no one can predict what becomes a timeless classic when the work is still in progress.

Writing a timeless classic is like trying to create viral content in current times.

You can try to maximize the chances but you can never be certain what becomes the work that will remembered for generations and what is forgotten in no time.

Here are some pointers to maximize the chances.

Write about human nature:

Human nature is a vast pool to explore with myriad little quirks. Timeless pieces always tap into what makes us human and deal with themes that are universally recognizable like love, hate, ambition, jealousy and passion etc.

Create complex characters:

Make your characters realistic with complex arcs and solid motivations. Any timeless work needs to have characters that the readers empathize with and have strong reactions to. They should love them, hate them and more importantly feel like these characters are real people with real traits.

Say only what you can say:

With your work, always try to bring in, what only you as an individual can bring to the table. Say what you have to say without filters and inhibitions. If you want to write a timeless piece, fear of failure and fear of judgement are not options.

Be relevant:

Most of the works which stay immortal in the collective consciousness of readers are books which deal with themes relevant to us and society irrespective of the times and the status in which the reader lives. Make sure your work comments on the nature of things which will always be important like society, freedom, government, choice, politics and humanity etc. Your work, in order to survive the tides of time, should echo the sentiments, hopes, desires, trials and tribulations of generations and individuals irrespective of the background in which they live.


This originally appeared on Quora

My new book, a post apocalyptic tale set in India with a mythological premise — Sinners: The Dawn of Kalki