The #WomenWritersFest in Pune hosted an interesting session on women writers choosing to write the genre, noir. Authors Tanushree Podder, Sucharita Dutta Asane, Yamini Pustake Bhalerao and Kiran Manral formed the panel which was moderated by Anjali Shetty

Why Noir?

Noir is a wider genre that’s not only interesting but also hard to put together and write. The panellists spoke about their passion of writing crime and and how they were drawn to the genre over the years.

Yamini always looked forward to vacations when she could read endlessly. “I’ve read crime more than anything else over the years. Although I’ve been writing across genres, crime is something that I’ve been deeply engrossed with when it comes to narrating,” she shared.

Tanushree believes in writing about subjects that challenge her as a writer. “I’ve always had a knack of accepting something that’s different. Noir is a challenging genre. I wanted to take it up, but it didn’t come easy. I had to wait for many years and finally got to writing on the subject,” she explained

Noir, for Sucharita, was not a genre of writing that was pre-decided. She likes to address some of her stories as dark and not crime for that matter. “I believe in writing about the grey edges of life and people. The greys of the reality we are living in. Therefore, this, to readers comes across as dark deep writing,” she said.

Kiran does not believe in sticking to a genre. She has been writing across subjects and genres. “When it comes to writing crime, it’s always a trigger inside which marinades, ferments and then surfaces. It is then that one is inspired to write on such subjects which are interesting, mysterious and difficult at the same time,” she shared.

Do women write characters differently than men?

Moderator Anjali touched another interesting topic, discussing whether men and women write characters differently and how so.

Yamini explained how there is a level of connection when it comes to women describing their characters. “Women write differently in a sense that they give layers to their characters. The dimensions they associate their story with makes it interesting on so many levels. The characters are more complex, therefore, appealing to read about,” she stated.

Tanushree believes men are very evident and this reflects in their writing too. “Women are distinctive. Their peripheral vision and thinking helps them shape characters that reveal a total picture. The dimensions each character will have, in a woman’s story, will be way different in a man’s,” she says.

Sucharita thinks the comparison is not all that true, citing the example of Rabindranath Tagore, whose writing paved the way for layered and dimensional characters. “Maybe to some extent it’s there that women and men write different. But it depends on the writers as well. I feel women are able to layer their writing because of what they’ve experienced and gone through over the years. That offers a different perspective,” she explained. 

Kiran says it’s all about good writers and bad writers. “Good writers, irrespective of gender, can shape their characters well and offer dimensions to the story. When it comes to bad writing, the characters are flat and non-layered; and this is immaterial to what gender one belongs,” she opined. 

Acceptance of women writers

Another important note that came up was the entire debate surrounding the acceptance of women writers and how it is in the current scenario.

Women writers, according to Yamini, are carrying a burden even today. “We’re still associated and defined by a certain stigma that we cannot write a particular genre. Women are supposed to be soothing and comforting,” she said.

Kiran explains that firstly, there is a significant need of taking writing as a profession seriously. “Women writers have to be taken more seriously. The acceptance level has to grow at first and then will the stigma around writing genres change.”

Tanushree shares how people don’t understand the fact that women can write noir and their ability has nothing to do with the stereotype surrounding gender. “Everyone thinks women won’t be able to do justice to the challenge of writing noir. The mindsets has to change for further acceptance,” she explained.

There certainly are stigmas attached to women writing about crime and subjects that people don’t believe women can understand. However, it is the good content by many amazingly talented women writers that will continue to shine and one day change the course of these mindsets.

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