Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > How To Lounge> Books > How AI may help you write your new book

How AI may help you write your new book

Author Vikram Chandra, who is at the Jaipur Literature Festival for a session on Sunday, talks about Granthika, a new software he is developing

A file photo of author Vikram Chandra. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint
A file photo of author Vikram Chandra. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint

If you’ve seen Vikram Chandra’s book Sacred Games, you’re sure to marvel at its volume. Close to a thousand pages long, it spans a 60-year timeline, deals with a hundred-odd characters, and traverses various different locations. At the time of creating this world, Chandra would use tools that most writers do: flashcards, charts, spreadsheets. William Faulkner for instance, would work out plot outlines on his wall. But for Chandra, this was no mean task.

“I was wondering then, surely somebody has made a software to deal with this," he says, recalling the days he was still writing his book, which released in 2006.

“Every time you make a change in the text, you have to update your manuscript in many different locations. And then something struck me, about 10 years ago, in a conceptual sort of way," he says talking of the first seeds of Granthika, a software he is now working on to “reinvent writing and reading for the digital age".

Chandra is at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year and will be talking about this in a session —Jaipur Bookmark—on Sunday on the trends in the media and publishing sector.

For a writer, Granthika will connect the text with the knowledge you create in it—attributes of characters, important dates within the plot and locations too, in order to help you seamlessly maintain consistency. “As you write, you make up the logic of the universe you’re creating, and the software will in a most non-intrusive way run AI-routines to flag any inconsistencies in your copy," he says.

Formally in operation since February 2016, Granthika is the product of 10-12 years of research, and its ideas are being realized with angel investment from Bloomberg Beta. “As of now, our central focus is to make each writer’s unique process with the software smooth. We don’t want it to stop the writer and ask ‘Is Stan a person?’ It needs to be pleasant for every writer," he says. The Granthika team has UX (user experience) designer and a UI (user interface) designer working together with a JavaScript developer to make sure they get this right. Chandra’s partner in the venture, Borislav Iordanav is himself a software entrepreneur and programmer too.

When asked if the software will find resonance and relevance with publishers faster than it may with writers who can find it cumbersome to incorporate new methods into their writing process, Chandra cites the authors who are aboard this project as advisers.

Five writers including author of popular book The Krishna Key, Ashwin Sanghi and author of Kindle-bestseller It’s All in Your Head, Eva Hagberg Fisher will be testing and suggesting changes and improvements in the software at each stage.

“Yes, it will make an editor’s job much simpler in that when a writer goes to a publisher, the first thing that the editor does is to fact-check (and the software is built to take care of that). But we are also trying to make the collaborative process easier. There needn’t be a back-and-forth between writer and editor or even the sort of sequential editing that you can achieve with things like Google Docs," says Chandra.

In Granthika’s web version, multiple users can access and work on the manuscript at the same time. A fact-checker, someone editing the language, and an editor working on the structural aspects of the narrative can all work simultaneously, with the software keeping track of all changes and updates.

For now, Chandra is hesitant to make predictions as to when Granthika will be available for use. “Since what we are doing is new and unprecedented, we don’t want to declare a date yet. But we are confident about the direction and steps that our technology is taking."

Next Story