Writer’s Math

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How math is important to a writer.

Math Problem
Though I don’t mean this! Phew!

Let’s say you are creating a scene where four are dining together and as is often the intent on such occasions, having a conversation. One says something very shocking causing the others to stare at him and you write something like this-

‘And the words weren’t even out of his mouth when three hands stopped, holding spoons midway and eight eyes bore into the speaker’s.’

Okay, that’s a scrappy description, thanks to the mid air spoons. But the point is- the eyes. Eight eyes? Either you are being very smart and creating a spying-on character right there (in which case you must give hints to point this out and not confuse the reader) or very stupid because why, and HOW, in God’s name will the speaker look into his own eyes? We don’t like characters with squint and we JUST don’t like them at the dinner table.

Squinting Kid
Only kids look cute with the squint. But imagine him in a suit, hosting a dinner. It’s a No-Winner!

So, that’s why Math is important.

We have to learn that six eyes or two three pairs will stare at the speaker.


And other instances where knowledge of the numbers is so important:

  1. Talking of shares
    Your character is a fraud. A common trick is to create a fake company, spread a rumour of hitting gold or something which makes the shares go up. The goat-character comes to market hearing the discreet rumour and considering it luck, and buys say 50 shares (for simplicity’s sake) at 2 USD. The fraud character just made 100 USD (50X2=….. yes, 100!) but you make a mistake and write 120, which he bets in a Casino and so on… Sounds lame? Exactly.
  2. Spending a fortune is our favourite short paragraph. We write a whole chapter dedicated to collecting one and then we write off the expenditure in three lines, to show how trivial an amount that was and make the reader awe-eyed. But, BUT, but. The trick’s on you, when its adds up to more than the earned amount. Of course the character must have had more money back in some account but We Don’t Take That! What he earns in front of the reader IS what he is expected to spend. So, add properly and double check. Do we need to remind you that 1 + 1 = 11? Oh sorry, 2. Mistakes happen!
  3. Chapters if you must number, shouldn’t go out of sequence. THIS ONE IS ABOUT DIGNITY! Because if I found you jump 14, I would be cracking jokes. “Mr. X learned well how to write books but unfortunately, he missed the day they taught the counting. Poor soul, let’s all give him credit for fighting his handicap, and never backing down!” Also, there are some books that don’t number the traditional way (1-2-3..) but take up some sequence. Like Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time’ gave them prime numbers, with reason too. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. And I couldn’t keep checking them very soon. (137…. 619…. WOULD you check 1789?!)
  4. The 5 formula
    If you often the use the number 5, STOP! Five people, five cars, five birds, five mistakes…. it’s too fake. Actually, the less you use the numbers 5 or 10, the more real you sound. It’s not me, it’s common! 5 sounds too perfect, too complete. In real life, which you want to create in your story, use a range of numbers. We don’t care if you love 6, we won’t feel comfortable reading about 6 things all the time!
  5. Royalty 🙂 As writers, you MUST be looking forward to these. But if you insist to be un-money-minded, it also tells you how many people have bought your books so yes, you DO want these. Well, gotta learn how to count them no?

Have fun, writers, bloggers, READERS! And don’t forget that 1+1= …2!!!


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