Guess who’s a published writer?

Ok, so first things first: there’s no novel, no manuscript, no contract. As you all know, I dabble in microfiction. Well, one fine day, fellow writer Manoj Pandey IMG_20160804_150535270(http://manojpande.in/) wrote to me to ask if me I’d like one of my stories to be included in a book that would be published in 2016. Needless to say, I was stoked. But what really took the cake was being told that this book would include bit-sized tales by Shashi Tharoor, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and the like. I know, right?

Anyhoo, the book is published by Harper Collins and is available on amazon here. I’d love for all my friends to get this (and no I’m not giving away any free copies, I had to buy my own).

I have just started reading the stories and they are GOOD. Posting a few pictures for you guys here. A big thank you to all my fellow writers and friends for encouraging me and my stories. This is a bit-sized achievement but I’m finally out there! YAY!

Cheers!

Advertisements

How to boo! in a line or two

1261061323612425414823323314598981141086332

Horror is a wonderful thing. It’s gruesome, unsightly, sickening, scary and sometimes, just deeply disturbing. Yet, we humans crave for the thrill horror provides us. Think of it this way: if you and a group of friends want to get together at someone’s place and watch a movie, which one would it be? Casino Royale, Jurassic World, Notting Hill or Insidious?  Chances are it will be the last one. And what’s better than watching horror? Reading it, of course. Now, I am not talking about a horror novel, but about bite sized horror which is what I like to write. And I’m no expert but I’m going to try and jot down a few pointers on how to boo! in a line or two.

Skip the character/surrounding descriptions: For most of us, writing a background of the character or elaborating on the ‘atmosphere’ is vital, right? If it’s a horror story you would like to describe a “hooting owl” or “rustling leaves” or some such elements. Skip it. Maybe not entirely, but don’t go on and on about how the wind made an eerie noise. If your basic story idea is good, you don’t need too much of anything else.

Use more descriptive words: If you’ve to scare your reader in 2-3 lines, it means you have a limited number of words. So you don’t have the liberty of saying things like
“There’s someone behind the door,” she said in hushed tones.
Instead, say: “There’s someone behind the door,” she whispered.

Start normal: Because your horror story is going to be super short, it’s even more difficult to scare. You don’t have lines and lines to build a plot, show the scene, etc. So the trick I generally use is to make sure the first few lines are absolutely normal in that the reader doesn’t even know he’s reading a horror story. Case in point: “He looked at her porcelain body, her eyes were closed but she was smiling, as if dreaming of someplace beautiful. He lovingly stroked her neck and felt her getting goosebumps, just like she did when she was alive.”

Horror ain’t all gory bodies and ghosts: Many a time, we forget that what we can’t see or understand scares us much more. It’s why “a cold hand” will scare us more than “a ghost in a white saree with black eyes and witch-like hands”. Ok so that was exaggerated but you get the point. Showing less will also save you space! Example?

“As night fell, he began brewing the coffee. As long as she was living under his bed, he had to stay awake.”
Scary faces? Nope. Claw-like hands? Nope. Anything? Nope!

P.S: Horror can be psychological too – think Saw, Final Destination, etc.

Think succinct: Stop thinking of a plot. Think moments. What would be a scary thing?
If you were smiling while looking at your mirror – and your reflection didn’t smile back.
If an ME is autopsying, and the body breathes.
If you were living alone, and someone was snoring next to you. (ok, that’s more funny than scary but you get the idea).

The simplest things can be inspirations for wonderful snippets of horror. These are probably things you do every single day. Think out of the box, way out.

P.S: I am just an amateur writer and by no means should these pointers be taken as gospel truths. Everyone has their own style of writing and there’s no good or bad – just different.

Converting an idea into a novel

My good friend, Aindrila Roy has come up with a fantastic, practical guide to that irritating problem: having a good idea but not knowing how to turn that into a novel. Here goes:

You have an idea in your mind – an idea that doesn’t let you sleep. You can clearly see the action happening in your mind’s eye but you have a problem. You have no clue what to do with it. Your heart tells you that you that it’s a great idea and can be made into a novel but your mind doesn’t know how. Sounds familiar?

Then this tutorial might help. It is a lengthy write-up, so please bear with me. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to fleshing out an idea but what I’m showing below is the way I do it and it works for me. It may not work for you or you may happen upon a method that would work even better. What I intend to do with this tutorial is to give you an idea of what can be done. I will be providing a link at the end of the article that will give you another very popular method of planning it out.

 Step 1- Write down the idea:

Now it may seem like a very silly thing to do, but often seeing your idea actually written down may help you visualize. Eg: A boy discovers that he is a demon.

Step 2- Chalk out the big six:

At this point, ask yourself six questions. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Let me clarify what I mean by this, based on the example above.

  1. Who? Who is the boy? – His name is Michael Healy. He is seven years old and lives with his parents. – The answer to this question will give you your protagonist.
  2. What? – What is the problem that Michael has? – Michael is a demon. He finds that he can’t play with other children because they seem scared of him. He is much stronger than he should be. He ends up killing two kids in his school. – The answer to this question will give you the plot’s conflicts.
  3. Where? – Where does Michael live? – He lives in Lawrence, Kansas. – This will give you the location of the story.
  4. When? – When does the story take place? – 2010.This will give you the time and therefore the ambient atmosphere as well.
  5. Why? – Why is Michael a demon? – Michael is a demon because his biological father is a demon. His mother doesn’t know it. – This will give you the back story of the protagonist.
  6. How? – How does Michael know he’s a demon? – He starts suspecting something is different about him when he realizes that he’s abnormally strong and is mature far beyond his age.

Step 3- Character sketches:

Now that we have a rudimentary outline, let’s plot out the characters. We will need the aid of an excel sheet here. The excel sheet will have an in-depth analysis of each character. It’ll be your ready reference for every single character. For example: Michael Healy

table

Step 3(a): Relationship Chart:

While this might not strictly be necessary for a simple story, for a series that has many characters and some political themes woven in, this step is recommended. Those pesky family trees can get very confusing otherwise.

Step 4- Outline:

By now you have a fair idea of the plot. Now you can start working on the outline. Start writing your outline slowly, gradually increasing it in size. Start by making a half-page outline. Then expand it to a one page outline. Then make it a two pager. Finally, you can start doing a chapter-wise outline, which should be a summary of the events that happen in that chapter. A couple of lines for each chapter should suffice. As you’re doing it, work out the ending of the story.

Now you’re ready. Go write the story and enthrall the world!

PS: If this method doesn’t work for you, here is another method, known as the snowflake method, which is a popular way of planning it out. Do give this a look as well. https://notionpress.com/academy/writing-fiction-using-snowflake-method/