SEARCHING FOR PERFECT STORY
A retrospective account
I think of three days that were important in retrospect. The first day, a year ago when a teacher strolled into civics class and instructed us to write a sample.
The second day, half a year ago, when I braved a Delhi winter to attend the workshop that would change my life.
And the third and last day, not more than a week ago when I finally became one of ten young authors to have an actual physical book that people can read.
I have since also tried my hand at script writing, sketch writing, songwriting and screenplay writing and have concluded that it would probably be easier to crack the JEE.
But, unfortunately, someone has to pick up the pen and take up the mantle, to keep the craft alive.
I had the good fortune to be mentored by experienced authors which helped to me to avoid many a mistake that a fledgling author might make, but not everyone has the same luck.
So, I’d like to share a few things that I learnt while writing my story.
1. Third Person Omniscient is your friend: When you are starting out, the most effective choice of perspectives is the Third Person Omniscient point of view. It gives you the freedom to stick mostly to your protagonist but also show someone else’s feelings if necessary. As you progress, of course, you can and should experiment with different
POVs to see what style suits you best.
2. Show don’t tell: This classic rule reminds us to be subtle with our writing. Our readers are intelligent people and don’t need us to shove details in their faces. Paint a picture with words and the readers will reduce the rest.
3. Skip the big words: The employment of bombastic vocabulary in literary endeavors is to be looked upon disfavourably. There is a time and place for verbosity but it belongs in History textbooks and not in stories meant for the average reader.
4. Create vivid characters: What people take away from a story is rarely the plot. Be silly with your characters. Blend different traits and see what pops out and you might just create the new Batman or Darth Vader.
5. Your story has to work at the proposal level: The so-called elevator pitch of your story should be sufficient to enthrall the reader. Your story cannot use fancy constructions as crutches, it should be able to stand on its own.
6. Story writing is less about frills and more about people: Searching for perfect story, I was shocked at the kind of content the people whom I knew but did not know liked writing were producing. Their writing wasn’t particularly novel or unique but what they had was a beautiful simplicity of the writing. They didn’t know much about the craft but they wrote from personal experience and this cut to the heart of what I’ve learned storytelling is about- telling simple stories about different people in a variety of environments.
7. Progression of a story: All good stories tend to fall within the same kind of progression. Exposition-Rising Action-Crisis-Falling- Action-Denouement. Why this is so is because stories tend to revolve around a single incident and its resolution. A storyteller needs to ensure that each part of his story is engaging and consistent.
8. On Realism in stories: The rules of what is realistic in a novel are varied and confusing but it boils down to one thing: you can have a group of goblins and wizards on a quest to save a princess, but you cannot have them just find the all-powerful wand at the beginning by just stumbling around. A reader can buy into fantastic plots but he cannot
accept coincidence without rhyme or reason.
9. The reader comes first: Given a choice to write something you want to write and something that the reader wants to read you should choose to write what the readers want. A writer without a reader is just someone wasting paper and time.
10. You can break all the rules: You can break each classical rule of storytelling and create a good story.
By: Kumar Saurav