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Thread: How to write a short story? (Prabhu Ram)

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    Administrator Diamond Hubber RR's Avatar
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    How to write a short story? (Prabhu Ram)

    How to write a short story?

    - Prabhu Ram


    "Deliver us from clever art", he gave a dramatic pause and added "wrote Chuck Palahniuk".

    He let silence rule and scrawled that on the blackboard, under 'Short Story Writing' which had been written in bigger letters.

    "Gentlemen" he said dramatically, "there is no such deliverance. So you always start with a smart line. An insight..... a quip..... something sharp that catches the eye".

    We had come from all over the country to listen to him that day. He was inaugurating the workshop. He was a big man with a large paunch, a scraggy beard, and bags below his eyes. His forehead seemed creased with anxieties but his eyes were bright and he had the impatient smile of a man who has a lot to say.

    "Don't go on and on with your descriptions. You don't want your readers going, 'what the dickens is that' ?" , he paused and suppressed a grin. None of us caught his joke.

    He must have become a little disappointed with us and he toned down his voice and said ".....don't try to capture the character in a description. Typical portraits and insights-from-first-impressions are marbles". He feigned a raspy voice when saying 'typical portraits' and 'insights". His voice became abruptly loud when he said "marbles". His whiskers moved clumsily when he changed the voice as if he was speaking out of them.

    "Details irrelevant to the story add realism........says who? Don't bore the reader with details just to show you are a careful observer" he said.

    "A string of conversations is NOT a story. Worse still, your bleeding thoughts outside of quotes....... that is SO not a story. And……", he walked down from across the room and continued “for God’s sake, don't EVER design a story so the reader may carry home a pithy insight......a thing-to-do….a lesson to learn. Heck ! You write a story that can be reduced to a line? Marbles!”

    He looked around the class. I have no idea how we looked but he was eyes were getting more intense.

    "Sex and Death........these are the only sources of poignancy. Everything is a variant, a euphemism and a manifestation of these........."

    I drew in a short breath that was too narrow. ".........what about human themes like betrayal?” I thought.

    ".........and betrayal" he started and I jerked up in surprise “well betrayal is a little death. isn't it?”

    And without waiting for the weight of the statement to sink he started gravely "and the most important of them all is irony. Make a clown out of a strong man. Show the improbable realities, the unbelievable drama that happens in every life and passes without mention.....trust me, irony is the easy part"

    "....the tough part is showing the greatness of Man. His duty, his values, his ideas, his idiosyncrasies and why man towers over all beings in this world. And why some men tower over the rest"

    There was a full reign of silence. I could say without looking that every eye in the room was fixed on this man, waiting for his next word.

    He collected his books and was walking out, talking as he went, “..... other clichés like the last sentence twist....well, your choice" he shrugged. "....your choice.....there are no rules........no rules that you HAVE to follow.......except: keep it short. End it when they want more” he smiled and added “yeah, end it when they want more he paused, looked nowhere and repeated in a low tone, end it when they want more. All the best. "

    He walked out finishing the awe inspiring lecture. Who would have guessed that in his coat pocket lay a crumpled telegram announcing that his mistress of several years had lost the battle with leukemia that morning?

    ***

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    Moderator Veteran Hubber Badri's Avatar
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    Aha!

    The day will come when all the world would be reading Prabhu Ram and applauding, while I shall sit in the shadows and mutter, "I always knew the boy had it in him!"

    What a wonderful story! How apt, how cleverly you've followed your "own" instructions!!!

    There's the smart line
    And just the right amount of description, and yet you painted the man by his words, his tone, his opinions
    With no irrelevant details
    Nor unwanted conversation
    And you showed the greatness of the man, by stopping just when we wanted to understand more! But by ending where you did, you told us more of the man than mere paragraphs could've!

    I live and learn, Prabhu Ram

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    great! now I understand why and how.

    great show and hope to read more.

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    Senior Member Diamond Hubber madhu's Avatar
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    Prabhu

    I cant say this is your best story..

    No.. certainly not..

    coz..

    for u this is just the first step.

    I will see u in the top in writing ...someday

    and I think I wont be able to tell that

    u r at the top..

    coz I know...the Sky is not ur limit


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    Senior Member Platinum Hubber pavalamani pragasam's Avatar
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    ahem.. a grand theory..a grander exposition..a naughty undercurrent..not the only manner/style of story-writing!
    Eager to watch the trends of the world & to nurture in the youth who carry the future world on their shoulders a right sense of values.

  7. #6
    Moderator Platinum Hubber P_R's Avatar
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    Thank you btr.
    Thank you madhu, you are being very kind.

    btw don't be misled by Badri's comments

    Thanks Mrs.PP. At the time of the attempt I tried to call it "structural comedy" i.e. without punchlines, without situations, without repartees etc. but yet with a sense of absurd inescapability and a meta-level storytelling. The latter is kind of thematically inspired by the film "Adaptation" written by the screenwriting genius Charlie Kaufman.

    It is the story of someone trying to adapt a novel into a screenplay to produce something 'different' and ends of going through an 'adaptation' himself, living through cliche, breaking his own rules. That too not in a regular cliched ironic way but in a way that goes into the heart of all that is dismissed as cliche and shows it to be a 'real event/life' with its idiosyncracies and absurdities.
    மூவா? முதல்வா! இனியெம்மைச் சோரேலே

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    Senior Member Platinum Hubber pavalamani pragasam's Avatar
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    Eager to watch the trends of the world & to nurture in the youth who carry the future world on their shoulders a right sense of values.

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    Senior Member Diamond Hubber directhit's Avatar
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    wow PR
    Till the full stop doesn't come, the sentence is not complete - MSD

  10. #9
    Moderator Platinum Hubber P_R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by directhit
    wow PR
    மூவா? முதல்வா! இனியெம்மைச் சோரேலே

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    Senior Member Platinum Hubber Shakthiprabha.'s Avatar
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    Perfect

    and well taken twist in the end, which leaves us with plenty of imagination, to each his own, based on their independant creativity.


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