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On writing and understanding short stories

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 Actually, there is no formula for writing a short story. It has always been my belief that the art of writing is God-given. It is not something that can be acquired. Even a laborer can be a writer. It is not the privilege of any particular class. Yes some happenings do help this otherwise hidden talent comes out. 

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Any person who has got the talent of writing can write. Writing does not render one incapable of doing other things. But it is also true that writing a short story is not easy, and then to understand it and go deep into the psychology of the writer and grasp what he or she does want to convey, which either he himself or she herself may not be conscious of, is more difficult. It definitely needs a sharp mind, skill and great power of intellect to write or understand short fiction.

 

Short stories may be descriptive, narrative, and poetic or dramatic. It can have just sharp dialogue with almost no description at all. But the success of a short story is that it must engage. Although not necessary but to be successful, the short story must employ most of the same elements that a novel uses, like as, Premise, Orchestration of sequences, Dialectical approach, Conflict having thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis, Characters. The conflict should neither be ‘Jumping’ nor ‘Static’; it should be a ‘Rising’ conflict.

 

Short fiction demands that it should hook the reader in the first line, thus setting and establishing characters quickly and efficiently. Every action must be there for a purpose. Loose writing spoils the story, so all the elements, approach, style, atmosphere and perspective need to be carefully taken into account, weighed and weighted. The writing must be to the point and words used must be catchy, narration interesting and scenes captivating.

 

In its Foreword for my latest and 16th publication (Collection of my short stories) tilled as “Raging Stream”, a well know American writer named Julie Larson writes:

 

“Life is a dance, from cradle to grave. While we are yet in the womb we begin to hear the music, the rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat, the intonations of her voice, the vibrations of her body as she dances to the new song forming inside her. When we are born we are captivated by the rhythm of life around us, all the new sights and sounds of our world, and we begin to sway to and fro and kick our feet and raise our hands in response. Our first sounds and cries form the song we are meant to sing as we prepare for our dance. As we grow and begin to explore our new world, we learn the first steps of the dance on wobbling legs. The more we try the stronger we grow and soon our first tentative steps have transformed into bold movements propelling us forward in exploration of everything that surrounds us, and a celebration of our newly discovered abilities. At times our parents can barely keep up with us as we forge ahead, making our own path, singing our own song, dancing to our own beat. Eventually they must let us go, because our dance is not theirs. Then it is up to us to become the best dancers we can be.

 

As we move through life we explore many forms of dance. We dance with a wide variety of groups and companies and learn to follow the directions of our dance leaders, doing things their way the best we are able. Some of us find dance partners and form duets. A few keep the same partners throughout life, while others move from one to another, never finding quite the right fit, or simply being too enamored with all their possible partner choices that they can never choose just one and must try them all. Then there are the rare few among us who dance alone, forging their own unique trail through the dense forest, creating a new form of dance. These are the artists, the leaders, the teachers, the visionaries and prophets among us. They are those who are able to draw from their own experience to create a new way of expressing the truths they have learned. Often they are those who have perhaps suffered the most, because those who suffer most deeply are best capable of reaching the highest heights. After all, there can be no light without dark, no joy without sorrow, and no heights without the depths. The greatest dancers among us are those who can help us feel the depths they have known so that we can truly appreciate and experience the joy of the heights they transport us to. They dance on the edge of the sword that separates the two worlds. Depending on which way the sword leans it can block the light and cast dark shadows, or it can cut through the darkness and reflect the light of the divine. ……………….”

 

Writer remains more comfortable with his/her mother tongue. If a person is kicked, he would not howl in any foreign language; he would spontaneously shout in his native language. Mother tongue is the best medium of expression. Revelation to prophets would also happen in their mother tongues. Otherwise there were many scholarly languages in the world. And God was also able to reveal in any language He wanted.

 

I believe that Kashmir has had many writers who could easily qualify as writers of international stature. It is both content and craft that make a writer so. Everyone undergoes suffering. How to make one’s suffering universal is what makes a writer great. Pain has a universal idiom. Writer should write about it the way that reader identifies himself with suffering character and experiences the same pain.

 

A writer is extremely sensitive. Even a needle pricks his sensibility while to others even elephantine incidents make no difference. Tragedies make no sense to them. One kind of writing is compulsive, another is impulsive. Writing to be the genuine expression of one ’s self should always be impulsive. A writer who writes under the fit of compulsion would invariably be hollow, shallow and superficial. It is not only craft that is required to be successful writer, even content is important. In fact that is more important.

 

 

 

 

A writer should not bog down by the volume of words but find thumping phrases, polish them and archive thrilling and beautiful scenes in his/her stories.

 

Writing merely does not mean recording things as they happen. If one simply writes what one feels that is pure photography? Experiences need to be brewed in the purgatory of one’s mind and heart. Emotions are to be crisped in the agonies of life to make them communicable to others. One of the prodigious jobs of a writer is to make his experiences universal. Critic job is to examine that art which is born out of such considerations.

 

Similarly, a writer should have his/her own distinction. His/her diction, treatment should be different than others. His/her short story should itself bespeak that I have been jotted down by such and such writer.

 

It merits a mention that form depends upon the nature of experience. Genre is determined by the kind of experience that is to be expressed. Whether it is poetry, short story or prose, experience itself asks for the appropriate literary medium for its expression. Form and content are integrated, they cannot be separated. That is the reason; writer is not able to write until form and content are organically united. With experiences, genres come spontaneously.

 

(The Author is a writer and Freelancer)



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