“The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing Volume II” : Ed. Jean M. Fredette

All of us who love writing, and reading of course, can do with periodic reminders on how to hone our writing skills. That there is no end to learning is well known. In this context, I was happy to recently read, ” The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing: Volume II“, edited by Jean M. Fredette. 

This collection of articles on short story writing was published by the well-known Writers Digest Books in 1991. I came across this book in our Club library. It is striking that all the points made still remain relevant though nearly three decades have gone by since the book was first published. It is edited by Jean M. Fredette , who was an Acquisitions Editor of Writer’s Digest and has edited several of their books.

The only thing that has changed has been the process of submitting a manuscript. While the principles remain pretty much the same, much of the process has got simplified thanks to the progress in technology. We can now submit manuscripts over the internet, no longer being bound to print and send the manuscript in physical form in many cases. However, do check the submission guidelines mentioned by the publisher.

Seven chapters encompass a wealth of material in this book, covering sections such as, ” Getting Started”, ” Craft and Technique”, and ” Marketing The Short Story”. Each of the chapters have contributions from distinguished authors who have generously shared their experience and expertise. Principal amongst them are Adela Rogers St. John, Lawrence Block, and John Updike.

From very basic points which we sometimes overlook ( like repeating words/phrases so often that they jar) to more sophisticated aspects like Sentence Structure, Transitions, and Dialogue, this book has tips for the novice and the experienced writer alike.

Reading this book reinforced in me why writing is really a craft. The material in this volume really applies for any kind of writing . It is not restricted to short story writing as the title implies.

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Blog Or Coffee Table Book?

“Time and tide,” as the ancient saying goes, “wait for no man.” Actually, they don’t wait for a woman too but as this saying dates back to 13 th century England, I guess they were far less “politically correct”  than we are today. That all of 45 years have flown past since we graduated from XLRI, the well-known business school, was brought home when friends began talking about a reunion of The Class of ’74.  Where should this be held? All other options discussed were shot down when someone suggested that we meet at the good old campus at Jamshedpur itself. Sure, the campus would not be the one that we experienced in our times but this idea had a strong appeal for the majority of our class. Nostalgia, Walk Along Memory Lane et al came readily to mind.  In any case, our Alma Mater has a wonderful concept of “Homecoming” an annual event to welcome alumni batches from the past. It is common for batches to head there for their 25 th anniversary. We plan to be there (body and mind permitting) for our 45th. Continue reading “Blog Or Coffee Table Book?”

Friendly Advice to Would Be Writers

A good friend whom I have known for many decades now has decided to write a book. This is not on any management subject nor is it a work of fiction. What makes this one different from books that most people say they will write is that his book is about a personal tragedy that took place in his life a couple of years ago. His daughter whom he was very fond of passed away when she was only in her early 30s. She had been through an unsuccessful love marriage a few years ago. This tragic event prompted him to write a book on her life as seen through his eyes as her father.  Continue reading “Friendly Advice to Would Be Writers”

“Glimpses of a Glorious Past” : An Informal History of The Lawrence School, Lovedale

I am delighted to say that a book project in which I was fairly immersed for a year or more has finally been launched successfully. “Glimpses of A Glorious Past: An Informal History of The Lawrence School, Lovedale” has found a home in the website of the Old Lawrencians Association (OLA). It was formally released on May 22, 2017 at the AGM of the OLA by its President, Mrs. Rukhmini Reddy Krishnan, (Class of ’61).

The School, founded in 1858, is now over 150 years old. We therefore decided to break the informal history into three parts of fifty years each. Book 1 covers our Founder, Major-General Sir Henry Lawrence, KCB and the formative years of the school. It describes the first 50 years of this institution in the Victorian era of the British Raj.  Here is the link for you to read Book 1 online wherever you are and whenever you wish to do so.

 

The Lawrence School, Lovedale ( Estd 1858)

Continue reading ““Glimpses of a Glorious Past” : An Informal History of The Lawrence School, Lovedale”

Serial Fiction: An Update

On December 21, 2016, I had written with much excitement about  Serial Fiction, this being something new to me. As you may have seen, I then took the plunge as it were and wrote a short story called, “A Day In The Mall”.

This was serialized over four days with sequential installments culminating with the last on Christmas Day. I had to do this as the story had Christmas, the festival of giving, as the backdrop.

I was quite happy with the response this got and aim to publish more of serial fiction in this new year. Continue reading “Serial Fiction: An Update”

Serial Fiction: Can It Work?

From my reading, I believe the jury is still out on the question, “Can Serial Fiction Work?” As you know, serial fiction is a form of writing in which a novel is published in parts spread over time. Readers of early literature would know that authors like Charles Dickens were among the pioneers of this form of writing way back in Victorian Times. “Dombey and Son”, for example, appeared in serial form, hold your breath, 170 years ago!! That’s right. This story was written by Dickens in 1846. Thanks to theater historian, Kristan Tetens for her tweet which sent me racing to “Victorian Serial Novels.” 

Moving to present times, I was impressed by Lisa Manterfield’s offering of her free serial novel, “A Strange Companion.” . This set me thinking. Why don’t I try my hand at writing a serial novel, I asked myself.

Tom Farr writes in Medium about , ” 4 Reasons To Write Serial Fiction.” I was quite fascinated by the idea.

I have always loved to experiment and learn new things, even in the field of writing. My first two novels, “It Can’t Be You” and “Lucky For Some, 13” were published in the traditional way by publishers in India.

I also posted an anthology of short stories titled, “He Sees Everything & Other Stories” as an e-book  in Smashwords. Next came Wattpad where I published my third novel, “Let The Dead Stay Dead”. My learning from there: I should have serialized that novel.

I now aim to give writing serial fiction a shot. I have started by publishing Part 1 of a short story, “A Day The Mall” in Medium. Please do check it out and let me know what you think of it.

I am considering serializing the same story on this blog too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Writing Competitions & More

One of the most effective ways to hone your writing skills is simply to keep writing! There are many opportunities for a writer these days to take part in writing competitions the world over, thanks largely to the power of the internet. A budding writer keen on improving his skills and image as a writer will seize the most appropriate opportunities as often as he can. This does not mean, of course, that one participates indiscriminately in every writing competition one comes across. That would be a stupid thing to do and extremely counter-productive. Continue reading “On Writing Competitions & More”

Approaches To A Group Writing Project

All my writing so far has been on an individual basis. I framed a plot, wrote a story, and contributed to the editing and publishing of the book that emerged. I also contributed a short story to a publishing house which produced an anthology of short stories from some thirty different authors, like me. The task of the editor here was merely to liaise with the authors and make sure they sent in their stories within a defined time frame and with a certain quality. The challenge I now speak of is totally different. I am at the start of a book project which involves writing the history of an institution. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience. Continue reading “Approaches To A Group Writing Project”

Writing Non-Fiction

I haven’t had any of my non-fiction published-yet! However, I am as interested in writing non-fiction as I am in writing fiction. In the non-fiction space, I am particularly interested and drawn towards works on military history and psychology, amongst other areas. How do you go about making a non-fiction project , to start with ?  Sharing some tips from those who are expert in their fields: Continue reading “Writing Non-Fiction”