Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Writing Sucks!

Had been reading one of older stories. I am embarrassed. The writing reads like shit. No plot. Characters weak. Total disaster. But I still think there is an underlying interesting theme somewhere. I will try not to pay much attention to all the negative feelings, and just concentrate on the revision. Maybe (maybe) after the 20th revision, it will look like okay. Choleable, as they say in K-town.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It Hurts Me More Than It Hurts Them

Yesterday I posted my work for the UCLA Extension's Advanced Short Story Workshop.I didn't produce anything new, but did some major revisions of a story I had written exactly a year before. I did get some feedback on it then, but did not know how to process the feedback. Now, going back to it after almost a year, I felt that some parts just needed to be hacked out, some essential parts added, and I also played with the POV. One of the most important things one of my reviewers then told me was that, the teacher-figure in the story looks a stereotypically bad-guy, with almost no subtleties. I felt that a limited third-person POV can't achieve the kind of empathy and subtlety that she was suggesting, so I made some changes. I made the teacher's grand-daughter narrate the tale, a grand-daughter who also happens to be her student. DRR read it last night, and while he liked some parts of it, his major criticism was, it's not very clear why is the narrator feeling compelled to tell the story?

I have to agree. As of now, that's the weakest aspect of the story.

So, here are some of the things I have been thinking today:

1. Make the narrator hate the protagonist. Make the protagonist hate the narrator and make cryptic comments about her grandmother. Rather than making the anger dissolve through the pages, make the protagonist dwell on her anger.And not just anger in the general sense, but anger directed specifically towards her old teacher. That is, make the antagonisms more pronounced, and see what happens. That way, make the people in the story brush up against each others' nasty sides, but it will also probably make the narrative revealing their more humane and contradictory sides. Make the grandma die, make her death the occasion for the story to be told, the narrator feeling compelled to tell the story.

2. Write the story from an omniscient perspective. Make Jhinuk witness Shilpi in the truck carrying her grandma's dead-body, and let her react. That way the narrative can delve into both inside Jhinuk's head, as well as inside Shilpi's head, and if the need be, can also observe Shilpi telling Jhinuk certain things about her grandma, trying to redeem her. So it can also go inside the school-teacher's head too. But here too, the sense of crisis and antagonism and the lingering anger should be retained, just so the story moves forward much more easily and the characters have enough reasons to act the way they do.

Now, the thing is, to try out both of these, and see where they lead me. But it will have to wait for some time, I guess. I am too swamped right now, and I don't think I will be able to get to these changes until the summer holidays are here. On the other hand, it will be nice to get some feedback from the workshop too. See what they have to say!