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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

Somebody asked me the other day if writing crime fiction was significantly different from writing any other fiction. At first glance it would appear that it is not. After all, crime fiction is like telling any other story. It has to have a plot, a properly paced story graph, character development graph, conflict, resolution etc etc.

However, I think crime fiction is probably the more difficult to write because it requires the most careful crafting. You have to keep track of so many things. What actually happened? Who are the characters? What are they saying? Are they lying (duh!)? If so why? All the threads have to be tied up and all the loopholes plugged.

Then there is the question of detail. How much detail is too much detail? It is generally agreed that if your PI knows it, your readers should, too. However, it has to be given in a clever and interesting way or the readers will zone out.

It is considered bad form to hide vital information from readers and then rejoice when they fail to guess who the real killer is. One has to constantly remember that your readers will always be trying to second guess you. Therefore it is a real challenge to give out all the information and still retain suspense.

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The brief given to me was:

Author and scriptwriter Smita Jain writes on a futuristic world (10 years or so) where women rule the bedroom with their sexual demands being met by the men who share their bed. It’s the men’s DUTY to keep women satisfied throughout the night — a world where orgasms for women is the order of the night, and the men go out of their way to make sure she is more than satisfied. Write a bit about your new book if you like or write bits from your research for the book…  a sort of a teaser about the book and about men finally finding the G-spot. Ahem Ahem! 

“Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.”

Katoosh! The whip crack has the cowering man, shall we say, springing to attention and more than willing to fulfil the woman’s needs. He gets to work and a few minutes later, ejaculates an innocuous white liquid.

In yet another bedroom, the man frantically probes the anterior wall of his boss’s vagina (or if that is too risqué: tries to locate his partner’s G-Spot). She has expressed a desire to have a baby. She is ovulating and stimulated. All she needs is an orgasm. Yet another one. And he only has a window of five minutes to locate the pea-sized erogenous zone. Failure would mean she having to do the dirty work herself.

Ah, success! The boss lady is screaming her head off in excitement. He heaves a sigh of relief and starts planning her next big O. She’s going to need many more of those before the night is over and he’d better oblige or he can kiss that promotion good bye.

It is year 2050. As predicted by the Mayan calendar, the world did end in 2012. But not in the cataclysmic Armageddon type of way. It was but a subtle shift in the Earth’s plane as a result of it moving into a higher dimension. As we know, no major transformation comes about without chaos. And so it was with Earth.

New species, more suited to the changed environment, emerged. Many older species that were unable to adapt simply vanished. The few that survived were left with mutations. Amongst the notable changes was the death of the Y chromosome, and with it, the end of testosterone, the hormone inducing violent, aggressive behaviour.

In the new world order, nature has righted to its natural feminist state. The male, always thought of as a genetic parasite and deriving his power from his role in propagating the species, is impotent in every which way.

Science had already demonstrated that the female of the species is capable of reproducing without male…er…contribution. Now she is capable of creating the perfect XX offspring all by herself. All a woman needs to create life is an orgasm. Multiple ones in order to have a higher success rate.

Boardrooms and bedrooms have been taken over by women and men have been reduced to little more than slaves. The pretty ones get invited to sexually gratify their female bosses and ugly ones get shafted to dead-end jobs.

What happens when the existing male population dies out, you ask? Well, they’re simply cloned in laboratories. 

Meanwhile, in her chambers at the Vatican, her holiness the pope is busy rewriting or, shall we say, righting history:

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Eve, and she slept: and She took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from woman, made she a man, and brought him unto the woman.
And Eve said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: he shall be called Man, because he was taken out of Woman.”
(Genesis Revised 2:21-23)

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I know promised to write this yesterday but then Man proposes and God disposes. Yesterday was a terribly hectic day and I got no time at all. Anyhow, here it is. Enjoy!

My next story is going to be about a vampire who’s in love with girl who’s human. The antagonist is going to be a Marathi Manoos werewolf who wants to kill the vampire because he’s a Bhayya. He wants to kill the girl because she called Mumbai Bombay to express solidarity with her lover.

How this helps:

Raj Thackeray takes affront and decides to express his outrage by vandalising bookstores and burning copies of your book in illustrative / intimidatory bonfires. Of course, this results in loss of revenue but it also guarantees publicity. Publicity that you can’t otherwise buy. Your book starts getting talked about and people who otherwise wouldn’t have bought it queue up to buy. It all works out.

Now, the flip side:

What if Raj Thackeray isn’t interested? What if the issue is not worth his time?

Enter the failsafe:

The vampire-girl duo are on the run and take shelter with some friendlies. Did I say friendlies? Not quite. You see, those friendlies are actually Jehadi Lychans who have an agenda of their own.  And their plan is to drill a hole all the way into the Earth’s core and plant a zillion megaton nuclear bomb there. Of course, you can’t drill a hole all the way to the Earth’s core but figure out a revolutionary new technology that does it anyway. For ideas, look up the film The Core.

Now, why would the Lychans shelter our protagonists? There can be two reasons. One, well, the werewolves with their heretic ideology are their enemies and any enemy of an enemy is a friend. Two, the journey to the centre of the Earth is fraught with peril and they need stooges to do it for them.

Meanwhile the Sun is flaring up out of control, and shooting tiny neutrinos into the Earth which is heating up the crust intolerably.

While our protagonists are with the Lychans, introduce a brilliant, sensitive Lychan painter who paints nude werewolf goddesses. 

Meanwhile, the werewolves catch up with the protagonists. While they are in Lychan territory, they stumble upon the painter’s works. Of course, once that happens, they do what comes naturally to them. They destroy the paintings. In the midst of the destruction, however, in a fit of petulance, the werewolf leader, an accomplished cartoonist, stops to draw some offensive sketches of the Lychan god.

How does it all end? How do I know? I haven’t thought of everything yet.

All I know is your book gets released. All castes and communities unite in calling for a universal ban on the book. Now join hands with a pirate on a revenue share basis. Now sit back and watch your bank balance grow.

Sigh. If only I could get someone to publish it. Sigh, maybe I’ll go to the Danish cartoon guys.

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I was watching the telly a couple of days ago and I happened to catch a 100 richest celebs kinda show on E!

Now, most of them have had to work for their supper but some, like Steven Spielberg get paid on just waking up! Royalties etc, you got it. And guess who was next on the list? JK Rowling. According to the show she’s worth a billion plus pounds. And the show was produced in 2007! Since then there’s been Stephanie Meyers, too.

Now, I was  filled with envy. Cross that. My new age guru will be horrified to hear that. *affirmation to self: Day after day I’m getting better and better and better. The world is filled with abundance and I live in this abundance. I deserve my good fortune and celebrate it*

Anyway, envy or motivation, call it what you will, but I decided to do something about my own, shall we say, considerably less salubrious pecuniary state. I called upon all my experience (and it is vast, spanning investment banking, adventure sports, publishing and writing) and arrived at a winning formula.

As you know, writing a novel is hard work and takes a lot out of you. Added to that is the uncertainty that it will be published. And even if it is, there’s no guarantee that it will sell, let alone be a best seller.

First things first. We have to begin the project by de-risking it. A good way to do that is to attempt a romance. According to the latest trends in fiction, romance still sells. In the wake of the Twilight series, a spate of vampire novels have hit the market but thre’s appetite for more. Well written conspiracies, spelling the doom of mankind, still work.

So, a good beginning premise would be a vampire romance set against the backdrop of an impending disaster.

Now that we’ve de-risked the model, we have to turn it into a multibagger. To do that you have to get attention. And not just the odd newspaper interview/review kinda thing. I’m talking serious, reams and reams of newsprint. The kind that’s devoted to the controversy of the day. Enter Raj Thakeray.

But. But, we can do one better. And that is, we can try and get the book banned. Based on all the above analysis, I’ve decided on what I’m going to write next. Watch out for it tomorrow. Meanwhile, do write in your thoughts on the subject.

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I have acquired a minor celebrity status in the film circles and, I must say, it is extremely agreeable. Right after I optioned Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions for film rights, at least two other producers/directors have expressed interest in the book. And since Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions has already been optioned, they are now they are now offering to buy the rights to the soon-to-be-released Piggies on the Railway, A Kasthuri Kumar Mystery.

Why am I talking about it? Aside from blowing my own trumpet, of course, it is an interesting Bollywood case study.

Dearth of ideas: Bollywood is suffering from a lack of good, original stories. It is a veritable drought. Producers demand and writers keep coming up with the same old same old. The result? All the best, Golmaal, Hungama etc.

Risk aversion: The second point springs, in part, from the first. You see, producers aren’t willing to back risky ideas. So even if writers do come up with interesting and unconventional ideas, producers will give it a miss. They would much rather someone else undertook the risk. And with a best-selling fiction title out in the market, they reckon it’s worth a shot.

Validation: Now, I mentioned that they are willing to buy rights for my second book, based solely on a sneak peek of the manuscript. They figure that a writer has scored with the first one, so chances are that she will with the second one as well. They would much rather keep working with someone who has already proved themselves rather than give a new comer a chance.

Conclusion: For all you Bollywood aspirants out there, write a book.

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It’s that time of the year again. I have to write about sex. Contrary to what people think considering my books are always big on sex, I’m not a big fan of writing on the subject. In fact, I positively cringe at the prospect.

It always takes me longer to write one sex/love-making scene than it does to write a whole chapter. This hold-up happens because I can never quite decide how to approach it. Do I describe it as it is happening as in the physical description of the act of making love? Or do I concentrate on feelings?

If I just write about the physical act, do I make it rough and raunchy? Or am I in danger of getting smutty? Should I make it funny? What words should I use various body parts, the biological ones or slang? If slang, then which slang, because there’s a variety of words that can be used, ranging from funny to downright derogatory. Will I be accused of writing porn?

The other argument is that I should just concentrate on feelings. Since my books are not shooting scripts for porn films, I should just concentrate on the situation. A few details in the physical is all I need. The rest is setting the emotional connection between the lovers. I tell myself that writing sex is like writing about any other emotion or situation. That all I need to do is make the reader feel what the characters are feeling at that moment. But then how many ways are there to describe ‘that melting/rippling feeling in the pit of my stomach?’ And if I do take the second approach, will I be guilty of being overly sentimental?

So far I’ve been able to dodge the bullet since my books have been chicklit and a little flippancy is always welcome. But now it’s a genre and the levity will not be appreciated.

Verily ’tis a quandary, I tell you. I guess the art is balancing the lust and intimacy in the writing. Not so easy to write. Perhaps I shall take the easy way out and skim over the whole thing. After all, when in doubt, go back to the rules. And the rules say Less is More.

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I was worried. Rati was back too. I guess I should have seen this coming when Trisha came back. It wasn’t Trisha who worried me, but Rati. She was tightly wound and tended to be paranoid and suspicious. Trisha was really not a problem. She was high-spirited and playful and easy to live with.

Although, as Rati would no doubt say, and I would have to agree, she did have a tendency to overdo things, especially things that make you cringe the morning after, which in itself was cause for shame, if not concern. And, as doubtless Trisha would argue, and I would again have to agree, Rati was impotent. For all her paranoia, Rati was curiously impotent, unwilling to take action. Her usual reaction was to shut herself up. At least, Trisha had more gumption than Rati.

All the same, it was rather tedious having them around. As I sat mulling over my options, the doorbell buzzed.

“Don’t open the door! See who it is first,” Rati said.

See what I mean? I mean who could it be? A murdering maid? Actually in Bombay one could never tell, so maybe I was being too hasty in judging her.

Rati broke into my thoughts. “Who is it?”

“I didn’t check, but I think it might be Raoul,” I said.

“Oh goody! Let him in and let the party begin,” Trisha said.

“Why? Didn’t you tell him it was over? What does he want now?” Rati said.

“What do you think he wants?”

“Trisha’s a slut. Don’t let him in. Before you know it, he’ll have seduced you back to where you were.”

“What’s so objectionable about going back to bed?”

My head was starting to throb. “Guys, guys, if we all have to live here, can’t we all just try to get along?”

“Don’t tell me. She’s the psycho,” Trisha said.

“At least this time she’s working with me. Not against me,” I said.

“Just because she isn’t telling you to blow your brains out? She makes you paranoid.”

“I keep her alert. It’s a dangerous world out there.”

“If she lets him in she might end up having sex. Yeah, I see the danger.”

“Don’t listen to her. You can’t afford to relax.”

“Now you know why you haven’t been having orgasms.”

“Shut up! Both of you. It was just the mailman,” I said.

Really, it didn’t seem like I had many options. I got up and strode across to the bedroom. I reached for the vial on the table by my bedside.

 “Wait! What are you doing? Trisha, stop her. She’s going to kill us.”

“I hate to agree with her, but she’s right. Don’t do it!”

“We’re not the enemy. Prozac is,” they both cried.

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