Guides and Aspirations

For the past few months, Indireads has been celebrating one year of operations, one year of books, one year of authors from South Asia. In the grand scheme of things, it seems like we’re mere fledglings, babes in the woods that have a long way to go yet. We are and we do, but we see our first year a little differently.

We see it as one year of learning, one year of reading, one year of teaching and one year of making our mark. We see it as a way to understand how to be different, how to stand out, how to keep moving upwards. We see it as the first circle of existence, the first round of readers, the beginnings of great new authors and more books.

Few people know this, but with one exception, all of Indireads’ books so far have been by first-time authors—unknown, aspiring writers who have a story to tell and a passion to learn. They’re authors who have surprised us, even stunned us with their creative ideas, their talent, their desire to grow. Some of them had a single story to tell, but a few have proven to be exceptional writers, potential bestselling authors, even when they were writing for the first time.

We hope, we believe, that they will just get better with experience.

Indireads is still in the business, however, of nurturing new talent. Our Aspiring Author page has a number of excellent resources for first-time authors, including a short writing guide for beginners. The guide breaks down the daunting task of creating a plausible and compelling story into a series of easily digested steps. We also have a general Indireads Guide for Authors that offers more detailed explanations for those writing for the first time, or even for those in need of a quick refresher.

Here’s a quick snippet from the Indireads Writing Guide for Beginners (PDF, opens in a new window):

Revise Your First Draft:

You want your editors and publishers to view you as a professional, so be careful with punctuation, grammar and language. Review the first draft yourself and check for typos, spelling errors and formatting. If your editor is not worried about these things, he/she is more likely to concentrate on the plot and character development. Feedback will be more comprehensive and far more constructive as a result.

You may find that as you write, your story evolves by itself. That’s not always a bad thing, and you may make changes to the plot or a character as you go along. Editor feedback will point out any holes in your story, or weak elements that can be corrected. As objective readers, they tend to see gaps in a story with far more clarity than you will.

While the guide for beginners focuses on novellas, it has all the elements one needs to write any length story. The guide is now part of a new blog section we are working on, IndiWrite (Feedback Fridays is one part of this section). IndiWrite will offer resources, links, downloads and articles from authors, editors and the Indireads’ team for aspiring authors.

Happy Diwali!

Postscript: If you offer valuable knowledge or insight into what it means to be an author, or how to become an author, and would like to contribute to IndiWrite, please contact us with your idea, your article or your post.

Feedback Fridays

Untitled Manuscript IV

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback.

Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Romance


I wake up to the sound of big droplets of water splattering on my window. The sky is a dark grey outside and heavy rain is pouring down. I groggily look at my alarm clock and wake up with a start. Its half past 7 already and nobody bothered to wake me up. I have to take two tuition classes today and both in the exteriors of Vashi. I won’t even get an empty bus at this time and those stupid drains near the Corporation school must have also leaked out. So now I have to be stuck in the traffic for nearly an hour, inhale all the susu-potty the primary school kids did yesterday just to go teach students who have no interest in Hitler’s history and call him ‘chote moocho wale uncle’ instead. I should have listened to my amma and married the boy with the BMW. But on second thoughts even the idea of a fancy car does not make up for his extremely sexist views. Where is my early bird mother anyway? She usually glides in to the room every morning smelling of Mysore sandal soap and Cuticura talcum powder, complaining that Lalli aunty from the third floor came down again to fight for the newspaper. Somebody needs to explain to this Lalli woman that she is not the only subscriber to The Times. Her daily curses in a heavily accented Marathi wakes me up before my hello kitty alarm.

I suddenly realise that the house is unusually quiet. No annoying milk cooker sirens or washing machine noises. Even the TV is switched off. It looks like my father has for the first time in years missed out on his morning news with the half sleepy Mallu reporters. I cannot even hear our Lalita bai loudly humming a Dada Kondke number which she usually does while lazily sweeping the specked tiles. This feels creepy. Maybe I slept through a big storm and my whole family was washed away. Maybe when I open the door to my room, the strong currents will take me along as well. I can imagine my mother calling out to me for help, keeping afloat on our 10 year old woodpecker dining table.

Just when I am trying to convince myself that I must be hyperventilating and an extra hour of sleep is making me go crazy, a gush of water enters my room through the space below. Oh God!

‘Neetuuuuuu!’ my mother calls out.

My mother must be drowning and she does not even know how to swim.

‘Ammmmmaaa! ‘I scream.

She opens my door in one swift push.

‘Ae why are you screaming early in the morning?’ she asks irritated.

I check to see if her saree is wet and if there are any furniture floating behind her. But all I can see is Lalita bai squatting on the ground cleaning the floor, a big bucket of Dettol mixed water near her hand and an involuntary frown on her face. Okay I was clearly wrong but what in the world is going on here?

‘Lakshmii! There.. there. Look properly.’ My mother screams bending over bai’s gigantic cleavage, pointing at some non-existent spot of dust.

‘Amma! What is all this? Why did you not wake me up earlier? I butt in.

‘Oh, I did not want to wake you up so early and spoil your beauty sleep’

Which beauty sleep is she talking about? I just woke up to two black jamuns for eyes and a Lasith Malinga hairstyle.

‘Amma, I have two classes today and it’s also raining. How do I reach on time now?’

‘You are not going anywhere today. Call those people and cancel. Get out of the bed so that I can apply oil on your hair. Where is that pearl necklace Jia bought you from Singapore? It cost over 15,000, you know. So beautiful!’ she says rummaging through my wardrobe and giving side glances to the bai.

My mom has this weird habit. She drops in names of some of the most expensive items we possess along with their prices in her everyday conversations. Like for example ‘I have packed idly for your tiffin today. It almost slipped out of my hand; it was that soft you know. All because of that 30,000 ka butterfly grinder we bought last week.’

Lalita bai on the other hand, cranes her neck around in attention as soon as she hears any big amount because now; she has a hot new topic to discuss with the other maids who in turn feed it to their respective employers. So it’s no surprise to my mother when a day later Bindu aunty from Block B barges in demanding to taste the soft idlies. My mother just laughs and asks her how she knew. Oh amma!

‘What do you mean cancel? I can’t. Those kids have their exams in a months’ time and why are you taking out all my sarees Ammaaa! ‘I scream.

Feedback Fridays

Mira Devi’s Light

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback.

Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Young Adult


Anu had just turned ten. Her birthday had been celebrated with the usual lack of fanfare. Her mother had woken up fifteen minutes earlier to make the customary Payesh, which she was given the privilege of tasting ahead of her perpetually hungry brothers. Apart from this and an absent minded wish from her bookworm of a father, there was nothing particularly differentiating about the day that marked her entry into the world that was at the time too busy handling its newly found independence and socialist government to celebrate her journey so far.

She left for the park half an hour earlier than usual, alone, without informing her elder sister Alo didi. She thought of this solitary half an hour at the park as her gift to herself. Alo didi had recently turned fourteen and going to the park with her daily had swiftly transformed from a fairly pleasant aspect of her regular routine into a dreaded exercise. She attributed this to Alo didi’s newly acquired interest of paying attention to her physical appearance. She had grown to be a tall, slender beauty with skin as fair as Suchitra Sen; the hugely popular actress based on whose features artists allegedly modeled their Durga Ma idols.

The neighborhood boys had become aware of Alo’s fresh allure like sniffing dogs. Every time she left their home, the streets, otherwise dead, would fill up with an assorted collection of boys who would find some excuse to lurk around the grocery store where she had been sent to buy milk or the route she used to walk to school. The park, initially a safe haven for Anu, had been discovered as a place Alo didi would spend two hours of her time, and the boys had been pouring in, disbanding their usual fervor for football for make shift cricket matches in the sandy park or standing around aimlessly near the swings and attempting brave feats on the already rusting monkey bars.

Alo didi pretended to be blind to this attention, which Anu had initially found amusing until it became nauseating. She suddenly began to take more time to get ready, spending what felt like hours applying powder and Kohl, wearing only figure enhancing frocks. Previously, Anu and Alo would spend hours playing in the park, pranking other children and competing to see who could run faster, climb higher and eat more. Now, Alo didi would refuse to run around, lest her frocks got dusty and preferred to take slow walks around the park making suggestive eye contact with the better looking boys, assuming Anu was too small to notice anything. But notice Anu did and it became a regular source of irritation for her. The slow walks didn’t interest her and the swings were boring without Alo didi by her side, trying to out swing her.

So curious to explore her park alone, sans the weight of adolescence, Anu entered the park to find a few neighborhood children already playing around. She used the swing for a while, jumped a few hoops, tried playing hopscotch and hanging on the monkey bar. The initial excitement gave way to boredom and she sat down in a nearby shade, wiping her sweat away. This is why Alo didi never wanted to come out when the sun was so strong; the heat was too unbearable in its role as an assailant to her beauty.

Anu looked around, her face cupped in her hands, shoulders hunched, wondering how she would spend the remaining half an hour. She gazed around at the girls playing nearby, their mothers standing around talking, rubbing the sweat of their faces with their sarees.

She had recently begun noticing faces, their aesthetics, specifically how they were colored. Categorizing faces according to colors had become something of a pastime. The lady in the red saree was a light shade of yellow and her little daughter was dark brown. The lady she was talking to was brownish and the boy she was attempting to hold onto was white as milk. Her mother was brown, Alo didi was white, her father was a mustard shade of yellow and her brothers were wheatish during winter, browning slightly during the hot Calcutta summer.

It had started when she overheard a conversation between her mother and their neighbor Lata mashi, who had dropped in one afternoon after having completed her household chores. Her mother had made tea and the two had sat on the verandah, updating each other on the details of the houses nearby. She had sat outside trying to practice the difficult spellings of a particularly tough chapter in English. The conversation had been senseless noise until she heard her own name weaved into it.

Indiwrite Journal

Transitioning from Short Stories to Novels

Writing a novel is like running a cross-country race. You have to keep the pace, but in order to make it to the finish line, you have to make sure you don’t run out of steam too soon. Cross-country is a better analogy than a racetrack because along the way, there have to be alternate paths, diversions, scenic routes and pitfalls that need to be avoided. The finish line doesn’t need to be crystal clear, or anywhere in your line of vision when you start, and the road itself need be neither straight nor smooth.

A short story, in contrast, is a hundred yard sprint. It’s equally acceptable for the track to be crooked, but the finish line is always in sight. All that’s needed is that last burst of energy at the end that pushes the story into a glorious explosion of shock and awe.

The differences between the two forms are clear. With athletes, it’s rare to find someone with the training and adrenalin for short runs who is also a long-distance runner. One requires speed, the other requires stamina. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen—sprinters undoubtedly run long distances to stay fit, and triathlons and decathlons require speed and endurance to win.

There’s no precedence that says a runner can’t cross over into a different format, and when it comes to writing, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest a writer can succeed in any format he or she chooses.

Lewis Carroll wrote full-length tales that included poetry, as effortless and brilliant as his stories—his lesser-known Sylvie and Bruno is a prime example of the versatility of this man. C. S. Lewis, best known for his children’s tales, wrote several adult fantasy novels. As well-known and beloved as Asimov’s greatest novels are (Foundation, I, Robot), his short stories are extremely powerful (The Dead Past) and in some cases (Nightfall, for instance), far outweigh the value of his longer works. Just as talented, Kurt Vonnegut is known for Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle, but also has several short stories to his name (Welcome to the Monkey House). George Orwell wrote novels (1984), novellas (Animal Farm) and short stories (Shooting an Elephant). Jane Austen is rarely known for anything other than her novels, but like other great writers, she wrote poetry, prose, short stories, even essays.

All these writers (and more, undoubtedly), were prolific, exploring all forms of writing not because they were exploring the form, but because their muse drove them in a certain direction. In some cases, they even crossed genres, because when a story needs to be told, it’s the tale, the plot, the characters, that dictate the length of the work. It’s the ideas that determine the number of words. Orwell’s allegorical Animal Farm would probably have lost much of its impact if he had forced it into a longer length.

The transition from one form to another is not a matter of skill so much as it is an understanding of how best to tell a story. If there were a set of rules for making the transition—and I’m sure there are—the first must definitely be this:

  1. The idea for a short story does not always work for a full-length novel. Short stories don’t necessarily include complete plots, and can be based on a moment in time, a quick glimpse that leads to something profound. So give your novel its own idea. Make it a big one.

The idea for a novel has to have (though not necessarily in a linear fashion) a beginning, a middle and an end. It should take a reader on a journey, preferably one that takes more than a few hours to read! Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just a longer short story—it isn’t. The difference isn’t just in length, it’s the entire concept. But, because it’s a longer format, don’t approach it like a challenge. Look at this as freedom:

  1. Create subplots. The freedom you have in a novel is that it can be richly layered, with multiple characters, so you could conceivably create a network of short stories that work together, connected through a main character(s) and adding depth and consequence to the novel.
  2. Know your characters. Step inside their skins so that when you write, you’re examining several layers of personality. They’re going to be around for a long time, so make sure you love them too, just don’t make them perfect, because people never are. Or, kill them off early if you feel they can’t evolve. Because your characters, along with the plot, should evolve.
  3. Draw a map. Know your plots, subplots, characters and settings inside out. Use this knowledge to avoid lengthy exposition and work with dialogue and action instead. You may be a master of putting together a short story in your head, but novels are meant to be complex. Don’t make the mistake of leaving it all in the air. Put together a plan and stick to it as much as possible. Imagine that you’re putting down the sequence of events that happen in a movie you’ve seen. If you’re a planner, take the time to plan the details. If you’re not, make sure the broad strokes are in place before you start.
  4. Don’t worry about the word count. Short stories have boundaries, limitations that are a reassuring handicap and force a writer to establish discipline. When you start a novel, relax that discipline. If you’ve always wanted to write, then let the words flow. You can always edit it later. This leads naturally to another rule:
  5. Let your characters and plot dictate the next move. Sometimes, in the middle of a sentence, an idea will grab you by the throat and refuse to let go. Listen to that idea. There’s nothing wrong with letting characters write themselves, or plots unravel and destroy a plan you may have in place. Because rules, as you know, are sometimes meant to be broken.
  6. Once you’ve done that, however, keep track of the different threads you have flowing. At some point, either at the end or in a logical sequence, those threads need to be tied together. Unless you’re writing a series and intend to leave cliffhangers and unexplained threads that will find answers in the next book, your readers will want to know what happened.

Finally, have a little confidence in yourself. There’s no shame in taking ten drafts to write your first full-length novel. It’s not always going to write itself, but giving up is never the answer.

Feedback Fridays


Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback. Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Paranormal, Romance


“He was brought in yesterday,” the policeman explained. “Beach Patrol weren’t sure what to do with him – not sure of his mental state – and he didn’t actually commit any crime.”

Chloe walked with him down the long corridor. ”Inspector Bennett said he was found naked on the beach in the middle of the night, is that right?” she enquired.

“Yeah,” the policeman, Vuyo, shook his head. “No ID, no shoes, clothes, nothing. And his fingerprints, so far, have come up clean.”

They had reached the single cell at the end of the corridor and Chloe focused her mind on the task ahead. The man was sitting on the cold concrete floor, leaning back against the grimy wall. He looked up as Chloe and Vuyo approached.

“We’ve brought someone to see you,” Vuyo’s voice sounded harsh, which surprised Chloe, as she knew him to be a kind man. “This lady is a counsellor, sent here to help you, so make sure you behave yourself.”

Chloe’s senses sharpened. The light in the cell was dim, but not dim enough to hide the harsh planes of the man’s face. She stared into his pale blue eyes and felt her professional mask slip – not just because of their strange and unusual colour, but because they were the coldest eyes she’d ever seen – and she’d seen plenty. She dragged her gaze away from him as Vuyo unlocked the gate.

“You want me to come inside with you?” he asked softly.

Chloe hesitated for a second; then shook her head. Speaking to suspects in front of the police was a waste of time. “No thanks Vuyo, I’ll be fine,” she said with more confidence than she felt.

The gate banged closed behind her and Vuyo turned his back on them, folding his arms and leaning back against the bars.

The cell was small and very basic. A single metal framed bed, covered with a scratchy brown blanket, was set against one wall, a stainless-steel toilet in the corner and a small barred window, which Chloe knew faced the barren courtyard of the police station. She shivered, this was not a pleasant place to be, and in spite of the warm African sun outside, she knew it would be cold in this miserable cell at night.

Chloe sat down on the edge of the bed and tried not to stare at the man sitting on the floor opposite her. He was wearing an off-white, cotton shirt and faded, baggy jeans, which someone must have dug out of the lost property box. His shirt was unbuttoned and though his knees were bent in front of him, she couldn’t help but notice the lean, hard muscles of his chest and stomach. Despite the ill-fitting clothes; with his smooth olive skin, thick dark hair and the harsh beauty of his face, he reminded Chloe of a male model straight out of a glossy magazine. His relaxed posture only added to the illusion, but as he stared back at her, through hooded, hard eyes, Chloe knew instinctively that the laid-back pose was just that – a pose.

“My name is Chloe Webster and I’m a counsellor here at Sea Point police station,” she managed to keep her voice steady as his strange, pale eyes moved over her – not missing a thing – from her fair hair scraped back in a pony tail to her over-sized shirt and combat pants. She always wore loose clothes when she visited the station, in fact she always wore baggy clothes full stop. The Chloe who once wore feminine short skirts and tight fitting jeans, seemed like a different person from a different lifetime.

Chloe forced her mind back to the present. “Can you tell me your name?”

He continued to stare at her, until she thought he was not going to answer at all, and then, finally, he spoke. “You can call me Zack.”

His voice was low with a gravelly edge to it that sent shivers down Chloe’s spine. “And your surname – Zack?”

There was another long silence, his eyes slid away from her, staring up at the barred window. ‘It doesn’t matter.”

Chloe let out a long, slow breath. Hoping that he couldn’t notice how tense and aware of him she actually was. But then his piercing eyes focused on her again and she knew in her bones that he noticed everything.

“Ok.” She shrugged. “Do you remember how you came to be found on the beach – without any clothes or possessions?’

“Not exactly,” he leaned his head back against the grubby wall, still watching her. “But that’s to be expected.”

She was trying to place his accent and for a moment didn’t register his cryptic reply. The accent was unusual, definitely not South African, perhaps American like herself?

Feedback Fridays

The Journey

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback. Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Thriller


Twenty seven year old Megha Naik settled on her seat in the State Transport bus for Mahabaleshwar at the bus depot near Pune Railway station. She checked the time – 8.30 pm. She was going for her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It had been a hectic day for this qualified architect. She was fast asleep in a couple of minutes.

A while later she woke up, startled with sound of a man pleading for mercy. Megha turned and looked behind. Five-six women had surrounded a young man at the rear of the bus. He was well dressed, like a corporate professional. He was gagged and his face was badly bruised. Megha was scared but stood up and decided to make her way towards the rear of the bus, when she felt a cold dagger on her neck.

“Sit down”, Megha was ordered. That coercion made the blade cut through her skin. Megha took a deep breath and let her logical thinking take over. She observed the woman who was calling the shots. Megha noticed her attire – a mix of some tribal style mingled with weird north Indian Ghagra. Also, she could not understand the exact words from her high pitched conversation with others but she understood the gist.

She turned to look at them, when one of the women slashed that man hard on his face with a blade.

“No”, Megha cried in horror.

“Give me the money”, that woman demanded of him. That man spat on her and refused to give in.

“Why are you doing this?” Megha asked of that leader.

Thwack! She got slapped on her face. According to that leader, Megha had the profanity to speak up against the gang leader.

“Shut up and stay out of this. I have accounts to settle with this bloody bugger.”

“Well, nobody almost hijacks a bus and tortures innocent people just like that.” Megha said mustering courage, standing up.

“Innocent? Hah.. you are such a fool, you bitch”, the woman leading the pack barked at her and pushed her violently on the seat. Neha hit her head on the window rim. She grimaced with pain. Soon, she was tied to the seat.

One of them, who was pretty and smart seemed to have something sinister up her sleeve. She had not spoken all this while. She twirled her long braided hair and came up to Megha. The others called her Sunehri. The leader who looked in her late 40’s was called “Akka”.

Sunehri took a pistol from underneath her top, tucked into her ghagra and pointed it at Megha. . She closed her eyes. When she opened them, the women had got that man to sit beside her and pistol was pointed at him. Megha looked at him, horrified. He was half dead and was blabbering incoherently.

“Stop this, what wrong have we done to you?” Megha shouted.

“Shut up and do what we say. Kill that man”, Sunheri said with a steely coldness in her voice.

Megha clenched her teeth and fist and tried to break free. She was even able to free one hand from the rope but stayed put.

Sunehri gave Megha a peck on the cheek. Megha winced with disgust. On an impulse, she raised her hand which was free and punched Sunehri. Sunehri was startled for a moment but regained her composure. Akka was enraged now. She had had enough. She snatched the gun from Sunehri and inserted the gun into Megha’s mouth. She was going to pull the trigger when Sunehri stopped her.

“Akka, don’t do this. You would be caught unnecessarily. Rather, make this whore kill this asshole.” It was pitch dark outside. Akka became thoughtful. She beckoned one of her gang members to get her a paan.

“Good idea, Sunehri”, she said, chewing on to her pan. Sunehri freed Megha and handed her the pistol. Megha furiously retaliated, as she pushed and clawed away at Sunehri.

“Enough”! Akka’s voice boomed. With an eerie silence all around, her high pitched, slightly hoarse voice sounded ghastly.

“Listen girl, you better kill him or I will kill you!” Akka bellowed.

Megha shuddered. She pointed the gun at that man. Something, however, snapped.
She shot Akka instead and then before the others could recover, she shot Sunheri. She made that man get up by nudging him with the nozzle of the gun.

“Nobody moves”, Megha pointed the gun at the others.

She pushed the man and stepped out of the bus and started running, on a narrow pathway. She could see some village lights nearby. Suddenly this man started laughing.

“You are stupid to have saved me. I deserved to die.” He smiled. Colour had drained out of Megha’s face. She looked at him, dumbfounded, pistol almost dropping off her hand.


From Idea to Story by Devaki Khanna

Readers often wonder how authors get ideas for stories. You can get ideas for stories from your environment. If you are an observant person, the habits, behavior and motivations of your social circle could give rise to ideas for several stories. If you’re the imaginative sort, an image—of someone driving on a road late at night, or of children finding wolf pups in the snow—could be the basis for a story.

How can you tell if your idea can become a story? Begin by asking questions. For instance—who are the children who find the wolf pups in the snow? Where do they find these pups? What do they decide to do? Why do they decide to do what they do?

Can your story be written as a novel?

That depends on how you develop it. You could choose to focus on just one incident, and write a short story. Or you could show how the plot you create leads to your characters’ development. For instance, the children who find the wolf pups in the snow could decide to drown them—this makes a rather grim story about childish cruelty. Or they can decide to raise the pups, which leads to all sorts of developments.

You have an idea for a story, based on the concept of the Good Samaritan, which you want to write as a romance. A person who is left for dead on the road is assisted by a passerby which eventually leads to a relationship. You begin by thinking of appropriate characters. Your heroine is a young woman, driving home late at night, coming across an unconscious, wounded man lying in the middle of the road, with no identification or money.

You can develop scenes—the almost empty, dimly lit road; the speeding car with its blazing headlights that brakes suddenly as the driver spots the body lying in the middle of the road; the driver getting out and revealing herself as a woman…

How do you develop characters? Characters develop in response to conflict. For instance, the woman driving the car. Is she coming home late from work or from a party? Is she a doctor or a nurse or just a passer-by? Does she have a mobile, which she can use to call an ambulance? Will she go with the wounded man to the hospital? How will her family respond if she comes home late, and tells them the story of the wounded man? Will they let her visit him in hospital? The answers to these questions, and the reasons why she behaves as she does, will lead to her development as a character.

Suppose you decide that you don’t want this woman to be the heroine of your story; she disappears after calling the ambulance and handing over the wounded, unconscious man to the paramedics. You want the wounded man to suffer from amnesia so that he can be helped by a sympathetic nurse or psychiatrist at the hospital. You could then choose to start your story in the emergency room when the man is brought in, or begin the story when the man regains consciousness in the ICU but has lost his memory. Your story could be told from the point of view of the nurse who’s assigned to care for him, or the psychiatrist who undertakes to help him recover his memory. You will then concentrate on the relationship between the nurse/psychiatrist and the patient, focusing on how she helps him recover his memory.

How do you build the storyline, after you have developed the idea so far? Try to think through what might happen in the real world if such a situation took place. Perhaps the hospital would have the man’s photograph put on news channels—print and television—within the city, and then nationwide, to discover his identity. The police might also get into the act, by taking fingerprints. What would they discover if they did so? Is the amnesiac just a pedestrian who was unfortunately knocked down while returning home from work? Or is he in possession of dangerous information, dangerous enough for him to nearly lose his life and endanger anyone else (including the girl in the car and the psychiatrist) helping him?

It’s up to you where you choose to take your story. However, you have to build up to the conclusion carefully and cleverly, using all that you have told us about your characters and their circumstances so far. Perhaps the wounded man’s parents have already been to the police and registered him as a missing person—in which case, they’ll arrive at the hospital within a day or so after he regains consciousness. He’ll still require psychiatric care, because he can’t really recall everything that happened before the accident took place. Or, the woman who rescued him is attacked in a drive-by shooting—and someone tries to kill him while he’s still in hospital. This means that his psychiatrist has to race against time to save him, while she helps him to remember why he landed up in hospital. Since we’re talking about writing romance novels here, it will lead to the development of a relationship between the wounded stranger and the psychiatrist assigned to his case, in both instances.

So, the basic rules for getting ideas for stories:

  1. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open—ideas for stories can arise from observation or imagery.
  2. When you get an idea, put it in context, using questions. Use the words who, what, where, why and how to get your answers.
  3. It is up to you to develop an idea into a short story or a novel. You have to decide how to express the idea suitably.
  4. The two major characters—hero and heroine—have to be put into situations of stress or conflict, so that we can appreciate their true worth.
  5. Select the major protagonists of your stories—you need to focus almost exclusively on them, giving us glimpses into their motivations and actions by telling the story from their point of view.
  6. Develop the story keeping in mind what might happen if your characters actually existed in the real world.
  7. Build up to the conclusion carefully, basing it on what you have revealed about your characters so far.
Feedback Fridays

The Ending

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback. Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Paranormal/Thriller


It wasn’t a nightmare. She wasn’t running from a monster or walking naked into the school cafeteria. But there was a feeling of immense grief throttling her. She was aware of the tears running down her face, as aware as one can be in their sleep and at once, she was also aware of the soft comfort of her bed and the sun shining on her face. “I have a feeling it’s going to end.” Tara whispered, a lingering thought from the rapidly dissipating dream.

He was startled. He hadn’t noticed she was awake. “What is?”

“The world. I can feel it. It’s going to end. I just… I know it.” She paused, eyes shut, straining her memory, trying to remember what had been clear a moment ago.

“Sweetheart, it was a dream, you are half asleep. Relax. Your Mum is still making breakfast. I’ll call you when it’s ready.”

Tara woke up. She looked up at her father, uncertainly. He was standing in the doorway of her bedroom. This was a sight she rarely got up to and she couldn’t help but smile. On the night Tara had developed a slight fever, her mother had frantically tried to reach him. Dad had promised he would return within a couple of days. Tara was annoyed by all the drama, but seeing him, she felt light as a feather; as if all this time there had been a weight on her chest and now that it was gone, she could fly. He had clearly just reached home and was checking up on her. He was still in uniform and looked more handsome than ever.

“The world is fine.” He smiled at her; she was still just a baby to him. He could remember the day he had first laid eyes on his daughter in the hospital, held her, kissed her. He’d called her ‘his little twinkling star’ and the name had stuck. Life had been good. They were just another happy family and he hadn’t realized back then how lucky he was to have one of those.

“As fine as it can be.” He wanted to hug her and tell her he could stay with her till she felt safe. But he didn’t want to make promises he couldn’t possibly keep. He knew better by now and she deserved better.

“Okay, okay, I guess it was just a lone post-nightmare thought. Wake me up when Mum’s done cooking.” She smiled, adding in a loud whisper, “I missed you.”

The door clicked shut behind him and she could hear him whistling on his way to the kitchen. She felt touched that left everything to come home for her.

When Dad came back to the room, Tara was snoring lightly. He sat by her bed and was about to shake her awake, when she suddenly sat up.

“Wha..? Oh it’s you. Sorry… I thought you were…uh… death.” Tara’s hair was in a tangle and her eyes were wide open. She mumbled something and dashed to the bathroom. A few minutes later, Tara came out looking rather more civilized. Absently fumbling with her T-shirt, she looked at her father uncertainly. For a moment they just stared at each other. A smile hesitantly broke out on Tara’s face and she asked, curious, “What did I just say?”

“Nothing. Come on down, breakfast is ready.” Dad chuckled.

Everything was just the same at the breakfast table. Mum had laid out the usual omelet-sandwich-cereal combo and Tara didn’t want any of it. What she wanted to was to talk to Dad about what they’d both been up to and break the uncomfortable silence that the room was engulfed in. Mum stared into her plate, quiet, stern. Dad gobbled up the rare home cooked food, throwing an occasional glance at the newspaper. And Tara twitched about in her seat, forming conversation starters in her mind. Finally, she blurted out, “I had the weirdest dream. The world is about to end today. Go up in a poof! Crazy, right?”

That did it. Next thing she knew, Mum was holding her tight, crying and shouting at Dad. “I told you she’s sick. One visit in a year, that’s all you can manage!?”

“It was a nightmare, Neeta, she’s fine.”

“She had a high fever. Do you have any idea how scared I was?”

“Of course I do. You know how? You left forty messages with Prabhakar. He thought there was something horribly wrong. He’s my boss, damn it, you can’t just call and pester him. I can’t believe you told him it was dead serious.”

“Would you have showed up, otherwise?” Her face had turned red. Tara thought she looked like a dragon, spitting fire.

Feedback Fridays

Untitled Manuscript III

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback. Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Drama


Some letters are cursed and some are longed. This letter was neither cursed nor longed it was expected. An addressee looked at the blue colored rectangular thin envelope with brown colored border. He felt its lightness, looked at his own address, imprinted in bold face type. He carefully read affixed postal stamps and printed logos. Curiously he summed the stamps value and converted it into Indian rupees, just for nothing. While doing so, he noticed dirty fingers’ marks on the back side of the envelope. He also saw its broken edges. He peeped into it and saw cream-colored paper. He was undecided to read it in the office or at the hostel. He hesitantly put into the table’s drawer. But instantly, took it out, and put it into front pocket of his newly purchased check shirt. Again, irritably he took it out and inserted it into upper pocket of the hand carrying bag. He did it carefully as it shouldn’t be damaged.

He decided. He ringed, a peon came. He told him a lie, he is not well. He headed to his hostel. He took longest route. Perhaps, pleasant winter weather induced him to do so. He left the footpath and crossed the road and walked on wrong side. The devised trick helped him to avoid acquaints’ interaction. He was neither happy nor sad. He was engrossed in his thoughts. In the mid of route, he halted. He chose a culvert. It was made of brown lime stone. He cleaned its surface with a push of his hand’s palm. He liked coordination of his thought and efficiency of his hand. He sat down. He took out cigarette’s pocket from the bag, unnecessary looked at its butt, and unintentionally read tiny letters on it. He took out envelope, but quickly put it into bag’s pocket. ‘Just hold on, finish the cigarette.’ He whispered to himself. But within a few seconds resolved that whatever matter envelope contains, I wouldn’t be emotional.’ He made a vow.

He took out the envelope from the bag, open it. But, he was halted by ‘Ram, Ram’ words. He look upward, and saw Ratan, a gardener of the hostel was there to greet him. He quickly, replied ‘Ram Ram’ got up and headed towards the hostel. He unconsciously corrected crease of his shirt, and untie the tie. He walked with same pace. He reached the main gate, bit quicker. He crossed the dinning hall, dedicated to the founding vice-chancellor. He took left turn in the corridor, he suddenly noticed his soiled shoes. He smiled, and murmured, ‘it is reward of taking wrong direction.’ He entered into room, changed the clothes. He took out the envelope from the bag, but felt tiredness. He went out to the hostel canteen, and ordered one cup of tea, but instructed the bureau to serve him at the room. He came to his room, and sat on study table. He looked at the enveloped. It was addressed to him.

Professor Dr. Gotam
Ramanujan Computing & Cryptology Center, University of Adayar

He appreciated fonts, and space between letters, words and lines, and even chosen format was attractive. He opened it to read. But knock at the door restricted him to do so. He kept it on the table, and went to open the door. Ramu a bureau of the canteen was standing at the door. “Chai, Sir.” Ramu said, and without waiting to be invited, entered the room and placed the tea at the corner of the table.

Gotam understood form Ramu’s eagerness and body language, he was in mood to gossip. So, he told him, “I will keep the utensils, outside the room.” It was an implicit instruction, ‘Don’t disturb me.’ Now, he was relaxed, he read the letter. It read:

24th December, 1978
Professor Dr. Gotam
Ramanjun Computing & Cryptology Center, University of Adayar

Dear Dr. Gotam:
I have been advised by the Board of Directors’ president to inform you that you have been selected as a head of ‘Memory Project.’ Adephi, Maryland. The main collaborators of the projects are Marryland University and Research & Development Unit of USA State Department. So, you have collaborate closely with Dr. Goldsmith on research related to biology based futurology. In addition to that you have to design continued integrated learning programme for the arts and science faculties of Maryland University. During your stay here, you will get US dollars …… as a salary. And we will be able to provide you with office space, secretarial support and computer and other communication facilities and furnished house at the project place. Mr. Tony Robert, Administration Officer, will help you to purchase and maintain health policy and other obligatory requirements.
Let me appraise you that the invitation extended is valid for a period of three months beginning January, and will conclude on March 30, 1989. But somehow, your arrival is to be postponed or is delayed due to the required visa application process, please inform us so we may help you, accordingly.

Butterfly Rolland
Secretary to BoD
Memory Project
Adelphi, Maryland, USA.

Feedback Fridays

An Unexpected Invitation

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. However, any comments that are overly derogatory in nature will be removed. Please keep in mind that the author, while anonymous, will be reading your feedback. Submissions posted here are not edited and/or proof-read by Indireads.

If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.

Genre: Romance


Nayanika came to her garden with a blue file in her hand. Glory of dusk always fascinates her. The aura of evening was suffused with vivid colors. Azure sky was mingled with a tinge of roseate hues. She looked at the flocks of birds, making different pattern, going home. This view always fills her with nostalgia. Pleasure of being at home is so sweet! It evokes a sense of serenity and security. She thought as she touched the flowers gingerly.
A cool gush of wind kissed her face and slipped smoothly as if playing with her curls. A hint of smile flashed on her fuller lips and reached to her beautiful black eyes.

Her white long skirt swayed and maroon embroidered top, completely justifying her flawless wheatish complexion, hugged her sculpted body. She put the file on the swing, hung by the large Amaltas tree, took out her slippers, absorbing the softness of velvety grass.

Her old, small yet beautiful house was fringed with lush greenery! She inhaled the fragrance of nature as she sauntered around.

After two easy rounds, she sat cross-legged on the swing and started to read the notes carefully, which she managed to bag from one of her favourite professors Mrs Aisha Sehgal. Being a studious student, Nayanika was studying seriously to perform well in her exams…like always. Even in the holidays, she preferred her books and notes.

“Niki di, your phone.” Avantika, her sister called. Nayanika exhaled an irritated sigh. She placed everything carefully on the swing and headed towards the living room, thinking to get back after a while.

The living room was permeated with delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen along with Pammi aunty’s chatters. Pammi aunty was her neighbor and right now, she was instructing some Punjabi recipe to Nayanika’s mother, Shubhra.

The telephone rested on a tiny table, beside an old sofa set, near a large window that overlooked the garden. Avni was merrily engrossed in a chat over the phone that Nayanika doubted this phone was for her. As she approached, Avantika immediately handed her the phone and sat on the sofa stuffing the cushions in her lap.

“Hello” Nayanika said, unsure about the caller.

“Hi Nikki! How’re you sweety?” Her best friend Preeti was chuckling at the other side.

“Hey, I’m fine but what happened to you? You’re twittering like a lark.” Nayanika’s irritation was gone.

“Err….” After a brief pause, Preeti continued. “Actually…I’m getting married!”

“Oho, congratulations! That’s so nice. And who is the lucky guy?”


“Okay. Shekhar sounds nice. Have you…met him?” Nayanika asked curiously.

“Yeah, he’s so cute Nikki!” Preeti whispered.

“So, this has been cooking in holidays.”

“Yes, and you are invited to have the brunch on 8th March. Just a day before your birthday.”

Nayanika smiled broadly at this coincidence. “See you’ll always remember my birthday.”

“Do you remember if I forgot your birthday ever?” Preeti said with mock anger and Nayanika couldn’t agree more. “And you have to make it for my special day Nikki. No excuses.” Preeti said.

“OK, I’ll try. Let’s see if I get permission.” Nayanika was really apprehensive about getting permission to attend any function in an unknown city.

“What about your further studies? When you’ll be arriving for the exams?” Nayanika darted instant questions to avoid the further ‘you-have-to-come’ thing.

“Let’s see. I’m not sure. Shekhar is settled in Nagaland and you know…”

“Nagaland!” Nayanika almost shouted. She had never heard anyone settled in Nagaland but that of course doesn’t mean nobody lives there.

“Yes, you know it’s in the north-east and the journey is long and really difficult.” Preeti said.

“Then what about your studies?”

“Ahem, ahem…”

“Don’t tell me you’re leaving your studies!” Nayanika exclaimed.

“You know Shekhar says he doesn’t want to live alone after marriage and… not me either.” Preeti giggled.

“Oh my God! I-can’t-live-without-you type love has burgeoned already. Don’t tell me you are in love.” Nayanika widened her smiling eyes.

“ Yes Niki I’m in love with him. He’s so adorable that anyone can fall in love with him.” Preeti said in a tone that clearly reflected her inner joy.

Nayanika was feeling strange inside. Preeti added hastily “Okay Nikki, do come to share my happiness. I’ll call you later. Shekhar’s call is on waiting.

There is a terrible connectivity there and we get very few chances to talk. Bye. Take care.” Preeti finished breathlessly before disconnecting the call.

“It sounds that Preeti di is getting married.” Avantika didn’t delay a bit to inquire.

“That’s right.”

“So are we going?”

“Don’t know. You know she’s already in love.” Nayanika sighed.

“So? What’s so strange? Love is like a breath of fresh air my dear sister.” Avantika said dramatically taking a position of waltz.

“Shut up Avni!”

“Oh c’mon di! Are we going?”