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If you are an author hoping for some feedback on the first 800 words of your unpublished manuscript, you can submit your work here.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


The Writer’s Conundrum

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
― Stephen King

There is something magical about writing—about creating a world with just words; about drawing up landscapes and family lines with a few flourishes of the pen (or taps on the keyboard); about holding within your palm the power to create a character and the turns that define his/her life.

Of course, it is not easy as it sounds. Oftentimes, the words are stuck in another plane, the characters remain foggy shadows in the recess of your mind, and there is little by way of a plot that can fill the pages. And the frustration a writer faces at this stage is hard to explain—it is a pain-filled anxiety, clouded over by doubts about whether the nascent idea that rests in one’s mind will take root and grow. The pain is almost beautiful, preceding as it does the creation of something eternal, something that will touch another.

There are times when nothing seems right, when the words are all hollow and the plot is laughably plain. When the characters in your mind’s eye refuse to make their mark on paper; when your creative element seems to have left for a distant land. This is when writing in itself seems like a futile exercise—the idea of spinning a story, an impossible task. It is very tempting at such times to close away the mind and laptop, and put away all thoughts in dark, deep drawer—away from the light of day.

And yet, in the midst of all this, something keeps pulling the writer through—the promise of a work that is as dear to one’s heart as is a child. It is this impulse that makes the writer plod through empty hours when barely a few words fill the space on a blank page. And then, one day, the words come together, the story is string together in a beautiful sequence of events, and—after you turn the last page—all that remains is a smile or sigh. A feeling of contentment, of sweet success, washes over the writer.

It is the love for this process that keeps drawing me back to writing, even after I proclaim that my creative muscles have atrophied and I cannot string together yet another tale. Writing is like a drug—once you are hooked on to it, there is no substitute.

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?”



Read. Write. Listen. Evolve. Repeat.

I co-wrote my first script when I was in the ninth standard. A satire on the popular Star Trek series, it was written over the period of a week during class hours. It may have been childish and downright cartoony but I still keep that book with me even today. The desire to one day see my name in print was non-existent as I grew up and settled into the medical field—writing scripts in notebooks (no DELETE buttons, mind you) was just a way of letting out some excess creative thoughts that existed between my ears. But the desire to keep on writing was there, resulting in pen pals receiving timely pages of my life every month for years and eventually the creation of a blog.

It was here that I first had to face real reviews of my stories from a faceless public—a true test of whether my words were worth commenting on. Unlike friends who would smile graciously to keep me cheerful, these anonymous faces online were under no such obligation. They would let me know what they liked about the story and what my weaknesses as a writer were. It was their positive responses that goaded me to keep on writing. It was their thumbs down that let me know my twists in the tale had failed miserably.

And it was those comments—positive and negative alike—which goaded me on. Writing within the blog reined in my tendencies for long scripts and made me focus more on shorter tales. Within the tiny confines of a few thousand words, I needed to build a world and make the reader empathize with the protagonists within that fictional realm. I needed them to look for a twist in the tale and still not see it coming so that they nodded appreciatively when the last line had been delivered.

Eighteen years after I wrote that satire in a classroom where I was supposed to be learning algebra and geography, a story of mine did make it to print in 2011 in the Chicken Soup series. Ironically, it was not fiction but a true story based on events I witnessed as a doctor. I still have the first copy of the book that I received and the cheque that accompanied it. In the three years that have passed since that day, I have been lucky enough to win a few national anthology contests, find my name in print and attend book launches at stores.

There have also been rejection letters galore during this period too, mind you, informing me that I missed out on the possibility of publication because I got my tenses wrong. I didn’t feel bad—if anything, I felt scared. What if my story and the grammar it was coated in was so bad that the publishers sent it to my high school English teacher? Would I wake up one morning and find her catching my ears and forcing me to come back to school to read my Wren and Martin grammar books again alongside smirking third standard students?

Along with a desire to improve myself as each year passes by, there is also a need to evolve and step out of my comfort zone. Stephen King comes to mind when I think of the evolution of an author. If the author’s name was erased from the books, would you have ever believed that Carrie and The Shining were written by the same mind that gave us The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption? Following a near death experience in real life, his own fictional stories took on a more natural approach, eschewing vampires and scary clowns in favour of more intimate personal fears that haunt us all.

That’s something I look to do every time I try to build a new world within a page—be a better writer than I was previously. Ever the eccentric Aquarian, I never stick to one theme and flit across all genres—real life, humor, romance, action and adventure, psychological thriller, crime, real life, medical and even historical fiction with some erotica to boot!

It isn’t a desire to get published in all available genres that keeps me going. It is the desire to write. It is a desire to tell a tale that I feel people would like to hear.

In Eric Segal’s novel ‘Doctors’, there is a very astute comment right at the very beginning on how we have still only found the cure for twenty-six diseases. In the twenty-six years since that novel has released, I wonder how many more we may have added onto that list though I doubt if it would be too many. That doesn’t stop mankind from trying though.

I feel that the same applies to writing. When all is said and done, there are a very finite number of storylines available at our disposal within each genre (The remarkable similarities between Disney’s Pocahontas and James Cameron’s Avatar come to mind as a defining example). How we choose to form and narrate that story is where the true gift lies.

My advice to those who have a story to tell? Read. Write. Listen. Evolve. Repeat.

READ as many books as you can. Enjoy the beauty of lyrical prose and taut storylines, immaculate plots and beguiling metaphors. From the reader whose mind is opened to new worlds, the WRITER will emerge. Your stories may be inspired or original, sensitive or silly. You will never know if you alone are the judge. So allow others to read your work and then sit back and LISTEN. Listen to their comments and their opinions. Neither should you get disheartened by bad reviews nor should you allow yourself to float too high on cloud nine when the first positive review arrives. Instead see how you can improve. EVOLVE and become better than the writer who wrote that previous story. Then REPEAT it all once more!

You will surely get published. If this formula could work for a nerdy doctor sitting inside one or the other operation theatre for most of his adult life, it will surely work for you too.

Feedback Fridays

John Hartigan’s Secret Admirer

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 Crime


“Wait!” I yell, as I run inside a dark tunnel. By dark I mean absolute, pitch darkness ahead of me, which seems to consume me as I seem to run deeper and deeper into its heart. The only sound I can hear is the clacking of my boots on the ground as I run hard.

“Wait!” I yell again in vain, to the figure gliding a few feet in front of me. The figure is glowing in the dark, serving as a beacon to me. This shrouded figure, glowing fluorescent blue, is the reason I’m in this seemingly endless tunnel in the first place. While I’m already falling short of breathe from having to run probably faster than Usain Bolt to try and stop this figure, it glides effortlessly along the tunnel, not making any noise or even stopping in its tracks. Tonight, I will find out who this figure belongs to, and why it has been stalking me for the past many days.

I finally think I’m catching up with it. The florescent blue figure seems much more nearer now.

I increase my speed, and soon I’m right behind my quarry. I reach my hand out, and tug at the shroud with all the strength I can muster.

“Show yourself! Now!” I yell, trying to turn the figure around and see its face.

Suddenly, the glowing figure starts to turn around, and at the same time, the shroud starts coming off.

The glowing figure turns to me, and next moment the shroud is lifted from its face. Before I can take in all the details of the thing before me, it bursts into smithereens noiselessly. I vainly grab at minuscule, glowing particles floating around me like dust particles. The darkness is complete around me now, engulfing me in its black, infinite, sinister folds.

“Nooooooooooooooo!” I yell…and wake up, sweating and panting and puffing in my own bed, my hand grasping at thin air. I look around the room. Yes, it’s definitely my bedroom, and everything seems normal here. I look at the luminous clock on the bedside table. It’s only 2.30 a.m.

I try to go back to sleep, but my eyes refuse to shut and allow me some rest. All I can do is see images from the weird dream- a shrouded, fluorescent blue figure gliding in a dark tunnel, me running after it, trying to stop it. The rest of the details have completely disappeared from my memory.
I finally give up on sleeping and go to the kitchen, where I make myself a cup of coffee and sit down with a book. This has been happening to me quite frequently for the past few days- strange, vivid dreams, and then subsequent inability to sleep. It all started a few days back, when it started happening to me.

1. My Secret Admirer
“Your blue eyes are the tranquil seas,
Wavy, fair hair permanently ruffled by the breeze,
Your enticing, full, beautiful mouth,
Which have never uttered a word uncouth” — Your secret admirer

I stare hard at the note in my hand, willing the words to disappear into thin air. But I know they won’t. This is the tenth such note I have received in this past week. And notes are not the only thing I’ve received. Five of the notes were anonymously delivered to my office at the FBI Headquarters in Boston, with a huge bouquet of red, pink and white roses and a box of liqueur chocolates. The others, including this one, were randomly stuck in convenient places for me to find it.

I take a sip of coffee out of the mug in my hand, relishing the bitter tasting hot liquid which would soon fire up my central nervous system and prepare me for the day’s work.

On the windshield of my car, in the mail-slot, shoved beneath the front door of my apartment; this one had been shoved beneath the front door, and I found it when I went to pick up the morning newspaper. Little notes with poetry, and in the beginning indicating this person knows a lot about me- my name, my job as an FBI Special Agent and a criminologist, my home address, and my taste in flowers and chocolates. As if I haven’t already realized that as soon as it began. ‘It’ being my being courted by a clandestine admirer. They know everything about you, somehow. You’re unfortunate enough to have caught their fancy, unintentionally. Your looks, your smile, your quirks- anything can set them off on a ‘secret’ mission to turn your life upside down.

Feedback Fridays

Untitled Manuscript II

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


Run! Priya thought as she entered the lounge club in Gurgaon. It was crowded and loud. Though she couldn’t find fault with the place but her head had started to throb.

After the morning episode, she just wanted to curl-up and sleep. She was already regretting telling Aditi and Komal about the phone call. She felt as if she had betrayed Sameer.

‘Bad idea’ she muttered.

‘Did you say something?’ Komal asked. Priya shook her head. There was no escape. Komal and Aditi flanked her on both sides, as if she would run away. They were determined to keep her occupied and busy. ‘You both grab a table. I will take care of drinks’. Komal said.

Abhimanyu took his drink from the bar, turned…and stared. For the first time in his life he understood meaning of heart missing a beat. The girl, in yellow, was looking completely out of place with her lost and deserted look. Her long black hair cascaded down on one side. The most arresting features were her eyes with long black eyelashes. They almost touched her cheek when she checked her cell phone time and again.

‘Abhi! We are starting a new one.’ Rahul, called him from the table they had for themselves. He kept her in his line of sight and moved towards his friends. They were exchanging exaggerated stories of their tryst with girls in their respective offices. Though he pretended to listen to them, but his eyes tracked movement of the girl across the hall. She was with another tall girl in red and black. They seem to be waiting for someone at a cocktail table. The need to look into her eyes kept growing like an alien insidious weed.

Someone tapped his shoulder, he looked up with an annoyed scowl at the interruption.

‘Chal…’ Rahul was standing beside him.


‘Someone got your attention after a long time. Must be pretty special, let’s go and introduce.’ Rahul said.

‘I don’t think it’s a good idea. They seem to be waiting for someone. She might be with a partner.’

‘Well…for you my friend, I am willing to take the risk.’

Abhimanyu chuckled, ‘Leave it. You will get bashed up unnecessarily on your birthday.’ He glanced at the cocktail table again. ‘Oh that’s Komal!’ He spotted his cousin with miss-beautiful-eyes and smiled. Now things were looking up. ‘Ok let’s go…’ He stood up, ‘Wait a minute, why do you want to tag along?’

‘Why not? May be she will like me, moreover today is my lucky day!’ Rahul said and followed him.

‘Hey Komal!’ Abhimanyu said reaching their table, all along keeping his gaze on miss-doe-eyes.

He willed her to look at him. To his annoyance she dropped her cell phone and ducked under the table.

‘Rahul, Abhi bhaiya, fancy seeing you here’ Komal said and smiled. ‘I thought you were too mature for this kind of place.’ He grinned and followed the girl putting her phone together, battery, cover and all.

‘His highness has come at my insistence to grace my birthday party today.’ Rahul said. ‘You ladies can introduce yourself and wish me ‘happy birthday’ with a kiss, I don’t do presents.’
Komal introduced Priya and Aditi, and promptly pressed a kiss on Rahul’s cheek.

The girl just threw a fleeting glance at Rahul and him and continued to fiddle with the phone. This was a new experience. He was not used to females ignoring him. Priya…nice name.

Rahul invited them to join their table. They shifted to the alcove where two of Rahul’s friends were sitting. Rahul somehow managed to maneuver their seating arrangements so that Priya ended up sitting adjacent to him, while Rahul sat with Aditi. Abhimanyu noticed Komal wiggling her eyebrows at Rahul’s ploy. Rahul winked.

Priya was getting more and more miserable with every passing second. She was unable to delink her mind from that heart sinking phone call today morning, which indicated that Sameer was with some other women.

She couldn’t digest the explanation that it could be platonic. The husky bedroom voice was still echoing in her ears. Her call on Sameer’s phone was picked up immediately by the woman. But this only indicated that his phone was with the woman not Sameer. May be the woman hasn’t passed her message to him. But her call was dismissed so carelessly it seemed Sameer was with HER – Priya’s mind was having conversation on these lines since morning with different inferences and combinations. If it was innocent, then why was his phone switched off and why hadn’t he called? This couldn’t be happening to me, she thought. The whole incident had taken dream like proportion.


Helping Others In Order to Help Ourselves

indiwriteWriting is an art and a craft. A thought wafts through your head, inspiration strikes and you feel words beginning to align themselves in order to give shape to your runaway imagination. You write, re-write, strike-out, write some more, put it away to get some distance and then come back. It’s the writer’s dance; the need to practice and perfect.

Rising South Asia today, among other things, also has a rash of rising writers. Some are brilliantly original storytellers, some have mastered language and can charm words into doing anything for them and yet others bring to life culture and traditions both old and new. A large majority however, are writers. Just that. They have a story in mind and have decided to write it down. Faithfully and linearly, just as it came to them; in the Queen’s English, however they learned it.

These people have certainly penned a story, but are they writers? I am afraid, in my opinion, they are not. To me, a writer is someone who burns from within, who approaches writing as art, yes, but also as a sacred craft. It is someone for whom writing is a labor of love, who agonizes over the right word, who lovingly crafts sentences. Above all, to me a writer is someone who constantly strives to be better.

Last year we started Indireads, South Asia’s first digital publishing agency, with a vision. Passionate about stories and good writing, we aim to publish quality popular fiction—well-written and carefully edited. To nurture and guide new writing talent and inspire young writers to set higher standards for themselves. Whether we get there or not, we do think we’re on the right path.

Staying true to our vision, we’re launching Indiwrite, our way of offering support and feedback to all the aspiring writers out there. Through our Indiwrite blogs, we will be sharing all that we know about writing, editing and marketing and our Indiwrite Facebook group is envisioned an open group for writers to interact with us and to support each other.

Feedback Fridays, yet another new initiative of ours, however, needs your support, and at the same time is an opportunity to help the writers among us—the faithful servants of the old practice of writing and rewriting. This is how it works. We will post, on our website, an anonymous submission of 600-800 words by an aspiring writer. We call upon you—authors, writers, bloggers and critical readers—to give back by posting your constructive feedback. The exercise will take you less than five minutes; it will help you develop a critical eye for your own writing, just as much as it will help the person whose submission you will critique.

We are committed and passionate about our cause—helping to bring about great stories and writing. And now we ask you—writers, artists and craftsmen—to go back to the beginning, to help others in order to help ourselves and to be true to your chosen paths. See you all online this Friday. Let the good work begin!


Why Every Writer Should Start Out in Fanfiction

And just what on earth is fanfiction, I hear most of you say. Well, here, let me google that for you.

In short, fanfiction is the term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator.

Say you’re a fan of the television show Supernatural (in which case I say, you have good taste!) and you didn’t like the way an episode in Season 2 was handled. Sam, you think to yourself, doesn’t talk that way. Or you love the Bollywood movie Jab We Met, and you’re endlessly annoyed by the fact that Geet had red nail polish in one scene and no nail polish in the scene immediately preceding it. You want an explanation, and since there isn’t any in the actual film, you decide to provide it for yourself.

This, in essence, is fanfiction. It’s not part of the original creation, the characters and their world don’t belong to you, and—most importantly—you can’t publish it, and make money off it.

So why would anyone want to write fanfiction?

Well, the simplest answer would be the same reason you’d give if someone asks you, ‘Why do you write?’

Because you love it. Because you can’t see yourself not writing.

And the same applies here. I write fanfiction because my muse pushes me into it, with odd thoughts and questions popping into my head as soon as I close the book or turn off the television.

I write fanfiction because I loved the characters and world so much that I couldn’t quite let them go, and my fanfiction is my love letter to them.

I got into writing fanfiction back in the day, when a television show called The Pretender aired on Star World. The show ended abruptly, since it had been cancelled in the middle of its story arc, and I was left feeling like someone had ripped out the last few pages of a book I loved. I had to know how the story ended! So, I did what any teenager in the 21st century does—I went online, looking for any information I could find.

I discovered fanfiction.

It was a new world of stories featuring the characters I loved, and—most important to me at the time—they all had endings! I devoured all the stories I could read, and before long, I was fully conversant with the various terms used to describe fanfiction, like AU (Alternate Universe), and WAFF (Warm and Fuzzy Feelings) and even PWP (Porn without Plot).

At this point, I had been writing, on and off, for three or four years, always a poem or a short story at a time. It was a desultory kind of writing, I wrote when the mood struck me, never showed my writing to anyone else, and there it stayed, shut up in notebooks and journals.

And then I started writing fanfiction. The website featuring The Pretender fanfiction was defunct by then, but it didn’t matter, because by then I had seen the movie Serenity, and fallen quite in love with the incomplete story of two of the main characters, Mal and Inara. I went looking for fanfiction of them, and discovered LiveJournal. I read hundreds of stories, leaving gushing reviews for some and bookmarking many more.

My initial fan stories were all attempts to give Mal and Inara’s story a happy ending. I posted my stories to communities dedicated to fanfiction about these two characters, and many of the authors I had interacted with were kind enough to comment on my writing. And so started my love affair with fanfiction.

I wrote every day, commented endlessly, and became friends with a unique circle of creative, fun, and extremely welcoming people.

So what did I learn from writing fanfic? Why would I recommend that every writer should start out in fanfiction?

  • It’s easy: Fanfic is the perfect place for beginners to start—you have ready-made characters, and a ready-made world for them to inhabit. All you need to worry about in your stories is the writer-ly stuff, like sentence structure, and plotting and pacing.
  • Instant feedback: Sure, you can blog your original fiction on your own website, but when you write fanfic, you have a ready base of people willing to give you instant feedback on your writing. They’ll tell you when your sentence construction sounds clunky, when characters are off beat, when you misspell words like ‘occassionally’. They’ll be your biggest cheerleaders when you get it right; they’ll tell you in detail what lines they loved, what moved them, what made them cry, laugh, and save your story to their bookmarks.
  • Broadening your skills: When you write fanfic, you don’t end up sticking to the kinds of stories you read all your life. I wrote 100 word vignettes for a community on The Lord of the Rings, where I learned how much you can say in just a few words and the turn of a phrase. I wrote stories in the second person point of view, when I realised how immersive they could be for a reader. I wrote stories that explored characters—the villains became misunderstood heroes in their own right, incidents in the original work were described by minor characters, protagonists became antagonists in alternate universes where just a single decision had a profound impact on their lives—it went on.
  • Learning to appreciate—and write—variety and minorities: Whenever I see questions on Quora asking ‘How do I write believable x characters?’—x being female, black, Chinese, Indian, gay or transsexual characters—all I can think about is the wide variety of fanfic I read, featuring nearly every kind of character known to man. And the very best of them all rang true. In the fanfic circles, I read—and wrote—stories featuring same-sex relationships. Being a heterosexual woman, same sex relationships were never something I even thought about before discovering fanfic, but reading about them made me appreciate the idea of telling stories about people different from me. My characters stopped being cookie cutter versions of people; always heterosexual, always looking to settle down and marry and have as many kids as possible. Reading and writing these stories, I realised that not everyone’s ‘happily ever after’ looks the same. And that’s alright.
  • Sense of community: Writing is a lonely business. It’s solitary. It consists of you, in your room, alone with a computer or a notebook, bringing things to life. And no matter how much they love you, sometimes your significant others and families and friends will not understand the frustrations of dealing with a character who just won’t behave the way you want them to, or how horrible it is to be afflicted with writer’s block, or how terrifying it is staring at a blank page. This is where your community becomes your best friend. I’ve bitched about my characters to my fanfic friends, and listened to their own horror stories of never ending tales, and plot bunnies that just won’t die. I’ve asked them to critique my attempts at original fiction, and their comments and feedback has been invaluable.
  • In rare cases, it’s publishable: There are instances where what we would now call fanfiction has been published. To be fair, though, these are all cases where the copyright on the original has expired. Examples include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Mary Reilly, and Wide Sargasso Sea.
  • It’s fun! Perhaps most importantly, fandom is fun. Fanfic is fun. You write stories you never thought you’d write—as virtual birthday presents for online friends. You get the chance to read the exact story you always wanted to read, the exact scene you always wanted to see play out for your favourite characters – for free! You get to experience the joy of creating, and in return you get comments and compliments you wish you could frame and display on your walls, if only more people knew what fanfic was. Fanfic gives you the freedom to be a male character, or a female character, or an elf, or a dark wizard, or mage—whatever you want. Fanfic gives you the freedom to try writing non-linear stories, or flashback fic, or a hundred other things you’ve seen and loved in other writers, but never knew if you could pull off on your own.

In end, nothing I say can ever be really enough. All I can tell you is that fanfic can be a fun and fulfilling way to earn your writing chops, and to broaden your mind as a writer, as a person.

Additional reading: 10 Famous Authors Who Write Fanfiction

Feedback Fridays


Our second submission is the first part of a short story, not a full manuscript, so judge it accordingly! 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

‘Ha ha ha ha…her guffaws rang out in waves across the quiet green expanse and the laughing river flowing beside them.

He smacked her leg playfully, the look in his eyes more eloquent than a dozen words.

She was piggy-backing, her legs wrapped around his waist, arms around him. He staggered, stabilised and then walked on the narrow raised strip between the rice fields

They weighed almost the same. Their height almost the same, pointy nosed and voluptuous mouthed, they both had dusky-bronze skin. They could well have been siblings. They were not.

Nitin and Barkha

There’s so much to do. Barkha pulled herself out of her easy chair, tucking a silvery grey wisp of hair behind her ear. The morning Sun, no longer soft, had begun to scorch her skin.

She had begun to lie down in the old easy chair very often.

Nitin’s grandfather had a few of the chairs carved from the best rosewood and they lay in the veranda that overlooked the back yard. Old and black, the wooden chair still gleamed. There were scratch marks all over made by the scores of children that had sat on it. Namely Barkha and her siblings; her brood: two daughters and a son.

On weekends Barkha and Nitin had sat there, just like they did now, though not ‘just’ like now, she thought. Back then, their children ran amuck in the green yard playing and screaming, stopping to snack from any one of the many fruit trees that they fancied. Things were different then.

She had kept back one chair for herself and one for Nitin. The rest had been given away to admiring relatives.

She glanced at Nitin.

He smiled at her. Vacant faced.

Like someone trying to recognise her.

Nowadays every time he looked at her, he was like that.

Like a child looking for something.

Or even a dithering idiot trying to figure out something remotely intelligent.

She smiled back.

He was a shell of his former self.

“I am going indoors now. Will you stay here”?

“Yes,” he smiled again, his eyes crinkling against the glare of the Sun, numerous fine lines on his once smooth face. He didn’t mind the Sun.

“Getting my dose of vitamin D,” he said.

She shook out her salt and pepper hair from the knot which had come lose, tied them up into a tight knot that made a certain statement and marched in through the back door.

She found that the maid, had sneaked in and was now at the kitchen sink, washing spinach in quick, sharp swishes, trying to get the cumbersome task out of the way before Barkha descended on her.

On hearing her footsteps, the maid changed her modus-operandi with lightening speed. She took the colander which she was meant to use and started to go slow, washing a few leaves at a time, under running water.

Barkha smiled at the little deception and filled the electric kettle. Another cuppa wouldn’t hurt.

The sounds of the boiling water sucked her mind into a whirlpool of thoughts which usually boiled below the surface of her cool exterior.

One cold morning in Coonoor, five years ago, the tea kettle screamed for attention, gave up and had burnt itself beyond repair.

Nitin wouldn’t recognise her.

Her Nitin. The one she knew right from college.

“Nitin, wake up.  Let’s go for a walk,” she had curled up next to him in an effort at drawing him out of his warm quilt.

A month ago he had given up his position as Manager of the tea plantations he worked for, since the last ten years. They had saved up a tidy sum so she wasn’t worried on that front.