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Author Sujata Parashar on challenges, inspirations and advice for writing short stories

My writing journey began in 2009 with the publication of my first novel, ‘In Pursuit of infidelity.’ However, it was while writing my second book that I started experimenting with the other written forms. I began writing poetry and also wrote my first short -fiction (in 2011) for a national level short – story writing contest. To my surprise an delight, my story, ‘Wake Me Only When The Sun is High,’ was chosen as one of the winning entries and was later published in the short – story anthology brought out by the contest organisers. This acknowledgement gave me a tremendous boost and ignited my interest in the short – story format.

So it has been only five years since I began reading and writing short – stories. In 2015, I came out with my first short story collection, ‘That Woman You See.’ The book is dedicated to the spirit of womanhood and contains 9 short – stories about the dreams, aspirations and bold outlook of the new age Indian woman.

Why is writing short – stories more challenging?

a) They are shorter and so the scope is limited. The author has to really be able to tell an engaging tale while keeping a check on her word count and end it powerfully.

b) Short – stories often focus on a single or fewer characters than in novels and if the characterization is weak or not handled deftly, the story can fall flat.

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c) Readers take their time connecting to a story or relating to a character. In novels they can do so over a course of days or weeks but you don’t have the same luxury in case of short – stories.

So again, the author has to work doubly hard in developing their characters such that they form an instant bond with the reader. I think what makes a short -story unique is its ending. You don’t know what may happen and so in – between somewhere in the middle of the story, you start guessing almost invariably the ending is what you’d least expected.

Kamala Das, Manto, Jhumpa Lahiri are some of the short – story writers I’ve admired. I’ve not really read any of the recent Indian short – story writers though I know of a few who write well. I was deeply moved by two short- stories when I read them, the first one was ‘Khol Do’ by Manto and the second ‘The Kept Woman’ by Kamala Das. Both these masters knew how to touch the human heart or torment the human mind with their simple yet powerful stories.

While writing a short story, keep in mind three things:

  1. Start well. The opening lines matter the most.
  2. Keep your writing simple and clear.
  3. End with a comma or a question mark. Let the reader continue writing that story where you left.

About the author :  Sujata Parashar is a novelist, poet, short story writer and social worker. She has written seven books so far. Her debut novel, In Pursuit of Infidelity (2009) was a bestseller. She also has a poetry book series to her credit, titled, Poetry Out and Loud. Her latest book is a collection of short – stories, titled, That Woman You See (2015). She has won awards for her first poetry book and her first short – story. Sujata has served on the planning board of a couple of prestigious literature festival of India. She has also led a nature – writing initiative under Kumaon Literature Festival called Fellows of Nature (FON) to promote awareness about Nature. Sujata is a founder member of Empowering Minds; a Delhi based NGO focusing on education and mental health issues of women and children.

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Our latest book – Jukebox : A collection of stellar short stories by budding writers of India is now available. It is an outcome of  Melonade – A nationwide writing competition by writersmelon. 

Excerpts of all shortlisted stories are available here
Do buy a copy of the book to support this initiative by Writersmelon.

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Sujata
Sujata Parashar is a novelist, poet, short story writer and social worker. She has written seven books so far. Her debut novel, In Pursuit of Infidelity (2009) was a bestseller. She also has a poetry book series to her credit, titled, Poetry Out and Loud. Her latest book is a collection of short - stories, titled, That Woman You See (2015). She has won awards for her first poetry book and her first short - story. She was conferred the Karamveer Chakra Award 2016- instituted by iCongo in association with the UN for her exemplary work in the social sector.
http://%20www.sujataparashar.in%20

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