Creative Writing: How To Write Convincing Characters

In creative writing, the stories we remember best are those with unforgettable characters-Skywalker, Scarlett, Scout. Characterization is inseparable from the story.

One way to give our characters form and substance is to begin with people you know. A trio of famous dreamers-Jay Gatsby, Don Quixote and Alice in Wonderland-all began as people their authors knew.

Whether your protagonist is headstrong or hypersensitive, intelligent or insipid, you try to make her such that she causes readers to catch their breath when she first appears. Larger-than-life? Indeed. Give her a longing or ambition that if it were you, you’d do anything in your power to make it happen. That will help you delve into the passions, fears, and hurts that lie privately at the soul of her being.

As we have limitations and talents, so do our characters. By wrapping each character’s persona around us, we can know what they would do when the lions come-a job loss, the death of a secret lover, or when an old arrest comes to light.

Is her job a downer? And will she step on granny’s neck to get what she wants? Jobs provide more than financial support-there’s status, access, and insider knowledge. Keep five criteria uppermost as you choose her career:

natural abilitiy

Aside from any character’s qualities and weaknesses, show their level of self-awareness. If they have a minuscule awareness of their faults, and reproach themselves for those shortcomings, readers will give them added stature and admiration.

Other major characters will need to be given inner desires or yearnings that define them as distinctive. To project their humanity as more than just a cog in your plot, give them secondary problems that may or may not be linked to their main thrust or passion.

Your characters need not be bizarre to be interesting. Eudora Welty gives an external view:

Phoenix Jackson… was small and walked slowly in the dark pine shadows… with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock. She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her… A dark striped dress reached down to her shoe tops as did an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks. Her eyes were blue with age and her skin had a pattern of numberless branching wrinkles as though a little tree stood in the middle of her forehead.

That’s Phoenix from the outside but why is she walking alone through the woods on a cold night? We must see inside. What drives her? Her motivation, which also drives the story.

A character chart helps to explore the major characters’ fears, hopes, unspoken trauma, passion, resentments-giving enough complexity so readers will accept them in developing events.

Name your characters after real people who represent what you’re going for. Movie stars can help you imagine how they’d inhabit their world.

Finally, what makes a good bad guy? The tougher he is, the braver your hero will appear. A good explanation is in Jerry Jenkins’ thirty-one items on his “Bad Guy Checklist.”

Again, in creative writing, motivation is key. Tap into your dark side long enough to know what makes a good villain tick.

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Ideas for Writing Romantic Short Stories

There are great romance stories just out there, waiting to be written. And there are a great number of ideas that you can work on to make your romantic short story the best ever. There is historical love and contemporary love, there is futuristic love, and what about straight romance? Maybe something really sensual or sweet?

Before you are given more choices to deal with and you start to have trouble deciding, let’s talk about a fundamental truth about romance writing that a writer is meant to write a story that he really himself wants to read. It’s no fun, for almost all people, to write.

But yes it is really enjoyable and gives them the due confidence that they too can create art through a piece of a great romance story. A great romance story that a reader will enjoy is actually a hard work. It is tough to decide whether the time-period is too long, is the sensuality level bland and is the whole plot dull? Yet people begin writing romances that they wouldn’t want to read.

Suppose the story somehow finds its end, but due to a less zealous approach, the first reader of the book becomes the last- the editor. Amazingly, not every book is going to be a bestseller but the love that can be felt by the reader after reading the book has a greater chance of turning out to be a great romance story. Here are some tips and techniques to be used in case you are thinking about writing a great romance story.

#1. What is it going to be?

a. The stranger couple with no previous idea of existence of the other. Fate brings them together and they could be one forever or separated depending upon how you want to have the climax and the setting.

b. The individual who have been in acquaintance for a very long time can be utterly romantic too.

c. The unrequited one can also be intriguing and sweet.

d. The love that is not meant to be like fate, the universe et cetera.

e. Friends could also turn out to be in a romantic relationship who have been knowing each other’s deep secrets.

#2. A ‘where’ is also a great romance story.

a. A prehistoric time maybe a great time to describe how love might have been at those times.

b. A wonderful setting of a hill station, the love scenes of a couple enjoying their time can also be a great romance.

c. A particular setting of a rather small geographical area could also be choice depending upon how well do you know about the traditions and customs of that place.

#3. How old is the couple in the action?

a. They could be teens- wild and free.

b. Or like really old who have just met after having invested a long time with their previous love.

c. Or a married couple shining their way through every obstacle or say lemon life threw at them.

#4. Strange love stories?

a. A girl falls in love with a unicorn in her dreams. The lucid dream state is the only place where they both can have their time and enjoy love. A love that cannot be always leaves an imprint on the part of the reader.

b. A singer falls in love with the moon. The moon seems to respond to her, as the moon in fairy tales does. This exists only in her mind.

c. A couple happily married for 10 years and going to have a baby, goes through a death in the family and everything falls apart. The arrival of their daughter brings new hope and meaning to their lives.

#5. The mythological ones.

a. There are so many tales and parables that are a part of mythology, be it Hindu mythology, Greek mythology or even tribal mythology from Africa and India.

b. Also gods and goddesses falling in love with humans are the best tales when superpowers of gods merge with that of human.

c. A beloved fighting or struggling the gods to save her love can also be a great romance story. Of the powers bending before love and love conquering in spite of all the absurdities their lives have been through.

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Top 10 Successful Short Story Writers in India

1.Rabindranath Tagore:Rabindranath Tagore (born May 7, 1861) was the first non-European laureate to win the Nobel Prize. Best known as a poet, he was a man with a great number of talents. He was a nationalist who gave up his knighthood to protest British policies in colonial India after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He was a painter and a songwriter too. One of these rare talents were short stories too. He wrote them in Bengali, English and Hindi. He even translated various famous English stories in Bengali and Hindi.

His famous short stories are: Sompotti Somorpon, Kabuliwallah (The Fruitseller from Kabul), Ghare Baire (The Home and the World), Jogajog (Relationships), Nastanirh (The Broken Nest), Shesher Kobita (The Last Poem or Farewell Song), Gora, Char Oddhay, Bou Thakuranir Haat, Malancha and Chokher bali are some of his excellent works in short stories.

2. Premchand: Munshi Premchand (born July 31, 1880), is one of the most renowned names in Hindi Literature. His original name was Dhanpat Rai. He was a novelist, a dramatist and mainly a short story writer. His translations into Hindi are still relevant. Munshi Ji was a teacher by profession but was still writing in Urdu language. He also wrote tiny stories. He was very patriotic and his works in Urdu depicted the conditions of the nationalist movement going on in colonial India. His thought-provoking short stories were realistic on one hand and poignant on the other. His short stories always carried some sort of social message while side by side entertaining the readers. His depiction of plight of girls and women in the 19th century is picturesque and hits the readers to create awareness about the status of women. He was later elected as Progressive Writers’ Association in Lucknow.

His famous short stories are: Adeeb Ki Izat, Duniya ka Sabse Anmol Ratan, Bade Bhai Sahab, Beti ka Dhan, Saut, Sajjanata ka dand, Panch Parameshvar and Pariksha.

His famous short stories are: The timeless beastly tales and other stories, From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet, Arion and the Dolphin (for children)

3. R. K. Narayan: Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (born October 10, 1906) was an Indian writer who was renowned as a man of simplicity. His writing was as simple as his life was. He had been nominated for Nobel prize for literature several times. The compassionate humanism of each of his short and tiny stories. Swami was one of his best characters which was even adapted as a series on Doordarshan. Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami won various awards and honors for his works. These include, Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide in 1958 and Padma Bhushan in 1964.

His famous short stories are: Gods, Demons and Others, The Grandmother’s Tale and Selected Stories, A Horse and Two Goats and Other Stories, Malgudi Days (book), Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories and The World of Malgudi.

4. Ruskin Bond: Ruskin Bond (born May 19, 1934) is a great Indian writer of British descent. He has authored many great children’s stories and was awarded Sahitya Akademi award to honor his work of literature. His famous character is Rusty who was involved in various mischievous activities since his birth.

His famous short stories are: The sensualist, The night train at Deoli, The cherry tree, The tiger in the tunnel, Time stops at shamli, Sussana’s 7 husbands, Delhi is not far, The room in the roof, Death of the trees, The blue umbrella, A flight of pigeons, When darkness falls.

5. Mahadevi Verma: Mahadevi Verma (Born March 26, 1907) was in true sense the modern Meera as Mahadevi Verma was greatly influenced by Buddhism and she was deeply aesthetic. Her poetry is marked by a constant pain, the pain of separation from her beloved, the supreme being.She brought Chhayavaad generation back to its position when romanticism was at its peak. She received Jnanpith award in the year 1982.

Her famous short stories and prose are: Ateet Ke chalchitra, Kshanda, Mera Parivaar, Path ke Saathi, Sahityakaar ki Asatha, Sambhashan, Sankalpita, Shrinkhla ki kadiya, Smriti Ki Rekhayen

6. Khushwant Singh: Khushwant Singh (Born Feb 02, 1915) was an Indian novelist, a lawyer and a journalist. He was a man of rare intellect and possessed many hidden talents. He was a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and King’s College London.He was the editor of many reputed newspapers and magazines like, The Illustrated Weekly of India, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times.

His famous short stories’ collections are: The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, The Voice of God and Other Stories, A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, Black Jasmine, The Collected Stories.

7. Mulk Raj Anand: Mulk Raj Anand (Born Dec 12, 1905) was the first Indian writer in English to be in the light in the international scene. He can be considered a pioneer in anglo-Indian fiction and the first to depict the masses and their plight. He highlighted many social evils prevailing in the society of that time. He himself was born in a coppersmith family but being an avid learner, he went to Cambridge for higher studies.

His famous short stories’ collections are: The Lost Child and Other Stories, The Barber’s Trade Union and Other Stories, The Tractor and the Corn Goddess and Other Stories, Reflections on the Golden Bed, The Power of Darkness and Other Stories Lajwanti and Other Stories, Between Tears and Laughter, Selected Short Stories of Mulk Raj Anand, Tales Told by an Idiot: Selected Short Stories.

8. Jhumpa Lahiri: Jhumpa Lahiri(Born July 11, 1967) is a Pulitzer prize winning writer known for works of fiction like Interpreter of maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth and The Lowland. She is famous for the pondering thought she spends on each and every character and the mesmerizing emotional connection with them.

Her famous short stories’ collections are: Interpreter of maladies, the namesake

9. Vikram Seth: Vikram Seth (Born June 20, 1952) is an Indian novelist, poet, travel writer best known for his epic novel ‘A Suitable Boy’. For more than three decades he has been writing and getting the due appreciation from critics. He graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford and did his master’s in economics from Stanford University, U.S.A. The novel ‘The Golden Gate’ published in 1986 made him one of the most highly acclaimed novelists of his time and the book won him plenty of accolade from readers as well as critics.

10. Anita Desai: Anita Desai(Born June 24, 1937) is one of the most notable contemporary Indian fiction writers in English. She was born to a Bengali father and a German mother. She grew up in Delhi, receiving her education first at Queen Mary’s School and later at Miranda House, one of Delhi University’s most prestigious colleges. At the early age of seven, she published her first novel,Cry, the Peacock, in 1963. Desai since then published novels, short stories, and children’s literature.

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