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Of The Stories We Tell

I have grown up listening to stories. Fairytales. Stories of war. Stories from Grandma. Stories of returning soldiers. And so many more. So have you all, probably.

I believe that the stories I have heard have the greatest contribution in making me the person I am, today.

The best part of a story, in my opinion is the essence of the tale – the pain or the sorrow it delivers or the bundle of joy that hits us after reading the same. The characters do play a significant role, but in the end, the story is what we are left with – the one that stays with us forever.

Sometimes, I like to miss my regular train and wait awhile at the station, because I have this (strange) habit of observing people. Each random face that I come across leaves a distinct impression on my mind. At times, I forget them. Then some days, when the weather is cold and I’m sitting by the window, watching the mist settle down from the mountains, I remember them – those people who had once graced a scene along with me. The crowded places mesmerize me, actually. Instead of the maddening chaos, what I find are melodious synchrony of people from various spheres, backgrounds and families. Each one of them tells me a story. Their eyes tell me of the conquests from their pasts. Their sighing and frowning tells me of the regrets they have. Each time, they bend down to kiss their children, they tell me of their love stories.

Often, I find myself looking at the lone man at the far end of the train. He holds a newspaper and squints as the old light flickers terribly in the compartment. He wants to know what is happening around him – what is happening in the world! Or perhaps, he wants to take his mind off certain things. So he hides his tired face with those sheets of paper. Does he have a family, I wonder. I think of his wife waiting for him, staying up late so that she can see her husband before the end of yet another day. The children have been put to bed and now, she sits at the dinner table, staring at the clock, having a hundred apprehensions run in her mind.

As the station draws closer, the man folds his newspaper and tucks it underneath his coat. His shoulders fall as he breathes out a sigh of relief. He has made it past another day. Isn’t that quite an achievement in itself?

After he gets down at his stop, I see a young girl board the compartment.

She is dressed in a rich red dress that exposes a lot of skin. The few women beside me frown in disappointment on seeing her attire. She is probably headed for a party. Every few minutes, she stands up from her seat and checks herself in the reflecting windows, making sure not a strand of her hair is out of its place. She wants to look as gorgeous as her friends do. She is seeking delusional perfection.

I have the urge to go to her and tell her that she looks beautiful. However, I want to know her entire story. Why a late night party? When is she going to return?

The woman sitting beside me keeps looking at her. Is she in awe of the dress she is wearing? Does she envy the fact that the girl is young and bold and the woman sees her youth in her? Or does she disapprove her clothes? Doesn’t she see the story that the girl is telling? Is she so busy doing a character study that she forgets to enjoy the story?

The train jerks to a stop and I have to get down. The stories remain incomplete. My questions remain unanswered.

As I get out and stand on the platform to watch the train leave, I see their silhouettes against the window. They are moving, going far away. I do not get to know the other stories they carry and it frustrates me to no end. I wish to meet them again – somewhere on the road, maybe on the same train again.

A cold wind caresses my skin and I realize the train has gone and it is time for me to leave as well. As I walk down the street, under the canopy of stars, I find myself thinking about the man. Did he reach his home safely? Is he having dinner with his wife and telling her about his day? Has the girl reached the party? Are her friends complimenting her on her dress? What about the woman? Has she gotten home, yet? Is she sitting with her daughter and reliving her own youth?

Under the faint moonlight, in the silence of the night, their stories haunt me. In some parallel universe, each one of us is a story. We hold tales of remorse, pain and joy and losses. Those tales are what we present to the world. Our stories are immortal. They are as infinite as the universe that traps us in its care. And these stories continue to live beyond time and space, presenting wonderful vignettes to lost travellers.

The BEST Things About Wattpad – #4 – The People Out There (Fourth Edition)

So, I’m back with a conversation from another up and coming writer from the Wattpad community!

When I visited her profile in the morning to copy her username, I found out that her book Growing was at #11 in Spiritual! We congratulate you on reaching such a high rank!

Here are excerpts from the interview

akan_great16.128.33180Me – Hello there! In fact, good morning! Share with us a few words about yourself. How would you describe yourself?

Nafla3.128.90209

She – Umm well My name is Nafla. My hair color is brownish black. I’m Asian but not with the Chinese Eyes; I’m more of an Indian Asian (I am not from India). And ummm I like cheese… I think?

akan_great16.128.33180

 How did you stumble across Wattpad in the first place? Were you excited with the idea of free books or it was something else?

Nafla3.128.90209

 My sister recommended it to read some books and reading became writing and writing became obsession.

akan_great16.128.33180

 What is the one thing that you’re always doing?

Nafla3.128.90209

 Eating. And when I’m not doing that- I am baking. I love food. I am the biggest foodie there is. And I am luckily not obese.

akan_great16.128.33180

 Twelve years from now, where do you see yourself?

Nafla3.128.90209

  With kids, living the perfect life of a housewife.

akan_great16.128.33180

 *Wondering if I’ve ever heard an answer as sincere at that* Considering you are a big foodie, share with us some of the best dishes you’ve tried.

Nafla3.128.90209

 Well I eat Indian everyday; I’ve tried English, British, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian. My favourite out of all would be Hot Tandoori Chicken topping on a Cheesy Cheesy Pizza, Nachos in the side, Sweet Corn Chicken Soup for Starters, Hot n Spicy Wings and French Fries. Lol Don’t ask me about food; the list never stops. I think this was the longest paragraph of all the questions. Haha.

akan_great16.128.33180

 I bet we all talk a lot about food. Describe your everyday life. Is it something from out of a story book?

Nafla3.128.90209

 My life is pretty much the same as it has always been. Loving parents, busy family, loving husband, and grateful for each moment.  My characters however focus on the tragedies and the downside of life. My thoughts and emotions that I am unable to say out loud comes down in words from my character’s POVs.  The ultra cliché life would be wake up, go to school and there’s a new boy. All girls like him but he only likes you because out of everyone in the school, only you are real and only you can see his rude behaviours. Others are all swoon over him.

akan_great16.128.33180

Which plot do you believe is slowly losing its originality?

Nafla3.128.90209

 Bad boys definitely. And what irritates me the most is how they underestimate the meaning of a bad boy. Dating all the girls and saying rude things doesn’t make you a bad boy. It makes you human. An original bad boy- one who does drugs, goes to jail, gets expelled, fights in clubs and rolls in blood bath. This is the meaning of bad- not dating and dropping a few girls.  And yes I do think that. Writing should be about expressing your feelings and imaginations. But now it’s about what others would like to read. What ever happened to originality?

akan_great16.128.33180

Do you believe in superstitions? Do you feel that thirteen is an unlucky number?

Nafla3.128.90209

 Lol no not really. In my country however, the airport had Gate no. 13 and the President thought it was unlucky and now there is Gate 1-12 and 14-17. It’s just a number. I don’t believe in numerology; only God can decide how your life is supposed to be- not some people on the other side of the table with the same taro cards which they read to everyone.

Her book Growing and Pain can be read by clicking on the covers below. We wish her even greater success.

GrowingPainStay tuned for more interviews and book reviews!

An Era Of Voiceless Women: What Would You Do If You Lost Your Voice Today?

I hold deep admiration for two kinds of people:

Strong women

and

 People with strong voices.

I’ve always been impressed by women with strong voices – women who are not afraid to speak for their own rights; women who can handle everything in the universe; women who start out as little girls playing with Barbie dolls and grow into utterly perfect young ladies and move on to become mothers who are ten thousand times stronger.

Anything that sets us back physically, actually gives us a boost mentally. We are always striving to reach to the top, no matter what. We are always ready to speak out loud for our own rights and for the million women like us.

And in today’s world, we DO get a say.

However, there had been darker times in the past.

My brother and I, growing up far away from our grandparents, didn’t really have a close relationship with them. We visited them once in two months, only for an hour or two and interactions were pretty much limited.

My grandmother was a petite woman with graying hair and a thousand wrinkles covering her face.

The many times she would call me to her room, she would spend away every minute asking me how my studies were going on. After a couple of small talks, there would be nothing to talk about, so I’d stand up and simply walk out of the room.

Conversations with her were usually small and I couldn’t blame her for it. There was a huge generation gap in the first place and second, I wasn’t really good at conversations.

So when my grandmother came to stay with us for a week, I decided to take the opportunity and get to know her better. The entire prospect of having someone in the empty house and not having to spend silent hours, thrilled me.

Every day after Mom and Dad would leave for their work, she would call for me and my brother and tell us a story.

No, the story never had princesses or horses in them, but they spoke about the lives of strong women and how they fought against the differences in the society in the past. As teenagers, the stories never caught our attention, but we heard them nevertheless because she seemed so happy while telling us those little tales.

It was the last day of her stay. My parents had taken a day off. While Mom was busy in the kitchen, Dad was talking to me. Grandma sat next to Dad, muttering something to herself as she flipped through the pages of the newspaper.

“I really think you should go there,” Dad said as he looked down at the folder containing a list of my preferred colleges.

“No, Dad! I want to go to a co-ed college!” I snapped. “I’ve told you so many times that I don’t want to go there.”

“But it’s a good college!”

“I don’t care!”

“Why are you always so adamant?”

“Because,” I spoke in a louder voice. “You don’t listen-“

“Theya!” my grandmother snapped suddenly.

For a woman as calm and collected as my grandmother, it was an unusual reaction.

“Keep your voice down,” she said.

A part of me was terribly irritated and the other part of me was embarrassed. Fighting the little tears that had started pricking at the corners of my eyes, I turned to Dad.

“I’m not going to that college, “I spoke through gritted teeth.

He sighed, shaking his head and standing up. This meant that we were not having this conversation today.

After he had left the room, Grandma motioned me to take a seat beside her. Grumbling, I complied.

“You didn’t have to talk like that to your dad,” she spoke.

“But I should have a say in what college I am going to study in!”

“You do have a say. That is why your parents are still waiting for your final decision.”

“But is it wrong to raise my voice? Is it wrong to stand up for my own wishes?”

Pulling me close, she shook her head.

“No,” she said. “I’m happy to see that you’ve a strong voice. You are growing up to be a strong woman. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Back in our times, though we had a voice, we never got a say in things.”

I looked up to meet her glistening eyes.

“Why?” I asked.

“I was born in an era of voiceless women. We were strong, but we didn’t have a voice. All we did, was sit in the kitchen and hear to the decisions being made. Back in those darker days, women were thought to be weak. The one or two who dared to speak up were looked down upon.”

“It’s surprising,” she continued, “to see how much things have changed! Women have made their mark in every field and they have struggled a lot to get there. I see the little me in you, Theya.”

By then, her voice had been breaking at places.

She held my hand and gave it a little squeeze.

“My father decided not to send me to school after the fifth grade. I was adamant to go. Yet, I didn’t know how to speak out in front of him. I was afraid of what he might say when he listens to me. So, all I could do was cry silently for several days. I had a voice, only, I was afraid to speak out. And so were many other women.”

“I don’t believe it,” I muttered.

This caused her to laugh.

“Oh, no, you don’t! Times have changed, hopefully. Women have always been strong. Back then, they had been strong as well. Only, without a voice,” she said. “When I see pretty young ladies like you, liberated and not held back by any constraint, it makes me immensely proud.”

That day, I saw my grandmother as the woman she was – strong, bold and beautiful. Though it was hard for me to believe that there had been a time like that, I could feel her pain. I could feel how it felt to not have a say in anything.

“So,” my grandmother began again. “What would you do if you lose your voice today?”

Later that night, when she was packing her stuff, I wished she could’ve stayed a bit longer.

“Grandma,” I said as I walked to her and offered to help with the packing. “I think I would probably go mad if I lost my voice for a day. I mean I can’t imagine that you’ve gone through all that!”

Shaking her head, she smiled to herself.

“Stand strong.”

Her question kept me awake for the entire night. Indeed, what would I do if I lose my voice for a day?

Art by-caffeineaddict
Art by-caffeineaddict

The BEST Things About Wattpad – #3 – The People Out There (Second Edition)

You know you are going to love a person who mistakes “pastime” for “pasta”! And that is exactly the type of conversation I had with a very talented Wattpad author – @fecundity.

In a candid conversation with the author, I learned about her interests and her take on the cliche stories that dominate Wattpad. She was generous enough to not listen to the constant complaints of her stomach and answer my questions. Of course, I felt guilty after that!

Here are the excerpts from the interview-

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – Tell us something about yourself?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Me. Well, I’m 24, brunette, and of the female gender. I have ten fingers and ten toes. I spend my days converting oxygen into carbon dioxide while my fingers fly over the keyboard. 🙂

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – How did you discover Wattpad?

fecundity.128.399467

She – My memory is foggy as to how I learned about Wattpad. However, I do remember being amazed by the concept of free books! I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered it. I was a silent reader for a while and then quickly became more active to fuel my addiction. I do wish I had become acquainted earlier but hey, I’m making up for lost time now!

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – What is your favourite pastime?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Favourite pasta? Oh, sorry, past time. Eating pasta. No seriously, making food and eating it is a pretty serious hobby. My Pinterest board is filled with ambitious recipes. I’m also attempting to teach myself to play bass guitar and I’m have several obsessions including, but not limited to, Clash of Clans, hockey, and reading.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – What is the craziest dream you ever had?

fecundity.128.399467

She – One time I had a dream that I was being chased by the mob and Batman was helping me escape. He took me the top floor of a skyscraper and bypassed the security code to enter this private room that begged for a clandestine meeting. Batman explodes one of the window panes and the wind howls in. My hair is blowing wildly around my face as Batman hands me a parachute and tells me to jump. My heart skips several beats in response to the sound of machine guns outside of the room and, strapping the parachute on, I ask “Only one? What are you going to do?” He says, “Don’t worry about me” and pushes me off the building.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me (laughs out loud) – Did you ever wish you were a part of some book?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Wishing I was in a book happens more often than I can remember. I often pretend, and fail miserably, at being like a certain character. Usually Sherlock. No joke, I tried to create my own mind map. It lasted about an hour.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – Where do you get inspiration for writing your stories?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Dreams and daydreams, usually. I have a lot of wild dreams and I will wake up thinking “That would make a great story!”

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – Twelve years from now, where do you see yourself?

fecundity.128.399467

She – In 12 years, I will be nearly 40. Do not mention or talk about such obscenities. [shudders]

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – What is your craziest wish?

fecundity.128.399467

She – At the risk of sounding presumptuous and philosophical, I don’t believe in wishes. Wishes aren’t proactive. When you wish for something, it’s as if you’re waiting for it to happen to you. Rarely does that happen. Wishes need to be replaced by goals. I have a plethora of goals that I’m working towards. Right now, I’d like to finish my novel, Sweet As. Then I’ll work towards getting it published. I’m also working to starting my own business. Short-term goals lead to long-term goals lead to fulfilled dreams.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – Share with us some of the best cuisines you’ve tried.

fecundity.128.399467

She – The best meal I’ve ever had was when I went to Dubai. It was breakfast (my favourite meal of the day) and honestly, I didn’t know food could ignite so many emotions or be so memorable. Since it was buffet-style, I had a variety of food and everything was mouth-watering. Something new that I tried that day was veal bacon since pork isn’t part of Muslim cuisine. While I do prefer regular bacon, veal bacon is more piquant. Also, croissants in France are to die for. Honestly, traveling is the best way to experience food and food is the best part of life! xD

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – Do you think you’ll ever write an autobiography?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Nah. I’m not very good at talking about myself.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – Describe your everyday life? Is it something from out of a story book?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Day in the life of me? It probably looks a lot like yours. 😉 The only difference is that I’m married so my day often revolves around my hubby, which is good – it means lots of date nights! On the downside, I also get tickled. A lot. Like, every day, mercilessly.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – What do you think is the most overused plot on Wattpad? Do you believe that writers these days are looking at the market status before starting a story?

fecundity.128.399467

She – There is nothing new under the sun. Shakespeare said that way back when, so it’s even truer now. I believe any ‘cliché’ plot can be brought to life with strong, vivid characters. We relate to characters more so than plots anyway. Even published authors are influenced by trends. Think of how many dystopian or supernatural (e.g. wizards, vampires) stories have been popular recently. This isn’t necessarily a negative but again, the characters must be original, especially if the plot isn’t. Jumping on a bandwagon can guarantee you an audience so that’s a plus as well. That being said, it’s hard to make the good-girl meets bad-boy story original. I think The Quirky Tale of April Hale does it the best. It’s my favourite book on Wattpad.

akan_great16.128.33180

Me – So, the thirteenth question! Do you believe that thirteen is an unlucky number?

fecundity.128.399467

She – Nah. I don’t believe in luck or superstitions either. We are in charge of our own lives. There isn’t an outside energy that’s pulling strings to give us ‘bad luck’. It’s a nice thought, though, to be able to blame an ominous, inconceivable force. ;)Also, my laziness has won out. I still haven’t moved. Haha!

Her book Sweet As is available on Wattpad. Click on the cover to get to the story page!

Sweet AsStay tuned for more interviews and book reviews!

The BEST Things About Wattpad – #3 – The People Out There

Recently, I had a stroke of good luck to land on a very beautiful novel on Wattpad. It was titled “Dark Blue”. With a very very interesting and attractive cover and a blurb, the book instantly drew me in and I decided to sit down and read it.

Dark Blue (@starfromouterspace)- What would you give to not have to tread on eggshells everyday, scared off tipping the balance? What would you give to be able to believe in yourself just once? What would you give to be able to just speak up and say what you want to say? Someone, somewhere would give anything.
Dark Blue (@starfromouterspace)
What would you give to not have to tread on eggshells everyday, scared off tipping the balance? What would you give to be able to believe in yourself just once? What would you give to be able to just speak up and say what you want to say?
Someone, somewhere would give anything.

It was the very simplicity of the book that drew me in. The author had tremendous knowledge of character development and by the time I was on the second chapter, her characters had already sprung to life inside my head.

What actually sets this book apart is the way it connects to the readers instantly. Each one of us has been in a place where it is difficult to find our voice and we have to remain confined in the shadows because we are afraid to say something. Or simply put, we don’t have a choice.

The story is about your average, next door girl whose parents have high expectations from their only daughter. We see them everywhere. And the characterization is utterly beautiful. The thing that sets it apart from the many Wattpad novels I’ve come across is that the girl’s clothes aren’t described! It is sincerely irritating to come across novels which focus more on their character’s dressing sense rather than what she is going through. With intricately weaved details and beautiful descriptions, the writer has certainly managed to make her novel stand out.

The girl loves the night sky. In fact, when the world grows darker, she finds her escape. She finds her voice in the midst of the never-ending darkness. For her, the stars speak a million stories. For her, the world up there is better than the one where she lives.

20150105_143328_Quote_ImageHer dialogues are sincere and touches a reader’s heart. I remember having those goosebumps while reading certain parts of her story.

Though the character is projected to be a confused teenager at first, one later finds out that she was in fact bullied. Living in abject fear, she has lost her ability to voice her opinion. She fears them. She is afraid that if she says something, something will happen to her. So she keeps quiet and agrees to their every word.

Until, she meets Oscar.

20150105_142830_Quote_Image 20150105_143001_Quote_Image 20150105_143223_Quote_ImageRecently, I had an opportunity to have a short interview with the author. Here’s what she had to say about the questions posed by me-

Me – Tell us a few things about yourself?

starfromouterspace.128.394382She – Hello and bonjour world, my name is Yueh-Chia (known as  starfromouterspace, or you can just call me Yuey) and I’m 16 and from England. I am slightly crazy, actually like school (please, no hate) and I like watching sport. I have a bad habit of leaving mugs on the windowsill (record I think is 10 so far) but I think I am getting better. Physically cannot survive without music, and have had break downs when I couldn’t find my iPod. My favourite band is The Script and I have crushes on cartoon characters…. (But how can you not love Flynn Rider or Hiccup?)

Laughs way too much at the smallest of things, hate when people judge on assumptions and the past, always thinks of comebacks several hours too late, and wishes one day that I would stand up on a podium and comeback at all those people who hate and bully people for being themselves.

Perfectly alright being on my own- remember, one is never alone.

akan_great16.128.33180Why did you join Wattpad? Had you always been looking for a site where you could share your work or you happened to stumble upon this site for free books?

starfromouterspace.128.394382Well, I think I was looking for free books to read, and I stumbled across Wattpad. I read books on Wattpad for about 7 months, and then I made an account around July 2013. I’ve always written from when I was younger and it took me a while to pluck up the courage to post my first story on Wattpad.

akan_great16.128.33180What is your favourite pastime? Let us put it this way, what is one thing people will always find you doing whenever you are free?

starfromouterspace.128.394382You will probably find me listening to music and probably dancing like a lunatic in my bedroom. Or playing the air guitar. Or singing horrifically out of key and pretending I’m a pop star. Or else on my laptop or phone reading on Wattpad, drawing, re-reading books and writing.

akan_great16.128.33180What is the craziest thought that has crossed your mind?

starfromouterspace.128.394382Generally I have a lot of crazy thoughts…. I think one involved a mono-rail, a jet and a quest for one of those highlighter things with five separate colours……. And that mono rail looks suspiciously like the train in the Hunger Games, actually now looking back at it…. I should sue… (strokes metaphorical beard).

akan_great16.128.33180Ever read a scene from a story and wished you had been there? Please tell us what scene it was and from which book?

starfromouterspace.128.394382Ah. Now that is a difficult question. There must be hundreds of scenes that I wish I was in. From the top of my head currently, I would say the end scene from ‘Between the Lines’ by Jodi Picoult (random fact, that’s where I got the name ‘Delilah’ for ‘Dark Blue). I won’t give it away, but I think it’s very magical. Being in Harry Potter- I would have loved, loved to have gone to the Yule Ball. In fact any scene with a ball, I would wish to be in.

akan_great16.128.33180Where do you get inspiration for writing your stories?

starfromouterspace.128.394382I get my inspiration from music- in my stories, there are quite a few song lyrics and references and normally I take the plotline of songs and transfer it into a written story. Good music contains so much meaning. I also get inspiration from surroundings, nature and landscape and design- sometimes I combine the two together. For example I once wrote a story called ‘Nuvole Bianche’ based on the sky and the piano piece by Ludovico Einaudi.

akan_great16.128.33180Twelve years from now, where do you see yourself?

starfromouterspace.128.394382Twelve years from now, I see myself as being a successful designer or top engineer or a bestselling writer. Maybe I’ll have found someone (at fricking last) to settle down with and I see myself treating my Mum and Dad to everything they deserve for their support during my whole life (wishes can come true, can’t they?)

akan_great16.128.33180What is your craziest wish? Becoming a bestseller or maybe flying?

starfromouterspace.128.394382I have a lot of crazy wishes. Being a bestseller would be one- how awesome would that be!? Sometimes I wish that I was a popstar, a movie actress, director (fat chance) or a Disney animator. Being a spy or scientist for MI6 would be extremely wicked or a commentator for F1. I also wish for world peace, gender equality and no racism. I won’t list all my wishes because that list would go on forever and ever and ever.

akan_great16.128.33180Share with us some of the cuisines you’ve tried and the best from the lot.

starfromouterspace.128.394382I’m actually originally from Taiwan, though I was born in England, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to tempt me with chicken feet or pigs trotters- but I do love a good Hot Pot at Chinese New Year. I also love sushi (especially rice and seaweed triangles) and spaghetti and satay rice. Sometimes, it’s a Chinese food overload, and then I crave good old British classics like Fish and Chips. Or a nice chilli con carne.

akan_great16.128.33180I’m suddenly hungry! Do you ever plan on writing an autobiography?

starfromouterspace.128.394382Haha, one step at a time. But I think I might- it would be very cool and it might just show people how crazy I am. Fingers crossed that if I ever do write it, that it will be an auto biography telling the story of my blinding success rather than a fall from grace.

akan_great16.128.33180How would you describe your everyday life? Cliche?

starfromouterspace.128.394382My life is….. well ‘normal’. I suppose with the occasional drama along the way that even I don’t think is drama, until I’m telling someone and they’re staring wide eyed at me and telling me ‘how the hell is that not drama!?’. I go to an all-girls private school so there can be a lot of drama, but it’s how different people look at normal. For example for some people, partying every day is normal, but that’s not normal for me. But nobody’s life is just normal. It’s all different to everyone’s perspective.  It’s actually quite difficult to write an average character in a story- there’s just the creative side of us that makes a rather stereotypical average character- like in movies, that average character in a movie is just NOT average in real life. We just, without knowing really, create an average character that maybe we would like to relate to, but then we throw all the drama of a story, and it goes from average to unbelievable. You can do so many things with a made up reality, but the hardest of all is replicating the human being in writing.  A cliché characters life would perhaps be made out to be ‘perfect’- and that doesn’t exist. It’s quite similar to the average character. When does it stop being average before it becomes cliché and vice versa? What do we expect?

akan_great16.128.33180What, according to you, is the most overused plot on Wattpad? The bad-boy-falls-in-loved-with-an-innocent-girl or I-live-with-fifty-handsome-boys or I-love-my-brother’s-best-friend? Do you think that writers are looking at the market status before coming up with a story?

starfromouterspace.128.394382Oooh, now I have to be careful here and try not to go into a rant. I would definitely say ‘bad boy’ stories- any story with ‘bad boy’ in the title, has a ‘bad boy’ in it and a ‘nerdy/innocent’ girl who happen to fall in love with each other, get on my nerves- essentially they are re-using plotlines and it becomes very difficult to distinguish whose original idea it was (but now I just doubt how it ever started as an original story and it literally just popped out of nowhere.) Why can’t they put a spin on it, or explore different types of relationship or have two ‘good’ characters for once?  The living with loads of boys one I think it was over used, especially when the ‘Walter Boys’ was around. It could be an original idea if instead it was just… well closer to ‘normal’ people! (and we’re back on the ‘normal’ subject) Normal people with normal problems and not just people with the looks of a super model and the luck of a field of four-leaf clovers. It’s quite nice however to see takes on other fairy tales (Cinderella is probably used the most often) but I think that maybe people should try to look at in a different perspective – maybe something like ‘Sydney White’.  Fan-fic wise, I don’t normally read fan-fic, but I’ve currently been reading loads of Dramione fan-fics and seriously, it’s quite hard to see who stole from whom. I could rant a lot more about fan-fics (One Direction and Werewolf ones especially) but I won’t rant about it. For now.

I do think that some people do look at the ‘Whats Hot’ lists before writing. Most often I would see ‘bad boy’ stories with un-imaginative titles being uploaded for just a few days, yet it would’ve already attracted many views, even if it was poorly written (and believe me, I have seen some shocking stories, no offence to anyone). It’s just as though there is a mini media centred, celebrity style world where ‘bad boys’ is the equivalent of trying to achieve that size 0 figure in reality.  I think it’s a shame because some people only look for reads and votes and they don’t particularly care about structure and whether it is unique; once again the thirst for popularity has crept in from a celebrity life or playground and tainted something. But stories are about creating your own realities – maybe there aren’t enough bad boys out there, or people are just pining for Harry Styles (which I just don’t get. Sorry to One Direction lovers, I just don’t get the hype around him.) To aspiring authors, try and break out of the mould and just write something, taking your time, so it’s so different that it seems crazy and most importantly, you feel and love – but in the end, you’ll feel a lot better about writing it rather than a recycled idea. Write for your own sake – not to become a ‘media celebrity’ or to gain popularity. If you persevere, you will get there a whole lot quicker than you think and with much more satisfaction.

akan_great16.128.33180Do you think 13 is an unlucky number? And I promise this is the last question! You must be bored!

starfromouterspace.128.394382You know what, no. I don’t think I do. Numbers are like humans. A number is a number and why hate or be scared on a particular number when there are millions and millions of numbers out there you could hate or be scared of?

Finally a big thank you to the brilliant akan_great16 for interviewing me.

*And in a voice that Elvis would be proud of.. ‘THANK YOU AND GOOOOOOD NIGHT’ (cue the credits)*

So there you go! The novel “Dark Blue” has been added to Wattpad’ sponsored reading list “Emotional Ride” and can be found by clicking on the book cover at the top or here.

With 63.1K reads on it already and a massive amount of support, there’s no doubt the book is going to go all the way to the top. There’s a sequel to the book as well, titled “Light Blue“.

A huge thank you to @starfromouterspace for this amazing interview session.

Stay tuned for more interviews from Wattpad authors.

The Fault In Our Stories

You might recognize me, provided, you are fairly active in the Improve Your Writing forum on Wattpad. I run around all day long, helping a confused writer or two and managing a group of popular threads in the forum. The reason I do this, that is help the so-called confused writers, is not because I have no life, but, out of pure selflessness because I want the quality of stories to be improved.
Now, I love helping people. Not out of pure generosity, though. I mean, gone are the times when philanthropy was a virtue. Nobody holds the same regard these days. So, I like helping people because I believe it will wash off some of my sins.

Writing is a serious issue. It isn’t some means to gain popularity or create a market base. And it saddens me deeply when I see the quality of some works on popular writing websites.

Stated below are some of the things I highly dislike about Wattpad –

  • Bad Boys And Everything Bad-
One of the most disturbing trends discovered among up and coming writers these days is that most of them blindly follow the trend. If the market demands dystopian stories, online writing websites such as Wattpad are filled with a myriad of stories from the same genre. If bad-boy-falls-in-love-with-a-nerd books are high in demand, majority of writers steer into the same direction.
It is mind-blowing to know some statistics about the type of stories found on Wattpad.
Having been on Wattpad for about two years now, I’ve been an ardent reader on the site. While one can find a treasure-house of breathtaking stories on the site, there are also a few very disturbing novels, without good plots and writing skills, that manage to make it to the so-called Hot lists!
If one carefully goes through the type of stories found on Wattpad, it is seen that bad boy novels and fan fictions cover a major percentage of the number of books available on the site.
Titles range from The-Bad-Boy-Is-My-Neighbour-And-We-Have-A-Romeo-Juliet-Relationship to I-Was-Abused-And-Adopted-By-Harry-Styles-Who-Took-Me-To-His-Home-And-I-Met-The-Entire-Band-And-Fell-In-Love-With-Each-Of-Them!
And that is not all! Topics involving best friend’s brothers, brother’s best friends, rejected by some alpha mate, arranged marriage with some rock star, also stand as the favourite plots used by most writers on the site.
Although, I am a huge fan girl when it comes to bad boy novels and I’ve nothing against clichés, what pisses me off is the poor quality of the stories.
  • Building Your Story –
Certain things about a story irritate me – when the girl kisses some random guy in an elevator and love blossoms; when the nerd discovers the bad boy is her neighbour and it is the very night he jumps into her room! My point, where is the entire slowly-building-your-story concept? Are we so busy feeding an audience that amidst the chaos, we forget the actual essence of writing?
But, that is not all what irks me! It is probably the most disappointing thing to see these stories making it to the top while writers who struggle day and night, editing their stories and building their characters, stay back in the lesser known crowd!
Instead of focusing more on character development and structure of the story, writers pay more attention to the smut scenes in their stories. They describe what their character wears, instead of describing their personality.
An excerpt from one of the stories on the site : “She was wearing a short dress. Purple with golden lines near the borders. It hardly covered her ass and her cleavage was far too exposed. Her blonde hair had highlights and she has straight hair. She wore high heels that made her look 5’9″ when in fact, she was just 5’5″! Her heels were black.”
By this point of time, a serious reader like me, would’ve definitely lost interest. Because, we didn’t even need to know all that stuff! And most importantly, the entire description is bland and sounds like something a primary school kid would describe. Why, they could describe even better!
An excerpt from another one of the stories I’ve read on the site : “The short lavender top did little to keep her warm. Pushing back the strands of her brunette hair, she hugged herself tightly. “Why isn’t he here yet?” she wondered.”
Minimal descriptions, yet very effectively presented. While the latter gives the readers a clear glimpse, the previous description only pisses off serious readers.
However, it is an irony that some books that have gathered over a million views have a quality of writing exactly similar to the former example.
The question that arises here is that, are the writers at fault? Or is it that the readers have bland tastes?
  • Invisible Readers, Discouraged Writers –
As mentioned previously, writing is not small affair, though some books project otherwise. It takes some writers years to complete a single book, another few years to create a fan base and then some more years to see their books receive critical appreciation. It takes a lot of contemplation while writing a book. Writers are always thinking of how to project their ideas in the best possible way. They think twice about every action their character undertakes. They proofread their manuscripts a hundred times and are still not satisfied. In fact, we writers, live in a pretty disturbed world of our own, and surprisingly, we are happy.
The dawn of online publishing and writing sites has greatly changed the writing culture. There was a time when writers used to spend sleepless nights thinking about how well their book would be received by the audience. Today, feedback is just a click away.
New and popular writers are emerging every next minute. While someone is gaining 50k followers on Wattpad, someone’s book is signing a multimillion deal. Apprehensions have been blown away. Papers have been replaced by writing software. It is a maddening revolution.
But somewhere down the road, the revolution isn’t exactly the same as we had predicted.
A major part of stories uploaded online lack definite structures. It seems as if almost everyone is writing to please an audience! While some are going with the flow, some are trying to go against the same and failing at it badly.
I agree, one hundred percent, that feedback is our life blood. Each one of us, every writer, every teacher, every kid – we all want to know that we are loved. Similarly, if we create something, we want it to be loved by others. It is a natural instinct.
Now, Wattpad has a high percentage of invisible readers. There are so many users out here but not everyone is active.
Some of the readers prefer to add the books to their private library and read it offline. On the other hand, leave votes. And others leave comments. And, only some (read : handful) of readers comment as well as vote.
The site has got more number of readers – readers who prefer to download books and read them offline and read them via the mobile website. I’ll be honest, I too was once a silent reader.
But that was once upon a time.
Now, I make sure I leave comments. It encourages writers. It makes them feel good about their work. Place yourself in the shoes of the same writer! I remember getting pretty excited when a reader once commented on a lesser-known novel of mine, asking me to update! It provides a sense of joy to know that someone wants to know more about my story!
Be the active reader. Someday, when you’ll be writing a story, the people you’ve supported will help you back. They do.
  • Competition –

For such a large and popular website with numerous new users joining every day, it is only natural to have some competition. But on the site, the competition is carried on a different level.

As a pretty person who has always loved competition, I have no complaints against it. In fact, I think competition needs to be there. It pushes the writer forward and gets his/her creative juices flowing in the right direction (or maybe wrong). Of all the writing sites I’ve been to, I feel that Wattpad probably has the strongest competition. The tighter the competition, the better the talent that is showcased.

However, competition is peculiar on Wattpad. There are writers who have impeccable grammar and beautiful writing and yet remain lost in the shadows. Yet there are writers who go like, “Yo, bitch!” and manage to get so many readers!

Now, you see, why I told the competition out there is peculiar.

Who are the writers comparing to?

  • Becoming popular on Wattpad –

Let’s face it. Becoming popular on Wattpad isn’t easy. And if you think it is easy, you are wronger than the word I just used. Or maybe, you’re just delusional.

Here, social interaction plays a major role as well – how well you communicate with your readers, how well you can keep a reader engaged, how well you can sell your book to the crowd – all these factors play an essential role. It is no longer about how well you write, but how well your book reads!

One of the major lessons I learned after joining the site is that you don’t become popular by being good at something. Simply good. I write good. I know that. My friend is good at writing. She knows that. Some user I know has a good writing. He knows that. But there we are, all in the same train, squeezed up into a corner, waiting for our turn to come to the limelight.

I see several new threads in forums where confused writers are seeking help. Most of them have the same question – how to get more reads and followers and how to become popular.

There’s a definite mantra for this, but remember, it doesn’t work half of the time.

  • Write a good story (That’s what all of them say)
  • Publicize it in the Share Your Story page (this is a mere ridicule. There are two very contradictory words in the same sentence, which I’ll leave for you to figure out)
  • Seek critiques (75% of the critiques on Wattpad are not genuine, trust me. Try it.)
  • Help people (I’d second that. 25% of my followers are actually people who I’ve helped in the past.)
  • Show your enthusiasm by commenting on other stories. Show your support!

To be honest, a person as witty as me or like me (I know I’m being delusional, but oh well) will have better chances to get to that stage than a hardworking honest fellow who re-reads his/her manuscripts a hundred times. However, that doesn’t mean that you follow my example. I’m not here to set one. We need serious, hardworking people who are passionate about writing. We don’t need semi-erotic stories with a PG-13 rating or fan fictions where a pathetic girl jumps on someone and they fall in love.

And we need those people everywhere. In every nook and corner of our world.

But, at the same time, let us all remember that it is not always the hard work that wins. Intelligent work does.

Stay tuned for the next post where I reveal secrets to achieving slight success on Wattpad and give out top tips on how to impress a crowd (you know you want to)!

The Scariest Blog Post Of Them All

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”- Meister Eckhart

Have you ever felt the urge to start a new venture but there’s always something that holds you back? Have you taken a step forward in excitement, only to retreat and sit back? We’ve all gone through this at some point of time in our lives. Putting it more precisely, most of us go through this experience every time we decide to start something new.

It’ll please some of you to know that I spent two hours trying to figure out the title of my first-ever blog post! And while I was atop my terrace, looking down at the terribly high drop and then looking back up, wondering what should be the title after all, I realized something. I realized that I was scared (no, not about the entire height factor) – of starting a new blog and taking the first few baby steps.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind as I quietly scrolled through the themes. Having read numerous articles about why most bloggers fail and how disastrous some blog posts are, I was afraid because there’s always a possibility for joining the same train. What if my first blog post isn’t that impressive? What if it doesn’t connect with my readers? What if I start receiving hate messages? Even worse, what if someone adds my blog to the worst-ever-blogs list? And sitting on the edge of a terrace was not helping at all. Of course, I wasn’t planning on jumping down from there (and I wouldn’t ever think of it, because I want to look pretty while I’m dying and falling from that height is obviously going to leave me with nothing but grotesque bruises and broken bones. And, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be pretty!). Some part of me convincingly said that I was out of ideas probably because of gravity which was pulling every creative thought away from my brain and sending them to settle at my feet. The other part kept on laughing like a maniac. In short, half of my insides were fighting with the other half. I thought a change of place might help.

So, picking up my laptop, I trudged downstairs to my room.

That, as I had already predicted, didn’t help. Instead of focusing on the birth of my blog baby (I’m trying to be over dramatic), I started drooling over the Chace Crawford posters on my wall and playing my brother’s recently downloaded games. I had this strange thought of writing about video games in my first blog post! And hopefully, I didn’t yield to the urge. Then, I had an even stranger thought of writing about who are my best actors and why.

At this rate, I realized, I was never going to be able to start a blog.

They say that beginnings are probably the best things – beginning a new business venture, starting a new job, starting college, starting a new book – we’ve always been fascinated by the idea of beginnings. It is the end that brings us pain. Nobody wants a beautiful thing to end. That is probably why we all go, “Oh no!” when our favourite romantic movie starts rolling out the credits. The concept of an ending has always scared us. We believe that beginnings are easier. However, they are not.

I’ve no idea about the whole concept of an ending, but speaking from experience, I can say that the beginning steps are probably harder. When it took me two hours to only figure out the title for a blog post, I realized that it is not always easy to start a thing. Be it a businessman or a teacher or a kid in primary grade, they all dread the beginning steps. The businessman spends sleepless nights, thinking about his newest venture. The teacher is nervous on the first day of school and meeting her new students. The kid in primary grade fakes a stomach ache because he is afraid of facing the new kids in school. We all have several apprehensions before starting something new. And, the only nagging question in our minds is – Will this be successful? Will the idea be successful? Will I be able to do this thing right?

One of the major reasons such thoughts strike our minds is because right from the start, we’ve been told that starting anything new is a risk. And we’ve grown up with the same idea. We are afraid to go in the less-trodden way for that is a risk. Students are afraid to choose a vocational stream because that is a risk, so they tend to stick to the traditional courses. Parents are afraid to send their kids out alone because that is a risk, so they keep them inside their homes until they feel that he/she has grown up enough. New writers are afraid to send their works to a publisher because they feel that it is a risk-their works might get rejected. So they keep their works to themselves, only sharing it with their family and a few friends.

It is like you’ve been gifted a pair of wings by God and you are standing at the edge of a cliff. A part of you is excited to try the wings and the other part keeps holding you back, reminding you a numerous times that you can’t fly. It fills your head with a plethora of confusions. You’re suddenly afraid that the wings may not be real – a thought that hadn’t crossed your mind until then. You are suddenly terrified at the idea of jumping down the cliff and spreading the wings that have been gifted to you. What if you fall?

So, you turn back and walk down the safer road, back home.

The only thought that doesn’t cross your mind is: What if you fly?

The beginning to a beginning is to take a risk. Until, you’ve taken a risk, you’ll never know what is next. Let us think of risks as a series of steps. Let us, for once, forget that risk is used in a negative term. And let us embrace the new possibilities that arrive in our mind, once we’ve settled on that thought.

And that is exactly how I managed to write my first blog post-the supposedly scariest post of them all. Though the FIRST blog post sounds terrifying, I’m proud I’ve managed to put up something decent. Now that I think of it, I was also standing at the edge of the cliff, with a pair of wings. At first, I was afraid to take a step forward. So, I took two steps back. But that was only because I wanted to take flight. So, here I’m, flying towards the sun, thinking about the world that exists out there.

And I’m not afraid anymore.

For, I believe in something called beginner’s luck!