Important elements of story writing are of course its theme, plot, characters, and most of all one needs to focus on vocabulary as well as humour while writing. A storylines is always dictated by its characters as was stated by Dr Purnima Chauhan (Retd IAS), who was our special guest speaker for today’s Zoom Session with Keekli’s Story Writing Competition 51 Winners. An Advisor on the UN Earth Day Network, Pioneer of the Shimla International Literature Festival, Compiler of seven vanishing scripts of the Pahari Language, Dr Chauhan has several feathers in her cap and her experience in writing for international journal and her close association with arts and literature made her the perfect choice as a Mentor.

Needless to say she inspired the children tremendously with her stories. There was not a single dull moment in the sixty-minute session. Stressing on the need to read, research and expand your knowledge, Dr Chauhan narrated her own personal experiences around writing and seeking inspiration in culture and mythology and also stressed on the need to question. All important requisites for a writer!

While addressing questions by our young writers she also focus on the aspect that, “As writers, you control the narrative, whether your character is weak, strong or super human. Your characters and build up of a scene together converge to a point where your story comes together as a whole. Making an impact is important as that keeps your reader hooked on to a story.” She further added that the unique selling point of a writer’s story comes from personal interaction. By talking to your elders – parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbours, who they are, where are they from, how different was their time as compared to yours – all these elements help you in writing a good story.

Drawing from her experience of reading stories and books from world over, she reiterated the need for a writer to know their own culture as well as draw inspiration from the vast pool of cultures from across the globe.

An important aspect of her talk was on how she looked at the Himachali tradition of Nati dance as a repertoire of folk tales and worked in tandem with famed film maker Imtiaz Ali to turn them into theatre art. Hence, she told children to look for stories in their tradition and bring them to life with their writing.

Dr Purnima Chauhan beautifully spoke about the learning curve and how it must never come to a close, how, “I know it all” is the first step to self annihilation and a road block to the progress of a writer.


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