What I Look for in a Story?

Writing stories requires huge amounts of mental investments. For each story I write, there is a lot that I need to get correct, for example, context. At least, that is one of the few things I look for in a story; any story—technical or not. What else do I look for? I delve the question.

Purpose

Technical and creative stories have a lot in common. For writers like you and I, both technical and creative storytelling are journeys full of experiences. The reader is our co-passenger, who, along the way, discovers and rediscovers. The reader, I believe, is also a seeker—like us. We embark this journey along with them, on their own terms, and, sometimes, in their times of dire needs. That’s why the first rule is always the most important in my eyes: have the purpose clearly defined. Having a clear purpose ensures a unidirectional flow of words, which builds a memorable experience.

Rehearsal of Fear

Despite how purposed we are, if there is still something that makes us all human, it is fear. Uncertainty, for certain, is fearful. So is lack of information. And so is misinformation. Fear has a say in both technical and creative stories. Our readers often call our stories “eyeopeners” not because the stories rehearse, relive their fears. But because stories begin with their fears and end with resolutions for their fears. Sometimes with logic and science. Sometimes with emotions and interpretations. Our stories are sources of remedies and cures for our readers.

Position vs Juxtaposition

Even if we were to know what constitutes a good story, would it be enough? The larger question, in this context, is of knowing who we are as storytellers. Would I, as the writer, behave the same way as the reader? Would you, as a reader, be equally moved (emotionally) each time you were to read a story? Like I said before, we are all seekers. Consider this: we look at the outside world to find answers to questions that lay inside us. We continue to walk the two paths of which one leads us towards finding answers and the other, towards exploring unanswered questions. Our stories must help readers seek more answers more quickly. Through the journey of a story, we must take ourselves from point A to point B. From one plot to another. From one cause to another.

Connecting the Dots

Stories are full of expressions. Delight lies at the crossroads of the seeker’s past or present: at a previously recited story (or tradition) that connects common threads. At times, even distant, disconnected stories have threads in common. In the context of technical writing, it is much like the seeker’s experience of design, which is only as good as the product and its interface, a story is also only as good as the seeker’s comprehension. In the context of creative writing, it is like reading through accounts of experiences: co-creating value. We read. We imagine or relive. We compare. At times, we imitate. We learn.

Conclusion

A thought, by itself, is like water. Despite what form it takes, it remains the same in its essence. So long as the intent is clear, our stories, too, should behave accordingly. So long as seekers continue to find answers in them, the stories remain immortal.

Posted in Creative Writing | 4 Comments

The Child Never Died

The child in me has never died, for

When the morning, gleaming Sun shines,
The aroma of each new day brings a new smile.

Thoughts unbound. Countless dreams.
Coloring the milestones ahead in my stride.

Lives genuinely appear truthful to me.
The love in people’s eyes equals their might.

Recounting experiences; resounding the self.
Reciting the lore called life.

Never did I stop sprinting toward goals,
Never did I stop seeing horizons beyond the sight.

Things anew have always taken me aback.
Things anew have always had me surprised.

Reasons are infinite. The truth remains one, though.
That the child in me has never died.
©Suyog Ketkar

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Top 3 Things I Look for in B/W Portrait Photography

I have been practicing black and white (B/W) portrait photography since as long as I got my DSLR. In fact, for that very purpose, I had purchased a 50mm f1.8 prime even before I got my DSLR. I knew it would be useful. And how!

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Candid shots of kids have a surprise factor. Not for the subjects, though.

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Candid shots can give you perfect subjects in (almost) perfect set ups.

Here’s a list of tips I have come up with after experimenting with B/W photography:

Begin with What and Why

Have a clear picture of what you want your picture or subject to convey. Answer the “what” and “why” through the picture. Think what story you want your B/W portrait to tell and how.

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The wrinkles have thousands of stories folded along.

Let the Eyes Talk

Consider focusing on the eyes. Let the sparkling eyes of the subject, especially kids, do the talking. Focus on the expressions: draw the attention on the subject’s thoughts.

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Yep. Those eyes.

Look for High Contrast

B/W portraits bring out the best contrast in people’s expressions. That’s because there are only two colors for you to play around with. The black and the white are the only color sources to bring out emotions onto the paper/screen. Having a higher contrast helps.

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Depth in the eyes conveys more than the picture.

If you are clicking pictures from your phone, look for settings that give you higher contrast. This will help you highlight facial expressions. For non-portrait B/W, switch to HDR or taking longer exposures. But, for this, you will need a tripod.

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One from my Instagram feed: the underside of a bridge. (London, UK)

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Whether it is? Or, the weather it is?

If you liked any of the B/W portraits I clicked, let me know.

Happy clicking.

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Give Some Space

Sorry for a clickbait title… I wanted one with a play of words.

The article isn’t really aimed at people who are old enough to have learned (learnt for those who speak the English English) typing on typewriters, but also for those who are still taught to use two spaces after every sentence.

The trend has (almost) changed. In the past, people used two spaces for a reason: typewriters had monospace fonts that inserted equal, not proportional, spaces for all letters. So, the “i” consumed as much space as “w” or “m”. The obvious confusion was when sentences ended. So, it was required that the writers insert two spaces after sentences to visibly mark the end of sentences.

Why this post? Now, in 2018? Well, I still come across write-ups from people who use two spaces. I have seen people encourage two spaces, especially in legal documents. I see some people use double spaces in résumés and personal profiles that are not just printed, but shared digitally, as well. In technical publications, we encourage the use of a single space after sentences because we use proportional fonts.

We are increasingly sharing information digitally. Given that context, I’d encourage you to give only space after a period (full stop in the UK English) or any punctuation mark toward the end of a sentence. Not two.

Posted in Technical Writing | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Soul Purpose

Brought to thee
The stories that have
Countless stories within, the Self knows.
Who knows what’s more?

Smelt the magic of the rains—
The petrichor. Though,
Drenched, lost, drowned is
My conscious, helpless Self, to the core.

The evening strands of gleaming light have
Your fragrance, or am I
Afloat the love unbound?
Don’t bother bringing me back ashore.

The chirping of birds.
The rustling of leaves.
Thoughts that come and go.
A rhythmic lore it is, I am sure.

Turned orange, the evenings, again.
Silently mourns my soul.
Wilfully nervous, it tells me.
Could oneness with You be any pure?
©Suyog Ketkar

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Harvest

When the scorching gusts of heat
Fade the tears in your eye,
Recite the songs of the Spring,
Believe that seasons change, ask not why.

When circumstances are bleak,
Your bivouac is left far behind,
Choose what you must—
That let me not remind.

When without the trails
Should You journey barefoot,
Seek sojourns within a companion
In whose heart you could stay put.

When You, and only You,
Represent souls in the strife.
Look within as much as without.
Surely, the only rule of life.

When the days are few
You count each one anew
Amidst the hellish weather that
Destroys your crop that’s but already few.

Remember, always, to stand tall
And present the challenges a full face;
That You are your own harvest:
Be that befitting reply; and the one with grace.
©Suyog Ketkar

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