March 11, 2022

#BlogchatterWritFest: Season 6 Session 2: A writing class with Preeti Shenoy

When Blogchatterrevealed the author for the second session of the #BlogchatterWritFestival, I knew I had to attend it.

Preeti Shenoy was amongst the first people whose blog I used to frequent. From then to now, her journey has been an awe-inspiring one. 

For those living under a rock, Preeti Shenoy is among the highest selling Indian authors. Her name is in the Forbes long list of most influential Indian celebrities. Motivational speaker, fitness enthusiast, and portraiture artist are some other titles she has in her kitty.

But more than all this, Preeti to me is a woman of substance and style. She knows how to captivate her audience with her pleasant disposition and her words. And what stands out is her amazing modesty and lively nature, a trait I have always appreciated in people.

Having read some of her books (right from '34 bubblegums and candy' to her latest ‘Love a little stronger’,  I could be certain this special workshop on ‘how to write engaging stories’ would have some valuable gems in store. 

And true to its word, it did deliver what it claimed. 

The session started with Blogchatter host Geethica giving a brief introduction on Preeti and her work. She then proceeded to ask her some pertinent questions per-submitted by the members. Preeti fielded each question with the expected finesse of a person who knows her craft. 

Here is a brief overview/recap of the workshop and my thoughts on it:

When asked how we can make the stories we write engaging, she offered some great advice like engaging the reader with writing hooks, preferably at the start and end of the story. 

I’ve come across stories that start with a bang and end with a whimper and I often fear my story may not be able to hold the readers attention to the very end. So inserting writing hooks was some great advice and a great reminder.

On the topic of starting points for short and long stories, Preeti emphasised that there is no particular rule. You can start at whatever point in the story. But for short stories, starting the narrative with the protagonist in action is always preferred. Get straight to the point. 

On creating relatable characters for your fiction, she suggested listing out his/her physical attributes, behavioural traits, everything up to the last detail, separately before starting off. That way, even if you don’t mention all the character traits, you know exactly how your characters will act in a particular situation. She also advised on creating real characters with real problems. 

Geethica then put forth another question: How much emotion do we pour Ina story? To that Preeti spoke about making the reader care about the character in your story, something i couldn’t agree more upon. We often label a book as a favourite only if it has moved us in some way. 

Preeti’s answer to how much reality she adds in her fiction was a refreshingly innovative one. While I’ve heard most best selling authors talk about incorporating a slice of life in their books, I have often wondered what truly interesting lives they must lead. Preeti, however, surprised me by saying, ‘Your Imagination is the biggest weapon in your arsenal.”  Now, doesn’t that answer wash away your guilt of living a perfectly ordinary life and open an entire gamut of new possibilities instead? What more can a writer wish for? 

On how to fight writers block, Preeti enumerated some easy-peasy techniques like trying to write like you are describing something (eg a room) to a blind man. If you are stuck in the middle of a WIP, she suggested you retrace and read it all over again…from page 1. That makes identifying and removing the ‘block’ in the story.

Other questions that Geethica asked included how to maintain the flow in the story, how to go beyond the personal narrative, how and where to add conflict etc. Preeti answered those by speaking about different methods like revising your plot every time you sit to write for a smoother flow, doing enough research, mapping the story line etc. 

The session was then open for questions by attendees. Here, Preeti offered helpful tips like balancing the right amount of dialogue and narrative. She suggested taking up creative writing courses that are extremely beneficial, especially in this regard. She also encouraged having the story read by an extra pair of eyes (preferably 2-3 people who read across different genres) and taking their opinion before submitting it. 

To sum up, the session was an extremely engaging and helpful one with important nuggets of information for all writers and not a dull moment. 

Thanks to Blogchatter for arranging this wonderful rendezvous with Preeti Shenoy for their I’m already looking forward to Session 3. 

Until then. cheers! 


Written as part of BlogchatterWritFest.

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