Week #51: Five writing styles to try

52 weeks of reading and writing

Making plans is easy; it’s carrying them out that’s the hard part. But what would be the fun in never making plans at all? So here’s another of my lists of things to try some day—in this case, writing styles/options/whatever to attempt.


Albeit the collaborative effort that was Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean was overall a great experience, you’d think that I would’ve learnt my lesson about uttering that C-word again. But surprise, surprise, I find myself somewhat more positively inclined towards the idea of collaboration than I would have thought possible. Eat the Sky was more about putting the collection together, but I’m quite enthused about writing a novel with another author. Some interesting collaborative work I’ve read recently, including Penni Russon and Kate Constable’s Dear Swoosie, John Green and David Levthan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Sowmya Rajendran and Niveditha Subramaniam’s two Mayil books, are proof that working together is not the one-way ticket to disaster one would imagine. I don’t imagine that it to be all happiness and chocolate cake, but it will definitely be a new challenge.


Okay, so I only learnt the meaning of this word a few months back, but it’s always been on my list. The trouble is, it’s been done to death, so finding a new angle on this will be a task in itself. Not just letters, even emails, tweets, IMs and social media posts have all been done. Many years back I wrote a short story based on forum posts, private messages and instant messages. It was quite dire (and was rejected) and now I’m too ashamed to read it, but would like to have another go at this format, be it with letters, emails or other forms of communication.

Second-person narrative

It is well acknowledged in the realms of fiction writing that writing about you is one of the most difficult techniques to pull off. (Waterstones.com has a list of some people who managed to do it in style.) I wouldn’t say that I’m champing at the bit to try this one out, but it seems like an interesting project to dust out on a boring afternoon. I once had a mad idea that I would write a love story in second-person, making it a combination of the two things I’m least likely to write.

Rashomon style

Again, I’ve been wanting to try this since before I learnt of this term. According to TVtropes.org, a Rashomon-style narrative is “where the same event is recounted by several characters, and the stories differ in ways that are impossible to reconcile”. The term apparently comes from the Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon. One of my favourite books that employs this technique is Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith. It’s hard to talk of the Rashomon narrative without mentioning the unreliable narrator, but I don’t believe it to be the same thing necessarily. (A brilliant young adult novel told by an unreliable narrator is Justine Larbalestier’s Liar.) It’s quite possible for two people to have completely different experiences of the same thing, and that’s what I’d like to explore.

Graphic novel/story

I drew a lot as a kid, including illustrating my own stories, but somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to draw—I don’t know if you just lose it it; maybe I just stopped drawing. Writing and illustrating my own graphic story, though, is probably an impossible dream. But I’d still like to author a graphic novel some day or even work on the graphic-ization of one of my books. This would have to be a collaboration, so I could, again, kill two birds with one stone.


Ha ha, just kidding. A novel in verse sounds like the most annoying thing to me, so I doubt I’d ever write one. And yes, this is number six in a list of five, so I lied.


7 Replies to “Week #51: Five writing styles to try”

  1. Great list, Payal! And very enlightening. I had never heard of or read a second person narrative; nor of the Rashomon style, though I have read books in that style, notably Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. A novel in verse needn’t necessarily be bad, so don’t scratch it off your list. I quite liked Vikram Seth’s Golden Gate. Re wanting to illustrate your own writing — me too!!!

    1. I’m sure verse is terribly hard to do too. It’s not that it’ll be bad, just that I don’t much like it myself. Oh and you must read Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith!

  2. Ok I’ve tried epistolary and enjoyed it. Not yet tried second-person. Hadn’t even heard of Rashomon style but now I’m keen to take a stab at it!

    I second the vote for Golden Gate! Do try reading it!

  3. Sowmya Rajendran says: Reply

    Actually, working with Niveditha is all happiness and chocolate cake (noodles and tea, to be more accurate) 😀 We’ve had arguments about work schedule and deadlines but nothing about the writing itself. It’s surprisingly been a very smooth process. Touchwood.

    1. That’s reassuring to hear. I defiintely want to explore the whole collaboration thing in greater detail sometime.

      1. Sowmya Rajendran says: Reply

        Well, it helps that Niv and I have known each other for over a decade now and we met in college…at a time when our ‘intellect’ was taking shape, so as to speak. So our wavelengths match a lot. Do try it out with someone you share a good rapport with, apart from just having a good work relationship. It’s great because you can stop the story when you get stuck and the other person fishes you out of the mess and keeps going! I think I met you very briefly at Bookaroo Delhi (when I didn’t know how to turn the electric kettle on…erm), great blog you have here 🙂

        1. You can put it down to age, but I don’t remember the Electric Kettle Incident! But would have loved to meet you. Are you in Bangalore or Delhi, by any chance?

          And thanks for liking the blog. 🙂

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