Dear readers, use these writing tips and writing ideas as well as those that have appeared on these pages for the past few months and continue writing during your holidays. Send in your work as usual and when Notes restarts on August 31, your poems, stories and anecdotes will be published on these pages. Here are two short stories by Prachi Jangid.
- The writer is a freelancer based in Hyderabad, India
Tips on Writing: Writing Fantasy
- You can give wings to your imagination when writing fantasy, but at the same time, events need to flow logically. Your readers should get a feeling that this could happen in a different world.
- You have to be highly imaginative to invent creatures and things and situations and worlds not found in real life – and more important, not found in books you have read so far!
- Many science fiction stories contain elements of fantasy, but so do fairy tales, myths and legends. Your test lies in writing fantasy in a realistic way.
Segax and the Mystery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun
Mr Kruger's daughter is missing. Now read the conclusion of the story…..
"We can't tell Mr Kruger," was Segax's first thought. "We have to get her back!" was the second. But how? Mick Mitchelson would undoubtedly have already decided on exactly what he wanted in exchange for Irma. But was she safe? Would she come to harm with him?
Contrary to his first thought, they had no choice but to go to see Luis Kruger.
He met Axel and Haven at the hospital. While Zeke saw to the release formalities, Mr Roddnick helped Mr. Kruger get ready to leave, crutches in hand. Segax stuck his hands in his jacket pocket as he usually did when he was thinking hard. Absently, he rubbed two pieces of paper together.
"Spiffy jacket," commented Haven, irrelevantly. "Not your style, though. Where did you get it?"
"It's all……" Segax began, then suddenly stopped, withdrawing the ancient looking pieces of paper from his pocket and staring at them.
Then he turned and rushed from the room.
Segax didn't want the others with him. This was something he'd have to sort out on his own. He reached his cousin's offices and walked into the waiting room. A few patients were there, but the doctor wasn't.
Unobtrusively, Segax slipped into the side room, then entered the corridor that connected Oliver's office with his weekday flat. There was no one about.
Segax stood in front of the bookcase in the tiny study, staring at the titles, shivering a bit. Then he pulled out what he thought was the likely book, Carter and Carnarvon, and there was a soft whirring noise and the bookcase moved aside. "You shouldn't have come," Oliver said sadly from the seat inside the secret room. "Especially alone."
When Segax didn't reply, he added, "Too tempting."
"I should have figured it out earlier," Segax said. "With all your travel contacts, it would be easy for you to get something to feed me something - and also to get rid of artifacts all around the globe. And even my subconscious didn't want to believe my own cousin could be the infamous Mick Mitchelson!"
He stepped into the room. "Where is Irma?"
Oliver stood up. From his hand a gun winked at Segax. "There's really nothing to figure out, cuz," said Oliver smoothly. "You can't leave.
You can join Irma there, and share her fate." In a corner of the room, a small girl lay on a settee, bound hand and foot. Segax moved quickly towards her, but stopped when he felt cold steel against his neck. "There's a silencer – nothing will be heard."
"But we'll know," said another voice and Oliver jumped. Mr. Roddnick took the gun out of Oliver's suddenly limp fingers as Zeke rushed to pick up Irma and put her in Mr. Kruger's arms.
"How did you know?" Segax asked, relieved that they were there.
"Your fashion sense," teased Haven. "I knew that jacket wasn't yours, and Axel guessed it was Oliver's since you were wearing it when you got back the day of the interview with Mr. Kruger and your meeting with Oliver."
Axel patted Segax on the back. "Maybe you should consider dreaming of Stonehenge and the Aztec pyramids next…"
"One at a time," added Haven. "That's all we can handle!"
A day in Sarah's life
Deep down her heart, Sarah knew that there was a world where people thought her a rather important person. Peering out of her bedroom window, Sarah saw that it was a bright, beautiful day with a lot for her to do. The world is packed with dull blighters who wail their hearts out and whine about their workload and how 'it was getting to them.' Not so, in case of Sarah. Sarah Mien belonged to that rare band of people who love their jobs passionately and gnash their teeth at a sunset. Being the cheery creature she was, Sarah began the day by making a mental list of all she had to complete.
Firstly, Mari had to be taken to Dr. Winkle for a final check-up. After putting in a lot of thought, Sarah had finally decided that Mari should have a fever. A minor cold was too commonplace and tuberculosis seemed too risky. A fever was just fine. After that, Mari needed to be dropped home and Sarah had to get ready for office. On a regular day, ‘office work' required Sarah to sign her name, with a loopy flourish, on important looking documents. It was generally strenuous, but Sarah enjoyed it. After work, she had to pick up Mari from home for tea at a friend's place. Last week, tea at Sophie's place was dull. Today, she decided that it would be at Joy's place. She also determined that Joy was to be a cheerful person who laughed a lot.
By sunset, the day's work was over. Sarah sat in Joy's living room with Mari on her lap. Joy offered them chocolate and tea. She talked about her own chores and an eighty-year-old grandma who was ill. Sarah was envious. She immediately decided that Mari's babysitter would have a wooden leg.
Upon getting back from Joy's house, Sarah demanded that her housekeeper, Mrs. Myers, cook a steak pudding for them. After dinner, Sarah gave Mari a tablet for fever, which Mari, as usual, refused to swallow. However, the good Mrs. Myers finally managed to convince Mari that it was for her own good and then put her to bed.
About ten pm, Sonia Mien crept into her one-room apartment after work, to find her six-year-old daughter, Sarah, sleeping soundly. Mrs. Myers, their kindly neighbor who agreed to take care of Sarah for a small fee, looked up at Sonia with some relief, and said, "Oh, ma'am, I'm so glad to see you. I made some porridge for your poor girl; she was looking lost as usual. All the time talking to herself, playing with her torn little doll ... Still, don't you worry, ma'am, I'll come tomorrow morning, same time."
Sonia bent down to pick up a few tissues sporting an illegible scrawl that looked like - Sserraa.
It looked like a six-year-old's signature - almost illegible.
She smiled sadly and kissed her daughter's forehead.
- Prachi Jangid, Grade 12
In the rain
The rain fell with light gasps. Light, dying gasps that echoed over the city, the sky looking still as the clouds covered it entirely. Each drop faded from memory as it collapsed on a pavement, on a wall, on a statue, on a car or on strands of hair as the people looked up to say in soft voices:
Spike reclined against the wall. The long line of people had moved forward when the person in front walked away with an envelope. An envelope and a serene glance at the mourning sky.
Then the rain came. The line dissolved and Spike stood there with a calm smile, watching the man at the register put up the ‘closed' sign. By now, the rain darkened the city, absorbing into the concrete, the flowers and the hearts of people. He wrapped the trench coat around him a little tighter, closing his eyes. While the crowd had scattered, Spike was content letting himself soak, feeling the rain cool his skin.
He had nowhere else to go. He smiled as he looked calmly at the empty streets in front of him where children continued to play. They seemed happy in the rain. He felt his own heartbeat was like them, beating with a purposeful thud that was in sync with the rain and the turn of the seasons. But he wasn't a child. He was thirty-four. A thirty-four year old who was unemployed and remained incapable of containing the childish excitement that rain brings.
His eyes trailed the kids again. Occasionally a car would tear through the sheets of rain and break his steady view, the wet chewy sound of the tires rising up through the air. He mouthed their song as they leapfrogged over the little ponds of water. Every word fresh in his mind. Fresh after all the times he imagined it singing with his children.
The wooden stand
The horse on the stand
The hammer fell on the horse's tail
And he ran, ran, ran, and ran.
He couldn't help but smile. The once lax smile pulled itself a little further on his mouth, over the jaw where his skin was starting to wear and the hair that fell over his face in tangles. The fever from the night before had disappeared. He stood there quietly, in the falling rain, watching the children play in the puddles that slowly grew larger and deeper.
Veronica turned the corner. She had shelved the last books for the evening, checked out the books the customers wanted and had sent out the courtesy notices to the library members who were approaching the deadline. Once out on the streets she had opened her umbrella and brushed a few strands of her long black hair behind her left ear.
She had gone immediately to the bakery and bought some donuts, walking in her usual restless manner as her sandals sloshed in the little puddles. She had smiled at the children she saw playing the streets.
Now as she turned the corner she saw the heavyset man in the trench coat leaning against a wall, soaked in the rain.
She eyed the coarse dirty-blonde hair as it fell untidily on his shoulders, pasted over the side of his face. She could see him shiver slightly as he pulled the coat around himself, pulling up over his legs so she could see the faded jeans and the dirty boats. Her lips crawled up. Feeling her eyes on him, he glanced at Veronica. She saw the grey eyes that were round and dull, sunken under the thin eyebrows. In a slow, mechanical motion he wiped the hair from his face.
The cries of the children seemed scattered and distant, the road empty and silent. They both stared at each other, silent against the hum of the rain.
"Some things never change, Spike."
Spike remained motionless. The stillness was broken by the ripples that spread over the small puddles. Even the sound of rain was an echo of falling pearls in a timeless chamber. Veronica's lips eased as she walked towards him, avoiding his eyes as she looked at the children. She stood next to him. Spike remained motionless. The rain continued to fall and the children continued to play and they both continued to watch. Like someone waking up from a dream, she whispered the song.
"The wooden stand
The horse on the stand
The hammer fell on the horse's tail
And he ran, ran, ran, and ran."
No matter how many years passed by, the song had remained fresh for them. The rain had always brought that sudden liberating joy. Made them forget. All the lonely days.
"You always sang that," he whispered, "when it rained."
Neither of them looked at the other.
"Nothing really changed," Veronica said, "you stood in the rain, watched the kids play and would return home. Return home without money."
"I returned home to hide. But went back outside when home looked empty."
"Without money. Without children."
"Without children," he repeated her words.
Through the thick clouds, a few rays of the sun crept out. It was drizzling now. The light accumulated in the sky as if a large vessel where all the lights and illusions of people's soul gathered. The children looked at the sky wanting it to go on raining. Spike felt his heart swell. He saw the light reflect from the city as if a mirror, reflecting upwards to the sky till the whole world seemed to glow. Thy sky, the clouds and the city of mirrors.
"But it was happy then," he sighed, nostalgic.
"It was happy."
The rain stopped. The children went home. The streets filled up again, and the twilight now flowered into a gently beaming sun that pushed away the grey sky like paint spilled on a canvas, seeping and spreading out a path of its own. Veronica could see the ring glimmering at his left hand.
"Yes, it was happy," she said without looking at him, "like watching a dream."
"Yeah, like dancing in the rain."
- Sa' ad Farouqi, American University of Sharjah
Twerpy's last call
Twerpy crawled painfully towards the bathroom sink. Dragging a hurt leg over Mrs. Jenson's spotless pink tiles, he tried to call for help, but it was of no use. His cry went unheard and then it hit Twerpy that this was it, D-day, the day his father had hoped would never come.
As he tried to ignore the pain, he recalled the endless lessons in camouflage, concealment and sprinting which now appeared worthless. Because Twerpy Bobbins knew that if he didn't reach shelter in the next few minutes, he was going to die.
On a normal occasion, young Bobbins would seem like a perfectly useless chap who had a hopelessly laidback approach to life's trials and tribulations. However, when death courts you, it manages to blow a regal spirit in the dowdiest fool alive and hence, when Twerpy's life began to ebb away, he tried very hard to hold on. With Herculean effort, Twerpy finally managed to block the pain in his leg and divert his attention elsewhere.
As he slowly inched towards the soap dish, he suddenly remembered Lily. Twitchy pincers, he swore softly. How could he have not thought of her till now? Her clear, beautiful black face burst upon his mind's eye and for the first time that evening, tears rolled down his face.
His lovely Lily. Twerpy began to pray, Lord, give her the strength to bear this loss....
The thought of his loving family, his darling Lily, and the fact that he would never see them again tortured him. He hated himself for walking into a high danger zone, when he knew that there was no shelter in the bathroom. In fact, Wirk, the resident fly, who appeared on the scene a second too late, reported that young Twerpy's face seemed so grief-stricken that he froze a few centimetres before the soap dish and died before Mrs. Jenson's slipper squashed his tiny frame into a pulp.
Molly gave a small sigh of satisfaction. She despised insects and upon noticing a small cockroach dashing towards the toothbrush stand, she screamed so loudly that it fell off the shelf, right into the sink.
Frightened out of her wits, Molly whipped out her slipper and after a few moments of crucial indecision, slapped the blasted creature and swept its dead remains into the dustbin. A fly buzzed around hysterically, but she never even heard its cry. Molly Jenson was at peace.
- Prachi Jangid, Grade 12
Here are some free writing ideas.
- Interpol to help Yemen retrieve rare smuggled artifact: GN June 9
- Pilgrims survive blaze in hotel near Sacred Mosque in Makkah: GN June 9
- Elie Saab to design Dubai hotel: GN Tabloid June 9
- Write a time travel story or poem that affects your life – either you meet an ancestor in the past or a member of a future generation of your family in the future.
- Write a space travel story or anecdote where you or your characters meet a race of aliens. You are selected as messenger/ambassador but no one on earth believes what you have to tell them.
- Write a fantasy of the present, either a mystery or a humorous story. Use flashbacks or write your story entirely in dialogue to make it different.
- Write a poem entitled: On Top of the Clouds or Inside the Time Capsule/Game Console
Guidelines to remember
- Try to keep within a maximum word length of 500 words.
- Please remember to give your full name, age, grade, name of your college/school along with the emirate where you are based.
nPlease send your poems, anecdotes, and complete stories to email@example.com
- Slug your mail with ‘Write Time' on top so we know it is a submission for this project.
- You can send in your writing up to August 24.
- The most interesting work will be published in Notes from August 31 onward. What cannot be accommodated in Notes will be posted on the Notes website www.notes.ae