Best Writing Advice: It’s Skills, Not Genre, That Determines Writing Success
choosing your writing genre

‘What’s Your Favourite Popsicle?’

By Archanaa

I stared at the red circle on my calendar. I had three weeks to submit my short story. The idea of participating in a writing competition for the first time scared and excited me at the same time. However, I still had not finalised the genre of my short story. My bookshelf had around a hundred books from various genres. My eyes lingered on the stack of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series. So, I decided to try the whodunit genre. I opened my laptop and started writing.

A woman opened her post box. She saw a red envelope with the words ‘HAHA’. It had no address or stamp. She opened it, and her whole world collapsed. Her hands trembled as she held the photo of her brother’s mutilated body.

The opening looked catchy, but I didn’t know how to take the story forward. Moreover, this story needed a lot of knowledge about human anatomy, law and order. Then I looked at my collection of Stephen King’s novels. I decided to take the horror route.

An old man sat on a rocking chair holding a clay mug. It had the words ‘Happy birthday, Daddy’ engraved on it. His late son had made it for him ten years ago.

‘I miss you too, Daddy.’ He heard a whisper behind him.

I stopped writing. It didn’t sound ominous. What was the point of writing a horror story if the reader wasn’t scared? I became restless and turned to my last resort – fantasy. I can at least build my own world and not care about logic.

The sound of bugles startled the young elf. He sensed the impending doom. The Queen’s ogres barged into his house and dragged him like a piece of meat. He took one last breath and regretted becoming a spy.

No, not another clichéd spy story. I closed my laptop in frustration and drove to the beach. I stopped by a popsicle stall, where a girl around five or six stood ahead of me with her mum.

‘I want mango,’ the girl said.  As the stall keeper pulled a mango popsicle, she shouted, ‘No, I want the grape one.’

Her mother frowned. The stall keeper reached for the grape popsicle.

‘No, I want the strawberry one.’

Her mother and the stall keeper started to look annoyed.

‘Just choose one. They all taste good. If you keep changing your mind, I won’t buy you anything,’ her mother warned.

‘I want them all.’ The girl wailed and threw a tantrum.

‘That’s it! You are not getting anything,’ her mother yelled. She lifted the girl and stormed off.

I bought a chocolate popsicle and sat on the beach sand. If the girl had just picked one flavour, she could have eaten a popsicle. She kept changing her mind and ended up with nothing. The simple incident changed my perspective. There is no perfect genre. What matters is how I write the story.

I came back home with enthusiasm and worked on the initial whodunnit story. I researched, wrote and edited the story day and night. I worked on constructive criticism from my friends and family. In just two weeks, I submitted my entry. After a month, I got an email and saw my name on the list of winners. I refreshed thrice and pranced around like a child. Maybe it was sheer luck. Or maybe it was meant to be. Whatever it was, the small girl unknowingly gave me the best writing tip ever: ‘The success of a story depends on my writing skills and not the genre’.

About the Author:

Archanaa lives in Chennai, India. She’s a blogger who loves reading thriller novels. You can always strike up a conversation with her on cricket, pets and painting.

You can read her blog here – thegreenpage11.blogspot.com

Or reach out to her at achuchess@gmail.com

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