Vandana Singh, Suchitra Mathur and I are teaching a three-week speculative-fiction workshop at IIT-Kanpur in June/July this year. The application form is here, and the announcement is here. IIT-K doesn’t have a web link yet.
There have been other SF workshops in India of course, but they’ve been sporadic affairs designed to teach beginners. Our focus is a bit different. We’re aiming to help the semipro writer get to the next level. We also intend to make this an annual affair. The long-term goal is to create a network of desi spec-fic writers. Right now, there’s a lot of talent, but they mostly work in isolation. We hope to change that.The instructors may be different year to year, but the overall goals of the workshop will remain the same. Sustainability is important here, because it’s probably going to take a couple of decades of effort to make a real difference. But I try not to dwell on that part.
Suchitra Mathur at IITK had to do most of the hard work in setting up the workshop, and now we’ll reap the benefits of her hard work. I know. It is unfair. I know. But look yaar, I didn’t design the Matrix.
p>But this blog is not about the workshop. It’s about putting together a list of spec-fic stories for the workshop. One problem with writing workshops is that the participants are all working off different stories. It helps to have a common pool of stories for discussions about voice, point of view, dialog handling and so on. Making the list is a lot of fun, but it’s also turning out to be a lot harder than I thought. It reminds me of the scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack talks about the art of making a compilation tape:
“A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to hold the attention. Then you have to take it up a notch, but not blow your wad, so maybe cool it off a notch, and you can’t put the same artist twice on the tape, except if some subtle point or lesson or theme involved, and even then not the two of them in a row, and you can’t woo somebody with Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and then bash their head off with something like GBH’s “City Baby Attacked by Rats,” and… oh, there are a lot of rules…”
Exactly. So what would be the killer first story?