How to write a great story

I have frequently come across this question during talk sessions, magazine interviews, on my facebook page and personal meet-ups etc; Is there any technique to write a good novel? The question comes straight out of an aspiring writer's pocket of inquisitiveness. Most of the time I simply shrug away from the question because providing a reasonable answer to such a question is definitely not a convincing task. I mean, obviously, having a great vocabulary (or building one), grammatical proficiency, a creative mind (some are gifted, others have to create it) and most importantly how to tame a creative mind. I still remember my high school English teacher telling us about how Samuel Taylor Coleridge gifted 'Suspense of disbelief' to the literary world under the frequent influence of opium. Not that I am advising youngsters to find refuge in various methods of intoxication to boost their creativity, as it simply does not. Intoxication is a trigger self-destruction, the very antonym of 'creation'.
One can not tame the mind that way. How can one tame the mind then?
The mind is never stable, it is filled with vibrant and most of the times volatile ideas and the nature of these ideas define creativity of a being. One moment an idea booms up your brain and the very moment its gone! However, had you had some way of retaining it, you could build on it gradually. Now, this is how a writer works... over that idea he saw in his weird dream on a starless night in the monsoon or while talking to an ex from a long forgotten past. By collecting ideas and letting it grow on paper or in a semi-tangible form which is easily accessible to you(paper, excel spreadsheet etc). This leads us to mindmaps.

What is a mindmap?

"A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches."
This is what wikipedia will tell you and as in most cases, is accurate.
Mind maps are an important tool in gathering ideas fruitfully in almost every professional field (engineering, planning, management etc). In fact, many of us actually use it mentally, unaware of it.
Now, on the right I have provided you with a sample mind map that I created couple of years back for my debut novel When Strangers meet.. (which you can buy from here). I prepared this on an excel spreadsheet because I was not really comfortable to do it on a piece of paper. In fact, sometimes the mind maps can be so cumbersome and crowded that a single piece of A3 sized sheet becomes too little. If you are hand user, then definitely go for a larger chart paper.

How to make  mind map (for writing fiction):
    1. Get a paper/spreadsheet
    2. At the center draw  small circle. The circle is your idea (or the title of your book)
    3. Use an imagery/key for idea (i have used a light bulb, a universal convention)
    4. Time to branch out. What are the key elements of any story? Every one will come with something, let us generalize it for ease (You don't obviously have to follow my categorization, you can come up with your own):
      1. Characters 
        Protagonist (The main character, irrespective of gender)
        Antagonist(The villain, in conventional terms)
        Catalyst (The one leads the protagonist/antagonist to the climax)
        Love Interest (Pro's ooh la la)
        Best Friend (The one who's always there for the Pro)
        Supporting (Prime characters like mothers, sisters etc)
        Supporting (Secondary characters like inspectors, detectives etc)
        Significant Others
        Insignificant Others
      1. Settings
      • Time (When story takes place) - Present, Flashback (if any)
      • Location (Where story takes place)
      1. Plot (The premise and how it proceeds)
      • Introduction (the pro is introduced to the reader)
      • Encounter (how different characters meet each other)
      • Build ups (Bonding between characters etc)
      • Flashback (blast from the past)
      • Revelations
      • Climax
      • Twists (We all love it)
      • Out (How we end it)
      • Convergent (other parallel ideas that will fall into the plot)
      • Divergent (parallel ideas that will branch out of the plot)
      1. Theme (the various themes conveyed, not genre of your fiction)
      2. References (or in other words Inspiration)
          • Movies
          • Music
          • Novels
          • Real world
        1. Branch out further, if you have more than one setting, then label it as 1,2,3 etc. In WHEN STRANGERS MEET.. there are two settings, namely the present and the flashback. I have used 1 to indicate everything that is to deal with the present setting and 2 for the flashback. This will be keyed across all the branches and sub-branches
        2. Try to keep everything as neat as possible but do not increase the distance between the branch as it will only use up your area of work. try to fit in your entire idea on one chart or the size of your screen (+/- 240 pixels)
        3. be as brief as possible, no need for punctuation or grammatical accuracy. This is like making notes from your college lecture.
        4. Use shorthand and images wherever possible, although I have not used any, but you can always do it and it will be fun. Use photos for your characters. But use minimum complication as the mind map will eventually grow in size and too much creativity can make it complicated and unreadable
        5. Update your mind map regularly, that is why I prefer an excel spreadsheet. Make new ones for a different or parallel idea for the same title. Converge them later.
        6. Connect the dots, keep revising and revisiting every night. Brainstorming is important. Mind map is a result of brainstorming and your story will be a result of continuous mind mapping.
        7. Make it happen, WRITE!

        Buy nowThat's it! Pretty simple, right? Try creating a mind map for your fiction and see if you can use it in your favor. You can send me your mind maps for evaluation (email - I would love to know how your experience with mindmapping and trust me, once you start it you might either end up hating it or loving it (like me)!
        Don't forget to leave your valuable comments here and share this with your friends. Now that you have seen the mind map used for my novel When Strangers meet.. why don't you try reading it (again) to see how well it has served the story of the Stranger? You can download it from Kindle or buy it from flipkart. Don't forget to like my official page :

        Good luck mindmapping!


        2 Guns (Movie Review)

        2 Guns

        My Rating - 2/5

        My Verdict:
        Can you give me those 109 minutes and 15 seconds back, please? Definitely below average if you remove the excellent performance of the cast. I liked how it began and the way it ended, restaurant dialogues with a wink n punch, but everything in between was unnecessary. thumbs down.

        As reviewed on


        Movie Info

        Two crooked undercover officers - one from the DEA and the other from the Navy - unknowingly lead investigations on the other in this crime thriller from director Baltasar Kormakur. Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, and Bill Paxton head up the starring cast. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi
         Aug 2, 2013 Wide
         Nov 19, 2013
        Universal Pictures - Official Site

        Dilvalo ki dilli and a hostile native state

        1000+ followers from Delhi NCR
        As read on

        People have a strong instinctive urge to bend homeward. I am no different, a perfect example was my exemplary state of limitless joy in 2010 when IPL included the Cochin based franchisee (run by Gujjus of course) and later my joy turned to sorrow when the team was pathetically slid down the league table and sorrow to rage when the team and its owners were banished by the governing council (hated modi and tharoor at that time). Why? Coz I was born in the city of Cochin, my mother belongs to the same city and I am currently residing half a hundred miles off the city.

        While growing up in Gurgaon, I always felt that Kerala was home and the language of Malayalam my 'home' tongue, my mother tongue being the beautiful and endangered language of Tulu. And honestly when I came back to Kerala after spending seventeen years in the Delhi NCR, I could never make myself feel at home. I always missed the land of Dillivalas.

        I started finding reasons to go to Delhi frequently, be it attending 'sadela' supplementary papers from my pathetic engineering course or making short films, documentaries to signing contracts related to my book and photography. 
        When my book came in May I was in Delhi, tried my level best to promote it there and inherently I was expecting to find my book showcased among the  new arrivals in Mallu bookstores, but alas! not even a single bookstore in the entire state carried the book written by a youngster born in the state! I had to distribute copies of book to the sellers (some of them were so hostile) based in thrissur and cochin. 

        Three months from then, as I was checking insights on my facebook page, I learnt that the number of followers of my page on facebook were dominated by Dillivalas, while Kochi didn't even make it to the top ten list. Out of 7000 odd followers, more than 1000 were from Delhi NCR followed by Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Kanpur. However unlike earlier I was not expecting any kind of embracement from my natives. I was surprised and elated by the overwhelming response from the Northern region and maybe that's why they call Delhi 'Dilli dilvaalo ki', and I feel proud that growing up there has initiated me as a Dillivala myself... and I wait for my next trip to the hearty city of Delhi...

        Main Rang Sharbaton Ka - Phata Poster Nikla Hero

        MY RATING: 6/10

        Composer: Pritam
        Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
        Vocals: Atif Aslam

        Song Duration: 4:23
        Movie: Phata Poster Nikla Hero

        Lyrics (English Translation)
        Khwaab Hai Tu.. Neend Hu Main
        Dono Mile Raat Bane
        Roz Yahi Maangu Duaa
        Teri Meri Baat Bane.. Baat Bane
        You're The Dream.. I'm The Sleep
        When The Two Meet, It Becomes A (complete) Night
        Everyday I Ask For This Wish
        That We Be Together..

        Main Rang Sharbaton Ka
        Tu Meethe Ghaat Ka Paani
        Mujhe Khud Me Ghol De Toh
        Mere Yaar Baat Bann Jaani
        I'm The Color Of Sherbets
        And You're The Water Of Sweet River-Bank
        If You Mix Me In Yourself
        My Beloved, It Will Be A Great Story

        O Yara Tujhe Pyaar Ki Batiyaan Kya Samjhaavaan
        Jaagti Ratiyaan Roz Bitaavaan
        Isse Aage Ab Main Kya Kahoon
        O Yaara Tujhe Dolti Ankhiyaan Sadke Jaavaan
        Maang Le Pakiyaan Aaj Duvaavaan
        Isse Aage Ab Main Kya Kahu
        O Dear, What Do I Tell You The Things Of Love
        I Pass Every Night Up Awake
        What More Do I Tell You
        O Dear, My Eyes Look For You
        I Sacrifice Myself Upon You
        Today I Make True Wishes (to get you)
        What More Do I Tell You 

        Maine Toh Dheere Se Neendon Ke Dhaade Se
        Baandha Hai Khwaab Ko Tere
        Main Na Jahaan Chahoon.. Na Aasmaan Chaahoon
        Aaja Hisse Me Tu Mere
        I Have Slowly, With The Thread Of Sleeps
        Tied Your Dream (so that I dream of you always)
        I Don't Want The World, Nor The Skies
        I Just Want You To Be Mine

        Tu Dhang Chaahaton Ka
        Main Jaise Koi Naadaani
        Mujhe Khud Se Jod De Toh
        Mere Yaar Baat Bann Jaani
        You're The Way Of Love
        I Am Some Immaturity
        If You Attach Me To Yourself
        My Beloved, It Will Be Great

        Tere Khayaalon Se
        Tere Khayaalon Tak
        Mera Toh Hai Aana - Jaana
        Mera Toh Jo Bhi Hai
        Tu Hi Tha Tu Hi Hai
        Baaki Jahaan Hai Begaana
        From Your Thoughts
        To Your Thoughts Only
        I Wander
        Whatever Is There That Is Mine
        Is Just You
        Rest Of The World Is Alien

        Tum Ek Musaafir Ho
        Main Koi Raah Anjaani
        Mann Chaaha Mod De Toh
        Mere Yaar Baat Bann Jaani
        You're A Traveller
        I Am Some Unknown Path
        If You Give Me A Turn As Per Your Heart
        My Beloved, It'll Be Just Great

        Lyrics Translation:

        Chanchal Mann Ati Random - Suddh Desi Romance

        Chanchal Mann Ati Random
        MY RATING: 7/10


        Composer: Sachin - Jigar
        Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni
        Vocals: Divya Kumar

        Song Duration: 3:55
        Movie: Shuddh Desi Romance

        Lyrics (English Translation)
        Hai Baawda Kabhi
        Hai Saawda Kabhi
        Arre Dhimme Dhimme Challe Hai Utaawda Kabhi
        Sometimes It's Crazy
        Sometimes It's Smart
        Sometimes It Walks Slowly, Sometimes It's In A Hurry

        Kal Iss Pe Aaya Tha
        Kal Uss Pe Aayega
        Meri Moonchein Yeh Mundwaayega
        Bada Hai Besharam
        It Got Attracted To Someone Yesterday
        And Tomorrow It Will Attract Itself To Someone Else
        It Will Make Me Lose My Honor
        It's Very Shameless

        Chanchal Mann Ati Random
        De Gayo Dhokha Machal Gayo Re
        Chanchal Mann Ati Random
        De Gayo Dhokha Sambhal Gayo Re
        Phisal Gayo Re
        This Playful Heart Is Very Unpredictable/Random
        It Cheated Me And Went Crazy
        This Playful Heart Is Very Unpredictable
        It Cheated Me And Then It Controlled Itself
        Then Again It Started Slipping!!

        Jha Ra Ra Ra Ra
        Random Random
        Jha Ra Ra Ra Ra
        Damadam Random

        Sa Ga Re Ga Sa Re
        Ni Sa Ga Re Ga Sa Re
        Ni Sa Ga Re Ga Sa Re
        La La La La La..
        Sa Ga Re Ga Sa Re
        Ni Sa Ga Re Ga Sa Re
        Ni Sa Ga Re Ga Sa Re

        Chanchal Mann Jo Aa Gayo Mera Teri Ore
        Haule Haule Thaamna Ji Iss Paapi Ki Dor Re
        If This Playful Heart Gets Attracted To You
        Then Catch Hold Of This Evil's Thread Carefully

        Jha Ra Ra Ra Ra
        Random Random
        Re Chanchal Mann Jo Aa Gayo Mera Teri Ore
        Haule Haule Thaamna Ji Iss Paapi Ki Dor Re
        Iss Paapi Ki Dor Me Jaane Kitni Uljhan
        Suljhaane Jo Chal Diyo Bhai Chintan Hi Chintan
        If This Playful Heart Gets Attracted To You
        Then Catch Hold Of This Evil's Thread Carefully
        Who Knows How Tangled This Evil One's Thread Is
        If You'll Try To Untangle It, You'll Get Get Deeply Worried

        Chintan Saare Kar Gaye Hai Chinta Ke Maare
        Mann Ki Baatein Mann Me Rahi Na Samjhe Na Saare
        Aree Samjho Samjho Sab Kahein Yeh Ghar Bahar
        Andar Ghar Jo Kari Gayo Ho Usko Na Jaane..
        Re Re..
        Everyone Has Gone To Deep Meditation Due To This Worry
        The Talks Of The Heart Remain In The Heart And No One Is Able To Understand It
        Every Near And Dear One Wants You To Understand This Above Stated Fact
        But No One Understands That Someone Special Has Made A Home In Heart!

        Arre Chanchal Mann Jo Aa Gayo Mera Teri Ore
        Haule Haule Thaamna Ji Iss Paapi Ki Dor Re
        Iss Paapi Ki Dor, Dor Hai, Dor Hai Resam
        Sooj Na Jaaye Honth Tere Yeh
        Jalti Hai Madham
        If This Playful Heart Gets Attracted To You
        Then Catch Hold Of This Evil's Thread Carefully
        The Thread Of This Evil One Is Made Of Silk
        May Your Lips Not Get Swollen
        As It Burns Slowly

        Maddham Maddham Gol Ho
        Maddham Maddham Chaal
        Maddham Maddham Aanch Pe
        Paake Jo Mann Ka Maal Kahin Pe Chori Chori
        Duniya Soonghe Khushboo Si Hori Hori
        Slowly It Becomes Round
        Slowly It Walks
        On A Light Flame
        This Food For Heart Cooks
        [food for the heart is a metaphor to administration towards a loved one]
        Secretly If The Food Of The Heart Cooks Someplace
        Then The Whole World Gets Attracted To This Fragrance..!

        Tum se Hi (2013 Short film)

        Have you ever loved someone so much that you ended up hating that person??? #tumsehi is the story of Hrehan who's reeling around that one moment which separates hatred from love...

        Dearest friends...

        I give you my long delayed... close to the heart project... Tum se Hi... 
        Watch it till the last second... :) and leave your comments on youtube as well :)

        Encouragement is always appreciated

        K.Hari Kumar & friends

        Tum se Hi...
        Language : Hindi
        Length : 12 minutes 29 seconds
        Genre : Romance, Drama

        After longing for two years, Jai finally gets a chance to meet the love of his life. Meanwhile, Hrehan is forced to confront his ex lover. How can a woman be the source of love as well as hatred? A romantic tale set in the heart of Delhi.
        Can one moment in time be the root cause for a twist of faith?

        To find out watch this romantic short film by Author/Filmmaker K.Hari Kumar & friends

        Starring : Prayash Sharma, K.Hari Kumar, Autumn Rush, Vishal Bhatt, Sangram Gautam

        Art Department : Bhargav Adhyapak, Sakshi Garg, Nalini Prasad, Mehak Mangla
        Cinematography : Prayash Sharma & K.Hari Kumar
        Associate Director : Prayash Sharma

        Producer : Lakshmi KM

        A Ravi Nidamarthy Musical

        Dialogues, Screenplay, Editing, & Direction by K.HARI KUMAR

        Official page :

        K. Hari Kumar's official blog

        Hey friends...

        I have been finding myself in this emblematic dilemma for quite a long time. Having seen so many people writing blogs and stuffs about their daily lives. Now that really wasn't much of a job, is it? Choose a platform, write few stuff, upload a picture and post it online... done! But the question was, who's gonna read all that stuff anyway?

        Some wise guy cracked long ago 'Karm karo... fal ki chinta mat karo', I'm following His suite, just posting and not expecting... just like the good old days where people used to maintain journals.

        And for those who are Strangers to me... I shall introduce myself...

        K.Hari Kumar is the 24-year old author of WHEN STRANGERS MEET.. He's also an international award nominated Photographer and independent filmmaker who has worked in over twenty television commercials, directed 6 short films and two documentaries (one for an international artist).

        The Stranger's second short film 'The Man who loved me' was a commercial suspense thriller on homosexuality. The film was selected at the IFF 2011, Melbourne. His debut novel 'When Strangers meet..' is an adaptation of his first short film 'My name is Iyer'. The book has already sold out it's first edition within one month of it's release and has been featured in many presitigious Indian channels of print media.

        His debut novel is a fast paced 'entertainer' that talks about father-son relationships from the viewpoints of three different strata of society and how the Story of one Stranger inspires the lives of the others.

        When he's not writing or travelling, he works with his father in a small farm in the South Indian countryside.

        Fine! I am too occupied with my short film Tum se hi right now, so I copy pasted this from my facebook page, which by the way is FYI, I have finally wrapped up my first ever attempt at filming a love story and it's called Tum se Hi. You can watch Tum se Hi on my facebook page or youtube channel tonight after 7 pm. Let me tell you I could never finish Tum se hi due to loads of problems, and only 70% of the movie was filmed, yet I have managed to complete it. Let me know how it is...

        Peace out!