Last weekend, one of our sweetest, yet the smartest writers, Susan Sreemala, host a session. Whenever she seizes this opportunity, we’ve observed that she managed to bring out the best in writers through very minimum talk! Even this time, she came up with an entirely challenging yet enticing genre to get our pens clicking and creative heads bubbling!.

Anti-story is a narrative of short-story length that makes no effort to follow a plot and ignores structural conventions, character motivations, and the like. There are many ways that can help us write an anti-story and this time we explored the idea of an unreliable narrator.

An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. Similar unreliable narrators often appear in detective novels and thrillers, where even a first-person narrator might hide essential information and deliberately mislead the reader in order to preserve the surprise ending. Most often unreliable narrators are first-person narrators, but sometimes third-person narrators can also be unreliable.

The Exercise:

We were asked to pick an incident/plotline that would depict the entire identify of the story on the basis of an unreliable narrator.

For example: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita contains perhaps the greatest example of the unreliable narrator. The stylistic device is employed so convincingly that readers even questioned Nabokov’s own character, believing he perhaps shared Humbert’s predilection for “nymphets,” which prompted him to write an afterword to dissect the various misconceptions. Just as Humbert claims he toyed with the nurses and doctors when he was institutionalized, he toys with us and makes a persuasive argument for our sympathies — his controlling, mocking, and delusional nature peering through his lyrical narration. But others see Humbert as unflinchingly honest narrator who never denies his reprehensible actions.

And so, we wrote on ‘Anti-Stories’ – and yes, as the name suggests the idea is quite complicated. And Susan, our guide, it’s always very simplified to the detail to understand. We all penned wonderful stories and it was overall a wonderful experience.