Monday 23 February 2015

Guest post from Ekta R Garg - Writing about relationships

Since the start of her publishing career in 2005 Ekta has edited and written about everything from health care to home improvement to Hindi films. She has worked for: The Portland Physician Scribe, Portland, Oregon's premier medical newspaper; show magazines for home tours organized by the Portland Home Builders Association;; The Bollywood Ticket; The International Indian; and the annual anthologies published by the Avondale Inkslingers, based in Avondale, Arizona.

In 2011 Ekta stepped off the ledge and became a freelancer. She edits short stories and novels for other writers, contributing to their writing dreams. She is also a part-time editor for aois21, and she reviews books for her own book review blog as well as NetGalley, TypeReel, and

Prairie Sky Publishing( serves as the publishing arm of Ekta's professional writing blog, The Write Edge ( When she's not writing, Ekta is a domestic engineer--known in the vernacular as "a housewife." She's married, has two energetic daughters who keep her running, and she divides her time between keeping house and fulfilling her writing dreams.

Social Media links:

Blog: The Write Edge,
Twitter: @EktaRGarg
Goodreads: Goodreads:
Amazon Author Page:

Two for the Heart: Stories in Pairs, Set 1 available for your Kindle on Amazon at:

Two for the Heart: Stories in Pairs, Set 1 available for your iPad, Nook, Kobo, or other ereader at:

Ekta has stopped by to talk about writing about relationships

Writing About Relationships: Three Tips

By Ekta R. Garg

These days in my writing I’m spending a lot of time thinking about relationships. My brand new series, “Stories in Pairs,” by design examines relationships in every possible way—between characters and locations; between ideas and situations. Between me and the reader.

Two for the Heart, final cover

The main thrust behind the series comes in the fact that everyone has a story to tell, and our stories intersect with other people’s stories all the time. We don’t know when or where those intersections will happen or how much they will mean to those we meet.

The hardest-working writers examine the world around them, which includes relationships. I have three tips to help you write about those life-changing intersections.

1. Write without fear. Don’t let your real-life relationships override the relationships you create in fiction. In 2009 I read an author interview in which the author advised, “Write as if your parents were dead.” The words shocked me. I grew up in a close-knit family, and I had always lived by the principles and values my parents taught.

Those principles and values offered me a solid foundation for life; however, they also made me think twice about possible stories. I worried that by tackling certain ideas my parents would get the mistaken impression I had eschewed their teachings. I also wondered what former teachers and classmates from my conservative private school would think if I wrote about “taboo” topics.

Truth to tell, the advice also scared me. What would it mean to write freely? Unfettered? To deal with ideas and thoughts I’d never allowed myself to consider in my writing?

That author interview changed my life. I spent a few days thinking about the author’s advice, allowing it to occupy space in my mind and heart. After those few days I realized that just as I valued the relationships I had with my parents and others, I also had to value the relationship I had with my writing.

I gained my freedom from everything that held me back before. In the years since reading that interview I’ve produced (after several drafts!) some of the best writing I’ve ever done. Sure, I can attribute some of that to sheer life experience. But I know that most of it comes from giving myself permission to tackle topics, characters and stories that would have frightened me before 2009.

2. Take what you know and expand on it. Writers often receive the conventional piece of advice “Write what you know”. Well, yes and no.

In college I wrote a novel. When I shared the manuscript with my mother, she read a few chapters and then stopped. I asked her what she thought of it; she told me she felt like she was reading about our family’s daily routines.

She was right. I’d simply taken our family, changed their names (and added an extra sibling,) and presented the fictional family as the protagonists of my book. I should have taken grains of my family and planted them in brand new soil to allow a new group of people to grow.

Should writers take inspiration from real-life people? Absolutely! Just don’t take Great Aunt Sally and replicate her wart for wart on the page. Stephen King points out in his book On Writing that most people lead fairly mundane lives, writers included. We all do laundry and wash dishes and drop kids off at school and pay our bills.

Readers don’t want to read about characters who do those things. Readers come to books for the unusual. The fantastic. The mystical, the magical, the exhilarating, the scary, the horrifying. Not for characters whose biggest concern is making sure they file their taxes on time.

Take what you know and elevate it. Add quirky habits; give your characters oddities. Pick a city you’ve never visited, do lots of research on it (actual research, not just reading Wikipedia,) and set your story there. Find out about a profession you know nothing about and give that profession to one of your main characters.

Part of the challenge and thrill of writing comes in starting with what you know and playing that age-old game “What if”. Play it all the time. Play it at every single change in the story. Your characters will surprise you, guaranteed.

3. Try new relationship combinations. In my first release this month, Two for the Heart, I wrote two short stories about the power of love and relationships. The second story called “Remembrance” deals with a pair of estranged sisters. One of them endures an emergency, and because of the situation the sisters must face one another and deal with their grievances.

When I started the first draft of this story, however, I wrote about a mother-in-law and her son-in-law. I chose this combination because we don’t often see a story about people in these relationships. Their dynamic intrigued me; I wanted to use the woman’s daughter—the wife of the man—as the unifying factor and the turning point of the story.

I eventually changed the characters to two sisters, but I still intend to write a story in the future about my original character combination. I feel like dealing with the texture and the depth of in-laws could provide me with rich material in another story.

When you consider a new story idea, think about the relationships of your characters. Pick two or three characters who either normally wouldn’t interact or else who you haven’t read about in stories or books. Often a new combination will bring surprises in dialogue and story situations, which can only strengthen your writing.

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