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Vrishchik Chaturvedi: Character Storyboard

Vrishchik Chaturvedi: Character Storyboard

The last few days, I’ve been researching my latest project, (I dare not call it a novel yet) and some of it has been nauseating.

I had to figure out everything possible about flaying  (don’t ask me why) and I was a little apprehensive–material like this would be hard to find, I thought. Apparently not. When I fed various sadistic keywords related to skinning a human body into Google, I was shocked to see the graphic details available on certain websites.

I have now borrowed books from the library which have diagrams and descriptions, and am making notes in between drinking camomile tea to keep myself calm. It is kind of hard to comprehend what humans are capable of doing to other humans.

All this begs the question (which someone asked me yesterday) : why do I have to write on a subject I can’t study with a straight face?

Because, like I told my questioner, I can’t help it.

The story has been haunting me for a while, three years, to be exact. It started with a voice that wouldn’t be denied, a character who spoke first in my notebook at a group writing session, then at a blogfest, and several times afterwards, including this week at another blogfest. His name is Vrishchik Chaturvedi. He is real now and has known it for a while– has said so, too. And his story is now taking shape, and tormenting me while at it.

I’m in control in the outside world, but he’s the lord of the world of my writing, and that is why I find myself, a girl who is afraid of the dark, who cannot sit through gory movies (not even relatively non-heavy-duty, harmless ones like I Know What You Did Last Summer), now writing about this guy who scares the living daylights out of her.

My story has chosen me, and I’ve decided I might as well get it out of my system.

So my question to the writers amongst you: Do you choose the story you’re going to write, or does the story choose you?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • bronxboy55 says:

    Maybe writers and stories choose each other, or not, depending on the chemistry that develops or fails to develop. Sometimes we bump into people with whom we could have been great friends, but for some reason we just keep walking. At other times, we strike up a conversation and our lives change forever. It’s hard to understand, and impossible to predict.

    Please protect yourself during the flaying lessons.

  • Facing fears
    Great or small
    Life chooses the story
    We describe the plot
    We follow the path.

    I enjoyed that immensely.


  • Jen says:

    Wonderful post! I agree that our stories choose us. I have a story that has haunted me for years. I’m terrified to write it. I’m very glad you posted this. It’s given me hope that I, too, can write what I fear the most!

    I wish you the best in pursuing this frightening story!

  • My stories usually choose me. They get in my head and refuse to leave until I start writing.

  • booksentinel says:

    I’m also a both . . . mostly choose me though. I go through what you described, a character that gets me. I hear them, go on to what I’m currently working on, and they come back. If I ignore them long enough, they show up in my dreams. Then I find out what’s going on, and it’s not always my cup of tea. I’m not to flaying yet, but child abuse so horrible it’s hard to stay in the story for long right now.

    When a story gets my attention, that can usually be filed away, maybe with print notes somewhere, to bake for a while. I can’t seem to write anything worth reading until I hear a character. Until then, it’s paper dolls, and that just isn’t my scene.

  • The story definitely chooses you. I’ve had characters and stories haunting my dreams and waking moments for years. They won’t let go until you get them on the page.

  • PeeOnYourShoe (Leora) says:

    It depends. But yes, some stories chose me. A fact some writers know is not typing fast enough when the story is coming. It’s often the case, I battle for not losing words, ideas, even sometimes a music that I hear all along! And best of stories that are in my notebooks were, first place, a Dream. It just… came! *shrug & smile*

  • Elizabeth says:

    So far, it seems that I choose which door to open, but who I find within is not up to me. The more I write, the more each develops autonomously.

  • I think to some degree a story chooses you. When I started blogging about writing, I came across a story that I had to write. Luckily, all I had to do was write the first scene and it was out of my system. Of course, I had to exert a lot willpower to get him to go away. He’s still lurking in there even though I’ve put him in his place for now. I have a feeling that I will be visiting it again (I hope not for some time!). The brief glimpse I did get was terrifying. Luckily, I was able to put it away before it grew into something beyond my control. So, I can completely understand that sometimes you can’t avoid a story. I’m guessing that every writer comes across that at least once in their life. I wish you luck, if luck is even applicable.

  • Interesting concept/question. I have been struggling with the answers to this myself. I am enjoying reading your responses…and good luck with your current “project”.

  • I usually chose my own stories, but more so the first one I wrote than the second.

  • Oh, how I’ve struggled with this one. I’ve blogged aobut it too on “the Reluctant Crime Writer” and even this latest one I finished, late last night and sent to beta readers, had an MC that’s the kind of woman I hate- a woman who uses her sexuality to control men, who wears Jiimmy Choo sandals and doesn’t have to work out to stay skinny.
    I don’t even like being a crime writer. I hate the sickness of my villains… and yet, I understand them. i have been a therapist to these dark and damaged people and seen their humanity, even the closet sex addict women like my latest MC, and felt compassion for their torment even as they inflict it on others.
    I’ve finally just made peace with the fact that I have to tell the stories that are in me to tell, and if I don’t, they continue to haunt me. I’m glad I’m not alone in this, becuase I wish, I really wish, that I wrote lightly humorous, touching women’s fiction instead of crime mysteries.
    But such is the muse I’ve been given–and so have you. Thanks for the honest share.

  • Tonja says:

    It’s definitely good to get it out. Otherwise, it will be there forever. I’m a little worried Google is going to remember what you searched for. Eeek.

  • Rebel Sowell says:

    I think it’s a combination. Some of my stories are based on dreams, while others are from real life. Even when I choose the story, once I begin, it takes on its own life, so I guess you could say at that point it has chosen me. I’d like to hear more about your story. It sounds interesting.

  • I also think this is true. My story came to me one night and since then would not let go. It kept yelling at me to write it down until finally I did. Good luck on your new project.

  • Andy Szpuk says:

    I think there is most definitely an element of truth here, it certainly was for me, when I began to write ‘Sliding on the Snow Stone’. But for different reasons – it has a politocal dimension.