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If you read and write on the move, these websites and apps will let you find your own writing community where you can share tales, get feedback

mumbai Updated: Aug 27, 2016 15:49 IST
Kanika Sharma
(Illustration: Siddhant Jumde)

No writer is an island, at least not online. Built for the generation on the go, a range of social media apps and websites are bringing readers and writers closer, with stories that take a jiffy to publish — and to read.

You can co-write stories, pin it on your homepage, explore millennial-ready genres (text-message tales, anyone?) and literally send hearts to the writer.

An app called Hooked, for instance, lets you read and write stories as text chats. “It can be read even on the move, say while you’re waiting in line,” says New York-based Prerna Gupta, founder of Hooked. “It’s writing for the mobile generation.”

Committed online platforms could be the solution to the many problems writers face, such as stolen content, and editing without consent, says Koral Dasgupta, founder of two-month-old Tell Me Your Stories (#TMYS), a short stories’ platform.

You can meet offline too.

Lettrs, a community of pen-pals has triggered several meetups in Delhi. “Of a 100 letters published in a day, 60 are from Indians,” says Sunandini Bansal of Lettrs.

Hit a few buttons and get started, then. What’s your story?

Read: For journal keepers, check out these top 10 diary-keeping websites

If reading a story means shivers down your spine, Hooked is the chat-story app for you. Read one story a day for free, give hearts and contribute to be read globally. (Hooked app)

Tales in text

The story in the illustration, Waiting For You, is just one of 10,000 stories read over 7 million times on one-year-old Hooked, a text-format storytelling app that lets you connect with global readers.

The social app has fantasy, horror, mystery and murder, and the stories show you one text message at a time, and you click for the next. Readers can leave comments or ‘love’ a story.

US-based writer Audrey Greathouse, writer of Scavenger Hunt says, “I joined them when the Hooked team came looking for talent at the Stanford Creative Writing Society. It reminded me of the radio dramas of the early twentieth century and seemed really revolutionary.”

Quite popular in the States, Greathouse attributes her popularity to her online presence. “Writers tend not to like “growing in the public eye” the way performance artists have to. I’ve worked, learned, and grown a lot with online publishers and reached markets I never would have otherwise seen.”

Visit: Hooked is available on iOS and Android

Can’t write it all alone? Buddy up to get ideas, co-writers and critique from the writing community on Penana, a Hong Kong-based website. (Penana)

Revise and repeat

Playing on the word ‘pen’, Penana lets you write multiple drafts of a story, and get feedback on each. You can also appoint an ideator, co-writer and a beta-reader to help pummel your narrative into shape.

The two-year-old website shows you stories that are trending, new and newly updated. You can be part of different writing groups, select a writing buddy or participate in themed contests such as ‘six-word stories’ or ‘1,000-word romance’. The top genres here are poetry, romance, fantasy and young adult.

Engineering student Brian Franklin from Tirunelveli says, “With Penana, there’s always somebody to give you feedback.”

Visit: Penana.com; On iOS and Android

Read: Ten things I learnt about writing from Stephen King

In the age of emails, writing traditional letters can be very enriching. Just imagine Ernest Hemingway’s 6,000 surviving letters to his wife. Lettrs lets you pick a background image, write any genre, pick a stamp and assigns you a PO box too! (Lettrs)

Next-Gen Letters

Ishaan Aditya, a 22-year-old law student, can’t get enough of Lettrs — a website that lets you pen letters to real and imaginary people, and tell stories through them.

With an interface similar to Pinterest, each letter is superimposed on a background image and bears a stamp (above). You can ‘like’, comment and pin letters onto your ‘fridge’ or homepage. Oh, and you get a ‘PO Box number’ too.

Aditya says, “I was going through a rough phase last year but when I read stuff on this site, reading became therapeutic. It makes my poetry social-media ready.”

Drew Bartkiewicz, Lettrs founder, says, “What is most personal is often the most universal. I decided to build a platform in a mobile medium for the next generation of letters.”

Visit: Lettrs.com and on Android

Read: What’s The Hemingway Letters Project? 6,000 letters and more...

Telling tales in India has never had one version. No wonder than poet-scholar AK Ramanujan argued for 300 Ramayanas. Hit the StoryWeaver website to find a ready story and image bank to tell enchanting stories for young adults and kids. (StoryWeaver)

One story, many versions

Always wanted to write children’s fiction? NGO Pratham Books set up StoryWeaver a year ago, a website with a ready audience of children, teens, parents and teachers in India.

“Many of us have storytellers within us. And many such stories can change the life of a little reader,” says Suzanne Singh, chairperson, Pratham Books.

Just like Shakespeare, if other writers’ stories inspire you (say, by well-known writers like Anushka Ravishankar and Sowmya Rajendran), you can rewrite them without hesitation. Use 2,000 images for stories, or translate them in 47 languages.

Once published, you can see how many have read, downloaded, translated or re-written it.

Hyderabad-based software manager Vani Balaraman, 39, loves to write picture books. “I wanted to write about my childhood on Mother’s Day, and with the right set of images, I had the story published in just about an hour,” she says.

Visit: Storyweaver.org.in

Need some hand-holding by experts? Writer’s Koral Dasgupta promises a jury, mentors and reviewers to guide you through writing your very first short story. (#TellMeYourStory)

Real encounters

Started by writer Koral Dasgupta, two-month-old #TellMeYourStory publishes stories after they are vetted by a jury of writers, editors and mentors Dasgupta and popular author Tuhin Sinha.

Mostly real-life narratives, tales vary between 200 to 1,500 words. The unique aspect is that writers from various professions can contribute here. Former army officer Saurabh Sinha, and writer of The Ghost of Sundarbani, says, “I couldn’t have got a better platform. I could immediately see reader’s comments and connect with them to know more.”

Visit: TellMeYourStory.in