Ajit Menon, Author, The Panther’s Ghosts; and Anil Verma, Lyricist and Screenplay Writer, initiated ‘The Write Street Project’, the first leg of which, ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, a short-story contest, is now up and running

New Delhi: In a fiercely black-and-white world, storytelling becomes a way to break free from the mundane. The Write Street Project seeks to give a platform to bring such thrilling stories from ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ Contest to the fore.

A brainchild of Author Ajit Menon, who quit his cushiony corporate job to pursue his passion to write a six-part series called ‘The Panther’s Ghosts’; and Anil Verma, Lyricist and Screenplay Writer, the contest aims to encourage people to write thrilling, engaging and out-of-the-box stories, irrespective of their backgrounds and ages. 

Talking about the relevance of the contest, Ajit Menon, explains, “Only 0.01% of the world population is actually into writing, and within the book publishing industry, the odds of an author getting their work published stand between one to two percent. 17.8% of the world population lives in India, and the percentage of Indian writers is miniscule compared to the world. The very reason, the younger generation is not growing up knowing about the great Indian stories. And, this is where the contests like ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ become relevant.”

Inviting short spy-thriller stories, ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ Contest, aims to identify and publish top 10 short stories, in the form of a book, to be titled, ‘Indian Spyverse: An Anthology of Indian Short Stories’, the registrations/submissions for which are open till September 26, 2023. The top ten winning stories will also receive a cash prize of Rs 25,000 each, besides a certificate. The contest, which is being coordinated by The Stories People, is now running through all social media handles of The Stories People (Below are the SM handle links).

The jury for the contest comprises of Ajit Menon, Author, The Panther’s Ghosts; Group Captain Anupam Banerjee (VSM) Retd, Ex IAF Fighter Pilot; Anil Verma, Lyricist and Screenplay Writer; RaishaLalwani, Author, The Diary on the Fifth Floor; Lt Dr Rita Gangwani (Retd), Author, The Beauty Pageant’s Greenroom, and Personality Development Coach; and VineetaJerath, Co-Founder & Editor, Suburb, and Co-Founder, AYL.

Talking about the decision to take Spy-thriller as the theme, Group Captain Anupam Banerjee, shares, “The total volume of Indian spy-thrillers vis-a-vis our vast literary work is less. In the coming days, our ascendance in the global power index, coupled with hostile neighbours, will encourage more literary work in India, with geo-political chessboard as a backdrop of which intelligence gathering is an integral part. Behind Enemy Lines is a great platform to explore this domain.”

While the Spyverse may be a novel theme in the short story genre, it has gripped the attention of moviegoers and OTT viewers alike. The reason for this shift, believes Anil Verma, is love for good, cohesive stories. “Choosing a theme as innately intense as the Spyverse allows the storyteller to bring together several emotions, a solid conflict, and a satisfying resolution, all of which reel in the reader completely. The Write Street Project is incredibly relevant, providing a platform for writers to delve into themes like ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, encompassing spy missions, terrorism, and the realm of law enforcement.” 

Elaborating further, VineetaJerath shares, “Spy-thrillers can move away from the glamour of the James Bond Era, and yet, bring in a sense of urgency in their subtleties. The possibilities within the realm of Spy-thrillers are limitless, allowing the writers to push the boundaries of their imagination.”

Writing is an act of responsibility, and thus, the stories must be aspiring and engaging. Stresses RaishaLalwani, “Writing gives people a chance to reflect on their experiences, objectives, and observations. It also fosters excellent communication abilities, a skill that is beneficial in both, personal and professional spheres.”

For Lt Dr Rita Gangwani, “Writing is empowering; it encourages self-reflection. As individuals write about their experiences, goals, and challenges, they get an opportunity to learn from their past and plan for their future,” she concludes.

Here are the links for joining the contest:

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