Once upon a time in India

I currently have two work-in-progress novels in play, and one of them uses a lot of storytelling to flesh out the themes for the main character. I’m trying to figure out if that’s a cop-out that takes away from what’s happening in the present/in “real time” or if it’s exactly what the story needs.

Because here’s the thing: I’m dealing with a lot of Hindu mythology, and it’s stuff that I know like the back of my hand, but my readers have no context for. And, similarly, I’ve built my main character as someone who needs major tutelage when it comes to her heritage. So, the way to educate both her and those who would potentially pick up this book is to have other characters tell her stories from our two great Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Oral tradition is a big part of how I know what I know. I read Amar Chitra Katha comic books as a kid and devoured C. Rajagopalachari’s translation of the  Mahabharata, but it’s my mother’s stories that really steeped me in my culture. So, for me, it feels perfect natural to have stories be the avenue by which Tara (pronounced with a soft “th” sound) learns where she comes from.

Is that natural for readers, though? Is that interesting? Or is it more like, “Aw, man, I don’t care about the story of Savitri and Satyavan. Shut up.” Of course, that particular tale actually has some metaphorical resonance for my characters, as most of what I’m using does. But I guess I fear that the metaphors, the callbacks, are only going to make sense to me.

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2 thoughts on “Once upon a time in India

  1. I think if it’s relevant, you can make it interesting and natural by setting the scene right. You should tell the story.

    I am twittering as Sean McKinnon in the Another World Today Twitter roleplay game that TeleNext set up, and I did something like this too when I had one of my characters tell Sean a little of the story of Rama and Sita to set up a comparison.

    By the way I hope I am not messing up too badly the Indian characters I have Sean twittering about, as I’m not Indian myself. Eventually one of them’s going to turn out to be a long-lost child of a prominent Bay City family. :)

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    • Hey, I’m just happy someone’s including Indian characters on a soap, even if it IS just role-play. Good for you! :) As for getting them right, just write them like people first and foremost. That’s my mantra about diversity!

      And the story of Rama and Sita is guaranteed to make my blood pressure spike through the roof. LOL. I was explaining the significance of Diwali to one of my colleagues last week and I kind of went off on this whole tirade about Rama putting his constituents before his wife. There were a lot of four-letter words involved.

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