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Rated: E · Book · Educational · #1299892
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#544317 added October 24, 2007 at 10:26pm
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Celebrating Diversity in Writing
Come join 'Project Write World' today! :)

Celebrating Diversity in Stories:

I was born and raised in West Africa, and as a young girl I was exposed to stories that celebrated my country and continent. Although we were encouraged to read the classics like Shakespeare, Hardy, Dickinson, Dickens and so much more, we also had the pleasure of reading amazing works from African greats like Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. Two of my absolute favorite books by said authors would have to be:

ASIN: 0385474547
Product Type: Book
Amazon's Price: $ 11.89

ASIN: 0199110832
Amazon's Price: $ 15.11

The first, Things Fall Apart, was required reading for most schools. It is the story of a young man, once well-loved and respected by nine villages, his misgivings or sins, and his need for redemption. Topics of British colonialism and Christian missionaries, teach us of a time when Africa was still naive in its dealings with foreigners. The second, The Lion and the Jewel is a play (which I acted out on my own many times! *Laugh*) about a cultured (Western Influenced) African teacher (the Lion) who wishes to gain the approval of a local belle (the Jewel). It's humorous, touching and again, tells of a time when foreign influence affected a nation still in its infancy.

Another book I enjoyed reading was:

ASIN: 0435905627
Amazon's Price: $ 14.99

As a young girl, I really had no concept of apartheid/segregation. However, Mine Boy exposed me to the life of South Africans through the eyes of a young man seeking his future in such a harsh reality.

Coming to America exposed me to even more diversity, of not only the 'generalized' American classics, but of regional gems. How can we forget Mark Twain's view of the south and slavery in Huckleberry Finn or Carson McCullers's view of the South in the 30s with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. What about John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, set during the Great Depression in California?

The beauty of writing stories that take a deeper look at a specific group of individuals, or of a particular region, culture and society, is that the writer has the task of creating believable and realistic situations. Without overwhelming the reader with local lingo or phrases in its native tongue, the writer must find a balance – the ability to teach and at the same time entertain the reader without making it a history lesson/article.

Some important things to take note:

*Note1* Descriptions/Setting – Of course this is the central part of the story, where the reader has to have an idea of where the story is taking place. It can be a gradual build up or it can start with a bang! before unraveling like a spool of thread. Try to bring the country or region to life in the reader's eye. If the story takes place in the Sudan, then by gosh, the reader must be made to feel the heat and acrid conditions. If the character lives in the slums, then by all means, show us each graffiti infested walls and the smell of poverty and hopelessness.

*Note2* Characters/Dialogue (Accents/Dialects/Native Tongue) – A very, VERY integral part of the story as well. The characters to be placed in your setting (see above) must be as authentic as the surroundings. Even if it's a stranger in a foreign land, personal characteristics, traits and overall mannerisms should reflect wherever he or she is from. Dialogue also plays a role in your story. If a reader stumbles upon a story based in India, it would seem a bit funny to have the character – supposedly born and raised there – speaking like he has lived in New York City all his life! If Mark Twain had written Huckleberry Finn in 'straight' English, would it still have the same impact? His ability to show the southern drawl and twang with both Huck and Jim made the novel as authentic as can be.

It's one of the reasons why writers have to be very good listeners. Keep your ears (as well as eyes) open. Those lucky enough to travel to many places can take the time to distinguish the accents and dialects of the people they meet. Others who cannot do so, can take refuge in watching movies or TV (or even listening to the radio). Why, even your next door neighbor could be from the North, South, East or West and exchanging a few words here and there can get you accustomed to his or her style of speaking. *Smile*

With all that said, one has to remember that the story, no matter where it's based or set, must be able to engage, capture and never let the reader go. For a few minutes, it should take the reader into that world and make them feel like they are a part of the characters' lives.

"Diversity is not about how we differ.
Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness."
- Ola Joseph

My story picks are stories that were written for "Project Write World [13+] I'm sure you'll love them as much as I did. *Cool*
An Iron-clad Marriage  (13+)
A story of an unusual man. Written for the June round of PWW (Team India)
#1270728 by Dr Taher writes again!

"Haan, I can hear you, O wife of mine," he replied with as much tenderness as he could muster in his gruff, uncultured voice. This characteristic was understandable as he was brought up and now lived in a small, non-descript hamlet two hours away from New Delhi, the metropolitan capital of India. Men and women like he and Ayesha had subsisted in nearly the same conditions of poverty and drudgery as they had for over the past three hundred years.

 When The River Ran Wild  (E)
There was a reason the great Fraser River went wild.
#1279756 by dejavu_BIG computerprobs

Canada is rich with legends of forest spirits who warn mankind of the fury boiling in the crests of the Fraser's rapids. Trees whispered messages to the river that gave them life. Humans refused to listen. Desperate to protect all who depended on her, the great river fought back. Those foolish enough to test her strength in flimsy boats she crushed within her unrelenting grasp. Still, the people listened not.

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