This week: The Unspoken StoryEdited by: Thankful Sonali I AM WRITING!
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The interesting sidelights that make a story all their own.
Last Diwali, my friend gifted her little niece a picture book about the festival. Basically, Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, with God Rama defeating the wicked King Ravana, who had kidnapped Goddess Sita (Lord Rama's wife). People celebrate the day with new clothes, food, visits to friends and lighting lamps and firecrackers.
It is traditional to light firecrackers, and up until my generation's childhood (I'm fifty-three years old now) there weren't even any safety standards in place. Anyone could burst any amout of crackers or any kind anywhere. Today's children are being made aware of the environmental implications of firecrackers, and these days, hazardous crackers are not so visible (or audible!) around neighbourhoods.
Well, the picture book my friend gifted her niece showed a family - grandparents, parents, children ... celebrating with visitors, and the story-within-a-story was that of Lord Rama v/s. Ravana, narrated to the children by the grandparents.
My friend sent the book to her niece in the mail, and later called to ask if she had receive it.
"I have!" her niece replied, excitedly. "It's a story about how much the girl loves her dog!"
My friend was puzzled. A girl and her dog? The book was about the festival of Diwali, right?
But the illustrator wanted to get a message in, and this was the message that stuck for my friend's niece.
In the family, the children's pet dog was scared of the sound of the firecrackers, and the girl crawled under the bed with him and cuddled him there, so that he wouldn't feel scared. There wasn't a word mentioned of this in the text, it was entirely through the illustrations that the girl's relationship with the dog was played out, just one aspect of what was happening in the family during the important festive occasion.
The illustrator had brought out her message brilliantly. Noisy firecrackers scare animals, whose ears are more sensitive than ours. The message was slipped in without interrupting the main narrative or the story-within-the story.
To give another example.
Take a look at this audition. Note what Simon says in the beginning - "The last contestant of the day is silently waiting in the wings, and you know what happens then ... "
Well, this is the story of the last contestant of the day. Of his relationship with his best friend, of how he is trying to overcome his grief at the loss of this friend. But somewhere, unspoken till the end, it's also the story of something happening for the judge. Watch Simon Cowell right to the end of the clip and see if there's a story building there, too.
An unspoken story, running parallel to the one being narrated, fitting in and yet standing out. The technique has been used in a picture book about an ancient festival, and a video about a very contemporary audition. I guess it's a worthwhile technique for writers of stories to think about, while working on the text ..
Thanks for listening!
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Thank you for the responses to "You got from where to where?"
Fyn Flat out one of THE coolest Short Story Newsletters I've read in 15 years here at WDC!!!
Paul Hi, Thank you for the story, I’ve never understood the names of friends I’ve had from that part of the world. Thank you for the trinkets too, the paper your beautiful mother did and the others. I too played Santa for parties, stores, malls and once for someone who did videos for parents. I still have my Santa costume, but I haven’t worn it in 20 years. I hope your father still enjoys doing that. Thank you again. Stay safe and enjoy life, it’s still a great place to hang out. Paul🌹🐸🙏🏼
Max Griffin 🏳️🌈 Great newsletter! I especially liked the explanation of cultural differences. BTW, my middle is "Owen," after the name of my parents' family physician, the man who also delivered their newborn son. Several of my friends growing up had the same middle name for the same reason.
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