Week 6 Story Lab: Advice to Writers

For my story lab this week, I decided to look at Jon Winokur's "Advice to Writers" website.

The most fascinating advice I took from this website is Ken Kalfus' suggestion to simply, "turn off the f***ing router." I love his thoughts on the distractions of the internet and the level of originality it can take away from our own writing, and would agree that if you truly want to write something that is personal to you and that you're passionate about, the best place to start is within you and to avoid as many distractions as possible. I personally don't care much for the use of electronics, so I think that if I ever do commit myself to writing, ignoring the internet won't be a problem. Still great advice regardless, and I like the level of dedication he goes to, as he says to actually just turn off your router instead of just "don't use the internet".

I also liked Nina Sadowsky's thoughts on writer's block. She doesn't th…

Extra Credit Reading Notes: Mahabharata Part B

For my reading of part B of the public domain version of the Mahabharata, I chose to focus on the setting. The extreme variety of natural settings, palaces, cities, and rivers was fascinating, and each seemed to have an impact on the story.

The forests almost always implied a certain level of mystery or mischief. Often the environment was described as being scenic, but it usually either burned down or was filled with rakshashas. The palaces were always described as being filled with riches and fair women, although the nature of them changed. They either belonged to noble or mischievous people, and often were involved in scenes of jealousy or revenge. The cities were generally used to describe stopping points for the characters, and was almost always where children were born. The rivers had a magical element to them, involving nymphs, rakshashas, and gods. Everything that happened at the rivers had a mystical element to it, and generally involved at least some interaction with the gods…

Reading Notes: Mahabharata Part A

For this week's reading, I read parts A and B of the Mahabharata, taken from the public domain edition. 

For this reading, I chose not to focus on character development (because there were so many), and instead focused on morals.

I found all of the moral lessons that were present in the Mahabharata quite interesting. These included raising a child to not be proud, loyal devotion to a husband, not making unwise vows out of love, and that karma always wins.

It was also shocking how often and how willingly people did favors just to get the chance to fight and kill someone. People would sacrifice their lives, their childrens' lives, and the lives of complete strangers just for revenge. It really seemed like the entirety of part A was about Karma and revenge, and about different sons being too proud and fighting each other, often not even realizing who they were fighting against.

Image of Bhima and his mace

Extra Credit Reading Notes: Sita Sings the Blues Part B

For my extra credit reading this week, I chose to write about the second part of Sita Sings the Blues. For this part, I chose to focus on the setting.

It’s interesting how the creators used the different scenes in day and night to help the viewers associate certain moods or motives within the plot. Night time generally is either associated with trickery or love, while the fighting and talking takes place more during the day.

I enjoyed how the different settings were only used to portray a single idea or action, whereas most of the other discussions took place between the three narrators. This made the story much more easy to follow.

Generally when traveling is involved, the creators go to lengths to make the environment seem as vast as possible. I’m unsure of why this is, but they’re fairly consistent with it and it seems to add to the plot.

It’s also interesting how everything is done symmetrically. Everyone lines up evenly, when rakshashas die, they die in even numbers on both sides…

Reading Notes: Sita Sings the Blues Part A

For the reading these week, I chose to watch Sita Sings the Blues, and these notes will cover the first half of the movie. For this half, I wanted to focus on character development.

First, I enjoyed the discussion at the beginning introducing all the characters. They seem to be somewhat confused which made me feel a bit better about being as confused as I was when they were all introduced. It’s also interesting how they introduce Sita as a follower and someone who would live in the shadow of their significant other, when we know this not to be true as the story unfolds.

The other side of Ravana that is revealed in the movie is also fascinating. In the Ramayana version that I read, he is portrayed to basically be this devil king, but in the movie he is described a a fairly good king, with the only negative thing he did being kidnapping Sita.

The movie also goes to great lengths to show Sita’s loyalty to Rama, so it will be interesting how they show her relationship with Rama developing…

Week 5 Story: The Return of Sita

After several long days they were finally back together, and it was hard to believe that what they’d been through was real. Congressman Rama sat in embrace with Sita and thought about what had transpired. 
3 days ago, Rama had been cleaning up the kitchen after dinner when he heard a scream come from the living room. He took off towards the room only to find a broken window and shattered glass covering the floor. 
“Sita? Sita!”, he called out, but no answer was heard. 
When the police arrived to their home, an investigation began, and it was determined that Sita had been kidnapped. By who they weren’t sure, but it seemed like Rama had been targeted due to his powerful position. 
A few days passed without.a word. The police continued their investigation efforts, and Rama drove around town trying to find anyone who may be able to help, but nothing turned up. Then suddenly on the third day, Rama left his home to find a note taped to the front door. The note appeared to be in some sort o…

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