Relatability in fiction- With Meghna Pant, Kiran Manral and Kanchana Banerjee
- April 21, 2022
Reliability in Fiction can be accessible with right amount of relatability and innovation say the women of the literary world.
Unapologetic women and female characters in arts is what the world needs in every way because there is an authenticity, a freshness in their writing. Be it Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or the screenplay of ‘Fleabag’ by Phoebe Waller Bridge, Gauri Shinde’s ‘Dear Zindigi’ or Mahadevi Verma’s ‘Gillu’, all these women wrote about women or things that made us feel something. Didn’t we all cry a little when we read ‘Gillu’ in middle school? or didn’t we enjoy it when Jane Austen created an unapologetic character who rejected men back in the 18th century? Well, these characters stayed with us because we connected easily with them and that is what literature needs, more unapologetically confident women and compelling stories with a sense with relatability confirmed by the amazing women authors, Meghna Pant, Kanchana Banerjee and Kiran Manral.
Fiction literature is very interestingly liked by many, because it creates a bridge between relatability and innovation and it should also include an authentic narrative of characters that is accessible to all. Many of us like to find the middle ground where the originality meets with creativity and that is what Kanchana sheds light on as our conversation with these women began.
Should authors get self-indulgent while writing?
Well, self-indulgence can be a good thing and a bad one depending on the situation, as clarified by the people we got to have an amazing conversation with. Kanchana mentioned how it depends on what kind of piece you are writing, fiction or social commentary. You should try and mix relatability without dehumanizing the social issue you might include. Most of the time want to talk about social issues that happen outside the comfort of our homes or very much inside of it but they fail to communicate it because of the pressure of relatability, creativity and they end up making something totally different. She advices to exercise what you are writing about, have clarity about what it is you want to write on. You should be a little self-indulgent but also open your mind to other possibilities.
How well do women fit in the said industry?
We need more women in every industry that exists and that being said, whenever a piece is written by a woman it is truly interesting isn’t it? We see these trends and memes on the internet about characters being written by a man and others, by a woman. But the whole narrative of making feminism into somewhat indifferent to real, complex women and plainly just about them having fun regardless of their individuality is what has made it difficult for women authors and Meghna doesn’t shy away from saying that. She explains how a woman is ‘not a bechari, neither is she a karntikari but rather a normal Nari’ and she smoothly communicates this stereotype that is being perpetuated. It is widely assumed that women aren’t funny and they aren’t taken seriously as well. Meghna reflects on the struggle of it, how she was suggested by someone that she needs to change the way she liked her name to be published like J.K. Rowling did or E.L. James did, so that people think it is a man who wrote the book. She exclaims that
Art is supposed to elevate, not perpetuate stereotypes
and how women should be confident about what they want to write about, arrogant even. And that is not just for women, if you are writing about something, be confident and go ahead with your gut feeling.
Relatability or innovation?
Anything requires the combination of both, including writing a fiction. All of the authors suggest that we should make the text relatable but also creative, so that it is accessible to all. We all love the superheroes we watch, the masaledar drama on our television screens but don’t we feel validated when we can also relate to the struggle or mannerisms of those characters? Well, as long as the characters also leave the audience, readers wondering. You can add comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, to make it accessible with the social issue you want to shed light on, like the show ‘Fleabag’, ‘Downtown Abbey’ or ‘Gilded Age’. Make compelling characters and a setting that makes people wonder but also manages to resonate with them, as suggested by our panel of authors, it has to be believable and fiction as possible as realistic.
Should social media and writing meet?
The show ‘Behind her eyes’ received mixed views by the audiences with trends like ‘what was that ending?’ and that explains how social media affects what you should write about, to the point where it starts to determine that. Kanchana mentions this to reflect on the vulnerability because of social media. She suggests that you should be an observer if you want to be a writer and as your writer you are your first reader, pointed out by Meghna in order to be well informed about the trending Fiction and, how they influence authors. They suggest the piece that connects with what is trending but also, do not just blindly follow trends. Something that is different and also what you feel comfortable with. Try to break the stereotypes and write on what comes natural to you. Believe in yourself and enjoy the journey and, follow your instincts while being connected to what is trending, but focus on your gut.
Ritual and genre suggestions for writing
Writing can be a very therapeutic act and if it’s a part of your career then shouldn’t you try to have some ritual that might help you in writing? Well, for Kanchana, she needs to dust everything off and then write while, Kiran and Meghna suggest that writing in absolute peace and silence would help. You should have rituals like that as it helps in writing and well, aren’t we all a little stitious too? Furthermore, you can decide on what your genre should be by what kind os books you like or your favorite book. Write about what comes to your mind as suggested by Meghna and sometimes the story chooses you so let that possibility exist, suggested by Kiran.
The ultimate advice for aspiring writers
The advice by our interesting panel is to listen to what your mind tells you, trust your gut feeling. Be confident about what you write and specially women, be extremely unapologetic and even arrogant when it comes to your work. You should observe what goes around the world and be your first reader. Publishing and writing can be an interesting journey and you should embrace that, enjoy that journey and just go with what comes easily to you. Most importantly, try and be your confident self.
If this article piqued your curiosity, watch the whole session here.
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