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Writing about less familiar contexts
My logline came before my story outline: A shy, conservative teenage girl sings her heart out in a US song contest /audition, toppling down a reputed music diva.
Assuming that the girl is a new overseas migrant, how do I write about the new environment/ context. Researching may take a while but it may take me away from representing the girl's context. What is the balance here? Thank you.
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David Jadunath
Gabriela,
Your question is:
"How do I write about the new environment/ context."

My answer is to try to put yourself into or recall your fish
out of water experience, or that of someone you know.
How do you think a (a) shy, (b) migrant and (c) unlikely talented
teenager might feel? What would she have to fight against
that create(s) the small fish in strange big pond struggle?

What is the flaw that makes her not just jump in and win the
damn prize, happily? She is shy. Go deeper and ask
the reason for her shyness. Is it fear of success?
Is it specifically that she feels she did not work
hard enough to be so talented? Would a boyfriend/
girlfriend leave her? There are many fears that a person
such as her could harbor. Choose one. Have the fear drag
her down. Show how her helper keeps working on
her from one sequence to the next, to bring her
out of the shyness, or tragically, she chooses not
to take the ultimate challenge and dies on the vine.

One hint: She is an immigrant. That position ain't
easy, e.g., menial jobs, accent, unfamiliarity with
"inside" cultural items, immigration anxieties,
second class status, suspicion, having to be
invisible. It would be far too difficult to keep hope
alive. So, many immigrants do not try --- unless
something else hits home that is worse than
her fancy talent secret. Make her shed the mystery.
Make her hit the wall and let go.

Place her in a dilemma, i.e., she must face the ultimate
pain of shyness at Sequence 9, or lose something much
more important to her -- usually a special kind of love.
Creative choices are yours. It's your story.

Make her fight for something.
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247 week(s) ago
I agree with the earlier comment that it's more the situation than the details of her background that are important. Here's an idea for some quick field research. In my local public library, tables are often crowded with several tutors teaching English as a second language to various immigrants, one on one. Try eavesdropping on some of these conversations or maybe finding a larger ESL classroom situation you can sit in on. Part of what the immigrants are doing is helping their tutors teach them, and overlooking or compensating for some of the awkward tutoring and idiosyncratic individual Americans they find themselves interacting with. An immigrant may well be more educated and sophisticated than the Americans she is trying to fit in with but not want to appear to be. And at the same time be struggling and failing with everyday functions and language and cultural understanding. This is a complex and rich topic. Standing out and competing at the same time you're trying to assimilate creates big external and internal conflicts. Lots of drama. Great idea!
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246 week(s) ago

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