I am a Far East Asian studies graduate. But, I like to call myself an “orientalist”. It’s cause of Edward Said’s “Orientalism” – a book I hated, but then fell in love with. Here is a list of prompts; feel free to use, and no need to credit me. I’m just sharing my knowledge.
- [Bangladesh] The Cherrapunji: write about the place with the greatest rainfall ever.
- [Cambodia] The song “Cambodia” by Apoptygma Berzerk: just read the lyrics and think about the story that you could tell, then write it.
- [China] The Beijing opera: write about an actress who spent her whole life trying to get the main role in the Beijing opera.
- [China] The Chinatown: write about the loneliness of Chinese expats in America and about the secrets of the oldest Chinatowns.
- [China] The One Child Policy: write about a lonely man who can’t find a wife, cause all women he knows are either taken already or have been spoiled by the society and have incredible expectations.
- [China] The Suzhou city: it’s called “Venice of the East”. Write about life in this city – either now, or in ancient times.
- [China] The Zhangye Danxia geological park: write about a group of (gay) friends who went to see the rainbow mountains.
- [India] The Bharatanatyam: it’s a genre of Indian classical dance, danced in temples by devadasi and banned during colonial times. What happened to devadasis who couldn’t dance anymore? Write about what they did to survive and if they ever danced again.
- [India] The civilisation of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro: it’s special because of its incredible city planning, the statuette of “priest king” and power ended by sudden, unexplained collapse. What happened? Create an archeologist or time travel who will be able to answer this question – or even participate in the collapse.
- [India] The Hinduism: learn about the Holi Festival and the Diwali Festival. Write an action scene taking place in the middle of these loud and colorful festivities (e.g. a chase).
- [India] The Sikhism: it’s an Indian religion originated in the Punjab. Write a mystery that took place in the Amritsar temple.
- [India] The Tamil Nadu region: it used to be ruled by the Chola dynasty, that left intriguing artifacts (like Shiva Nataraja) and architecture (like Brihadisvara Temple). They say, an ancient Tamil Nadu civilisation lived in Lemura – the mysterious continent that disappeared in time. What happened? Write about a person from Tamil Nadu who suddenly meets a person that claims to be from Lemuria.
- [Indonesia] The brave Indonesian women: write about a fighter for women’s rights in Jakarta.
- [Iran] The Zoroaster: was a spiritual leader and ethical philosopher from Persia. Write about a character who can communicate with him.
- [Japan] The Japanese street fashion: write about gothic lolitas, gyaru, ganguro, kogal or visual kei teenagers. How does belonging to an extreme subculture influence their social life?
- [Japan] The Onna Bugeisha: she is the badass female samurai. Write about her life, or create a character based on her.
- [Japan] The Roppongi district: famous for the night life, hostess clubs and Yakuza. Write about who visits there at night, and why it should be kept a secret.
- [Korea] The hallyu (Korean Wave): in 2012 the whole world was dancing to “Gangnam Style”*, now more and more Westerners are into Korean music and dramas. Write about an American teenage girl, desperate to go to Korea and meet her idols.
- [Korea] The Jeju stone culture: write about the mysterious “grandfather stones” that decorate the Korean Jeju island.
- [Korea] The Three Kingdoms: write about the kingdom of Silla, kingdom of Baekche, and kingdom of Goguryeo – and the relationship between them.
- [Malaysia] The Islam: write about the life of Malaysian Muslims: how does it differ from life of other Muslims in the world? (Hint: take a look at women’s colorful clothes!)
- [Mongolia] The Nomad life: write about the ceremony of preparing milk tea in a traditional tent.
- [Myanmar] The Myanmar military history: write about a warrior who was feared in all neighbor countries.
- [Pakistan] The modern Pakistani art: it’s full of red color which symbolises the blood shed in the wars with India. Write about a modern artist from Pakistan whose family suffered in the war.
- [Thailand] The Sukhothai kingdom: interesting because of Theravada Buddhism and Ram Kamhaeng’s expansion. Write a fantasy story that takes place during these times.
I hope that you found it useful.
Stay inspired, keep creating!