How do I write an 800-word story on Afghanistan's treatment of women? What books and websites would you suggest I read to learn more?

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first step in this process will be to select an event. If the story needs to be based on an event, then we will need to find a specific occurrence that includes the historical subject you are interested in. You have chosen to focus on the treatment of women in Afghanistan. You have decided to explore questions as to why inequality and specific gender prejudice exists within this context. Next we should identify an event that relates to this subject.

The next step will be to determine the character(s) in the story. Who will be in the story and who will tell the story? Is the story going to be told through the eyes of a first-person protagonist? Will that protagonist be a woman experiencing bullying or segregation or mistreatment? Or will the protagonist be a man or woman witnessing the mistreatment of a female character? The narrative approach will have to be decided on before you start writing.

The final planning step will be to determine what will happen in the story. This does not have to be entirely mapped out before writing, but for a story as short as 800 words there is not much room for zigging and zagging.

The questions you want to explore are solid and your ideas for including a family of women can go a long way to determining the framework of the story, but something has to happen if this is a story about an event. We need to decide what incites the girl's investigation into cultural gender prejudice. 

In researching this subject, you might want to look into the fall of the Taliban and events occurring in the aftermath. There are many news articles that explore life for women in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

You will probably want to go beyond categorical reports and find some specific stories or events. Be prepared for what you find. Here is one story in the New York Times, “Wed and Tortured at 13, an Afghan Girl Finds Rare Justice.” The reason you are interested in this topic is because of the injustice in it, but this means that some of the stories are disturbing, like this one.

Another place to look for specific background on this subject is the novel The Kite Runner, which takes place in Afghanistan (for the most part) and explores many cultural perspectives. The novel does not focus on women and the treatment of women, but it may help to flesh out your ideas. Khaled Hosseini (the author of The Kite Runner) also wrote another novel called A Thousand Splendid Suns, which focuses more on women's treatment in Afghanistan.