Hi all. This is a bit of a difficult/uncomfortable post to make, so I'm going to try to plow through it with as much grace as I can muster.
In short, for NaNoWriMo I wrote a science fiction novel that was partially inspired by aspects of different South Asian cultures. I am not South Asian. Because it was NaNoWriMo, I didn't do a huge amount of research. You can already see where this is spiraling horribly downhill.
In short, my novel takes place on a sort of future earth where society is relatively technology-free. The main character is a handler of an elephant-like creature, so basically a mahout, though I don't use that word. The society is a caste system, though again I've made up my own words for castes. There's a practice that is based on phajaan, and a practice based on the devadasi. Female infanticide is mentioned. There was a point where I gave up making up names and referred to articles of clothing by "kameez" or "churidar."
So basically, I want to improve all this, and I'm not sure how. I think the story itself is solid enough for revision, but I don't want to seem as if I am lampshading, appropriating, or even bashing South Asian cultures. Again, this story is a science fiction novel that does not take place in a "real" setting. All the things I mentioned above (aside from the names for the clothing) end up being integral in one way or another to the plot. I'm not sure if that means the plot is basically unforgivable in and of itself... It would be nice if I could get someone to glance over the novel with their appropriation-lenses on, and tell me where they think the main issues lie, but of course I feel that I should be able to do that myself. I'm just not sure where to start.