Culture in our stories.
it’s something that blends so perfectly that our readers don’t even
notice the crazy worlds we've dropped them in. They just accept the rules we
lay down as Law.
But think about that. And the kinds of problems it presents.
reader, male, female, black, white, gay, straight...ect. is going to
bring to your story their own set of assumptions. They don’t mean to.
They just will. It’s our job as writers to set the culture firmly in our
readers minds...without being too pedantic about it...so they
understand the rules and can enjoy the story you’re trying to convey.
I mean, to you it’s obvious that the woman giving birth on the floor of
the hut has three husbands and two wives and the birth of this child will determine
which spouse controls the village until the next child. But have you
explained this? Because your reader will (probably) assume the woman
giving birth on the floor of the hut has one husband. And that husband
is Ruler. For all time. Period. No matter what.
the culture you’re trying to build. Just like everything else in the
story, it’s a slow process, but you do have to clue your readers in on
the rules so to speak.
those writing in Historical settings. Good gods. I can’t tell you the
etiquette crap I’ve dug up on my research in the 1900’s. Honestly. How a
woman ever got laid in that time I will never know. If she so much as
showed her ankle, I think she was thrown in jail for wanton behavior!
this week we will be getting all culture-fied at UB! Art! Politics!
Religion! Weapons! Clothing! Education! The meat and bones that readers
don’t really ‘notice’ about your story. But if someone is carrying an
iPod around in a Harry Potter novel? Yah. They’ll notice that.