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Monday, September 24, 2012

Gettin' some Culture

Culture in our stories.

Hopefully 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.

Each 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.

How. 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.

It’s 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.

Even 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!

So 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.


Ink in the Book said...

Last week was amazing, but this week will be awesome! I cant wait to see what we learn! This is right up my World Build ally:)

E.J. Wesley said...

Loved this post. Bringing culture into your reading and writing is a key and fascinating thing.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's so interesting to read fantasy with invented cultures, but the writer's experiences must surely influence how they develop all parts of it.

Donna Hole said...

I love a well built world.


Liz said...

Ah yes, this stuff is hard.