Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What’s your favorite cul­ture to write, fic­tional or not?

Primarily modern American and only because that’s my background. It’s pretty hard to escape your own background, so instead I decide to embrace it in my writing.

In cases where I want to break free of that, I use historical references to design new cultures for fantasy worlds. For example, if I have a world where there’s slavery, I do research into what was going on in actual times of slavery, what the standards were, who was in charge, what the political atmosphere was, what the slaves were used for, etc. I’ve noticed that religion has a huge effect on culture, so I try to figure out the values of my fantasy culture’s religions, if there’s more than one, if they fight or live peacefully, what god/gods they have, how that relates to the social classes.

Also, region has a major play in cultures, so I have to consider what the land is like. Is it fertile or not? Does it rain often? What are the seasons like? What is the major export/import? Is there more water or land? Mountains and what kinds? All of this affects the atmosphere and culture of the people in their worlds.

Basically, it’s a lot of effort to develop fantasy cultures, and I’ll admit in some cases it’s extremely rewarding. But for most of my stories, I focus on an alternate universe modern America so that I can paint the background quickly and go from there. Even within the modern setting, there’s plenty of mini-cultures to chose from depending on what region of the US I plan to set it.

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