Tag Archives: Culture

16.46: World and Plot: The Only Constant is Change

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Fonda Lee, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler

In our world, the ostensibly “real” one (simulation theory notwithstanding), stuff is changing all the time. Why, then, do we see so many fantasy worlds whose once-upon-a-times seem timeless?

A more important question: how might we, as writers cognizant of the ubiquity of change, work that understanding into our writing? Can we make our fictional worlds more believable while retaining the elements of those worlds which first attracted us to them?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

Liner Notes: The book series Howard couldn’t remember the name of? The HELLICONIA trilogy, by Brian W. Aldiss.
Mary Robinette mentioned WX 14.30: Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding, which may make you hungry.

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Take a “timeless” story, such as a fairy tale or a fable, and reimagine it happening during a period of great change in that society. For instance: suppose that Sleeping Beauty woke up after a hundred years to find that the kingdom has been through a socialist revolution and the rest of the royals are in exile.

Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho

15.40: Researching for Writing the Other

Your Hosts: Piper, Dan, and Tempest, with special guests Nisi Shawl and Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Writing stories which feature people who are not like you is, in a word, difficult. In another word? Fraught. But good writers do difficult things, and in this episode Nisi Shawl and Silvia Moreno-Garcia join us to discuss how research can make “writing the other” less difficult, and perhaps even less fraught.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Ross Smith, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

 

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Find news article or clipping from before 1980 as part of your research into something that interests you.

Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

15.39: Translation, with special guest Alex Shvartsman

Your Hosts: Mary Robinette, Dan, and Lari, with guest Alex Shvartsman

Translation is fantastically complex. In this episode Lari and Alex help us navigate those complexities, both from the standpoint of the translator, and from the standpoint of the author seeking to have their work translated.

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write a story in which the characters are in trouble because of a linguistic misunderstanding.

“The Green Hills of Dmitry Totzkiy,” by Eldar Safin, (English translation by Alex Shvartsman)

 

14.49: Customs and Mores

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

In this episode we discuss how our customs and mores govern our own real-world interactions, and how our understanding of these interactions can be applied to our worldbuilding.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Take a cultural quirk or more that is weird and/or annoying to you. Extrapolate that into an entire culture, a full society of interconnected mores which make sense, and with which you’d be extremely uncomfortable.

The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, narrated by Charlotte Wright

14.33: Writing Imperfect Worlds

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Margaret, and Howard

How do you write a setting in which the status quo is one with which you deeply disagree? How do you create a conflict of this sort without being overtly pedantic or preachy? In this episode we talk about creating engaging worlds while worldbuilding around—and yes, over—landmines.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take a wish-fulfillment character, and place them on the lowest rung of the power structure.

The Fated Sky, by Mary Robinette Kowal

14.31: Cultural Setting as Conflict

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

In this episode we talk about how to put characters in conflict with their setting, and how to structure our work so that these conflicts arise organically rather than feeling mandated by plot.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and master by Alex Jackson

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Make an entire planet of you. Now create a trading post where people who are NOT you must find ways to interact with the world of yous.

14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!

Your Hosts: Dan, Tempest, and DongWon

The single most asked question we get on the subject of writing cultures other than our own is some variation on “can we even DO this anymore?”

Short answer: YES, YOU CAN.

Our objective with this episode is to encourage you to put in the work, do the research, and write outside of your culture or personal experience. At risk of sounding cliché, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

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Your homework is to show that you’ve done your homework. Make a list of the things you’re going to do (or have done) to properly research writing the other.

My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier, narrated by David Linsky

14.12: Writing The Other — Latinx Representation

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, and Julia Rios

Julia Rios joins us to talk about writing characters who come from one of the many Latin-American cultures or subcultures. “Latinx” is a catch-all term for people with Latin-American heritage, including mixed-race people. In this episode we talk about mash-up cuisine, intersectionality, and how to navigate the subtleties to find the specific cultural elements which will help you create Latinx characters.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Research and then write a meal scene in the POV of a person from a specific culture.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, by  Carlos Hernandez