World Building Considerations: Culture

World Building Considerations: Culture

~ Do you have several (made up) cultures in your story? Great! Here are some tips on how to create and handle these cultures.

Adding New Cultures for Diversity

A lot of writers, especially Western writers, tend to create white characters by default, particularly in fantasy settings. After realizing how problematic this is, they decide to add more groups of people.

The important thing to remember is that biological makeup does not equal cultural background. If you’re going to write about a setting where there are many ethnicities who were raised in the same place, they are going to be a part of the same culture. There may be slight differences for those who have immigrant parents, but culture is ultimately a social learning process.

When you add new cultures to your world, keep in mind that you should create these cultures without bias. No culture is better or worse than another. When you are handling the cultures you’ve created, do not show your bias in your writing. Let the reader explore these new cultures through their own eyes and opinions, not yours.

Also going back to the first point made, different cultures can exist within a single region. Within those cultures can be subcultures. A subculture can be many things, but it is not reliant on one aspect of a group of individuals. For example, the gay and lesbian subculture does not exist solely because of sexual orientation and the goth subculture is not just about fashion.

Not only that, but two or more distinct cultures can arise within a single region, as borders change over time and some groups are isolated from others. For two distinct cultures to arise in a single region or in close proximity, there must be something between them that prevents influence and cultural exchange, otherwise these cultures will have many similarities and may even share deities. Deserts and mountains are examples of what might keep these two cultures apart.

So how do you intermingle cultures? Through trade, war, business, exploration, travel, exile, tourism, political reasons, and anything else you can think of.

* Read more on the subject by following the link above.

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