Do you explore culture in fiction and if so how?

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  1. #1

    Do you explore culture in fiction and if so how?

    I am interested in this, but don't know where to begin. Celebrity status is one, what others, I think I'd need to consult online. Anyone consciously try to do this, and why do they feel compelled? As in writing fiction and intentionally incorporating culture.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; September 10th, 2018 at 02:01 AM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  2. #2
    It depends on if I'm writing real world fiction (ie. things based in our real world) or if I'm making an entire world of my own. If it's something real world, I try to be as accurate as possible.

  3. #3
    Yes, I know that it depends if real-world fiction. But science fiction can do this sometimes. I sometimes think culture is something neglected when writing. I think I read a book where they say it enhances writing. To paraphrase it makes them situate themselves in the story. So for celebrities for example, and having an invisibility device, in a novel description I recall. It enhances the story. Because you care more about the culture of the characters.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  4. #4
    I think I may have misunderstood the question. You mean the culture of the book, background stories and such? Because then yes, I love extensive lore.

  5. #5
    When writing science fiction with alien worlds, it's easy to create new cultures, exaggerating or twisting things from the homeland culture, or using some other country's culture as the base. The same can be done in alternate dimensions or timelines.

    Does this answer your question?

  6. #6
    I know people that read newspapers a lot. That's where a lot of cultures can be found. But reading one culture and it becoming part of a plot is what I want to do. I'm assuming people don't purposely seek articles on culture unless I am wrong. This information belongs to journalism and essayists perhaps. It's something I kind of didn't notice too much. Movies get referenced as being culture or are part of popular culture. I am interested in answers that might show me where they see these kinds of things are written about. Maybe a newspaper column or somewhere on the web, that is easy to read. That can be done daily.

    I imagine fantasy faces many hurdles to incorporate it a lot of the time (exception urban fantasy). Girl gone is an example of a novel that tackles a cultural issue as well I think. I saw it in the movie theater. It tackles the wife being as valuable as the husband, and the husband cheating. I haven't read handmaid's tale but it takes misogyny and makes it a plot issue.

    When writing science fiction with alien worlds, it's easy to create new cultures, exaggerating or twisting things from the homeland culture, or using some other country's culture as the base. The same can be done in alternate dimensions or timelines.

    Does this answer your question?
    Sort of now but now I have a question in this post that people can tell me where they encounter the culture of the society they chose to examine. I am talking about real-world issues, alien worlds can examine culture or have the potential. But the same must be true for other genres people write in.

    This thread I started with that interest but also to encourage the spread of culture to make it an issue in the story maybe even a conflict.

    I did not plan this to be a simple thread but a discussion Jack of all trades. Who knows what other opinions can give off insight?

    Or how about another example since this intrigues me. The ugly girl, who becomes beautiful beyond recognition when older. Who wants the love of this man who used to make fun of her. Sounds like culture right? With conflict all in the story.

    Culture can be meaning we make of life, and so I thought more people would share this opinion. Everyday life has cultural conflicts.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; September 10th, 2018 at 03:16 AM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  7. #7
    I'm thinking more along the lines of aspects of society, rather than culture. It can be anything from ridiculous bank rules, annoying and unhelpful customer service people, or human resource personnel who cannot select candidates without the help of a computer program or external hiring service.

    Listen to commercials. Look at them critically and figure out what they say about the society. If using newspapers, read the headlines and the ads. Don't trust the articles to be totally truthful.

    For example, there was a story years ago about an older woman who spilled McDonald's coffee on her lap in the car, got burned and sued. She won. She was awarded a huge amount. It made the papers and comedians told jokes about she shouldn't have held the coffee cup with her knees while prying off the lid. The amount awarded was the focus of jokes, too.

    But a few years ago there was a documentary that told a different story.

    The woman was about twenty years older than was frequently reported. Eighty-something instead of sixty-something. She did not typically drink McDonald coffee, although the press reported that she did. She was not aware how hot the coffee would be. Also, the lawsuit was started because McD wouldn't pay her medical bills. They offered a small cash settlement. And they wouldn't lower the temp of the coffee.

    The point is that even newspapers get facts wrong or spin a story to lead readers to a particular conclusion. And that can tell you about the culture.

  8. #8
    Ok what about novels based on cult groups. There are some:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/...-freaky-cults/.

    I think this lists novels about a perceived society or emo kids. It's something you experience. Even though writers are like gods imitating society, I feel culture is somehow inseparable from fiction.

    I looked up social aspects. It seems somewhat different from culture.

    Another cultural problem, a skinny kid calling a girl fat. This could be made into a conflict. Its appeal is in how it is a belief maybe that makes the characters life more difficult.

    The point is that even newspapers get facts wrong or spin a story to lead readers to a particular conclusion. And that can tell you about the culture. Or your personal experiences, we just need to remember the experience when it appears on the news.



    Basically culture is hardwired to the brain, it can be beliefs, values, and upbringings.

    I feel the definition is broader and applies to fiction, here below we have beliefs, values, attitudes, often used to build characters.
    CULTURE


    SOME DEFINITIONS


    • Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
    • Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.
    • Culture is communication, communication is culture.
    • Culture in its broadest sense is cultivated behavior; that is the totality of a person's learned, accumulated experience which is socially transmitted, or more briefly, behavior through social learning.
    • A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
    • Culture is symbolic communication. Some of its symbols include a group's skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of the symbols are learned and deliberately perpetuated in a society through its institutions.
    • Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other hand, as conditioning influences upon further action.
    • Culture is the sum of total of the learned behavior of a group of people that are generally considered to be the tradition of that people and are transmitted from generation to generation.
    • Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.


    Listen to commercials. Look at them critically and figure out what they say about the society. If using newspapers, read the headlines and the ads. Don't trust the articles to be totally truthful.

    For example, there was a story years ago about an older woman who spilled McDonald's coffee on her lap in the car, got burned and sued. She won. She was awarded a huge amount. It made the papers and comedians told jokes about she shouldn't have held the coffee cup with her knees while prying off the lid. The amount awarded was the focus of jokes, too.

    But a few years ago there was a documentary that told a different story.

    The woman was about twenty years older than was frequently reported. Eighty-something instead of sixty-something. She did not typically drink McDonald coffee, although the press reported that she did. She was not aware how hot the coffee would be. Also, the lawsuit was started because McD wouldn't pay her medical bills. They offered a small cash settlement. And they wouldn't lower the temp of the coffee
    I remember that incident since it became well known and joked about, about what appeared a frivolous lawsuit. That could become material for a story as well.

    The key is remembering events.

    Basically, the coffee spilled in the car and she suffered severe burns.


    I appreciate the advice about commercials and will look around to see if I can infer conflict from them or something that can be an inspiration.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  9. #9
    The pharmaceutical commercials interest me. For example an anti-anxiety medication that increased the risk of suicide. I wonder how that gets on the market. How severe would the anxiety have to be for a doctor to recommend the med? Is there a limit? Or does every person who gets a dry mouth before giving a speech have it prescribed? Are they told the risks? (Personally, I'd take dry mouth over feeling suicidal.) Those kinds of questions can lead to a story that includes social or societal commentary. To me, that falls under the heading of culture, but others may disagree.

    It'll be interesting to see who else chimes in and what they have to say.

  10. #10
    Even sol stein has the definition if it helps convince people. I don't like how he doesn't give examples. Here is a quote from my library. It's a bad book to learn writing from. However, he used to teach at Columbia University.

    That feeling of “otherness” is useful to the writer in plotting because readers’ emotions can be quickly committed when they observe two characters of differing backgrounds in the same story. It is useful for writers to step onto the thin ice of this subject matter with a clear understanding of terms and meanings. A culture consists of the behavior patterns, beliefs, traditions, institutions, taste, and other characteristics of a community passed from one generation to another. The adjective “cultured” is usually used to connote a superior level of aesthetic and intellectual development that results from education and training. A class is a stratum of society whose members share cultural and social characteristics. “Class” used by itself—as in “she had class”—connotes superior style or quality. Good writers have come from every imaginable social class, and some stand ready to defend their turf. A writer has to squelch his emotional reactions consciously in order to get enough distance to use them in his work as a writer.
    Source: Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies.

    For your example: I read an article where people overprescribed medicine to keep people from developing diseases. Imagine that disaster. There is a plot there suggested because of the conflict.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

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