How To Make A Believable Culture

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by OlympusBlood, Jul 14, 2015.

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  1. Fantasy worlds can be beautiful, or quite the opposite, similar to realistic worlds - and our own world. But even on Earth there are thousands of cultures in every continent.

    A culture needs to be believable. For example:
    Language - What is the language of your culture? There could be a few languages, like in Wales or Canada. This language could be fantasy or a real language.
    Festivals - What kind of festivals does your culture have? Perhaps the people do not like these festivals. How do these festivals affect the culture? For example, Panem has The Hunger Games.
    Religion - Religion can affect culture greatly. Jewish cultures will not work on the Sabbath day, Islamic cultures will go by the lunar calendar...ect.
    Traditions - Does your culture have specific traditions? Perhaps all girls have to learn karate or rituals must take place when someone comes of age?
    Poverty - How does the culture react against poverty? Do they look down on it? Try to help them? How do they feel about people who are different? Most cultures have opposite beliefs all by each other. Try to think of the majority, and explain how this affects the characters.
    Jobs - What kind of jobs are used often? What are respected? Why?
    Clothing - What kind of clothing do most people wear? Why is this? Is there a different time from the present that causes this?
    Technology - How does technology affect this culture? If there is a lot of poverty, put this into account.
    Military - What kind of military does your country have? Are certain people forced to join? Where are they based? Who is in charge? Is the culture more conquerer or defender?
    Crime - How do people react to crime? What is the crime rate? How do they prevent crime?
    Hobbies/Sports - What are popular things to do? What are big sports? Is there worldwide competitions like the Olympics? Are the sports dangerous? What can other people do for fun?
    Arts/Music - What kind of music do people listen to? If it's set in 17th Century France, they'll be listening to classical music, but in modern times Pop-Rock is more of an option. Try to think about the arts as well - what kind of theatre performances? Who is a famous painter and what is his or her style? What genre of books are popular and why?

    But you should also...
    Use your surroundings - Don't forget that all these things merge into each other. If people are protesting about the deforestation, they care for the environment. If people are wearing tank tops, they probably don't live in the Antarctic. Maybe they are in the future and evolved, but this once again affects the culture. If there's different species, don't go straight to stereotypes. In fact, avoid stereotypes for every character (though one stereotype can be quite funny to work with).

    And remember...
    Norms refer most often to cultural values and traditions. They are rules that were developed by a group to specify how a person should, should not, may, and must act in society and situations within society.
    For example: You must wear clothes. You must burn your dead.
    The first one, Folkways have some wiggle room. There's no moral obligation to follow them within a culture. It's sort of the guidelines for 'how things ought to be done' according to a particular culture. Don't belch at the dinner table.
    They tend to be the result of practice over time. A Folkway can become a More when it becomes an ethical principle.
    Mores are considered to have more significance because they are steeped in morality. For example incest or murder would carry significant social consequences and the perpetrator may be ostracized or even put to death. Mores are coercive and are considered essential for the continuation of the society. Important to remember these are typically not written laws at all. Just the way things are. The perceived proper way of doing things within a society. It encompasses a lot of those little things that individuals do because reasons.

    This will be updated when I think of more things.
     
    #1 OlympusBlood, Jul 14, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
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  2. Oh music and the arts are important. That shows how select types of subcultures express themselves. That's all I got
     
  3. Thanks, I'll add that in!
     
  4. Military has always held an effect on cultures in both new and long old times, I think that's a worthy thing to add.
     
  5. Thank you, adding!
     
  6. Mythology (not just creation myths, but myths that explain why something looks how it does or works how it does).
    Legends (to include heroic figures that the masses look up to and infamous villains that are despised).

    These two things lend themselves to other aspects of culture, as well; language, rituals, rites of passage, religion, the arts, etc.

    Also whether a caste system exists (as an extension of the poverty line of thinking).
     
  7. Social Norms, Folkways & Mores.
    These are often unspoken rules found within a culture.

    Norms refer most often to cultural values and traditions. They are rules that were developed by a group to specify how a person should, should not, may, and must act in society and situations within society.

    For example: You must wear clothes. You must burn your dead.

    The first one, Folkways have some wiggle room. There's no moral obligation to follow them within a culture. It's sort of the guidelines for 'how things ought to be done' according to a particular culture. Don't belch at the dinner table.
    They tend to be the result of practice over time. A Folkway can become a More when it becomes an ethical principle.

    Mores are considered to have more significance because they are steeped in morality. For example incest or murder would carry significant social consequences and the perpetrator may be ostracized or even put to death. Mores are coercive and are considered essential for the continuation of the society.

    Important to remember these are typically not written laws at all. Just the way things are. The perceived proper way of doing things within a society. It encompasses a lot of those little things that individuals do because reasons.

    Including some of what @Kaida mentioned above

    I hope that was useful and not just super silly of me to mention!
    But they do always help me in my world building when it comes time to create a culture for my fictional societies :)
     
  8. Thank you. If you don't mind, I'm just going to copy and paste that into the first post since it's pretty specific.
     
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