Writing about cultures that you are not familiar with might seem like breaking the “rule” of writing what you know. However, upon taking a closer look at writing stories in general, you will realize that writers often write about experiences that are not familiar to them. It’s all about the writer’s ability to enter the shoes of their characters as much as they can and present it all on page. On the surface, writing about new and unfamiliar cultures might seem easy – which is why plenty of writers fail to present different cultures in a satisfactory way. But, as long as you write with the utmost respect to the culture, there is no way you can go wrong, and you will gain a lot of things in the process. Below, we have shown some of them, though there are many more as well.
1. A new perspective
If your protagonist, or the protagonist’s close friend, comes from a different culture, your story will be presented with a new perspective. Also, presenting familiar elements of your own culture through a new perspective will make the readers see through that new perspective as well. And readers love books that make them think and open new horizons for them. Writing about different cultures will increase your credibility as an author, especially if you keep true to the facts and pay a lot of attention to small details. Your readers will be impressed and you will get a lot of attention for writing about different cultures, especially since today, plenty of readers note the fact that not many different cultures get represented in fiction.
2. Richer story
A nation’s or people’s culture is made up of their language, myths, legends, habits and traditions. These elements offer you the opportunity to create stories that are rich: the world building will encompass buildings, sculptures, houses, art and design authentic to the cultures, especially if your book is set in the foreign country whose culture you’re writing about. For example, a Japanese character will act differently in the US or Europe, compared to a Japanese character raised and living in Japan. Your story will then be rich in conflict that wouldn’t be possible in a different story about a different culture, which gives you the opportunity to engage your creativity and go in a direction you’ve never gone before in your writing.
3. Learn a new language
The most important aspect of a people’s culture is their language. When it comes to writing for an international audience, of course, writing in English is the best option, however, this doesn’t meant that you can simply translate idioms and phrases to English and leave it at that. Instead, you can take the time to learn the language, understand the idioms and use sentence structure and wording to phrase the meaning. Of course, you wouldn’t need to become an expert, or fluent for that matter, but you will familiarize yourself with the language, especially if you visit the country and spend some time there. Understanding the idioms and common phrases of the foreign language, how they are used and what their meaning is will make it easier for you to incorporate them into your writing, while sounding authentic. Otherwise, it is very easy to incorporate idioms and phrases where they don’t belong. Readers that are familiar with the culture will notice the error and point it out, which will undermine your authenticity as a writer.
4. Enhance your research skills
If writing a book about a culture you’ve grown up with can take a long time, then writing about an unfamiliar culture might take even longer. This means that you will need to improve your research skills so as to gather as much information about the new culture in the fastest manner possible. Additionally, depending on how much of the unfamiliar culture you want to show in your book, you will need to engage your creativity and a way to present all the information you’ve gathered in the story. In short, writing about an unfamiliar culture will make you a more efficient writer.
5. Make new connections
While you can research new cultures from the comforts of your own home, using your laptop and the internet, you should try to meet people from the culture and ask them about their lives, their traditions, myths, legends and all other elements of their culture. If you can’t find someone locally, you might need to travel to the country. In the end, writing about an unfamiliar culture will have led to travelling and meeting new people, thus gaining not only new friends, but new perspectives and open new horizons for you.
Image credit: Pixabay[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.