Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pardon Me, Do You Have the Time?

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day. ~ William Shakespeare

There's an interesting discussion going on in one of the writing groups at WVU regarding creating culture - especially as it pertains to those of us who are writing in the present. The person who began the discussion is reading Holly Lisle's Create A Culture Clinic and quotes the following:

"Novels set in the time of the writer frequently assume culture, and hope the reader will share (or at least comprehend) the culture the writer is assuming. These novels are written for the day and the moment; they'll be unreadable in twenty years. If you want to write for the ages, your writing has to have complete, working subsets of all the cultures you wrote about IN the novel. Every single time. Cultures change. Dickens and Twain are still comprehensible today because they included right in their stories everything you needed to know about how their worlds worked. Their contemporaries are gone because THEY assumed that their readers would live in a world just like the one they lived in, and would simply understand all the things they left out."

I am writing my stories in America for a presumably American audience. In one of my writing groups we used to have two Aussies (we're down to one now ... Al, where are you?) and they commented on my use of a "fanny pack" for one of my characters. Because you DON'T use the term "fanny" loosely in Australia -- as I read on one website, in America both boys and girls have "fannies" but in Australia only the girls do... So, in Australia, my character would use a "bum bag".

Have you watched Lethal Weapon lately? The first one? There's a point where Danny Glover's character pulls the car over to the side of an overpass and pulls out this big brown box and sets it on the concrete railing. He reaches in and pulls out.... a phone! The whole thing is bigger than your standard briefcase, and every time I watch the movie I'm reminded that this wasn't made recently. But, it was an innocent use of the technology of the time, and clearly sets an era in mind. It's isn't over the top like That '70s Show , just little things that pop up now and then.

Do you take this into consideration when you write? Do you wonder if someone who isn't American (or whatever culture you hail from) is reading your work? Do you try to describe something like a "quad" (does every school have one of these? Mine did.) or whatever?

It's really made me think, especially since technology today is changing by the minute and, really, our whole culture is wrapped up in it so it's going to make a strong appearance in most of our stories.

Marianne wanders off, still trying to wrap her brain around this whole concept


Tori Lennox said...

Oh, that's an interesting point! I'm pretty sure I don't do that...

ewilie - evil witches ignite lights inside elms

Judy said...

Okay, okay... you win the bet! In my own defense, I've been running Christmas errands... but that's no excuse. I WAS thinking about the prompt, does that count???