Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Developed World Breeds Developed Characters

I haven't written anything in a while due to a class I took at Harvard. It kicked the crap out of me, emotionally and physically. Haven't even found out my grade yet, but anyway I digress.

Today I had a conversation with my mother, whose an avid reader, about what makes a good book. Everyone's different—my personal favorite genres are Fantasy (of course!), Philosophy, and nerd stuff.

My mother prefers World War II novels, but reads a variety of genres. During this conversation I was explaining the premise of my second book, and in order to do so had to explain a little about the Romani/Romany culture ("Gypsies" is a slur, which developed from the false belief the people originated in Egypt...they came from India). She said something that may seem fairly basic, but struck me in a deep way.

She said, "Good books need developed characters, and more than that they need a developed culture."

"A developed culture" what stuck in my head. Think about it...we develop our characters, or try to, in such a way that a random person could say, "i like/hate this character, but I know this character." Knowing a character is more important than whether we like or dislike him/her. When we are able to chuckle, knowing "Joe" is going to open the door clearly marked "Zombie inside, BEWARE"...the writer's done a good job. I should note I have a friend I know so well that I could predict what he would do in most situations...and he would open that door and run in with a smile. I know him.

I suppose the same goes for movies...knowing a character on an emotional or intellectually level makes us enjoy the movie that much more.

Back to the "developed culture" (I ramble, I know!)...we create worlds, whether in a movie or a book. The world we create may be exactly the world as it is today, but we make it our own by having control over it, weaving intense situations from meaningless moments, beginning wars over a hot dog, or showing back door politics, etc. A good book needs a developed culture...something that sets it apart from everything else. Harry Potter is a great example, though I hate the story, but it is so vividly real. It has its own distinct feel of existence.

A developed culture is providing the world in your story with a voice of its own.

Ramble over. :)

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