The Fine Details Of Culture

Question: For fictional races or people, making a culture to go with them is a must, but I feel like I'm missing some things and I just can't name them! I have language, family life, economy, religion (kind of) and other things. Do you think you can name a few things to put in to build a complete and believable culture? Or maybe any questions I can ask of my cultures or exercises I can do to tell if I've left something out? And of course, any general advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Answer: Political structure, level of agricultural or technological development, art forms, mythology, industries, diet, clothing, architecture, sports, history... The list can go on and on.

What matters most is what elements of the culture intrude upon the story. Some people say you must know ten times more than you actually mention in the book, but the back 30% can probably be a little vague.

You may become aware in the writing process what is left out. And you may find yourself adding things in the writing that you didn't plan.

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by: Anonymous

Another concept for 'cultivating' your culture could be dating/mating rituals, which often can say quite a lot about an alien culture as it also will generally deal with some moral issues and how members of opposing genders treat each other in and out of relationships.

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