Writing What You Don't Know: The Assistants

Discussion in 'Make It So' started by jacktrash, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. The Mutant

    The Mutant ' w '

    happy to move this elsewhere if there's a better thread but i just want some quick advice on whether a worldbuilding/ part of a fanfic thing might be cultural appropriation or something in general I Should Not Do- I'm very novice at writing fic so sorry if this is obvious ;v;

    effectively, do you think it'd be cultural appropriation and/or inadvisable to draw inspiration from IRL cultures when headcanon-ing stuff for fantasy cultures? Like, for this fanfic I'm planning, I was planning on mentioning a few '(fantasy culture not well world-built in canon)' food dishes- like, if you've read The Steel Seraglio, the concept is heavily inspired by the 'recipe' chapter in that book- and I was kinda inspired by both southern Chilean and Ainu cuisines sort of in the sense of 'the climate/ native food resources kinda 'feel' right for my hazy headcanon of (fantasy country/culture)' so I was considering sketching out some rough, concise 'recipes' kinda tweaked from IRL ones for the purposes of the fic- but just kinda kicked myself in the shins like waaaaait a second Mute are you Maybe being a jackass >:V I'm especially anxious about potentially doing wrong by the Ainu since as a people/culture they have suffered through jusssst a little bit of bullshit through the course of history. just a tid bit.

    like naturally IF I ended up going with that I'd note the IRL inspirations in the author's comments or whatever, but if that's No Good I am more than happy to Not Do The Thing
  2. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    I am Hwite(TM) so take this with a grain of salt, but my reaction when I encounter an otherworld fantasy novel where the characters are eating something similar to, say, curry, is "Oh thank goodness, the author actually put thought into what foods people in this world would have and how they would eat them instead of defaulting to Vaguely Western European."
    • Agree x 7
    • Useful x 1
  3. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    Question for POC: I know the Starbucks Skin Scale is widely hated and will avoid it. Does that also apply to hair and eye colour, or just skin? Just wanna confirm.
  4. Misty Pond

    Misty Pond Well-Known Member

    I want to write a character who is jewish. is there anyone who can give or direct me to things like, good starting points, things to keep in mind/avoid, resources (that aren't too, like, dryly/academically written, because I have a hard time processing articles like that), etc. for a newbie to the topic?
  5. latitans

    latitans zounds, scoob

    caveat: i am not myself jewish, but my husband and his family are

    Misty Pond, my question would be, how does your character's jewishness relate to their story? what is their relationship to their jewishness? (e.g. did they grow up in a jewish neighborhood, or were the only jews they knew their family? are they religious? what practices do they observe? )

    judaism is big, and it encompasses so much, so without that starting point, i dont think anyone would be able to give you tips on how to respectfully write a jewish character
    • Agree x 1
  6. Misty Pond

    Misty Pond Well-Known Member

    well, that's the thing--I don't know yet! I know barely anything about judaism to say. the character in question is both blind and an abuse victim, which I assume are both things having a religious upbringing would have a marked effect on; and her concept is, pretty much, a peaceful home for another character to return to at the end of the day. her development arc is still something I'm figuring out, but part of it is trying to overcome her insecurities to work up the courage to propose to her partner

    she has a jewish family, and she has israeli heritage...that's about as much as I have so far. tbh my lack of knowledge on judaism is part of the reason I haven't developed much further than that

    I didn't grow up religious myself, so this stuff is very opaque to me...I do want to learn more about it, though, and so far I've found one of the best ways to do that is to write a character or two centering around the topic. so this character is, like...basically me dipping my toe into the water

    I know it's not much, but is any of that helpful?
  7. latitans

    latitans zounds, scoob

    I mean, aside from a tie to Israel (which, an important thing to figure out—was her family in Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel? or did they emigrate after the British mandate? if so, why did they leave? when? also an important thing to know is Jewish =/= Israeli) I guess I’m wondering, like, why is this character Jewish?

    I’m not sure how else to frame that question—sorry if it doesn’t make sense.
  8. Misty Pond

    Misty Pond Well-Known Member

    no, it's fine, that makes sense. there's no, like, real reason the character is jewish; I just thought, since she ended up with israeli heritage while I was trying to diversify the cast a little, it might make a good starting point. unless that's inappropriate...? I can easily change it if it is

    I can't answer the rest of your questions since I don't know the history well (or, at all, really)
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  9. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    I'll let someone actually Jewish, or at least more closely connected than me, address the more specific questions. Taking a step back, from a writer's perspective, is it a good idea to try to address diversity in this way? It sort of sounds like you picked Israel at random off a map without really knowing anything about it. That's going to lead you to either a lot of research, including that time-consuming start phase where you have to read everything because you don't know what questions to ask, or lead you to "informed diversity" where the characters have diverse labels but aren't actually different from each other.

    It might be better to write characters from backgrounds that you already know a little about, so that there's something in the back of your head to make that character background feel interesting and important to you. Then, when you go to do your research, you at least know what kinds of questions to ask.
    • Agree x 3
  10. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    I am not Jewish and do not off the top of my head know any good resource links, but as a person who is not Jewish but has learned a whole lot more about the religion from following Jewish people on Tumblr than I ever did from school, a major thing is that a lot of assumptions about what religion is that someone raised in a Christian-normative culture (even someone not particularly religious) are likely to have just don't apply. Christian dogma tends to shut a lot of things down with "God loves everyone and is all-powerful and all-knowing, have faith" that if you approached a rabbi about you might get a response like "yeah, that was pretty awful, WTF G-d." Critical engagement with the religious texts is absolutely central even in the most conservative Judaism; those texts include not just the books of the Tanakh that are collected in the Christian Bible, but literally thousands of years of commentary and discussion. Basically every gotcha about the Bible that smug atheists like to cite is something Jews have talked about back and forth practically since the fall of Babylon. (This is one reason there's so many jokes about how much Jews love to argue.) It's pretty common for Jewish religious groups to accept that someone can be a devout Jew and an atheist, which would be unthinkable in all but the most progressive sects of Christianity. Judaism is also one of the oldest religions on the planet despite an absolutely ridiculous number of attempted genocides, and I know quite a few ethnic Jews who aren't religious but follow a lot of the holiday traditions- eating kosher at Passover, e.g.- to commemorate that history. I've seen it joked that almost every Jewish holiday can be summarized, "They tried to kill us, they failed, let's eat," and, for instance, Jews have been making fun of this one guy's stupid hat for 2500+ years.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
    • Agree x 2
  11. rats

    rats 21 Bright Forge Shatters The Void

    am jewish, can confirm all that tez said, i can also help with jewish questions if needed but im not quite sure what you're asking tbh
  12. rats

    rats 21 Bright Forge Shatters The Void

    AND made a tasty cookie abt it
    • Winner x 4
  13. Lazarae

    Lazarae The tide pod of art

    Please tell me about the stupid hat.
    • Agree x 2
  14. bushwah

    bushwah a known rule consequentialist

    it may actually not be a hat
    • Informative x 2
  15. Misty Pond

    Misty Pond Well-Known Member

    okay...I'm not in a good mental state rn so I'll just leave a blanket thank-you to everyone who offered advice/help + the wake-up call on the fact I clearly need to do some reconsidering of things re: my cast. I'll look things over when my head is clearer...
  16. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    Does anyone know enough about military protocol to know who a fairly low-ranking officer would be expected to contact if they found evidence that someone high up the ranks was up to something treasonously hinky? Would they just tell their superior who tells their superior up the chain until they hopefully reach someone who can do something about it, or is there likely to be some sort of internal affairs system for that sort of tattling? I'm assuming neither would be the most effective solution in practice, but I want to know what would be in, like, the figurative employee handbook as the correct action to take.
  17. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    I don't really know the answer to that, but from what I do know of the US military, if there is a set procedure for this, it's likely to actually be written down - the handbook you speak of is probably not figurative. Then again, "get a superior officer arrested for treason" doesn't sound like something a military would want to set up a standard procedure for.
  18. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    Yeah, but "report a superior officer's crimes" as a general thing is. I can't figure out how to google it, though.

    It's a fantasy setting, so I have a lot of leeway to make up whatever's most convenient, but I'd like to at least sound like I know what words I should be using.
  19. sirsparklepants

    sirsparklepants feral mom energies

    In the US you are looking for the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which can be found online in its entirety, but afaik the general policy is to report the crime to the military police, which I believe is a standard division in most modern militaries and I know has history back to the 18th century at least.

    Edit: in the case that military police isn't story-convenient the next best option would be to find a trustworthy officer outside the chain of command of the criminal officer and report the evidence to them.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
    • Useful x 2
    • Agree x 1
    • Informative x 1
  20. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    For a xenobiology thing, I can't remember what I learned about metabolism in uni. I know slow-metabolism creatures have to eat less often than high-metabolism ones, but is there a formula for calculating how much less, and do they also need smaller amounts?
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice