Sproing! Another week begins.

The print version of Language Clinic landed on my front step late last Friday, and it turned out beautifully. I’m going through and copyediting, will do final revisions, and have the thing available for sale in the next couple of days.

Other than copyediting most of that, I did nothing writing-related over the weekend except let my sizzlin’ brain rest. Turned out to be a good plan. The opener for Create A Culture Clinic was really dragging, and I was having a hard time figuring out how to make the book useful from page one; I wanted to skip long-winded theory and go straight into creation, but theory kept wrapping its vines around my ankles and tripping me.

Something clicked last night. Here’s how the thing will go. Maybe you’ve never created a culture. If you haven’t you may be heading for a problem. Maybe you have created a culture, but it already has a problem.

Ten Problems Your Culture Might Have:

  • Your good culture is fighting an evil culture.
  • Your culture is feudal Britain in drag.
  • Your culture only exists to grind a religious, political, or philosophical axe.
  • Your culture exists in the “American Dark Ages”—that is, you could give any one of your characters a driver’s license and an ATM card and he would be indistinguishable from everyone you know.
  • Your culture contains only paladins, clerics, bards, rogues and healers, and maybe the occasional barmaid or whore.
  • You can only list the things your culture is against, not the things it is for.
  • Your culture contains nothing you disagree with.
  • Your culture contains dwarves, elves, or ents… or all three.
  • Your culture consists of you, your friends, and your local Starbucks, only far in the future, or far in the past. Or maybe even in the present.
  • Your culture boldly goes where TV has been going for a long, long time.

The Culture Clinic will drop you right into the middle of religious, government, home and family design on page one, and you’ll be slashing your way through the thorny thickets of everything that is trite and overdone, heading straight for those fresh, exciting cultural ideas that are born from your own experiences. You may not realize it yet, but you have had worthwhile experiences.

Figuring out the problem-solving direction of the book is going to make writing it this morning a lot more fun.

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.

11 comments… add one
  • hollylisle Oct 3, 2006 @ 12:11

    Liz—Oh, so very true.

  • lohengrin Oct 3, 2006 @ 11:53

    *G* Well, since I don’t LIKE Tolkein, or ents, or dwarves, or orcs, and have never been entirely clear on the hobbits/halflings thing since I never managed to get through LotR and my last try was ten years ago…

    Actually, when I do write, the worlds tend to be non-fantasy-standard anyway. I haven’t actually committed elf at all yet, but I do still like to READ books that commit elf, as long as they do it well. ^_^

  • Liz Oct 3, 2006 @ 11:33

    A cleverly disguised D&D party is not as cleverly disguised as you’d think! 😉

  • hollylisle Oct 3, 2006 @ 9:46

    Lohengrin—I have committed elf in the past, and I will commit elf in the future. I even have a variant of elves in THE RUBY KEY. I have nothing against original, well-thought out, well-developed elves based on careful language and culture design and unique, personal worldbuilding.

    If, however, when you commit elf, you commit Tolkein elf, you need to start kicking yourself in the butt. (And if, along with elves, you have ents, or dwarves, or orcs, or hobbits, or halflings, you have committed Tolkein elf.) 🙂

  • Cuyler Oct 2, 2006 @ 22:40

    Ooh yes, don’t use the S-Word. That would be really bad. I almost died waiting for the Language clinic only to realize I will feel the same way about this one. One problem I notice with myself is I can’t carry out my story without a proper world built. Building a story in an incomplete world is like eating cocoa with out sugar. (Man that was lame. lol) So, I can’t wait until the clinic is finished, It will really help me, until then I will have to use what knowledge I have in building a world- which is not alot. Good luck on it.

    Ooh Nano, I can’t wait.

  • lohengrin Oct 2, 2006 @ 22:39

    I like elves, and nothing will break me of this. *defiant!*

  • shawna Oct 2, 2006 @ 12:09

    Oh dear, oh dear. (giggle) This is going to be torture til you get done with that book. Though I’d love to hear you say it’ll be done by the end of October, I don’t want you using that nasty S-word, or jinxing yourself… nothing at all that will make it take longer, lol.

  • S William Shaw Oct 2, 2006 @ 11:40

    Ok, this comment is off topic: I used the word sproing several times in my last novel. I just had to post a big hurray for “sproing.”

  • Gabriele Oct 2, 2006 @ 10:51

    Your culture is feudal Britain in drag.

    Oh my, that conjures some disturbing images. ROFLOL

  • The English Rose Oct 2, 2006 @ 10:01

    Oooh! It sounds wonderful. My cultures are pretty flat but not from lack of trying. I just forget that the world exists outside my immediate story; I think that’s my major problem. That and I get really stressed when I force myself to world-build to infinite detail, not because it’s not fun, but because I choke my story while I do it… I need to find some balance, methinks.

  • klharrds21 Oct 2, 2006 @ 9:16

    Good stuff! The list made me laugh as well as think about my own mistakes – ‘feudal Britain in drag’! If you don’t titter at that you won’t titter at anything.

    Though it did make a little nervous about my Nano project worldbuilding. What’s your position on ‘The West Wing in drag’? – Nope?

    I think I have some serious work to do.

    Any chance this book will be ready before the end of October? – grin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Next post:

Previous post: