Culture is one of those funny things that never quite goes as planned when you’re busy creating it. There are many ways that you can create a culture, and while many of them will vary from one issue to another, and different methods will work for different people and stories, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Well, I suppose making blatant and obvious stereotype cultures may be considered a wrong way, but in some stories, it could actually work. I guess.
Regardless, the biggest issue with cultural creation is believability. You can have a lot of leeway with it, of course, because there are already so many diverse and sometimes strange seeming cultures that exist in our world today, but you have to balance the strange with a sense of familiarity. You must make it so that, while some of your readers don’t understand it, they could see it as being an actual culture. At least in your world.
When it comes to fantasy realms, this can get tricky. You may be inclined to create outlandish cultures that, in the end, are entirely ridiculous and unbelievable. Maybe that’s the point? But your readers may not like it, and it may be hard to create a realistic character that comes from that culture.
Especially when you want to play with something that it a touchy topic in our society. The story is a dark fantasy, and I have been determined, thus far, to include realistic magic in the setting. Now, when I say realistic magic, I don’t mean that I am going to try and over explain all of the magic in every instance to cry to the reader “look here! this could happen!” but rather to instill a sense of reality in the fantastic, because I get rather annoyed at the whole “oh it’s magic, anything can happen” hand-waving nonsense that is in so many fantasy novels.
Largely because I like an explanation, so I, personally, know where the limits are for the magic. What can and can’t be done. So when you’re trying to include realistic magic with the purposeful idea that a race does not sexually reproduce, you may hit a snag. I know I did. I am still trying to figure out a mostly realistic reason why this primarily homosexual race will keep on living without delving too much into the fantastic and strange. I’m still swimming with ideas of how to achieve this without any real conclusion. It doesn’t help that I already know that the idea of a culture that considers heterosexuality a sin to be something that people will at first only see as a badly pieced social commentary.
So excuse me while I figure out how to incorporate social commentary with magic and realism, and prepare for some introductory pictures of the races that I’ll be including in my story. 🙂