Worldbuilding: Culture


Within any story told, a world is created. Even set on Earth, your book needs to show the world around it from the smallest creature to the society and culture of your main characters.

One of the importance aspects of this is culture in your book and how it can enhance your writing.


What elements to think about?

Looking the part

What do your people look like? What kind of clothes do they wear and for what purpose? Aside from the obvious, are clothes worn for warmth or maybe as a way to show social standing?

Become an architect

Where do people live? What do the buildings look like and what are they made of? Where do the rich live compared to the poor?


Civilisations only thrive where they can be sustained. What resources do your people have to even live in the places they do? How do their extract these resources and what do they put them to use for?


The most important question about history is really how much of it effects your story. How did this world come to be? What made it this way? And what is the recent history still affecting the world?


Religion, has always played a big role in any society and how it is laid out.

So what do your people believe in? And how strict is that faith system? What consequences come of going against the faith?

Science and magic

How advanced is society and is it due to science, magic or both? Who has access to this and why? What does it do? Heal? Enhance Power? Used as Weapons?

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Where to find them?

Steal a culture

This is the simplistic method. If your book mirrors WWII or the American Civil War you can rely on those cultures and their keystones with just a fresh pot of paint over the names and places. However while I definitely believe starting with an already existing culture and working your way off of it. Adding your own original flair is much better as you can easily be called out for just copying history and try to pass it off as fiction.


Research and BE CAREFUL

Most things to write about should be fun. However when it comes to burrowing cultures or society you need to be much more careful. The only advice I have is be careful and respectful when researching about said culture, especially when it’s not your own. Don’t try and give your view on it, you’ll do more harm than good, trust me.


Make a culture from scratch

This is (obviously) the hardest method to use but gives your book’s culture complete originality. The best advice I can give you is 1) You’re going to kill yourself and 2) Ask EVERY question. Everything matters to a culture both the above and more: family dynamics, culture norms, education, jobs and government system. You must ask EVERYTHING.



We have worked the through the big background pieces of your world and story, now it’s time to work on the specifics of your plot and characters. Good luck Xx


Further Reading


Building Fictional Cultures

pile-of-booksWorldbuilding is essential my bread and butter when it comes to writing.

It’s the bloody plot I hate to write.

And one of my favourite aspect of worldbuilding is creating completely new cultures. But a lot of writers’ struggle with worldbuilding as it can become very overwhelming. So, I’d like to share a method I like to use to start working on the society and cultures.


Five things

  • Five things that can offend someone in this culture.
  • Five ways to flirt with someone in this culture.
  • Five things that are a sign of social power.
  • Five things that are considered beautiful in this culture.
  • Five things that are considered ugly and undesirable in this culture.


Of course, five separated points for each one is just a suggestion but it’s a helpful middle ground. It’s also helpful to remember that cultures are dictated by their surrounding (the weather, animals, ruling power, materials available, etc.).


Happy writing!

Kathy Xx

(I didn’t create this method, but I do apologise because I don’t remember who I heard it from).

Writing Tip: 108#

Love is the most important ingredient. Love of words. Of your characters and their flaws. Of truth.

You are playing God, but it has to be a loving God. 





Writing Tip: 107#

Read your work aloud.


You’ll notice more mistakes that way.

Discussion: How do you write about a culture that isn’t your own?

I literally have no clue.

At the moment I’m editing my manuscript that includes a culture loosely based on that of North Indian in the Kashmir region.

I’m not Indian, have never been, and don’t know anyone who is Indian.

Should I even be writing about such things? And if I should (which I’d liked to, the manuscript took a long time to write), how should I prepare and research for it?

Would love your input!!