Vampires are a popular subject these days. There are a million different versions from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Anne Rice’s angst ridden vampires. You have everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Twilight to True Blood. All of them different. There are vampires for every taste these days from sexy to scary and even sparkly if you go that way. But they all have one thing in common. Vampires are immortal.
I have to confess, I spend a lot of time paying attention to specific kinds of writer’s blogs. In Particular those of Kristin Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and Chuck Wendig. These, among some others that I don’t follow as regularly, have given me the inspiration and the back bone to face this profession and know that I can make it. While Kristin Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith are great at being responsible, business focused and serious about their craft, I turn to Chuck Wendig to hear pretty much the same stuff with a lot more humor and swearing.
Part of world building is creating culture. Your people have to have a culture unique to their place in their world. Even if you are writing in modern America, it’s important to notice the influence of culture on the choices and assumptions that your characters make. However, since culture is a huge subject that spans several BA programs, I’m going to pick just one little piece to discuss today: Family.
There is nothing funnier that watching the bad guys in a silly movie or TV show prove their incompetence. You know the scenes when all the good guy has to do is stay out of the way. In fiction, evil incompetence lightens the mood. Who doesn’t love a good laugh at Wile E Cayote when his inventions backfire and he ends up plummeting off the cliff to land in a puff of smoke? Or even the numerous minions in a James Bond picture who couldn’t shoot the broad side of the barn. Even the masters in those movies make stupid mistakes that allow everyone’s hero to triumph.
The Mayan Calendar ends today. According to those who like such things, that means that it’s the end of the world. That may be so, or it could just be the end of an era. More likely it just means that it’s time to buy a new calendar.
I’m fascinated by the people who continuously foretell the end of the world. These doomsdayers see all the troubles of the world as indications that things are about to go over the point of no return and we will end up spattered all over the universe. While we think of them mostly as being a part of the Western world, they are actually all over the world, they just show it in different ways. None the less, they are there.
There has been an undercurrent of classism in the news lately. Here in America with the Fiscal Cliff looming over us, we are arguing about who should pay for the budget deficit. There is a great divide between the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”. Current slang has them as the 1% and the 99% – At least according to the people who call themselves “the 99%”. The thing is that this sort of divide has been around since before we kept records of such things. It is a part of every culture in all the nations that we know about (I would guess that it’s even in the cultures we don’t know about yet, but who can tell with aliens). Despite the fact that it is an omni-present facet of our existence, politicians and social reformers all over the globe have tried to eliminate it.
There is something so freeing about being constrained. When you know that you simply cannot go beyond a certain point, it is easier to let yourself go and just enjoy yourself. Think about roller coasters where you spend half an hour securing your seat belts and safety bars for a five minute thrill ride. Once you are that secure it is easy to enjoy the adrenaline rush from plunging 100 feet straight down. Without the safety bar, the adrenaline will only fuel your fear. The same is true in the bedroom. A submissive knows that they can truly let go when they are bound. Then their body is taken care of and they only need to feel the sensations their Dom inflicts upon them. This of course only works when all the safety precautions are taken and respected.
I’ve been watching the news lately with a strangely distanced eye. Mostly because I’m so tired of the current debates that I just don’t want to see them anymore and yet there they are so prominent and so full of misinformation on all sides that it’s rather disheartening. But from my writer’s observatory I look out over the issues causing all kinds of consternation today and see parallels with the issues of the past and with issues facing other cultures around our world. I see them reflected in the stories we tell ourselves of other worlds and gods. The patterns are there, even if the issues are different.
Everyone believes in something. Even Atheists. The problem arises when that something, isn’t the same thing as someone else’s something. Worse yet, when those two someones who believe in different things use the same words for them. Differences over the meaning of “god” have caused wars. There have been great upheavals when two powerful people have looked at the same ancient text and decided that it tells them radically different things about how to live.
And these are just examples from real life.
In fiction, you would think that we could come up with some truly spectacular stories about the differences between various sects. We probably could… but for the most part, we don’t.