Generating Ideas for Writing - Cultural Differences (and such)

The legend of the Amazon warrior women has fascinated men and women alike for thousands of years. Why? Because it changes roles that we assume to be fixed, and that intrigues us. Can this be a successful story?


Obviously, yes! The legend has been around for most of recorded human history, Steven Pressfield wrote an excellent fictional book on it in recent years, and The Hunger Games plays on the similar archetype of the warrior woman. What other role reversals may be useful for stories? What other cultural differences may be useful for stories?

Age roles could be reversed. Let the wisdom of the children guide us. This can seem a little far-fetched at first, but if you stick with an idea you can usually get a story to grow out of it (human minds are basically story-making machines). If only the "wisdom" of the children is used and has to be enforced and the logistics carried out by adults then obviously those adults would twist and bend things to their ends. We need to change something. What if in a technologically advanced society children for some reason have a stronger ability to connect with a certain type of technology, maybe a certain type of artificial intelligence, because their brain waves are different or something. Then the artificial intelligence is the enforcement rather than adults, now the adults are trying to resist the will of the children; a complete reversal of roles. It could be an interesting environment for stories.

The Twilight Saga involves the collision of several different cultures, namely modern Native Americans, modern general population conformed Americans, and not-modern vampires. I have encountered a lot of people that seem to believe that ancient Native Americans were peaceful for some reason. The assumption that any culture is peaceful usually surprises me. Human nature is not so peaceful, and violence is needed if property rights are to be enforced. Buddhists seem like they would be the most peaceful, but the Tibetans fought against the Chinese, many Japanese kamikaze pilots were Buddhist, and Shaolin monks didn't originate for doing stage acts. This fairly persistent belief in the peaceful society does allow for an interesting story setting, or at least its possibility. What would happen if there really was a peaceful society? Maybe they were protected because they had no contact with any other cultures for a very long time. What happens when they encounter another culture?

What about a meritocracy? Enders Game (Elon Musks favorite book) plays on this somewhat. What if people were selected through some sort of testing at a young age to do what they do best? Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage states that everyone has a place in the economy, but that means that some people will test as best fitting the place of sewer cleaner in society. There just might be some resistance to accepting that fate. Utopias and dystopias very often sound much alike.

Population control can be a bit of a disturbing topic to think about; a once and future tragedy. It has been a popular topic in the United States for the last few decades, usually by people that try to cite but haven't read Thomas Malthus. What are the different ways that it could/has/will be done? Will people resist? How? A great setting for dramatic, heart-wrenching, action-oriented stories that could be set in the past, present, or future.

What about rights of passage? Such a concept has almost been lost in the United States, I think in most of the modern world, but it has been replaced in various ways (because of the human psychological need for such a thing). If a person were to travel to another culture it seems appropriate that they would only be accepted if they could pass the right of passage. Maybe the right is to travel to or engage with another culture in some way, almost like a trial by ordeal. Traditional trials by ordeal seem like a fruitful topic as well.

The story possibilities seem endless, and they probably are. I am sure I will explore some of these concepts in the future. You are welcome to join me at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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