By foreign culture I don’t necessarily mean travel to a different country, thought that’s always a good idea in my world. It’s easy to forget, when you are engaged in your sturdy, comfortable daily routine, that oftentimes a world entirely new can be found just down the street.
All that world needs is an observer to record it in their own way. Yes, this is why I am a writer with an anthropology degree. I watch and observe people. And if you are a writer, it’s probably what you do too, so take advantage of it!
This is especially apparent to me as I sit, waiting for my boyfriend’s Indie Professional Wrestling show to start. Independent wrestling – local shows that emulate professional wrestling companies on television like WWE or RAW – is a unique culture complete with hierarchies, jargon, unspoken rules, taboo topics…I could go on. Anyone hoping to become a part of the local wrestling world often has a success rate proportionate to their understanding and use of this culture while they are engaged in training, shows, and social wrestling get-togethers.
I could elaborate for days on the intricacies of professional wrestling culture that I have learned in the past several months, but that isn’t the point of this article. Rather, the time I have spent observing wrestlers has given me a blueprint for an organization or society – that may or may not have anything to do with actual wrestling in my written fiction.
And the more time an author, aka an observer (or maybe you just call yourself a people watcher), spends learning new cultural aspects, the more he or she can mix and match in fiction to their heart’s content.
So look up your local newsletter for small-time events, attend a class, try something new that puts you into a world like you’ve never experienced before. The more you learn, the more you have to write about.