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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building A Story World

Culture (Atmosphere-Part Two)

Mystery writer Elizabeth George says that the details that show a person’s landscape “imprint an impression of a character in the reader’s mind.” The external and internal are achieved through specific and telling details. These are details with a message attached to them, the kind of details that no reader forgets. She keeps a long list of jobs, skills, learning opportunities and day-to-day actions at hand to keep her characters real and grounded in daily life.

I’ve picked out a few from her sample list that would be considered common across cultures and at the same time with completely diverse possibilities. Think of them in relationship to different species too. Here’s a brief sampling of categories she and her students developed: eating a meal, cooking a meal, building a campfire, drinking, doing laundry, getting a tattoo, fishing, moving, building a structure, sculpting, knitting, cleaning, catching a lizard, and going through photographs.

Exercise: Pick an activity that can be both personal and an art form, such as food dishes, or weaving, or photography, and use it to track possibilities through the following culture connections.

Here are three potential culture worlds to explore for communication and atmosphere.
1.         Cross-culture—within the same environment.
2.         Cross-culture—within the same era.
3.         Cross-culture—across time dimension.

Share: Which cross-culture did you choose and why?


  1. Marcy, Thank you for the heads-up on Nina Amir's book. I really need to begin blogging...maybe this will give me the motivation to do so.

  2. I chose photography cross-culture—across time dimension. It would be awesome to travel back in time as a photographer - go to places that haven't been overbuilt and polluted yet. Maybe be a beach bum along Cannery Row during Steinbeck's time.

  3. Cynthia, Nina Amir's book is so full of information it will take me all summer to process it.

    I love the idea of going back in time as a photographer! Talk about having a new perspective. And Cannery Row is a perfect place for you to choose. Or maybe down closer to Big Sur. :)


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