Thursday, April 20, 2017
Overview Setting: Cultural
Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
Cultural observations provide a third strong category when appropriate to your overall story. Meals, holidays, dress, attitudes and language can highlight themes and communication, interactions and confusion, and build bridges of understanding.
Many years ago an associate and I decided to make our weekly lunch meetings an adventure by trying out a different ethnic restaurant each week. We took turns choosing and we focused on local small family run establishments. One time we tried a place that served buffet style. Unfortunately their words for each dish were in their own language, and the dishes were such that they were almost impossible to identify. And there was no one to translate. We started out with tiny tablespoons of several options and then, when we thought we had some identification we went back for a regular serving.
The food was delicious and it became one of our favorite spots.
Sharing stories across cultures helps to strengthen empathy and expand our horizons.
Reading and studying stories across cultures also help develop solid foundations for historical settings and characters as well. Remember too that each culture has socio-economic diversity as well that needs to be recognized, and also regional and geographic diversity.
Another way to incorporate culture honestly is to follow a particular theme. “what have you lost?” by Naomi Shihab Nye is a compilation of YA poems written about losses. It is a wonderful introduction to different voices across cultures and ages that all begin with a common thread.
1. Character. Take a teen-ager from one ethnic background and send her to dinner at a friend’s of a different ethnic background for a holiday celebration.
2. Describe everything in detail. Overwrite specifics.
3. Which concepts can be applied to your story?
Share: Which parts were the most fun? Which were difficult?
Read deep, marcy