Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why in Asia?

As many of you may know, I’ve been working on a new series. It’s been a long process in the making. I got the first inklings all the way back in April, when I gave myself a new challenge to try and create new characters every day of the month. It wasn’t easy or fun, but I was able to find two different characters that had the beginnings of a great story.

I hadn’t figured out very much before I went to the museum, to a special exhibit on pirates. Obviously, after that, I knew pirates had to be in my story, which meant it needed to be in a world with an ocean, or at least a sea. The names I’d randomly picked for these characters were Italian in descent, so I’d set it in the Mediterranean.

I plotted my story, but kept running into the same issue. It didn’t feel right. The plot wasn’t working. The characters didn’t feel natural. It was a very odd experience, especially since I usually had no issues with plotting. To be fair, usually, my stories weren’t this fragmented when I started out, but that didn’t mean it needed to be this hard.

It was about that time that I read an article on diversity in reading. It wasn’t the first one I’d ever read, and believe me, it won’t be the last. I think just yesterday, I might have read two or three.

I wish I’d saved the article, but it said something that really hit home. The author asked why all fantasy worlds seem to be set in medieval Europe. They mentioned that there were so many cultures at that time, in Africa, South America, Asia… it makes no sense for every story to be in the same world and within the same predominant culture.

When I read about diversity before, I always thought it wasn’t really up to me. This is a fantasy world, and fantasy, from my experience, and from everything I’d read, was in medieval Europe. It hadn’t even occurred to me that there could be diversity within fantasy as well. That I could create a world based off of a different culture.

The moment I decided to try an Asian world, the entire story fell into place. The culture fit the story in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Certain character aspects that didn’t make sense in Italy made total sense in Japan.

Diversity can be acknowledged in any situation, and in any world. There’s no reason why we can’t spread out, expand to other cultures and present the stories of other people. Don’t box yourself in. Explore. Experiment. Maybe your characters and story will benefit.