Hey, fellow writers!
I have a question for y’all…
I have written a book that takes place in Japan, and for a year it was published on Amazon. (I have now decided to unpublish it.) I am now realizing that middle-way knowledge of Japan, knowing most of the big details of it, but missing a bunch of the little day-to-day things that anyone who is really immersed in Japanese culture would notice, is certainly not enough.
I already have one character coming in who will have spent multiple years in a “foreign country,” a name that will go unsaid. (It is a move that was pushed by a lot of people around me, and I think it would just be the best option in this specific situation.)
Since I am already writing a character from a semi-imaginary country, should I just make the whole thing fictional, and incorporate some ideals/traditions from Japan in this fictitious country?
When this idea was first suggested to me, I initially thought “That’s just lazy!” But then the reasoning behind it was explained.
If I make a fictional world for my characters to be living in, there will be a little bit more give in the mistakes I make with culture. It will also make it where I can sculpt the beliefs of the countries to mold the scenario that I need in my book. (For example, in Japan other religions are considered a little more weird than out-rightly wrong.) To get the point I am trying to make across, I need to make it absolutely shocking when someone is revealed as a Christian. If I can mold my own country, I can make it a place almost completely void of Christ, and that will make the reveal all the more surprising.
Thoughts? Concerns? Thanks!
Hi Rebekah.Elizabeth! I’m very new here, too, but I saw your question and was intrigued, because I also decided to go the “made-up country” route when writing my new series, for various reasons that are probably not relevant to your case.
Personally, I’d rather read about a character from Japan (or England, or Morocco, or wherever) even if you feel that you haven’t captured his cultural nuances as well as a native might, than someone from a vaguely-realized “Foreign Country.” That seems boring, and yes, maybe a little lazy. However, if you are willing to go to the trouble of creating your own country, giving it its own geography, language, cultural nuances, etc. (even if you do borrow heavily from what you know of Japan) I think that could be fascinating, and does seem a good route to take.
Thanks for the response! (And sorry about my delayed reply, I’m crazy busy lately.)
I also prefer to read a story that takes place in a more well-described land than a “foreign country.” The problem that I was facing is that this character was imprisoned in that country for x amount of years because they had been caught distributing illegal religious materials. I have heard horror stories about writers telling stories about Christians in other countries, and the named country came after the writer or bore down harder on Christians within their borders. That is why writers like Nik Ripkin (“The Insanity of God”) entirely avoid naming some of the countries in which they know Christians who are living, working, and practicing their faith illegally.
I want to make the story engaging, but I also realize that there are so many negative outcomes if I name the country this character was in.
I have spent some time developing a new world in which my story can take place, and I feel like I have gone into depth about the different countries and religions, though I am having a hard time figuring out how to accurately depict Christianity.
I hope that this reply has provided some more clarity on my situation. (: