Cultures Unlike Us

Cultures Unlike Us

We had an interesting discussion about cultures that are so very different from us at a recent critique group meeting.


The discussion began because one among us is researching the Matador and the history of bull fighting for a story. She shared some of what she had learned. The centuries old tradition can be traced as far back as ancient Rome where man–against-animal events were held. Bullfighting is a blood sport deeply entwined into the cultures of Spain, Portugal, and many South American countries. Matadors enjoy celebrity status and the showmanship is very entertaining. A special breed of cattle are bred especially for the bullfighting ring.

Food in the Eyes of the Hungry

Our discussion turned to cultures different from us and their food. It was pointed out that some cultures think “food” when they see a dog, which is considered a delicacy in many Asian cultures. These dogs are bred specifically for the purpose of feeding people.

A visitor from Belgium told me that grocery stores in Europe have horse meat for sale in their meat market along side beef, pork, and chicken. She rarely buys beef because it’s so expensive in her native country.

As an owner of a cow/calf operation in the Texas Panhandle, the ranch horse and the cow dog are our working partners in the ranching industry. Our business is feeding hungry people with Texas Angus beef raised on native grasslands. The American culture has included beef and pork as a mainstay for centuries. I could never plan a menu around a juicy hunk of horse or dog meat. What about having a character eat something odd or cook something they’d never eat themselves? Interesting premise!

Writers and Their Research

One of the things I love about my WordsmithSix writers critique group is how non-judgemental we are. Our discussions cover a wide range of topics, and it’s great fun to dig deep into the issues that impact our stories. We greet each new subject matter with hyper curiosity. We question everything, and since we’ve been meeting for over five years now, we have very open and informative discussion. Visitors to our group are sometimes shocked at our musings.

To get to the heart of the story and to dig deep into our character’s motivation, can writers greet their research without bias? Does our background and beliefs get in the way?

Writing onward…



By Natalie Bright

The spark for your story might begin in various ways. It might be a theme or message, or perhaps a unique setting or time period. Events for a plot might spring to mind based on a favorite historical incident. Whatever the case, at some point the characters will form the central part of your novel.

When you think about the books you’ve read, which ones stand out the most? Can you recall the setting or the plot elements? You may not even remember the author’s name. More than likely you remember the characters.

There’s no question that we’ll have several generations of readers who’ll remember Harry, Bella or Katniss well into their adult years.

Actions have Reasons

One of my favorite authors writes character driven plots. Jodi Thomas, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of 37 novels has a degree in family counseling, with that insight into human dynamics, she creates unforgettable characters who feel more like friends.  “There are two reasons why people do what they do: 1) one reason they tell others 2) the real reason,” she said. Doesn’t that put a whole new spin on what motivates your characters?

Over the next few posts, we’ll take an in-depth look at characterization and how their motivation can be used to move the plot along. I’ll share tips and techniques from all of the classes and conferences I’ve attended.

Chat with you next Monday!