1. Kroni
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    Kroni New Member

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    Using real cultures in a fantasy world

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Kroni, Nov 12, 2010.

    I am writing a book involving a sort of pseudo Earth. The story focuses on two fictional continents that are both governed by evil beings, and I have tried to make ethnic backgrounds of the humans in my story ambiguous because countries that exist in the real world simply do not exist in this one. My problem is, I want to use certain words that come from other languages without implying that these nations actually exist within the series. For example, the title of my book is Perdido, but there is no Spain or Mexico. I refer to the word as coming from an "ancient language" that humans chose when referring to the area ruled by the evil beings. There are other problems too, such as naming characters. I don't want to have fantasy names that are unfamiliar to most people, I just want to given them regular names like Joshua or Joel, but I run the the same risk again. Am I overthinking this or is there some way to separate this fictional world from the real world?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you read the tales of the Otori by Lian Hearne? It is clearly based on Japan despite being a fictional country
     
  3. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If this "fantasy" world is supposed to still be Earth (meaning the geographical features are the same, not the political ones), then I do not see it as a problem with using familiar names and having some familiar cultural references.

    Your world will be separated from our world through your own unique creations. I wouldn't worry about such things as familiar names and words. Just be careful not to slip up and refer to Spanish or something. ;)
     
  4. lumivalko
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    lumivalko Member

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    If you want to say that Spanish is an ancient language, then I would say that all names etc. come from the ancient cultures too, which could imply that either it is an alternative reality where some of the history may be the same but the "now" is different, or that the story happens in the future after something has happened to our culture so that it doesn't exist anymore, or that your story is just so far in the future that our time is forgotten for the most part etc.
     
  5. Kroni
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    Kroni New Member

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    I wouldn't say that these events occur in the "future". I wouldn't even say the geography of Earth is the same. None of the real events that have happened in life are a part of this world's history, just bits of the languages and certain inventions such as the sword or ships.
     
  6. lumivalko
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    lumivalko Member

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    It could be so far in the future that the geography has changed. Or maybe it isn't Earth, but another planet... To where a huge space ship crashed and the humans had to start again from a scratch...

    Or something, I'm just throwing suggestions here :p
     
  7. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    Either way, I think it's fine to base your work on existing culture. Many authors do already. :)
     
  8. cjs0216
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    cjs0216 Member

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    You could check out ConLanging. Inventing your own language based on an existing one seems like a decent idea if you are concerned about using words. The idea is that you create enough of the language to name stuff. I assume that when your characters are speaking, they won't be speaking in the language, except maybe occasionally. You could splice together several languages this way and create unique names that are still kind of familiar. I myself have never tried this, but I have looked into it. Wikia has a whole wiki dedicated to it. Holly Lisle's website also seems to be a great resource for it as well as tons of other stuff.
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    My two cents. :)
     

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