1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    How to start researching a real place and culture?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by J.T. Woody, Dec 6, 2018.

    So, I already have 2 WIP that I'm working on currently, so I don't plan to start THIS one for a while but I'm curious:

    I like geography and world cultures. When I was looking at a map of Uganda (why that particular country? I have no idea), I saw that there were various little islands in Lake Victoria. I read that people often go missing on the lake. Naturally, I day-dreamed and ended up writing down the premise for a story that I will write eventually. Its about a mythical island untouched by man and inhabited only by spirits in the middle of the lake. Enter girl who washes ashore the island. She decides never to leave. Years later, a young fisherman in a boating accident washes ashore the lake and falls in love with the (now) woman and vows never to leave.
    years later, a "useless" young man sails a rinky-dink boat and comes across the island. He sees the child (between 13 and 15) of the man and woman and believes shes a spirit. He kidnaps her and takes her back to his people as proof that the island and the spirits exist. The dude is not very respected in his community; he's a wimp, not very strong, kind of sickly, not very attractive. He was tasked to find the mythical island with the hopes that he'd die in the process and when he comes back with the girl, they originally don't believe him. There is more, but that's not the point...

    I want to write about my made up island in the middle of Lake Victoria, but I also want to include African culture and folklore. Geographically, Lake Victoria shares its shores with Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. I figure I would do research leisurely..... but I don't know where to start!
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  2. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

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    I like the idea the island be habitat by ghosts. And since you are interested in incorporating African culture, why not starting from the cities you just mentioned in your post? Try to understand how the society works, old traditions not only religious but also ethics, laws, the mentality, and as you mentioned as well folklore. Then select what attracts you or you believe makes more sense to your story, so at the end, you can give a personal touch on your island. I hope this helps, keep on good work and have fun. :superidea:
     
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  3. Veltman

    Veltman Active Member

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    I am currently writing a horror novel, the setting would initially be North Indiana, USA, but I decided to radicalize and set it in Zimbabwe. Since the settings are geographically close and very similar, maybe we can work together on some of the research?

    Just my two cents.
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    google is a good place to start if you are dealing with places you can't easily go - and the library
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How is it possible that an island untouched by man gets 3 different individuals on its shores - two of which were accidents - within the space of one generation? You'd think the island would be the easiest thing to find. I'm hoping there are complexities to this that you haven't explained because readers are gonna pick it apart otherwise...

    As for research, go with whatever intrigues you most first. I'd start with what one of these African countries - it might as well be Uganda - believes of spirits, god and religion in general, since yours is about an island where spirits live. Will you base any of this off African religions or paganism? I believe witchcraft, voodoo and the like are commonplace in Africa (don't ask me which country) but I'm sure you're aware of witch doctors and shamans. My friend who works with sex workers in the anti-trafficking ministry meets Nigerians and other African ladies who have, one way or another, ended up in sex work and a lot of these ladies will not leave their trade because of blood bonds they've made with their traffickers. They believe the gods or some spirits will kill them if they left. I don't know the details of this, and it doesn't sound overly relevant to you in any case, but there you go anyway. I've also heard stories of curses and cursed objects. Prosperity gospel is popular too, if I'm not mistaken - again, no idea which country - perhaps my impression was formed by the fact that I once walked past a prosperity gospel church that was populated only by black people. So anyway, will you use any of these elements in your story?
     
  6. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    The island appears for a reason. think of it like this: they did not happen upon the island by chance, the spirits chose to present this island to these people who, on the mainland, did not have a good life.

    I may use some elements, for example, voodoo or its equivalent in the culture. but many of the element you mentioned are not solely African elements, so I'd have to do some digging into the religion of the Ganda people
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    https://www.everyculture.com/wc/Tajikistan-to-Zimbabwe/Ugandans.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Uganda
    https://kabiza.com/kabiza-wilderness-safaris/the-cultures-and-traditions-of-uganda-and-rwanda/
    http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/baskerville/king/king.html

    Asa I said Google is your friend - it took me less than five minutes to find these.. (using the search term Uganda folklore) this could be easily repeated for the other countries.

    Incidentally in regard to your appearing island you might want to check out some Greek mythology as isle that were only presented to certain people are a common theme
     
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  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    There's probably some Ugandans who can write English and you could read their accounts of the lake and start with some fanfiction?
     
  9. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    English is an official language of Uganda.
     
  10. SutkiKynyR

    SutkiKynyR Banned

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    But Bantu is the most spoken language in Uganda.
     
  11. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, I am sorry. I was suffering from the anti-anthropologistisms. It was late.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's okay. He's gone.
     
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Also for the Op be aware that Bantu isn't one language its a family of languages - people on the islands in lave Victoria speak Lussese which is one of that family
     
  14. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    Swahili is another common bantu language. At one of my previous jobs, I had the privileged to meet an elderly woman from the Congo and a young man from Tanzania. The woman knew five languages including English, but her English wasn't that great and the man from Tanzania did not understand her, so she said "Swahili?" and he nodded, and they started speaking Swahili. Sometimes when I was helping her, she'd switch back and forth from one language to another and not realize it until I bring it to her attention or ask her what the word meant.
    When the girl gets to the island, she is originally confused because she can understand the language(s) and its nothing she has ever heard before. the spirits basically tell her that they speak all languages and on the island, everyone understands. It is a privileged only for those on the island. When the daughter, born on the island, is taken off the island, she knows no language and speaks "jibberish" mixture of all languages, which makes everyone around her think she is dumb and it makes the guy who kidnapped her seem dumb too because he has heard her speak and understood her on the island.
     
  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Swahili is the other official language of Uganda apart from English
     
  16. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    I know I'm hecka late on my response, but I've kept you in mind as I've been leisurely researching. I mainly focused on spirituality and myths/legends. Then I came back to re-read your comment and remembered you were looking for geography vs legends and culture... am I correct?
    If you'd like to look through/look up what I've been reading cultural- and spiritual-wise, let me know!
     
  17. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    I suppose it is because of Lake Victoria Miniature Air Force.

     
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