I want to touch you. But not your skin. I want to see your eyes. I want you to look at me as if you’re trying hard to figure out something. I want to see you smile, the kind of smile that you never show to anyone. The kind of smile that reveals who you really are. I want you. The good and the bad. The confuse and sad. The jolly and silly. I want each and every single part of you —from your body to your soul— from your mind to your heart. I want to hold you and break everything that hurts you. Let me see you. Let me pass through that high wall of yours. Please let me, just let me see you. I just want to know that you’re truly happy.
—  ma.c.a // Let me feel you
I am sorry that I may forget that I have you from time to time, that I forget to share the burden I have on my shoulder and the wrinkles on my forehead. I was always alone in my battles, so please forgive me when I forget to take you along with me sometimes.
—  Lukas W. // A loner with a lover
I hate small talk.
I don’t wanna know “what’s up” or “wyd”.
I want you to tell me your thoughts on religion, what keeps you up at night, what kind of music you listen to, and what your goals are for the future. Tell me your deepest thoughts and what makes you tick.
I want to know your entire galaxy, not just a single star.
—  I Want To Know You

a star was falling outside my window
and I almost made a wish for you


and then I laughed
because I remembered


all the times I prayed on my knees
for your return and I decided


something as beautiful as a shooting star
does not deserve to think of you

—  shooting star by shelby leigh
I wish I could be close to you right now and put my arms around you.
—  Poets Love Her
Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me…You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.
—  John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Just grow and scream and fall hard into the things you love most about life. Kiss boys or girls or both and let yourself be someone else’s reason to smile. Just look world, the big wide whole of it, and remember that every small bit is right there. Right under your feet and you fears and just dance for a moment. Alone or for a crowd, it doesn’t really matter. Just do it. Just this once. And then stop and listen to the Earth as she hold you up high and calls your name. Let her remind you where you came from and whisper where you are going. Just live and belly laugh and be good to your body but never turn down a hot donut. Skinny dip and read under the Oak trees and breathe it all in. Just be. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. For once in your life, just let yourself be.
But do you know what’s absolutely beautiful? Falling in love with the same person over and over again, because it shows that you’re never done with loving them, it shows that you are loving them every second of the day despite everything.
—  The Art of Falling in Love // r.k
Sometimes, I wonder if you reached out to me right now, pleading for me back, what I would do.
I can’t help but wonder if I’d let you back in. I wonder if I’d fall to your feet. I wonder if I’d break down just for the possibility that you could make me feel good again. I wonder how much it’d take for me to come rushing back to you.
I can’t help but wonder if I’d be prideful. I wonder if I’d ignore you and keep my head held high, just to satisfy my hunger to hurt you like you hurt me. Even though I’d be the one who’d end up crying at the end of the night.
But no matter what I would do, it doesn’t matter.
You don’t want me back.
—  v.m -i miss you

They’ve broken you
into pieces,
this world, this life,
Telling you you’re glass.

But although you’ve shattered into fragments,
and these hurting, angry, scared pieces
of yourself,
grasp to survive,
you continue to rise up
from the burnt ashes,
Piece by freakin piece.

And although you’re suffocating,
and the water you keep
swallowing
gives the illusion that you’re drowning,
you don’t let the walls
shudder around you, and
destroy you.

You let it strengthen you,
and
instead of your organs
living in an empty shell,
you rise up over the walls,
rise up from the water
and show them
you’re made of steel.

—  charleigh aleyna.

Why develop a fictional culture?

When you’re creating a race of people for your new world, you need a culture to give those people and their way of life some context. The culture helps determine how the characters act, dress, eat, solve problems, among so many other things. You can (and sometimes, should) have multiple cultures in your world, depending on how large your focus area is. Cultures affect each other, but also serve in a narrative sense to draw contrast in-world and to draw parallels to the reader’s world. 

So here are some thoughts, big and small, that are meant to help inspire you as you create amazing cultures. (And remember that you’re thinking about the following questions in the context of the general population, not your main character(s).) You can simply answer these questions in short-answer form, or you can write a short story to flesh out one or two or three questions at once. If you do that, submit them to me! I’d love to feature them on the blog. 

  • How old do people believe their race is? How old are they really?
  • How prevalent are religions to the common person?
  • What is/are the origin stories of the main religion(s)?
  • What do most people think should be the highest priority:
    • biological family?
    • chosen family?
    • career?
    • service/charity (of any kind)?
    • religion?
    • entertainment/fun?
    • nation?
    • expansion (of nation/culture/influence/understanding)?
  • How do culturally shared priorities shape interactions?
  • What is the common greeting? Does it vary by age, class, rank, or sect?
  • How is gender viewed by the majority? Why?
  • What are common myths/legends of your people and how heavily do they influence the modern day?
  • How trustful are people of outsiders?
  • How welcoming are people, in general, of strangers into their homes?
  • How well do people of various factions (class, race, religion, etc.) get along in society?
  • How far has technology advanced, and how has it been implemented into their daily lives?
  • If magic exists, what do they believe is its origin? Its source?
  • If there is division between magic/non-magic, how do the two treat each other and why? How long has it been that way?
  • What sort of relationship do they have with their ruler?
  • How content is the average person?
  • How do people make their living and how big a part of their life is their career (if applicable)?
  • Do they have “weekends” and if so, what sets them apart from “weekdays”?
  • How do they treat their close friends?
  • How do they treat their enemies?
  • How do they handle small conflict, between individuals or small groups?
  • How do they handle larger conflicts?
  • How are they prepared for any potential war? Do they have some sort of military or militia in place? 
  • How many wars have they, as a society, fought over the course of their lives/history? How much of an impact does that have on their cultural identity? (i.e. WW2′s impact on patriotism in America, and how it’s yet to go away.)
  • What virtues do they value in individuals? What virtues do they say they value? If those are different, why?
  • How do they dress? Does it vary greatly by gender, or not? Is their focus on clothing very practical, religious, sentimental, or simply driven by the latest arbitrary fashion? How do the above answers reflect on the culture on a deeper level?
  • How do they treat their elderly?
  • How do they treat their children?
  • At what age does a baby become a child, a child a young adult, a young adult an adult, an adult an elder?
  • How much regulation does the day-to-day life of the average citizen entail? Or, how involved is the government in micro affairs?
  • How are these people seen throughout their known world? How do other cultures view this culture?

Check out the rest of the Brainstorming Series!
Magic Systems, Part One
Magic Systems, Part Two
New Species
New Worlds