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The Art of Sims Storytelling

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    lizzielilyylizzielilyy Posts: 4,918 Member
    It’s my birthday today! Not many irl friends to share it with so wanted to drop in and say hello 🫶🏻
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    mightyspritemightysprite Posts: 6,079 Member
    Happy birthday @lizzielilyy !!
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    DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 9,200 Member
    @lizzielilyy Happy birthday!🥳🎂
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    lizzielilyylizzielilyy Posts: 4,918 Member
    @mightysprite @DaniRose2143 @MonaSolstraale thank you! I hope you’re having lovely Fridays! I was going to do some writing but I got distracted by cake 😂
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    HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 826 Member
    @lizzielilyy , happy birthday!
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    You can follow the Legacy Miller from my blog and the forum thread, *Chapter 8.28 posted on the 9th of June 2024*
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    GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 2,419 Member
    Happy Birthday @lizzielilyy !

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    Seventeen & Maldusk Forum thread link
    My name on AHQ (and the upcoming sims forum) is "GlacierSnowGhost".
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    lizzielilyylizzielilyy Posts: 4,918 Member
    Thank you for the happy birthday messages! Apologies for disappearing, right after these my boyfriend proposed 😂🙈
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    Kellogg_J_KelloggKellogg_J_Kellogg Posts: 1,557 Member
    What is the weirdest source of inspiration you used in a story?

    Whoops, I missed this question.

    Sometimes I set the Obscuritron to 11 with references and inspiration. I like to put in little Easter Eggs for the readers that refers to 1960s pop culture, TV and movies. About the weirdest source I've used are a pair of 1960s comedians called Coyle and Sharpe who used to do surreal interviews with real people they met on the street. One routine involved them going up to a man and saying "Sandor 21...repeat" without explaining what that meant to him. I used that line in one chapter as a code signal that got misunderstood.

    And happy birthday and congratulations on your engagement!

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    MonaSolstraaleMonaSolstraale Posts: 1,396 Member
    Thank you for the happy birthday messages! Apologies for disappearing, right after these my boyfriend proposed 😂🙈
    It sounds quite romantic. Congratulations <3<3<3
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    mightyspritemightysprite Posts: 6,079 Member
    @lizzielilyy Wow!! I hope you are now feeling more positively about your birthday :)
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    lizzielilyylizzielilyy Posts: 4,918 Member
    @MonaSolstraale @mightysprite thank you so much! It's been a blur haha.

    I hope you're both well!

    I'm trying desperately to rediscover my motivation and write after a few months off :joy:
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    HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 826 Member
    Hello everyone! I'm back with a question I've been wondering all week. The question is:

    How do you handle characters from cultures and/or epochs very far away from your own? How hard do you try to accurately represent them in terms of appearance, names, traditions etc..., and when do you decide you put enough effort into it instead?

    I'm asking because this week I've been searching all the internet for how to better represent a sim who is from India from a new save that (maybe) could become a new story, at some point. I've started to think stuff like: "Okay, cool character, but India it's huge and has a ton of languages and groups, are the name and surname I have in mind for her actually used in her birth place or not?", or "Is this style of clothing common all over India, or is it just what I see on TV?", or even: "What is a realistic favourite dish for her!?", and usually at that point I realise I'm probably exaggerating and remain stuck in this way, and thus move on. :P

    Also, this question also leads me to explore the opposite end of the matter, which is:

    How do you react when your own Country and/or culture is (unintentionally) misrepresented in the media and/or Simlit? Do you see where it comes from, or it's just annoying to you?
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    You can follow the Legacy Miller from my blog and the forum thread, *Chapter 8.28 posted on the 9th of June 2024*
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    SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,776 Member
    edited May 25
    Very interesting question and discussion @HermioneSims!


    How do you handle characters from cultures and/or epochs very far away from your own? How hard do you try to accurately represent them in terms of appearance, names, traditions etc..., and when do you decide you put enough effort into it instead?
    Whenever I'm writing people from countries other than England, I will always look at general cultural values, naming conventions and traditions, things that are typically considered important to them, stuff about family, typical beliefs, things that are considered rude or otherwise frowned upon, common sayings / idioms and such. I enjoy doing cultural research for my story and given the historical nature I've had to do some extra digging into these places at certain time periods as well. I've learned some interesting tidbits about the history of different countries, and it's lucky I did since naming conventions changing over time is a mistake I had to rectify with both Iris and Violeta.

    I try to do enough research to make the character seem like they actually are from the country they're from, but not so much that they're just a walking example of my ability to look at stuff online and that so I don't just seem like I'm trying to say 'look at me, I'm doing a diversity, where's my parade?!' . For some representations I also look up common stereotypes and things to avoid, but I don't abide wholly by everything written on them, because the authors of those posts can also have their own biases and sometimes can come across as 'you can only write X's experience to match mine.' I tend to take things in common across multiple people's experiences and work with (or without if they're a stereotype or otherwise largely negative) that. Plus if I'm just reading lists and entirely abiding by them, I'm not really making a character, I'm just ticking off boxes and too much of that can lead to bland characters which can lead to different problems.

    A lot of my characters do their best to 'blend in' in Henford because a lot of Henford's people aren't mindful of other people's cultures. Though that's not the case with the main cast, mainly because witches try to stick together, Reynold as a priest welcomes all sorts of people into the monastery, and Owen has worked alongside and shared his knowledge with people all around the world, so for them it's not surprising to meet folk with different experiences and they all welcome the experience of getting to know people from all over. So far in terms of the more mainline characters that aren't English, we have Áine who's Irish, Kat who's Tswana, Julian is French, Volpe is Italian, Oskar is German, Violeta is Romanian, Iris is Japanese, and Lydia is Chinese/American.


    How do you react when your own Country and/or culture is (unintentionally) misrepresented in the media and/or Simlit? Do you see where it comes from, or it's just annoying to you?
    I'm English, so most of the time I don't care that much because it's just funny most of the time or because some stereotypes are fairly accurate (the constant rain and the tea obsession for one). It's hard not to laugh at the English anyway. I think one of the biggest and funniest misrepresentations is when people think it's just one big London, or they expect everyone to either have posh or London accents. The amount of times folks from the US have heard me speak and they are legit let down because I sound like neither :D Or where they think everyone talks like: 'I'm going to drink some tea, I is!' though I think that at this point is just a joke and folks know it isn't the case.


    I can't think of misrepresentations that annoy me though, most of them are just humorously inaccurate. Most of the SimLits I read are either based on an American analog, or not analogous to any existing country so it's hard to say about how it comes up in SimLit. Tales of Henford by Yimi is fun though.
    Post edited by SnowBnuuy on
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    mightyspritemightysprite Posts: 6,079 Member
    edited May 26
    @HermioneSims In terms of being bothered by misrepresentation, I'm a proud member of the LGBTQ Christian community, and have a mixed Christian/Jewish family, so I have been seeing some aspect of myself misrepresented pretty much all of my life lol. Lots of Christians don't understand LGBTQ people, lots of LGBTQ people don't understand Christians, and lots of non-Jews don't understand Judaism at all. It can be annoying, but I'm so used to it, plus I know other people suffer from misrepresentation much worse in much more serious ways.

    Honestly, I love reading sympathetically presented Christian characters, Jewish characters, LGBTQ characters, even if it's clear the writer doesn't always know those worlds from the inside. I'd rather read a writer who is trying to reach out and understand even if they get it wrong sometimes, than a writer who is relying on lazy stereotypes, or taking cheap shots at religious people or gay people or people who don't use he/she pronouns.

    I also really love reading people who are going deep in writing about their own culture and own background. If someone gets specific enough, their own culture and background are something unique, that will be news to most other people-- and it's what the writer knows from the inside, so it will feel real in a way that something based on research can't.
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    Qnshr5Qnshr5 Posts: 474 Member
    Hi! I’ve been lurking on this thread for a long time. I really like these questions so I thought I’d give it a stab. Sorry it's long.

    How do you handle characters from cultures and/or epochs very far away from your own? How hard do you try to accurately represent them in terms of appearance, names, traditions etc..., and when do you decide you put enough effort into it instead?
    I use my own background and how I like to be represented. Don’t shove it down the audience’s throat that this character is [fill in the blank]. Sprinkle details about their culture throughout the narrative. We don’t need to be reminded that your Indian character wears a sari every other paragraph. If she wears a sari every day then I’d treat it like me wearing a T-shirt every day. Establish it and bring it up when it’s significant to the story. Know when a tradition is significant and when it’s mundane to the character. A daily tradition isn’t as big of a deal as a yearly one. However, a daily tradition can be very important to the character. A deeply religious character will take daily prayers very seriously while another character might go through the motions of prayer just because that’s what they were taught to do. When it comes to names, I like to look at what real people are named, not just what baby lists online have. I look at actors, artists, politicians, etc. from the time period the person would have lived. Unfortunately, the further back you go the harder it can be to find a good amount of names for girls and women, and for common people, so sometimes I have to make due with baby lists or more modern names. YouTube and Tik Tok also have a wealth of information about daily lives and traditions from people all over the world by the people that live it. It’s a good way to see people’s personalities and how your character might be modeled.

    I think the main thing is to make sure you have a fleshed out, developed character. Their culture and traditions should enhance their character, not be their character. If you get to the point where all you can think about (and worry about) are traditions, beliefs, culture, fashion, blah blah blah then it’s time to stop and push all of that aside. Forget about it and write a scene. Either that stuff will naturally flow into the scene or when you read it back, you’ll know where to place it.

    How do you react when your own Country and/or culture is (unintentionally) misrepresented in the media and/or Simlit? Do you see where it comes from, or it's just annoying to you?
    My country being misrepresented isn’t that big of a deal. I can’t be that mad when I come from an imperialistic nation whose biggest export is war and media culture. That said, I do roll my eyes at the overdone ones. Like, I find the excessively patriotic American stereotype to be annoying not because there aren’t Americans who are excessively patriotic, but because the “excessive” part has a lot to do with politics and subcultures (or it’s the 4th of July… or the Olympics). However, I do understand where the stereotype comes from so it’s not really people outside the country’s fault. It’s our own media’s fault for making so much excessively patriotic stuff especially if the material involves the U.S. military. That, and those who are excessively patriotic are really loud and obnoxious about it. Ultimately, as an American, misrepresentations -- whether intentional or unintentional -- can’t actually hurt me. I live in a superpower with the largest military on the planet with a passport that can easily get me in/out of many countries. Representing Americans as stupid and lazy or whatever doesn’t change or threaten my privileges as one. And if the stereotypes are played for comedic effect, I find them to be very funny.

    On the flip side, when it comes to misrepresenting Black/African Americans and our culture, I can get offended. This has to do with the fact that as a racial minority misrepresentations can be harmful and have been harmful throughout our history and in the present. I think this is true for all descendants of the African diaspora who aren’t the dominant group in their country and extends to Africans who move to those places. It can also make traveling more difficult when people in other countries see you as a negative or dangerous stereotype. People think Black culture is simple when it’s complex. I realize the American media plays a big role. I realize many people in the world have never met a Black American and truly don’t know any better, but it’s hard not to feel some type of way. I have 100% read and stopped reading SimLit that had the “sassy black hood chick” or “violent black man in a gang" or any attempt at what the writer thinks is AAVE. Are there people like that who exist? Yep. Can you write them in your story? Yep. Should they be the only Black person in your story? Nope. Should they be fleshed out and developed so they feel like a real person and not a caricature? YES! Should you attempt AAVE if it’s not a dialect you actually speak or grew up around? Never! (Trust me. We can tell!)

    Even people in a culture don’t completely understand the culture so someone on the outside definitely won’t (not completely). This is why I say it comes down to a well-rounded character who is enhanced by their culture. A good character covers a multitude of sins.
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    HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 826 Member
    Thanks a lot for the comments, it's interesting to read how far from what I was considering when writing the question this conversation is moving already!

    Also, I find it very interesting how the conversation about including diversity here is compared to what I'm used to. I'm Italian and for many years I posted SimLit on a local forum within a very uniform group of people, where the general tendency is to flatten everything to what's normal to us. The English SimLit sphere is the polar opposite instead, both readers and writers have massively different backgrounds and I find it fascinating how this affects my writing and the level at which I (at least try) to move further away from the kind of characters and storylines I used to feel comfortable with.

    Anyway, the general summary up to now sounds like: "No diversity-placeholders or stereotype characters, in particular when they're perpetrating bad stereotypes", and "Well-rounded characters are more important than 100% accuracy", which I generally agree with.

    Moving to more detailed comments:

    @SnowBnuuy
    Your story is one of the first I thought about when writing the question, it really includes characters from a lot of different places (with the extra difficulty step of being set several centuries ago!) I mean, it's surely very interesting to learn so much about so many different places and cultures, and the result is great, but it sounds like a lot of extra work (if I had more free time I'd like to do that too, but now I really can't dedicate so much time to that!)

    As for the last comment, I'd love to be able to give different regional "voices" to my characters, but for the moment I'm still mostly working on making my writing readable instead. Also, before reaching that point, I should probably at least learn how to fully separate UK and US English differences and to be consistent with it :P

    @mightysprite
    The examples you give are indeed very interesting... I mean, thinking about it, both identity and religion are not only topics many people* are very ignorant about, but also topics people can have massive disagreements about. In this kind of situation, I imagine the chances of seeing disappointing** representations are probably very high!

    Also, I agree in saying that the most immersive and accurate stories in a specific culture usually come from people within that very group. I'm actually very hesitant to start a historical or realistic story set in a place other than my own, and also writing about my own place could be quite challenging...

    * I'd say I'm quite ignorant about many aspects about both, honestly.
    ** To use an euphemism

    @Qnshr5 , welcome to the thread! And don't worry, in this section we love long posts!
    That was indeed a very good list of suggestions, in particular for historical writing. Actually, in SimLit I tend to write very short descriptions, but on the other hand I spend a lot of time choosing clothes and hairstyles because, being SimLit a mixed text/pictures medium, the characters' appearance is always in front of the reader! In a text-only work instead, I agree that those details get old quickly.

    As for the second answer instead, that was a very interesting paragraph to read too. Regarding the "general US" part of the answer, I found it particularly interesting because most of the movies, TV series etc... I can think of that are set in the US are produced within the same country, yet the representation tends to focus over and over on few topics and situations. It's actually something we people from Europe don't think about often, but it actually takes very little to realise that the US is very large and diverse, and that if the media industry is all handled by a small group of people the biases in the final products can still be huge.

    The last part of the comment was particularly interesting to me, as I have to admit I'm a particularly ignorant person on the topic (to say, I had to search what "AAVE" stands for). Thus, I don't think I'm in a position to comment in a meaningful way, but thanks for sharing!
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    You can follow the Legacy Miller from my blog and the forum thread, *Chapter 8.28 posted on the 9th of June 2024*
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    SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,776 Member
    edited May 26
    Thanks everyone for sharing their experiences with misrepresentation. Short response here since I don't want to speak over anyone on anything I know nothing about and my one brain cell has been trying to word this for almost 6 hours with no luck.

    @HermioneSims :
    To tell the truth, I think I've lost the voice of a lot of my characters as the story has gone on. Everyone sounded very distinct at first but I think I've lost touch with trying to give everyone their own little manners of speech, with few exceptions. If it wasn't mentioned that Lydia lived in San Myshuno most of , possibly all of her life you wouldn't know it from the way I write the way she talks. As in your case, it's difficult though I think when English isn't your first language to separate US and UK English differences. I mean even I sometimes default to US words and spellings for different reasons.

    I do have a habit of going down research rabbit-holes with this story, and I've enjoyed what I've learned about the folklore and history of different communities and countries and how things have changed. It does take a lot of work but I enjoy doing it and seeing what I can put in. A lot of my research doesn't actually go into the story, though, either because it's not relevant or because it seems too thrown-in sometimes.


    General responses:
    'Even people in a culture don’t completely understand the culture so someone on the outside definitely won’t (not completely).'

    I think this is an important point, for various reasons, and it brings me to a sort of side point in that sometimes people can think their own experience is the only one, and anything outside of it is wrong. This isn't something I've encountered in SimLit, thankfully, at least not on the forum - but I've seen a lot of folk in my own communities act this way in the context of other things, and it doesn't help in terms of representing the diversity within groups. What is alienating for one person within a group could be eye-opening or validating for another person. It gets complicated. There's a difference between something harmful and /or stereotypical, and things that just aren't relatable for some people that might be for others.


    'I'd rather read a writer who is trying to reach out and understand even if they get it wrong sometimes, than a writer who is relying on lazy stereotypes, or taking cheap shots at religious people or gay people or people who don't use he/she pronouns.'

    Agreed; 90% of the time, a slightly inaccurate but sympathetic portrayal from someone who did what they could with what they knew is always going to be more interesting than someone relying on tired stereotypes or 'punching down' on the usual people who get ridiculed constantly.

    I also really love reading people who are going deep in writing about their own culture and own background. If someone gets specific enough, their own culture and background are something unique, that will be news to most other people-- and it's what the writer knows from the inside, so it will feel real in a way that something based on research can't.

    Oh yeah, I always love seeing people's own experiences slip into their writing and the authenticity of it all. This was what I enjoyed when I read a bit of a SimLit based on the author's experiences growing up Irish, and I think the same when reading stories written by older SimLit authors as well.
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    rednenemonrednenemon Posts: 3,208 Member
    edited May 29
    How do you handle characters from cultures and/or epochs very far away from your own? How hard do you try to accurately represent them in terms of appearance, names, traditions etc..., and when do you decide you put enough effort into it instead?

    Research.

    Lots and lots of research.
    When writing Chronicles some years back, I researched various aspects of Chinese culture, on account of one of the main characters being half-Chinese (and being very in tune with that half). So, from the point he's officially introduced,
    you have to wonder;

    How much of his mannerisms is in regards to his heritage's culture, and how much of it is just him being a quirky old man?

    On the Non-Simlit side:
    One fanfic I wrote involved a character discovering that he is the illegitimate firstborn child of a long dead king (said character having been asleep for a hundred years...it makes sense in the game the story is based in). At a later point, I wrote another fanfic where he takes the throne.

    However, the King did have a legitimate child, the first character's half-sister (they don't have that blood connection in the game). So this brought an issue; who'd have more of a claim to the throne, the illegitimate firstborn son, or the legitimate second born daughter?

    I looked it up and from what I saw, no, an illegitimate child doesn't have a claim to the throne. However, in several other media, this has happened (examples being Martin Septim from The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and Historia Reiss from Attack on Titan). Thing is, they were only able to ascend the throne because all the legitimate heirs were dead.

    Therefore, I figured that if any legitimate heirs were unable to take the throne (going back to my story, the half-sister in this case), that would let the illegitimate heir inherit the crown. So what I did was, I had the legitimate heir give up her right to rule, so that her brother could do the ruling, despite him not being legitimate.

    TL:DR: Do research on other cultures, but don't be afraid to tweak it accordingly.

    ...What was the actual question, again? :D
    Post edited by rednenemon on
    AO3: Silver_Shortage_in_Markarth <(Where I'm usually at nowadays)
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    GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 2,419 Member
    How do you handle characters from cultures and/or epochs very far away from your own? How hard do you try to accurately represent them in terms of appearance, names, traditions etc..., and when do you decide you put enough effort into it instead?

    Most of the stories I write are fantasy or (sort of) science fiction. And most of the time, the story is set in a place that is not real. This is partly because I want to just make stuff up, not do tons of research. I enjoy creating the world's traditions, history, religious beliefs, social hierarchies etc. myself. The behaviors of the characters are developed from a combination of their individual personalities and their interactions with the imaginary world I've put them into. For example, one story (non-simlit) I worked on for a long time was set in a world where the entire remaining human civilization had been under-siege by by "monsters" from all sides for thousands of years. A society had developed where women held all the political, social, and economic power, and only females were granted legal rights from birth, while males were all conscripted into the military at a very young age to begin training, and had to earn their rights through years of service on "The Wall". How each individual character felt about this depended on their own personalities and experiences within that system.

    I actually tend to shy away from attempting to represent real world cultures much, unless I have personal familiarity with them. With Simlit it's been a little weird. On the one hand, the sim world does not look like Earth to me. There are vampires, ghosts, magic, mermaids, trees that grow gemstones or money, carnivorous cowplants etc. So I've always treated it like a made-up fantasy world I can do whatever I want with. But at the same time, many of the places, food, clothing styles, architecture styles etc. are obviously based on real world cultures and history. Because I prefer having characters who visually look very different from each other (it makes them easier to tell apart), I end up with a variety of skin tones, hair colors, clothing styles etc. But most of the time I'm not intentionally creating a character that is meant to represent a specific real world race or culture.

    This is why in SAM, the only characters whose past, "lore", and cultural backgrounds I have really developed much are the alien and the vampire. Because those are made up and I can do as I please. For the human characters, even if I say where they are from, or where their ancestors are from (using the in-game "world" names), I so far haven't done much with that information at all, and possibly won't. I develop them as characters based on their personalities first and foremost, and a lot of their feelings and values are drawn from inside myself. To some readers this might come across as "flattening" other people's experiences into what's familiar to me, and in a way it is. But I can only write convincingly about things I have experienced myself or have completely made up out of my own imagination. Anything else will fall short and seem "off" to anyone who knows more about it than me.

    I do try to do some research. In particular I want to avoid the most common and annoying stereotypes as voiced by people who have had to deal with them. But I rely most on just focusing on each character's individual personality or current situation, and hoping that it is clear to readers that "this is not Earth". It's a made up world that has its own history, its own rules, its own traditions, and its own set of social problems. And I will be making those up. In Simlit, I may use things already explicitly part of the game (for example "Winterfest", but I will choose for myself what it means or why it exists).

    I don't know that this is really a good way to do things. I often feel a lot of anxiety about this very question, because I know not everyone will necessarily be happy with what I do. But I also know that unless I can travel and spend time for real in a place or among a group of people, no amount of armchair research will ever be enough to get it right. So I just try to make my characters feel like real individual people, give them understandable in-story, in-story world, and in-character reasons for their actions and feelings, and focus on what I am (I hope) good at and love to do which is making up my own imaginary world's lore.

    How do you react when your own Country and/or culture is (unintentionally) misrepresented in the media and/or Simlit? Do you see where it comes from, or it's just annoying to you?

    I grew up in Alaska. And although I've moved around a lot since then, I still think of myself as "Alaskan". And I can tell you that, despite being technically part of the USA, most Hollywood movies or American TV shows (if set in "America") always seemed foreign or "pretend" to me as a kid (even if they were supposed to be "realistic") because the culture, lifestyle, landscapes, cities, events etc. depicted were nothing like my own world. The US is a huge country geographically, and different parts of it are really, seriously, different from each other.

    I have seen hardly any representation of Alaska at all in fictional movies, TV shows, or books, and the little I have seen never looks like Alaska to me. Not the lifestyles, not the towns, not the landscapes, none of it. And, yeah. It kind of bugs me. But the things that bug me are usually the more nature based details (grizzly bears don't stand up on their hind legs and roar and attack every human they encounter, moose don't "bound" through the forest like deer, you can't see the aurora borealis in the middle of summer, etc.) People... well... there are lots of people with all kinds of personalities and backgrounds, even where I grew up, so I'm more willing to accept things that don't seem "Alaskan" in the characters, because I can shrug it off with "well, there's probably someone like that around here somewhere, I just haven't met them". But get nature wrong, get science wrong, and I notice. But even that doesn't bother me more than momentarily. Because I'm willing to build an industrial strength suspension bridge over the chasm of my disbelief for a good story.

    As for other aspects of who I am... Well, I rarely see anyone like myself depicted in stories either. They would have to be an unattractive, non-feminine, geeky, daydreaming, acne-prone, introverted, outdoorsy, miserly, anxiety-prone, set in their ways, grumpy, naive, cynical, demi-romantic, possibly asexual, not really certain about gender, "female" who talks to themself, hates driving, and secretly thinks of themself as male. And... I haven't seen any character like that yet, so I can't say if the writer got it right or not. I never think of characters in stories (other than my own) as being "me" in any way. Occasionally I come across a character who is some of those things, and I love them, even if it's just because they make me laugh at myself.
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    SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,776 Member
    @GlacierSnow
    From a European standpoint, we like to say about how Americans 'don't understand us' but to be totally honest to a lot of UK folk I've met they forget there are other places in the US besides Texas and New York. XD Your non simlit story sounds interesting. I really love seeing gender non-conforming folks' explorations of gender in society, and I like these ones where it's got some complexity to it.

    I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, at least not in my opinion. Not everything in SimLit is going to be 1 to 1 with the real world and I think that's perfectly fine. Wanting to make it authentic is the difficult part sometimes, because you want it to feel real and believable, but at the same time don't want to stand out like a sore thumb to those in the know. Honestly I'm glad you're the type who doesn't mind occasionally suspending disbelief when necessary.

    What you mentioned in the bottom paragraph reminds me of what I had in mind for Oskar, because 1) I wanted historical trans rep and 2) I got tired of the in-community gatekeeping about how people choose to carry themselves and refer to themselves and wanted a character with a more complex relationship with gender. He's not really aware of anyone else being like him, or it even being a possibility. He still sticks with he/him pronouns, still refers to himself as a man, and is fine people referring to him as a man even though he thinks of himself as both male and female because he's not really sure if he'd want to be called something else. Sometimes it's fun having characters whose gender identities are hard to nail down. If it were set in the modern day, I imagine he'd have more specific wording for how he'd want to be referred to- probably bigender or genderfluid or something. On top of that, I liked the idea of having an aroace vampire since they're usually associated with passion and romance. That, and I didn't have many or any really ace characters so I figured I'd make one.
    they/them or she/her
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    mightyspritemightysprite Posts: 6,079 Member
    Following the discussion among the proper writers (unlike me) with great interest :)
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    HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 826 Member
    edited May 30
    This conversation is taking even more interesting turns than I anticipated!
    Actually, some of the points being addressed reminded me of something I was sure to have read on this same thread a few months, so I scrolled back the pages until I found it again. It was a conversation started in mid-September . I didn't expect it to be from so long ago, maybe it's another symptom I'm getting old :#

    @rednenemon , being so willing to do such in-depth research for writing fiction is really admirable! When I wrote the question, I was in a moment in which I was getting lost in my story-related research, but now that I calmed down a bit I would probably just agree in saying that somehow it's clear when the amount of information is sufficient for a good story.

    @GlacierSnow
    Writing realistic and fantasy/sci-fi are definitively totally different, I'm more of the second team as well. Building up your own world has all another kind of appeal than researching exotic cultures or historical events, I can see why people tend to stick with either one or the other (or neither, i.e. write contemporary realistic fiction set in their own place).
    I also agree in saying that setting a whole story, and having all the main cast, in a place/epoch you're not familiar with, and wanting to make the story pass as accurate, sounds scarily challenging, definitively not something you can easily sort out with a google search. That's definitively not for all writers... And I also see how the fear of disappointing the readers can be very real, it took a while for me too to overcome it at least enough to start sharing what I write. Anyway, I also rationally know that it's unavoidable that someone will dislike the story anyway, at the end of the day everyone has a different perspective and it's impossible to compromise so much to please everyone (and I don't think this should be the point either, aren't we supposed to be doing this for our own fun?)

    To a smaller scale, I think I see what you mean also with the second answer. I mean, the last (and only time in decades?) my place was named in a movie, this was how the scene looked like. If they didn't name my place, I wouldn't have recognised it :# However, on the other hand, it's also true that (as stated above many times) I'm just as ignorant when it comes to any other place (in particular those I've never visited), so I generally don't get mad about it.
    And I get a lot the "science taken wrong" part too, in my case it's mostly for scenes in series like CSI where, in 30 min, the lab technician can run 10 sample analysis, get the perfectly stored DNA for 5 different suspects, recognise the exact store where a 3 days old burger was bought from the brand of butter they use, or tell you where some traces of soil are from using mass spectrometry. I came to the point of thinking that all movies are a bit fantasy and with magic in them, and go on with it XD

    The part about relating to characters in fiction instead would probably be a good prompt for a new conversation, it's such a huge topic... My general impression is that a lot of the character tropes most commonly found in fiction aren't that realistic after all, nor that they are found in many real people, it's more like they work because they make the story engaging to a large share of the public. In one of my old stories, for instance, there was a character who behave in a very similar way I used to when I was a bit younger, and even I was like: "🐸🐸🐸🐸, this is boring, I have to find something else for her to do!"
    On the opposite direction, however, I also see why people love to identify with characters in the media they consume, it sounds like people would be way more invested in that very character and their story, right? Sadly, if you asked me to list some characters I identified with over time, I couldn't make any name right now (nope, not even Hermione :P )
    Post edited by HermioneSims on
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    You can follow the Legacy Miller from my blog and the forum thread, *Chapter 8.28 posted on the 9th of June 2024*
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    Qnshr5Qnshr5 Posts: 474 Member
    @HermioneSims
    I used to write historical fiction. It's what I did when I first started writing. So even though I haven't written in that genre in a looong time, I still use it as my default to worldbuilding because the details of history are a lot like the details of building our world and a non-existing world. (I mostly write horror and fantasy now.) I didn't mean to give you advice you don't need. I guess I didn't understand what you were looking for. As far as visuals go, I'd assume that most people understand the game only has so much you can do when it comes to appearances unless you're into doing CC yourself (and even that has its limits). I doubt anyone would hold anything against you for not having your Sim look exactly like someone from a particular region. You could put a note somewhere in the story that describes where the Sim would actually be from and the culture, then add a picture of someone from the culture in real life. That way you've acknowledged and honored the real culture while reminding the audience of the limits of the game.

    Sorry if I came across poorly in my first response. I've been very sick and medicated for two weeks so I wrote things in a weird state of mind. I'm feeling better now and am more sober. This next part is clarification of what I was trying to say, but did a terrible job of.
    I hope no one thinks I'm trying to gatekeep the African American community or culture. I'm not, but I think it might have come across that way. I wasn't thinking of my audience and may have said some things that make it sound like I'm making rules about how to portray Black Americans. Honestly, I wasn't even thinking about Black Americans portraying Black Americans in media. To me, how individuals of an in-group choose to portray themselves is a separate subject from how people outside the group portray characters meant to be of that group. They do intersect, but they're not the same. I was thinking of how someone who is not an African American and is using a Black stereotype/ misrepresentation should handle that. I do stand by what I said. But I want to clarify as I feel it was poorly worded.

    1. Make them a character with motivations and reasons for being the way they are. A stereotype is often presented as "this is just how these people are". A character is "this is how this individual is ___ because..." Stereotypes are all about making an entire group one-dimensional. Once you make an individual complex, they're not a stereotype anymore.
    2. Having 2 or more characters who are of the same group, but different from each other, will help you to bring some balance because you're not representing an entire group of people as being this one stereotype. This is really helpful for characters you don't have time to get deep into. So, I might have a walk-on character who is the "angry, black woman" stereotype. I can bring some balance by later having a scene with a hippie, Zen black woman character and another with a nosy, sweet granny. The stereotype isn't a stereotype anymore because it's not saying all black women are this way, but this one individual black woman is this way. This is also good if you're not sure if you've fallen into a stereotype or not. Since stereotypes are connected to specific communities, cultures, and time periods they aren't the same everywhere. What might be a stereotype or offensive where you're from may not be where I'm from. Having a variety of characters from the group shows the range of people within it thus dispelling any notions of "this is how all these people are".
    3. As far as using African American Vernacular English (AAVE) I still believe you shouldn't use it if you're not familiar with it. AAVE is not Black slang. It's a dialect of English. I'm not pretending to be an expert or anything. I'm not fluent in AAVE at all. I'm not trying to gatekeep. People who aren't familiar with AAVE need to be extremely careful because it's very easy to come across as minstrelsy (blackface).
    4. If someone did misrepresent my community unintentionally and it was brought to their attention, I'd want them to acknowledge it. If it's an ongoing story, they should at least do better going forward. Honestly, the offensive Simlit stories that I have in my head as examples were mostly from Sims 3 stories back in the day. I used to do SimLit with Sims 3 before I left for years. Partly because of how toxic some parts of the community were. When I said I could be offended, I don't mean over little things. I can't think of a Sims 4 story that was offensive to me off the top of my head. I've noticed more stories that involve larger casts of black and brown characters and well-rounded black characters. There are more people of color in Simlit now than there was then. And creators seem more thoughtful in how they create and portray characters who are different from themselves.
    5. As far as the America stuff goes. I was trying to say American stereotypes don't offend me, but can be annoying. I'm sorry the explanation was long and weird. I was really out of it talking about passports and stuff.
    [/spoilers]
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    HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 826 Member
    @Qnshr5

    No worries, when I made that question I was mostly manifesting my frustration after hours spent to find the perfect name for a side character to a story I may decide to start publishing, at some point, and who also happened to be born in India. After calming down a bit, I would now say that the character is probably so marginal that what I found is probably good enough anyway.

    All suggestions and opinions are welcomed in this thread anyway, I'm sure the others found your post interesting to read as well. Also, I found the wording of the previous answer fine already, but I also have to say that I'm constantly commenting: "what was I thinking when I wrote that?" to my posts, and usually my justifications are way more trivial than yours. The clarification was indeed a very interesting read, anyway!
    2if86miljyb3.png
    You can follow the Legacy Miller from my blog and the forum thread, *Chapter 8.28 posted on the 9th of June 2024*

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