Author Topic: "Cultural Overload" in Fiction?  (Read 1221 times)

Offline scriveningnerd

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"Cultural Overload" in Fiction?
« on: December 01, 2017, 11:08:00 AM »
I am currently knee deep into my first novel, and I have given some of it to some very close family/friends for critique. The feedback that I am getting back seems to be concerning something that is known as "cultural overload" (that's what several of them have referred to it as, anyway). They're saying that what I've given them contains too many different cultures amongst the protagonist and support characters. Is this seriously something that I should be concerned about, or are they all full of shit?

Offline Gyppo

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Re: "Cultural Overload" in Fiction?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2017, 11:18:02 AM »
If that's what they see in your writing then that's probably what you're giving them.

Too many people these days are obsessed with giving equal weight to all opinions, races, etc.  We do indeed live in a multi-cultural society, but we don't spend all our time thinking about all aspects of it at the same time.

If this is what you're forcing your readers to do then a lot of them won't like it.

It may be that you are just overworking the small details which we generally overlook in the 'real world'.  Many new writers do this in attempt to add authenticity.

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Re: "Cultural Overload" in Fiction?
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2017, 04:46:28 AM »
It depends whether you've intentionally included characters of various races, sexual orientations and religious creeds (or not) purely to create a balanced world where everyone is 'inclusive'. It will come across as artificial and ultimately unbelievable and prove a distraction to the actual story.


Jo Bannister

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Re: "Cultural Overload" in Fiction?
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2017, 09:06:23 AM »
It sounds a bit as if you might be falling into the same trap as writers who Do Their Research (the initials are integral).  We all need to do research or we'll make mistakes that will haunt us for years; but if you do too much research the temptation is to work it all in somewhere, so you don't feel you've wasted your time.  And that kills the pace of a piece.

Research is great.  Inclusivity is great.  The secret is to do it, but not to let it show.


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Re: "Cultural Overload" in Fiction?
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2017, 09:53:15 AM »
One thing I never do is give my close friends and family my novel to read.  They never tell the truth about it in case you fall out with them.  There are exceptions of course, but for me it's a no no.

I have a small group of trusted Beta Readers who are published writers.  If you really do have cultural overload, then I suggest you ought to get an independent Beta reader, someone who is a writer to provide you with a professional report on your work. I usually find that reading the first page of someone's novel helps me to know their style of writing.  Sometimes it's even in the opening paragraph.

If I were you, I would get some professional help and don't rely on close friends and relatives. However, if this problem has been referred to each time, then sit up and listen.  If you feel you can fix it, then do so, otherwise send it for professional editing and let the editor advise you.

I always say that if a particular issue crops up on more than two occasions, then you need to check it out and make some adjustments.  You cannot please all of your readers all of the time, but it is important to 'listen' and then make your own mind up.  You can go on editing forever.  The writing of a novel has to finish at some stage.

I wish you every success. ;)


« Last Edit: December 02, 2017, 12:27:18 PM by Lin Treadgold - Author »