Worldbuilding Questions: Post #7- People and Customs, Part One
I could not figure out what to post today! I sat in front of my computer, looking at my list of ideas for a half hour, and could not for the life of me figure out what I wanted to write. So I decided to bring y’all another worldbuilding post to continue this saga.
We’ve been focusing at worldbuilding on a larger scale for the most part so far in this series. Geography, natural resources, magic: we’ve built up a strong frame for your world to stand on. Now, I would like us to delve into your individual society or societies and the way that those function in their day-to-day lives. This is an incredibly detail oriented part of the worldbuilding process, so take care in your creating. You may gain whole new ideas from this section of the questionnaire!
Again, here’s the link to today’s questions!
I’m going to go ahead and skip over the first three questions in the “General” section because I believe they are in the wrong place and aren’t general at all!
This first question is going to draw on pieces that we discussed back when we were building your world. Does the weather or climate create any habits or customs for your society? I want to take that one step further and also include celestial bodies’ effects. For example, maybe your moon rises during what you consider the day, and the sun rises in the evening. That would affect what times people may wake up or farm or use artificial light sources.
Now, we’re going to go very small scale and talk about the family unit. What does the average family look like? How many people are included traditionally? Does this include or exclude extended family? (Note: we’re talking about trends here, not a homogenous end-all be-all detail. Remember not to make your societies one-noted!) Are there any sort of traditional family responsibilities or customs that are undertaken by the people? This can range from a society where the male is the head of the household or a society where a concept of Mother’s Day is a three week long festival celebrating mothers everywhere. Don’t be afraid to invent whatever you want, even if your book may never mention it. These details create depth that may pop up in other places.
Rites of passage can also be important to the understanding of society. In our world, these include events like a bat mitzvah or something even simpler like obtaining your first driver’s license. In a fantastical realm, these can include things like a knighting ceremony or a naming ceremony after birth.
Speaking of birth, what kind of customs and rituals surround the birth of a child? Who is present at the birth? Does the father stay with the mother or is he kicked out? What about the grandmother? Is there a midwife or a doctor present? How is a newborn introduced to the rest of the family? Is there a formal celebration? How about the rest of the community?
As these children grow up, who raises them? Is it a joint parent responsibility, or does one take over more than the other? How do children dress differently than adults, or do they dress any differently? What year do they begin their education? How long does that education last?
Finally, death. What customs surround death and the burial process? Is there a special group of people who takes over the ceremony of death, or does the family take on that responsibility? I really like this last question: are the dead feared, revered, or ignored? This could shape all kinds of other legends and lore.
Every society has their customs surrounding food. Food has always been something that brings us and bonds us together. So your fantasy world should be no different!
How do people eat together? Do families sit together at the dinner table, or is there a separation between adults and children? What about servants? Do they eat with the family or separate from view?
What dishes are considered holiday or special occasion meals? (Don’t worry, we’ll touch on holidays later in this series.) Are there any foods associated with events like births and burials? What about drinks? Do people only drink alcohol on certain days?
This questionnaire does a great job distinguishing between the average person and the upper class citizen. It asks pointed questions on both formal habits and customs as well as special arrangements that need to be made for important guests visiting. It even encourages you to think about how dining tables are set up and where the guests of honor or heads of household usually sit in relative to the other people.
I think I’ve given you a lot to think about, so I’ll stop here and continue with people and customs in a following post! I hope you all enjoyed. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!