Tag Archive: Great Courses

Customs of the WorldWhenever I talk characters and worldbuilding, at conventions or in classrooms, I always recommend several books. One of them actually isn’t a book at all, and it’s the only one that I mention in both contexts.

It’s a lecture series from The Teaching Company, titled Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are. This is intended to be a course on understanding world cultures, but it’s a vital resource for creating cultures in both fantasy and science fiction. It’s also a great secondary resource for creating different personalities between characters.

As of this post, it is currently on sale at The Teaching Company’s website, starting at $35 for an audio download. I cannot recommend it too highly. You should all go get it now. If, however, you’re reading this after the sale has ended, I’ll explain why it’s worth getting. Continue reading

History and Stories

I can go on and on about stories until my voice goes raw or my hands cramp up, depending on how I’m talking to you. Because of that, it often surprises many people that I don’t have a single degree in literature. For now, my highest degree is actually in history.

Why is that? Well, I maintain that a history degree — assuming that you’ve had a wide-ranging focus and look at many different cultures — is one of the best fields to truly teach you how to write. That’s because most lit degrees teach you about other books, but they don’t tend to teach you about people. Make no mistake, both history and stories are fundamentally about people. Continue reading

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