Tag Archives: cultures

Writing Lessons from a Chinese Festival

I went to a Chinese festival this week because I’ve never been to one.  It wasn’t big, but it was inspiring.

chinese fest 

Not inspiring in the I-want-to-learn-the-dragon-dance kinda way, but in the story fodder way.

  • I saw a man with eyebrows long and pointy enough to form scale-model curling Maui waves over each eye to the point that his vision was partly obscured.
  • I met several women who were visibly shocked to have a door opened for them.
  • Among the traditional dancing, singing, tai chi, and guzheng demonstrations, I witnessed an excellent Mexican dancing troupe.

chinese fest now with more mexican dances 

A step (which here means: an hour-and-a-half drive) out of my normal routine led me to think about characterization and story.  First, physical traits should be unique.  Second, people will react when their ingrained expectations are challenged in even the smallest of ways. And third, sometimes random, cool things happen that enhance the experience. Here, the juxtaposition of the Machete dance with stomping, whooping, and rhythmic clanging machetes highlighted the nearly silent Chinese dancing. What seemed kinda out-of-place, made the overall presentation more powerful.

Step out of your routine this week, writing friends.  Notice new things and use them for inspiration.

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