Celebrate Good Times

Come on! (A little Lionel Richie never hurt anyone, right?)

Today, I'd like to talk about a world-building detail that I think can add depth and believability to futuristic novels.

Celebrations. Holidays. Traditions.

As I sat watching the Boston Pops play their patriotic concert on the Fourth of July (a tradition for my family) I got to thinking about the traditions or holidays in my dystopian society. I realized that the only thing I have is a birthday mention. Nothing big, nothing overtly different than what we do now.

But I think in future novels I write, I'm going to pay a little bit more attention to the holidays, traditions, and celebrations that are prevalent in the new society. I think they can give great insight into the world and how it came to be, provide setting details in a unique and rich way, and give the reader something somewhat familiar that they can grasp onto.

So will there be an Independence Day in my next novel? Will the people celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, births, or weddings? Will there be baby showers? Graduation parties? Funerals?

Of course, I'm not sure right now, but I think this aspect of culture is one that should be considered when developing a futuristic society.

What do you think? Have you read a novel with a futuristic society that references the celebratory traditions? If so, let me know -- I'd love to read it to see how it's done.


Kay said...

The first novel that comes to mind is The Giver by Lois Lowery. Their society is definitely ruled by traditions.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Elana!

Oh - I have holidays and traditions in XVI - lots! :)

Unknown said...

Great post! The immediate example that comes to mind is The Reaping in Hunger Games. Sort of crucial to the plot. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Ah, yes, Karen. I remember that. Can't wait for XVI, Julia! And Kay, The Giver was all about traditions. Thanks guys!

Jemi Fraser said...

Celebrations show so much about a culture. I'm going to have to think about adding some to my wip as well :)

Unknown said...

I think Avatar: The last Airbender did this well (the cartoon not the movie). There were a few festivals in the show, all cool.

Melody said...

If my memory serves me correctly (and it may not), I think THE GIVER had a lot about celebrations. But you have a strong point - not many dystopians do. :/

Angie said...

I just finished Incarceron. Half of the society (the non-prisoners) are bound by the Protocol, which dictates how everyone behaves. The only celebratory tradition (in the book) is actually more of a political thing. A wedding.

Riv Re said...

I recently wrote a short story for inkpop.com's Forbidden Love contest. It's dystopian, and it makes a reference to July 4th.