Intro To World Building Through Pop Culture - What Is It?? (pt. 1)

Writing tips and author advice on building a sci-fi or fantasy world with a focus on pop culture.

GUEST POST

Eirian Naomi Omid

1/26/2022 5 min read

Intro To World Building Through Pop Culture (pt. 1)

What Is It??

Greetings and salutations, Sugar Plum!

Welcome to World Building Through Pop Culture with EirianWrites!

I am over the moon to be able to present this knowledge to you, and help you along with your own writing journey.

To start off, you’ll need to know what World Building Through Pop Culture even is.

It seems pretty simple, right?

And it is!

I mean, I used to do it without really thinking about it, so how hard can it be?

World Building Through Pop Culture is exactly what it sounds like.

By definition, this means building a sci-fi or fantasy world with a focus on pop culture, similar to our modern world today.

A beautiful example of this is ModelLand by Tyra Banks, in which she was able to take her experience in the modeling industry and transform it into a fantasy story with an inspiring storyline throughout.

It’s an incredible book.

Every woman/one should read it.

Because storytelling is about taking the reader or listener somewhere other than where they are in that moment, it’s all about blurring the lines between what’s real, and what’s fictional.

What’s strange, and what’s familiar.

And, while some authors are able to take their pen and paint an entirely new world from scratch… I LOVE taking the world around me and stylizing it into something that is my own.

Contemporary fiction with a bit of an animated twist…

First off, think of your favorite cartoon. And if you’re not a cartoon person, watch a couple of episodes of The Simpsons or Futurama.

MOST cartoons have all their own brands, but they’re still products that we know, creating an element of connection since the strange world still has a thread of the familiar in it.

Another prime example of this is the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Every car, store, radio station, strip club, tattoo parlor, and even the music played on the radio stations are all fictitious.

This tactic is employed in film and TV media to avoid copyright infringement, plain and simple.

And, honestly, that’s why I did it too.

I didn’t even realize that books have different rules.

I just knew that the only reason why your fave movies and TV shows get to mention your favorite brands is because they’ve been paid to.

So, it simply started as me replacing all of my name drops. Cars, handbags, scrunchies, chips, whatever it may be, I came up with a replacement name for the brand or product.

And then, one of my first editors mentioned how confusing and unnecessary it was…

But…

It IS necessary. 

At least… with what I do in my writing.

And that’s when I fully formed World Building Through Pop Culture. Leaning into it HARD.

So, I played around with it for the past two years, and now, I believe I have unlocked another level of writing to play within. Not only that, but I developed a method to the madness of replacing every single pop culture reference with a new concept.

That’s why we’re here!

If you make it a point to stop in every month, at the end of the year you will have a beautifully vast, rich world with endless possibilities, and infinite things to write about.

One of the brands you create could be the spark for a spin-off series about the brand’s originator and its importance to your world’s culture. Or it could inspire a mundane-seeming yet totally magnificent quest for one of your side characters. The possibilities truly are endless.

World Building Through Pop Culture gives you the same effect as putting two mirrors in front of each other, but in a tangible way.

And I didn’t even realize that until recently!

As it turns out, the real secret to all this is the glossary.

We will get into that at the end of the year, so don’t worry about that right now, but if you don’t want to stick around that long, that’s the secret: make things up, and then make a glossary so people don’t get confused.

HOWEVER, there is a lot more that goes into this type of world building, especially when you’re doing it intentionally!

There’s the back story, the look, the feel, the status… World Building Through Pop Culture allows you to make connections from one character to another.

My favorite example of this, from something I’ve written, is that one of my side-characters in the Faerie Lit Series is revealed to be the founder of a clothing company in a The PNK KanD Project.

And I did so specifically because this character’s name serves as a beautiful homonym for rap lyrics.

The PNK KanD Project is why I’ve leaned into World Building Through Pop Culture so hard; because, despite the fact that it’s an urban fantasy and takes place on a planet with mermaids and faeries, my series is about a lady rappers and includes the lyrics and music to to with it.

And what do rappers write about most?

Their lifestyle.

The culture that I’m creating on my planet involves brand name drops and clever folklore

I must also create a rich history for my planet in order to provide an immersive experience and present a believable world.

THAT is what World Building Through Pop Culture is all about. 

You have been tasked with building a planet similar to our own, from the ground up.

You must pick the terrain. And you set the rules.

I highly recommend you sit down and draw your maps first, but there’s nothing wrong with diving head first into the storytelling and backtracking later - that’s actually what I did.

And then, you must write your story. Organically flow, and then stop and create a replacement when you come across something you want to mention.

Another fantastic example to close out with is the brilliant cinematic work of Kevin Smith.

His debut film - Clerks - takes place in a gas station, and thus, every cigarette poster, soda, and pack of gum is a “Smith Original Brand” - a brand he created.

But Smith doesn’t stop there. In the background of a far more recent movie - Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: Reboot - Smith sneaks a poster spoofing his own title in the background of one of the scenes. (Comment below if you found where it was hidden.)

As authors, we get to take it a step further by explaining the jargon at the end of the journey.

I’m excited to help you explore this concept every month. 

Over the next couple of months, we will finish the intro to World Building Through Pop Culture.

Next month, we’ll take a deeper dive into where to start with your pop culture so that you can conquer writer’s block and unlock infinite possibilities with your own work.

Until next time, Sugar Plum, may peace, love, light, and happiness always be with you.

Eiry.

About Eirian

World Building Through Pop Culture with EirianWrites is a monthly world-building segment, centered around building your fantasy world by using the modern world around you, and is written by author, artist, and content creator Eirian Naomi Omid (aka EirianWrites).

Eirian Naomi Omid is a New Adult Fiction Author who specializes in Speculative Literature and Urban Fantasy. She has self-published 6 books, including Note to Self, a book of affirmations written by Goddesses, for Goddesses - which was written by a group of women, each of whom gets paid for their contribution on every copy sold.

Outside of writing, EirianWrites produces a monthly podcast about Goddess Mindset, and a true-weekly YouTube show which breaks down the important mindsets presented in popular lyrics.

You can keep up with everything Eirian Naomi does by visiting her website eirianwrites.wixsite.com/goddess

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