cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,
cupidsbow
cupidsbow

Australia in fiction

Why do people write Australia so so badly in fiction? It's not just the little details that you'd expect people to get wrong, like the way people speak, it's these big, whopping things like what the towns are like and how long it takes to get places, and oh god, that there's no fucking water and what that actually means.

You know what it makes me wonder, though? It makes me wonder if the stuff I write set in other countries sounds off to the people who live there. For instance, just because I visited America once, doesn't mean I have the nuances right. Maybe people are just too polite to say, Hey, dude, that's totally not what LA smells like, or whatever. The idea I'm probably unwittingly breaking the suspension of disbelief with something as simple but fundamental as setting kind of horrifies me.

The number one thing that throws me out of a story is when those kinds of basic details are wrong, and I've rarely read a story about Australia written by a non-Australian that gets it right. Is Australia just so alien that it's hard for people to extrapolate properly? Or do people just assume that because it's a largely English-speaking country it must be like Northern hemisphere English speaking countries? Or do people just think, "Oh hey, exotic location, cool" and describe the stuff they saw in The Thorn Birds (which was shot in America)?

Or is this actually a really common problem, and I really am making those kinds of mistakes about other places all the time?

When I wrote a story set in Wellington, NZ, I asked a local to feedback it, and he told me all this stuff that I'd got wrong -- stuff I couldn't have known because I've never been there. So maybe I am getting it wrong wrong wrong in other stories too. *facepalm*

I'm too yuck to reply to feedback, but feel free to discuss this in comments if it interests you.

ETA: I am still sick, but I'm updating to point to multinationbeta, which seleneheart was kind enough to mention.
Tags: reading, writing
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