When I was a teenager, my church had an annual camping trip (known simply as Girls' Camp) for all girls ages twelve to eighteen and the leaders who worked with them. And a big part of Girls' Camp was learning camp songs.
I'm not talking about "I Love the Mountains," "Home on the Range," "The Other Day I Met a Bear," or other traditional American camping songs. We had a whole selection of songs and poems that I never heard anywhere other than Girls' Camp (though I later learned that some of them are more widespread than I thought). Here are just a few examples:
"I'm Singin' in the Rain" (not the song from the movie—each repeat adds an increasingly silly action to the accompanying dance)
"Let Me See Your Funky Chicken"
Ah, good memories.
Interestingly, as my family moved around the country, I discovered regional variations in these songs. Most of the time it was just slight differences in the tune, lyrics, and/or actions, but sometimes there was a different version altogether. For instance, I learned "I'm Singin' in the Rain" in Iowa, but my friends who grew up in North Carolina learned "Jellyfish," which uses the same basic concept (repeated verse + increasingly silly actions) but is a completely different song.
Many authors make the mistake of treating every character from a particular place, race, or culture (real-life or fantasy) as if they have the same traits, personalities, and/or cultural knowledge. While group members often do share some characteristics—just like my North Carolina friends and I all belong to the same church and went to Girls' Camp as teenagers—we don't want to populate our story worlds with a bunch of clones. That's not true to life, and it makes the characters boring.
Furthermore, cultural and life-experience differences provide great opportunities for conflict and character and/or plot development:
If Mike comes from a hierarchical culture and Julie comes from an egalitarian culture, he might see her as rude and disrespectful, while she might think he's timid and a pushover.
Character A: "That's not how it goes!" Character B: "I sang this all the time growing up. I think I'd know."
A very stressed Maui: "You can't sail?!" Moana: (sheepish grin) "I am . . . self-taught?" (Disney's Moana)
A terrified Northerner who gets stuck "riding out" a hurricane with some stubborn Southerners
It can be tricky to strike a balance between shared culture and individual traits. If you'd like some help working this out for your characters, click here to book a time for us to figure it out together.
(Thanks to Hichem Meghachou for sharing their work on Unsplash.)