I treat it like it’s normal.
I know a huge narrative in writing is the Relatable Character, the person the audience can follow along with and “learn” the universe and the culture and the story and so-forth, but uhm…
Why? Why should that be THE archetype in modern fiction?
Fiction used to be about immersion–and there are a few authors who still know this, though they get panned a lot (whether you like horror or not, S. King is a master at immersion). We’d begin a story with characters who were already in that verse, who knew the things, who didn’t NEED to be hand-held.
Obi-Wan Kenobi does not need to be hand-held.
But flamethrower! That’s fanfic, and it’s got an established verse that we know about already!
Yes, but many people still write from the point of view of main characters who have just fallen into the universe six hours ago, and don’t seem to understand how their own lives function.
Harry Potter needed to be fucking hand-held, but JKR specifically set up a story that required that. …Granted, then she continued the hand-holding long-past the point it should have been necessary, but we’ll just ignore that for now.
Too many people pan The Phantom Menace, but you know what it got right? Immersion. We didn’t need to be hand-held on our way through the movie, even if we’d never seen a Star Wars film prior to that. We weren’t introduced to the Republic with this long narrative of its history, we were dumped right into the action and provided the verbal and visual context needed to know exactly what the hell was going on, and what was going on was that Shit Was Breaking The Fuck Down.
Who were the Jedi? Well, apparently they were hooded people having strange conversations, and were fucking TERRIFYING to the Nemoidians, who promptly lost their shit and get orders to make the Jedi dead. Then the Jedi prove that they have weapons that can CUT THROUGH WALLS so maybe the Nemoidians are just a teensy bit correct to be terrified.
There’s no need to hand-hold your reader (or even yourself!) unless the narative requires it. This is what people *really* mean when they say Show, don’t Tell. There are times when a reader needs to be told, but when it comes to cultural elements in a story that someone should already know?
It’s normal. Treat it like it’s normal…and your reader is going to believe it. So will you.
(Also if you don’t understand how something works for humans, research the shit out of it and then decide how that function would work in your non-humans. Basic biology is a wonderful tool.)