Geekdom Come, World Building 101

World Building 101-Politics

Politics. It’s a dirty word. Lord knows that just about everyone in the world is sick of talking about politics. We could all use a break. So this December I offer up to you a special holiday gift; a chance to completely escape the world of modern politics by creating your own web of shifting alliances and power bases. That’s right for our final installment of World Building 101 its time for you to put the finishing touches on your fictional world so your heroes can put the finishing touches on their fictional foes. To better serve our purpose today I’m going to divide this post into two sections: Internal and External Politics, or if you’d prefer Domestic and International Politics.
External politics have to do with the relations between nations. These can be very complex waters to navigate. You have to take into consideration cultural and economic ties, relative military strength, the differences in government types, the varied personalities of the most influential people in each nation, public opinion. Granted as a writer you have the advantage of inventing all of those things yourself, but that’s kind of my point. Instead of a plain, old, boring conflict where country A hates country B and so they keep starting wars, layer in some complexity to your conflict. Make it a cold war fought with economic and political proxies. The important thing to remember is to stay true to your characters motivations. Most leaders don’t want conflict just for the sake of conflict. They have short-term objectives that are supposed to help them achieve long-term goals. If you keep that in mind you’ll be able to write convincing political sub-plots.
Now when it comes to domestic political squabbles things get a little bit messier. It’s important to note that the type of political plots and conflicts that you’ll be able to construct will depend largely on what type of governments you’ve established in your story. A kingdom ruled by a royal family is unlikely to produce two rival political parties, but it will more often than not feature schemers who wish to take the throne for themselves and a ruler trying to fend off usurpers while balancing the competing interests of the kingdom. And a democratic republic may not feature slovenly nobles trying to consolidate their power but it will feature elections and a need to pay special attention to public opinion. The point is no matter what kind of government you selected there will always be rival factions competing for power and influence.
The key in all of these scenarios is the expansion and consolidation of power bases. Whether through money, knowledge, personal loyalty, or shared ideology every leader of every group is trying to gain as much leverage as they can in order to achieve their goals.
The final thing for you to keep in mind is logical consistency. Not for your characters but for yourself. Politicians lie all the time. They are hypocritical all the time. Most say and do whatever will help them stay in power. Corrupt or Noble it’s up to you but be sure that if you’re going to have a character act against their interests you have a very good reason for that decision beyond the necessity to further the plot.
Well, that’s it. I don’t think there is anything else I can teach you. Congratulations you have officially graduated from World Building 101. Best of luck to you in all your literary endeavors.

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