Guide To Political World Building

– This is a subject that I see brought up a lot in book reviews by readers, but not very often when it comes to the writing community. I decided to search the internet and my own experience for as many tips and as much advice as I could find to put in one place for you all. I also addressed a lot questions (in fact, more than usual because I know this is a weak point for most fiction authors) in the common struggles section. I hope this is useful to those of you who have a lot of trouble finding help on this. It should help me as well because I’m in the middle of tackling it for my own series. Happy writing!

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Know What Details Are Important

Not all aspects of a political system in a fictional universe are important to the story-telling, especially when the story is more character or plot driven, rather than driven by the world building. It’s important to deliver relevant information to your reader in pieces, and at a pace that enhances their understanding of events and meaning rather than their knowledge of trivial details.

Know Your Demographic & Your Genre

For certain genres and age-demographics, your world building in the area of political systems and implications should be matured or simplified. The majority of your readership should be able to understand what’s going on, and the way you makes sure of that is know who you’re writing the story for. Certain genres also require a lot less complicated detail in political world building. For instance, YA romance should have less political world building than, say, adult fantasy. Sure, maybe in the case of writing a YA romance, there could require some, but definitely not as in-depth as that of the latter. 

Choose A Model to Alter

If you’re going to do it, especially as a beginner, you need to pick some form of inspiration or something similar to what you’re going for. There are so many governmental systems out there that already exist, and if you should research plenty of them and them mix and match, add and subtract, and twist until you have something that serves your story.

Think of The Implications of Details

Every detail that you make prominent in the reader’s mind should be thought out in terms of the implications. Ask yourself how this affects different groups of people, how it’s evolved over time, what it means for the system as a whole, etc. This will make your story more three-dimensional in the reader’s mind.

Find Issues in Power Distribution

Most government tension (throughout history, at least) has come from inequality in the distribution of power. Whether it be between races, classes, branches of government, figures in politics, or groups of people with different opinions, or all of the above combined, most issues stem from the struggle for power, control, and influence over others. Explore this and find new ways to think of how this could be interpreted from your story.

Think of Culture’s Impact on Politics

Culture has a major hand in how politics works. A society’s values, religious majorities and minorities, gender roles, environment, what an average citizen looks like, how citizens are expected to look, act, use their time, etc. These things all impact political situation and how it changes over time with culture, so explore this heavily.

Common Struggles

– The common struggles section of my “guide to__” posts are general questions sent in by readers on the topic at hand. If you have a question that has not been addressed thus far, you’ll probably find the answer in this section. As always, you’re welcome to send other questions to my inbox if you don’t find the answer in this post. –

~ How do I illustrate the evolution of a society’s politics?… I would choose a few major events and make the causation behind them more prominent than the actual events themselves. History repeats itself, and that’s very important in political foreshadowing and often how a society deals with political situations.

~ How do I write conversations about my world’s politics?… It depends on the tone of these conversations. The way casual conversations about politics are written can tell the reader a lot about your world’s political climate, and can be a very useful device. Heated conversations can be useful in showing different passionate sides of a political issue in your world. I would say, write them carefully and with intention.

~ How do I make the reader invested/interested in the world’s politics?… Show the reader why they should care, make them relate to it, and then make them relate your story to their reality. You have to use literary devices as well. Show, don’t tell works really well here. Don’t show the main character reflecting that the conflicts at the war front are bad. Show the war front. Show the severity. Make them feel the heavy emotions of the people. Show them the real stakes of the political decisions being dealt with in the story.

~ How do I create believable racial tensions?… Again, just mirror reality. Understand why racial tensions exist and mirror that in your story’s context. Racial tension is majorly caused by fear, prejudice, and response to the “other side”. It’s often a long, ongoing battle because it’s rooted in the way people are raised and the constant environment around them. Racism is taught, so show it’s bigger, more outstanding moments, as well as its less prominent ones. No political issue arises exclusively from large, explosive moments. It’s made up of a few big ones, notable ones, and then the many, millions of little contributing moments and factors.

~ How do I write reasonable opposition groups?… You’re the author, so you have the unique opportunity of setting the reader up to see the reasoning behind both or all sides. You can show the evidence and logic behind each one, and make the reader understand why each side believes what they believe, and the personal engagement that leads each side to fight so hard.

~ How do I connect a caste system to political tension?… Political tension within caste systems are commonly caused by people’s natural desire for power and control, which leads to dissatisfaction in cases of being on the less fortunate side of inequality. Caste systems are also typically a pyramid, which means there’s more of the underdogs. These things combine to create political storms because on one side you have few people and lots of power that add up to just a bit more than a lot of people with less power individually, but more when pooled. 

~ How to I create a corrupt government without too many clichés?… The most cliché thing about typical corrupt governments is the one-dimensional evil figures that lead to corruption. Very few authors explore what leads a human who’s only job is to protect the people to turn against them. Explore their motivations and their personal struggle and justifications and you’ll have a more interesting and impactful corrupt government.

~ How do I illustrate a positive government that doesn’t come off as suspicious?… Work hard on perfecting tone, be very careful with what could be interpreted as foreshadowing, and show genuine goodness in not only the government’s words and actions, but actual results. Show your government talking the talk, and then walking the walk.

~ How do I set up the climax of a political issue?… Show the slow burn, and then the inciting events that set off the inevitable explosion. You need to establish to the reader that something is going to happen no matter what, but make the actual consequence and its place in time a surprise. 

~ How do I develop a governmental system from the ground up for the sake of the plot itself?… As I said in a previous point, use a model or several to take inspiration from. In the case of world building being the centre of your story, build your world and your plot together so they complement one another. 

Other Resources From My Blog That Help With This:

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