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Bob Nailor

The World According To...

I asked a writer friend what type of world he was creating for his tale. His reply: A medieval monarchy.

Hmm? At first thought I saw a castle, ladies-in-waiting, knights, grand feasts, jousting and peasants.

Was I ever wrong! He explained there was a queen who ruled the country. Her throne was carved from a mountainside with a stone wall to protect it. She had a lieutenant who controlled the army of three hundred warrior men. Her people worked the fields and owned nothing. The warriors were unmarried and lived only to serve their queen. Ah, yeah, right.

To me, it was a bleak world with too many conundrums that vexed my puny mind to see his vision. The way I saw it—If I were a warrior, there'd be a few more desires than just wanting to serve the queen. Like what's in it for me? Plus, the people of the kingdom loved to work the fields and have nothing. Even the slaves in America's South had a building they got to call home.

So let's look at world building using government as the basis. Every government has a leader. In this case, the queen, which makes it a monarchy. There is a pecking order in any monarchy once you drop below the level of immediate royalty: king, queen, princes and princesses. That would be something like Grand Duke, Archduke, Duke, Earl or Count, Baron, Knight, Esquire or Gentleman and finally the peasant. There are a few sub-divisions of the before listed group, but it is a nice general list. The bottom line is simple—These are the lords and ladies of the court until you hit peasant level.

Again, to say you have a monarchy world would indicate many things beyond just the government. The military becomes part of the equation. The lords would have military to offer to the royals for service. This would be in addition to the royal's own military. Since there is military, they are not going to serve for the pleasure of being able to serve. Now the world building gets a little more complicated. Finances come into play. Again, each "lord" would pay up to the next higher person and each higher person would "share the wealth" down to the next level. In other words, the peasant would pay a tax to his lord and that lord would pay to his lord. This would continue until the royal at the top ultimately received what was due. In return, favors and finances were shared back down the line with the peasant getting the smallest cut—if there was any available by then.

Following finances comes Commerce. Peasants may work the earth but somebody has to sell THIS HARVEST. This commerce may be totally enclosed within the kingdom or it may be more involved and include rivalry kingdoms and/or cities.

As you can see, there is definitely more to creating a world than just stating that a queen sits on a stone throne on a mountainside. If you follow Commerce, it will lead to Territories (including landscape), Seasons, Environment, Health and the list continues including Religion, Entertainment and Hobbies.

Right now I see a queen sitting on a stone throne wondering what the hell happened!

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You should offer a workshop on world building!
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Elyse Salpeter
You are so right - I think sometimes writers build worlds but seriously haven't flushed them out. The same things with characters. I think it's important to have a clear understanding of your world, the rules, the system and if anyone asks you anything about the society, you need to be able to answer it as if you lived there - which essentially as the writer, you should. Great tip.
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Onisha Ellis
Sounds like the writer was trying to create a society where everyone works to the max and takes the least for themselves. I think that has been tried before. Didn't work in real life either.
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Lisa Jey Davis
LOL! That is great Bob… and it's always interesting to me how people put their story lines together. i wonder how they get a completed work… But you know, it could be this person just wasn't very good at explaining what he really had going on. It could be he'd thought of all of that, and just didn't know how to voice it - but that's no good either. Great post!
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