Identifying how power works in your world is important because, let’s be honest, power is what drives society. Who has it, who doesn’t have it, and what those in power do with that power impact swathes of society and the people within it. It constrains some actions and allows others, creating a complex web of rules within which your characters exist.
It also provides an opportunity to create conflict in your story – after all creating rules for your characters can help or hinder them towards their goal. If your character is an assassin, for example, are their actions allowed by the law of the land? If not, then how do they balance their livelihood against the fact they are a criminal? Does this drive them down a different path to achieve their goal?
Here are some top tips for creating a power structure in your own worlds:
Pick your scale: What’s the scale for your power structure? E.g
- Global (e.g. planet sized power politics)
- Country (e.g. politics of different factions inside one country)
- Local (e.g. politics within a local community or small geographical area)
- Micro (e.g. politics within a small group of friends)
Pick your basis of power: What’s the basis for who holds power in your world? E.g.
- Inheritance (e.g. monarchy)
- Popular vote (e.g. democracy)
- Skills based (e.g. holding a magical skill/talent)
Pick who holds the power and why: Whose got the power in your structure, and why? E.g.
- Queen (e.g. because they inherited the throne)
- Leader (e.g. because they wrote the constitution of the group)
- No one (e.g. because of a in-world reason that forbids one named leader)
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