This week: Political Worlds in Fantasy and VotingEdited by: Dawn Embers
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Fantasy Newsletter by Dawn
In our own world, politics and voting are often a subject both on the forefront and one difficult to discuss. Our worlds also need to often have some sort of political world and options for the way they exist.
It was bound to happen. Yep, we're talking politics here on the fantasy newsletter. It's a very big and spoken over topic right now in the US as we near the elections with the parties making their attempts to rally, usually taboos on topics people aren't comfortable talking with added more intensity over other issues including this year a big kerfuffle over whether it's acceptable to vote by mail. It's a big topic either way and something that's hard to avoid. So, we're not going to avoid it here either because when it comes to our fantasy world, politics are a big art of the world whether it's on the forefront of the plot or just something settled in the back ground.
So, let's delve into things political in fantasy. What is the political world like in your story? Is there more than one type of government or leading body involved? While we think of fantasy stories mostly to have the monarchy style with kings, queens, courts and the like, there are definitely many options available. There have been a few newsletters over the years that have listed off the options for politics so I'm not necessarily going to go down that road. Researching (aka google searches) can also come up with a fair number of web sites and blog posts from fantasy writers that speak well on the options as well. Research is very handy and for many necessary in order to get elements of the political world set in place whether the reader sees much or any of that framework within the finish story product. Monarchy is an options, dictatorships are a thing and even might be room from some varying levels of democracy. It all depends on the world and story you are creating.
Another aspect to consider is how those in the government come into power. Does the leader have a birthright? By that, I mean (as often seen with kings and such) is the one in charge born into the role? Is the position considered to be ordained by some type of higher power, gods, or any other type of sentient being that has the authority to ordain? Does a certain group or section of the population have all of the power to decide? Is there voting? So many questions because with the fantastical, speculative fiction worlds there are many options.
The world will have many different influences that affect the political climate as well. Everything sort of finds their way to interlace, which is probably why often times the metaphor of tapestry is used in fantasy to discuss the world and time. Methods for traveling is one thing that can affect a political world because it affects a number of things, including methods for voting if that is an option or even how the government enforces anything they control. Whether it's one country, several, a whole world or even a number of worlds within a galaxy system is another factor that will affect the political climates involved. How things happen in the world are going to in some ways affect the story and the character, whether they are involved in something within the political climate or not. And whether the reader knows all of the information or not, it's something you might want to consider when working on the world building at the very least.
And, of course, you will need to figure out how much the political climate and structure affects the conflict and characters. That is a big decision that needs to be made at some point in the world creating or writing process. When you make it and how much it shows, that is all up to you.
If you are one for research and looking at what other people think plus advice they have to offer, I've found a couple of options for you to consider. Here are some web sites for research in writing politics in fantasy:
The rest is up to you, your world and the story. I've got a few fantasy stories and for the most part keep traditional king/queen styles (with some non-traditional methods at times like a queen preferred world for Snow White with a male heir) in the works. But I'd like to know what others are doing. It would be interesting to see how someone could put a more "democratic" style with voting and the like into works within a traditional fantasy world. Maybe have dwarves vote who leads them... Who does lead the dwarves? What is their government? hmmm Now I'm curious. If you have something like that, let me know. If not, that's okay, just write something and work on the political side to your speculative fiction worlds. And good luck in the real worlds with all of our messy politics.
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How does the political world work in your fantasy story? Is there voting in any of the sections, cities or countries?
“Politics, noun. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” – Ambrose Bierce
“Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power become lovers of wisdom.” – Plato
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