Welcome back to my 12-week project in which I attempt to prepare for writing my own novel in Camp NaNoWriMo this April. You can check out the last posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. This week I will be talking about worldbuilding, and more specifically about building a society.
Building a world inside your head sounds like an amazing but difficult thing to do, still, there are so many writers who do it and succeed wonderfully at it. So study the worlds other writers have built. Take a look at your favourite books and see how the world it is set in is constructed.
When you build your own it is important to know how a society is built, there is more than just leaders and followers. So let’s take a look at society itself and how we can then use that information to make one ourselves.
1. The leader. What important is to consider who is in charge in the society, in my country, it is a complex situation with both a king and a parliament and a constitution. So ask yourself these questions: who is in charge? Is there more than one person in power? Who gets to decide who is in charge? What type of leader is it? I came across this interesting article about different organisations and how these influence society. It can depend on what type of book you are planning on writing, but it can be useful to find out how these leaders are flawed, what their strengths are and especially what the society itself thinks of the leader.
2. The laws. Not only the laws that are written down, that decide who gets punished and who doesn’t, but also laws of physics, maybe even magic are interesting. This all depends on what you are planning on writing about. You of course don’t need to develop an entire law book but the basics can be quite important. What are the laws and who enforces these laws? Are there police officers or maybe something else?
3. The mindset of the society. If I were to go to another part of the world, the people there would have a different mindset. There are two major mindsets: the one is focused on the individual, the other on the community. The first one values individual growth and development, and in such a society people will be acting different than in a society that values the growth of the community as a group. Another distinction can be made with the more laid-back society or the “it’s always rush hour” type of society (or the 24/7 society). The second one likes everything to be planned out and the first would be more than fine if you were half an hour late to a meeting.
4. Social groups. A society is build up from layers: the poor, the rich, and all that is in between. There are also layers of social status, which have a lot to do with jobs and often knowledge. However well a society is doing, there are also the less fortunate ones, not everybody can be rich. So takes these into account when you’re writing. Your characters might come from different social layers and they might do things a little different. You can also think about what the people in these different layers think about each other, do the rich despise the poor, ignore them, hate them, or do they help them?
5. The flaws. Every society has its flaws. Even an utopia can feel like a dystopia for others. Find out what goes wrong in your society and why. Each society has strengths, but they also have weaknesses.
I hope this post has helped you build your own society for your book. Here’s another tip: I absolutely love this video on world-building from TED-ex, it provides you with all the aspects of what you’ll have to think about when creating your fictional world. And it provides a great starting point for your plot.
Good luck on creating your own society, I hope these tips helped you get started!