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World Building in Your Books: Society

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Society is a big thing to cover, not only because it could encompass an entire country, but because it has so much impact on other aspects of world building. Your society is affected by the other world building considerations just as much as it affects them. One good aspect is that "society" can refer to anything from an entire country down to a club. You don't need to have your society differ from the real world. But it can be fun to imagine what our world would be like if magic existed. Or if Russia had made it to the moon first. How would society change if aliens introduced themselves? What would be different if an incident from the past never happened (the good ole' go back in time and kill Hitler argument)

Below are some thoughts you can keep in mind when building your society. This is not an all inclusive list, but it is a good start.

SOCIETY:

Is there a class system?
-Based on wealth
-Based on bloodline
-Based on race/ethnicity/species
-Based on who has magic/technology and who doesn't

Where does your character fit in society?
-Is a member of the nobility
-Business executive/ politician/ other "important" or "influential" person
-Is an outcast
-A normal person
-A powerful magic user or scientist/engineer

How does your character move through society?
-Social butterfly, always at parties and events
-Workaholic- can always be found at work, or working from home
-Is a criminal (doesn't need to be in jail, but prefers to keep a low profile)
- Hates society and only goes out when necessary

Does your character belong to a group/ club/ select society?
-Have they found acceptance within a smaller group?
-Is a group with shared interests, a "criminal" organization, or an elitist club?
-What prompted them to join the group to begin with? What keeps them there?
-Is it a rebel group to overthrow a corporation, government or establishment?

How do others see them ( characters perceived notion of how others see them)
-What cliché does your character fit?
- Why do they feel others see them that way?
-How do they feel about this preconceived idea?
-Do they have a need to feel well liked? Do they care what others think?

Culture/Religion
-What culture/religion, if any, does your character belong to?
-What are their thoughts/feelings about cultural and religious norms?
-How does their own moral compass/conscience align with cultural and religious norms?


Society is a multi-faceted and layered concept. Remember, you don't need to give the readers every detail. Through your character's thoughts, feelings, and actions, they will give your readers plenty of information. Your character turning away from a public execution will tell your readers about the society, its norms, and that your character doesn't always agree with what is happening around them. In just a sentence or two, you can convey information that is as layered as society.

If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to email me.

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Happy Writing Friends!


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