After you have decided the big things, the physical world/magical world, you will need to zoom in on your world. If you have a vast world with lots of countries like me, you will need to focus on each one and establish what makes them different.
Similarities and Differences Between Nations
Each country will likely have different forms of government, social structures, class, and hierarchies. Some countries will be similar to each other, usually due to a shared history. Some will be completely different.
For example, look at the social structures of the English-speaking world, say UK, USA and Australia. At a basic level we are quite similar because we have a shared history, a shared language, similar religions and democracy.
Obviously somewhere like the Middle East is very different. We differ with history, language and religion. In a country like Saudi Arabia, the law is very much determined by the religious beliefs of the nation. While in the UK, the law may have originally been influenced by Christian teachings, it has moved further away from religion as time has gone on.
Different nations will generally value different things. Social issues regarding gender roles, homosexuality, race and religion will develop at different rates. A more progressive country will likely let women vote sooner than a more conservative country.
I keep referring back to subjects like history and religion because you can’t separate these issues.
Culture is a pool of history, religion, governments, diet, trade, law, family, war and nature. Everything influences everything else.
Therefore, when thinking about creating a government for your country or countries, it is important to be able to explain (at least for yourself) why they have come to certain conclusions or more importantly, what effect your decisions will have on the characters themselves.
Changes in Government
Change happens when people are unhappy, people are mistreated or neglected. If you have a republic or a democracy, it’s because people were not happy with what we had before, which is usually a monarchy.
A monarchy is very typical in history, probably because we always look for a leader, an alpha. We are a bit like dogs really, we’re social creatures in a pack but we need direction. However, our natural instincts kick in and we all want a bit of the power and the benefits that come with it. Kings are killed or replaced. Or we see the injustice and corruption that seems to go with power and try to balance the scales a bit.
In Ancient Rome, the monarchy was destroyed and replaced with a Republic.
Then Julius Caesar came along and threatened the status quo. People started to fear a return back to the old ways but some welcomed change.
The people loved him (those without power), those in charge hated him (those with power). Caesar was killed to save the Republic but the Republic started to die anyway. An empire was born.
A lot has changed since the times of Ancient Rome, the government, the religion, the economy and the people themselves.
An old country, based on traditions and religious belief is more likely to have a monarchy, be more conservative, and less open to change. A newly founded country, is more likely to be the opposite because chances are the founders were fleeing from something they didn’t like in the older country. (At least in our world. A fantasy world might work in a completely new/opposite way.)
Why did people move away from the old country? Were they fleeing the monarchy, religious oppression? Did they take those values and create a new improved world for themselves? Think about America. People were fleeing Europe for a reason.
In my story, I have an old, conservative country and a new, growing empire. They have two very different governments. However, my new country is not a lovely utopia full of sparkling morals and social progress.
Why? Because it has people in it and people disagree about everything.
Everyone has a different idea about how they want a country to be run. We have different political parties, ideas on monarchy/democracy/republic. We have different priorities. Some people want to go into government for the sheer thrill of having power. Others want to make a difference. These people clash and that is a great source of conflict. It’s a massive pain in the arse in the world but great for writing fiction.
I’ve written a bit about convenient world building throughout this blog. If you’re like me and have a tendency to be lazy, you might want to group several countries/cities together and just say they’re basically the same. However, putting a bit more work into it and finding out what makes each place unique will make writing the actual story a lot more fun and interesting.
Have you built your own governments in your world? What do you think is the key to creating one? Let me know what you think!