Journey to a Polished Manuscript: May – Character Motivation and World Integration (RewriteItClub)

Title in white in front of a wooden desk with the edge of a laptop and a cup of coffee

This year, RewriteItClub are doing a monthly series on writing a book, and I’m joining in with my adult political fantasy. To find out more about RewriteItClub’s series click here, or to see this month’s post and the exercise, click here.

May’s theme is all about how character and world interlink – how the world impacts the character’s motivations and their actions impact the world. As I’m writing political fantasy that focuses on the geopolitics, my world is a massive factor for why my characters are acting as they do. (There are also cultural and religious world building elements behind the motivations, but for brevity, I’m going to focus on the physical world.)

A fair number of motivations can be boiled down to controlling some key trade routes – and if the world didn’t look like it did, they there wouldn’t be a fight in the region. I specifically put several geographic features (namely some mountain ranges, a desert and shifted a coastline) to better funnel the trade routes through this one region. Now half a dozen trade routes meet in one country – and where there’s trade, there’s money and power.

The same is true of the resources in the land or it’s ability to grow food. Crops and arable land is another major idea in my book, with man-made famines making farm land a commodity to be stolen. One resource (lead) is highly concentrated in an inaccessible area, so the only country who can access it are able to command astronomical prices from the war hungry nations wanting cannonballs – while restricting how much is sold so they maintain their naval dominance.

The characters, in turn, affect the world. In the vaguest terms (no spoilers, haha!) the ploys made to grab pockets of land or to rewrite treaties not only have a massive impact on the region the book focuses on, but on the wider world. Quality of life is highly dependant on who is in current command and whether there’s an active warzone in the garden. At the same time, if someone grabs a slice of the trade route, they can change the taxes on goods travelling through – which has knock on effects for the global economy.

How does world affect the characters in your writing/favourite stories? How do the characters affect their world?

Read the other posts in this series:

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