Wednesday, April 14, 2010

World Building, Part 4: Government

Government is integral to the world you're in the process of creating. Think of how the government affects your life. If you're creating a fantasy or sci-fi world, you need to construct something just as all-encompassing. You need to think about laws, upholders of the law, education, health care and common diseases, the economy and currency, the type of government (how it is run), the extent of control the government has on your world, and other organizations or unions which might be in place.

If you're writing a paranormal romance, this is a little easier. After all, any government will likely be similar to an existing government. But unless your mythical creatures run willy-nilly and do whatever they please (which, I warn, should logically indicate their taking over the world at whim), they need some form of government, some rules which they abide by. In terms of the paranormal world, let me run through each of the above points:

1) Laws

Absolutely, positively, under every circumstance, there must be laws. There must be a reason why your mythological creatures cannot go on a rampage and kill off the human race and/or each other. When making your laws, think of other laws which aren't allowed: theft, assault, etc. One easy way to make your laws is to set them as identical to the setting—let's say Canada or the U.S.A. in the twenty-first century. Already, there is a law against killing, vandalism, theft, etc. Now, all you need to do is add in certain laws of your own as you deem necessary. Perhaps, in the case of vampires, you impose a law that only bagged blood or willing donors can be meals. After deciding your laws, you must also decide a just punishment for breaking them.

2) Upholders of the Law

These are the policemen (whether you call them that or something else) of your world. They are the ones who ensure that any law breakers are caught and receive just punishment. If you have laws (which you should), you also need to have law enforcers.

3) Education

In the case of paranormal romance, this point is mostly moot. Many immortals are only turned at adulthood, at which point they would have already learned the essential things. Many times, immortals take college or university courses in regular human institutions, posing as humans. Then, if something needs to be learned about the mythological creatures themselves, often the main character is given a mentor—which, more often than not, is the main character's love interest.

4) Health Care and Common Diseases

Now, in general, if your mythical creature is immortal, this point is moot. Immortal generally means there are no diseases afflicting your species, and therefore health care is not necessary. However, this is of course depending on what scheme you'd like to have for your mythological creatures. If there are diseases that afflict them, then they should probably have some sort of hospital or special physician to turn to for cures.

5)The Economy and Currency

Now this is one thing which, if you're writing a paranormal romance set in modern day, you don't have to worry about. Any matters concerning economy and currency would deal with whatever country you happen to set your story in.

6)The Type of Government

When you're deciding on the governing force for your mythological species, you need to decide on how it operates. That means you need to think back to any Civics or Law classes you took in high school or post-secondary. I can hear some of you groaning already. Let me make it a little easier. The types of government are:

  • Anarchy—or, in other words, no government.

  • Democracy—this can either be a true democracy, where every member literally gets a say (I read this done successfully by MaryJanice Davidson in her Mermaid series. Every mermaid heard what was said through the telepathy of the king, and they all responded with their vote that way as well) or in a ceremonial democracy, where the leader (many times, with the aid of a group) makes decisions on behalf of the people, but the leader (or leaders, if a council group) is elected into power.

  • Dictatorship—this, as I'm sure everyone knows, is when one person comes into power and rules everyone else, likely with an iron fist and the help of the military. Many people also name this person a tyrant.

  • Monarchy—similar to dictatorship, in that only one person rules, but it is generally with much less discord and less use of force. A monarchy oftentimes listens to the needs of the people by hearing petitions to the crown. A ceremonial monarchy is one in which the monarch participates, but is also aided in decisions by a body of people, such as a council.

  • Oligarchy—this is when a bunch of people get together to rule a country. These people do not need to be elected, and in general, an oligarchy is composed of a few people. A council (the predominant form of government I see in most paranormal romance) is considered an oligarchy if the members are not elected into power, but are perhaps chosen by the person who resigns. I personally consider an oligarchy and a republic to be the same thing. Your government might be considered a plutocracy if after the death of a council member, the highest bidder can buy his or her way into that seat.

  • Theocracy—this is when the head of a religion is the governing head of your species. It automatically applies if your mythological creatures are angels, demons, or minor gods. The ruler would, after all, be (the highest) god.
7) Your Government's Extent of Control

Obviously, in a dictatorship, this would be all encompassing. But what about if there is a council? How powerful is this council? Does only a small percent of the populace actually heed its orders, or do the law enforcers ensure that everyone does? Ultimately, this is up to you. Although, a word of warning: there are always those who try to go against the government, mostly for their own gains, but unless a government controls nearly all of the populace, it wouldn't be a very effective government, would it?

8) Other Organizations

Here's where you can ask yourself what other sorts of organizations there would be. The possibilities are limitless. You could do anything from one to save the environment to one which would clean up after mistakes left by mythological creatures, so as not to spread the word that they exist. Think first of organizations you might need, and then build them from there. It is entirely possible that you won't need any organizations at all, if you build ministries and such into your government.

Clara.

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