1. Blossom
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    Blossom New Member

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    Politics - implied or explained?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Blossom, Sep 3, 2008.

    The story I'm working on at the the moment, in a fantasy setting, revolved around two main nations, both with monarchies, but with different forms of government. I've researched a lot about different politics (as I don't know that much) to make it as believeable as possible. The politics are important, as most of the characters are influential people and so it affects both how they interact with each other, and how the countries interact.

    My problem is - how explicit do I need to be?

    Would it be better to give a fairly detailed explanation in the narrative itself, or somewhat simpler explanations through the character? Should the explanation of the politics be added to as and when? Or is very little explanation needed at all?

    I realise that I could do it any or all of those ways, but I'm curious about what you, as readers, would prefer?

    Please give your input!

    P.S. I hope this is the right forum to put this question =)
     
  2. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    As with all stories I find that explainations are best done when they become directly relevant to the matter at hand.

    Example:

    Duke A wants to put down a rebellion in his lands, but is worried Duke B in a neighboring provience will use his attempts to crush the rebellion to overthrow Duke A, thus giving Duke B more land and more power in the Kings court. (Just an example, it doesn't have to reflect your monarchal systems).

    That's as complex as it needs to be for a simple explaination for most readers. When the matter of the rebellion becomes central to what is happening at the moment in the story then you simply mention this in your character thought process. Something has to be done but he is also worried about his political position. It can be as simple as that or you can complicate it and make it deeper if you like. Its up to you how far you go with it (Or you can base how far you go based on the tone and theme of the story).
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd take it a step further, and say that explanations should only come when they are relevant to the matter at hand, and if they cannot be convincingly shown instead.

    Politics is far more than ideology. Better to see the effects of policies on the people, and who the politicians show respect or disdain towards.
     
  4. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Let me engage in my favorite pastime and give an example:

    Bad Unless You Are Neal Stephenson:
    Narrator: King Alpha was worried about the Rebellion. King Alpha followed the doctrine of the Divine Right of Monarchy, which states that the king is ordained by God to be the ruler. The logic of this is impeccable: if God hadn't wanted him to be king, how could he have gotten that much power? No one but God controls what family one is born into, after all. Now, historically blah blah blah blah blah...

    Meh, Okay:
    King Alpha: I'm very concerned about those rebels!
    Narrator: King Alpha's dedication to the principle of Divine Right gave him confidence in these troubled times. He knew that God would protect his holy claim on the throne, but he hated to see the peasants unhappy, as he felt that it reflected badly on him.

    Good:
    King Alpha: I'm very concerned about those rebels!
    Duke Bungo: What? Why should the monarch be concerned? Why, God Himself has ordained you!
    King Alpha: Yes, but I don't like to see them unhappy.
    Duke Bungo: Pish-posh! They're only peasants.
    King Alpha: A truly holy king would guide and protect all his people. Perhaps God wishes me to take a different course...


    You see the difference?
     
  5. ABMiller86
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    ABMiller86 Member

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    Scattercat is very right in his examples, the best way to give back story would be through dialogue that moves the story forward... though you also have the option of weaving it with narrative and action... like a battle scene or something.

    Also when i am working with nations (kingdoms, whatever)... i will sit down and develop there government, its history, the wars it has fought in, heroes that the people look up to, other important people, what its capital is and how it looks, the economy.

    I know that this seems like a rather high amount of development for information that you might or might not use. However in developing your kingdom you will find it will give you many more outlets and plot maneuverability when writing the actual story. Should you not use it, well better to have too much information than not enough (for yourself).

    Hope that helped
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I wrote a story set in the Spanish Civil War, and I wanted the politics of it (specifically the politics within the Republic) to be a major part. I thought that (in much the same way as Scattercat's example) the best way to do that was through dialogue. So basically, I sat the characters down, during a quiet part, and had a good old-fashioned political debate. As well as outlining the situation, I felt it fleshed out the characters a bit, revealing their own differing opinions on the matter.
     
  7. Blossom
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    Blossom New Member

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    Thank you all very much, that's helped a lot. I wasn't keen on big chunks of political explanation in the narrative, so I think I will avoid that and mostly play around with dialogue.
     

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