Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Politics and the Protagonist

 How does politics (of the fictional world) flavor the outcome of our stories?

I'm like Jeffe in that politics is a BFD in my fictional worlds. Be it UF or HF, the underlying theme across all my stories is about changing society and social structures. After all, what is politics but the manipulation of social contracts by individuals and/or organizations? Part of the fun of worldbuilding is defining the current political landscape, then spending the next three hundred-ish pages trying to uphold or rebel against it. The protagonist's relationship to society, and, by extension, authority, is a foundational character definition. The plot unfolds from that relationship. 

I do tend to write protagonists who are in a position to affect large-scale change. Macro movers who are plagued by consequences on a micro level. The contrast keeps the character relatable while reinforcing how decisions made by the top of the food chain come to bear on individuals. That's not to say every protag has to be part of the 0.0001% of the world's elite in order to influence politics. To the contrary. The most classic hero archetype is the nobody who becomes the king/god. 

My schtick is that I like to show the repercussions of forced change. The ugly consequences of shattering social contracts. The unrest stemming from ambiguity. The insecurity of crumbling of boundaries. The conflicts of redefining social expectations. That's the reason I write series instead of standalones. I'm fascinated by what happens after the hero achieves the initial win. Not just how the hero changes, but how society changes for better and worse. How are the new rules decided, and who cements them? How does the political landscape shift and can it ever be stabilized?

In-world politics, even when subtly displayed, is the spinal disk amid the backbone of my stories.