Writer’s Notebook: Who Runs The Show In Your Story’s World

pablo (3)The places we live have their own communities and each community has its own culture. Outliers do not fit in to this culture. Conformists do. Conservatives want to maintain the status qua, even if the regular way of doing things brings harm to many. You have the minority who break the rules. And you have the minority who are oppressed by the rules.

The same is true of your story world. In order to know where your character fits in you need to establish the rules of his work. Who runs the show? How do the citizens feel about their government? Who keeps them safe? What are the unspoken rules of society? What happens to those who violate these rules?

Think of your favorite crime shows. You often have the corrupt politicians at the top. They do not want others to know because they need people to praise them. More so, they want the corporations they are in bed with to continue to fund them. What happens when people find out about the corruption? They scapegoat, usually at the expense of the minority.

Tired of seeing innocent people get hurt someone arises to save the day, elude the police, and take down villains. It could be someone who has lots of money and wears a disguise. It could be a partnership or a team.

What if you are nit writing a super hero story? Still, you have to establish the day to day life of your protagonist. Something happens to shake up his world and he must become his own savior if he wants to make it out alive.

Maybe your character is friendly, trusting, and forthcoming. Then he is framed for a murder he did not commit. He becomes cautious. He must learn to read the people in his life to see who wants to bring him down. He chooses the wrong friend to confide in. A shootout happens. On the run and trying to peace together clues at the same time an ally emerges. Finally, a break. Until the ally dies.

Knowing the taste makers and gatekeepers in your character’s society may be a way to add conflict to your story. Place him in direct contrast to their interests. See what unfolds.

Homework: Write down the culture of your protagonist’s world. Describe the government officials. Are they good people?

If it is a workplace story describe the executives. Who is the CEO? How do they treat employees? What are the grounds for termination? Are they fair?

If it a domestic story, describe family members. What was it like growing up in that family? Who made all the decisions? How did they discipline?


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