The real world runs on money but what about your fictional world?
Establishing an economy is essential is creating deep and believable societies.
Come see how important it can be!
If money is believed to make the world go round then it is safe to say that we all have been influenced by the economy that gives it its value. Economics is something that we encounter on a day-to-day basis so it is a familiar system that is relatable to us all. Because of this reason, it would make sense to incorporate an economic system into the story correct? Makes the setting seem like it is functioning in a believable way.
Now the concept of an economy can go from simple horse-for-a-cow trade to intricate stock investments and whatnot so watch this video called “How to Build a Fantasy Economy” made by the YouTuber Writers’ Realm to explain what types of economies are appropriate when, where, and why.
Economy is :
-the sum of all economic activity
-the total of all the production and destruction
-all the choices each inhabitant in a given area of analysis chooses to do or not to do
-the sum of a group of people’s activities in a certain place over time
Interesting how the type of setting can demand a certain type of economy huh. It is up to the writer if the characters are experiencing a hunter/gatherer based economy or a more advanced money/credit influenced economy. The economy needs to match the setting and be incorporated into the story in a way that allows the reader to relate to and also imagine what it’s be like to make a living in the world. Envisioning themselves living within the fictional society is a crucial step in making them feel apart of and emotionally invested in the story.
Ask yourself questions as to how inhabitants of your world spend their everyday lives, what are the goals that they’d wish to meet, how are the goods/services attainable and what social standing or process is needed to attain them. Is this idea/invention too forward thinking for the people to have created themselves? How much of the currency is needed to attain a specific good/service? Is the concept of money even appropriate for the time and place?
But what if the economy system I use already exist? Creating an economy from scratch might not be necessary if it is established that the story is based on the real world and the economic system is already in place. Using existing systems or new systems to establish economics is just fine as long as there is an economic system in place for characters to interact with. The world will at least function and evolve in a similar fashion to our own, allowing hierarchies to exist for plot and a sense of a grounded story to occur. Readers will appreciate a writer who truly took the time to research and plan out the basic structures of their novel’s setting.
Captain KT Time – Economy building example
For my personal book series I’m currently writing, I’ve had to create all new economies because of each societies’ values and post-chaos rebuilding history. A universal currency will be used but the value of their goods/services vary greatly with demand. Four major societies with almost separate economic systems are represented in my books:
-one society uses tickets to turn in for rations and basic needs because of their “all-as-one” policy to function as a unit and not be above another, government pockets all money from outside societies to pay for defenses and technology necessary for their protection
-another is strictly trading objects needed for survival and nomadic way of life, they provide guidance and transportation of products from one region to another if the price is right but normally fend for themselves
-next uses the creation and selling of ideas/inventions to support themselves, they can receive orders if their invention is caught by the eyes of the other societies needing more efficient and reliable products that they themselves cannot produce
-and the last society sells services and archived information, experts in the health of the body/mind plus the knowledge of past generations and events, highly sought after by those who need the info or help to settle certain problems
This is all just a summary of the main goals of my economic systems since I have actually dived way deeper than this in my story planning journals but I believe that it gives a good example as to how much time one should take on developing their economies. You may not have to spend hours fleshing out the systems like I have but give a good reason as to why your societies function a certain way and what their goals are. Try to make the actions of your world’s citizens make sense to the audience. Readers will appreciate the time and effort you put into this!
Questions for fellow Navigators:
Do you believe that creating an economy for a fictional world is entirely necessary or crucial?
Can you think of an extremely successful piece of writing that didn’t incorporate economy at all?
How will this impact your writings in the future?
Do you have any preexisting works that could have benefited from this knowledge?