When you are building a world for your fiction, you will often find you need nations. You will need a variety of things to make up your nations. They are often complex and arbitrary. The topography of the land has little to do with national borders. You only have to look at a map of the Earth to know that.
You will need to consider whether the nation has a national religion. Some Earth countries do. They will definitely have a society of some sort. That touches on culture and we’ll go into more detail on that in a later blog. How much detail you provide depends on how much time you want to devote to it and what the needs of your plot are.
What is your nation called? is your nation located in relation to the physical world you created? What is the terrain like? What are the major cities? How long do people tend to live there? Is there a national dress that people tend to wear? I’m referring to clothing other people would associate with the nation. Clothing like the lederhosen associated with Bavaria. How big is the population? Is the nation densely populated like parts of Japan. O is its populated sparse, like the Australian outback? What are the customs of the nation?
Those are some of the questions you need to answer about your nation. Those questions are the ones you will need to answer for each nation on your world. Politics are important as well. A democracy is different from a theocracy, monarchy, or a dictatorship. What are the diplomatic relations between your nations? Of course, you can leave a lot of details out of this. Especially if your characters aren’t concerned with moving across national borders. But, if they are, you need to know what the ramifications of crossing that national border. That might lead to more conflict in your story as well. Think about how the answers to the above questions will affect your characters.
What kind of technology does your nation have? What industries exist in the nation? What about money? Do they have currency? Or do they get by with bartering? What about the law of the land, so to speak? What do they do for entertainment?
How important they will be to your plot will dictate the answer to all the questions I have you asking . Only you know that. While your readers may not ever see any of that, you need to know it. It’s a way for you to anchor your characters’ activities in a framework that makes sense. It’s all part of the background work.
So be as detailed as you want in describing the nations of your world. Write a paragraph or two on each nation and you will be fine. Remember that the more you know about your world, the more real you can make it. Eeven if most of the details are not in your final draft. Good luck and keep writing.
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