Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Economics

Another worldbuilding post. This time it's the oh so exciting topic of economics. The only time I've ever tried to study economics was back when I competed in Academic Decathlon (cause I was a cool teen like that). We didn't really learn economics at my small town school, so I got a book that explained micro and macro economics. My eyes almost glazed over trying to read it. The topic went way over my head. But I hope it will be different when worldbuilding.

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Definition of Economics:
1. The branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.
2. The condition of a region or group as regards material prosperity.

A few questions to consider when worldbuilding:

1. How do characters make a living?
2. How is the economy reflected in different locations?
3. What resources are available?
4. Are there any exports/imports?
5. What are the class rankings?
6. What objects have value and why?

In my novel:

1. Well, I don't have every character figured out yet but I know the two main characters with one needed more defining. The fey works on board of a flying ship keeping the vessel in good condition since he can manipulate wood. The human is in a mix between detective agency and military. I need to iron out the details for his career.

2. That I need to figure out, along with the climate and other details. First need to decide on the other locations.

3. Depends on the location. Some will vary obviously based on the landscape, climate, etc.

4. Yes. There will be for each location.

5. hmmmm That is a tough one and I will have to figure that out in particular.

6. This one too, since what is considered of value will depends on the region. Value will affect the export and import topic for sure.

What are your thoughts on economics?
Have any of the recommended questions figured out in particular?


stu said...

One point with the economics of fantasy worlds is that the reader won't generally see much of them. They'll hear about the famous export of a particular place perhaps (such as its wine or silks). They'll hear about the fabulous riches abroad, or how war costs a lot. They might find out about a specific trade link if they need to travel, but a fully realised and complex economy isn't all that necessary. You just need to create the illusion that there is one in the background somewhere. It's flavour, not essence.

Dawn Embers said...

stu - You have some good points. It depends on the story but there are some things we don't think about that are connected with economics, like if they have to buy or trade anything. What's money like in that world? What are stores called? I stalled in a scene from this story I'm world building cause I don't know what to call the place that sells everything from pet rocks to pretend bottled starlight. And the story behind it all of course only the writer will really ever know. Thanks for the comment.

Scribe said...

Dawn, excellent post, and one that is too often neglected in novels.

Even if it is just flavouring for the reader, the author better know how it works. There is such a difference in environment between a community that barters though they have riches galore, and another that barters for survival, or perhaps bartering is illegal and punishable by death.

When we create a world, we need to know all of its nuances, many of which may never reach the page, and yet are motivating factors for our characters and their society.

Dawn Embers said...

Scribe - Thanks. And good points. Like in the book I'm reading how hunting to trade could receive harsh punishment but many turn a blind eye to it because of the financial state of the community. And that has shaped the main character, for sure. I think many things we think about but don't link to economics because that makes it sound boring (except for people who really find economics cool and interesting).


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