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How To Write Politics In History (New 2024) - Mastering Arts and Charts

So you want to write a world with as much politics, and intrigue as A Game Of Thrones? Well then my friend you have come to the right place.

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For years, I have been puzzled by the phenomena of A Game Of Thrones.

This book is not like any of the popular fantasy stories. So I was always curious as to what made it so great. One of the answers I’ve come up with is that the series had an interesting political system. This allowed the story to be innovative in a lot of ways. Then, I set out trying to discover how to recreate the exact same thing.

This is what I have been able to find.

In order to write a political story, you must first create a prize. This attracts a number or peoples. After that, create a group who are the only ones who can attain and use the prize, thus the only ones chasing after it. Then, create characters who would want that prize due to their internal character flaws.

Following that stage, you can add in other elements to make it feel more solid. For example, you could add in additional external enemies that threaten the group in its totality. Then, you can add in a method of fighting that the players fighting for the prize can use. e. g. votes, familiar birth rights, or even out right soldiers. Finally, it would help to have the winner in mind, that way you can add in extra unpredictable turns in the story to make it exciting.

However, these will all only work if you have those first 3: the prize, the board, and the players of the board.

Let’s get exactly into what all of these mean.

Table of Contents

    Make a Prize

    All politics need a prize
    All Politics have a prize

    The first step to writing great politics is to create a prize or goal that all the characters in the story want to attain.

    The prize is the ultimate goal that all the characters which to achieve, which has some sort of power that it can grant whoever manages to attain it.

    In all politics, there is a position that people want to attain. However, in real life it is president. In fiction it can be something like Kingship. This prize could either be a position, or it can be a possession. However, what they have in common is that they can help whoever attains it reach a new level of power in the world.

    With this new level of power, they can now operate on a new level, and possibly destroy all rivals.

    Thus running for that prized position is not about gaining power, but also about defense. If you are to rest and let your enemies get it, they will kill you will it.

    Action step: Create a position that has specific powers. Maybe they have all power like kings, or power over specific forces like the peasants, the elites, or the military. It could even be a purely magically thing, such as a gauntlet that gives them power over nature, thus they can control harvest.

    Whatever it may be, it is useful to have,

    Make the Board

    The second step to creating politics is to create a specific group which can be the contenders, and everyone outside of this group can’t play.

    You need to create a group of contenders who can achieve the power, and make everyone else remain outside of this group.

    The reason for this is that you do not want everyone being potentially capable of attaining the prize. This will bloat out your story by adding to many characters. Also, it will lead to plot inconsistencies. Many people will wonder multiple times over why x does not just do z. That is now what you want. So create a select group.

    However, there are certain groups that could hinder you. For example, a group that is only composed of blood ties is not a good group. For example, saying that the children of this family are the only ones who can get the prize. That would hinder you.

    You can do it successfully, such as in Succession. But remember that Succession ends with a none family member being CEO.

    The best groups are the ones that are joined, such as the small council. They can be joined by anyone from anywhere, provided they have enough power. This means that you can now create an interesting diverse group of characters.

    Action step: Consider who can get the prize you want. Now create a group for them to join, rather than be born into. You can learn how to create character groups here.

    Make The Players Of The Board

    Politics require players

    The third step to creating politics in a story is to start adding in the sort of characters who would be interesting in chasing the goal that you want.

    Now you will need to create the characters who would most benefit from the prize, in order to start creating a feeling of suspense.

    If you have your prize, and you have your group of characters who can attain the prize, but only one of them really needs it, the story will be predictably. It will be clear that the story will end with that character winning. So in order to avoid this, you need to make your story more complicated than that.

    The easiest way to do this is to make your character all have compelling reasons for wanting the prize.

    Examples Of Prizes

    You can make one want the prize to save his daughter from slavery, another want the prize in order to save the country, and another want to prize in order to defeat the enemies coming from the south which everyone else does not believe exist. This complication of motives, and desires will make the reader appreciate the complexity of the story.

    Thus they will know that who ever wins will be leading to the defeat of the other, which will have dire, undesired consequences.

    This is exactly like politics in real life.

    Within the real world, we have certain politicians we want to win. This is because we think if another politician win, then the country will fall the day after the election. This feeling of stakes is what you will imbue into your story.

    When that has been done, you will create a situation that is hard to predict. This will then create suspense in the story.

    Create the External Threat Players

    The fourth thing you need to do to write politics is to introduce external players in the game, so that the internal group can be forced to work together, creating a tense air.

    You need to create external players and forces that want the prize, but are not a member of the group, thus the members of the group must momentarily come together to death with the threat.

    This technique is one I learned from Kingdom, the manga.

    In Kingdom, there is a strange set up. The first saga, we fight a specific character. In the second saga, we end up fighting a new character but we are teammates with the first character who tried to have the lead character and his friends killed. Also, he intends on doing it again.

    This creates such a powerfully tense moment, because it is not clear just when they will betray us, and that makes the whole experience rather exciting.

    Recreating The Board

    That is the same situation we wish to recreate in this board.

    In order to do that, we need to create an external force who is not a member of the board, but has a similar level of strength and claim to the prize. In A Game Of Thrones, this is Daenerys Targaryen, and Jon Snow. Both of them could possibly have the same amount of claim to the throne, which forces the small circle to team together.

    This is not to mention the other characters of the 5 Kings War, such as Stannis Baratheon.

    Action Step: Now that you have your prize, and you also have the board, you can move on to the net step. Come up with another character who has as much claim, and motivation for the prize. Also, make sure that the friction between the characters in the board has been built to a sufficiently high degree.

    Make A Source They Must Outmaneuver

    The most important step in writing politics is to create a power source that the members who want to win the prize must attain before they can claim the prize.

    The contenders of the throne should not be able to over power each other with raw force. Instead, they must win over some other source which will allow them to defeat their enemies.

    This is seen in something as simple as our political system. The politicians need to win over voters, and constituents before they are allowed to be president. In the world of Westeros, the lords must be won over before they can have an army big enough to fight any battles. We see this with Stannis, and Renly.

    So it should be in your story.

    You need to make sure that there is a power sources; maybe the small folk, the elites, the merchants, or maybe even some mythical flying buffalo herd. Whatever that may be. They need to be a force that needs to be won over before our lead character can do any dent in the armor of their advesaries.

    Action Steps: Look at politicians, and voters. Now go write a “voting base” for your own board members. These could be the small folk or the elites. Maybe even both.

    Have The Winner In The Mind The Ending

    Choose the winner early

    The last thing that you could do when writing politics is to have the winner in mind in order to be able to make wild plot events to shock the readers.

    When you already know who is going to win the story in the end, you can focus on writing a story that is captivating,

    Obviously here I am talking about misdirection, and red herring. Write the heroes story in any typical way, but merely tell the story through the eyes of another contender. Then, get that contender killed. This will shock all the readers. Especially, if you gave them the right motivation, and such.

    This will be a shocking twist for the reader, but when they see the bread crumbs you left for you real winner, they will realize how that winner was always meant to take the prize.

    This can be done a number of other ways too. Maybe, you could have the character finish their character development at the middle of the book, then start a new one, which will no doubt through readers off.

    Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it is fun. Once you have mastered that, not only will you be that much closer to mastering writing politics in stories. But you will also be that much closer to mastering mastery.