I’ll admit right now that talking about the economy isn’t my favorite. And I’m sure that for other people, they each have a least favorite part of worldbuilding. Regardless, the economy in your storyworld is still important to talk about, since it can have a direct effect on your plot. The economic situation your character is in can give more conflict to your story, and the economy is yet another aspect of a storyworld that makes it seem more real. So even though it seems dull, you can actually have a lot of fun with it.
Economy is an odd beast. Where I live, it’s not especially taught well in school, so when it comes to the economy, most young adults like myself produce a reaction similar to “?????” when it’s mentioned. Unless we’re getting schooled in business, we only know that things go on, and not necessarily how they work.
So first of all, what does “economy” even mean?
The “economy” is basically the flow of money, resources, goods, and services within a group of people (i.e. a country), and the interactions of people that govern this flow. This is a pretty vague definition, but since there are many different types of economies, this is what it all boils down to.
Here are some different types of economies:
The economy you create for your storyworld will depend on its context. The type of economy depends on the amount of resources, labor, population, ability to distribute, and occasionally government/politics. For instance, if your story is set in a small, remote village, it is likely to have a barter economy, since the people can just trade among themselves. Of course, having a different economy than that would be an interesting spin to take with a remote village, but it would have to have enough explanation to make it work. As long as the economy makes sense (as with many other aspects of worldbuilding), you should be okay.
Here are some things to consider when brainstorming about the economy:
Even if the economy is not a major part of your plot (and in most cases, it isn’t), you should still know the general basis of how it runs. It’s something that’s usually in the background, but by putting it in the background, you make your story more believable. It doesn’t have to have a huge presence, either. As long as it’s there where you’d expect it to be, it’ll be fine. And on the flip side, if your plot involves the economy as a major point, you should definitely flesh it out! If you’re writing something like a mob/gang thriller or a high-stakes scandal within a corporation, the economy would definitely be relevant.
Whatever you’re writing, I hope this helped! Hopefully writing about economies should make a little more sense now. Go forth and write!