History and politics are often what could be called the “meat” of your storyworld. At least, I view them as such. History and politics provide leads for so many stories, and make your storyworld much more complex and interesting. When designing the history and politics of a storyworld, I’ve had plots occur to me by accident, and some of them have become novel drafts. You never know what you might uncover!
When it comes to worldbuilding, discovering the history and politics of your world is sort of like archaeology. You have to do a lot of digging, and sometimes, you find things you never expected. That’s the fun of it, and I love the surprises you can overturn. By discovering the history of a world, I sometimes get ideas for spinoff plots, or plots that might even be better than the one I originally came up with.
I usually start out by exploring the history of my own characters, first. Where did they grow up, and what was it like there? Did they have a part in any major events? This sort of exploration not only helps you flesh out the character in question, it also expands the world for you and lets you see different events that happened in the world.
You can also do this in a more broad way, by mapping out the world’s timeline in general, without involving specific people at first. For instance, with one of my universes, I started from the moment of its creation and mapped out major events that happened, up until my story started. You don’t have to go that far back (for me, that universe’s creation was a plot point in a previous book, so it’s a pretty new universe. But I imagine it’d be pretty difficult if your universe was older), but definitely go back enough that you have a solid history base, however far back that might be.
Here are some events you might want to explore or include:
When you’re brainstorming stuff like this, it’s important to consider how the event in question shaped the storyworld you’re working with. For instance, maybe a hurricane hit the coast of your storyworld a while back. How did the hurricane impact the people there, as well as the others in the storyworld? If you have things like disasters in your storyworld’s history, and there aren’t any long-lasting impacts, it’s not as believable. A country is just not going to be perfectly okay after something that large has happened. Same for positive events. If a country has won a war, or elected a very popular leader, that would have long-lasting effects, too. You can’t just brainstorm the “what.” You also have to brainstorm the “why” and “how” and “because of this.”
Now we’ll zoom in on an aspect of history that is one of my favorites - politics. The definition of politics is the following: “social relations involving authority or power.” So basically, politics concerns how people work together and interact while they run the country, or anything else. To have politics, though, you probably need some sort of government (although this government could be very loose, or very strong). Figuring out the kind of government that works for your storyworld is very important, and will give your politics a base.
Here are some kinds of government (or lack thereof):
There are other forms of government than this, but hopefully this list can get you started brainstorming. Make sure the type of government makes sense for your storyworld, though. If a society is much more focused on its economy and wealth rather than technology, it is probably not going to be a technocracy or meritocracy. You have to make your storyworld believable, or at least suspend belief enough that people won’t think to themselves, “hmm, something doesn’t seem right here.”
You can expand a lot once you have a frame for your government. Here are some things you might want to expand upon when it comes to government:
I’m sure there are other things, but these are the things I can come up with from the top of my head, when it comes to brainstorming government. Hopefully these will help you, too! Good luck!