This could be a fantasy world, a futuristic/science fiction world, or even a contemporary world. All books have settings, and even in something as familiar as high school, there's a hierarchy to how things work.
So today we're going to discuss a main component of any world: government.
You must establish the role of government in your world. Some questions to consider:
- Who makes the laws?
- Who enforces them?
- What are the punishments if the rules are broken?
- What kinds of rules/laws are there?
- How did these laws come about?
- How does one rise to a position of power? (See why this applies to high school? Ha!)
- How does one lose their position of power?
- Does the MC agree with the government? Fear it? Want to change it? Live under its protection willingly?
And then we get to the real meat of your story. Because usually, the MC isn't just going along willingly with Those In Charge (TIC). They might be trying to subvert the government without drawing any attention to themselves (example: MATCHED by Ally Condie). In essence, they're hiding. Learning what TIC are really like, what their world is really like.
Which, sidenote: This is why YA fiction is such a great place to anchor stories like this. Because adolescents -- and uh, a lot of adults too -- are figuring out what their world is really like.
So once you've got a pretty good idea of how the government came to be, who's in charge of the government, how it runs, and how your MC views it, you're ready to consider these questions:
- How far will TIC go to maintain their way of rule?
- How far will the MC go to change the way their world is governed?
- Is it even possible to change the entire government in my story?
- Does it need to be changed? Or can resolution be found while the government is still intact?
- What does my MC need to enact change? (In ERAGON, he needed the dragon.)
- Who does my MC need at his side to thwart TIC? (In CATCHING FIRE, Katniss had people on her side she didn't even know about.)
- What does the MC envision the "new world" to be like?
- Who might run the new government?
- Why might life be better being run in a different way? How might it be worse?
And once you know all that, I believe you can write a world that A) makes sense, and B) can house a character and a plot.
We're going to continue our discussion of building a world next week, possibly with the subject of textiles, fabrics, and foods.
Have you built a world in your writing? Do you spend time answering these questions about government? What else would you add to the list?