I’ve written previously about how important change is to a setting. In a great setting there are often forces outside of the protagonist’s control that are roiling the calm and shifting the dynamics within a society.
To aid your brainstorming process, especially if you’re writing science fiction or fantasy, here’s a list of societal changes and challenges that your protagonist’s world could be facing:
- Civil rights movement
- Civil war
- Climate change/environmental catastrophe
- Economic collapse
- Extreme inequality
- Paranoia/mass hysteria/xenophobia
- Religious awakening
- Resource discovery or depletion
- Revolution/political power shift
- Scientific discovery
- Technological disruption/innovation
- War (invasion or elective war)
When changes ripple through a society, it results in changing norms and incentive structures. The qualities and values that society used to reward may no longer apply, and there’s a chaotic vacuum that is often filled by both the protagonist and the villain in different ways.
For instance, valor and bravery might be ascendant because the world has gotten more dangerous, but there might also be an opening for greed and evil.
As you craft a setting, don’t just think about the physical description. Think about what is happening in the broader world that could present opportunity and danger for your characters.
See any changes I missed? Add them in the comments!
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Art: The Burning of the Houses of Parliament by Anonymous