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Worldbuilding: Social Structure

Details of the place your characters inhabit and move around in are critical to making your story world come to life. No matter the genre, you have an opportunity to introduce and support thematic arguments through these elements.

What is the population size?

Where are they on the spectrum from isolated to cosmopolitan?

How do they feel about "outsiders" or people of other ethnicities or regions?

How easily do they embrace change?

How many races or ethnicities are represented in their society?

Do they promote individuality or the collective good?

Are their lives laid back or bustling?

Do they get along with their neighbors, are there tensions, or are they at war with one another?

Who do they look up to? Who are their heroes?

Who do they look down on? Who are their villains?

Do they value fame or notoriety?

How enlightened are they from the range of the dark ages to the height of progressiveness?

How paranoid are they?

How do they assign names? Do they have family names or surnames?

Do they keep family trees or study genealogy?

Did they record things in family bibles, local registries, or national registries?

Do they have coats of arms or other emblems to indicate group affiliation or status?

Did they have local or regional holidays like President's day, Founder's Day, etc.?

Did they have benevolent societies or charities?

Did they have clubs or civic activities or groups?

Did they have ceremonies surrounding mourning and death?

Did they bury the dead or cremate them? Did they have cemeteries, mausoleums, burial mounds, catacombs, tombs, pyramids, or mass graves?

For the rest of the questions in this category, check out the SBB Build A World Workbook, available in print and e-book.

Next week, we will explore Mores & Manners.

Other titles in the series:

Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict available in print and e-book takes you from story seed to conflict outline. The fourteen companion Build A Plot Workbooks, in print and e-book, offer step by step development prompts: ComedyCon, Heist & Prison BreakFantasyGothicHistoricalHorrorLiterary
(Drama),  MysteryRoad TripRomanceScience FictionTeam VictoryThriller & SuspenseWestern.

SBB II Crafting Believable Conflict in print and e-book and the Build A Cast Workbook in print and e-book help you build a believable cast and add conflict based on the sixteen personality types.

SBB III The Revision Layers in print and e-book helps you self-edit your manuscript.

Free story building tools are available at  

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