History is a series of conflicts, built on the previous chain of retaliation. Some of the greatest history inspired fantasies (GOT and the hundreds of other courtly intrigue stories in existence since time immemorial) have delighted readers for years. The reason or rather, one of the reasons? The politics were sound for the setting.

This is why having a robust history is, in my mind, the most critical indicator of your novel/series success. History is the overview, the great moving parts created in a 150 page plus world bible. It’s chronicling the major events, marriages, tragedies, and using those as a stepping stone to fill in the gaps. Who are you to know your own history? Is a recurring motif/theme in my own stories. But to get back to the topic at hand, history is the foundation, politics is the execution.

What I mean is simple: politics is the apparatus upon which history is filtered, studied, and used to enact policies, polls, justifications/rationales for theories of military policy, etc. Politics is the blade of history.

And it’s critical for your fledgling series/setting that the politics make sense, specifically, for your setting. You can borrow/take inspirations from history but the politics of your setting emerge from that setting’s history. Why is there a thinly veiled analogue of Nazis if the conditions for Nazism don’t exist? If they do, show it/tell it through world-building. I’m not going to accept it at face value because of social mores of the era, no more than someone having 1980s Reaganomics Republicanism in a veiled setting. You cannot just plug and chug real world political philosophies because those philosophies, those specific ones, developed out of the circumstances of OUR history. What are the political parties, treaties, and policies that developed from that setting? That is how you bring your world to life, your characters have opinions on the in universe issues, and generates conflict within your stories. But, as hammered repeatedly, the politics must emerge from the conflicts, tragedies, treaties of your setting.

I’ve lost interest in stories because the politics presented were so mind numbling lacking in nuance, I went back to read the Gulag Archipelago (which anyone should read for a harrowing account of Communist Russia’s exile and political prisoner policies), and that is still one of the most sobering recollections of political bastardery I’ve seen. No one can hold your hand, again, it’s up to you to write and give your setting the politics it deserves. Good or bad, that’s on you.


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