Writing a novel

Worldbuilding 101: Governments

Plato described five types of governmental regime:

      • Aristocracy
      • Democracy
      • Oligarchy
      • Timocracy
      • Tyranny
Le medlock: Worldbuilding 101
Image from Flickr Creative Commons via by Kevin H

Wikipedia has an extensive list of systems, but the most common in novels are democracy, monarchy and republic. It’s sometimes difficult to fit a regime into one of these governments. In regard to worldbuilding for a novel, try to embrace less common or overused regimes.

Le medlock: Worldbuilding 101
Image from Flickr Creative Commons via by Dolmang
      1. Autocracy and Despotism
        Rule by a single powerful being. Neither are held accountable to any legal restraint or to the people. Despots are the nastier version – they apparently take slaves rather than servants. Also Dictatorship and Facism.
      2. Timocracy
        Rule by honour. Now this I would love to see. A group of honourable people are selected according to the level of honour they hold in society. Sparta is a good example. Also Aristocracy (the Elite), Geniocracy (the Intelligent), Kratocracy (the Strong), Meritocracy (Meritorious – I did try saying that 5 times fast) and Technocracy (the Techxperts).
      3. Monarchy
        Wiki expounds on various different forms of monarchy (most I’d never even heard of). Monarchs act as the head of state and inherit their position via blood. Ancient Egypt is an example.
      4. Rule by people who probably shouldn’t.
        i.e. Bankocracy. Rule by banks. (Because, why?) Corporations and thieves turn up here, as does Kakistocracy (the Stupid).
      5. Totalitarian
        An authority that regulates every element of the people’s lives, both public and private. These are usually overthrown by the protagonist as their good intentions (or not-so-good) suppress the populace.
      6. Democracy
        Good old democracy, born in the heart of Athens. No explanation necessary, I hope.
      7. Oligarchy
        Segregated, powerful and influential people. More interesting versions are Ergatocracy (the Workers), Kritarchy (the Judges), Theocracy (the Church) and Kritarchy (the Judges).
Le medlock: Worldbuilding 101
Image from Flickr Creative Commons via by photohome_uk

For a long list of regimes, take a look at The Phrontistery. Again to emphasise the apparent theme of this worldbuilding series; relevance. Make sure that there are reasons for this particular person or group taking power, or reasons why honour or intelligence or magic are so highly revered.

Any particular favourites you can add?

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