Politics in Fantasy

July 25, 2010 at 6:04 am (Plot, Thoughts on Writing) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have this story outline I’ve been kicking around forever and I have always wanted to write it. Yet every time I’m between projects or looking for something new I have chosen not to begin this particular project.

There may be a very good reason.

Essentially the story is a political thriller but set between two governments that don’t actually exist in a world that also doesn’t exist. See, I’ve always been interested in politics and diplomacy and this story kind of evolved out of that. It really is a guide on how not to be diplomatic and yet still not cause a war. The focus is on two characters that represent opposing governments but each have their own agenda independent of their respective governments.

The reason I don’t think I’m ever going to write this story is because I can’t think of anyone who would want to read it. The sheer number of people that don’t like real politics kind of convinces me that finding out about fictional politics wouldn’t really work for most people. And while other authors have used fictional governments as the scene to make social commentary, that isn’t what I would be intending. The story would simply be about the characters and there would be no social statement.

I have to wonder how many ideas are out there floating around that won’t ever see fruition because their owner decides they just don’t fit their current needs.

Do you have an idea you’ve sent to limbo?



  1. Alex Willging said,

    Fantasy politics isn’t necessary a bad thing. Steven Brust’s Dragaera books have tons of political intrigue, particularly since his main character is a professional assassin. You never know, your idea could still be viable. Might just need to be reworked a few different ways first.

    I’ve found that trying to write a high fantasy tale has always been a dead end. Usually I get so caught up in trying to plan out my fictional world that my characters don’t really have their own personalities, or vice versa. Also, my Dark Lord character never seemed to be all that unique, so that was more frustration for me. I’m trying to keep myself more to the lower end of the scale in my stories, and that usually works.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I just try to avoid villains that are evil. My villains oppose my protagonists goals but aren’t necessarily evil. That way I’m not going the whole dark lord route.

  2. Jenny B. said,

    The concept actually sounds quite interesting.

  3. Cruella Collett said,

    I don’t know anything about this idea other than what you just wrote (obviously), but I’m going to argue with you nevertheless :p

    Basically, I don’t know if I agree that it wouldn’t be a social statement just because it evolves around your characters. Why couldn’t the fact that the characters’ personal motives and agendas affect their decisions BE the social statement? It is one of the very basic debates within political relations whether the processes are affected by the actors (politicians, for instance) or if the actors are affected by the circumstances (or both). The above description sounds like it plays right into that debate. Geeks (like me) could read that into the story, while others who aren’t too keen on political debates could get into the psychological aspect of the characters, or simply the story.

    I do have my fair share of ideas in limbo – but to me limbo still is a place where I can retrieve them from. I don’t think there is ever an idea that is impossible to turn into a viable story (who would have believed ten years ago that a story about how Jesus had children would become a worldwide best selling thriller? Dan Brown, that’s who), but how we do it matters.

    I guess I’m saying that if you feel that this idea is too difficult to tackle now, it might be a good idea to let it rest in limbo, but I wouldn’t give it up entirely. Who knows, someday you might be happy you didn’t 😉

  4. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    I do have a lot of ideas in a drawer. 🙂 The ideas are waiting for me to be more enthusiastic about them or for the *market* to be more enthusiastic about them!

  5. Talli Roland said,

    Quite a few, actually! I ask myself if I want to write them badly enough just for my own enjoyment, but usually I can’t take the time out of something that might actually be more publishable.

    Happy weekend!

  6. Alex J Cavanaugh said,

    I’ve a few fantasy ides I’ve put aside. Don’t give up on that political thriller though.

  7. Deb Salisbury said,

    If you focus on the characters and the world-building, I think your political thriller would appeal to most fantasy readers. Many people like the dirty underside of politics – they just don’t want to see it in their own lives.

    I have a long list of ideas that haven’t gelled yet. I also started a novel, but put it aside after about 18k words when I realized it was turning into a forth book of an unsold trilogy. Eventually I’ll force it to stand alone – or sell the trilogy!

  8. Carol Kilgore said,

    I have a few ideas hanging in limbo. Either I can’t figure out how to write them so they make any sense or it’s something that, like yours, I probably would have no hope of selling, at least not right away. Maybe they’re all just waiting until it’s their time.

  9. Jemi Fraser said,

    I have an idea floating around that I hope to write one day. The problem is similar to yours. It would require an enormous amount of time and research. And I’m not sure it’s at all marketable in the current market. Maybe one of these days… 🙂

  10. Roland D. Yeomans said,

    Alex has a fine point and a fine example Steven Brust’s world of intrigue and political gray-shadings where each being has noble reasons to do ignoble things is fascinating.

    It’s all in making people care about your characters, making them root for your MC and his/her dreams, dangers, and ultimate fate.

    At the end of the day, a novel is about humanity and what we as people do to ourselves and others trying to find some small measure of love, peace, and control in our lives.


  11. Cassandra Jade said,

    Sounds like there are some interesting ideas hanging out there in limbo. Let’s hope one day we all find the time for them.

  12. Miss Rosemary said,

    Several limbo stories actually. One I want to write SO BADLY but it will require so much research, and the research I’ve already begun does not support to story I want to tell … sigh.

    My advice to you is, write it anyway. So what if it’s made up? As long as the politics and events make sense, just go for it. It’s not real, no one can call you out on inaccuracy.

  13. Glynis Smy said,

    I have a couple shut away in the dark. Your idea would work I am sure, it sounds interesting.

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