So if you have been keeping up with me these days, you'll know I've been working on a series of posts. This is how I built my fantasy world, something I've worked on for well over ten years.
The first post I did was regarding magic. Rules or no rules? Limitations to magic? You can check it out over here and continue the discussion if you like over there as well.
This post is going to focus on kingdoms.
In sword and sorcery fantasy, there is always a King and Queen and the first born son is usually the most likely successor. There is also usually one or two kingdoms. Sometimes you've got the two warring with each other or they live in harmony and decide to work together to vanquish a common enemy.
But let's think outside of the box.
In my world, I have patriarchal societies as well as matriarchal. If you don't know your hierarchies, this can be confusing. Patriarchal is ruled by men, matriarchal is ruled by women. I have kingdoms where it doesn't matter if the successor is male or female. Some kingdoms dictate that only the eldest daughter can inherit the throne. In my Elven kingdom, there is a king and queen, but the majority of the rule is given to a council of nine women.
I've read some books where the next ruler of the kingdom is voted in by the citizens of the kingdom. Even a peasant could rule. But what if there was a lottery? Would you put your name in to be the next king or queen of a kingdom if your predecessors were murdered? In Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, that kingdom had been ruled by a steward and his sons took over when he got too old or died.
So think about your ruling families and structures when you are plotting out your world. Don't stick to what I feel is an old cliche. Try something different. Maybe the kingdom is ruled by a governing body of 13, an odd number to help break tie votes. Or perhaps the youngest child inherits, despite the gender. Maybe only women rule, but they secretly confide in one man?
We all know what works in fantasy writing, but sometimes those get boring. Dare to be bold, be different! Think outside the box, but don't get too weird or people won't be comfortable with it. It should be different, but also plausible!