Tips on Tuesday: Food for Thought . . . AND Sustenance

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

One of the really thought‑provoking things which was brought to my attention at the LTUE (Life, the Universe and Everything) conference this month was that “Everybody must make a living.” So said the panel on “Why Economics Matter,” made up of Robison Wells, David Ferro, Eric Swedin, L. E. Modesitt, and Sandra Taylor.

I think I usually just write blithely along without thinking about the “expense” of just living. Now, I usually write fantasy, but does that make a difference? No. A character may live out in the woods, but how does he make that “living”? He may eat a thin gruel with a chunk of hefty bread‑like something . . .

But who supplied the grains and/or plant matter that went into the pot? And whence came the pot? Who brought in water, and from where? Was there any protein in the gruel? Who robbed the butcher, or butchered the squirrel, or skinned the snake? And how did that person have the knowledge of what could and should not be consumed?

Then there’s the “bread” or bread substitute: where did the ingredients come from? How good are the pickings if your MC has to depend on begging? How does he fuel his body enough to get close enough to habitations to find someone to beg from?

So many things need to be considered when creating your “world.” If your characters don’t live in the backwoods on “their own,” where is the village or city or country?  Why is a city in that specific place? Someone — perhaps years and years ago found a way to make money by setting up the village or city. What was it? What drew other people into that place? Job opportunities? Availability of food? Compatible “others”? Natural resources? Beauty?

If it’s a ghost town now, why? What killed it off? Why is it no longer extant?

No matter where people live, congregate, or whatever, there must be a flow of resources into and out of that specific place. Families need to be fed and nurtured. Even “magic” must have to follow some economic rules.

Many YA novels today seem to exist in isolation — nothing goes in, nothing comes out. How, then, do they sustain themselves? At the very least, some kind of agricultural surplus is necessary to create a societal economic system.

As you build your world, whether real or fanciful ask yourself three questions:

What does it cost?

Where did the money (or other type of sustenance) come from?

Why is the supplying entity willing to pay for it?

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!


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