Creating New Worlds: Part Two: Commerce

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Creating a new world involves many layers of information that you need to know so that when you write your story, you know every detail.


Think about all the different types of currency in the world - Dollar, Pound, Marc, Franc, Yen, Euro, Pesos, etc. When creating a new world, what type of currency would they use? Silver Pieces? Paper bills with the King's picture on it? Are there different types to represent different amounts? Like Gold Pieces are more than Silver Pieces, etc.

Now you don't need to go into a huge amount of detail here really, as money is usually just a side thing that characters interact with. However, it still requires a little bit of thought. In my novel "The Faery's Tale" they have three types of coins A gold herty, a silver yanta, and a copper jute. I had to decide what they were made of and how much they were worth. In my notes I compared them to US dollar amounts, but only for my benefit. In the story, I don't mention that at all, merely say at certain points (maybe a grand total of 7 times) how many coins the characters hand over to a shop keeper or how many the gain after selling something.

But I needed to know the amount they compared to in order to make sure it stayed logical in the story. At one point they pay for a room in a tavern that was 5 copper jutes per person but then they charter a boat later in the story so I made it that they paid 3 gold hertys. If I had not figured out how much they were in amounts I could understand, I would have messed up both those interactions with payment amounts that didn't make sense.


What sort of jobs would your characters have? This goes in tandem with what sort of class system you have set up and what sort of kingdom/country the character lives in. Think of major trades.

If you look at the world (or for even smaller, the states of the US) each state has something that predominates the economy as far as jobs are concerned. Maine and Alaska are known for its fishing type of jobs. The midwest (Nebraska, Kansas, etc) are known for farming. So what about your country and the surrounding countries? Are they predominately miners? Farmers? Sailors? Lumber jacks?

Why would this be important? Well what sort of occupation would your characters have and how would that affect them? Does the main characters family farm as is the norm, but he or she would rather do something else? That can cause some conflict! There could be a scene where their job plays a major role in the plot (like a blacksmith being able to make weapons for the revolt against the King or something!)

Trading with other Countries

Okay, now this might be going a little bit too detailed, but if you do have a story that centers around politics and relationships with other countries, it is important. It can also help to determine jobs and such for characters that the main ones meet during their travels.

So say the main country of the story is predominately miners. They could trade what ever it is they mind with a neighboring country for cotton or something like that. This then can relate back to the previous part about characters and their jobs. If a miner travels to the neighboring country, most likely he'll run into a lot of farmers or sheep ranchers - for the cotton.

This is just logical as it is rare that one country does everything it needs to sustain itself. And even if it does, it's good to trade with others in order to have peace and allies. Again, this might not be hugely important but it is still something to think about as you write your story. It could have a huge impact on characters and how they interact with each other. It's just another layer to your plot and characters - a small one perhaps, but important to get that realistic feel when creating a new world.

5 Responses to "Creating New Worlds: Part Two: Commerce"

Diandra Says :
April 28, 2010 at 5:04 AM

With regard to Money, you might also have to consider where the (part of the) story takes place - e.g. water is pretty cheap in most western countries, however, in the middle of the African desert... you get it. (^v^)

Harley D. Palmer Says :
April 28, 2010 at 6:25 AM

That is a very good point Diandra! You should definately consider the cost of certain things in certain areas. Your example is a great one!

Alexandra Crocodile Says :
April 28, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Great advice! I just chanced upon your blog, and I'm very glad I did!

-Your latest follower:)

Dawn Embers Says :
April 28, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Great post.

Even in my urban fantasy novel set in Detroit, some of this has come up for me. Figuring out angels and demons, whether they work or need money for anything has been fun to develop. Can't wait to do even more in my own created worlds with this section of world building.

Barter is an interesting option. *ponders*

KarenG Says :
April 28, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Probably why I write reality based fiction. This creating of worlds would send me into a tailspin of confusion!

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