Worldbuilding Questions: Post #14 – Commerce, Trade, and Public Life (Part Two)
Hey readers! Only ONE more post left in the worldbuilding series! It’s been such an honor to walk through the SFWA questionnaire with you all. I’ve enjoyed breaking it down into manageable pieces and providing commentary that hopefully has inspired some of you to create. Without further ado, let’s get started! Today, we’re going to be focusing on the second half of the Commerce, Trade, and Public life section.
What do doctors and surgeons look like in your society? Do they go by these names, or are they healers and clerics? How are healers trained? How accurately can they diagnose medical conditions? What methods do they have of diagnosing the issues, physical or magical? How accessible are healers to the community around them? Are they too expensive? Having access to a doctor ultimately makes a society more healthy. Imagine if there were wars held over having access to a healer. Imagine undertaking a war without any doctors or medics available.
How much is known about the anatomy and physiology of the body? How were treatments for various conditions discovered? Do your people understand the reasons behind why treatments work, or are they sailing by just by knowing that something work? Compared to the modern era, specify where your world is in medical development. It should be understood whether your society is more medieval, more modern, or more futuristic.
Is healing a magical process or a physical process? Go back to your notes on magical spells and clarify what can and cannot be fixed by magic.
What kind of treatments are available for various medical conditions? Think about everything from the common cold to the most rare of cancers. Now, not all of these need to be specified in order for you to write a good story. Is it possible to revive/resuscitate someone after they have died, either through physical or magical means? Can healers potentially revive the dead if ever necessary. Please do not forget about what institutions are in place to address the issues of mental health. Or if there is a lack of mental health solutions in place, which may be interesting to play around with in a story.
Arts and Entertainment
Let’s switch gears entirely and discuss leisure and the arts. How important are the arts to your society? How does your society define what art is? Remember, art is quite a fluid word. It can mean the practice of visual art, or it can be expanded to encompass theater, music, and writing. How much support is there in the community for artistic pursuits? Are any artistic practices outlawed?
Are there permanent theaters and concert halls, or do buildings or rooms have to be temporarily converted to serve as such? This point can stem from how important the arts is in your society. Do artists tend to stay in one place, or do they travel around from town to town in troupes? Are they typically trained professionally, or is it a learn on your own kind of trade?
How does magic factor into the arts? In what ways is art enhanced by magic? In what ways is the practice of magic already art on its own?
What do people in your universe like to do for fun? What kind of games are well known and played across the world? This can range from card games to children’s games and magical games. What about sports? Are any sports widely popularized? Are there traveling sports teams? Feel free to make up as much as you want. Do different species have their own kind of games and activities for leisure?
What is your world’s standard of beauty? This factors into more than appearances and talent. This can play into societal splits, societal advantages, and advantages of being a specific species or race. This can also influence portrayals of both men and women in art. Do different races and species have different standards of beauty? I think this is one of the more intriguing questions of this section, for sure.
How are buildings usually constructed? What are the available materials for building, and does it vary by area? What are the differences highlighted between wealthier sections of town and poorer sections of town?
On the exterior side, how tall can a building feasibly be given the current state of construction technology? Are there any architectural features that buildings tend to highlight (i.e. the windows, the doors, exterior walls, etc.)? What architectural styles in the modern world mimic your world’s styles? On the interior side, how are buildings typically designed? Most likely, this will differ depending on whether it is a business building or a housing building.
How do people like to decorate their buildings, both inside and out?
Most of these questions have been addressed in earlier sections. The more unique ones to the bunch focus on the city’s layout. Are there any blatant landmarks in the cities that your story covers? Are the cities laid out in a grid pattern, or have they just grown naturally in every which way? What about orientation: is the center or the head of the city oriented in a strategic location like the highest point in an area?
How do the rural areas compare to the urban areas population wise? Is it primarily farmers out in these areas or do any other trades dominate? How easily can goods move between the rural and urban areas? Pay attention to this because depending on how well food can keep, it can limit the size and proximity of cities.
How is the weather in the area? Is it fairly consistent? This can help determine whether crop production is consistent or very inconsistent, which in turn influences your economy. Don’t forget to account for catastrophic weather like cyclones and dust storms!
Hope you all have enjoyed today’s post! See you all next time.