Worldbuilding Wednesday – Military – September 27

This week is going to be special. You see, it’s launch week for The A-Zs of Worldbuilding book! The e-book has been available since September 15, but the paperback comes out this Saturday, September 30!

So today, the Worldbuilding Wednesday topic is going to be the full chapter for the corresponding topic in the worldbuilding book – M is for Military! Additionally, at the end of this post, you’ll have the option to sign up to get a free PDF of the entire set of worldbuilding questions that accompany this chapter.

While you’re here, please do check out what’s happening with The A-Zs of Worldbuilding Blog Tour! Make sure to check out the launch week specials too!

And now, onto Worldbuilding Wednesday!

There is no giveaway winner for last week.

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M is for Military

Armies, Soldiers, and Tactics

Speculative fiction often falls into one of two extremes: you either have wars (or countries on the verge of war, or civil wars, etc.) or… you have peace-loving, tree-hugging hippies.

No offense to hippies of any stripe. I’m almost one myself.

There is definitely a happy medium to be found, but unless your fictional people groups are literally perfect, there will be conflict. There will be crimes. There will be wars. And there will be senseless deaths.

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Defense and offense are the two main things a military force will deal with.

You will need to decide, though, if your country keeps a standing army during peacetime, or if soldiers are conscripted as needed when conflict arrives. There is also the option of keeping a military force in reserve, so that soldiers are already trained when they are required. When a reserve force is not an option and the need for soldiers arises, mercenaries may be hired. This depends on whether there is enough funds for that, of course.

How large an army needs to be depends on how much force could be brought against them, how large their country actually is (more borders means more soldiers, because there is simply more area to cover), and what the population is like. Some of it may also depend on how spread out the population is – it takes fewer soldiers to protect one city, for example, versus several cities or towns spread over a vast distance.

You will also need to take into consideration the technology available. The training and tactics in a fight will be vastly different if it needs to be hand-to-hand combat, or if they have long-range weapons of any sort.

I recommend figuring out the basics of the command structure within your armed forces, as well. It’s just one of those things, again, that makes it easier when you get into the actual writing. I’ve had to stop and figure out ranks and command structure in the middle of scenes before, and it’s more than a little distracting to say the least.

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Other Inspiration

Don’t be afraid of picking up tactics books. The Art of War is one that is recommended often and reading it for yourself will not hurt your story. I would, however, caution against using it as blatant inspiration in your writing. It has been done many times, and if I had a dollar for every fantasy story I’ve read that makes mention of The Art of War or some thinly disguised substitute, I’d be rich.

Books about war history are also a good place to start, though lengthier and more time-consuming. Don’t just study the tactics, but study the reasons behind the battles and the politics manipulating forces from behind the scenes.

Otherwise, feel free to use ranks and titles and command structure from existing military forces. They are fairly standard and easy for people to understand, just make sure they make sense within your fictional world.

Further Questions

  1. Do your people have enemies? Why?
  2. What borders would need to be defended against invasion?
  3. Has an official military force been established? When?

To get your worldbuilding worksheet with all 16 questions from The A-Zs of Worldbuilding just sign up below!


Using the Worldbuilding Wednesday theme is not required for participation in the blog hop, but is just a jumping point if you don’t know what to start with.

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One thought on “Worldbuilding Wednesday – Military – September 27

  1. I got your book in the mail today. My mailbox mouse ate part of the envelope but didn’t touch the book. Will have to read & review it as soon as I’ve read & reviewed a bunch of other books I have to do for other friends.

    I got a blog post written for the topic today. I’m unneccesarily proud of myself for that cause I’m busy— launching a new blog for which I wrote 2 posts today. I only got the post done in time because it includes a Star Trek related rant. Ranting motivates me.

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