Welcome to Part 5 of my World Building blog series :D I’ll be covering just about every topic I can think of that goes into world crafting. If you have any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know :)
The law can be an excellent plot point and road block for your characters. I know on the surface the very concept of law can seem boring, but I promise you that it’s not. Maybe the laws in your world are unjust, maybe they inhibit what your character wants, maybe they’re manipulated to influence how the story goes, or maybe there’s one law that the villain is breaking in secret and the MC just has to be able to prove it to win. There are so many angles you can work with this topic.
If your character is in dire straits and faced with life and death then the chances are going to decrease that a law will stop them. For example, in one of my WIPs the MC is out of money, out of options and facing starvation. This leads her beyond the law and into piracy to get by. Criminal activity is often born out of desperation and there are tons of legal obstacles that can make your characters desperate.
Legalities surrounding family can have a big influence on your characters as well. Things like inheritance, can change lives. Maybe your character was set to inherit something important, but unbeknownst to them someone razzle dazzled their family member into changing their will and suddenly the inheritance is off the table. Maybe there are laws in place that give family control over your characters autonomy in specific cases, such as how women were family property until married off.
Laws give your characters something to fight against, because honestly, not all laws are good laws. There are still laws against letting people be who they are and loving who they want to love. If you choose to have laws like that in your world, you have some good concepts for your characters to stomp all over. Break the laws, change the laws, turn them into a force for good in your story. If you’re going the other direction and things are descending into anarchy or totalitarianism, then you have a whole mess of issues for your characters to work with.
The important thing here is that laws can be used to create society-wide conflicts. You can get intimate and show how they affect your characters and the struggles against them. Use it to your advantage to build a more complex story. Your characters are going to exist within the world you’re building and disregarding the legal system and how it affects them will only do a disservice to your story. It sets hard boundaries, highlights injustice and gives a rough guide for conduct. Embrace legalities and make it fun, enjoy yourself with this unique process.