In Pursuit of Believing

This is something that can get tricky. If you’re writing a fantasy novel of some kind then you are probably going to have to create an ideology for a group of people, animals, or things. In my case, writing about a society of meerkats, I had to think about what these creatures believe. I asked myself: say they are sentient as human beings, what would their belief system be like? I considered factors such as setting, surroundings, environment, personality, conflicts, and struggles that they might face. I also looked to other books that have done this well for ideas, such as the Warriors series by Erin Hunter and Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams (you can find the reviews I wrote on these books in the category ‘Book Reviews’ under the menu).

I eventually settled upon the idea that the meer would call their ancestors ‘The Before Us’ and would refer to the times that their ancestors lived in as ‘The Way Way Back’. I wanted them to have relatively simple names and terms for things (I mean they’re meerkats so they probably wouldn’t call everything what we call everything), for instance they call eagle owls ‘greatwings’ and elephants ‘giants’. I really tried to see the desert from their POV. Being so small, an elephant compared to them would be gigantic, thus calling them giants came to be. Every society lives by some sort of order, or they wouldn’t be able to function. I determined that the meer followed a doctrine called ‘The 5 Truths’. Then, I created their social hierarchy based on The 5 Truths and what I already know about their natural behavior. Hence, the meer of Vast were born. Of course, that is just the basics of meer society and what they believe. I used a mixture of the ideology that I crafted and how they naturally act to create the characters of my series and their world. This process worked remarkably well for me, so my advice to you would be to do what I explained in this post, if you need to craft an ideology. If not then I hope this was interesting and that you keep this in mind in case you ever do!

You can use examples from our society today also, or look at mythologies of the past. The Norse people had a very harsh outlook on life, considering that they lived in a land of cruel winters and short summers, this is to be expected. They viewed their gods as being as hardy and tough as they were. The people of Ancient Egypt, however, viewed almost all of their gods a benign figures who looked out for everyone. Their beliefs had a particular emphasis on water, the Nile River specifically, which is no surprise considering that they lived in a desert. Just as these civilizations surroundings and hardships shaped their personalities and beliefs, so when you craft your own ideology the same factors should be at play.

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