A Lesson by Nicholas Woode-Smith

A basic outline on the purpose of factions in fiction.


From the armies on the battle field to the lords of the court, every story which is to tell of a conflict needs two sides to fight it. These sides are what we call factions and are made up of the characters which we so dutifully craft to take part in this struggle. But no matter how excellent we craft our characters, if the group they align them self with has the depth of a tea spoon, they will most probably have the same.

Factions are the groups in which characters align themselves. They are the elements which compete to better their goal within the plot. Without factions, you would have a goal but no one to achieve or oppose it. One common example of Factions in Fiction is the prevalent conflict of Good vs Evil. This is a 1 v 1 conflict which normally entails the sake of the world as the goal. These are common and are generally dull and over used, but if pulled off correctly, can be very rewarding. 

More Advanced pieces of fiction will most probably entail the conflict of a number of factions with sub-factions also trying to gain the spotlight. A good example of this would be High Fantasy, where they may be a Dark evil faction, but normally there are a number of less evil third-parties in the way of the hero who also has to balance their relations with a number of good factions with opposing ideals and questionable motives. Factions need to be diverse, original and convincing. It is all well and good having 50 factions in your story, but if they are all based on the Roman legion, then it kind of loses the point of it. 

This guide will be teaching the crafting and utilization of factions and will have the following lessons:

1) Creating your first good faction
2) Creating an enemy
3) Sub-Factions
4) Diversity and Culture
5) Conflict 

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Added on April 13, 2012
Last Updated on April 13, 2012

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Nicholas Woode-Smith
Nicholas Woode-Smith

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

I'm a writer, gamer, politician and anime enthusiast. I am involved heavily in the Libertarian movement in South Africa and hold the position of Director of Social Media for the Libertarian Party of S..