Could a writer make up his own rules, for a monarchy he created, in a world of his own making?

My question is whether I can completely disregard the rules and regulations of real-life monarchies, except for the very basest of them? This would extend to the royal family members, the king's harem, the deals with a neighboring kingdom, the politics, etc. Of course, I do plan on drawing influence from certain real-life events and such, but could I simply make up my own rules for how this monarchy operates?

  • 5
    Real life monarchies disregard the rules and regulations of other real-life monarchies that operate under different rules and regulations. One of the biggest points on which they differ is whether females can reign, and under what circumstances. In the UK, infant Prince Louis stands behind his elder sister Charlotte in the line of succession, the first male heir to the throne to do so, as the rules were changed before any of his siblings were born to remove the prior preference for male heirs. May 21, 2018 at 16:34
  • 1
    Real life monarchies have wildly different rules and regulations in different places and at different times. May 22, 2018 at 11:19

3 Answers 3


You absolutely can. That's what worldbuilding is about ;)

But you need to remember that the readers will assume certain things when keywords like "king" or "royal" are mentioned. Any gaps in your descriptions will be quickly filled with the readers' understanding of how monarchy works, either based on the real world, or some other fiction.

This means you need to carefully reveal the differences between your setting and the readers' expectation to avoid situations where, two thirds into the story, the readers thinks: "OK, why's that? I though this world works differently..."

  • One example of this is that elective monarchies are apparently a thing (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elective_monarchy ) but if you talk about kings and queens I suspect pretty much everybody will immediately picture a hereditary monarchy.
    – Chris
    May 22, 2018 at 13:21

I don't see why not. Fiction does that all the time. The two most popular lies are "princesses rule in lieu of queens" and "it's routine for someone to come along and usurp the throne or otherwise make the right to rule ambiguous". Both of these may have sometimes happened historically, but in fantasy settings they're routine. A more realistic alternative might be boring, but an equally unrealistic alternative would be fresh.

  • 6
    Those events are "routine" in fantasy settings because fiction is about events which are not routine. Otherwise you generally don't have a story.
    – Kevin
    May 21, 2018 at 18:08
  • 2
    @Kevin "The king is the good guy, unless he usurped the throne at the beginning of the story rather than the end" would be a good example of that necessity. "We're going to get the name of a female monarch wrong" wouldn't.
    – J.G.
    May 21, 2018 at 18:20
  • That's definitely a thing, true. I blame Disney. But maybe they were just following the prevailing cultural winds.
    – Kevin
    May 22, 2018 at 6:22
  • Given the history of the British Royal Family, I'd say that usurpation and civil war was more the rule than the exception, at least back when the monarch had significant power.youtu.be/jNgP6d9HraI
    – nick012000
    May 22, 2018 at 14:13
  • @nick012000 Only if it's the 1060s, 1460s, 1470s, 1640s or 1680s.
    – J.G.
    May 22, 2018 at 14:40

Of course, and it's arguably more interesting to do so. Obviously it will need to be logically coherent, and I'd suggest you write some history which uses or illustrates these differences. This has two purposes:

a) It will allow you to ensure your "rules" actually work (if the history is believable and logically consistent)

b) It will give you some points for characters to refer to, and generally give you more of a 'world'. You don't need to explain these references in the narrative, but you might want to have a glossary for the interested reader.

The (potentially) tricky bit will be explaining the important differences while walking a line between long, obvious exposition and small titbits of info which the reader fails to pick up. There are plenty of well-tried methods to do exposition without the reader noticing (too much).

Incluing is a word for scattering expository information seamlessly through a story, to avoid having to break the narrative for a chunk of exposition.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.