The Trappings of Power and How to Write It

Power and IntriguePower. Its trappings ruin people, love of it corrupts them, attempts to seize it destroy them.

And yet I don’t seem capable of writing about it without sounding like a moron.

The undead characters in my current urban fantasy series have a ruling council of sorts. And it has come time for me to explore this idea more fully…which as me pretty flummoxed.

See, power has to come from somewhere. You have to have some way of holding sway over or influencing people: you can have a persuasive personality, you can have access to something that someone else needs, you can have the ability to threaten someone, you can be able to pay someone a sum large enough to make them do what you want, and so on.

The thing is, in my world of zombies and angels, there aren’t really any needs or wants. Testers don’t go hungry due to a resource being limited. People are their source of energy and there are plenty of people for all the testers to get by. Testers don’t get cold, they don’t get tired, they don’t have any use for jewelry or luxury. Yes, occasionally these things effect them, but it never becomes a problem that isn’t easily fixed. Hell, there are desk jobs on the top of Mount Everest in my world.

So the sorts of things that might be used to dictate power among my society of testers get a little muddy. No one is collecting taxes because there is no state. There are no roads to maintain, no lines of communication to keep up, no armies to raise. Well…at least not originally.

There is no need for law as nothing can be stolen and up until recently it was questionable if one tester could even injure another.

Without the need to dispense justice, without anything to fight over, without any way to actually enforce a ruling, it doesn’t seem like there would be much of a reason for a governing body to exist. Which, in fact, has been the case. So far in these books there have been hints about how, at the time the Council was formed, a brief display of power followed. But then it is strongly intimated that the Council’s power fizzled out, possibly due to actions taken by Epp, and since then it has been a lame duck.

Recently it has become important again, I actually credit Mary with that, but it is its formation that I am pondering today.

Would a society with no bodies and no needs have any need for a governing body?

The answer is yes…because I said it did back in book one.

Now I just have to piece together why.


  1. sandchigger says:

    I had assumed that the council was formed by a bunch of busy-bodies who wanted to tell everyone else how to do their jobs “correctly”. More a PTA group than a Joint Chiefs sorta deal.

    • I believe that “busy-bodies” sums them up well enough. But I do think that they wielded some amount of controlling power in some sort of manner at their formation. If only because all eyes were on them and the whole novelty of even having a council.