Hacked Fit Bits aside, this month’s best bit of advice from the meeting is to do with deeper levels of world building.
Be warned this is a very simplified explanation of what is a large and complex topic that I encourage you to research more deeply if you are working on an ‘epic’ or ‘interstellar/galactic’ scale in your fiction, or even anything which involves two or more opposing cultures/countries.
The piece this feedback was given on was an epic fantasy (though the advice is applicable to more than just fantasy) in which two nations – a still somewhat primitive war-like one, and a more modern commerce focused one – meet and the diplomatic issues between them (the story itself is infinitely more complex than just this one fact, but to help you understand the advice I felt some knowledge of the story would be helpful).
At one point one of the members of the more modern nation made a comment about how they had warriors, but not really much of an army, as they were far more focused on trade. But in reality, that would not be the likely case. Commerce and the strength of a country’s army are often tied together.
To use some examples from reality: look at the USA and China, both economic powers and both with strong military forces. Russia is looking to bolster it economic standing once more so is putting effort into their armed forces.
What are some of the reasons behind this? Well, war is an economic drain on a country, money that would go to trade is instead spent on the myriad expenses of war – of which there is rarely if ever any monetary return on. Also trade routes can become restricted or entirely cut off due to fighting and enemy takeovers. A country that wants to trade freely needs to be able to scare off potential enemies so they never get into a war to begin with.
Back in the fantasy world, the wealthy country had also made little to no effort to prepare for their differently cultured guests. A country who was able to successfully trade well and strike good agreements with other cultures and countries would be well aware of the value of catering to your guest’s different needs and expectations. They would also know how a whole deal could fall through because of a mistranslated phrase or an unintended insulting gesture.
Military matters, commerce, and diplomacy are intertwined and if you’re going to have political stakes in your story it would be a good idea to try and gain a better understanding of these matters. Obviously this blog post is far from all there is on the subject, so don’t stop here, learn as much as you can so your world building can strengthen your story.