1. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    How To Describe A War

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CrystalDreamer59, Jul 16, 2012.

    So as I meantioned in a previous post I have this idea for a story about a utopian planet and a dystopian planet that are at war with each other. The story basically begins on a normal day on the utopian planet when suddenly the capital city of the utopian planet is attacked by the dystopian planet. After that I'm not that sure what should happen. How do I go about describing the attack and what should I have the utopian planet do next after being attacked.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's your story. You tell us how they react.
     
  3. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    I imagine the ordinary people in the capital city of the utopian planet would be panicking as space shuttles from the dystopian planet begin begin bombing the capital city while the warriors of the planet work to calm the ordinary people down and create a magical barrier to protect the city (It's a fantasy world so people have magical powers). That's just how I imagine the first attack. It's a start I think.
     
  4. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    On this one I agree word for word with Master Cogito... He is very wise. It is your story, that is what you have to decide. it is your society, your characters your war. I ould imagine the Utopians would decide whats best for them and try to avoid war until absolutely necessary... but its your society, thats a part you have to work out and tell us.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    That would all depend on the hardware ( weapons )involved , are they technically advanced or rather backward?
    Have the people had a war before and are they prepared? Or does this come as a frightening never-happened-before experience.
    Do they have the weapons or intelligence to combat the strike?
    Which view do you want to take. An overall view of bombs turning a city to smoke and ash with nameless people shrieking
    or do you want to show the terror from a select handful of characters?
    Do you want an air strike or a land invasion?
    Is this a sneak attack without warning or something the world had been expecting?
     
  6. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    The attack is going to aim for the high-ground. The highest ground is space. The first thing the logical military commander would do is secure space command -- the ability to use space for ones needs (logistics and communications, and perhaps direct attacks), while denying the use of space to the enemy. So, in your attack scenario, your first setting will be off-planet. How much time you want to spend there is up to you. Maybe you'll want to detail the battel(s) which decide space command, or maybe you'll just want to brush aside the Utopians' Space Force with a simple "The Dystopes were everywhere." But that will be your first setting.

    After that, the battle will likely revolve around communications chokepoints (both electronic and physical), and the imposition of main force upon the enemy to compel surrender. You'll need a good reason for city warfare, because militaries detest attacking cities. Cities are sponges which absorb resources and the lives of fighting men. They almost always aid the defense. So you'll need a good reason for the capital city to not simply be nuked immediately. If it's nuked immediately, you'll need to rescue whoever is in your story living there.

    After that, it depends on where your story goes.
     
  7. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    I never thought of having the battle in space as the dystopian planet is less technologically advanced then the utopian world and has just began space exploration. As for the reason the dystopian world attacks the utopian world. They attack the utopian world because they think their culture is best and want to spread their culture. Would this be a good enough reason for attack.
     
  8. DeepBlue10055
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    DeepBlue10055 Member

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    It would be a fine reason, but be sure to justify it.
    Although I think a culture that has just begun space exploration would not be prepared to make a space-borne attack. Would we be able to land troops on Mars, even if we had a strong desire to conquer some fictional inhabitants or harvest a precious resource? Almost certainly not. At least not for another 50-100 years, anyway.
     
  9. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    Perhaps I should of clearified that the dystopian planet discovered space exporation about 50 years prior to the events of the story and that the distance between the planets is rather close just slightly further than the distance between the earth and the moon. Would this make things more realistic.
     
  10. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    Utopians would probably be in panic, as I would assume they barely have a military. A lot would surrender because they don't truly know how to fight. But, this is your book. I have to agree with Cogito and say you write it how you want to write it. The only thing I would say is keep the cultural difference between the two planets intact. That will make it interesting.
     
  11. inkdweller
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    inkdweller Member

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    It's important I think to contrast the normal with the horror in this attack. Emphasize less the peaceful bliss, becuase this is unrelatable and unbelievable. Even in a perfect life we have our dramas and our concerns, petty though they may really be. Emphasize more the ordinary relate-able every day actions that make it peaceful and blissful.

    As for the actual attack, think about what would really make you gasp if an enemy attacked your planet, your country, your home. Seeing the statue of liberty, a symbol of hope and freedom, have her head thrown off by some alien monster in the movie "Cloverfield" certainly set a sinking feeling of dread in me when I watched it. When an enemy attacks a "symbol" of sorts this is easily recognized and painful for a larger audience. Watch and enemy destroy the Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, Empire State Building and you watch them take away something you had in your mind as eternal.

    Suddenly what was such a certain symbol of "hope" or "power" or whatever it is, crumbles at your feet, and the world as you know it has just been flipped irreversibly. There's no turning back now, doom is imminent. This sort of attack is less direct than destroying lives, but in this it affects a larger audience, targeting them mentally. Religion is another symbol that unifies people and can be targeted. This has happened many times throughout history, and some are dreadfully recent. Survivors are certainly instilled with feelings of anger and anguish afterwards. Dig into some research on this sort of thing, it may sicken, but all the more convincing to evoke emotion into your readers when you have that emotion yourself.
     
  12. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    So, what happens?

    War is the next-to-last thing in the Universe that falls under a logical progression of specific events. (The very last thing is Love.) Trying to write it using a paint-by-numbers approach is not going to be easy or rewarding. You may have to rethink your story, a bit.

    If you're wondering about how to write "war stories" then you should read some. But, if you can't think of anything besides "There is a war between two planets and then something happens." you probably don't need to be writing about "War." That's not meant as an insult. That's meant as an instructive comment to the fact that "war" might not be your strong suit. There are plenty of writers out there that won't even touch "action" pieces because they suck at writing action. Instead, they write wonderful love stories or good interpersonal pieces with not a lot of action. There are so many "not war" writers out there that bookstores and libraries have huge rows of shelves devoted to their work! :)

    But, if you want to write about war, you need to read about it if you haven't experienced it yourself. I suggest going off to the Military History section in the local bookstore. They may also have a Military Fiction section, as well. Pick up a few books on the World Wars told in a first-person view. A book about The Battle of Britain might be a great one to read. For myself, I've read a few war-biographies to gain a better understanding of the sort of highly personal combat that was experienced during the World War II, Vietnam and Korean wars. While the American Civil War and World War I both had close engagements, combat was on a somewhat grander scale with large unit maneuvers being the order of the day. Squad and Platoon sized action seems more prevalent in more recent conflicts where the individual capabilities of soldiers were much magnified. Of course, huge engagements took place, like at Kursk or the Battle of the Coral Sea. Anyway, I'm rambling...

    The point is - Go read some military fiction/fact. Discover how the author presented the action. What did they comment on? What happened? Then, apply those sorts of mechanics to your own story. If you find it too difficult, then tell the story a different way. Instead of focusing on the combat, what about focusing on the survival of civilians that may only think of the significance of the action taking place in very immediate, very personal ways. They might not understand the military significance, but they can surely understand the implications they have on their own survival. You may find that it is more satisfying for you to write the story from that perspective.
     
  13. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    @inkdweller: On the utopian planet since their a monarchy a symbol of national pride would be the royal palace. I have thought very much about the dystopian world attacking the royal palace because they want to get rid of the monarchy so they can turn the planet into their own colony.

    @Morkonan: I will search my library for books on war, both fiction and non fiction. Hopefully this will improve my writing. However I have a book checked out right now and I want to finish that first before I check out any more books.
     
  14. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    You can gain some perspective from watching movies, as well. There are some good visuals and "physical" things, there. Off the top of my head, a few favorites:

    Battle of the Bulge - Large scale combat, some political maneuvering
    Battlefield - Older movie centering on squad combat
    Midway - Naval campaign, some good high-level planning and politics
    The Battle of Britain - Air bombardment and attrition campaign
    A Bridge Too Far - Large group special actions
    The Longest Day - Large group special actions
    Band of Brothers (HBO Series) - Platoon sized combat
    Enemy at the Gates (The one about Stalingrad) - Sniper combat and survival in hellish conditions
    We were soldiers - Company sized special actions
    All's quiet on the Western Front - A single soldier's story

    If you don't have time to read a lot of war stories, grab one of these movies and watch it for clues as to what a reader might find engaging in regards to actual combat. (These choices don't include much of a civilian point of view.)
     
  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Don't forget Jeff Shaara's books. He covers the Mexican-American War, the American Civil War, WWI, and WWII from the perspective of a few key people on both sides. They are all very well written.
     
  16. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    This may not be a feasible option, but you can always try to join the military and experience war for yourself. I'm not saying that all of your war scenes will be poor without direct experience, but it would certainly help.

    Go to war and write about what you see: the smells, the atmosphere, the graphic details, the slang of the soldiers, the emotions the grab you by the shoulders and shake you until you're forced to lie down and cry. After you've experienced that, you can add or omit details and alter your experiences in war to suit your fiction.

    Maybe I'm going overboard here, but I've always thought that the true feeling of being in a war is something that one can't articulate genuinely unless one has experienced it himself.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I recall, the purpose of your book was to demonstrate that too much societal freedom is bad, and that a monarchy with less freedom is a superior form of society. I think that if this is your goal, it's very important for you to understand the "brain" of these two societies in a great deal of detail, and to understand why they would go to war. I'm not feeling that a statement this simple is enough of a reason. I think that you need a more detailed set of reasons and causes and history for the conflict between these two cultures, and that that detailed history should then tell you how the war started.
     

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