1. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    'Central Conflict' in military fiction

    Discussion in 'Military Fiction Discussions' started by Lifeline, Dec 19, 2016.

    I am going to make a start because the recent 'Romance' thread has messed with my brain.

    Question: is the solution to a central conflict necessary? The accepted 'wisdom' in fiction is, that a solution to a central conflict should be given. Yet I can't help but wonder - in nonfiction it's virtually impossible for events to get solved. It tells the story of a specific time, but there is no solution. All the non-fiction I have read are united in that all of them do NOT resolve the conflict.

    And - what the heck is 'central conflict' anyway?? Is it the wider war? Or is it the particular events, going on around the MC? Or is it none of those things?

    I haven't read military fiction novels (yet), so I can't judge what these stories do. Do they have a solution to their 'central conflict'? How are these stories rounded up?

    Anyone of you have military fiction novels they can recommend, which answer this specific question particularly well?
     
  2. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

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    The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman.

    Written by a Vientam veteran, this book follows a conscripted grunt, who through simple luck survives to be the most senior, and most jaded member of his military. Although at first he fears the enemy and the danger of his job, all that shifts into the background as he experiences the effects of prolonged separation from society and the strange detachment he feels from his family and their problems. The central conflict is resolved, but it constantly shifts. The Forever War is not fought against an enemy, but is fought within the soldier himself.

    Also, it plays with relativity and space travel, with soldiers aging a couple of years while thousands of years pass on Earth.
     
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  3. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    I have heard of this book, but I haven't read it - but I'll do that now. Thanks :)

    That might be part of an answer. Central conflict in this case is defined through the inner conflict. I'll post my impressions when I have read the book (most likely after the christmas holidays).
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Personally i don't have a lot of time for rigid structures - as I said on the other thread people are complex and generally have multiple aims and multiple conflicts - thus a realistic character does likewise.

    However in general i'd say that in military fiction the MCs primary aim is either to complete a specific mission (as with the sharpe books for example) or simply to survive their tour of combat (as with books like sand in the win, fields of fire and so forth)

    The central conflict will often be that between the obeying the orders/completing the mission/doing their duty , and the simple sense of self preservation and or an officers desire to preserve his command ... you may also see a conflict between the brass/remf view of the war where soldiers/units are expendable pawns , and the front line view which is about basic survival.

    Then of course you've got the 'other motives' stories where the soldiers have something else in play and the conflict may lie between achieving that objective and their duty as described ( Kelly's heroes for example is basically a bank heist set in WW2). Your story may well fit into this category as the essential conflict may lie in whether Jarrely will obey his orders to assassinate Thyraleos , or whether his person feelings will compel him to disobey his orders and risk committing treason
     
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  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    Yeah, I am completely with you about structures. You read my snarky answer in the open forum to one thread (I forgot which one), and I don't plan to make up any of my own, or even classify my story. I am going with my gut feeling which has never been wrong so far ;)

    However, you know that I have started reading not that long ago and I doubt I have even made a dent in what I should read. In every kind of writing it helps to have a good baseline, a solid foundation to see what has been done how, and I am barely started with non-fiction. There is a world of difference between fiction and non-fiction, and I am trying to get a sense of how I might find the elements of non-fiction which may make fiction writing more immediate. I'll never achieve the hit-level of non-fiction, but I aim for a good approximation.

    Thank you for pointing out 'Kelly's Heroes'. This is a perfect example of non-fiction, cast as fiction and I'd love to read the story. Unfortunately that's not possible (only as screenplay). Watching Kelly's Heroes I have laughed and cried at the same time - the same reaction I had with i.e. 'House to House', the book (I think) you recommended, and non-fiction to boot. So it IS possible to transfer the hit-factor, I only have to find out how.

    And the solution I am seeking is definitely NOT how central conflict is defined. That's also apparent from the analogy with Kelly's Heroes. Thanks, good catch! :agreed:
     

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