1. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    UK

    Do You Ever Feel Cheated of a Scene?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Seren, Oct 12, 2017 at 1:51 PM.

    A few months ago, I decided that it would be a great idea to write a duology about a fantasy war. Now, I love writing about action, but I'm partway through the second book and my enthusiasm for writing battles between two big armies has run dry. This is not helped by the fact that I've written about them quite a few times before in previous projects. I've vowed to never write about an all-out war where my MCs are fighting as soldiers again, but in the meantime, I have this book to finish.

    So, I have a few battles left, and while I think I can squeeze some enthusiasm into the final one and make it interesting, I also have one in which my characters pass through a village on their way to the capital (and, by association, the finale). They attack the town guards and take the little village under their control with relative ease, and it becomes the first of many skirmishes like that which are then skimmed over until they reach the capital. (As in, I then focus on what happens between the characters after yet another day of travelling as opposed to detailing all those battles.)

    If I decide to skim over this first town-seizure completely as well, will my readers feel cheated? And if you think they might, is there anything you can suggest that might make it interesting or any book you can point to? Because all I can think right now is: I'll have to write some boring blow-by-blow stuff (especially in light of more interesting fights/other types of action that have happened and will happen elsewhere) that I don't want to write and the reader doesn't want to read and then the battle will be over because my army will definitely not raze the village down like Vikings or harm the citizens. (It's a war of liberation against people who recently conquered the country.)

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Surcruxum

    Surcruxum Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2017
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    33
    First, are the people in that village siding with the conqueror? Do thry think of them as tyrants? Do the town guards actually want to follow the order of the conquerors? Do they know that your army is going to liberate them?

    If so, you can take a diplomatic approach. Convince that you are on the villagers' side, and you're trying to liberate them. Make the villagers give access to your army as a temporary base or something. Make sure that you show conflict between the villagers as some of them won't be as willing. In Fact, it's possible for your army to reach the capital without any fighting. The other towns might not trust you, but they might trust the villagers. Bring some of them to make it easier to convince the other towns that you are on the side of the people. Do that to all of the towns you encounter. It's possible to make some of them to not trust you and fight them if you desire, as IMO it's kinda unrealistic for a complete diplomatic approach. A partial one can be done though.

    If not then you can take the revolution approach. Defeat the town guards. The people will be afraid of your army, but you can try to convince them that you're on their side. Some will be grateful, some will resent you, show what their reactions will be. Send a small party to the next town, along with a few villagers, and convince the town to take back their city themselves (with help of course). Then do it again for the rest. Once again, some towns will be unwilling, and then your army will have to do the job themselves.
     
    Simpson17866 and Seren like this.
  3. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    UK
    @Surcruxum Interesting idea! Hmm...most of the people who live in the towns are now from the enemy country, because the enemy moved quite a few of them in and gave them the original inhabitants as slaves. Still, just because they were born the enemy, it doesn't mean that they agree with what their ruler has done. And if they've been slighted by him, perhaps some of them might hate him enough to gladly become turncoats who could then be sent to go and convert more people in the next town. Maybe one is angry because a relative in the enemy army during the time of invasion was killed for not following orders or for being cowardly. Maybe someone else wants to help because she's made friends with the slaves or has a forbidden love with one of them. And so on...?
     
  4. Surcruxum

    Surcruxum Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2017
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    33
    Exactly. Now that we know some of the villagers have their own motives to become turncoats, it's up to you. What will you do with this info? What strategy can you come up with?
     
    Seren likes this.
  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline Out of the Night Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,123
    Likes Received:
    2,285
    Location:
    UK
    There's no way to tell you if readers will feel cheated. That's for them to decide, and you to amend if they do. Your best guess would be to pitch it to some trusted Alphas and gather their opinion close, but for my own work I've found that my gut feeling is a pretty good indicator what should be glossed over (hah!) or what I should depict in detail.

    That said, if your characters change during this battle (internally, as in learning something and changing in response to the challenges they encounter), and if you're writing character-based, then you need to include this. For me, if a book fails to give me this gut-wrenching change, if the characters just act differently after something that changes them, that is a major dealbreaker and spoils the rest of the book for me. I've even been known to stop reading if such a thing happens on a grand scale.

    I want to see the change. I want to feel it in myself. It's possible to reason backwards from after the change, but there's a major loss of impact. It's as if someone tells me a story of their past, and while reading a book I'm in the present. I don't want to backtrack.
     
    Seren likes this.
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    11,576
    Likes Received:
    8,205
    You mention writing battles, but a battle also has aftermath. I would find the aftermath far more interesting. How will the army go about occupying the village? Who will govern it? Will it be full of soldiers indefinitely, run under martial law? How many of their people will they have to leave behind? Details!
     
    Seren likes this.
  7. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    UK
    I think I've got it figured out now, with most of the detail going into what happens afterwards. The enemy citizens are turfed out, but my MCs pitch in to help with telling them to clear out or die, and they interact closely with enemy villagers, enemy families, for the first time and learn not to be all black and white about everyone from the enemy country. They're fighting to take back the country for their own people, who had their homes ripped away from them, and they realise they're kind of doing the same thing here. So they manage to recruit a handful of them to help take the rest of the villages and convert more turncoats for less bloodshed. They all have their reasons (which will be detailed) of course.

    And don't worry, I already have and will continue to mention details like that as they take the villages. Here are my answers (in case I think I'm covering this adequately but I'm really not): everyone gets kicked out of the village. Every last enemy citizen, unless they become a turncoat. This is so that they can use the whole village as the army camp, and because they want all of the enemies to scarper back to their own country anyway, so that their people will be able to reoccupy the homes once the war is over. It will be governed (although not owned) by the two countries who have made an alliance to fight this war until the war is over. Then the country offering their aid has sworn that they will then withdraw from the country and go back home, leaving the other country in full control. Some (...yeah, I'll have to work that out properly) soldiers will be left behind to defend it, and so will any of the slaves who are freed who then don't choose to join up with the army. :)
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    11,576
    Likes Received:
    8,205
    Sounds like you're going to have a lot of people dying of starvation and exposure and disease, which they may not care about, given that they're citizens of the wrong country. But starving children could be a bit of a strain on maintaining that hatred.

    Also, nearby farmers, etc., could host them as they gather a guerrilla force.

    Also, what happened to the original occupants of the village?
     
    Seren likes this.
  9. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    109
    Location:
    UK
    I thought they'd probably just go to another village. Which makes your second point very true. Maybe they should somehow transport them to the border. Or maybe they'll just have to deal with the consequences of that on their way to the capital.

    The original occupants were all taken as slaves so that there was room for the other country to expand into its new territory. Because there were so many of them, they were sold cheap, and so families from the enemy country who were not that well off suddenly found they were able to afford two or three of them. Others were imprisoned/executed (depending on the crime) for breaking the new, strict rules of the empire or rebelling. And most of the original soldiers who were stationed in places such as these or near them were either killed in battle or captured to be used as turncoats, because the enemy country was planning to expand its empire yet again in the spring.
     

Share This Page