War…And Things Like It

Vietnam War

We’ll see how long my 2020 recognition of lite blogging and a resolve to write more comes to pass.

Many of the folks who follow my writing probably came from Travis Perry, Speculative Faith and the co-authored series The Speculative Fiction Writers Guide to War (the longest series in the site’s history, and we do intend to keep it going!) I got caught up in a few distractors this year toward the end of spring that just plain took me out, emotionally, temporally, and mentally. But it’s on our hearts to keep things going!

I also have a work in progress that’s been lingering in the background since I started teaching at the Naval Academy. As of now, I’ve got a significant amount of the worldbuilding done, and working drafts for three major plotlines going. One of my favorites is working title “You Never Go Home”, based on some ideas I had while attending the Coming Home Dialogues. It follows a young prince through military training and into a long war his nation has initiated, and hopefully will explore some themes about military camaraderie, moral wounds, and integration back into society, through the lens of military fantasy fiction.

In my search for good resources, I’ve collected a few online articles/posts that are helping shape my thinking on how to tell a good war story. Equally important, these writers are helping me clarify whether I’m writing a war story, or a story about a war, or a story set in a period of war. If I’m honest, I’m still not quite sure how I’ll approach the subject; it varies every 10 minutes.

If you’ve read our series and are looking for more, consider some of these goodies for your reading list:

The Story Grid: Secrets of the War Genre I read Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid several years ago and enjoyed the systematic manner of analysis he describes (hey, I’m an engineer). Rachelle’s analysis of the genre is thorough and opens up a lot of great questions to ask. She was also quite cautionary. I had to remind myself she’s a gatekeeper and for a good reason: we don’t need bad war fiction out there, we need good war fiction. I think I qualify as a reasonable source in this matter and am approaching it from a good heart!

Her article led me further up and further in,

TV Tropes So You Want to Write a War Story I love this site. It’s kitschy like me, highly entertaining, and so deep in content I leave a tab open for any directed bored browsing (i.e., I’m waiting for a haircut and have a select number of site I’m ‘allowed’ to waste time on.) While much of the advise sounds over the top, they are honest in suggesting you take the tropes that people expect and then make them original. Like all of my TV Tropes reading, this one can end up costing you a lot of time if you click through too much.

Deviant Arts’s Doughboycafe’s On Writing the War Similar to what Travis P and I have written, but in a succinct package and a different viewpoint. The views on the vulgarity of war were worth reading through for me. I’m stuck in a bit of a rut trying to navigate how to portray some ugly topics without glorifying them or simply sounding trite and finger-wagging my morals around.

Tim O’Brien’s How To Write A War Story (pdf) We used O’Brien’s work in the Coming Home Dialogues and have had several plays performed at the Naval Academy based on his work. I appreciate the style of his writing, and to me, he sets a bar for those following in his footsteps.

Lots of other resources out there, many specific to weapons, tactics, battles, and such, that I’ll share as I go along, but figured I’d share what’s closest to my heart this week. It’s made this trip to Florida (we usually make it down every year) go by quick! What about you? Any works in progress or war resources to share? I’m happy to pick up a conversation in the comments!

Photo credit: manhhai on Flickr

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