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Stewart
December 29th, 2002, 09:37 PM
In my recent project I used the basic concept of an a war with aliens. It was a tried, tested and true concept. I had characters in all the major (or I should interesting to read about) military roles. Fighter pilots, infantry, fleet commanders etc. However due to the fact I was focusing in on all three rather then just one as many books have done I continually encountered problems. In the middle of many large hectic battles where thousand of fighters would be fighting each other and space would be lit up with the explosions I continually ofund myself writing the wrong thing for the wrong character. For instance I would have fighter pilots describing mentally to themselves the strategy of what was happening rather then having them focus on actually fighting, meanwhile my fleet commanders would seem like they were doing more fighting then their subordinates! I am in desperate need of advice, anything would help.

milamber_reborn
December 29th, 2002, 10:52 PM
I assume you can picture it all in your head. Think of it like a movie. Describe things generally, then zoom into the specific characters and see things from their view. Maybe write an brief outline for each character you're focusing on. Or just write and edit.

Cephus
December 30th, 2002, 04:40 AM
Originally posted by Stewart
In my recent project I used the basic concept of an a war with aliens. It was a tried, tested and true concept. I had characters in all the major (or I should interesting to read about) military roles. Fighter pilots, infantry, fleet commanders etc. However due to the fact I was focusing in on all three rather then just one as many books have done I continually encountered problems. In the middle of many large hectic battles where thousand of fighters would be fighting each other and space would be lit up with the explosions I continually ofund myself writing the wrong thing for the wrong character. For instance I would have fighter pilots describing mentally to themselves the strategy of what was happening rather then having them focus on actually fighting, meanwhile my fleet commanders would seem like they were doing more fighting then their subordinates! I am in desperate need of advice, anything would help.

It's very easy to overwrite something like that. Yes, while in the entire battle, there may be thousands of ships and millions of people, don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to tell the story from the perspective of all of them. Pick two or three interesting people and tell it from their perspective. Zoom out occasionally and give a general overview of the battle, but unless the specific action is important to the plot, don't worry about it.

Something else you should think about is ignoring exposition. No dialogue, no long descriptions, just the frenetic action that the character is involved in. If they're fighting for their lives, that's all they'll have time for anyhow. You can pull back to someone in command of the action for explanations. Someone on the battlefield with shells exploding all around them doesn't have time to worry about how nice the uniform on the enemy looks.

Hereford Eye
December 30th, 2002, 08:12 AM
The thing that catches my interest is the mechanics.
.Square One: You've got infantry on the ground. You've got fighters flying close support or flying fleet protection above the atmosphere or both. You've got a navy sitting in orbit above.
.Square Two: There must be something truly valuable about this planet because the most efficient method of winning the war is to zap the planet.
.Square Three: If the aliens got off the planet and met you in space, then you don't have air superiority so how did you get the infantry and fighters onto the planet's surface? And why did you do it before you controlled the air space?
.Square Four: If you do have air superiorty we're back to square two.
I saw Starship Troopers, too, and Heinlein was too good of an engineer to write it the way George Lucas sees it in the Star Wars movies which is the format the Starship Troopers movie used. Hollywood can't get over WWII. I know you didn't say anything about either movie but your description of the battle you are writing brought those images to mind.
So, you need a bunch of gravity wells or a technology to create gravity wells and even then you aren't going to have fighters doing any of the things fighters did in Top Gun.
Recommend you think your battle through before you worry the command and control issues. And if you already have, ignore this post but let us know how you did it, please!

wastra
December 30th, 2002, 10:18 AM
It's actually possible for the scenario with ground fighting and space fighting to happen simultaneously.

First, if hte planet is only sparsely populated, and doesn't have intricate planetary defenses, it would be possible to engage the opposing fleet and send in gorund forces while the opposing fleet was engaged. Dangerous, and possibly tactically unwise, most likely, but possible if the opposing fleet was grouped on one side of the planet.

Perhaps the opposing fleet wasn't even there when the battle started...they could have responded to a stress call form the planet, and arrived to find the attacking force already on the ground, so perhaps they're trying to fight their way through the attacking fleet to come to the planet's aid.


It's all possible. But the fact that space, unlike earth, is 3 dimensional, makes it very difficult to establish "battle lines". On earth, there can be easy to see borders upon which two opposing forces can array themselves. But the infinite size of space, and the ability to always simply "go around" the opposition means that "borders," and more importantly "battle lines," are nearly impossible without serious explanation.

wastra
December 30th, 2002, 10:32 AM
As for confusing the characters:

Create a file for the ones you want to focus on. If it's difficult to keep it straight, take one piece of paper for each character and bullet-point what they will witness in the battle: where they are, what general scenario is visible, etc. When you switch to their character, refer back to their character sheet to make sure you are consistent.

For example:

Colonel Smith

-Commander of Infantry division on southern continent
-Will see his air support gradually diminish as the battle rages
-will see more and more enemy drop-ships landing with reinforcements
-will be monitoring tactical reports from HQ that will give brief synopsis of overall battle


Admiral Jones

-Commander of attacking force.
-On command ship a safe distance from the battle
-tactical reports give him up-to-the-second reports on his forces' progress.
-Has video uplink with his 4 major task force commanders

Lieutenant Green
-Fighter pilot whose squadron is sent against the main force of atacking carriers.
-Receives orders from wing commander.
-his squadron meets heaviest resistance

From these files, you would know that Col. Smith probably has little or no idea of the specifics of the space battle, but could surmise it was going poorly when his air support diminishes and more and more enemy land forces continue to arrive. Since he's IN the action, he'd have tough time staying up on the pecifics of battles elsewhere (in other words, he'd be too preoccupied with his own battle to follow the others in more than a general sense of whether help was coming or not). He'd be looking at the micro-view of the battle- the small picture. He'd probably get overall reports of the main land battle on the south continent because he's commanding a large group of soldiers in the over all battle.

Adm. Jones, however, would likely have all the info. He'd have reports of how many ships he had lost, how well the enemy defenses were keeping his gorund forces from landing, how well his ground forces were doing, and how each task force was faring toward accomplishing their goals. However, he'd have little info on a particular soldier or ship and their minute-by-minute actions. He'd be concerned with the "big picture."

Lt. Green woud care littel for anything, and would liekly have knowledge of nothing EXCEPT whether or not he had successfully shot down a carrier. He'd be so preoccupied NOT DYING that he'd probably not have time to even consider the land forces.

I, Brian
December 30th, 2002, 02:30 PM
For instance I would have fighter pilots describing mentally to themselves the strategy of what was happening rather then having them focus on actually fighting, meanwhile my fleet commanders would seem like they were doing more fighting then their subordinates! I am in desperate need of advice, anything would help.


Sounds as if you not already know where you are going wrong - but also how to correct it.

Se'dray-on
December 30th, 2002, 10:09 PM
In response to Hereford's post. If you want to know how to move ships in space you should read Orson Scott Card's - Ender's Game. He explains how objects move in space very well, plus you could probably get some insight into military command and the stresses associated with them.

just a thought, later days.

Stewart
December 31st, 2002, 12:35 AM
In my story the main plot was following the last remnants of Humanity who survived on board a moving colony ship, early on in the stoyr by sheer chance they stumble across an entire star system populated with the aliens that attacked them and the the rest of the novel is pretty much the war that ensues as Humans go on an intergalactic holocaust, trying their best to kill every one of the aliens in existance. The reason I included ground troops was simple, Humans didn't had the technology to bombard the planet from space but had no weapons strong enough to simply "zap" the planet out of existance. While bombardment would of course be effective in killing off most of the populations, it would inevitably leave survivors that the infantry would be sent to clear out.
But now back to the topic, I know I should keep things simple when in the middle of a hectic battle, but my problem is I have a habit of when not being vividly descriptive I make it TOO simple and it comes out choppy. I'm getting closer to the perfection of this balance but generally being the impatient teenager I am, I find myself gettiung somewhat frustrated!:D

Cephus
December 31st, 2002, 03:28 AM
Originally posted by Stewart
[B]The reason I included ground troops was simple, Humans didn't had the technology to bombard the planet from space but had no weapons strong enough to simply "zap" the planet out of existance. While bombardment would of course be effective in killing off most of the populations, it would inevitably leave survivors that the infantry would be sent to clear out.

Any spacefaring race has all the weapons they need for planetary bombardment: asteroids. Push one at high speed toward the planet and let it go. Repeat as necessary. It doesn't leave the planet in any shape to be claimed, but it will kill everything alive, guaranteed. Otherwise, massive nuclear bombardment from space works just as well.


But now back to the topic, I know I should keep things simple when in the middle of a hectic battle, but my problem is I have a habit of when not being vividly descriptive I make it TOO simple and it comes out choppy. I'm getting closer to the perfection of this balance but generally being the impatient teenager I am, I find myself gettiung somewhat frustrated!:D

The worst thing to do when writing is to be impatient. Take your time, you don't have a deadline, just let it work out as it should. You're going to spend the time one way or the other, either now or in rewrites, so just do it right the first time.