Resource The Wars of Star Wars: A Military Fan Fiction Writers' Resource Thread—2nd Writing Challenge Begins!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Goodwood, Feb 19, 2013.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    War...what is it good for? Well, in terms of real life, absolutely nothing.

    Unfortunately, the song got it wrong; sometimes war is the only option left. It is to be avoided at all costs certainly, and rarely works out as well as hoped once started, but it does inevitably happen. Star Wars is itself based on war; without the Rebellion, there'd be no Luke. Without the Clone Wars, there'd be no Anakin. Without the New Sith Wars, there'd be no Palpatine, and so we go on down the line to the earliest interstellar despots and galactic empires. Without war, we'd have no saga, no expanded universe, no fan fiction.

    Most of us here, it seems, prefer to write about love instead of war, and that's perfectly fine. But love often happens during wartime, as with Han and Leia. And for that reason, among others, I think war should be done justice in our fan fiction.

    This thread is for those who want to know a little more about interstellar conflict, where one can ask questions, share information, make suggestions or offer advice and experiences. Everyone is welcome and invited.

    For example, this website was created and maintained by a former United States Marine Corps NCO who served as a squad leader and is a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. It provides insight as well as a wealth of information in the form of recommended books, links to other sites, and essays by the creator on what military life and tactics is like in the real world.

    So, here we go. Have fun, and remember to keep it cool. War is violent, but this thread need not be. ;)
    Last edited by Goodwood, Apr 11, 2013
  2. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Thanks for the site link. I'm working on a fic with about nine million things to research. Writing what you know doesn't exactly lend itself to all the tangents that I enjoy exploring. Info on military stuff is plentiful, but it's hard to find a starting point and that looks like a good resource. :)

    Not sure if it's related enough to the topic, but do you happen to know of any particularly good sources regarding espionage/intelligence? The more info on everyday things and the psychology of people involved (anything on how members of an intelligence organization normally interact would be great), the better.

    My current fanfic is set in the Second Imperium (the one-off Imperial splinter organization from the YJK books; my interpretation in the fanfic is if anything giving them too much territory and influence) and the main characters so far are part of the SI's attempt at rebuilding an Imperial Intelligence/Imperial Security Bureau combination. The two groups were not exactly the best of friends in canon (Imperial Intelligence had a military intelligence focus while the ISB was a more politically-driven and internal organization -- kind of a freakish FBI/KGB hybrid from what I gather.)

    Anyway, any sources that anyone knows of that would help comprehend/invent all the mess involved there would be very helpful. There's probably a lot of room for artistic license, given the setup I'm using, but I at least want to have some inkling of an idea where things are and are not "normal." I'd really like to be able add to my idea of how the older agents and Inquisitors who remember the Good Old Days of the Empire might find those dratted kids from the new generation different.

    I've already read a lot of the relevant articles on Wookieepedia for the SW end of things. I also picked up some books from the library that look like they will be excellent sources. But if anybody has some books that they would recommend, I'd be grateful for recommendations.
    Last edited by Kahara, Feb 27, 2013
  3. Thumper09 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 9, 2001
    star 4
    I love the military-sf site. There used to be a Yahoo Group for military fanfic writers, which I loved, but it disappeared. The medical one was still there the last time I checked, but boy, that military one was useful for me.

    @Kahara , this is for "real world" espionage writing, but have you seen this site? http://writeworld.tumblr.com/post/43202363517/this-is-a-towel-resources-for-writing-espionage
    For the SW side of things I don't have any ideas, sorry. I'm enjoying the Agent of the Empire comic series about an Imperial intelligence agent, but that's set before ANH, and the main character works alone a lot of the time.

    I love writing squadfics. Unfortunately I don't have a knack for strategy and tactics. It's also hard for me as a civilian to understand the nuances of military culture. Once I wrote a minor interaction between two characters, and readers with a military background interpreted it completely differently than I had intended because of the use of one specific word. One of those "I don't know what I don't know" kind of things. I try to absorb what I can and do my best with it, even if it's not perfect. So, I'll be trying to absorb the stuff in this thread. :)
  4. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Thanks, that looks like a good collection of links! And I've been planning to check that series out, actually. It sounds nifty. :)
  5. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    @Kahara

    Well, I would be of the opinion that writing about espionage in the Star Wars galaxy would be very similar to how it's written for contemporary scenarios. The only real difference is the level of technology and how it's applied, how the organization(s) you're working with work either in canon or in your own version, and the fact that many worlds and locales are available for a setting. Try to imagine what your favorite political thriller and spy novel writers would write if they were using a whole galaxy for a stage.

    @Thumper09

    I'm a civilian as well (wanted to serve but was physically unfit), and I have found that it really isn't all that difficult to get into a military mindset, at least temporarily and for the purposes of writing a story. All you really need is exposure to real life sources, such as the autobiographies or biographies of soldiers and officers, documentaries about certain aspects of the military, and even war films or military fiction. It also doesn't hurt to befriend someone in the service who doesn't mind talking about military culture, so you can pick their brain for ideas and information. For stories about squads of soldiers or even crews of starships, I highly recommend watching some Star Trek; doing so can give you a good idea of how the crew of a starship might deal with a certain situation, etc.

    I've actually written a World War II historical fiction novel, about American fighter pilots flying over Europe. The impetus for that, as well as a lot of the unintended primary research, came from my time playing WWII-era combat flight sims. During that time I got to know a fellow simmer who had actually flown P-47s and P-51s with the 353rd Fighter Group in combat.
    Last edited by Goodwood, Mar 3, 2013
  6. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Thanks for your reply. :) That's pretty much the take I've been using for my research. It just isn't an area that I had read much about beforehand (and is there ever a lot to read), so I wanted to see if anyone had particular favorite books/documentaries/whatever. The end result in the story I'm working on isn't going to be hyper-realistic anyway, but I do like to have some real-world grounding here and there. Makes stories more interesting in my opinion, whether you're the reader or the writer doing the research! I've learned some pretty fascinating things so far and feel like I've barely started.
  7. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    Well, I'll be the first to admit that my experience in reading stories of intrigue and about intelligence agencies is limited to a smattering of Tom Clancy's works (good and bad) as well as one or two trashy '80s spy novels, so this isn't really my area of expertise. Espionage and warfare are often integral to one another, but in my experience, for the purposes of story writing they are pretty distinct genres.

    To give an example, I would've been much better at writing The Bacta War than I would have been authoring Wedge's Gamble.
  8. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    All I'm good at is getting into characters' heads. About all that I can offer to military fanfics is the PTSD. :p
    Krayt-Eagle and Bale like this.
  9. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    Military Fan Fic Writers' Challenge #1

    So I've decided to put this thread to some practical use, for two reasons: first, to garner more attention to potential resources, and second, to give us some hands-on experience in writing for war. So, here's the first mini-challenge, and it's about...artillery.

    The term itself is a catch-all for most forms of stationary, large caliber, crew-served weapons system designed to hurl projectiles or fire missiles at enemy targets. These can take the form of anti-aircraft batteries, anti-tank guns, and mortars, howitzers and rocket launchers designed to attack targets indirectly (indirect fire is defined as "the use of high-explosive shells impacting a set area with the anticipation of causing damage on a broad front"). Artillery is often used in large numbers prior to an attack by infantry and armored vehicles, and can have quite an effect on the recipients.

    In Star Wars, artillery seems to consist mostly of ground-based turbolasers and guided missiles, which unfortunately doesn't translate well to how modern munitions work. The idea of laser artillery is actually kind of silly, because light does not arc in the same way that a shell does; thus, the SPHA-T is kind of a dodo bird on the battlefield (save for use against ships in atmosphere, as illustrated in AOTC). This presents the author with an interesting quandary: do they simply describe the impact of the artillery, or do they define what is being fired? It's more of a technical problem, though, and not the point of this exercise.

    So, here is the challenge: Pick a character, it can be either one of your own originals, or a canon character, and put them on the receiving end of an artillery barrage. Write one or two paragraphs about the barrage, what the character is feeling, and how they choose to react. Additionally, you can opt to describe the battle itself and why the character is there, or what the overall situation is.

    Remember: there will be noise, a lot of noise, and debris flying everywhere.
  10. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    No problem, I'm just glad this thread exists. My knowledge of all things military is limited to history classes and scattered readings of fiction and fact (and of course, now it's hard to remember which is which.)
  11. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    SPHA-T was more of an anti-air artillery than a typical ballistic unit like most anti-troop artillery are designed for. Though a creative commander could use a SPHA-T on ground forces, he has to have both the terrain and line-of-sight to be able to utilize the weapon in such a manner. Useless against most ground forces, but very effective for defense against enemy air support. It can, however, be used against enemy ground forces such as stationary or large, slow moving units, provided it can angle the cannon for a direct line-of-sight shot. So the concept of laser artillery is not really that ridiculous, though a commander with half a brain wouldn't use such a unit against enemy troops but rather against other artillery and larger vehicular units. Unless, of course, the laser is designed to blossom upon impact and create an area effect of mass destruction. :D

    I'm currently writing a response to your "artillery" challenge for my Tyrannus Holocron thread, its given me the opportunity to write Dooku's history with House Vane and that war mentioned by Harko in which he and Dooku had fought in. :)
  12. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Apologies for the double post but here is my response to the challenge. Hopefully more people will join in on it.

    Wartime Miracles
  13. LLL Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2000
    star 4
    This is a good idea. I am hopelessly confused at all things military.
  14. Bale Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 4
  15. Something_Exile Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 23, 2012
    I may have missed it but when's the deadline for this comp? Working on an entry that should be ready soon. I love this type of fic so looking forward to seeing the results.
  16. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    I actually hadn't set a deadline, since I've never been in the challenge business before (this thread taking on that tack was kind of on a whim that I developed into what you see). So, let's say 1 April.
  17. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    A useful page concerning the numbers that make up each part of an [US] Army: http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/l/blchancommand.htm for those who don't know the terms or what they mean and how many men make up each section.

    In the related resources section at the top, there is also the chain of command for the Marines, Air Force, and Navy which all have different numbers and terms for each branch. So if you like ARC Troopers a lot, you'd look at the Marines section most likely or if you're into the Starfighter stuff then the Air Force is the section for you.
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Mar 29, 2013
  18. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    You might think so, but canon clearly wants us to follow a Naval Air Group model. This makes more sense to me since most starfighters are or can be carried aboard larger warships, often by purpose-built starfighter carriers. That, and of all the major sci-fi media franchises that I know of, only Stargate uses the Air Force as a basis for human expansion into the stars (hell, in SG-1 it is the Air Force!).

    In nearly all canon sources, most starfighter squadrons are organized into three flights, each containing two wingpairs (two fighters working as partners), with no spare vehicles or pilots; the exceptions are rare but notable, for example the Ssi-ruu and the needle fighters designed by Loranar Corporation. This is in contrast to most modern aviation units, in that why they may have a set mission strength (twelve at a time, sixteen at a time going out), there may be as many as two dozen craft and thirty or more pilots attached to a squadron.
    Last edited by Goodwood, Mar 29, 2013
  19. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    That is because the Air Force has a very large influence in our space program so it makes the most sense for them to lead us into extra-planetary exploration alongside NASA. You'd think Gene Roddenberry would have realized that when he created Star Trek. XD It's one of the reasons why I love Stargate SG-1, it doesn't follow the status-quo of sci-fi military and the writers tried very hard to stay true to our space program and the Air Force (they had AF consultants on the show you know) :p

    I never really understood why most sci-fi franchises use the Navy as a model for starfighters, especially for planetary starfighter corps. I understand, and it does make sense, to use the Navy for space-based warships and combat. Though your explanation, the carrier aspect of it, does make more sense considering that the Air Force is ground based and immobile (in terms that they do not go beyond the boundries of that base's territory) and a space-based starfighter corps would be as mobile as a naval air group and bound only to the ships that carry them.
  20. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    I think you've pretty much explained (unintentionally, I'm sure) a large part of why most space forces in sci-fi and sci-fantasy are based on the Navy/Marine Corps: they are, for the most part, the means to project power and to defend interplanetary and interstellar territories. To me, the rest of it has to do with a general consolidation of service branches; when you're dealing with The Final Frontier, you really don't have need of a Coast Guard or an Air Force as separate service entities. It is much more efficient from a logistical, organizational and chain-of-command point of view to meld all aspects of space warfare into one branch. The Navy and Marine Corps serve as a convenient dual-role, two-house system for basing a space military off of, as information on their various facets is plentiful and as we all know, writers are lazy. ;)

    Some franchises do it right (Star Wars for the most part, Star Trek to a lesser extent) and some franchises do it wrong (Mass Effect's system, though lavishly outlined in the games' Codex, is pretty clunky and over-wrought). I always thought that the latter should've had a military adviser or something, because Karpyshyn is clearly not a military writer, much as he might pretend to be (I've read his Mass Effect novels and they've given me no desire to read his Star Wars work).
    Last edited by Goodwood, Mar 30, 2013
  21. Something_Exile Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 23, 2012
    In just before the deadline, here's my response. Took the opportunity to start on a new fic starring the characters of an old story I'm meaning to get back to work on, so this was a nice chance to enjoy the challenge and to get to know the old characters as well.

    Battle Lines
    Last edited by Something_Exile, Mar 31, 2013
  22. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    Glad you made it, Exile.

    This challenge is officially over; I'll have a winner picked on Tuesday 2 April, and may announce a new challenge by the end of the week.
  23. Goodwood Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2011
    star 4
    And the winner of the first Military Fanfic Challenge is @Something_Exile for his story, Battle Lines. I particularly enjoyed the way you brought the environment into play here, describing what an artillery bombardment can do to the landscape as well as the characters. War is a very dirty business after all, and his characters got quite filthy indeed. The clones react as trained soldiers might be expected to react, and the Jedi are suitably perturbed by the gritty violence they experience.

    I'm thinking that this could be a monthly challenge thing. As such, this was the March challenge, with the April one coming up soon.
    Last edited by Goodwood, Apr 2, 2013
  24. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Possible prize suggestion: Get in touch with one of the mods and collaborate to award colors. People like colors.
  25. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
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