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How do you write war?

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Everdream, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Everdream

    Everdream New Member

    I've been working on a Pokemon fanfiction were Mewtwo tries to end what he views as pokemon slavery. It comes to a full-blown war between pokemon and humans.

    I'm having difficulty figuring where to start and how Mewtwo assembles his forces.

    It's my first fanfiction and I can't help but wonder if I'm trying to bite off more then I can chew.
  2. Firebrand

    Firebrand Indomitable

    War is... well, it's difficult to write because of how massive it is in scope. I've done it, multiple times, but it's an everchanging animal, and you've got to be ready to adapt.

    The biggest thing to remember about war is it is not just a battle between two sides. There are many people involved, on both sides of the fighting. Characters are going to have their own thought processes, and how they respond to it. You may only be focusing on just one character, but remember that war, even the build-up to it, requires a lot of motivation, and in the thick of battle, there will be a lot going on. You'll have to capture all of that chaos in a way that the readers can understand. Like I said, not an easy task, but doable.

    I assume this is to be on the long side, yes? At least several chapters? The best thing to do would be to simply have Mewtwo travel the lands and gather allies, rally them to his cause. Make it a journey, where he has to find people willing to fight with him. This will give you a chance to develop your characters and their ideologies. Things like this have been done many times before, usually in stories from the fantasy genre. I recommend reading a few of them for ideas and framework.

    I know this isn't much, but with the limited background I've been given, this is all I got right now. I'll probably come back later and add on when I've got a few more ideas.
  3. Everdream

    Everdream New Member

    Well, I started working on it recently so there is not that much to it yet. Here's how it's going so far:
    My idea was that the reason Pokemon are even in slavery to humans is that Pokemon are put under some kind of mind control when captured, inflected by pokeballs and/or badges. Mewtwo is able to break the mind control because of his strong psychic powers. He goes around freeing Pokemon and many of them join his side, because most Pokemon are not willing to fight for humans anymore when freed.

    Human's have guns, so Mewtwo forces at first end up mostly composed of Pokemon that can handle bullets, such as armored pokemon like rock and ground types, and Pokemon able to evade bullets such as flying types and ones fast enough to dodge bullets.

    At frist they wipe the floor with the humans, because Mewtwo keeps breaking the mind control of their Pokemon, so the humans end up with only guns to defend themselves, and like I said Mewtwos forces are strong against guns.

    But it turns out that Team Rocket has some sort of stronger mind control that Mewtwo can't break(at least at first), so Team Rocket ends up being the only humans that can use Pokemon, and they use ones strong against Mewtwo forces, so Mewtwo begins to lose. Team Rocket takes over the human side and it basically becomes Mewtwo vs Team Rocket.

    In desperation, Mewtwo, going by a old legend, manage to summon either lugia or Kyogre. (They're gods in this story.)

    lugia (or Kyogre) get enraged and decide to remake the world, which mean destroying it first. [spoil] lugia or Kyogre puts an entire continent under water, killing billions. Mewtwo has a epic battle with lugia (or Kyogre), and wins..[/spoil]

    At this point I'm not sure what happens. I was thinking maybe [spoil] Mewtwo gets betrayed because one of his associates gets freaked out over the destruction lugia (or Kyogre) caused and they decide things have gone too far.[/spoil]

    It ends [spoil] bittersweetly. Mewtwo wins, but billions have died and their is still little pockets of Pokemon in slavey. Also I might kill Mewtwo off. Not sure.[/spoil]

    That's what I got so far. I figured I would add more before the end, because right now it ends too abruptly. I would like to work more legendary battles in, but I'm not sure how to do that yet.

    I don't know. I've noticed I tend to write laconical even though I don't really intended to.
  4. AquaRegisteel

    AquaRegisteel Face Oblivion

    Well, despite the fact that this is Pokemon against humans, I recommend you watch the first 15 minutes of the film "Saving Private Ryan". Basically, it's basically watching Americans get brutally killed pretty damn quickly. But in the film, it follows a few different viewpoints, which is what feral ninja suggested. Of course, it isn't the best example because its set in 1944 and you are setting it in more modern times, but still. Also, the various viewpoints can drag this on for chapters to come.
    (It's a little gruesome in very small parts by the way, so you don't have to watch it.
  5. Squiddly Dee

    Squiddly Dee ∈ (⊙ ⊖ ⊙) ∋

    I am somewhat experienced in writing war, so I'll give you my opinion.

    Like the others above me said, it is absolutely crucial to explore the viewpoints of Mewtwo. You'll want to give him a definite cause. What is he fighting for? Why would he want to risk his life to try to end the conflict? This is just one of the things you'll have to consider while writing. You'll also want to think about the other Pokemon he's trying to free. Not every Pokemon will want to join him immediately - Some will think he's absolutely crazy for risking his life for what might seem to be a lost cause, and the mental and possible physical trauma will greatly affect the Pokemon that he can manage to bring over to his side. Realizing all of their horrible actions could potentially make them go mad, and Mewtwo will have to be prepared for circumstances like these.

    You'll also want to be careful when writing the conflict itself. Psychic Pokemon can be difficult to write, as it's easy to make their psychic powers near impossible to counter, and you'll want to make sure Mewtwo's limits are clear.

    I'll probably give more suggestions later. Good luck! :)
  6. Meeker

    Meeker It needs a fence.

    I'm a fan of war movies, books, and games. So writing war or action is something I do. I like to implement what it's like on both sides of the story, and show what it does to the civilians on both sides. War affects all, and it's the closest thing to hell you'll find on Earth. The slaughter of man (or whatever you'll be having fight) is not a pretty one, so I advise that you look into what ever weapons (or moves for Pokemon) are used by each side. The destruction is another thing to take into consideration. If not one building or whatever it is on the battlefield is not demolished or damaged, I'm sure that people will be scratching their heads.

    As for gathering forces, there are many ways to recruit soldiers. One of which is propaganda, it's always fun to brainwash the general public with posters and megaphones right? Maybe looking into how various militant organizations were formed can help. It'll seem natural if the method of gathering troops is a way that has been proven to work in the past if you ask me.

    I believe looking into various weapons could help here. I'd be willing to help, as I'm a firearms kind of guy. Just keep in mind that steel types would be vulnerable to armor-peirceing bullets, and ones without armor would be vulnerable to hollow-point rounds. Various types of ammunition exist for each caliber. I expect of 12.7 mm/.50 caliber to do more damage against everything than a much weaker caliber. Research this stuff, it makes a hell of a difference as to how battles turn out, as does everything at the human's disposal. If they have artillery (like howitzers) and armored vehicles (like tanks) can make a huge difference in the outcome of a battle. Strategy is another huge thing that wins battles. Most wars were not won by a simple blind kamikaze rush into machine gun fire, only death comes from this. As for the flying types, people have created anti-aircraft guns for a reason. I wouldn't find it out of place if they were to use it against something else in the sky (heck, AA/AAA guns have been used for eliminating ground units when needed).

    Take this advice into consideration please.
  7. lollygag

    lollygag Banned

    I'm working on a World War II story that takes place in Europe (the main characters are all European - from Germany, Italy, and Yugoslavia), and I am still trying to figure out ways to depict battles. Although mine doesn't involve too much frontlines - more of it is characters in small groups fighting. I find it easy to describe blood and gore, so I can describe a bullet piercing into a person's skin.

    As the above guy said, propaganda is a good way for recruitment. Coercion is another. A few of my characters are practically forced at gunpoint to join the Waffen-SS.

    Look up various dictatorships for inspiration. Nazi Germany has been done to death, so it might be wiser to try another one. Italy, Spain, Romania, and Croatia all had fascist governments at the same time as Nazi Germany, but they are much less explored. I know a lot about Fascist Italy since my family lived through it. I also know a little bit about the Ustase in Croatia (they were as sadistic as the Nazis). The former might be good inspiration for propaganda, and the latter for inspiration for war crimes. Imperial Japan might be an appropriate inspiration for an anime-inspired story, since most Americans don't know the intricate details of the militaristic government that controlled Japan during World War II.

    Maybe you can have Mewtwo use a criminal organization leader as its puppet. Italy and Romania had kings who were manipulated by their dictators - both dictators were prime ministers. Japan also counts to a lesser extent.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  8. IJuggler

    IJuggler how much words

    To me, this seems more like a case of handpicking exactly what parts of war you show. The war between Pokemon and humans would have to be massive for it to be plausible, but the story seems more like it focuses on the ideology rather than the war itself.

    Since there's already been a movie example; Schindler's List would be another half-decent WW2-era movie that could be taken example from. It features maybe half an hour of war, but not battlefront stuff, only where the homes are being raided. It's more important to send the right message here than to just get the scene done, I think. For example, showing Mewtwo watch snippets of the war happening in a city, and focusing on specific instances between Trainers and their team or business owners of some kind.

    If you're having Mewtwo be canonical, then it would definitely make sense that he would fake being a human. Perhaps with some articles in newspapers, some disguised appearances in person and on television, he could start a grassroots movement that would sweep through and cause controversy. I'm not sure how he could go about actually assembling these forces (sending out a signal to meet at a certain place if you believe his ideologies?), but it sounds fairly interesting.
  9. SBaby

    SBaby Dungeon Master

    Larger scale battles have to be written a bit differently than normal battles. One difference I notice in the better ones is that the description of what is happening, tends to be what is happening around the protagonists, as well as what is happening to the protagonists. Focus seems to be more on the overall feel of what the characters see, as opposed to what they are doing. The exception of course, is when the character is directly involved in combat against another enemy. In cases like that, care needs to be taken to properly describe the individual fight, while still showcasing how the battle is progressing (though in this case, more focus will be on the immediate fight).

    I won't lie. This isn't an easy thing to master, and is indeed among some of the harder aspects of writing that there are. At least, that's how I see it.
  10. Everdream

    Everdream New Member

    Thank you all for the advice. It's been very helpful.

    I know next to nothing about firearms/guns. Do you think I could get away with not describing what guns they are using? Or maybe making up fake guns? I don't know what guns to make them use.

    Also, any advice about other characters? I'm having trouble integrating them into the plot.

    An another thing, I was considering ignoring the canonical four move limit because I think I can write better battles if I m not limited to only four moves per Pokemon. I also think it would be more realistic if they knew more then 4 moves because I don't see a reason why they would forget moves. What do you think?
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  11. Firebrand

    Firebrand Indomitable

    To the characters point: you'll have to pretty much do that on your own. We can't tell you how to write your story, or even what kinds of people will be in it. My advice? Look at the character trope pages on TV Tropes. If you manage to pull yourself from that never-ending labyrinth in the near future, you'll have a better understanding of what characters are "common", and a better understanding of how to write them, and subvert expectations with them. Honestly, you've got to come up with your own characters, that's something that we as readers who aren't in your head will have a hell of a time doing, not to mention that it's kind of like writing the fic for you, which is apparently popular on FF.net but discouraged here.

    To the move limit: I believe there was another thread about that a little while back? I can't find it, so maybe it was in the GPD section. Whatever. I think the general consensus in the thread was that the four move thing, while done to balance the game, also made sense in a canonical sense. A pokemon only has so much muscle memory, and that is taken up by the four moves. I also thought I might subvert the four move thing in my fic, but it turned out that it was really helpful. It helped me keep track of what my pokemon characters could and couldn't do and prevented them from becoming too overpowered. For example, the Samurott character knew (if memory serves) Ice Beam, Waterfall, Surf and Megahorn, though I had it so that he learned Revenge and stopped using Megahorn. Same case applied for the Weavile, who knew Brick Break, Night Slash, Ice Punch and Poison Jab (and again, a traumatic experience led her to never wish to use Poison Jab again, so by story's end she was using Swords Dance instead). Now, can you be forgiven for having a pokemon use maybe five moves? Or honing their claws, or moving boulders and smashing rocks without necessarily knowing those kinds of moves? Sure. But it'll be easier for you as a writer to stick to four/five moves specifically, coupled with moves that denote actions pokemon normally use (a flying type can have four moves and still fly, a water type can still swim, etc.).
  12. IJuggler

    IJuggler how much words

    The 'attack memory' thing is actually an interesting and largely-unexplored idea. It's often taken for granted that stories could have Pokemon using any of the moves they might logically be able to learn in-game, but I think that's not exploring the idea as fully as possible.

    I liken it to training animals in the real world. Sure, you can tell your dog to go fetch, but unless it's under specific training otherwise it will probably only understand 'go fetch' under conditions such as 'in the park, with the thrown ball'. This is how I see non-competitive Pokemon being, largely; domesticated into harmlessness.

    On the other hand, training would make much more sense to actually be a very large industry based mostly on training Pokemon, which isn't what the games showcase at all. In-game, due to gameplay/story segregation, training means going out to tackle a few hundred Pidgey until you're strong enough to pass the next checkpoint. But realistically, training would involve teaching patterns; showing them that, instead of tackling only when given instinctual signs, they should tackle when you command them to vocally. The same would have to be done for each 'move' you want your Pokemon to learn, and then you'd have exponentially increasing times for training your Pokemon in accordance to however many attacks you want them to be able to execute at a moment's notice.

    Ignoring some of my other training rambles, this basically means that while I don't automatically assume the 4-attack limit is a good thing to follow or disabuse the notion of, I do think that it should be kept in mind exactly how much each Pokemon knows. Though it's a lot of work, I can't really think of a good alternative that would make writing easy without feeling like an obvious misdirection, keeping the above in mind.

    Lastly, guns: I think you can do pretty much anything you want here with them. As long as they aren't the 'pew pew' variety of laser gun or something, the reader will be able to keep up, as long as you don't overly scrutinize the weaponry in-story and step on willing disbelief.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013

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