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Subject: What makes a good war story?
Miles    5/14/2007 10:55:02 PM
I'm not that type of militray war fiction writer, because I never wrote a lot of fictional war stories. I would like to know what makes a good war story, so I can make my story good. What do you you think?
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Yimmy       5/14/2007 11:38:46 PM
A good science fiction war story?
At the moment I am picturing the Command and Conqure universe, only with NOD replaced with The "Religion" of Scientology, with Tom Cruise in the place of Kane, and Travolta as his dim witted bodyguard/commando.  In the place of GDI would have to be NATO I reckon.
Oh, and of course there has to be a sub-plot..... say a third army comprised of sex crazed nuns burning Scientologists churches.
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Treadgar       5/16/2007 5:30:54 PM
Plot is important, I like to be caught by surprise. Tom Clancy used to be good at this. He would weave together several stories at once, and somehow they were all related. The puzzle of how they're related used to keep me turning the pages. As for writing style, Clancy doesn't rank high in my opinion. Where he ranks high is how he handles multiple story lines, and it certainly helps that I've always been fascinated with military fiction and non-fiction. Probably most important of all is this thing called suspension of disbelief. In order for me to enjoy a fictional book I have to be thinking that the story is plausible, or in other words, something like this could actually happen. Clancy does lots of research in the real world before he writes his stories, and that goes a long way as far as supension of disbelief goes.

The same is true of military science fiction. I get turned off by too much hand wavium. I don't like a blatant disregard for physics. I like to read stuff by authors that do lots of research then dream up a relatively consistant and self-contained make belief reality. Of course I relax those rules occassionally. Some authors I like so well (because of the way the write), that I'll read their stuff anyways, even when their ideas of the future have been left behind by real world technological developments.

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andyf       5/18/2007 1:14:04 AM
peter f hamilton's stuff is like that.
I recomend 'fallen dragon'
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Jeff_F_F       6/6/2007 9:37:17 AM
War is always political, and any war story that neglects the political aspect is deeply lacking. I'm not conniving enough to think up political dynamics all by myself, but knowing hisotry gives one plenty of examples of it. If you use examples from modern history you can create a political statement about the modern politics. However using examples from less recent history has two advantages, readers who disagree with your political analysis won't transfer that disagreement to not liking the story, and since most readers won't be familiar with the history involved your story will seem more original.
I'd suggest finding a time in history where a war that is similar to the one you are describing in your story occurred (say a conflict between nations, or a conflict between a nation and a barbarian society, or whatever) and researching what was going on politically in the groups involved.
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Ehran       6/6/2007 12:26:45 PM
a good story is ultimately about people miles.  lose sight of that and all the research and plot in the world won't save the story from the trash bin.  the reader has to have an emotional connection of some kind to the people in the story.
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BasinBictory       6/24/2007 6:12:25 AM
Any good war story (particularly a war story about a fictional future war with technology not currently existing) will include, first and foremost, interesting characters the reader can identify with. Number two, a fairly plausible explanation of the technology used. It doesn't need to be super-detailed, after all a war story will probably focus on characters who simply use the technology, without perhaps fully understanding the innder workings of it, much like us using these computers we type on. Third, the story must include a reasonable explanation as to the origins of the conflict. Readers won't buy cheesy junior high lines like: "We have always fought the (insert alien species here). Ever since my grandfather's grandfather's time, we have fought them." Utter tripe, unless you go into further detail.
Another reader mentioned Tom Clancy's style of several interwoven plots, and I agree, he's a master at this. I don't particualrly care for his love for esoterica about various military hardware (I don't need to know the specs and dimensions of the new super-radar system in such and such new fighter airplane) but in the book I consider his masterpiece, "Red Storm Rising" he doesn't delve too far into that, and instead focuses on a great storyline, complete with the motivations for conflict.
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