Resistance Strategy, Writing Strategy

Posted: April 21, 2014 by writingsprint in Dubrillion Burning, Science fiction, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

map room

The map room from the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms

Post #16 in the Dubrillion Burning series

I’ve found that sometimes writing a novel is as much about rhythm as it is about unfolding the story. In the story so far, Jacer’s been destroyed, Risha and Raffa have found out about it, asked for help, and started their own resistance movement. We started off with a bang, then decreased tension in discovery and failed call for help scenes. Right now, we’re at an ebb. The characters are getting to know each other and things are fairly chilled out. At this point I want to start picking things up again. I don’t want them spending too much time on Port Nowhere, and I want to get them into the middle of the rebellion, not spend all their time laying it out for the reader.

There are two options to pick the tension back up.

The easy one is a gun battle. Risha’s a high-value target for Kala Ro. She’s in the open on Port Nowhere. She’s surrounded by friends, but make the bounty high enough and anyone will take a shot at her. All you need to write a basic gun battle is a handful of colorful bad guys, come up with an ambush, have someone yell, “Look out!” and let them tear into each other. Watching choice scenes from Desperado, The Replacement Killers, or any of my favorite action movies is always good for inspiration.

Rather than that, I lean towards wrapping up the scene we’re in the middle of with a call to action. Lay out their plan, short and sweet, what they’re going to do for the next few chapters in the book. We get a good transition from Port Nowhere to war-torn Dubrillion. It gives the reader something to look forward to, makes the characters look smart, and who knows what surprises they’ll give me as I write it. If I do a good job crafting the story, the readers should hear the rumbling of artillery explosions in the distance, just like the characters are imagining.

It does mean that I need to plan, so that I can lay out what their plan is. At a high level, it looks like this:

Strategy What It Means for the Writer
Meet with the spacers and get them going. Already in motion. They have a meeting planned for the following day.
Neutralize the plasma bombs. Sounds like some bases are getting raided.
Hit sensitive targets to hamstring Loyalist forces. Need a few targets of opportunity. Something big, expensive, and easily disabled. They really need intel.
Turn Ro’s allies in the artistocracy against him. All I have now are names. I need to come up with who’s solid and who is ready to turn.
Turn Ro’s armies against him. Tougher. Hmm. What makes an army say “no” when ordered to fight?
Give the people courage to stand against him. Wins will do this. Justice versus tyranny will do this. This will unfold as we go forward but I need to keep it in mind.

Now that we know this, more layers come into play. Any of these could be a mini-story of its own. We need to think about that, and also where they fit into the larger scheme of the story.

I think I’ll save that for another post 🙂 .

What are your thoughts on rhythm and tension in writing? Do you like to plan or fly by the seat of your pants? Any strategists out there with thoughts on how to win a planetary civil war?


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, copyright Kaihsu Tai

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Comments
  1. […] scene is the first evolution of yesterday’s post. I added the special effects on the targets to jazz up the scene and make it more visual. The […]

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  2. A.D. Everard says:

    You definitely have to have ebb and flow, or you’d leave your readers exhausted. I plan confrontation ahead of time. While opportunities might crop up along the way and expand the action in a seat-of-the-pants writing format, the major points are all designed as steps in the story. So, for me, the details might be seat-of-the-pants, but the event itself won’t be. If that makes sense.

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    • Yes, it does. I’ve decided that I’m chucking the whole plots/pants thing out the window. Thinking about it and putting it into those boxes is just confusing me. Some writing’s a creative flow, some of it’s planned. I used to stay as far away from planning as I could, because I was trying to be more creative. Now I’m not scared of it. Whatever it takes.

      Lately I’ve been trying to avoid organizing, because over-planning is the rut that I fall into. There’s so much going on and there’s so much that I just need to think through, that I think I’m going to use your idea of writing scenes “just to write them,” scenes that may never make it into the novel, while I figure out what’s really going to happen.

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      • A.D. Everard says:

        That makes a lot of sense to me. You are allowing the creative flow all the energy and freedom it needs, which is so important, and you’ll be all the better again for not worrying about it. Some of those scenes you write while figuring out what’s going to happen might be some of your best, simply because you’ve let go of your readers (thinking you probably won’t put it in your book). They might end up in your book for being so good! 🙂

        So far none of my books have turned out as I expected them to. The endings are there that I wanted, the main story, too. What catches me out is the richness usually planted by the characters as they shine their own uniqueness everywhere. I still get caught out when I see them and what they have done for me.

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  3. That’s amazing that none of them wound up where you expected. I hope my characters do the same for me. I know they will but it’s scary until it finally happens. Once they do, it’s amazing. It might be the best part of writing.

    Sort of like you were saying earlier, it feels like they’re folding their arms and not talking to me right now. I think that’ll change once I put the focus back on them as people instead of the mission they have to accomplish.

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