Brainstorming Series: War & Conflict

Deepening Social and Political Conflict in your Fiction

In many speculative fiction works, war or civil unrest is common. Sometimes a given. And yet so often, these grand, world-shattering wars are shallow when looked at straight-on. If you think about the history of the conflict or the spark that sent the nations to war, you can come up kind of dry. A lot of readers are tired of “WAR” being the default backdrop of a story, especially when it’s used as a prop rather than handled with the care it should be.

So how do you make sure that your social and political conflicts don’t just provide a canvas to your story, but help deepen and strengthen the world and the characters therein? Simple! Just do a little thinking!

General Questions

  • What are they fighting over?
    • Land
    • Pettiness
    • Resources
    • Religion
    • Safety/Peace-of-mind
    • Debt
    • Political or social ideologies
    • Power
    • Freedom (revolution)
  • Who is the root of the conflict between?
    • Nation & Nation
    • Government & People
    • Two factions of people
    • Parts of the same government
    • Government & Church/Religious group
    • Church & People
    • Government & Private institution
    • Or does it span numerous groups?
    • How has it spread?
  • How long has this conflict been going on?
  • What was the origin point of this disagreement?
  • How quickly have things escalated?
  • How has magic or technology figured into the conflict as it is and as it’s developed?
  • What has motivated the continuation of this fighting?
  • What level of devastation have the people dealt with?
  • What is the military structure of the two sides?

Long-Time War

  • What event triggered the initial conflict? The war (if they’re two separate things)?
  • Do the people remember what started the war, or has too much time passed?
  • How has the constant presence of war altered the society and culture?
  • How much fear is present in the day-to-day life of the citizens?
  • How do parents handle the knowledge that their children will undoubtedly go off to war at X age?
  • How has the family structure changed with the constant absence of soldiers?
  • Does lineage play any part in how likely a child is to be recruited or what level they start at?
  • How hardened have people come to war and death?
  • When does soldier training start for children? Is there a gender divide on who fights and who doesn’t? How is “fitness” determined for combat?
  • Has there been any tries at peace between the warring factions? How were they handled? Why did they fail?
  • Have art, literature, music etc. survived the enduring war? How has the umbrella of unrest affected the arts?
  • What do the people believe this war is trying to accomplish? Or do they accept it as a part of life that will likely never go away?

Sudden War

  • How do people cope with the upheaval of their lives?
  • How are soldiers selected and trained?
  • How informed are the general citizens?
  • How in-danger are the non-combatant people?
  • Are emotions running rampant, or are they in check? Or is ignorance bliss for most people?
  • How quickly did the inciting incident lead to the full-on war?
  • How well- or ill-tempered are the leaders of the sides and how does that contribute to the way the delegations, exchanges, and treaties are handled?
  • Are the people of the general public on board with going to war, or are they angry about their leaders’ involvement?
  • How well-documented and reported are the goings-on at the front lines/in governmental offices?

Civil Unrest

  • Why are the people unhappy or unsettled?
  • What groups are trying to resolve the issues or help the needy during the fragile times?
  • What are the opposing sides/ideas trying to accomplish and how are they balanced over discontentment rather than heading straight to war?
  • How much pressure is there to start an uprising?
  • Has the disagreement between some groups brought unity to others?
  • Is the unrest more mental and political, or are there mobs rioting in the streets?
  • Are there rumors (true or not) circulating that are adding to the tension?
  • Is there a press involved? How are their reportings affecting the people? How are they viewed by the ones in power?
  • How long has this unrest been present? Do people think that it will eventually lead to a revolution or war…or are they just resigned to the way things are?

For more writing help, prompts, inspiration, and resources, be sure to give this blog a follow! Thanks!

Happy writing!

sig

Leave your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s