Using War as a Backdrop

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There are times when it felt like the Vampire Civil War wasn’t going on, but War of Nytefall: Anarchy has it as the backdrop.  I needed to do this because there were only two books left, so I needed to remind the audience of the situation.  Jewelz, Leo Kandrel, Desirae Duvall, and Alastyre acted as distractions since they were third party enemies with no allegiance to Nyte or Nytefall.  That’s 4 of the 8 books focusing on something other than the war.  5 if you want to say Lost’s debut didn’t have enough of it.  So, Anarchy is really going to stand out here.

That being said, I didn’t start writing battle after battle because I knew that would get boring.  You know they’re going on, but you don’t have to see them.  This is still an action adventure series instead of a strict war one.  Peppering a few here and there made the setting clear.  Beyond that, I found reports and discussions about their progress worked better.  This also allowed for the noncombatants like Chastity and Gregorio to stay in the story.  If you’re only looking at battles then the support characters are going to be left out of the spotlight.

Also doesn’t help that Clyde was staying away from the battlefield and I had to follow him for the most part.  Instead, I had people talk to him about the war and the future.  I liked how this went because it brought the focus on something people tend to forget in stories of war:

Why are these characters fighting?

I’ve mentioned Clyde’s dream throughout the whole series, but this is when he really began thinking about it.  His doubts and fears were showing, which made this incredibly powerful monster come off as human.  It’s hard to make a war come off correctly if everyone involved is a vicious monster, so I put a lot of work into making the Dawn Fangs on both sides show their humanity.  In my mind, this made the weight of their actions and decisions stronger than if I had them battling it out.

You even see how this extended war is wearing on the Dawn Fangs, which can be strange considering they’re immortal.  These beings have eternity to do whatever they want unless they’re killed in battle or by a hunter.  Normally, immortals don’t pay attention to the passage of time, so a war going on for over a decade is a blip in their existence.  Here, they want to stop fighting and living in fear, so they’re getting increasingly more focused on finishing the war.  You get a sense that things are going to get messy if Clyde and Xavier don’t put an end to the fighting soon.  Maybe they do in Anarchy?  Check it out and find out.

Since I don’t watch or read war stories, I might have inadvertently done what those in the genre typically do.  The war is there and important to the story, but there’s more of a character focus.  You’re seeing a smaller picture within the bigger one because the grander scope is too difficult to encompass in a single tale.  By zooming in on those who are involved and affected by the war, you get a sense of the overall impact.  For example, the pressure of leadership has been a constant subplot for Clyde and it gets deeper with every story.  Through him, you can see how much of a challenge it is to wage a war in the shadows while figuring out how your people can live freely in the light.

So, what do you think of using war as a backdrop?  Do you think it’s better to just show the battles?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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7 Responses to Using War as a Backdrop

  1. L. Marie says:

    Even movies about war or battles (like Pearl Harbor, Dunkirk, Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, The Hurt Locker) take a backdrop approach though they might feature a prominent battle. If they just focused on the battles, they would probably seem like documentaries. (I’m not criticizing documentaries. I love documentaries.) So war as a backdrop is understandable in your approach. I am also working on a book that is about the start of a war. Definitely taking the backdrop approach

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  2. I like the idea of using war as a backdrop rather than the central focus. In order to be interesting, a war story would have to be about characters. You are right, if the characters were involved in fighting every scene, it would become boring pretty quickly. Knowing the war is out there somewhere makes the tension of scenes away from the battlefield so much better.

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  3. From what I’ve seen of military SF, which admittedly is not a lot, they focus on who the soldiers are and why they are fighting — both individually and in the total stakes of the war. They have scenes of the back-and-forth of planning operations in the war. There’s also some focus on describing the trappings — uniforms, equipment, etc. Then they will show battle scenes of the specific operation that was planned, and presumably the already-introduced soldiers will feature in that battle.

    So if you view War of Nytefall as a military fantasy instead of military SF, it seems like you’re on the right track.

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