Hey everyone! We’re a little over three weeks away from Fluff About Fantasy’s one year anniversary! Isn’t that crazy? I’ve been running this website for almost a year now. I am so lucky to have readers like you who have kept me going all this time. Without further ado, let’s get to today’s subject: building fantastical war.
War will play a significant role in my trilogy, but Chasing Fae only brings the underlying hints of the impending conflict. I’ve always loved reading war in fantasy, but only when it’s done right. I’m not the kind of reader who needs to see a play-by-play of every minor battle and conflict that moves the war forward, but I also don’t want to only see one or two major battles and that’s it. I want to construct the series in such a way that the war arc is clearly a large component, but not so large that it dominates the characters and their journey. I’ve done a bit of research into what that looks like, and I want to share that research with you. Please keep in mind that these points aim for that nice middle ground.
Find Your Purpose.
War happens for a reason. Whether it’s a major reason or whether everything got started because someone wore the wrong color shirt, you have to give your conflict a starting place. More often than not, that reason will have to do with something political. Think about it: resources, morality, religion, love – everything can be take a political stance on a large scale or a small scale like family politics. But the reason has to be big enough and strong enough for people to want to fight in horrific battles and lose their lives for.
War Affects Everyone.
War is going to affect your universe’s people from the top down. It doesn’t matter what the economical and political dynamics are; everyone plays a role and everyone will be impacted by the events. Are some of your people rich enough to pay their way out of having to fight? Who do they send? Will their land get seized? What about the poor? Do they have the resources needed to outfit their men and women for the fight, and will they be forced to provide anyway even if they don’t? The allocation of resources will change as well. There will be a lot of agricultural resources as well as technological resources that will be transferred from the general populous to the military. How much effect will that have on the people?
Your characters will be affected the most prominently in your story because that is who will drive the plot forward. Make sure you understand how war affects your main character and your secondary characters as you are constructing this conflict.
Battle Vs. Siege
It is important to know the difference between the two of these scenes because you will find both throughout the war you’re building. It’s important to know what to use when.
Battle: Use sparingly. Save it for the most charged moments. These are extremely costly, not just monetarily but also with life. Both sides have to agree that the potential gain would outweigh the loss of life that will occur. When writing these, understand that battles, even small skirmishes, will be chaotic and confusing. Many well laid plans go awry on the battlefield.
Siege: These occur the most often during a war. One side falls back to a stronghold, and the other surrounds it to cut the stronghold off from essential supplies to tempt a surrender. Resources will be scarce, and if there are any citizens inside the stronghold town or city with the military, all sorts of things can happen. Will citizens try to flee? Will they be fighting with their own soldiers over food? How well do the citizens trust the people protecting them?
Consider The Aftermath.
What does the end of the war look like? Which side surrenders to the other? Is there ever a formal surrender? Are there any skirmishes that occur before news of the surrender reaches all of the corners of the universe? And after the war is over, you have to consider how each side puts their states and their lives back together. It won’t happen overnight. There will be governments to put back together, cities and towns to be rebuilt, and people to be rehabilitated. Don’t skimp on this if you mention it at all. The end is just as important as the beginning.
I hope this gives you some good ideas and some direction on constructing war in your fantasy novel. Happy writing!