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Author Topic: Writing ELH Fiction  (Read 10240 times)

five_corparty

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Writing ELH Fiction
« on: 11 August 2021, 14:23:34 »
Hello, all-

so, one of the great things about the new Shrapnel series is we have a LOT of new authors submitting!  Also, around here on the boards, we have a lot of people thinking of submitting, which is a great thing!

Every so often, I or other writers (most notably Craig "Turboturtle" Reed") will write a post discussing the writing process, and they seem to be well received by new or potential writers, so I thought I'd start up a thread.  This will be where I discuss writing "No We in Mercenary" and (eventually, no spoilers!) "No Dust, No Wear."  (for plot point discussions, I may discuss here or back on the main ELH fiction thread)

So, let me start out with something technical.  Shrapnel is open to all submissions: you blast it in, see what happens.  But these anthology series are solicited, in other words, the Catalyst crew sends out the project and asks writers for their story ideas.  Then the fiction teams picks the best ideas and tells those writers "get to writing!"  I've had a few stories accepted in various anthologies (such as the battle for terra and Operation Rat) and a couple rejected (the 20 year Art book, but BattleCorps still accepted the story I wrote from my pitch, "Something More," and the Tukkayid anthology)

If you are a jourenyman writer, and you are asked to "pitch," it can be a little freaky.  WHAT IS A GOOD PITCH?  So, I figured I'd post my pitch for this story, so you can have an idea / skeleton to borrow.

Quote
My pitch for Story #4

The 21st Striker Regiment is listed in the 4SW Vol 1 (PDF page 92) as winning against House Hiritsu on Kawich, while only taking one casualty.  However, the write-up, as written, has a lot of ambiguity.  The tanks and infantry are said to start the engagement, and then the BattleMechs of the ELH engage.  Colonel Winston is said to "collapse" in his Battlemaster, and the write up implies it was a naturally-occurring heart-attack.

My take: a Capellan House Battalion (listed as veteran in the old house book) is a tough nut to crack, even at 3-1 odds; but the actual ELH BM companies shown is only 7- just over 2:1.  The Capellans also have a Hover BN (out numbering the ELH single tank company) and 2 companies of infantry: in other words, this is very much a tough fight that the ELH could have lost, especially if they received their orders late?  There is no reason the tanks and infantry should have tried to take on an entire Capellan force by themselves unless they were trying to buy time for their Mechs to arrive: they were not "fully prepared" as FM: Comstar says, but mislead and miles out of position.

This is the story I want to tell: the tanks, infantry and perhaps one medium company buying time while the rest of the ELH get into position, and Col Winston dying in his Mech of a heart attack from him personally holding the line as the veteran heavy BattleMech company of House Hiritsu makes their final, suicidal assault.

Notes:
In your pitch:
- Kinda restate what they're looking for (they specifically wanted a story on Kawich and wanted intrigue- perhaps Micheal hasek Davion misled them, perhaps they took more damage than they expected, something that would put some drama and a knife in the ELH/FS relationship)
- List pertinent details, about a paragraph.  Remember, less is more
- YOUR TAKE.  WHY should they hire YOU?  When a company solicits, there is going to be multiple applicants per job: why should they pick YOUR story?  For BattleTech, specifically, how will this flesh out the universe, or be fun for the players?

AND BE PROFESSIONAL.  This is a job opening, and a pitch is your resume- this is NOT the time for, "hey, buddy, wait till you see how -curse word- I can write this ELH -swear-!"  Be brief, be brilliant, be professional, and let the chips fall as they may.

I'll stop here, leaving this as a one-topic post.

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #1 on: 11 August 2021, 14:40:51 »
So, they asked for multiple solicitations per writer- they don't want everyone pitching for the same story, you know?  So, I also pitched for story 9, which I'll discuss in a few months when it's out.

And then I waited.  The thing was, this was early February and they made clear they wanted the stories by FEB 23rd.  Now, readers, I can type prettttty quickly, but you NEVER want to run up on the deadline as a writer.  You want to finish early so you can walk away for a bit, let it breathe, and then go back and proofread it for stupid mistakes.  I knew in my head this was going to be on the upper edge of their allowed word-count (7-10K for this particular anthology) and, even at 1K a day (which is a LOT!!!) this was going to be cutting it close.  So, I fretted.

Ok, so, let's take one step back and discuss writing styles.  I will discuss MINE, but 1) EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, and 2) THERE IS NO WRONG WAY IF YOU ARE WRITING.  if your BUTT is in the SEAT pounding keys, whatever works for you is GOOD.

Me, personally: when I'm starting a story, I generally have the "wavetops" in my brain, of where I want to go.  Specific scenes, moments, ertc., that I want to hit, and my story is the way I get there. I honestly have NO idea what's going to happen, just whatever feels "right" at the time.  I do have a couple of rules I try to keep too at all times:
1) I play the game, so I try to make sure everything is legal by the rules.  I will make sure that i don't throw twenty points of damage into an 18 point section, for example, or if I do, I will make it clear all the armor is gone.  Stuff like that.  i want the battles to be replicable on the tabletop, if anyone so chose.
2) no stupid enemies.  now, keeping in mind that some nations will push on (DC, CC, for example) while others might retreat, unless I am writing about a militia or untrained pilot, these are professional militaries.  they do army stuff in an army manner.  Now, this is -MY- writing rule, and a lot of Battletech writers are looser with it, which is GOOD because it keeps our fiction different and unique and fun. :-)  I'm just saying what guides ME.

So, anyways, wavetops: at this point, I didn't know exactly how this story would flow, or the characters, or even how it would begin!  All I knew is that it was going to be much tighter than the book says, the ELH would take far worse casualties, and that someone in the FS (I was thinking either Ardan or their liaison at this point) would tell them they'd cover up the political intrigue and the ELH would NOT be happy about it.  I can't remember how I decided on the title, I think I saw a meme that said "yes, there's no "I" in team but there is no 'we' either..." and realized, "waiiiit, there's no WE in MERCENARY, either!"  So, yeah, while I didn't know EXACTLY how the story would go, i knew it was going to end on a "we don't hide things" "well, there's no 'we' in 'mercenary' so you'll hide whatever the hell I pay you to to hide" type conversation.

But everything ELSE?  no clue.

While i was waiting, i started cracking the books, including and especially the legendary "Phone Book" in the Mercenary handbook.  Almost EVERY member of the ELH is listed BY NAME, so somewhere in here was going to be my POV characters.

worktroll

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #2 on: 11 August 2021, 14:49:26 »
TAGged! And it's a long way from Waziristan, isn't it?  :beer:
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #3 on: 11 August 2021, 14:51:33 »
I will take a pause here to say, I knew EXACTLY how nine was going to go.  I had the characters in my head, I had the voice, I had the scenes and the vibe and feel and I was really, REALLY hoping to get picked up for nine.  I solicited for Four because I knew I could tell this story, and I liked where I was going with it, but since they only ever pick one story per writer, I was hoping nine was mine.

Readers.
READERS.

When I got the email saying I was picked up for TWO stories, i had a moment of pure elation!  NOONE gets picked up for two!  This is awesome and amazing and OH MY GOD I HAVE 13 DAYS TO WRITE TWO 10K STORIES???  because, yeah, this was about Feb 10 and the deadline was feb 23!
Terror.  That icy hand that grabs your heart when you realize "oh God i'm in over my head."

wife: "can you ask for more time?"
me: "maybe, but I have to get as close as i can so I can give them a resonable idea of how long I'll need."

oh, back to professionallism: NEVER MISS A DEADLINE.  You are NOT the most important person in the world, you are NOT special, and especially for something like THIS which involves multiple writers, an editing team, and whatever the heck might be going on at TPTB level, there are multiple plates spinning and YOU are just a small part of it.  Hitting your deadlines is PROFESIONAL and if you want to keep writing, then BE PROFESSIONAL.  It is a part-time job, treat it as such.

So, while I knew the editors -might- be willing to cut me some slack because, you know, TWO stories!!, I had to meet them half-way and get as much done as possible.

I began to write.  one coffee, one beer, one water, repeat.  That was what i was slamming as I typed as fast as i could for about two days, cranking out the initial scenes for this story.

now, thankfully, on the 11th/12th or so, they said that the 23rd was NOT the deadline, we'd have more time and we'd get individual emails about due dates.  I had this HUGE sigh of relief, closed my laptop for the night, and switched to a "beer, repeat," schedule for the night to give my brain a chance to collect itself.   ^-^ ;D

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #4 on: 11 August 2021, 14:53:15 »
TAGged! And it's a long way from Waziristan, isn't it?  :beer:

it is!  What a long, strange trip it's been from sending in RS: Unique submissions from a tin-shack MCT building on Salerno to writing ACTUAL stories ABOUT THE ELH!!! :-)

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #5 on: 11 August 2021, 15:09:06 »
So, I was cranking on this story (discuss more in a sec) and hit a wall.  The story just wouldn't come: I couldn't... SEE it yet.  Partially because I didn't have the POV right yet.

Ok, so another note about writing:
Jason Schmetzer, when he was running the fiction, rejected a few of my storeis, and on a couple of them, he wrote, "who's story is this?"

FOUR WORDS I almost LITERALLY taped to my computer from that point forward because, well, THERE IT IS.

"WHO'S STORY IS THIS?"  If you are writing, you MUST be able to answer that question.  maybe not at FIRST, sometimes you have to let the story flow and see how it shapes up, but BY GOD, when it's done, you must be able to answer the question.  if you can't, then your story is a mess, and a reader will hate it.  Sorry-not-sorry.

So, while I wasn't at that POINT, yet, where I needed to sort through who's story it was, I also didn't really know, either.  So, remember how I said I knew nine already?

Well, even though 4 was due first, I took a week or so pause and knocked out the other story.  I didn't want to be stuck with writer's block for weeks and then get stuck rushing it.  It FLOWED from me.  I wrote 18K in about 10 days or so, and then sat back and was like, "whew."  I all but -begged- for more words for that story, but the anthology was limited, so... no.  I had to cut EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS from an EIGHTEEN THOUSAND WORD story.

OUCH.  :'( :'(
« Last Edit: 11 August 2021, 15:21:24 by five_corparty »

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #6 on: 11 August 2021, 15:20:09 »
Another rule of writing: you have to kill your babies.

When you write, you have scenes and/or characters that you LOVE.  YOU ADORE.  They are the best thing you've ever written, the SING out loud to the readers, and...
they're unessential to the plot.  it's not THEIR story.

Remember, remember, WHO'S STORY IS THIS?

Editing is RUTHLESS.  My personal philosophy is, editing is EASIER than writing, so write EVERYTHING and then cut back what you don't need.  but this was the first time I really, REALLY felt it.  Every cut hurt, but that only got me down to 15K.  There were three beating hearts in story 9, and I had to rip out one.  It wasn't her story.
I am IMMENSLY proud of story 9, when it comes out this fall, but I'll always mourn what it was.

But I am a WRITER.  This is a PART-TIME JOB, and when the boss says "get this down to 10K," you either do or you find another line of work, you know?  PROFESSINALISM.  If you want to keep writing, let that be your byword: this is a job, it's a profession, treat it as such.


So, after about two weeks away, I came back to Four, and I knew what I wanted to say and, more or less, how I wanted to say it.

and then, well, a continuity mine buried for twenty years decided to rise up out of the muck and blow my plot to smithereens:

COL Charles Winston died on Kawich in 3029: 4SWV1
COL Charles Winston died in 3053: The Hunters / Sword and Fire

wellll, CRAP.  :D
« Last Edit: 11 August 2021, 21:07:59 by five_corparty »

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #7 on: 11 August 2021, 15:38:10 »
A long-standing rule for the BattleTech universe is, "the later supplement is always right."  I thought it over for about twenty minutes and then texted Phil.  Now, in the Army, you're not supposed to present a problem without at lease one solution.  So, I quickly laid out the continuity issue, and gave a couple options:
1) ignore what the 4SWV1 said, it's old or
2) it's an error, someone else died, perhaps a battalion commander,
3) it was a double or something, or,
4) since this is all intrigue and cover-up, the entire write up is in error, which was part of what the original intent of the story was for.

Phil immediately told me to run with option 4, since accidental or deliberate errors by Comstar and whomever has been in canon for a while, this was the easiest solution, and gave me the most flexibility as a writer.

This opened up a LOT of flexibility for me, because it's really, really hard to write a pitched regimental brawl where no-one dies, you know?  Well, now the kid gloves were off, and a lot of the names in that-there phone book were about to get disconnected.  ^-^

So, the story started to come together.  I cut Rowan as a POV character, because there were just too many at that point, but I kept Lila as one because I wanted to really show the combined-arms fighting style of the ELH.

One issue was the range of the Long Toms: I doublechecked the rules and discovered they could only shoot 15KMs, and this was going to mess up a LOT until I re-discovered there were regimental Long Toms I could swap in for fires at the right moment in the plot.  Again, would a reader have noticed? Proooobably not, but I like to keep the stories game-legal.  In my first draft, tho, they were firing FASCAM, which continuity noticed wasn't available yet.  So, I had to change around a few of the artillery barrages, but no big deal there.

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #8 on: 11 August 2021, 16:04:22 »
The last thing I want to talk about, discussing writing, is Rowan.

I decided at some point when Rowan was originally a POV character that she was a noble from "somewhere" and then decided, what the heck, the Alliance because having her be a black sheep might be neat.  This opened up a LOT of possibilities: gaining me access to a Merlin, which was fun to put into a story, and then her "my whole family are pilots so of COURSE I can do Close Air Support better than all-y'all" plot hook- originally Lila's company was going to call it in, but once you have a character like this, you just let the story take them where they should go.

now, researching 3025 OA stuff led me to the note about the Gregorian religion and I was like, "how awesome would it be for her to be wearing three engagement rings and then not even discuss it?"
BUT.
Old 80s BattleTech can be... weird.  Some of it hasn't exactly aged as well- nothing is OUTRIGHT bad, but there can be some... questionable areas.  For example, the LC starts drafting 14 year old kids during one of the S-Wars and is never brought up again.  My kids are about that age, and I'm not sure I want to write nor read a war story like that, you know?  This is supposed to be entertainment, at the end of the day.

So, this is where I asked some trusted friends for advice: is the Gregorian religion, encouraging Polygamic marriages an interesting idea, or something best left in the 80s?  And they both encouraged it, to show that, in the future, "non-traditional" marriages might be around in places because of society pressures or allowances we don't have here on modern Earth.  Showing things like this is VERY traditional Sci-fi, so I was glad they both approved and encouraged it.

Writers, never be afraid to consult with an outside expert if you're going to write outside of your culture.  I won't get into the whole "who should write about what" debate (consult your google) because of forum rules, but I WILL WILL WILL encourage respect and understanding and ASKING FOR ADVICE.  If you don't understand a culture, a language, an idea, ASK FOR HELP. it will make you a better writer, and your story better for the readers.

The other point is about her hair.

So, there's a few threads around here talking about Tara Bishop's "spiky" blond hair, and the main point of discussion is, "it's unrealistic to expect a person to have the same hairstyle for twenty years."
This is a fair complaint.  Now, in a IP universe, maintaining the "look" of a person is important.  See the uproar when Keri Russell cut her hair on "Felicity."  Being able to spot the character on-screen is important.
Same in fiction.  Having Tara Bishop have spikey hair from 3131 to 3151 isn't really ACCRURATE, but it allows a reader to quickly remember her from previous books that may have been written YEARS ago.  My dad would grow a beard in winter and shave it every spring, but Jamie Wolf had the old salt-and-pepper beard for DECADES of fiction time and real life!
Is it a prop used because of the fictional universe we write in? YES
Is it also lazy writing? It can be.  And that's a fair complaint.
So, these discussions were happening while this story was underway, and so I made sure to note the hair.  To make them all different.  these characters are "real" in THEIR universe, and I wanted to make sure this was shown.

oh, remember this post when story 9 comes out, by the way.

So, for rowan, I was giving her braids and then it hit me: "what if the engagement rings were barrettes? I could take this idea and new religion and combine them into something unique- I don't know of any culture, on Earth or in Sci-fi, that shows how many suiters a woman has by the number of braids in her hair!

And those are the points I want to drive in: ALWAYS play NICE in an IP, yes- professionalism.
BUT: DO be open to new ideas and DON'T be a LAZY writer.  Don't just take the writings from before and parrot them back out: make them fresh again, make them yours, and what you present to the readers will be so much more rewarding for it.

Ok, I think that's it for now. :-)  hopefully other writers will jump in on what they did and why and THEIR "rules of writing BattleTech."  :)
« Last Edit: 11 August 2021, 16:05:56 by five_corparty »

worktroll

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #9 on: 11 August 2021, 16:45:35 »
Great insight! And a question.

One of the points made about some BT fiction (Stackpole, I'm looking at you!) is that it reads like someone rolling dice on the table. Conversely, when the fiction doesn't conform with game outcomes (the infamous 'glancing blow' Gauss Rifle round to Victor S-D's head) people complain likewise.

Is this something you ever hit in your writing - you want to do X, but X doesn't happen like that in the game rules? How do you approach the game-vs-fiction dialectic?
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #10 on: 11 August 2021, 20:28:12 »
Great insight! And a question.

One of the points made about some BT fiction (Stackpole, I'm looking at you!) is that it reads like someone rolling dice on the table. Conversely, when the fiction doesn't conform with game outcomes (the infamous 'glancing blow' Gauss Rifle round to Victor S-D's head) people complain likewise.

Is this something you ever hit in your writing - you want to do X, but X doesn't happen like that in the game rules? How do you approach the game-vs-fiction dialectic?


That's one of the trickiest questions.  I try to never do anything overtly against the rules, as I said.  But I also will hide instances where I am playing fast and loose with the rules - for example, when Elaine ejects in "Irreplaceable," normally, ejection seats don't damage an arm.  But for fiction purposes, and since everyone can think of times when it might happen, people blow past it (continuity didn't, mind you, THEY caught it, but it was an author override.  ;-)
In this story, a) defibrillators don't revive dead people, so that was "future-fied" for story purposes, and b) I kill a LOT of tanks with the Strafing run.  Legal, yes, but borderline, and I didn't dice-roll it out.

So, I guess the answer is, yes, I'm as guilty as any other writer in putting the needs of the story first, but I never try to do it out in the spotlight with the BattleMechs, instead, hiding my fiat in the shadows.   ;) ;D

edit: I realized I didn't really answer "what if the rules say no?" question.  First, I'll try to find a way to MAKE it work WITHIN the rules: for example, in "A storm of rain and steel," I wanted SRMs to take down a VTOL.  But, they really WOULDN'T.  However, looking over the rules, INFERNOS do all SORTS of horrible things to vehicles, and it was plausible they could take one down- and plausible is good enough.  ;) ;D ;D
The other times when I can't find a legal work around, I'll change the scene.  I'm not sure I can think of one off-hand, but I know I've altered scenes because what I originally planned was CLEARLY against the rules.   :D

And finally: I don't dice-roll out the battles- I know some writers do, just to make sure the story feels random, like the actual game.  And, I can dig it: I've also said, a good rule of writing is to give your characters the tools, and let THEM fight their way out of the battle.  You don't give them a Mech that can clearly overpower everything they face, you make them win with whatever you gave them.
So, with my own rules and philosophy in mind, I can see how dice rolling might be good for some writers, because, say, they roll a crit: well, blowing out an actuator just adds to the drama of the story.

So, I'm not knocking their technique to writing (and I almost never knock another's writing in public, though if they ask, i'll give them an honest critique in private because, working together, we raise the enjoyment for the fans, which is what it's about, you know?  I'm not COMPETING against Stackpole or Craig or anyone for work, I'm just trying to write the best stories -I- can, and helping the team helps us all. :-)

and, one final, super-secret note about my writing BattleMech combat: you'll never see my name on a "best mech combat writer" list because, if you add up all the words I've ever written about ACTUAL BattleMechs shooting at OTHER Battlemechs, there's... not much.  ;)  ;D  I personally feel that BattleMech combat is there to support the characters, and - like garlic, or super-hot sauce - a little bit can go a LOOOONG way. Even the legendary "running battle" half of Irreplaceable was more running than Battle!  ;)  So, I think that little wrinting quirk of mine has ALSO helped keep me off the fans "oh-good-Lord-what-NOW?" list.  ;) ;D 
« Last Edit: 11 August 2021, 20:50:01 by five_corparty »

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #11 on: 12 August 2021, 11:35:11 »
And then I waited.  The thing was, this was early February and they made clear they wanted the stories by FEB 23rd.  Now, readers, I can type prettttty quickly, but you NEVER want to run up on the deadline as a writer.  You want to finish early so you can walk away for a bit, let it breathe, and then go back and proofread it for stupid mistakes.  I knew in my head this was going to be on the upper edge of their allowed word-count (7-10K for this particular anthology) and, even at 1K a day (which is a LOT!!!) this was going to be cutting it close.  So, I fretted.

So glad I wasn't the only one who went all "oh shit!" when the assignment came in and I looked at the calendar :D


In this story, a) defibrillators don't revive dead people, so that was "future-fied" for story purposes,

Pff, most people actually believe defibrillators can do that, because they do it on ER and every other hospital TV show EVER produced.
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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #12 on: 12 August 2021, 16:15:09 »
Ok, so another note about writing:
Jason Schmetzer, when he was running the fiction, rejected a few of my storeis, and on a couple of them, he wrote, "who's story is this?"

FOUR WORDS I almost LITERALLY taped to my computer from that point forward because, well, THERE IT IS.


Almost. ALMOST!?


Fired. Frickin' redlegs...
I sometimes write things. Sometimes they're spelled right. Not often.

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five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #13 on: 12 August 2021, 22:24:39 »

Almost. ALMOST!?


Fired. Frickin' redlegs...

Well, if I'd tried to print it I would have had to try and spell all the words out, and, well, there ARE four of them!!

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #14 on: 12 August 2021, 22:35:55 »
So glad I wasn't the only one who went all "oh shit!" when the assignment came in and I looked at the calendar :D


Pff, most people actually believe defibrillators can do that, because they do it on ER and every other hospital TV show EVER produced.

Exactly what Phil said, which is why he let me keep it in the story (dropping the word defibrillator)

and yeah, those first few days were TENSE.   :)  But I hit my deadlines with both stories, so, I'm happy.

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #15 on: 11 September 2021, 06:23:30 »
If you are interested, I provided some insight into the writing process behind "Failings in Teaching".
Have fun with it.
Spoiler alert, though.
Also, it's in German. So you might want to use a translation tool in your browser or this Gooogle Translate link:
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&u=https://hpgstation.de/2021/09/11/fuer-die-eridani-light-horses-schreiben-spoilergefahr/

Original link (google free):
https://hpgstation.de/2021/09/11/fuer-die-eridani-light-horses-schreiben-spoilergefahr/
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idea weenie

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #16 on: 11 September 2021, 14:08:34 »
So, for rowan, I was giving her braids and then it hit me: "what if the engagement rings were barrettes? I could take this idea and new religion and combine them into something unique- I don't know of any culture, on Earth or in Sci-fi, that shows how many suiters a woman has by the number of braids in her hair!

When you wrote this, I briefly got a mental image of a potential suitor presenting the lady with a pistol or rifle as an engagement Barrett.  It opens to the idea of her returning the weapon if she is not interested, or using that weapon to terminate the relationship if he does something very wrong.

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #17 on: 12 September 2021, 16:03:14 »
When you wrote this, I briefly got a mental image of a potential suitor presenting the lady with a pistol or rifle as an engagement Barrett.  It opens to the idea of her returning the weapon if she is not interested, or using that weapon to terminate the relationship if he does something very wrong.

Love it, and that's how the Jarnfolk do it, and I'd -LOVE- to write a story about them and that! :-)  :thumbsup:

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #18 on: 12 September 2021, 16:10:51 »
If you are interested, I provided some insight into the writing process behind "Failings in Teaching".
Have fun with it.
Spoiler alert, though.
Also, it's in German. So you might want to use a translation tool in your browser or this Gooogle Translate link:
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&u=https://hpgstation.de/2021/09/11/fuer-die-eridani-light-horses-schreiben-spoilergefahr/

Original link (google free):
https://hpgstation.de/2021/09/11/fuer-die-eridani-light-horses-schreiben-spoilergefahr/

Great blog!  and, for those wondering, he asked for my thoughts, so I gave them.  :)

Part of being a professional writer (in my opinion) means a) when someone asks for help, if you CAN help, try to; b) know when to ask for it, and c ) MOST IMPORNATLY, be willing to listen and take it!  :D

I appreciated him glancing over my work, and I was happy to offer my thoughts on his- MORE importantly, he took my suggestion and made an even STRONGER improvement to the story, which benefits all of us as readers!

I'll touch back on what he added to my 2nd story come November...  ;)

Lyran Wolf

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #19 on: 13 September 2021, 08:43:08 »
That is something I have heard from other writers as well so it checks out.

Listen to your editor.  A good editor is worth their weight in gold.
Don’t be afraid to go to a summit, bat around story ideas, or ask for help.  The heart of the story is still yours, the “voice” is still yours.
While some things might be worth fighting for, if you ask for help leave your pride at the door. Be willing to at least entertain what is presented.
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DarkISI

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #20 on: 13 September 2021, 09:08:41 »
Jason isn't the editor. Just two writers exchanging stories and advice :)
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"if they didn't want to be stomped to death by a psychotic gang of battlemechs, they shouldn't have fallen down" - Liam's Ghost

Lyran Wolf

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #21 on: 13 September 2021, 13:14:46 »
More a general comment to add to the list.  Not that specific exchange. 

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Marveryn

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #22 on: 02 October 2021, 03:01:08 »
failing in teaching was a tough one for me

Not cause it not a story that happen way to often in life, its cause am a son of an alcoholic and the way claudia is treating him is the sort of thing people do with alcoholic thinking they are helping them.  Some folks advice had been to let them hit rock bottom so they can finally seek out help.  As they wont know they have a problem till there are no more excuses.   That under the purview of tough love.  Sometimes it work, sometimes they just keep on going in the death spiral they started.  The story made it sound that once he was in the front line he would stop drinking but that only lead to more drinking down the line once the shit start to happen and friend start to die cause then he will drink to forget.   At this point of the story he really should be cashier.  He hurting himself and in the front line he will soon hurt his unit unless he find help.

Other than that it was ok

DarkISI

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #23 on: 02 October 2021, 03:16:21 »
I am very aware of that.
But I was handling it in a way it is often handled in real life. I was painting a very realistic scenario here.
How he will turn out back in a combat situation? I tried to enter some little hope at the end. But as you are pointing out, chances are he will screw up. But he won't have to suffer long. He will get killed by the Jade Falcons shortly, if you remember which unit he is in and what happens to 71st on Kikuyu. Sure, he could be among the survivors. But I think his chances are slim to none.
Even as a drunk he would rather sacrifice himself trying to keep at least one or two of his people alive then having his command obliterated and being the only survivor. Perhaps he will redeem himself with a heroic sacrifice.
Either way, I don't see him living that much longer.
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Marveryn

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #24 on: 02 October 2021, 04:20:52 »
I am very aware of that.
But I was handling it in a way it is often handled in real life. I was painting a very realistic scenario here.
How he will turn out back in a combat situation? I tried to enter some little hope at the end. But as you are pointing out, chances are he will screw up. But he won't have to suffer long. He will get killed by the Jade Falcons shortly, if you remember which unit he is in and what happens to 71st on Kikuyu. Sure, he could be among the survivors. But I think his chances are slim to none.
Even as a drunk he would rather sacrifice himself trying to keep at least one or two of his people alive then having his command obliterated and being the only survivor. Perhaps he will redeem himself with a heroic sacrifice.
Either way, I don't see him living that much longer.

Yep, just mention that the account of his behavior was pretty close to real life situation and giving its a short story we dont get that redeem point , just a tough read for me but not a bad read

rebs

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #25 on: 10 October 2021, 16:52:40 »
Tagging this for later reading!  I love when people encourage each other to become more, to let their voice be heard, to write! 

This is a good thread for novices and I think for pros alike.

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #26 on: 10 October 2021, 17:30:39 »
So, they asked for multiple solicitations per writer- they don't want everyone pitching for the same story, you know?  So, I also pitched for story 9, which I'll discuss in a few months when it's out.

And then I waited.  The thing was, this was early February and they made clear they wanted the stories by FEB 23rd.  Now, readers, I can type prettttty quickly, but you NEVER want to run up on the deadline as a writer.  You want to finish early so you can walk away for a bit, let it breathe, and then go back and proofread it for stupid mistakes.  I knew in my head this was going to be on the upper edge of their allowed word-count (7-10K for this particular anthology) and, even at 1K a day (which is a LOT!!!) this was going to be cutting it close.  So, I fretted.

Ok, so, let's take one step back and discuss writing styles.  I will discuss MINE, but 1) EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, and 2) THERE IS NO WRONG WAY IF YOU ARE WRITING.  if your BUTT is in the SEAT pounding keys, whatever works for you is GOOD.

Me, personally: when I'm starting a story, I generally have the "wavetops" in my brain, of where I want to go.  Specific scenes, moments, ertc., that I want to hit, and my story is the way I get there. I honestly have NO idea what's going to happen, just whatever feels "right" at the time.  I do have a couple of rules I try to keep too at all times:
1) I play the game, so I try to make sure everything is legal by the rules.  I will make sure that i don't throw twenty points of damage into an 18 point section, for example, or if I do, I will make it clear all the armor is gone.  Stuff like that.  i want the battles to be replicable on the tabletop, if anyone so chose.
2) no stupid enemies.  now, keeping in mind that some nations will push on (DC, CC, for example) while others might retreat, unless I am writing about a militia or untrained pilot, these are professional militaries.  they do army stuff in an army manner.  Now, this is -MY- writing rule, and a lot of Battletech writers are looser with it, which is GOOD because it keeps our fiction different and unique and fun. :-)  I'm just saying what guides ME.

So, anyways, wavetops: at this point, I didn't know exactly how this story would flow, or the characters, or even how it would begin!  All I knew is that it was going to be much tighter than the book says, the ELH would take far worse casualties, and that someone in the FS (I was thinking either Ardan or their liaison at this point) would tell them they'd cover up the political intrigue and the ELH would NOT be happy about it.  I can't remember how I decided on the title, I think I saw a meme that said "yes, there's no "I" in team but there is no 'we' either..." and realized, "waiiiit, there's no WE in MERCENARY, either!"  So, yeah, while I didn't know EXACTLY how the story would go, i knew it was going to end on a "we don't hide things" "well, there's no 'we' in 'mercenary' so you'll hide whatever the hell I pay you to to hide" type conversation.

But everything ELSE?  no clue.

While i was waiting, i started cracking the books, including and especially the legendary "Phone Book" in the Mercenary handbook.  Almost EVERY member of the ELH is listed BY NAME, so somewhere in here was going to be my POV characters.

 Very interesting,  thanks for posting this
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five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #27 on: 10 October 2021, 22:07:28 »
Very interesting,  thanks for posting this

You're welcome.  I try to be supportive of all the new and want-to-be writers out there, and I feel that talking through my "shouldn't-work-but-does" style is encouraging?  at least, i hope it is? like, if you're more organized than ME, than you can write, too! ;-) hahaha

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #28 on: 12 November 2021, 18:14:10 »
So, No Dust went from 18K down to the final 10.5k, and I present the LAST thing I cut- I weaved in the important stuff elsewhere, but, MAN.

I really wanted to keep this, but editing.  Sometimes you have to kill your favorite babies (aka, the parts you love), and it never gets easier.  :-X
Quote
Lootera, Huntress
10 July 3068

   “Hi, Dancer.  I know it’s been a few months,” Sandra said, standing in the pre-dawn grey in front of a tombstone.  She took a few steps forward, bushed off some dirt and dust, and kneeled.  “Ariel and I talked to William in December.  It was hard.  I came by to dust off your grave, but I didn’t really have time then to talk.”
   Sandra looked around.  The cemetery’s groundskeepers kept the tan and straw-like natural grasses cut short, and there were waist high hedges that ran every few columns and rows, breaking the rolling plain into quieter, distinct sections.  Each tombstone was not much more than a slab of black Huntress marble, engraved with the name, rank, and the fallen’s lifespan.
   In this case it was her friend and mentor, General Ariana Winston.  Sandra saw and could hear other members of the Light Horse walking the cemetery, whispering to friends and loved ones on this important day.  She took a knee, quiet for a moment.
   “General, Edwin told me you hoped I’d succeed you as commander, and I’m sorry if I’m letting you down.  I’ve rebuilt this regiment time and again, and I can’t watch it die around me.  You never gave up, General.  You fought until the end for a chance for the unit to live, to survive another day.”  Sandra looked up at the sky for a moment, starting to lighten.
   “I have to believe that’s what I’m doing here.  The troops know what’s happening, what today is.  The twenty or so who couldn’t bear the idea of staying here, of becoming Clan, well, they went home with the ambassador in February.  And none of them were MechWarriors, General.  None of them.”  She took a deep breath.  “I have to believe that what I’m doing is right, that saving the unit as a whole, saving our identity as a regiment- that this is what you would do.”
   She reached forward, touched the marble, traced the name.  “I miss you, Dancer.  I’ll visit again soon.”

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #29 on: 12 November 2021, 18:22:25 »
asked on the "new releases thread"
Quote
Hi, I did like the writing, but there was something that I found frustrating: There is no discussion (by the characters themselves) on if/why they are being  left alone by the Star League. Are they not suposed to get reinfocements or a rotation at some point? We know that there is stuff going on in the IS, but they do not seem to be aware.
Also, should their fist though not be to return home? Letting themeselves be absorved should be the last option to any IS unit. This comes over as "they can party like us, so lets join them". There is also no though given by Sandra Barclay to the fact that they are giving up the representation of the SLDF at the Clans, which should have a huge political meaning, specially for the Light Horse.

What I find most frustrating is that this seem to be a trend in the last novels, that the political (and sometime even personal) consequences of big decisions are not properly addressed by the characters

my quick answer (I plan to write a bit more tonight, but I wanted to drop it in now so I don't forget to touch back on them):
Quote
I'm glad you liked it!  I have a thread going in the fiction forum about the ELH stories, I'll make sure I expand on your questions there so as to not hijack this thread too horribly much.

Yes, just as they replaced the 151st, they should have been rotated out, but it would have been in a couple more years, so that's why it wasn't discussed; it's touched upon briefly by Ariel when Sandra called her, but at this point, the ELH and ambassador were getting reports on what was happening in the IS, and that the 2nd SL was actually failing/dead.  At the point of the Myers's challenge, they're stranded far from home, and by the time of the final battle, they learned Dieron (thier home) had been nuked.  Getting absorbed -was- their last, best option.

Glad you enjoyed it!  :)

ok, I'll expand a LITTLE before I go watch the news: almost all of his questions were things in the missing 8K words.  I cut a LOT, my friends- anyone notice the three flagpoles, LITERALLY the ONE thing we were supossed to mention? -tries to hide under a box-

But these are valid points that I had to trim down to the bare minimum in words for two reasons- 1) well, obviously, word count.  She's a hard mistress, but part of writing in other people's sandbox, you know? 2) there's actually not a lot written.  all of the Jihad ELH stuff, COMBINED, takes up, oh, like one power point slide, because I copy-pasted the screenshots from the PDFs into a reference document.

the original, Dawn of the Jihad book had a LOT going on, and, quite frankly, gave me a SUPER tight timeline to accomplish this story within: Sandra lands in December, and they're bidding by feburary, with the actual trial later that year (according to the blurb in Wars of Reaving, which ain't that much either.)

This... is not a great position to be in, as a writer.  normally, i LOVE working inside the holes of the BattleTech universe, fixing continuity errors or fleshing out the little pieces people miss.  But this was a super important event barely covered, and I had a lot of massaging to do with it, especially since all of the pieces don't exactly... jive.  Was the trial honorable or not?  well... I made it unique but still honorable, so all the sourcebooks are correct, from "a certain point of view."  I really wanted to touch on all the points in TWoR and DotJ to unify them and clarify them so people wouldn't have to bust them out, and really, all I could do is kinda name-check the events ("the ambassador is leaving," for example) and go from there.  it wasn't ideal, but it is what it is. :-/

But, yeah: I really wanted to go more into the loss of their home, the never going home, ESPECIALLY since the very theme of this story is of a woman and the grief she constantly carries.

(but I'll get more into that, later) :-)
« Last Edit: 12 November 2021, 18:36:30 by five_corparty »

Kles

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #30 on: 12 November 2021, 22:09:59 »
I just have to say again thank you for writing this. It was a story that subconsciously I knew I wanted. And that cut section you posted I wish could have been in there. It had been awhile since I had last read the novels and briefly forgot that Ariana was buried there.

I like all the ‘Mech action, but I also always appreciate the “slower” stories that remind us all of why they are fighting and what happens after the shooting stops.

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #31 on: 12 November 2021, 22:36:19 »
I just have to say again thank you for writing this. It was a story that subconsciously I knew I wanted. And that cut section you posted I wish could have been in there. It had been awhile since I had last read the novels and briefly forgot that Ariana was buried there.

I like all the ‘Mech action, but I also always appreciate the “slower” stories that remind us all of why they are fighting and what happens after the shooting stops.

You're welcome- it was a stretch writing it for me as a writer, but it felt right.  thanks for the kind words!
« Last Edit: 12 November 2021, 22:38:44 by five_corparty »

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #32 on: 12 November 2021, 22:41:44 »
Ok, so I've talked -around- this project because I didn't want to give spoilers, so, now the nitty-gritty stuff.

First, my pitch:
Quote
My pitch for option 7, Darkest Days, focusing on Huntress.

What I would like to do:
When the Army "rolls the flags" for a unit - begins to disband them - it's a disheartening process.  The unit still has a mission to accomplish, but they see their best soldiers transferred off to other units, they have to turn in equipment to fill gaps in other MTOEs, etc.  It's hard and heartbreaking to be the last ones left, and that's the feeling I would like to capture in this story.  Of a commander trying to hold onto her unit and their identity as they're slowly poached and harvested by the Goliath Scorpions.  The focus before the final challenge is Col Barclay explaining to Khan Suvorov that "you see ancient tanks and legacy BattleMechs, I see a tradition that extends for hundreds of years.  You see my warriors as living history, but I look around and see my people making history."

For the actual trials, I'm also imagining them as a celebration of BattleTech "deep cuts"- because the ELH has access to the full spectrum of manufactures but ALSO has to take what they can get, I imagine them with an eclectic mix of Mechs.  I also imagine the Scorpions as the same: more interested in the "vibe" and history of a mech than the actual battle performance, I envision harvest trials of Anvils, Apollos, Verfolgers, and Ninja-Tos versus Black Lanners, Linebackers and Pinions.

I'll leave this here so you can mull how close my story came to the actual, initial idea.  :)

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #33 on: 12 November 2021, 22:52:45 »
re-reading it now for the first time since, gawd, feburaryish? I hit pretty close.  :)

Remember, at this point, I've only kinda skimmed the FM:3085, glanced at the DotJ, i didn't really have the full references I'd have when I got around to writing.

But beyond what I wrote, something that did carry over from the original pitch/idea and the writing was the idea that absorbing the ELH was always the Khan's intent.  You still see it in one scene, though it hits differently now.  That matches up with the "the scorpions were intrigued by the ELH" references here and there, and Suvorov's depictions in BLP's earlier book.  in my pitch, Sandra has to remind the Khan that these are people, not just "living history re-enactors."  She was going to walk Ariel through the MechBay, pointing out these people, some of whom she'd known growing up "in the saddle."

But then, as i researched, i discovered that Sandra and Ariel became friends, and it was this closeness that led her to offer a position in the GSs for the ELH.  About the same time - like, literally, maybe the day before?- I'd seen a meme that said "when you make a new friend over 40: and had the "best friends" meme attached."  I'd laughed then, because it's TRUE, and when I saw that, it HIT me.

and then I double-checked their ages and the Khan was near 50 and Sandra was... well, i didn't KNOW, but old ENOUGH, and I knew I had it.  for a split second, as the idea bounced in my head, I considered making them lovers.  but, then, I rejected it: I wanted a story about FRIENDSHIP.  About two women, in a galaxy at war, becoming friends and finding a way forward together.  I'd never written a story about middle-aged women being friends, so i knew it was going to be a challenge, but I -KNEW- it was the right way forward.
« Last Edit: 12 November 2021, 22:55:51 by five_corparty »

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #34 on: 12 November 2021, 23:04:02 »
I'm going to start this part with a gripe: I was at a writing conference once, and the panelists were ADAMANENT noone should EVER write about people they aren't.  "ONLY WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW."
They were taking this stance because they firmly believe that it's not RIGHT for people outside of a race, religion, culture to base stories in it.  And to a point, I agree with the moral point they're trying to write.
BUT
I am a SCIENCE FICTION WRITER. I -can't- write what I know, I -HAVE- to write about what noone knows, it's in the job description!  But more than that, I believe a respectful writer, who takes time to learn and research and RESPECT other peoples and cultures can, in fact, write about them and include them.
I am NOT a middle aged woman, but I am over 40, so I tried to write what I know and be respectful towards what I don't, and I think it pays off here.  I -wish- I could have had more time to show the relationship grow, but that was locked in by the DotJ, so i had to play the cards as dealt.

This thread has me hammering in notes about professionalism again and again, so, about this topic: be careful.  be respectful. I 100% ADVOCATE FOR INCLUSION.  Add in people of other races and sexualities into your stories!  You can see them in both of mine!  But be mindful, ask questions when you aren't sure, and treat religions and cultures - much like I was saying about Sandra and the ELH - treat them as you'd want someone to write about something near and dear to your heart.

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #35 on: 12 November 2021, 23:09:47 »
Okay, enough of the soapbox.  What else? Notes, i guess:
Ariel, Sandra's daughter, was the third beating heart of this story.  nineteen, brilliant, charasmatic, she helped tie the women together, becoming, essentially, Khan Suvoirov's adopted niece, something she'd never had, and suddenly realized she kinda liked having.
here's a clip:
Quote
Goliath Scorpion Enclave
Abyssal Continent, Huntress
Clan Homeworlds
10 January 3068
   
   Ariel Suvorov was toweling her hair dry when she heard the chime to her quarters ring.  Her quarters were luxurious by Clan standards: on the second floor of their officer quarters, it occupied the entire northwest corner.  Two bedrooms – one for her, the second for an aide, though she rarely let hers use it – a small office, a large living room with a briefing table in one corner, separated by a counter from a kitchen she rarely used.  Her belongings were modest, as befit her taste; but many were antiques gathered from across the homeworlds and even from the Inner Sphere.  As Khan, she was expected to have a certain amount of history and legacy in her quarters, in accordance with their Clan culture.  But, as she sometimes admitted, she really did love the older styles and fashions.
     “See who that is, please?”  she called out.  She heard Archibald head to the door, and then Ariel Barclay’s voice came echoing down the corridor.  Still drying her hair, she walked down the hallway wearing nothing but her codex, the silver bracelet on her left wrist that contained her genetic information and her battle history. She passed into the living room and saw Ariel Barclay standing in her doorway talking with Ben-Shimon, who’d managed to throw his jumpsuit on.
     “Technician Ariel, what brings you to my doorstep at this time of night?”
     “I was looking for Star Captain Ben-Simon, Khan Ariel.  I did not realize these were not his quarters,” she said with a cheeky smile that let Suvorov know that Ariel had, in fact, known exactly whose door she was knocking on.
     “Well come inside, stop looking like a lost Wolf cub,” Suvorov replied good naturedly, as she found where she’d dropped her jumpsuit behind a couch and started to slip it on.  Barclay ignored her nakedness – she’d been naked for hours at the dress fitting, Barclay had seen everything there – and came in, closing the door behind her.
     “I have been helping Nerran with his Emperor, and I missed the last shuttle home.  I was heading to the technician’s barracks, but instead Nerran sent me to find Archibald to get the key for a vacant Crimson Seeker technician room that has a private shower.”
Ariel nodded at the explanation.  Ever since Nerran’s first meeting with the Light Horse, the interdependencies between the units had grown.  As best as she could figure, nearly all of the Light Horse’s ammunition and spare parts were now drawn from her stocks, gained by Sandra’s troops through the deliberately non-violent trials Suvorov had ordered.  In exchange, the Light Horse had begun sending their “spare” technicians to assist the Scorpions in their work: with hundreds of Smoke Jaguars helping their maintenance workload on the Star League payroll, sending technicians over to help the Scorpions with repairs was an agreement struck by the lower castes that she’d signed off on.
     “My Khan,” her lead technician had respectfully said when she’d interviewed him, “every technician in known space has a list of things that must get done, and things they’d like to get done.  We will never fail you on the ‘must get done,’ list, but having the Light Horse technicians here will let us finally catch up on those ‘like to get done’ lists that will immeasurably help our Clan.”  Sandra had told her Ariel was switching between technician and aide duties every few days now, learning to better repair the dozens of Clan BattleMechs on the Light Horse rolls at the feet of the Scorpion’s best techs.
     Ben-Simon nodded as she finished, and said, “I do have the key in my quarters, I will escort her there.”
     Suvorov finished zipping and said, “Neg, Archibald.  I have a spare bedroom; she shall stay here.”
     Ariel, with false innocence, asked, “As long as I am not interrupting anything?”
     Suvorov laughed.  “Neg, we are finished for the night.  Are you expecting any guests I should know about?”
     Barclay laughed. “Khan Ariel, I reek.  I believe that is a hard no.”  Both Archibald and Suvorov laughed, and, saying his goodbyes, Ben-Shimon left.
     Suvorov waved her hand down the corridor.  “The shower is that way.  Put your clothes in the bin, slide it into the hall, and I will place it outside for the labor caste to pick up tonight.  Our clothes will be cleaned and returned by dawn.”  Barclay thanked her, and started walking down the hall, disrobing as she talked.
     “Nerran is a genius, Khan Ariel, the way he rebuilt that Emperor?”  Suvorov shook her head and went into her office, tapping once on the computer screen to activate it as she sat.  She saw the bin slide into the hallway out of the corner of her eye, and Barclay continued, “and did you know you have the last remaining Sun Bear?  How cool is that?”  Any further comments were cut off by the shower turning on.
     Smiling and shaking her head, she tapped a key to connect her to the operations center.
     “My Khan!” said the officer on duty.
     “Get me Colonel Barclay, at the SLDF enclave,” she ordered, and waited.  Within a minute, she saw Sandra on her screen.
     “Good evening, Khan Suvorov.  Is something wrong?” asked Sandra, with cautious curiosity.
     “Neg, Sandra, nothing is amiss.  I wanted to let you know Ariel missed her shuttle.  She is spending the night in my spare bedroom; I did not want you to worry.”  The anxiety dropped from Barclay’s face.
     “Ah, good.  I thought something had happened here on Huntress.  Thank you, Ariel, for the call and for watching out for her.”
     Suvorov smiled and nodded once.  “It is my pleasure. Suvorov out.” 
     The next morning, Suvorov was up and moving early – Saturdays, her exercise was distance runs.  Dressing in warm running clothes she peeked in on Ariel – she was sprawled across the bed, one foot hanging off the side – and smiled as she left.  When she returned, though, she was surprised to walk into her quarters to the smell of bacon.
     “Good morning,” Ariel called out from behind the counter separating the living room and the kitchen.  She’d found the cleaned clothes, and was back in her technician overalls.  “Do you like omelets?”
     Suvorov nodded once in surprise.  “You do not have to cook for me, the labor caste brings me food.”
     Ariel shrugged.  “I love to cook; it is not a problem.  Besides, if I did not cook for my mother, I swear she would forget to eat.  Without me there, she is probably trying to bust open a field ration right now.” Ariel smiled as Suvorov barked out a laugh.  “We have ham, mushrooms, cheese, peppers, bacon and tomatoes, what would you like in your omelet?”
     “All of the above,” Suvorov said with a smile.  “I will shower and return in a moment.”  About ten minutes later, she returned, Ariel pulling an omelet off a burner on low heat and setting a plate at the counter next to a cup of juice and a mug of coffee.
     “Star Captain Ben-Shimon called; he said your fighter is ready for your training flight this evening.  Star Colonel Jillian Scott also called to let you know she has sent you the battle report you requested from her trial against the Jade Falcons,” Ariel said, then turned to the sink to begin washing dishes.
     “Thank you for breakfast, Ariel.  Leave the dishes, the labor caste will send someone to take care of the mess,” Suvorov said.
Barclay frowned, but put the dishes down.  Glancing at a wall mounted chronometer, she said, “I should go, thank you for letting me crash here last night.”
     “You are working with Nerran all day?” At her nod, Suvorov said, “I will have a spare key sent to you.  Anytime you stay late, you may stay here, my home is your home.  Now go, the Star Captain has little patience for impertinent technicians that run late, no matter how well they can cook.”  At Ariel’s laugh, Suvorov smiled.  She headed to her office as Ariel thanked her and left, sipping her coffee.
     Nerran was right, she really does make great coffee.  With a deep sigh, she activated her computer.Time to start my day.

-sigh-
this story was amazing with Ariel in it.  but- yah gotta kill your babies

-edit- oh, I forgot: this scene mentions the DOZENS of Clan mechs on the ELH's rolls.  I do -NOT- like surprising people with dues ex machina plot twists, which the sudden assault of the Sixth and Eight assault can feel like in the story.  now, anyone checking on the ELH will see the regiment boasts a solid 50% Clantech! and I name drop the Sixth assault earlier, so anyone comparing notes to the original merch HB and the FASA Huntress roster will realize that she has her full, 3025 roster with her. But I never liked that I wasn't able to find somewhere in the trimmed version to casually drop the fact, "oh, yeah, we're half-and-half IS and Clantech, we're just not USING it...yet.  :-X

Anywhoo, that's just a note for the record: I know it can seem like a cheapy author ambush, but I did do the background checks and originally put the clues there for observant readers...  :)
« Last Edit: 13 November 2021, 00:03:20 by five_corparty »

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #36 on: 12 November 2021, 23:24:24 »
This scene was written, obviously, before I ended the story.  Originally, I had an epilogue where Ariel was Khan Ariel's aide, which is why the Khan is thoughtful at Ariel's report.  Ariel had been serving as her mom's aide (she had about half of young's lines in the original version, and is why an aide HAS so many in the revised version) and at the end, like I said, she's working for the Khan.

BUT
Something I learned in writing class is, when you finish a story, cut the last full page, and THAT"S where you actually ended it. and it WORKS. it may not be "a page," but your story ends before you think it does.  In this case, the scene prior, where the trial starts. Once i wrote that scene, I knew the story was done, and the editing began, and scenes like this started to get tweaked, reflecting the Khan respecting Ariel's abilities but not leaving an open-ended plot hook.

Remember that, seriously: when you're done, look up a page, and that's where your story probably ended.

What else?
- Sandra's age: it's hard to calculate, but she's about 45-47, depending on how long her "tours" were before she returned to the light horse. Sandra was never really defined in earlier books other than tall, long hair, insecure about her leadership abilities, and the youngest colonel.  I fleshed her out, gave her two husbands (in my head, she and her 1st were about to get divorced when he died, why she was avoiding him in the AFFC instead of being back in the ELH) I also cut her hair: a part I cut for length was her saying she originally cut it when she got back to dieron after William died and donated it to a cancer survivor organization, and now she grows it out for a couple years before cutting and donating it again.  Because I -didn't- write that, it's technically not canon, but I hope you'll all consider it to be part of her personality.  :)

- I looked, but I couldn't find another Colonel that rebuilt their regiment THREE TIMES across BattleTech history. There is probably one I missed, but Sandra might very well be unique.  She's finally secure in her abilities to lead, but now it's THAT grief, on top of losing two husbands, that undercuts her.  Besides friendship, this is a woman who keeps losing friends and family -her oldest is dead, BTW, she just doesn't know it yet in this story, but the 151st is ambushed and killed by the WoB on their way home - and it was that GRIEF I wanted to make the force behind her accepting the offer.

- I -did- try to work in a lot of obscure mechs: I believe you HAVE to have a few people can recognize, but, LORDY, there's like, what, 2200 chassis?  Have some fun!  ESPECIALLY when writing units like mercs or the GS who pilot whatever the heck they feel like!

- The references said Rik Myers challenged the ELH, so I knew I had to have him in it.  And I figured he should die, but being a shared universe, I shot a note to BLP (his creator) and made sure he didn't have future plans for someone he created- he essentially said, "nah, I'm good- ice him!- and thank you for asking."  This is important: when you're in a shared universe, you can do whatever the editors say is ok, but you should communicate with your coworkers- it's both professional and a common courtesy!

- Also, man, I REALLY had to figure out how the ELH was gonna beat Rik Myers!  Beating down a veteran commander is NEVER an easy task, and when I -FINALLY- hunted down a map of huntress (go on, do some googling!  it's not easy!  8) :D :D ) and reread the Huntress duology, i realized that Clan Mechs fighting in the jungle are at the same ranges as their IS counterparts! To quote Mr. Spock, "sauce for the Goose, Mr. Savik."  the part about logistics, well, I'm not the first author to have the heroes raid the Clans supply trains, and I'm sure I won't be the last, but I may be the first to realize it is a blind spot in the bidding process and take advantage of it.  ^-^ ;D

- I stole a trick from a TV director. He said that he often shots scenes with the actors barefoot in the emotional climaxes, because it's a subtle sigh of vulnerability.  What's the first thing Sandra says to Ariel on the roof, right before their first, real heart-to-heart?  I don't USUALLY put in "metaphors" and all that crap they pumped into our brains in highschool, but this idea? Well, it stuck with me, so i wrote it in.  They're barefoot again later in the story, as you may remember, and it's also kinda an important one...  ^-^

- the Blazer is an anachronism: continuity pointed out they should NOT have one, because the exodus was before they were invented, but (with editorial approval) I left that line in as-is so someone can write a shrapnel story about it down the road where/when and how a seeker found it and brought it back.  :)

- The commander of the 82nd Heavy Cav is the Cadet from two stories prior; I thought she was an incredible character, so (again) talking to her creator, I name-checked her to show she was both good enough and lucky enough to have survived all three rebuilds

that's all I can think of about the actual writing process- if anyone has questions about the story, you can ask here or in the other thread, and if I think of anything else, I'll drop another note.

But I hope this thread has been useful to others out there who are thinking of dropping a submission to shrapnel: my way won't work for everyone, but I hope it helps and inspires you, and remember, whatever gets your butt into a seat and gets you typing IS THE RIGHT WAY FOR YOU.  Good luck and have fun to you all!
« Last Edit: 13 November 2021, 16:46:19 by five_corparty »

lobezno

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #37 on: 19 November 2021, 18:09:15 »
Thanks for all this explanation. Its really great to read about it!

Marveryn

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #38 on: 21 November 2021, 18:03:15 »
just finish.  this was one of the first that didn't feel like it was a incomplete story for me.  Granted a few more words would had giving it more to bite into but on the whole, it felt complete the only thing missing was a mention on how little contact they had with the inner sphere at that point or the coming of the scientist attempt to overthrow the warrior class but that would had lead to a bigger story so it was best left out.

Overall well done, excellent read

DarkISI

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #39 on: 22 November 2021, 08:32:09 »
What made the others feel incomplete?
« Last Edit: 22 November 2021, 08:53:02 by DarkISI »
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Marveryn

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #40 on: 22 November 2021, 13:05:13 »
What made the others feel incomplete?

a lot of the other and i am thinking i am forotten one or two they didn't feel that way most to me felt like there was so much more to the story that it left me feeling that way.  Just that it was a slice of life or the start of a chapter for a long novel that needed more.  its not a main complain just that felt that in some of them their was a lot more of the story that needed to be told. that all. 

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #41 on: 22 November 2021, 17:20:52 »
Overall well done, excellent read

Thanks!

J_Schmetzer

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #42 on: 02 December 2021, 18:08:59 »
Okay, with "The Day When Heaven Was Falling" starting to trickle out (looks like everywhere except Amazon as I write this) I figured I'd drop some notes into Jason's (the other Jason's) excellent thread.


The first thing to say about this story is that it was assigned. When I was asked if I wanted to contribute a story, I didn't get to pitch. They said, "you're writing this one." Which was fine. I don't tell that story as a gripe, because it's not. I say it to illustrate sometimes you get a say in what you write in other people's universe, and sometimes you get direction. At the end of the day I work for the rightsholder, and my opinion really doesn't matter. I can go write my own stuff if I get worried about that.


So I got Part 9 of 10.


I almost turned it down.


What, I wondered at the time, could possibly be left to discover after nine stories about the same unit, working off the same theme, especially when the sum total of the canon description was a few lines describing a really weird battle. But I shook those doubts off, sketched some ideas, and went with the one that I hoped might be somewhat different: looking at them from the other side.


The eight excellent stories that came before me did a wonderful job of showing you the Light Horse. By this point in the series, readers will have a pretty firm grasp of who they are. And know about the flagpole. What I wondered was, what if there was a character who didn't know all that? What would that story be? How do people react when they meet their legends? And more importantly, what happens when the legends live up to the hype?


And since this thread is about writing, how do I do all that in 6,000 words or so?


Okay, so let's review the setting: it's Hesperus II, Defiance Industries, arguably largest ’Mech manufacturer in the Inner Sphere. Arguably most important world in the Commonwealth. And it has three Clans attacking it. At once. Oh and the brilliant Lyran strategy is LET THEM. Because Steiners are always smart that way.


The Light Horse was contracted to defend the factories, not the world. So a protagonist in Defiance made sense, which is how we got to DSPF Leutnant Gilda Pennon. A young MechWarrior, inexperienced, half-trained, with no knowledge of what life is really like off Hesperus II. Who meets an experienced officer of the famous Eridani Light Horse, and begins to learn. To see how the Light Horse lives up to its legend.


Not that I had room to show all that, of course. I had to just say it, and hope you'd all come along.


From there it was a pretty conventional story, mercenaries betrayed by higher, psychotic Clans waiting in the wings, weird Lyran decisions at every turn... and a young woman coming to realize there is a larger universe out there, and that she actually cares about how it is run. That decisions have consequences. And that not all mercenaries are the legends the ELH is.


I got a lot of questions during editing about some of the decisions people make, to which all I could reply was "I'm working off the published source." But even then, I hope as you read it that I did a good enough job convincing you that those people made those decisions. Not always the right decision, but then none of us every time make the right decision.


Catalyst asked for stories that show you the Light Horse's impact on the Inner Sphere and beyond.


I tried to show you the Light Horse's impact on one woman.


You'll have to tell me if it worked or not.
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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #43 on: 02 December 2021, 18:31:33 »

But I hope this thread has been useful to others out there who are thinking of dropping a submission to shrapnel: my way won't work for everyone, but I hope it helps and inspires you, and remember, whatever gets your butt into a seat and gets you typing IS THE RIGHT WAY FOR YOU.  Good luck and have fun to you all!

Thanks for sharing all this!
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five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #44 on: 02 December 2021, 20:42:09 »
Catalyst asked for stories that show you the Light Horse's impact on the Inner Sphere and beyond.


I tried to show you the Light Horse's impact on one woman.


You'll have to tell me if it worked or not.

I'm looking forward to reading this, hopefully it hits kindle this weekend! And the ELH getting screwed by Lyran stupidity really is a tale as old as time!  ;D

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #45 on: 02 December 2021, 21:10:09 »
Today in writing BattleTech:

It took me 20 minutes to decide on what to listen to as I type (Speed Racer OST, for the record)

For you journeyman writers, do not be discouraged: this is annoying but normal. siiiigh ;-p hahaha


Luciora

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #46 on: 02 December 2021, 21:46:57 »
Now I want to kitbash Nerran's Emperor using the primitive after seeing that mention.  :)

MyndkryM

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #47 on: 03 December 2021, 10:35:00 »
Catalyst asked for stories that show you the Light Horse's impact on the Inner Sphere and beyond.


I tried to show you the Light Horse's impact on one woman.


You'll have to tell me if it worked or not.


As a self professed ELH slappy  :D :D :D  Mission Accomplished!

I've really enjoyed ALL the stories. To answer the your question....yes, it works. I think these shorts work very well. I for one, can get wrapped up in TO&Es, who commands what, who battled who and where....which is fun....yet these shorts have done a real neat job of offering a different perspectives and perspectives that help reflect all the different time periods in the BTU.

To all the authors.....GOOD JOB!!!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this series.

While I'm playing around with the MUL, painting my minis, or better yet, taking my ELH Battalion and battling my opponents on the tabletop...I get to use these stories as imagination seeds :) and proceed to create my own stories :)

So a thank you is also warranted to all the authors....Danke!!!!

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MarauderD

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #48 on: 03 December 2021, 12:04:33 »
Are we going to get all these Light Horse stories in one Anthology?  I'd really like to have it in DTF and read it the old school way.

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #49 on: 03 December 2021, 13:03:49 »
Are we going to get all these Light Horse stories in one Anthology?  I'd really like to have it in DTF and read it the old school way.

Yes. Sometime next year.
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five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #50 on: 03 December 2021, 23:26:31 »
Now I want to kitbash Nerran's Emperor using the primitive after seeing that mention.  :)

Well, as a reminder, the write up was originally in Record Sheets: Unique Mechs, thought you can probably find the record sheet now in the appropriate Record Sheet PDFs with all the other Emperors.  He (and most of the Clan warriors) can also be found in the "Spotlight on: Crimson Seeker Star" PDF in the store.

I didn't create him, I just pulled him up outta the minors.  :) ;D

mikecj

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #51 on: 04 December 2021, 11:37:30 »
Best kind of character.  The ascended extra.
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Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

Luciora

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #52 on: 04 December 2021, 11:57:04 »
I already built one, using the first sculpt, its very ungainly looking and certainly one can tell its a view of my first attempts into kitbashing.  I just like the primitive sculpt more, to where I'd rather use that as the current gen version.

Well, as a reminder, the write up was originally in Record Sheets: Unique Mechs, thought you can probably find the record sheet now in the appropriate Record Sheet PDFs with all the other Emperors.  He (and most of the Clan warriors) can also be found in the "Spotlight on: Crimson Seeker Star" PDF in the store.

I didn't create him, I just pulled him up outta the minors.  :) ;D

five_corparty

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Re: Writing ELH Fiction
« Reply #53 on: 19 March 2022, 13:24:51 »
I tried to show you the Light Horse's impact on one woman.
You'll have to tell me if it worked or not.

I came to post that the ELH book is in dead trees, and it GIRTHY for a BTech compilation! :-)  A really good edition, even with pics of Battlemechs in it, like the old novels!

Skimming, tho, I just now realized that I never responded to this: dude, you KILLED it.  Especially the ending.  :-)

 

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