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Author Topic: Writing ELH Fiction  (Read 2822 times)

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!

 

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