Monday, February 8, 2016

Writing for Factions

(Another image from HBS for their Battletech computer game. Appropriate for this blog entry)

Writing for Battletech mean writing from more than one faction's viewpoint. At any one time period, there will be anywhere between a dozen to more than two dozen factions I can choose from and write for.

I have my favorite faction, but writing for just one faction is not only limiting, but can be boring after a while. Each faction has their own set of history, values, and beliefs unique to them. It would be limiting to ignore them, just because I don't like the faction.

It's the challenge of reading about the faction (Be it one of the major interstellar states, one of the minor ones, a clan, or even a named Merc unit), finding the right plot that fits that faction, a time, a place and mixing them all together to create the story. It's establishing the characters and their motivations, which are tied to their faction. Their background backgrounds are formed from their factions, from a Combine soldier squaring off against a relative to reclaim the family's honor, to a civilian leading his town's population to attack an invading enemy, to a WOB agent defending an HPG station against a mob. The character must reflect their faction's POV (Or have a good reason not to --- in either case the faction's POV is the starting point for the character, and it goes from there.)

A word about POV: When I use the term "Faction's POV" (Point of view) I mean what does the normal character from that faction (Interstellar State, Clan, Comstar/WOB) believes in. For example, the Combine has a neo-samurai worldview, while the later Confederation has Xin Sheng, The Free Words League has local concerns and less interstellar unity. The Outworld Alliance has a strong pacifist streak, while the Concordant is fearful of the FedSuns. It is the generally accepted views of the factions majority. 

Looking back over the Battlecorps stories that I have published, I see that six of them have a strong FedSun/FedCom POV, while five others are from a Combine POV. Four have a strong WOB POV, four more with a Commonwealth/Alliance viewpoint, while only one of those stories has a FWL POV. Two Clan-centric stories (each from a different Clans), a single Outworlds POV, and three that have a Confederation POV as part of the story (but one one is what I would considered the main POV for the story)

So, I have plenty of other factions that I can still explore.

Word of Advice For Writers: When writing a character from their POV, be sure to know that character's faction mindset. It will form the base of the character, and from there, the character can be shaped. A Combine soldier will react differently to some situations than a FedSuns soldier would.

But it doesn't mean every character is 100% locked into their faction's mindset 100% all the time. A Confederation soldier is going to have a different level of intensity of mindset as compared to a Death Commando --- not that the soldier is disloyal to the Confederation, but compared to a Death Commando, his mindset is less set. Playing with different levels of the POV will help develop the character to be more fully realized, even if the evidence never appears in the story itself.

That's all for tonight.



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