Fleet Tactics

I wrote my naval battle scene today and passed it by my husband who gave it his tentative approval. He noted some things I didn’t realize I’d gotten wrong, but he said I did ok on the Viking fleet tactics. It took longer than it normally takes me to write something because I kept looking things up.

I even had a moment of total panic when I realized that I couldn’t remember which side of the ship was starboard and I questioned the whole idea of me doing this without a lot more research and perhaps enlisting in the Merchant Marines or the Navy or maybe the Coast Guard.

While I was fretting and unfavorably comparing my writing to C.S. Forester’s and Steven Pressfield’s, Steve casually said, “Did you know that C.S. Forester didn’t actually serve onboard ship as an officer in the Navy? That was all research.”

I was astonished, but I felt a bit better. If the celebrated author of the Horatio Hornblower series was able to learn to do this, then I probably could as well.

It was a tough day writing, and parts were seriously exciting. Hopefully the next time I have to write about naval tactics I’ll be more competent. I still have more to do on that story. Tomorrow I’ll write the next battle scene, which I’m more comfortable with since it’s a magical battle with monsters. Give me a good battle with tentacles any day vs. having to get all the historical and sensory details of a naval battle correct.

Several people volunteered to help me think this through. I really appreciate the offers of help. In the end I mainly did it through Dean’s approach. I looked up passages that I admired that described various battles and I typed them in while trying to figure out what made them work. At this point I’m not ready to ask questions. I don’t even know enough about writing this sort of military action to know what questions to ask. That may change as the story continues and I get a bit more practice under my belt.

One of my commenters, Linda Maye Adams, mentioned that people are not looking for a real experience of combat in action stories. That stopped me cold and I realized I was looking at this the wrong way round. Action stories are like romances. Readers are not actually looking for reality in romances. They know that happily ever afters are hard to come by. Sometimes I forget that we read to escape. Thanks, Linda!

I hope you are also learning today and trying new things. Be well, friends.

We’ve been having some internet issues so I expect this will post tomorrow instead of today. No matter. I am counting it for the streak anyway, because I wrote it today.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. That was an interesting read. I never knew about ship tactics, and now am totally intrigued about the concept. But yeah, the research we have to do just to tell a story sometimes.

    Wishing you all the best with your WIP!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Fleet tactics are fascinating to hear my husband explain them. He’s an expert in strategy who teaches at the Naval War College as an adjunct professor.

      He is thinking of writing a book on “Military Strategy for Writers” which would basically take the curriculum he teaches naval officers and make it more interesting and accessible to people trying to write characters who need to sound like genius strategists.

      I longed for that book yesterday and wished he’d already written it.

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