Re: Training Arc?

#1
Hey!

So, I'm writing a story where the main character is drafted to a war. It's a fantasy, so the war has magic ability elements. I was wondering how I can go about this? The war is more of the main point, but I have to show them training too right? and I'm not sure where to even begin as I have no idea what they even do in the military. I was thinking that I can just make things up because this is a fantasy world and they have different combat tactics, but I felt like that would seem too unrealistic. this is also a draft because the war was sudden and got big really quick, so I also am not sure how long the training arc should go on for.

Sorry if that's confusing! Thank you for your help!

Edit: I'm new here and don't know how to respond to every one who gave me advice, but just know I am taking into account what everyone is saying! Again, thank you all so much! TwT

Re: Training Arc?

#2
Have you ever seen the animated film Mulan? I think they do a pretty decent job of consolidating her training into a montage. You could aim for a montage-like series of short scenes, hopping from one exercise to the next.

Alternatively, you could provide short flashbacks to the training your MC received when they have to perform specific actions, missions, or spells - or simply provide some narration on what they'd been taught when appropriate, if you want to get right into the war and not spend time beforehand training. I'm currently playing Ghost of Tushima, and that game uses this strategy well.

That said, even in a draft, troops receive some kind of accelerated boot camp before they're handed a weapon and pushed into battle. They have to know how to use it, after all.

You might consider streaming some military movies to get an idea for how they train and carry out operations within the confines of narrative flow for storytelling.

Despite any of the above ideas, this is your fantasy world - you really can make it all up. By having magic to begin with, the idea that your version of training and combat tactics would seem "too unrealistic" shouldn't be a concern, in my opinion. Magic itself is unrealistic to begin with, so the reader will have already provided some suspension of disbelief.

Good luck!

Re: Training Arc?

#3
You are right that fantasy does not excuse everything. That said you are asking about a subject that's way beyond the scope of a form post. My advice is to a little reading on real world situations similar to yours, maybe mix and match say WWII draft training with medieval or ancient variants to account for magic. If you don't think you can pull if off though this might be a situation where telling is better than showing, have your characters take a moment to look back on how hard training was, what they learned and how it changed them then move on.
An author I enjoy very much wrote a training arc almost exactly like what you're talking about. It's very well done, goes into military structure, the use of limited magical abilities and (my favorite part) realistically applied martial arts.
He's recently made the book it was in free for a limited amount of time.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RQDZ9BM?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_0&storeType=ebooks
Actually the whole trilogy (books 2 and 3 are on sale) is great and each book has bits on training as the characters try to adjust to changing threats.
Please note, I am in no way involved with the author beyond being a fan.

Re: Training Arc?

#4
IMO training arcs in novels tend to be some of the most unengaging and annoying parts of most stories that implement them. The plot grinds to a halt and goes nowhere because the main character is stuck in boot camp. Personally if you don't have experience with this kind of training in real life I would try to gloss over it as much as possible.

Re: Training Arc?

#5
Read some literature about the military that matches your setting or watch some youtube videos. Doing your research helps with at least three things. You will be able to write an environment that feels more realistic in terms of the locations, equipment, mannerisms of the characters, and much more. You won't lose the readers that already have this kind of historic military knowledge. And, you will be able to tweak realistic things to tweak your fantasy setting, which I find cool ;)

Two books I enjoyed that have a military-focused training plot are Forest Mage by Robin Hobb and The Puppy war by R.F. Kuang.

Re: Training Arc?

#6
Training arcs are only annoying (I.M.O) if you never see the individual pay-offs for the things the mc learns.

Unless you want to put my MC in some super-magic-wizard-team, chances are everyone is going to receive the same general training.
  • Basic chain of command, tell the MC as well as the reader about who is in charge of who,
  • Groups, platoon, legions? Is the army divided into groups of twenty people where one is the leader and one is the vice leader?
  • Weapon training, you aren't making them masters, tell them how to swing a blade, how to dodge one and how to parry a blade without it slicing your fingers.
  • Magic, when to use magic. Is it the kind of 1 shot per day kind of magic or the kind where you can use it as much as you like? Are there pre-made spells, ie fireball or are they specific to the user?
  • Basic og tactics, don't fight up-hill unless necessary, rope solves all problems, how to identify a medic, 
  • POW policy, can you kill medics?
  • Improvised weapons, rocks and slings were common backup weapons in the armies around the world.
  • mount training
  • taking care of equipment, cleaning weapons, maintaining magic gear.
  • basic first aid, as in - don't pull an arrow out of your body because you'll bleed to death, don't get your wounds dirty.
  • machinery training, do you have magic tanks? Magic altilery? if no, can you cast artillery spells? if so teach them to aim them properly.
  • what type of magic to look out for, "Look out for puddles of glowing green liquid, that's poison" or "black clouds clinging to the ground is magic gass, you need to reach high ground,"
The most important part is to see both the MC as well as the others applying or failing to apply those tactics in the actual story, otherwise it feels like a waste of time,
Another important matter is making sure the training improves (or worsens) some part of the MC, 
  • Are they a coward and are now overcome with the realisation that war is even harder than expected? 
  • Are they prideful and think they have this whole war thing in the bag because they memorized the booklet? 
  • Are they distant and slowly realise the amount of blood that will be shed, giving them a better understanding of the value of life?
  • Are they a spoiled brat that gets put in their place by some random nobody that's seemingly better prepared for way?
As long as the training is there for a reason, if you have nothing to say or show through the training arc, just say:
"After that, MC went off to train with the others, it was a long and difficult two months of studying and physical exercise, but there was no time to take is slow as MC was sent off to the front lines,"



Re: Training Arc?

#8
OR you could have your MC get no training at all and is just thrust onto the front-lines unprepared because that's what pretty much happened to conscripted soldiers for the most part.  It would also be a great character motivation and growth arc as they go from terrified and having no clue what their doing to having some vet take them under their wing and try to learn on-the-job without dying.


Edit: @MrBadWithNames, for those of us using the Lite theme, your post looks like bits of baby blue floating in clouds, and is neigh unreadable >_<

Re: Training Arc?

#9

Xian Wrote: OR you could have your MC get no training at all and is just thrust onto the front-lines unprepared because that's what pretty much happened to conscripted soldiers for the most part.  It would also be a great character motivation and growth arc as they go from terrified and having no clue what their doing to having some vet take them under their wing and try to learn on-the-job without dying.


Edit: @MrBadWithNames, for those of us using the Lite theme, your post looks like bits of baby blue floating in clouds, and is neigh unreadable >_<



It's revenge for the poster using dark grey since I'm a loyal dark-theme user, lol.

Re: Training Arc?

#12
Most of the training in the time of spears and swords for the peasant levies wasn't about them using their weapons, but to instill a bit of discipline, teach some formations and make sure they know what your orders mean as well as how to carry them out. That takes a lot less technical writing and makes it more something psychological and seeing how that affects a character is still interesting