The necessities of facts in military fiction – and the need for the opposite at times

Posted: March 30, 2009 in British Forces, Military, Research, Writing

45149685aWriting military fiction comes with its own complications, and that is: how realistic can one be? With that I mean: how factually correct am I allowed to be? Is it acceptable to describe in great detail some tactical manoeuvre or rule of engagement that is actually real and is being practised?

No, it is not. It’s forbidden (need I mention OPSEC et al?) and obviously pretty damn stupid an idea, for very apparent reason. Wouldn’t want to tell anyone the tricks of the trade if those tricks come properly from within instead of from freely available books and other visual or textual sources, right? (and sure as hell wouldn’t want to drop anyone who provides me with the insider info into the shit)

Apart from the obvious above, would it really add to the overall enjoyment of the story if I went down that route (if that route were allowed?) Would the heart and guts of the story (the focus on the lust – and possibly love – of a character, benefit from an extensive account of a FIBUA Exercise?

I dare say that it wouldn’t.

So, while I like to get this right, I shall never get them correct, if you know what I mean. Because I choose to, and because I have to. What I will get “correct”, though, is the character, in all his trials and tribulations and with all his foibles. And, of course, that of his counterpart …

The above, I hasten to add, is no excuse for shoddy research and stories set in the military (or in any other setting for that matter) that are utterly and totally and painfully wrong.

Photo Copyright  © MOD. Without permission.

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