Fiction Writing about Soldiers and the Military

When I began this blog, i wanted to give something back to the internet universe that perhaps doesn’t yet exist. I was trying to think about what I might be uniquely qualified to write about that might be useful to some few people out there. What I finally decided is my arena is how to write soldiers accurately.

having served in the military for over 30 years and having a MFA in Creative Writing and a Story Grid Editor Certification, I decided that I could help other writers who are creating stories that involve soldiers to make their stories better.

I began with a post about a day in the life of an Infantry Soldier and followed that with a post about rifles used in the current day military, then I got sidetracked. I have noticed an increased interest in those old post, so I decided to continue with this series.

What I would like to know is if anyone has any suggestions or questions about how the military functions? Or what they wear or equipment they use?

Past Posts:

  1. Soldier Daily Routine when not Deployed
  2. U.S. Army Rifles

Why do I think my blog would be useful?

I think there is a lot of misconceptions about Soldiers in the United States and around the world. This is apparent to me every day by the types of questions I get asked, but three specific incidents really hammered this point home to me.

Is That Hummer Bulletproof?

photo from http://www.bretonindustries.com

The first incident happened to me in the late 1990s, I was driving a Hum Ver (hummer) from NC to VA for a training exercise, I was one of a number of vehicles in a convoy, we were all in uniform and we stopped at a rest stop. Sitting in the grass eating a picnic was a young 20 something couple, looked a little hippie, and the girl approached me and asked, “So, this is a hummer.” I replied, “Yes it is.” Then she said, “And it’s bulletproof?” I was standing next to a hummer with a plastic roof.

This was before 9/11, before bulletproof hummers were a real thing. Up until this point in my life, I had never seen a bulletproof hummer, I didn’t even know if they existed. And I had no idea where she got the idea that it would be bulletproof. Though, it was obvious to me from the plastic doors and roof, that this particular hummer was definitely not bulletproof.

It’s interesting that one of the serious problems at the beginning of the Afghan and Iraq wars was the lack of bulletproof hummers (little known/ remembered fact – which is why I want to write this blog).

MPs Are Better Trained Than SEALs and Rangers and Enlisted Wash Officers Clothes

I once read an interview of Lee Childs, author of the Jack Reacher novels. They are great action novels, and everyone loves them and the movies starring Tom Cruise. But when I read the first book and an article, I was blown away about how much the Mr. Childs didn’t know about the US Army.

In his first Jack Reacher Novel, Killing Floor, from 1997, he explains his view of Army Military Police, Jack Reacher’s profession, and why Reacher is such a badass:

“A military policeman deals with military lawbreakers. Those lawbreakers are service guys. Highly trained in weapons, sabotage, unarmed combat. Rangers, Green Berets, marines. Not just killers. Trained killers. Extremely well trained, at huge public expense. So the military policeman is trained even better. Better with weapons. Better unarmed.”

Totally false. I think the Army MPs would be the first to admit this. Green Berets and Rangers are super well trained in hand to hand combat and weapons, MPs are more trained in police procedures but any additional training beside periodic range training is all on their own. As a former Ranger and Green Beret, I was on the range sometimes 30 days a month, and learned how to use more than 20 types of guns. We have our own hand to hand instructors and training area. Tim Kennedy is a green beret, a UFC fighter, and formally won the service-wide combatives (Hand to hand) tournament three years in a row.

I also read an article where Mr. Childs discussed how he came up with his character. He said he wanted to make him an officer which would explain why he didn’t wash his clothes and bought new ones all the time, because as an officer jack Reacher was accustomed to having he enlisted men wash his clothes. I’m not sure if that is true in the British Army, but it is definitely not true in the U.S. Army.

He did get some things right. About a newly separated military man being sort of a loner and wanderer. He also said later that in retrospect, he would have made Jack Reacher a senior enlisted man instead of an officer, as that was more accurate with reference to Reacher’s experience and skills.

Tanks and Uniforms

Sometime in late 2009 or so I was asked to pre-read a play that had a military theme. The playwright had a couple misconceptions that I tried to correct and which he fought me on and finished by saying I didn’t know what I was talking about. One was he wanted to set his play during the Iraq War in 2002, to which I said we didn’t invade Iraq till 2003. So he said, that’s alright, I’ll change the setting to Afghanistan. His plot mainly dealt with tanks, and I told him we didn’t use tanks in the war in Afghanistan. He didn’t believe me. He also had a major scene taking place off base where all his main characters were drinking beer in a bar while wearing their uniforms. I told them that no one does that, once again he insisted I was wrong.

I could go on, as he was wrong on a number of other details too. But that just justifies my reasoning for writing this blog, the misunderstanding of life in the military.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services. Also, check out my testimonials to see what other authors have said about my editing.


For All Mankind E5

This post will analyze the the Episode 5, titled “Into the Abyss”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 4 “Prime Crew”:

  • Deke is told to drop the women project after the accident that killed Patty
  • The Vietnam War is over and Ted Kennedy runs for president against Nixon
  • Deke goes against orders and announces to the press that Molly Cobb is going tot he moon
  • Russian shuttle crashes
  • Apollo 15 will search for base location
  • Molly has clashes with her crew during training, but turns it around
  • Karen is a lesbian
  • Molly and crew launch
Read More

For All Mankind E4

This post will analyze the the Episode 4, titled “Nixon’s Women”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 3 “Nixon’s Women”:

  • Nixon orders co-priorities of NASA are establishment of lunar base and a women on the moon, “preferably blond”
  • Deke must train 20 women astronauts, because there were none in the program at that time
  • Tracy Stevens because Nixon’s poster girl
  • Tracy doesn’t believe she belongs
  • Tracy helps fellow trainee in the desert survival phase
  • Patty is killed in a training accident
Read More

For All Mankind E3

This post will analyze the the Episode 3, titled “Nixon’s Women”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 2 “He Built the Saturn V”:

  • Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin return from the their crash land on the moon
  • Nixon orders NASA to win the “Race for the Base”, to be the first to have a lunar base
  • Ed is asked to testify against NASA, but he refuses
  • Ed resigns from NASA to return to the Navy
  • von Braun is confronted with his atrocities as a nazi and his image is tarnished
  • Deke asks Ed to come back and be part of Apollo 15
  • Nixon announces that they are in negotiations to end the Vietnam war
  • The last scene shows a Russian woman walking on the moon
Read More

For All Mankind E2

This post will analyze the the Episode 2, titled “He Built the Saturn V”, of the For All Mankind television series using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Obviously, I will be discussing plot points from the television series For All Mankind. So, check it out before reading further.

Recap of Episode 1 “Red Moon”:

  • Russia is the First Nation to land a man on the moon
  • The United States is demoralized, President Nixon is angry, and NASA is distraught
  • NASA management feels if the Apollo 11 mission is not successful it will spell the end of the United States in the Space Race and the domination of Russia
  • In the background, a family of Mexicans is crossing the border into the United States
  • Astronaut Edward Baldwin vocally criticizes NASA for losing the Space Race to Russia
  • Edward Baldwin is taken off active status to support status
  • Apolla 11 moon shuttle, the Eagle, appears to crash land
  • NASA makes the determination to have the last astronaut, Michael Collins, return to Earth
  • Michael Collins refuses, then the Eagle astronauts are able to finally communicate that they are alive
  • Everyone celebrates as NASA makes a plan to Bring the crash landed astronauts to return to Earth 
Read More

Showrunners Ep4

Vote for our next TV series at www.sgshowrunners.com

The story so far (Episodes 1-2):

  • Foreign diplomat killed in Vienna and girlfriend is last living witness
  • Eve is assigned to provide security for the girlfriend
  • Villanelle assassinates someone else in Tuscany
  • Eve fails to guard the girlfriend as Villanelle assassinates her, the guards, and some nursing staff
  • Eve is hired by Carolyn to lead a task force
  • Villanelle kills some more people and is sidelined after a psych exam
  • Eve and her team run into some dead ends, but then she realizes she might have seen Villanelle
  • Villanelle is told that Eve Polastri is looking for her and realizes she knows Eve from the hospital
Read More

Jack Ryan S2 E2

This post analyzes the Amazon Prime television series Jack Ryan using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

This post will spoil everything about episode 5 from the Jack Ryan television series, so make sure you watch it before reading on.

Check out my analysis for Season 1 if you want more details.

Season 2 Episode 2 Recap

  • Jack goes to the embassy and tells Greer he’s not going back
  • The Venezuelan CPT that betrayed the convoy also goes to the Embassy and is interviewed by Ryan
  • Ryan thinks that Reyes ordered the hit on the convoy
  • Venezuelan soldiers raid a Guerrilla Camp
  • In Tampa Florida, Jeff tries to recruit Bishop to drive a boat for an ‘off the books’ mission
  • Ryan goes to the docks in disguise and is compromised and then rescued by Harriet who claims she was hired as a private detective
  • Venezuelan President tells Jack and Greer that the attack was done by Guerrillas and they have them in custody
  • Reyes knows that Ubarri is thinking about running for president
  • Ryan knows that Bastos attacked the Venezuelan Cpt and killed his family
  • the Venezuelan CPT is found dead in his cell
  • Ryan is attacked in his room, pursues attacker, Greer almost has another heart attack
  • Jack confronts Harriet
Read More

Showrunners Ep3

Vote for our next TV series at www.sgshowrunners.com

Intro

Recap of Episode 1: “Nice Face”

  • Viewers meet the protagonist and antagonist
  • Eve breaks some rules
  • Villanelle kills a lot of people
  • Eve gets fired, but Carolyn wants to meet with her

Summary of Episode 2: “I’ll Deal with him Later”

  • Eve has a drink with Carolyn and gets offered her dream job to hunt Villanelle
  • Villanelle is in trouble with Constantin for her indiscreet killing
  • Villanelle passes a psychological assessment
  • Eve and her team confront Frank who admits he made up the CCTV
  • Villanelle kills a perfumist against the orders of Constantin
  • Constantin tells Villanelle that MI6 is after her
  • Villanelle searches online and realizes that she’s met Eve before
  • Eve works out that she has come face to face with the killer in the hospital.

This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of episode 2 of Amazon Prime’s Killing Eve.

Read More

Hanna – S1 E8 and Ending Payoff

This post analyzes the Amazon Prime television series Hanna using the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

This post contains spoilers from the Amazon Prime television series Hanna, so make sure you watch the show before you read further.

The 5 Commandments for Episode 8

Inciting Incident

Hanna uses skills Erik taught her to hunt and treat Erik’s wounds

Read More

For All Mankind E1

So, I watched For All Mankind on Apple TV+ and felt they had a good storyline that followed the Story Grid method so I thought I’d review it. 

Here’s the Description, in case you aren’t familiar with it. It’s available on Apple for distribution.

Wikipedia Excerpt:

The first manned mission to the Moon during the Space Race in the late 1960s was a global success for NASA and the United States. But this drama answers the question: “What if the Space Race had never ended?”.

In an alternate timeline, the USSR beats the US to the Moon; thus setting its first Russian cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, on it. Dubbed as “Red Moon”, this event leaves NASA in devastation. This doesn’t mean those working there have given up as they challenge the Soviet Union a second time to show that there is no giving up on hope.

Wikipedia
Read More