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How do you like stories to end?
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Old 14 Dec 2007, 23:34   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default How do you like stories to end?

I don't know whether this is the right place for this sort of thing, but I figured it's the best place to find a concentration of Imperial Guard fans, so it seemed appropriate.

I'm trying to write a book at the moment about the battle for hydro processing plant 23-30 from the Taros campaign. I love the premise for the story as it has excellent scope for exploring comaraderie; the triumphs and failures of fighting men under pressure; and of course plenty of gritty close infantry warfare, but the problem I face is that the story inevitably ends in defeat for the Elysians with not one survivor left amid the ruins; everyone not killed in the fighting is taken captive by the Tau.

I'm just shy of 37,000 words now, which is about half way by my reckoning, and I still can't think of how to end the story. Frogger made some excellent suggestions back in October and with his help I decided to have the main protagonist(s) defect to the Tau empire (it's complicated). But as I've been writing and establishing bonds between characters and trying to make characters the reader will come to associate with, it seems more and more clear that my original plan just won't work; people won't be able to get on board with the main character(s) 'turning traitor'. I also don't relish the thought of extending the story beyond the battle itself because life as a Tau POW would be a massive change of pace and I don't think I have the capacity to make it interesting. Besides, things go similarly awry for the handful of POWs that escape captivity anyway.

Given that everyone must die or otherwise be whisked away from the processing plant by a power other than the Imperial Guard, I need a way to end the story in a manner people will enjoy. If you read a story of brotherhood and bravery in the face of insurmountable odds, would you be miffed if it ended in a heroic last charge and the author just left it hanging there? Would it be important for you that the hero(es) attained victory?
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Old 14 Dec 2007, 23:42   #2 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

in alot of 40k books it seems that the hero's usually all die in the end. I didn't like that at first, but now it just seems against the laws of warhammer to NOT make just about everybody and their uncle die in either some heroic or comedic(or both) end.

That is, unless your trying to make room for a sequel, then you should do your best to have some sort of minor victory even though the tau one THAT battle, and try to make room for a cliff hanger.

If you want the main characters to die, then do it EPIC!!!! Something witty and heroic 'last stand' sort of thing.
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 00:12   #3 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

Yeah what i think would be great is a massive last stand. The remnant soldiers band together to fight off whatever is comming and make the enemy pay dearly but die in turn. Like 300' but they just die lol. You understand where im comming from. Massive battle last stand many dead. The battle is over. Men will never be forgotten. Or you chose the wrong story to do :P
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 00:20   #4 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

37,000 words!? That's as long as a lot of children's novels!

I don't really know- any story written well enough is good.
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 00:40   #5 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Norman
I don't know whether this is the right place for this sort of thing, but I figured it's the best place to find a concentration of Imperial Guard fans, so it seemed appropriate.

I'm trying to write a book at the moment about the battle for hydro processing plant 23-30 from the Taros campaign. I love the premise for the story as it has excellent scope for exploring comaraderie; the triumphs and failures of fighting men under pressure; and of course plenty of gritty close infantry warfare, but the problem I face is that the story inevitably ends in defeat for the Elysians with not one survivor left amid the ruins; everyone not killed in the fighting is taken captive by the Tau.

I'm just shy of 37,000 words now, which is about half way by my reckoning, and I still can't think of how to end the story. Frogger made some excellent suggestions back in October and with his help I decided to have the main protagonist(s) defect to the Tau empire (it's complicated). But as I've been writing and establishing bonds between characters and trying to make characters the reader will come to associate with, it seems more and more clear that my original plan just won't work; people won't be able to get on board with the main character(s) 'turning traitor'. I also don't relish the thought of extending the story beyond the battle itself because life as a Tau POW would be a massive change of pace and I don't think I have the capacity to make it interesting. Besides, things go similarly awry for the handful of POWs that escape captivity anyway.

Given that everyone must die or otherwise be whisked away from the processing plant by a power other than the Imperial Guard, I need a way to end the story in a manner people will enjoy. If you read a story of brotherhood and bravery in the face of insurmountable odds, would you be miffed if it ended in a heroic last charge and the author just left it hanging there? Would it be important for you that the hero(es) attained victory?
in the books, you wont be able to please everyone; As such that if you must intend on an ending, consider the way the audience would interpret the defection.

Is it quick, without logic?
is it out of survival?
is it forced?

Does the leaders choice sit well with his men?
Are there xenophobes amongst your troop?
are they just on this desert planet? (if its based loosely on the taros)

If I remember right the defectors of the Taros campaign primarily at first were the planets PDF forces (horribly trained I might add) so how does this work out.

would you bring a saving private ryan on? (elysian drop troops could play out like the air born rangers, isolated packs pull one clever battle strategy at the end, ultimately ending in the elysians defeat? perhaps the Tau deliver terms to defect?

would the Tau keep you alive, after the death of the ethereal? (around the same time span?)

and

Glorious last stands have been overdone too many times, and the greatest way to pull them off, is for the characters to have been an army of one from the start. (which seems to be repeating in warhammer novels)
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 00:55   #6 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

How about something similar to this.

After fierce fighting, a remaining veteran unit, and the remaining "standard" troopers are split up. The Veteran unit is comfortably hunkered down in a building when there's a distress call for the standard troopers, who are under intense fire. The veterans saddle forth to rescue the troopers, but when they arrive, they find the troopers have been wiped out.

The veterans then find themselves in a bit of a pickle, as they come under fire from the same enemy that wiped out the standard troopers.

This provides a lot of opportunity for character development too.
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 00:57   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

Well, you had to know what you were getting into from the start, and your readers likely will know of the Imperial defeat as well.

That said, you don't want your readers assuming the characters will die in the end. Tempt them opportunities for the protagonists to survive. The more the possibility of them surviving is in possible given the background, the more the readers will believe the characters might pull it off.

I think a good way might be for the Elysians to plan a breakout from the encircling Tau. Not a large scale assault, as that would have been included in the background, but a dozen or so troops trying to sneak out under the cover of night to link up with the advancing Cadians.

I think that the story can only end in the death or capture of all the Elysians, otherwise it would come of as, to me at least, a fanboyish attempt to negate the official background. Have you read Galaxy in Flames, or any of the other Heresy books? You know that Horus is going to turn to Chaos, you know that none of the Luna Wolves stay loyal and survive, but the author still makes you have hope. In the end a few small characters manage to slip away, while every major character developed in the three books is killed. They have heroic deaths, and I came away from the book having enjoyed it immensely.

So you can write a good book where all of the protagonists die in the end. It is more difficult to do well I think. But it is certainly doable.
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 01:01   #8 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

I picture something like the climax of "Saving Private Ryan". They're fighting and running to the "Alamo" but instead of the Deux ex machina, just have them all die. *spoilers* Y'know the part where Miller is shellshocked and just shooting his pistol at the tank? Well, have it end with that, the character is last seen heavily wounded, shellshocked, and still vacantly fighting.

Then pick it up on the next page as a "Later, when the Tau went through Taros to look for survivors..." or have something like "Shas'la T'au Blah, was shocked by his trail by fire. He was going through Taros and found a guela on the wall, pistol in hand..."

'm thinking that if you have him die like that, then somehow have someone, Tau or Imperial Guard, stumble upon the body of "Miller" and his unit.
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 03:16   #9 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

I have a radical ideal, end from the tau perspective.....

Wait don't chuck the tomatoes just yet hear me out. Glorious last stands have been overdone. You can make the end a questionable finale, perhaps the tau looking over the carnage observing the never dying loyalty of the Elysians to the emperor. Don't let the readers know your main character is dead, leave to their imagination what happened. Did he die, was he captured or perhaps he fled and is hiding out somewhere. It will leave them begging for more.

Just my two cents, but hey your the writer in the end go with your gut.
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Old 15 Dec 2007, 03:44   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: How do you like stories to end?

Well, I've always liked a good old fashioned tale of heroic sacrifice, where the hero dies, but achieves something great in death, something that will have their name remembered for ages to come. However, it may be a little overdone in the 40k setting.

I kind of like the sound of arcadiabulldog's suggestion as an alternative though. They don't have to have the stereotypical "return home to riches and be named king of their lands" to be heroes. Perhaps chronicle a bit of their dogged resistance, even while imprisoned, ending off with a final grand display of defiance which leaves the hero in a situation where he could be dead or could not be. You could decide on the fate of your hero and his companions yourself, but I think it would be a good idea to not reveal it, instead placing subtle hints in the wrap up of the story which like arcadiabulldog said, could be from the tau point of view.
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