16 April 2016 - 11:10 am

Mental Battlefields: Challenge #1

Let’s not jump right into the heart of the storm, not right away. Let’s explore our players first.

Somewhere near your battlefield, two forces are gathering: top dog and underdog. You should give them proper names. They’re moving into position and preparing for the fight to come.

Both sides are waiting. It might be for those last supplies or troops to arrive. It could be for orders from distant brass. It could be a signal to coordinate the attack. It might be an event outside of their control, like a break in the weather or the alignment of two certain stars. Whatever their reasons, both sides are currently in a state of suspension. Waiting. Preparing. Trying to second-guess what their enemy is doing or waiting for. Hoping that whatever they’re waiting for gets there before the enemy makes their move.

Go to the underdog camp. Think about the makeup of the camp: is it an actual camp, or a disparate gathering of forces, or a group of ships grouped loosely in the dark? Have they been dug in here a while, or just arrived? Are they still in transit to the battlefield?

What’s the tone of the camp? In the last hours of their wait, what’s the prevailing mood? Excitement, dread, determination? What are people doing? Are they ready, resting, or running about in a scramble to prepare for the battle of their lives?

Think about what the average soldier might be doing. Then move up the chain of command until you reach the person in charge of this group. He or she is probably not the ultimate leader of this side of the war – though they might be – but they are definitely the conduit to whomever is in control of the underdog side.

What’s it like in the commander’s presence? Is it the same as everywhere else in the camp, or is there a different prevailing mode? Is the difference subtle or stark?

Consider who this commander is. Give him or her a name and a title. How did he or she rise to this position? Is this what they always wanted, or a path that life has thrown them on? How competent are they as a commander? How are they viewed by their troops? Have they proven themselves in battle already or do they still have something to prove? Who have they been proving things to? Themselves, someone personal, their troops, their superiors?

What is the commander waiting for, and how optimistic are they feeling? How are they using these last few hours before the hammer drops?

Your first challenge is to write a moment in this commander’s last few hours before the battle. Not the end of the wait, but during. Tell us who this person is, tell us what they’re doing, and maybe, what they’re hoping to do. Show us a glimpse of an underdog girding itself for battle.

Challenge #1: The Top Top Dog

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