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Thread: Fiction set during the war

  1. #1
    One Too Many zaika's Avatar
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    Fiction set during the war

    Hello everyone. I'm sorry if this isn't the right place to ask this, so if bartenders move this...I won't be offended.

    Okay...here it is.

    I wrote a novel when I was 13 that was set during WWII. It was a fairly fantastical novel with the 16 year old heroine following her brother and her boyfriend to England using assault and identity theft to take on the appearance of an Army nurse. She eventually dresses up as a man to replace a gunner on her boyfriend's B-17, gets shot down over Germany, is captured, escapes, and makes it back to England safe and sound. It's hysterical, but surprisingly factual.

    Anyway, since then, I've been trying to rewrite this story into a believable sort of coming of age story that does involve a bit of romance and a bit of war. It sounds a bit vapid and cliche as I'm presenting this to you, but the story is close to my heart and I really feel as though I need to write it.

    I'm slowly realizing, as I go back to fact check, that I know next to nothing about the war, the politics involved in the war, the national attitude towards the war before and after Pearl Harbor, or the way life was lead. No idea.

    So...my question is...how does one approach such a...HUGE subject and dissect it enough to write a thoughtful story about people living this experience? Even though I'm deeply involved with these characters...I'm not sure I can write the story unless I can get it right. How does one present the essence of a life lived during a time that consumed your daily habits? Respectfully guess?

    Any suggestions/encouragement/ideas would be GREATLY appreciated. Names of books, websites, people...anything.
    I'm the nicest gorram dame that ever lived.

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    I'll Lock Up dhermann1's Avatar
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    I just finished a book that could give you interesting backstory. It's called "Two O'Clock Eastern War Time", by John Dunning. Another book set in that time is "The Dollmaker" by Harriette Arnow. It's also set during the war, but stateside. For an understanding of the war from a soldier's point of view, start with Steven Ambrose.
    "Hello. I'm Mr. Hardy, and this is my friend, Mr. Laurel."

  3. #3
    I'll Lock Up carter's Avatar
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    This website has a good overview of the Army Nurse Corps before and during WWII. There is more recommended reading at the end.

    http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/72-14/72-14.htm

    This website, "Diary of a B-17 Ball Turret Gunner", is a good place to start for the B-17 Gunner. There are many good links at the end and the book can be purchased on Amazon.com.

    http://www.cloudnet.com/~jfb/

    The Doctor and the Damned by Albert Haas, MD (Haas was a member of the French Resistance and a survivor of the concentration camps.)

    Fighting the Nazis by Col. Paul Paile (not laugh out loud but spelled el-oh-el)

    Soldiers of the Night, The Story of the French Resistance by David Schoenbrun

    Are all good books about the French Resistance.

    These are good places to start. They'll either provide the color you need or lead you to other sources.

    Keep writing.
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    One Too Many zaika's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your suggestions. I really appreciate it. All of these books sound so interesting that I can't wait to get my hands on them!
    I'm the nicest gorram dame that ever lived.

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    Practically Family sweetfrancaise's Avatar
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    Talking A few questions for you...

    Hi!

    I'm brand new to these forums (this is my first post)--I'm writing a novel (set partially during WWII in France) myself, so I was happy to see another person out there with similar questions as I do!

    Anyway, my first question for you was whether you had decided on what age group you're aiming at, since you have a sixteen-year-old heroine, will the story be geared towards young adults?

    Also, where is the largest chunk of the story going to be played out (England, the U.S., army bases)? That will narrow the field quite a bit for you, regarding reading/viewing material. I can't help with tactical stuff, it's not really my arena, but any cultural reference I may be able to find something. Let me know what I can help you with!
    I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.

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  6. #6
    One Too Many zaika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetfrancaise
    Hi!

    I'm brand new to these forums (this is my first post)--I'm writing a novel (set partially during WWII in France) myself, so I was happy to see another person out there with similar questions as I do!

    Anyway, my first question for you was whether you had decided on what age group you're aiming at, since you have a sixteen-year-old heroine, will the story be geared towards young adults?

    Also, where is the largest chunk of the story going to be played out (England, the U.S., army bases)? That will narrow the field quite a bit for you, regarding reading/viewing material. I can't help with tactical stuff, it's not really my arena, but any cultural reference I may be able to find something. Let me know what I can help you with!
    Hi! And welcome to a fellow writer!

    Well...my hope is to make this more of a coming of age story...coming of age during a war. So, I want to target a slightly older audience. Maybe late twenties/early thirties? I'm afraid, though, that my intellect may not be able to produce anything that sophisticated. But we shall see. I just want to show how hard it must have been for young people to grow up in a Depression just to be pushed into a war.

    In my original story (the version I wrote when 13), most of it occured abroad in England and then in Germany. However, as I attempt to re-write it, I'm finding that the first third will be set in the States the second third abroad and the final third...probably back in the states...but definately after the war is over.

    Some of the obstacles I've run into have to do with things like economic standing of the 'middle class' in 1940. Was there a middle class? Were things looking up for the average family? Or were they still knee deep in the Depression? I should know this stuff...but my mind just comes up with songs, cars, and warplanes. Also...how did they really feel about the war in Europe? Was there a common feeling amongst the masses they the US should be involved with the war? I sort of want to have my main character be totally self involved, and not care too much about the war until it starts to affect her...so then we can see her change. But if everyone was feeling the pressure...maybe I should take a different approach.

    Perhaps if I posted what I have...then the editorial buzzards can pick away at it? Although...I'm a bit shy about it. Maybe via PM?

    And would you consider sharing some of your work? If not, I completely understand.
    I'm the nicest gorram dame that ever lived.

  7. #7
    Practically Family sweetfrancaise's Avatar
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    Talking

    I'd love to share writing with you--a new pair of eyes are always welcome, expecially since what I'm doing now will also be my thesis for college.

    Anyway, as for resources regarding middle class America: the movies Radio Days and Swing Shift will be helpful, but you may have seen them already. Yanks is a good resource too, since it shows the reaction of the English to the incoming, brash newcomers. As for books, you may want to take a look at Keep Smiling Through, a book by Ann Rinaldi that is geared towards teens, but concentrates on the middle class--it doesn't have amazing writing, but it gets the picture across .

    I suppose the main thing to keep in mind is that these kids didn't know a reality that didn't involve sacrifice. The Depression didn't relieve itself until the war created jobs, so it seems to me that the biggest hurdle to overcome would be losing all of the men at home to the cause.

    I'm so glad to find another person with similar interests! PM me if you like, we'll exchange some work!
    I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.

    Quite Contrarian

  8. #8
    I'll Lock Up Diamondback's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaika
    Perhaps if I posted what I have...then the editorial buzzards can pick away at it? Although...I'm a bit shy about it. Maybe via PM?
    Please excuse me for butting in, but on the college paper I was considered to be a "stealth member"* of the editorial staff, and would be willing to pitch in backup on the usual "typo-screening/grammar last-minute cleanup issues" if you're willing to have me fill that role.

    *I was only on the payroll as a "reporter", but the last step on the prep-for-printing checklist was sending a copy over to me to mark up with last-minute changes to correct the standard spelling, grammar, punctuation issues.
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  9. #9
    One Too Many zaika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetfrancaise
    I'm so glad to find another person with similar interests! PM me if you like, we'll exchange some work!
    Oh my gosh...I am too!! I will love nothing more than to exchange work. Thank you for all your suggestions! I can feel the rush of excitement that I used to feel as a kid with all these possibilities before me!! I hesitate to say it...but I'm a little bouncy right now. !!

    DiamondBack - Since my grammar and what not can be horrible, I would love to have your assistance. But...it might not be for awhile. I'll want to polish my work as much as I can on my own before letting a buzzard...oh, I mean editor see my work.
    I'm the nicest gorram dame that ever lived.

  10. #10
    I'll Lock Up Diamondback's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaika
    Since my grammar and what not can be horrible, I would love to have your assistance. But...it might not be for awhile. I'll want to polish my work as much as I can on my own before letting a buzzard...oh, I mean editor see my work.
    I hear ya on timing--I've got several research projects and some collectibles-brokering deals to close myself, so a wait's probably a good thing.

    "Buzzard"? Young lady , I'll have you know that we crotalidae do our own "dirty work" rather than picking over others' leavings...
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