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Fiction set during the war

Discussion in 'WWII' started by zaika, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. zaika

    zaika One Too Many

    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. lol

    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. lol lol lol 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.
  2. 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.
  3. carter

    carter I'll Lock Up

    This website has a good overview of the Army Nurse Corps before and during WWII. There is more recommended reading at the end.


    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.


    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 Paillole (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. :)
  4. zaika

    zaika One Too Many

    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! :D
  5. A few questions for you...


    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! :eusa_clap

    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!
  6. zaika

    zaika One Too Many

    Hi! And welcome to a fellow writer! :D

    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. lol 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? lol 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. :)
  7. 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. :D

    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!
  8. 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.
  9. zaika

    zaika One Too Many

    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!! :D I hesitate to say it...but I'm a little bouncy right now. lol !!

    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. lol
  10. 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...
  11. leaette

    leaette A-List Customer

    a book i highly recommend for getting a sense of what it was like for women who were left behind to tend the fires..... "since you went away". it's all letters written by women. i've read it several times. you can get it on amazon.com

    but there is NO easy way to study ww2 in a hurry. i've been a ww2 amateur historian for 7 years and i learn something new every time i pick a new book up.
  12. zaika

    zaika One Too Many

    That sounds like an amazing book. I can't wait to read it! I always love reading people's letters. :)

    Yeah...I spent about four years of my youth doing WWII research and I barely scratched the surface. I hope I can at least get enough facts into my work so it will be a correct interpretation or whatever.

    hahaha. lol lol
  13. What's funny? I'll bet that at heart, you're a whole lot younger than I am--Mac had a quote about this...
  14. zaika

    zaika One Too Many

    i'm a twelve year old in a thirty year old body. except when it counts...like keeping a job, paying bills, and things like that. of course
  15. And with me being "old and weary" beyond my meager years, your comment further amplifies the effect I referred to--but this is turning into a highball to Offtopicville...:eek: lol
  16. Story

    Story I'll Lock Up

    Some interesting comments made by an author


    For all her background knowledge, historical analysis and the obvious contemporary parallels, Kennedy doesn't press Alfred Day and the rest of his Lancaster crew into the service of any didactic message. Day's ways are not hers: he doesn't moralise about the destruction his crew is wreaking on the ground below them, he himself is violent, damaged, vengeful, even as he looks for love to heal him.

    If I've a criticism of Day, it's that sacrificial patriotism - of the kind that was abundant in 1940 when this country's very existence was at stake - is never shown as any kind of motivation. "But when you read people's diaries," she counters, "the number of people who were parroting the government line was ... nil, actually! People were a lot more canny and complicated than that. In any case, he was joining up in 1942-3, past the point where he might have felt like that."
  17. Twitch

    Twitch My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Know what? Best thing you could do is actually interview people in their 80s. Believe me it is the only way you will get past the jaundiced view we have imagining we know what the times were like and what people were thinking. Ask the actual people what they were thinking and feeling!

    You will find what the actual participants felt and thought instead of reading revisionist tripe written 60 years later damning the US for nuking Japan or placing oil embargos on her. You'll get the straight feelings of why the US was full of pacifists and isolationists AND the new feelings after Pearl Harbor of "we can do anything to win!"
  18. Story

    Story I'll Lock Up

    Author delves into family ancestry for WWII fiction


    It started as a creative writing assignment and ended with the new book, “Someone Named Eva.”

    Joan M. Wolf, a Rapid City native, uses the factual Lebensborn Nazi camps as the setting for her fictional tale of a young Czech girl torn from her family during World War II and given a new identity.

    Wolf, who teaches third and fourth grade in Minneapolis, first decided to write about this piece of WWII history while studying for her master’s degree.

    When her creative writing professor requested a historical profile, Wolf looked to her mother’s Czechoslovakian ancestry, basing her story on the Czech town of Lidice.

    During WWII, Hitler’s SS police chief, Reinherd Heydrich, brutally ruled Czechoslovakia. When he was assassinated by the country’s resistance movement, Hitler incorrectly linked the mostly Catholic town of Lidice to the act.

    In retaliation, Nazis killed all of the Lidice men, placed the women in concentration camps and abducted all children who fit the blond/blue-eyed ideal of an Aryan. The blond children were placed in Lebensborn camps, indoctrinated into Nazi culture and eventually given to Nazi families. An estimated 10,000 children were abducted and placed in Lebensborn camps during WWII.

    The remaining 82 Lidice children were gassed to death, Wolf said.

    Nazis also razed the buildings of Lidice and removed the town from maps and references.

    Wolf says she has always been fascinated by stories within larger stories, and this WWII tale captivated her. She wrote her master’s thesis on the topic, and later, after publishing four school workbooks, turned the Lebensborn tale into a children’s historical fiction novel.
  19. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Memoirs and autobiographies are great resources, too. One of the most powerful books on WW2 I ever read was a memoir called A Woman in Berlin. The author is anonymous, but the book is compiled from her diary entries from the end of the war when Berlin was conquered. I couldn't put it down. Amazing story.
  20. Story

    Story I'll Lock Up

    Comedienne wins prestigious literary award for WWII novel
    1 day ago

    LONDON (AFP) — Alison Louise Kennedy was awarded one of Britain's most prestigious literary awards on Tuesday for "Day", a novel about a World War II veteran coming to terms with his past.

    The 42-year-old comedienne's fifth novel garnered the 2007 Costa Book of the Year award and the accompanying 25,000-pound (33,600-euro, 49,000-dollar) prize after judges described it as "a masterpiece" which reminded them of the late Irish author James Joyce.

    Kennedy's book, the eighth novel to win the prize since the competition began in 1985, tells the story of World War II veteran Alfred who, while playing an extra in a prisoner of war film, confronts his own personal past.


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