Monthly Archives: August 2022

Using History as Inspiration

Many of the best sci-fi and fantasy writers find a way to work history into their works. J.R.R. Tolkien used his experiences in World War I to write The Lord of the Rings, George RR Martin has used the War of the Roses as inspiration for Game of Thrones, and the list goes on.

As someone with a lifelong passion for the American Civil War and the resulting drive to minor in History alongside my English major, I find a great amount of satisfaction in using history to inform my writing. Sometimes it’s a very obvious inspiration and often more of a feel or sense of history.

Such is the impact of the American Civil War, and to a lesser degree the American Revolution, on my Gunpowder Fantasy. One of the first major conflicts with muskets and rifles, the first ironclad battle and one of the first major conflicts where railroads played a part, the American Civil War has had an obvious impact.

The world of Zaria is in a similar position to our own in the 19th Century. Railroads and rifles are a recent innovation and no major wars have been fought since their development. But all of that changes throughout the different series ilve been working on.

The rapid redeployment of troops swings battles, as it did in the battle of First Bull Run/Manassas, rifling and the accuracy and distance that it imparts result in casualties unimaginable before and maybe ever the first clash of ironclads are all events in Zaria that draw heavily from my research and knowledge of history.

With so many wars and technological innovations in our world, if your story involved conflict there is likely some historical event or battle that you can draw inspiration from. So read up on your history and you might just find something useful!

The Soldiers of Andivar

The world of Zaria is full of different militaries and tactics.

In the nation of Andivar, these tactics have resulted in a refined structure to the army and different roles to fill.

Infantry divisions can be easily divided into three primary combat roles: Skirmishers, Grenadiers, Regulars.

As in our own world in the 18th and 19th centuries, Skirmishers are primarily scouting parties and sharpshooters. Trained to work in pairs, typically separate from the main body of the army, Skirmishers move out on the flanks and forward of the main body to find the enemy and harass them with accurate fire and guerilla tactics.

Skirmishers are not trained to stand and fight in line formation and do poorly when pressed into service in such a role.

Typically armed with the most accurate and advanced firearms available, Andivari Skirmishers go to battle with long rifles and, occasionally, new looking glass equipped rifles for farther, more accurate shots.

Nearly exactly the opposite of Skirmishers are the Grenadiers. Drawn from those of the biggest stock, Grenadiers are best equipped for urban and trench warfare. They are the bruisers of the army.

Andivari Grenadiers are typically armed with carbines, their shorter length being more manageable in tight quarters. Though they can also be provided standard issue rifles.

The real power of the Grenadiers comes in the form of the grenades they are trained to hurl great distances and to devastating effect.

Finally, the regulars. These line infantry are what you imagine when you think of the average American Civil War soldier. Trained to use their rifles in concert with the rest of their company, they are the prototypical cannon fodder of the Andivari army. Less trained than the specialists Grenadiers and Skirmishers, they are the direct descendants of the levies of more primative times.

Mobility and Knowledge is the creed of the Andivari Cavalry. Once relegated to those wealthy enough to furnish their own steeds, the modern Andivari cavalry is more diverse both in their makeup and tactics.

The Gendarme are the most obvious holdouts of the efforts to make the cavalry a more equal group. Mostly consisting of nobility, the Gendarme are the shock troopers of the Andivari cavalry.

Armed with sabres and revolvers, they are not equipped or trained to fight at distance. Rather they close the distance with the enemy quickly and crash into unprepared infantry or cavalry and wreak as much havoc as they are able.

Lancers are the counter to enemy cavalry. They are trained to charge enemy cavalry units in formation and use their lances to break up the enemy clusters. Also provided with revolvers, in case of a melee, they are not suited to charging fortified positions or prepared enemy lines.

Hussars are the skirmishes of the cavalry divisions. Armed with carbines and trained for hit and run attacks, the Hussars do not get bogged down in the melee, instead relying on their speed and flexibility to harass enemy flanks.

Finally, the dragons of the Andivari Cavalry are better labeled as mounted infantry. Trained in both mounted and foot combat, they are armed with long guns for fighting in foot and carbines for acting more like hussars.

Dragoons are largely used to ride out ahead of the main body, dismount and occupy a position long enough for regular infantry to arrive, then mount back up and move to the next advanced position. When it does come to a fight, they behave similarly to skirmishers in small group engagements and delaying actions against the enemy.

The Andivari Army has spent hundreds of years perfecting their tactics and every Marshal knows exactly how to use each element of their force to subdue the enemy and claim victory for their nation.

Personal Struggles

If you’re just finding this blog recently, you might notice a major gap on between my last couple of blog posts. Almost 3 years in fact.

Well, there’s a reason for that. Without going into too much detail, my life for the last few years has been a bit Topsy Turvy. But the creative spurt has finally returned and I should be posting more frequently as well as working on my world more.

I hope you stick around, check out my books and look for my future endeavors!

Academic Papers as Fantasy

An idea that I’ve had floating around in my congested writer’s head is the idea of using an academic paper as a means of telling stories and world building.

I already have several concepts running around for stories that I could tell with this form of writing but I have run into a couple of issues that I think that this type of writing would run into.

The first, and probably most daunting for me, is the fact that all of the primary and secondary source documentation that these essays would need to cite and use as arguments would have to be written first, which could be a dry and uninteresting process.

One solution for this would be to have someone else write the essays and ask for the primary and secondary sources from the world builder. This would introduce an element of surprise and would also prevent the world builder from slanting their source documents to fit the essay that they want to write.

Of course, this means gathering writers that you trust and like their writing style so that the stories are interesting and stay true to the concept.

Another problem I could see with this approach is that, without a narrative drive for the essay, it might be a bit boring to read and would really only be interesting for people deeply invested in the world you’re trying to write about. I think of this as the long form reddit posts that people write about fan theories. For those invested in the fandom, these essays can be intensely interesting but for those on the outside they’re fairly boring.

I think that overall this is an endgame type of concept, most suitable for once you’ve completed, or nearly completed, the narrative arcs that you’ve set out and are trying to fill out the concepts and ideas that you’ve explored in your books.

So, for now, these ideas will remain on the back burner. But I’d love to hear if anyone would find these interesting, ways to keep readers and invested and other ways to bring this concept to market.