I figure readers want a gripping story with a driving narrative. They want viewpoint characters with whom they can empathise and, ideally, care about. If readers start caring about your characters, they want to know what happens to those characters next. In a war story, that's all about who lives and who dies, the price of victory and the cost of failure. But you've got to keep it personal, keep it tight and taut. Hell, the first Star Wars film [the first released, that is - let's not talk about the prequels, okay?] is the story of a galactic rebellion, but essentially it's the story of a farmboy trying to figure out what to do with his life. All of us have wondered sometimes what we're doing with our lives, what is our purpose, right?
So that's the question I'm trying to keep at the front of my mind today. What are my characters trying to achieve, what are their goals and what are the obstacles to those goals? Two quotes stayed with me from all the material I watched and read yesterday. The first was a four word credo about fighting in the Pacific: "Survive. Win. Get home." The second was a short poem by an unknown US Marine:
When he gets to Heaven
To Saint Peter he'll tell
Another Marine reporting, sir,
I've served my time in Hell.