I got really good answers to my last question, so I decided to post a new one:)

In my novel, a few humans suddenly find themselves tasked with defending humanity against an imminent alien invasion. In all the other similar sci-fi novels and movies I can think of, it is taken for granted that as soon as an alien invasion occurs the heroes take up arms and rush to defend Earth. But how would they feel? Enthusiasm, since they are going to save humanity? Fear at being tasked with such enormous task? Anxiety? Doubt? All of the above? what is their motivation? is it simply defending humanity?

I actually have some ideas, but I want to hear yours:)

Thank you all in advance for your feedback:)

  • i just rephrased the question to make it clear i am not asking about what to write or how to rephrase a passage. also, i have already got one very good answer:) – Sean Robins Sep 25 '18 at 5:47
  • Hi, Sean. IMO, asking for us to give you ideas - whether it's plot ideas or character motivation ideas - still comes under asking what you should write. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Sep 27 '18 at 3:31
  • hi. it's ok:) i found another writing forum where people freely share ideas and they do not block each other's questions, so i won't be posting here any longer. tnx anyways:) – Sean Robins Sep 27 '18 at 10:58

I should think most fighters are not defending "humanity" in general, they are fighting on behalf of the people they know and the way of life they think can be salvaged.

Your emotions and values are tied up in other people; the residents of your village, home town, neighborhood. The people you see in your day to day life. When you go to war, those are the people you imagine saving, and those that were lost are the people you imagine exacting vengeance for. Along with the people that fight beside you, your fellow warriors.

If there is a predominant emotion in war, I think it is "resolute determination", portrayed pretty well in "Saving Private Ryan". Fear cannot be sustained for a long time, you may feel fear in a fire fight, but you return to the baseline state of "We're doing this, even if we die, to secure a future for those we love."

I love my family and my town, the babies, the kids, the insufferable high schoolers that know it all while knowing nearly nothing, the young women, the young mothers, the old mothers, the shopkeepers, the elderly bridge players telling each other the same endless stories for decades, I love them and that's why I fight. I love them more than my own life, and I will give it up if that is the only way to give them a chance against being slaughtered or enslaved.

IMO it isn't the excitement, or dreams of being a conquering hero, it is about preventing terror and horror (or any more terror and horror) from being inflicted upon the people you love, in particular those that you know have no chance of defending themselves if you do not succeed. Incidentally, that might save "humanity", a nice bonus, but that is not the main attraction.

  • well said. i personally did make the mistake of only thinking in terms of "saving humanity". – Sean Robins Sep 24 '18 at 17:03
  • @SeanRobins You can use that. have somebody make the same mistake. Richard says, "I guess we're saving humanity." Pauli says, "You do that. I'm saving Susan Devona." Richard: "Who is that?" Pauli: "My sister's kid. She's six. I want her to be sixteen, and fall in love, and have a real life. If I have to die making that happen, I'm alright." Richard thought about it. "You know, damn straight. Screw humanity, I'm fighting to save Rachel. My little cousin." Pauli laughed. "There you go! How old is Rachel?" – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Sep 24 '18 at 19:46
  • tnx. this dialogue looks great! with your permission, i will use something similar in my novel. – Sean Robins Sep 25 '18 at 5:33
  • @SeanRobins Sure, I wouldn't have wrote it otherwise. But take note, anybody else reading this could use something similar as well. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Sep 25 '18 at 10:54
  • noted. thank u:) i didn't copy it verbatim, just used the idea to write a dialog for my own characters. this was super helpful. – Sean Robins Sep 25 '18 at 11:04

So you've not seen the first Independence Day then? The vast majority of people simply run for their lives, they don't try to fight, ditto the more recent Battleship, War of the Worlds and Battle Los Angeles. In fact I can't think of an invasion scenario, alien or earthly, in which the vast majority of people didn't take a duck and cover approach to the situation for just as long as they possibly could.

Stories about large scale conflict tend to focus on the "interesting people", those who are willing to fight and do get involved in the situation of their own free will. For an interesting counterpoint to this I suggest Krystyna's Story which follows a girl who would have liked nothing more than to have stayed out of World War Two but was caught up in the forced deportation by soviet forces of the majority of the population of Eastern Poland. Narratives from the point of view of people who run and hide are hard to write, I refer you to Terry Pratchett's reasons why there aren't more Rinchwind novels, because the story necessarily avoids the events that usually drive the narrative forward.

As to what the characters you choose to focus on feel under the weight of the task you're giving them? That's a story element that you have to work out based on their background and the exact situation you're putting them in, the answer will never be exactly the same for two given characters or two given sets of circumstances.

  • I misspoke:( I meant it is taken for granted that the heroes of the story rush to fight, but their motivation and feelings are rather unclear. Three of the movies you have mentioned are really good examples. Not War if the Worlds though, since it is mostly a survival story. – Sean Robins Sep 24 '18 at 16:23
  • As the author those feelings are something that you need to work out yourself, realistically they should be based on your characters' backgrounds and current circumstances. – Ash Sep 24 '18 at 16:53
  • You are right, of course. Have a look at the other comment i have received though :) – Sean Robins Sep 24 '18 at 17:05
  • Why? It has no bearing on my answer. – Ash Sep 24 '18 at 17:06
  • maybe not, but it does answer my question. – Sean Robins Sep 24 '18 at 17:08

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