I’m working on a scene in the next book in my GALCOM series (the first is Crying Planet, coming out this month). The main character is a civilian contractor recruited by the military because she can see ghosts. So she is serving on this big spaceship, the only civilian there.
And the subject of orders comes up. Most of everyone’s experience with orders is probably seeing Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation bark, “And that’s an order!” (or probably any movie with military officers), or soldiers answering “Yes, sir” like robots to a command they are told.
It is a such a different experience in the military from the civilian. If I got a cold, I can call my boss and tell him I’m not coming in because I’m sick (and he would probably be happy that I wasn’t there to give it to him). But when I was in the military, my only option was to go to Sick Call. If the doctor, or more likely medic for a cold, said I was fine, he would tell me to return to duty. If I was really sick, like with a virus, they might give me “quarters,” which are orders from a doctor that say “Stay in bed for 24 hours.”
But it does look strange to the civilian because they have the choice of deciding while the military does not.
It’s all in the military mission. We train with the expectation of going to war. That’s the daily life of the military. War is where orders become very important. Orders work hand in hand with the chain of command (that’s the officers) and the NCO Support Channel (that’s the sergeants). They will be in communication with other companies and battalions to know what’s going on. For example, they might know that artillery is going to be fired in a particular area and to keep soldiers out of that area. Obviously, me as the lower enlisted, am not going to know anything about that. Nor would I need to.
Because the leadership has this additional knowledge though, they are the ones who give us the orders. And if something goes wrong, they are also the ones who will give us new orders.
War situations cannot ever have a too many chief problem.
It’s chaotic and stressful to start with, so it needs one unified voice, and that’s how orders fit in.
This morning, we have rain, and it will be turning into sleet and snow later in the day. Kind of wimpy rain, considering what it’s supposed to turn into. Anything ice strikes terror in Washington, DC. because we’re such a commuter town.
By the way, Wednesday it was 72 (no, that’s not a typo). Any bets on what it will be like on January 20?
All the hotels are booked way out to Quantico at least, which is about 30 miles (and probably a 2 hour drive to downtown during rush hour). I was trying to help someone book a hotel, and nothing was available. I told her to start calling around because there might be cancellations, so hopefully she gets a room and not too far away.
New Things in Writing
This week, David Farland had three tips on writing on the senses, which is an advance level skill. Part 3 talked around something I hadn’t thought about: Light.
Non-appeals. The worst kind of non-appeal occurs when you simply neglect to show us something. For example, let’s say that you start a story and your character goes outside his house. You as a writer might imagine that it is dark, but you’ve never told the reader that it is night time. So when your character gets mugged and can’t describe his attacker, the reader might be confused. (This happens quite often in stories. Always let us know what the light source is in every scene.)
So something new to play with in the story!