So, today is Veterans’ Day, which brings thoughts of the military, which brings thoughts of war. Both have been around forever, it seems, and have touched virtually everyone’s life either directly or indirectly—which means one or both are likely to have touched the lives of your characters.
Should you find yourself writing a scene dealing with the military, war, and/or their direct or indirect effects on characters and plot, get it right! So many of your potential readers know the details that if you get it wrong, you will immediately lose all credibility.
Fortunately there are a number of resources available to assist you. My personal bookshelves are not comprehensive, but here are a few examples of what’s out there. Note the broad range of detail and focus, from the battlefield to the home front.
You can find resources for any war of interest, as well as any branch of any military, worldwide. My own interests tend toward the effects of war on individuals.
You can also focus on a subset of action and response.
Regardless of any other choices you make, you will surely need authentic language, whether for dialogue or narrative. And therefore, I highly recommend a good dictionary.
Takeaway for Writers: Yes, you must have engaging characters, tension, lots at stake, and action moving forward, but if you get the factual details wrong, you’ll lose your reader! Get it right with war and the military.