Figuring out the point of view for this chapter was a tricky one. It could have been told effectively from multiple viewpoints: Pienya could have shown what it was like outside the walls as the bombs went off; Lief could have shown the horror of his city being assaulted; Michels would have provided an alternative angle – I could even have gone with an unnamed soldier, down in the streets or on the wall. Instead, I opted to go back to Stryke, as he’s someone we’re familiar with, which helps anchor the chapter and ensures there’s character weaved through it, even while all the epic battle stuff is beginning to unfold.
Telling the story from a character inside the walls also provided an opportunity to reinforce the layout of Bruckin, reminding readers how the city is structured. There’s a lot of seeding going on in this chapter.
Sticking with Stryke, and staying within the walls, also helps to start fostering a real sense of siege. I’m thinking back to Assault on Precinct 13 again, and having that desperate need to hold the line for as long as you can, even if you’re not sure what’s going to happen in the end. Don’t be surprised if the narrative POV stays locked inside the walls for a while.
We get the pay-off of the chapter ‘Hidden consequences’, as Michels and his guerilla crew use their skills and knowledge in a way they never anticipated. This is an element that was never explicitly planned: I always knew there would be a battle for Bruckin around this part of the story, but Michels was a supporting character that was never in the original plot outline. He was created entirely to enable Pienya and Stryke’s adventures in Bruckin back in Arc 4. As with so many elements, though, he now becomes far more useful and interesting to the story, and having had him established waaaaaay back helps to give his actions here more resonance, rather than just coming out of nowhere.
It’s rather fun coming up with fictional tactics for a fictional battle, set in a fictional city. The aim is for it to all feel like it makes sense. There was going to be more in this chapter but I basically ran out of words: the chapter is already 2,409 words long, when I tend to aim for around 1,200. We’ll see more in the coming chapters.
Oh, and on that chapter title: it’s meant to be foreboding, and misleading. Specifically, as the scale of the Bruckin battle continues to escalate, I want readers to be thinking; wait a minute, this is the ‘precursor’ to something else??