Synopsis is bad
I picked up my 18000 word monster and tacked on another 1000 words. See, I was stuck in this scene where it was an expository thing – we need to find out what the priest knows. I took Dave Koster’s advice and cut out the introductions. He’s right. You don’t want to read a synopsis again and again. We are all reading over your shoulder, so we know this stuff, yadda yadda. Cut to the chase. There are any number of books where I have this problem – I was thinking the starship mage series, the first book, was written in serialized chunks, then the author tacked the whole thing together without a re-write. Therefore, you get a synopsis of what’s gone on before every 3 chapters, and it’s annoying. I learned to skim/skip those. The book would be far tighter if we could dump those 2 pages of summary happening throughout the book. Keep the serialized pieces as is, but the stitched together version demands an edit. It won’t hurt anyone if you cut 4000 words of unnecessary explanation out.
Military radio communications
It’s been a while since the hospital rescue, which may need rewriting. I read through it again and while the radio stuff is pretty solid, I think, it gives things a chaotic view, especially if you’re not familiar with military radios. Then again, I’m assuming most readers will be familiar with military radios or some variant of it and will be able to follow all that. Coms are the way that infantry communicate with each other if they’re in all these large suits. You can’t yell to your buddy as easily (like “Left doorway!”), and if you have a fluid system to make the communications easy (to squad, to individual, to your immediate superior in chain of command) then it makes sense to use that. Anyone familiar with using multiple nets to communicate knows the difficulty in keeping them straight– don’t make the wrong radio call to the wrong recipient.
And coms that aren’t policed for uniformity in transmissions are also chaos. If you work with someone long enough, you get to know their voice and they don’t have to identify themselves on every radio transmission. You know their voice, their stupid accent, their favorite expletives they use when something doesn’t go right. So that’s a tactical squad net, you aren’t as formal. When you start speaking to the chain of command, however, those guys higher up might not know your voice, or accent, or stupid expletives. So the superior guy needs to hear the broadcaster’s designation. I chose to go with the squad designations in a platoon – alpha, bravo, charlie, delta. Each of those is 9 men, which is two fireteams of 4 plus the annoying squad leader. Each fireteam is broken down further into the fireteam leader (FTL), the assistant fireteam leader, a machine gunner and a loader, or the sci fi version of this. The two fireteams are further designated as alpha and bravo. The radio call sign for the alpha fireteam leader is alpha-alpha-one. Bravo fireteam leader is bravo-alpha-one or just alpha 5–it’s interchangeable. The squad leader is alpha 9.
Chain of Command (COC)
And the chain of command is pretty important. If your immediate superior dies, the next senior person takes their place. In the real world military, you’re supposed to know the roles/mission of the people you supervise, your own role/mission, and the role/mission of your immediate superior. Thus, if a colonel gets killed, a captain steps in and takes over to further the mission.
This pecking order descends to the junior-most guy, the new guy on the fireteam. If his three fireteam members are dead, he’s in charge of his fireteam, at least until his squad leader re-assigns him. Is it reasonable to assume that alpha 4 is going to know how to perform the fireteamleader role? Not really. It still happens in real life and sometimes unlikely guys turn out to do amazing things on their own initiative.
I think I’m going to tension the next scene by having an inconvenient conversation, where Father O’Hara and Yuen are finally going to have the conversation they should have had long ago, and right when Yuen knows there are people with guns who are going to come any minute now. Stuff like that makes my teeth itch. It’s a mean writer trick. People really do decide to have important conversations at bad times, oblivious to the danger. “Just go!” the reader squeals. “Talk about it later. Go!”