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Old 9th August 2011, 10:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

I'm 1,090 words into a fantasy short story, and so far my protagonist, a military scout, has been captured by the enemy, who wants her to tell them where her army's camp is. My current plan is to have her lead them astray, possibly into some kind of trap where she can get her own soldiers to ambush them, but I feel that her plot has to backfire somehow in order for the story to be dramatically interesting; otherwise things would go on too easy for her. If you're a scout misleading the enemy into going the wrong direction, exactly what obstacles could get in your way?
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Old 9th August 2011, 10:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

um the thing that leaps out at me from your description is: how would she communicate with her own soldiers to tell them where to ambush the baddies?

You could probably get a fair amount of nice tension from her trying to, I don't know, hoot twice like a barn own and once like a screech owl to give a (series of) message(s) to her own side without exciting the bad guy's suspicions. Pretty dangerous for her, if he's a serious bad guy.

Also, her guys might have moved. So she might lead the enemy right on to them without meaning to.
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Old 9th August 2011, 10:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

They get attacked by the monster you introduced in chapter three. Then the scout escapes to rally her troops to counter attack the enemy base. Dramatic battle, final confrontation, badda bing, badda boom, the end.
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Old 9th August 2011, 11:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

The simplest thing is for them to not buy her story. Wherever she says her own crew is, they send a scout before sending the main body, and discover she's lying.

Perhaps it's too obvious that the narrow ravine she directs them to is a trap.
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Old 9th August 2011, 11:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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her guys might have moved. So she might lead the enemy right on to them without meaning to.

Sounds good to me
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Old 9th August 2011, 11:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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Originally Posted by Brandon Pilcher View Post
I'm 1,090 words into a fantasy short story, and so far my protagonist, a military scout, has been captured by the enemy, who wants her to tell them where her army's camp is. My current plan is to have her lead them astray, possibly into some kind of trap where she can get her own soldiers to ambush them, but I feel that her plot has to backfire somehow in order for the story to be dramatically interesting; otherwise things would go on too easy for her. If you're a scout misleading the enemy into going the wrong direction, exactly what obstacles could get in your way?
We need more information regarding the setting.

Interrogation of enemy scouts would rarely end in the enemy allowing her to lead them anywhere. Plus a suitable amount of persuasion would need to be introduced to get most people to betray their own.

So, You need to allow for some serious damage to be inflicted to the scout, or they wouldn't believe her.

The traditional method would be for her to vastly overstate the numbers of people required, leaving the enemy camp undermanned - say three or four to look after her. Then after a bit of feminine charms, that enable her to escape, and shes of on her toes back to her own side.

Naturally the baddies disbelieve her and are actually waiting for her to escape so she can lead them to the correct location etc.
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Old 9th August 2011, 11:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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We need more information regarding the setting.
It's a roughly Bronze Age setting (think ancient civilizations like Egypt and Nubia).

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The traditional method would be to vastly overstate the numbers of people required, leaving the enemy camp undermanned - say three or four to look after her. Then a bit of feminine charms enabling her to escape and shes of on her toes back to her own side.

Naturally the baddies disbelieve her and are actually waiting for her to escape so she can lead them to the correct location etc.
I like this idea. Thanks!
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

The question is , after extracting the information - false or true - wouldn't they just kill her?

How about there is a swamp or bog between the two armies, and that by sneaking through this supposedly impassable swamp they can blindside the enemy. She is needed to be kept alive so that she can show them the correct pathway through to the other side. Her intention is to lead them into the swamp then escape their clutches leaving them stranded in the middle , but something prevents her escaping.
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

I'd roast her over a slow fire to tell me everything she knew, cut her throat and then send scouts to verify what she told me.

If your scout has been captured, she wasn't a very good scout, and you should have a plan B in place for just this eventuality.

Sorry, I take it this is now a very short book.
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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I'd roast her over a slow fire to tell me everything she knew, cut her throat and then send scouts to verify what she told me.

If your scout has been captured, she wasn't a very good scout, and you should have a plan B in place for just this eventuality.

Sorry, I take it this is now a very short book.

You're the kind of person who would just shoot Bond instead of finding a fiendish way to finish him off,aren't you?
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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It's a roughly Bronze Age setting (think ancient civilizations like Egypt and Nubia).



I like this idea. Thanks!
There's oportunity for an interesting interplay between the girl and herself, she has to decidie just how much she needs to suffer before she thinks the torturer will accept that the pain was too much for her to stand; and is telling the truth.

Apparently in Rome, a few years back, a slaves testimony could only be accepted after s/he'd been tortured half to death. It was apparently thought that if they just volunteered information they would just lie to get back at the slave owners. The torture 'distracted' them, so it made it difficult to make stuff up and not be found out.
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:25 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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You're the kind of person who would just shoot Bond instead of finding a fiendish way to finish him off,aren't you?
Yes. Your point being... ?
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:54 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

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If your scout has been captured, she wasn't a very good scout, and you should have a plan B in place for just this eventuality.
I dunno, anyone could get ambushed and knocked unconscious (which is what happens to my scout).
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Old 10th August 2011, 08:41 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

I guess it depends on the intelligence of the captors, and how much the scout wants to live. I like the idea that she's 'allowed' to escape, and inadvertently leads the badguys back, but if she's really intelligent, she'll realise this and lead them astray. But if they're really intelligent, they'll know she knows and pretend to be led astray, while one (or two) cunningly hidden captors then follow her to the real camp... And are taken out by the scout's compatriots who are watching her return.
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Old 10th August 2011, 09:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Leading the enemy astray (plotting issue)

One thing springs to mind- how big are the armies? Anything more than 100 men is really easy to find. Cooking fires, noise, circling around and retro-tracking...it's very easy to find a large group of people in an all but silent natural setting. I'd have thought that finding the enemy's camp would actually be pretty easy. Perhaps they should be interrogating her more about strategy, who is in command (especially useful in civil war scenarios where many commanders may even be acquaintances), how many men, armaments, supply lines, whether mounted or on foot, etc. The actual location of your enemy is pretty easy (I'm assuming that, since she is a scout, the two armies are reasonably close).
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