All of my books (at least so far) revolve around wars, rumors of wars, and the aftermath of a war. But I write science fiction and that genre is fraught with fighting.
But sometimes I run low on ideas of just what I should have in my books. There are so many things that can happen on a battlefield or even behind friendly lines, but those can be hard to come up with on the spot. To help other authors (and possibly my future self), I’ve compiled a list of story prompts/scene prompts for books that have some action on the frontlines of a war!
Here’s your list of story ideas!
- The sky is falling. Or, at least you with it was. What is actually falling is a torrent of missiles and mortars like you’ve never seen. You haven’t left your bunker for a week and a half. You’re certain that the enemy is going to stop shelling you eventually–they couldn’t possibly continue on like this.
- You’re protecting some ancient ruin in the desert of some country you didn’t know existed until recently. Terrorists are going around destroying old buildings in order to cleanse history to their liking. You’ve been informed that the terrorist’s next target is the sad pile of stones you’re protecting.
- You’re hunched in a shallow ditch that took you easily an hour to dig. You would have dug deeper, but the roots of all the trees were too much to cut through. Rather than dig in too far, most of the people in your platoon opted to hide behind trees. The sound of tanks and aircraft overhead echo through the dense tree canopy. The briefing you received said that this was going to be the largest-scale fight of the war.
- Having fought your way to the city center, you’ve been tasked with keeping in. You were told up front that this mission was a simple smash and grab and that you’d be out before the hostiles knew what hit them. Instead, the target you were supposed to capture is locked away in a panic room and some of your people are trying to get in. The sun is now rising and you can hear the sounds of enemy armored vehicles nearing your position.
- You’ve never considered yourself an avid pilot, you simply thought you were good enough to get by. Knowing you weren’t the best, you prayed every day that you wouldn’t have to see combat. Your prayers were not answered. You’re now in the first wave of fighters going over the enemy’s mainland in a daredevil charge that’s supposed to give the enemy’s morale a black eye,
- The horizon is as red as a sunrise before bad weather. Problem is, it’s nighttime. That red in the distance is a city that’s burning. It’s the city that you were supposed to defend. Now you’re retreating with the remaining members of the force assigned to hold the city. You’re cut off from your escape route and you’re retreating further into enemy territory hoping–praying–that they won’t notice you and that you might find a way back to friendly lines.
- You were assigned one of the most peaceful posts on the front–a flower farm. The countryside looked like it hadn’t ever seen war. As you relish in the simplicity of your task, your eyes lock on to a line of black armored vehicles heading your way. They’re not friendlies.
- Armed with a heavy machine gun and enough ammo to win a zombie apocalypse, you always thought you were safe. Then the rioting started around the embassy you are guarding. They’re burning your flag and effigies of you and everyone else in the compound. The gates are holding for now, but you aren’t sure how much longer they’ve got. The nearest chopper is fifteen minutes out and there’s only enough room for ten people per trip. There are one hundred and eighteen people in the embassy that need evacuated.
- You always heard of home field advantage, but you never thought it applied to war. Having waged a guerilla war for the last eight months, you realize that there’s no better advantage than knowing the land that you’re fighting for. Today, you’re going to take advantage of the abandoned tunnels beneath your city in order to strike at the beating heart of the occupying enemy force.
- You are a soldier who is getting ready to hit the hay after a long day of patrolling the desolate hills around the forward air strip you’ve called home for the last month. Just before you step into your barracks, an explosion goes off along the outer wire. Your base it under attack.
- You are riding on top of an armored vehicle that is following a column of refugees. Three other trucks are heading up the front and you’re the only one at the rear. The trucks in front are suddenly consumed in a massive explosion that knows you off the truck you were on. A moment later, your truck explodes as well. Then the gunfire starts in earnest. Struggling to your feet, you have one thing on your mind: Protect the refugees.
- Your commander knew it months in advance, somehow. He knew that the enemy would choose this mountain pass as their way toward the heart of your homeland. Luckily, you dug in deep and you’ve got the weapons to hold them off. Maybe. As a line of tanks and helicopters begin advancing, you can’t help but feel as scared as you were excited. This moment could just decide the war.
- You walk aimlessly through the woods around a factory that you were told was important. You weren’t so sure, but you knew your job. So did everyone on your team. Wandering off the path you usually took, you begin poking around in the brush for no particular reason as your patrol files past you. Then there’s an explosion. Turning, you see that one of your people stepped on a landmine. There hadn’t been a mine there the day before. Seconds later, the shooting starts.
- “I need an air strike!” your commander shouts into the radio of the fallen radio specialist. You watch the man as the news comes through that there aren’t any birds to spare. It seems that you will have to fight your way out of this one, even though you are certain that you are severely outnumbered. Hopefully you can hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive.
- You have lived in the same fort for a month and have heard fighting throughout every day and night. But that fight never came all the way to you. Not until today, at least. Now every gun that you had is firing, one guy is even using the flare guns to shoot at hostiles. You’re running low on ammo and there’s no end in sight of the horde of soldiers coming straight for you.
- You were tasked with protecting a computer lab full of tech whizzes who do stuff that you can’t even begin to pretend you understand. Problem is, this lab has to be inside of hostile territory because the computer work needs to be done as close to the target as possible. If the techies do something wrong, the hostiles will find out and be able to find you. There’s no good way out if that happens.
- You are on point and you are leading a small team into the cave network that a terrorist group dug into the mountainside that they’ve been operating out of for some time now. You’ve been warned that there are more traps in these caves then there are grains of sand in the desert. So, you’re understandably scared.
- You are in the wreck of a helicopter that was just shot down over an enemy city. Only three people survived the crash. If you don’t get out right now, there’s a good chance you’ll never leave the country.
- You and a small team of newbie soldiers have been sent on a mission several miles behind enemy lines. You’ve been tasked with destroying a coal-burning power plant. You’ve got three mags to each person and your packs are full of the demolitions you’ll need to blow the plant. What could possible go wrong?
- You are digging a foxhole on a small hill that overlooks the main harbor of the country your nation is about to invade. You are supposed to remain undetected and feed your people intel as you simultaneously set explosives that will detonate when the rest of your nation’s might invades. If all goes according to plan, they’ll be taking the harbor you’re watching first.
- You are in the middle of destroying some railroads and powerlines in the middle of the night in order to disrupt your enemy’s supply chain. The lynchpin to the whole war machine that your enemy has thrived off of is the town that you’re about to cut power and rail access to. If you’re lucky, the mission will go off without a hitch. Are you someone who’s lucky?
- You are in a foreign land that has been plagued with war for decades. Today, you are poking around in a busy marketplace looking for a person of interest that your commander wants to question. There are tons of people and tons of places to stage an ambush. What could possibly go wrong?
- The waves crash over the bow of the landing craft that you are in. Overhead, tracers fly like shooting stars. You’re invading a country and you’re in the second wave. You heard rumors that everyone in the first wave is already dead.
- You’re in hot pursuit of a team of gunmen who just drove by your armored convoy and opened fire. While a few of your people were hit, no one is dead, but you aren’t too happy that someone would pull a stunt like this. What happens as you corner these gunmen?