1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How do you write a rebellion...

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Ireth, Mar 29, 2016.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    ...where the one being rebelled against is the good guy?

    I've only ever heard of stories with the rebels being the heroes, valiantly resisting the evil king/empire/etc. But in my story (actually a freeform text-based multi-crossover RP I'm plotting out somewhat in advance), the king, Bran, is a decent person trying to maintain friendship between his kind (Fae) and the students and teachers of Dunehelden, a combined high school/university for supernaturals. Some are human, often with magical powers; others are vampires or werewolves.

    Backstory for context's sake:

    The Duneheldians are on friendly terms with Bran ever since he was kidnapped to Dunehelden (which is located in Faerie, and warded specifically to keep full-blooded Fae OUT; the backstory there is irrelevant) by Alinraun, an evil elemental being from another universe, who did so basically for its own amusement. Alinraun was destroyed shortly before Bran became king, and is no longer a concern. There are other beings of Alinraun's kind involved, called the Enduring, who are benevolent toward the Duneheldians and their Fae allies; they are the ones who got Bran out of the wards and let him go home, as well as destroying Alinraun.

    Bran is very new to kingship, and none too confident about the whole business; the only reason he has the crown is because Alinraun murdered his mother, who was the ruling Queen. There were no witnesses but Bran and his father, and this has given rise to rumors that Bran is the murderer. Bran now fears, rightfully, that there will be a coup against him and his father and sister, and also that his friends at Dunehelden will be endangered.

    The rebels dislike the Duneheldians for a number of reasons: the warded area in their own land being one, the kidnapping being another -- since Alinraun didn't take a physical form when kidnapping Bran (it got into his mind and puppeteer-ed him via nightmares), and no one in Bran's castle except Bran himself ever saw it or heard it speak prior to the murder, no one else believed Alinraun existed. The rebels assume it was the Duneheldians who kidnapped him, when really they simply gave him sanctuary before the Enduring got him out of the wards. Bran's decision to invite the Enduring and some of the Duneheldians to his coronation, as a token of friendship, only exacerbated things.

    The Plot:

    Right now I really have only three concrete ideas for the plot forward from this point: Bran sends his sister (and possibly his father and his sister's lover as well) to stay with the Duneheldians for protection, with the Enduring getting them safely past the wards, and then the rebels attack the humans. (The rebels have half-blooded Fae among them, who due to their human ancestry are able to pass the wards, albeit with difficulty and discomfort.) Also, one or both of the Enduring are going to do espionage among the rebels. They won't risk getting caught, as they won't be using their humanoid bodies; their elemental forms, fire and moonlight, are much less conspicuous.

    So, to the point... what else can I do here? I want to end with Bran and his family safe and sound, and the rebels either disbanded or rounded up and punished accordingly. The problem is how to get there. I have no idea what stories there are to draw on that have the rebels as the villains. SeleneHime suggested looking to Asiatic stories for reference and inspiration, but I have no clue where to start looking. Thoughts? Opinions?
     
  2. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    547
    228
    43
    I can't really think of any stories where the rebels were the bad guys, but I reckon it would help if you thought about them less as rebels and more like outlaws, terrorists, bandits, etc. That's how rulers typically see rebels.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,512
    4,436
    313
    What does Bran want? What does he fear?

    Do the rebels have a leader? Rebellions are never ideologically uniform, so there should be room for multiple motivations, but in any case you need to know what the rebels want. Those are their goals. They could want good things but be willing to do evil to attain them. Or they could want very bad things.

    Once you know what the two sides want, what they fear, and on what points they will not compromise, then you can start throwing obstacles at them. Once you have those, at least some of those, then you start to have a plot. And until you have a plot, looking around for reference is going to be mostly floundering, though sometimes one gets a lucky hit.

    The above is all my opinion, of course, but you did ask!
     
    Ireth likes this.
  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    Good point, Skip! I haven't come up with an identity for the leader (or possibly multiple leaders) yet, so I'll definitely work on that. I have a few characters who seem like good candidates.

    What the rebels want, generally speaking, is for things to stay as they were for the past several millennia, with the Duneheldians gone from Faerie (they've only been there for 15 years or so, hardly a blink of an eye to the Fae), and humanity as a whole left to be the Fae's playthings. (They won't get so far as trying to take over the Earthworld, given it's the 21st century and the place is covered in iron, which is anathema to them.) To do this, they're willing to attack and destroy Dunehelden, something that hasn't even been attempted before thanks to the wards, and even kill Bran and his family to establish a new rulership for Bran's court, the Unseelie, one similar to how Bran's mother was but with even less mercy or tolerance.

    As for Bran... he fears for his life, especially since he doesn't have an heir yet to at least keep his bloodline going. His sister is next in line for the throne, but if the rebels kill her too, that would throw the whole Unseelie Court into chaos and upset the balance of Faerie's rulership. He strives for peace between the Fae and Duneheldians, as well as between the two Fae Courts, Unseelie and Seelie. He wants to be a better king than his mother was a queen (especially since she was a total bitch who neglected him and ruined his life for three thousand years), and a better father to his future heirs, assuming he lives long enough to find a wife and successfully father a child. (Fae have a low fertility rate, and miscarriages are common.)
     
  5. trentonian7

    trentonian7 Troubadour

    100
    18
    18
    The animated tv show The Legend of Korra, a follow up series to Avatar the Last Airbender spends the entire first season dealing with an insurrectionist revolutionary group that eventually overthrows the government.

    The shows protagonists are opposed to the group in every regard and the leader of the revolution is the season's primary antagonist.

    Considering that morality is very much a grey matter and that the position of good guy and bad guy is all based on perspective, you shouldn't have trouble portraying the rebels as the "bad guys" on the very principle that they're opposed to your protagonist.

    I was a little confused on the political situation of your kingdom, but make sure you understand the rebel motivations. The rebels are against Bran because he was kidnapped? Honor bound or power hungry elites will likely spearhead the rebellion, but these are leaders not fighters. Where do your common rebels come from? Why do they fight? As a commentator noted, everyone will have varying motivations.
     
  6. AJ Stevens

    AJ Stevens Minstrel

    50
    14
    8
    As trentorian said, the opposing sides of a rebellion will both believe that they are right. Therefore, you have good guys and bad guys, depending upon whose point of view you are writing. Which is great, because it gives you the opportunity to explore the rights and wrongs from both sides of the fence.

    Although you, as the writer, know that Bran is a good person, the rebels probably think otherwise. Or at the very least, they don't agree with everything Bran wants. That allows you to paint a good guy as a bad guy in the eyes of the leaders of the rebellion, which is both powerful and fun to do.
     
  7. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    Having never seen either series, I might have to check them out. :)

    True, true.

    The kidnapping is part of it, but they also think Bran murdered his mother to take the throne. Given the strain that seeing his mother murdered and hearing the resulting rumors has put on him, the rebels think Bran isn't fit for kingship and that one of them should rule instead. That way they can ensure that the Duneheldians are also either eradicated or made into playthings as they wish.

    The rebel leader, Fachtna, is one who was loyal to the late Queen and dislikes Bran's new way of going about things. Many of his elites come from the nobility of Bran's court, but the common fighters come from all over Faerie. I'm not sure they care much for who's actually in power so long as they're free to do what they please, especially toying with mortals (Dunehelden in particular). Given Bran's whole MO is putting a stop to that, the rabble oppose him on principle.
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,512
    4,436
    313
    So, don't give it to them. Force change upon them.

    The rest of that paragraph is about what they are willing to do, but not what about what they want. Merely wanting things not to change isn't enough, it seems to me. Also, it is generalized. Can you provide some specifics? For example, perhaps Bran has said he intends to change X and Y. Maybe Bran or someone in his family did some grievous wrong to one of the rebels. Or to an entire village or town. Or maybe the rebels want something new (in their minds it's a restoration of the old) and it's being denied to them. Or all these together and more. Rebellions usually have a whole list of grievances. Some political, some economic, some religious.

    You haven't said what they fear.

    Good. Specific. I like that. Maybe he fears for the welfare of his family as well? And of the kingdom? Maybe there's a history of wrongs and even outrages done by the rebels?

    Yerg. Awfully do-goody, but all right. Why does he strive for this? Is he really willing to risk civil war to try to force the issue? Why not just give up and let peace reign?

    I like this one. There's nothing quite like the burden of a child to surpass his parents. Now, don't let him have it. He screws up. He tries and fails. Everything he does only makes matters worse. He plays right into the hands of the rebels.

    Jus' freestylin' here. Maybe something in the above will spark.
     
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    That is exactly what I did with making Bran king and having him assert his goals.

    I did mention that Bran wants peace between Fae and humans, and between the two Fae Courts. He's already made ties among the Duneheldians, and somewhat between Seelie and Unseelie, as he befriended the Seelie prince at the same time. The rebels, as you said, just want things to stay (or go back to) the way they were when the Queen was alive. When the Courts were rivals, and mortals were playthings of the Fae. Remember, the rebels are those loyal only to the late Queen, not Bran or his surviving family.

    Basically, what they fear is the opposite of what they want. They're afraid their toys are going to be taken away from them. Yes, they sound like petulant children, but that's the Fae in a nutshell. If you take away what they see as "theirs", whether it be their friends, lover, or plaything, they will get pissed and throw a fit. Often with deadly results.

    Of course Bran fears for his family. I thought that would be clear when I said he sends them away for their protection. Since the rebels killing him and upsetting the line of succession would naturally endanger the well-being of the kingdom as well, that's a bit of a no-brainer. And a history of "wrongs" would be a tricky thing to categorize, since the Fae have really skewed morals and priorities in the first place. Who would they have wronged? Their own kind? Why, when these are the Queen's loyal subjects? They haven't formed much of a group yet, so

    Giving up would NOT bring peace. It would mean the rebels win. The status quo of inter-Court relations and human/Fae relations is tension and conflict. Bran wants to make a lasting peace out of the chaos, even alliance, which is all but unheard of. Hence why this is such a huge deal.

    That I'm not so sure of how to handle. Right now I'm focusing mainly on the rebels' plans. Bran's reaction I'll probably leave to grow organically from what the rebels do and how other characters react.
     
  10. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    I feel inclined to add that when I said Bran is new to kingship, I mean he's only had the crown for less than a week. He hasn't had time to "force the issue", as Skip put it, by passing laws forbidding attacks or malicious playing with the mortals yet; the rebels' actions are/will be pre-emptive terrorism, basically.
     
  11. Addison

    Addison Auror

    1,794
    350
    83
    It kinda sounds like your character is in a "The King's Speech" position somewhat. If the attacks against the mortals have been consistent through the years to a point that it's a way of life, his law is a big deal. Mortals are for it with a passion, those who attack mortals are against it with a passion. It could even allow you to expose Bran to even more conflict. Mortals are supporting him, his own kind isn't. As he is king and supernatural, his keeping company with so many mortals and wanting to help them makes him less popular.

    You said there were many supernatural beings correct? Vampires, werewolves, fey etc? What if the rebels at first are only one or two kinds of supernaturals, the ones who really covet torturing mortals? Yet as Bran pursues to enforce his law despite attacks those of the supernatural community who at first supported him or were even on the fence start to join the rebel side.

    My WIP has a character who's caught in the middle of a rebellion. Or I guess it's a round robin. At one point he's targeted by those who are loyal to the heinous chief, as taking him down means direct ascension. It puts him in a bind because on one hand he doesn't want to die but he can't look away as the life style continues. He's stuck between doing the smart thing and the right thing, kinda like Bran, a teeny bit.

    The point is there's two sides to every rebellion. The "Yay" side and "Nay" side. The one termed "evil" or "good" depends on your world and your character. The stakes are determined by the story and the character. With your character being a good guy, yet in a position of wanting to do good in a seat of power which he has basically zero experience in, he's basically trying to fight a cultural war on a buoy with a nerf sword. Summed up, terrific story idea! A way to really hone, enhance and exploit the stakes and such is to really ask yourself why passing the law is so important to Bran? Why it being passed is important to the mortals, and why having it not passed, or even Bran killed or dethroned (or all the above) is important to the supernaturals.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  12. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    That's basically the situation I have, yes. But, as I said in my previous post, he hasn't had time to pass a law yet. The rebels are pre-emptively trying to take him down.

    That is exactly the case. The rebels in question are all Fae; the vampires, werewolves etc. are all members of the school and allied with mages and non-magical humans. None of the Duneheldians are going to join the rebels against their own community; they all support Bran's ideals of peace. And there are a number of Fae who are still loyal to Bran as well. My plan is to have the rebels brought down as soon as possible, and THEN Bran will actually make laws and such, before any other rebels can act against him.
     
  13. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    To answer your questions as best I can:

    1) Passing the law is important to Bran because he feels it's part of what will make him a better ruler than his mother was. The mortals were under no obligation to help him when he ended up in their territory against his will; they did so purely because it was the right thing to do. Making and maintaining peace with the mortals is his way of paying back that debt.

    2) Passing the law is important to the mortals because then they won't have Fae (at least of one Court) trying to toy with, kidnap or kill them anymore. If Bran succeeds in allying both courts together via his friendship with the Seelie prince, that just makes things better.

    3) Bran's failure would result in total chaos among the courts. If the rebels win, they will kill him, plus the rest of his family for good measure, and place one of their own number on the throne. This will inevitably lead to Bran's supporters revolting against the usurper, and even more bloodshed. Killing the royal family is important to the rebels because then they will have the freedom to attack the Duneheldians and other mortals as they please. With Bran dead, he won't be able to keep the rebels from infiltrating Dunehelden, finding a way to break down the anti-Fae wards and doing as they please.
     
  14. Addison

    Addison Auror

    1,794
    350
    83
    So Bran was born royal, but he wasn't king until recently.

    Safe to assume he's tried to find some kind of compromise already to keep the peace. So perhaps when push comes to shove, the final push he takes maybe when an attack hits WAY too close to home and is nearly-or definitely-fatal, he shoves back with certain magics or such only allowed to the king. Perhaps he goes into a family/royal vault and finds something that will put a dent in the rebels. Maybe a special quill or ink that could strip or bind the powers of any race written on a parchment. Or a gem that would block moonlight so no werewolves. Or just push him to an extent where he is done playing nice and maybe takes a page from his mom's book. (You said he wanted to be a better ruler than her, right?) So he goes from walking around with an air of hope, like Queen Snow White, to busting into a ceremony Evil Queen Regina style.

    That's just my thoughts. Your idea has me pumped! :-D
     
  15. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,096
    1,532
    313
    Exactly.

    He hasn't had time to think of compromises yet; the rebels are really jumping the gun here, pushing before they're pushed first. He is definitely going to push back, I just haven't figured out how yet. Stripping the powers of even one rebel Fae would take a HUGELY powerful spell and the combined strength of both Courts, and even banding together for that purpose would be hard as hell. It has been done before on one occasion, which is very important to the backstory of the plot and certain characters, but that was a thousand years ago. And a gem to block moonlight, even if such existed, would not be to Bran's benefit at all. The werewolves are on HIS side! It's a moot point anyway, since Faerie HAS no moonlight, but this doesn't affect the werewolves' monthly transformations the least bit. The moon still exists in the mortal world they came from, after all. Plus, even in human form they retain their animal-level senses and superhuman strength.
     
Loading...

Share This Page