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Brainstorming help

I know you all are great for this sort of thing--I'm trying to figure out a problem in a book, and I'm not completely happy with any of the possible solutions I've come up with. Hoping discussing it with you will jostle something into place. :)

So, say we have a country divided into relatively independent city-states. What reason might the ruler of city-state A have for wanting to control neighboring city-state B? (Said reason may or may not have to do with a secret alliance that city-state A is forming with people outside the country--I haven't decided on that point yet.) Note that in this scenario city-state A is the enemy (though the motives should be understandable) and city-state B is the "good guy".

What I've thought of so far:

-the lands of city-state B contain some sort of natural resource (precious metals? building materials?) that would increase city-state A's wealth/prestige/something-or-other

-someone important in city-state B did something to really piss off the ruler of city-state A (though I haven't yet thought of what might be such a big deal that it'd cause outright war, while keeping city-state B on the "good" side of the equation)

-city-state B lies between city-state A and something else they want access to

Any thoughts? Spins on those ideas? Let me pick your brains. :D


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
In the natural resources camp: food (in case of starving or blight or disease), greed (territory), and my all-time favorite reason to go to war in "other worlds" -- the love (or spurn) of a woman. ;-)
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
Hee hee, I thought of the love/spurned thing, but there's already a fair bit of that in other parts of the storyline and I didn't want to get repetitive. :) Thanks for the thoughts!
Dec. 17th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
Does B have any good coast-line or ports? If so, you've got import taxes, plus strategic advantages.

Also, historical inheritances are always good. Like two generations back a bastard inherited City State B rather than the younger, but legitimate brother who went on to rule City State A. So the descendants of the legitimate brother still think they have a better claim.
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
Oooh, good thoughts! Thank you!
Dec. 17th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
Also! Sites of religious significance are always worth fighting over. (Witness Jerusalem.)
Dec. 17th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
I'd add revenge. For:

Cultural misunderstanding/affront
Assassination (accidental assassination would be even better)
Rulers of city-states could be related--in which case you'd have a whole host of other family-issues that could come into play and wouldn't NEED a reason to go to war...simple sibling rivalry would suffice.

Could also use subjugation/slavery motive...

Hmmm. Clearly, I'd rather be writing than grading my students' writing!

Dec. 18th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
Revenge is always fun... Lots to think about. Thanks!
Dec. 17th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Natural resources, yes.

keep your friends close and your enemies closer--maybe they don't trust so rather than conquering they want to form a more peaceful alliance/partnership?

Religious reasons/proselytizing/conversion
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:29 am (UTC)
I like that 'keep your enemies closer', will have to think about whether that could work. Thanks for the suggestions!
Dec. 17th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
I think that desire for power is at the root of almost all evils, and if city-state A are the bad guys, my mind automatically makes the conversion to "well, of course they want to take over the other city, it'll increase their power base." In terms of specifics, though, if city-state A is trying to form an alliance with someplace out of the country, they could (try to) take over B on the pretense that B might interfere with their attempts to strengthen themselves by allying with the people outside of the country (C?). B might be in a position/have the motivation to try to block A's alliance with C, or that might just be a convenient excuse for A's leaders to sell to the people and drum up some nationalistic fervor. Either way, though, I think it's almost certain that B would have *something* that A wanted, which is the real motivation for a takeover. Whether it's natural resources or a more sophisticated infrastructure or plain old slave labor, a takeover of B will certainly increase A's power, which would make them a stronger ally for C, and would also feed A's Yertle the Turtle complex. ;)
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
Very good points! Thank you! :)
Dec. 17th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
If it were me, I might make A's case compelling: B, upstream on the only river, is building a dam/irrigation system that will leave A without enough water, something along those lines. Because I like moral ambiguity like that.

Dec. 18th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
Oh, I definitely want it to be compelling! :D Will have to think about how I might play with that moral ambiguity--thanks!
Dec. 17th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
City B is providing refuge or support to people who are an oppressed minority in City A: it leaves City A with some legitimate concerns that City B is becoming a breeding ground for a future attack against City A, while keeping City B as the good guy (protecting rights of innocent people). There could also be some internal pressure from people in City B who don't think they should be taking risks for the refugees, putting the leader of City B in a tight spot between their personal sense of right & wrong, and their responsibility to protect their citizens.

(If this is the book I think it is, maybe the above could be a way of pulling the T. more into the overall story, if there's a conflict between the two cities on how to treat them)

Dec. 18th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
Oooh, good point! (It is that story, and I have been trying to figure out if I can work the T into it more.) Thanks!
Dec. 17th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
Things aren't going so well in A, which is creating social unrest.
A's leader's are getting worried they'll be outed, or lose money.
They need to create a situation where the people will shut up and do what's best for the leaders.
So they create a war! Common enemy, excuse for bad economic times, in short- a great distraction for the populace.
B's a good target because it *should* be an easy win; B's people are inherently inferior (according to the rhetoric of A's leaders) because of their ethnicity, religion, ideology, whatever.
Easy triumph in this war will be proof of how wonderful A is/how wonderful A's leaders are!

I'm thinking along the lines of Hitler's invasion of Poland, or maybe the US's push for the Iraq war.
Dec. 17th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
Because I'm evil:
B has natural resources, plus the population? Easy slave labor.
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Hmmm, slavery. Interesting! Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 18th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Fear is always useful! Good idea--thank you for sharing! :)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books

Earth & Sky
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Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014

The Clouded Sky
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A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015

The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012

The Lives We Lost
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Disney-Hyperion, 2013

The Worlds We Make
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Disney-Hyperion, 2014

Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014

Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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