Creating a Realistic Rebel Resistance For Your Story | PART 2 Networks & Cells

Besides a defined set of leaders and doers, your resistance needs to have sub-leaders and sub-leaders of the sub-leaders. It needs networks, cells and circuits.

For a successful resistance to run smoothly and efficiently, you need a chain of command. You need small, inner workings of a bigger installment. A huge corporation is not run on just one, singular action, but a series of small singular actions that build up to making the huge corporation work and run smoothly.

In France during WWII a man named Francis Suttill was the leader of the Prosper Circuit, the main resistance circuit operating in Paris. But Prosper was not the one and only circuit. There were dozens of sub-circuits with their own individualized leaders, but who also took commands from Suttill, who in turn took commands from London. All of these circuits worked together to accomplish the same goal, yet each one served a different and unique purpose.

Sub-circuits were operated by a smaller group of individuals and were lead by one leader who took orders from the main circuit leader, but who made his own decisions in the field. This is a great example of a small, but functioning and effective resistance, and gives you a way to tell a personal story.

Then there were people who never touched a weapon. Never even knew who their leaders were, never even knew if what they were doing was making any difference whatsoever. The simple farmers out in the country, far from the Nazi grasp, opened up their homes as safe houses for endangered people. They took in Jews, Resistance workers who had to go into hiding. They helped in their own small way, but it contributed to the overall success of the resistance, and they could not have succeeded without them. 

These networks, cells and circuits were the blood and guts people, the Guerrilla warriors, the risk-takers, and those who sacrificed themselves for the fight against Nazi tyranny. These people did the gritty, exhausting, terrifying work of facing the enemy, and following the commands from headquarters in London.

As you might have guessed, because these people were separated by thousands of miles from the London headquarters there was a lot miscommunication, many frustrations and LOTS of misunderstandings. They felt London did not understand what was really going on out in the field, and London felt the agents didn't understand what they themselves had to deal with at HQ. These misunderstandings are to be expected in any group of people. They both had terrible jobs and it's important to note neither one of these jobs, commanding or carrying out the commands, are at all easy, nor can either one be done effectively without the other.

So how do you create networks and cells?

The SOE was in constant contact with the French Resistance through BBC radio broadcasts and wireless operators. They secretly parachuted agents and dropped weapons into France all the time. But first they had to establish a base.
  1. Plant your spies/agents behind enemy lines by any means necessary for your story
  2. Define the leaders and sub-leaders of each circuit and their purpose within enemy territory (sabotage, intelligence, reconnaissance)
  3. Set up a communications network - radios, messengers, planes, word-of-mouth, any way to get word back to HQ and the leaders in the offices
  4. No group is perfect. Plant double-agents. Create conflict between the leaders and the common solider, arguments and misunderstandings, question orders and commands on both sides
How Much is Too Much?

If you're creating a resistance as large the SOE, chances are you won't be able to focus on every moving part in the story. It's highly impersonal, and I don't recommend trying to write a story with more than five major characters, or more than ten minor characters. It may lead to confusing your readers. Networks and Cells give you the chance to write about a small corner of the resistance and on a deeper, personal level.

But it is important for you, the writer, to know how your resistance is going to function. When you're creating your resistance group, ask yourself these questions to help you figure out how it all works:
  • Who are the leaders? 
  • Who are the sub-leaders?
  • How did the agents get behind enemy lines?
  • Where are you going to place your circuits and sub-circuits?
  • What are the operations of each circuit?
  • What supplies are needed for smooth and significant operation?
  • Where do they secure supplies? 
  • How are supplies transported to agents in the field?
  • How do agents communicate with leaders? 
Not all of this information with be pertinent to your story, but still the writer should have every detail of the resistance planned in order to create something concrete and believable for the reader.

One group cannot do it all, it will not suffice to bring about effective resistance. And I'm talking big government take down. If your resistance's goal is to stop a tyrannical government they're going to need more than just one group of individuals to get it done in a short amount of time. They're going to need hundreds of groups of individuals, just like the SOE had planted all over Europe during WWII.

Tomorrow we'll be discussing the final ingredient to creating a realistic and effective resistance. See you then!

Creating a Realistic Rebel Resistance: PART 1

Let's chat: What do the circuits and sub-circuits of your resistance look like?


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