Friday, March 18, 2016

Battle Scenes 101

One of the most daunting scenes a writer faces it how to write an engaging battle scene. It is tough to choreograph the positions and skills of the fighters. To write it so the reader can really see it. It is definitely one of my Achilles heel.  

So, since I even have a hard time with this, I thought maybe we could delve into it and it will help all of us. 

First - read how other's do it. Lately I've been reading a lot of fantasy fiction and when I get to the battle scenes I tend to skim. To me, they're boring. It's like trying to describe sex - there's only so many ways to do so. 

I decided this time I will study the different techniques other writers use and if they felt engaging. I found the ones that worked were the ones that our hero is losing, and have some emotion. You actually worry for the character. Those are the scenes you want to write.

Second - Don't write pages, upon pages of battle. I know people expect fantasy fiction to be nothing but fight scenes, but if the reader is anything like me, they won't like it. I don't suggest you make the book all about a war. Maybe instead, about a war looming. 

You can still have places throughout the book where your main character meets face-to-face with an enemy combatant. This way you are still writing a fight scene and it's not as overwhelming for the reader. 

Third - You can only write what happens through you POV's eyes - You can describe the actual battle scene as the character is looking across the expanse, but when it comes to the actual fighting, you can only describe what the character is doing. 

Don't jump to another fighter's head. It will only confuse the reader. Now your POV character can look over and see what his friend is going through, but not too much detail on that since he/she is in the middle of their own fight.

Forth - See the fight scene in your mind before describing it. - This is where the choreograph comes in. How the swords meet, the skills, such as a parry, twists and turns, lunges etcetera. Write it out step-by-step before cleaning it up. It needs to make sense and ring true. You want to make sure your reader can see the action in their own head.

Fifth - Add emotion - Your reader will want to know what the character is going through. Is he afraid? Is he embolden? Is he trying to get to the village to warn the others? 

And last, but not least, don't forget the senses - Use the senses to describe the smells, sights, and even tastes of battle. This brings the scene to life. Make sure to add some dialog, too, otherwise it's like reading info-dump.

Well, I sure hope these help you when writing a battle scene. I know this is the toughest fight scene to write. Whether it is a mystery, thriller, fantasy, even a fist-fight, there is an element of skill to writing any type of fight scene.

One more thing - don't forget I'm giving away a copy of Fable on my website. I sure would love to have you read it and let me know what you think. 

Enjoy Fable and I'll be back next week!

Love, Lisa

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