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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Battle & Action Scenes

I thought that a post about action would be a great idea for today. Action is apparently, according to a couple agent critiques, the best part of my writing. I love action and I am speaking about the type of action that happens in battle and in war. Yes, truthfully speaking everything is action, even Jenny going to talk to Sally is an action. But today, I want to talk about battle. The epic kind.


1. Visualize. That is your #1 target. You really have to see every swift movement of the body, every slice of the blade and describe it in order to create a very realistic scene for your audience. The precision, the fear, the consequence. When writing battle scenes, I think that seeing the scene in your head is the best way to get better and better at them.

2. Research and analyze. I don't do this often but I suppose that watching movies with lots of battle scenes does act as visual research on some occasions. The only problem is...Battle scenes in movies are rarely realistic. Keep in mind that many of them I notice glitches and issues in. Still...Basically speaking, you cannot write about battle if you haven't seen any battles and most us that live in North America only get to see really high quality battles in movies. Thus, sometimes its better to speak to someone who has a knowledge of realistic battle. That is a perfect idea of how to learn to write about battles. But movies are still great tools. We don't need dry battle scenes. We are writing Fantasy here. Since visualization is the key to a great battle scene in a novel, watching epic battle scenes will really get you the idea of what you are aiming for and how it is done in entertainment. In case you are treading unfamiliar grounds, and have never had the thought of battle it IS a very good idea to pick up a novel that has scenes of war and read. It is costly to make errors when writing about battle. Especially errors that are unrealistic and long time Fantasy readers would immediately notice, not to mention agents.

3. Stay Tight. We want to know what senses your MC is feeling as he/she battles his/her way through the war field. We want to know the emotional aspect of life and death, but never focus too much on this as when people fight, they tend not to think too much. Over thinkers will die. Because if you think too much, you don't focus. But you have to keep your focus on the main action, don't describe the wind, or how the sky looks or whatnot. Eyes on the prize.

So with these three points in mind, go and get your buts in your chairs and keep writing those battle scenes, but before you do...Don't forget to scroll to older posts and enter my contest. It ends on October 13! Cheers!


  1. YAY! Battle scenes!

    Great advice. I was just thinking, after this draft, I should go back and read some of the "masters." I DID ask my marine brother-in-law some logistical questions about knife fighting, once.

    You know who I think writes amazing battle scenes? Jim Butcher in his Codex Alera series. I love Jim Butcher.

  2. Barbara, thanks! I am going to have to pick that up!!!

  3. This is good to know. I write so many action scenes but I'm not sure if they are actually...good. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Stay Tight...

    Also, PLEASE do not spend an entire freaking paragraph on every punch/shot/sword trust/what have you. No, I don't care. No, I don't care! You punched him, end of story.

    Can you tell fight scenes that last for pages and pages are my least favorite thing to read? Yes, worse even than pages of scenery. I WILL just skip right over it.

  5. Also, just noticed someone above praised the Codex Alera series. Well, to each their own, I guess. I couldn't even finish the first book because of the extended battle scene that bored me to death. I tend to skip his fight scenes in the Harry Dresden books too.

  6. any time I need some insight on writing a fight scene, I pick up one of my many R.A Salvatore can that guy write.

  7. Sarah, I agree with you but I think that ction really does progress a novel emotianlly even. It is a great fantasy tool, and everyone has a different opinion. I 'm picking up the book to see what I

    Eliza: You are making my to read list longer! :D