Discussion in 'General Writing' started by King Arthur, Mar 6, 2016.
Has anyone here got any tips for giant battle scenes?
Could you define please.
Do you mean giant in the sense of a army or giant in the sense of important?
Pretend to be the general on both sides, and plan out what kind of troops you locate to position x and y. What kind of troops you have? How about the enemy? It's a huge play to plan out, but it can be made. You just need to break it into parts:
1. Which side will win?
2. The scale of the battle?
3. The locale for the battle
4. First order
5. Second order
and so on. Try to mix in some events that took place. A siege tower collapsed and tens of soldiers from attackers fell to their death while trying to man the wall? The war elephant panicked, and turned around which resulted in a ranover of a full cohort?
Research real life "giant battle scenes". For example, some of the hundred years war, world war I, and world war II would be useful.
Spartacus uprising, particularly the thing on the hill were he died.
If you have a POV character who is involved in this battle, show the reader what happens through this character's eyes. That's the most intense way to portray a battle.
If it's fantasy, you could do worse than check out Joe Abercrombie's work. Lots of battles, some quite intricate, take place in his books. And each and every one of them makes an impression on the reader, largely because the characters involved are people we
'know' and care about. The Heroes is particularly good for battle scenes. Lots of them.
I also think Nigel Tranter's books about Scotland are excellent for giving the flavour of battle without losing sight of the big picture. His account of the Battle of Bannockburn in his Robert the Bruce trilogy is fantastic.
It also relies on the POV. If its the commander or the footsoldier, both have very differing viewpoints and you need to take that into account.
Research for the:
- footsoldier: "Quartered safe out here"
- commander: "Company commander"
- platoon leader: "Platoon leader: Memoir of command in combat"
If you need more resources just say so.
If I have to make a choice of the above mentioned books.. the platoon leader is a true masterpiece. All true and the writing is beyond excellent.
Pov is everything here. What a Hestatii sees is totally different than what a Tiarii sees, and they are both just foot soldiers in a Legion. I'd say draw a little sketch of your battlefield and the army and soldiers present, and really look at their place.
Describe sensations. Sights, sounds, pains, textures, smells.
Erwin Rommel's book "Attacks" is his account as a platoon commander and I think later a company commander. The book is surprisingly easy to read, and covers such details as 'Finding the cooks' and 'Getting sick.'
@jannert : describing battle is fun
For my novel, I had to write one clumsy fight involving several people—from the slightly detached point of view of a character who was only a bystander, and only knew some of the people who were fighting. (The reader knows everybody, though.) That fight didn't result in death or serious injury.
However, I then had to write another violent confrontation that happened very quickly, but carried a lot of emotional content, and resulted in both serious injury and death to some of my characters. I found both scenes difficult to write, mainly because of the pacing issue. I didn't want them to drag out too long, but I didn't want to go so quickly past them that the impact was lost either. Both fights had lots and lots of context, and the final one was a pivotal point in the story. I struggled. But I got there.
It was not fun! Writing sex scenes was fun. That's my kind of fun.
Maybe that's the fault of MC1 - he has some pretty bad prior experiences and that makes him, not incoherent, but close to a berserker when these memories get dragged up. Which just this moment they are
Is that your MC or mine???
I try something new here.. there are paragraphs were he can think, which are in the proper tense. But within the scenes where he just reacts and fights, these are in present tense. Oh, I just LOVE writing!!!!
And I have yet to write a sex scene.. maybe later I will give myself that treat
Hint: You don't speed 'em up!
Have finished with this fighting scene. *sigh*. Don't want to stop but have to. Don't want to get out.
Will give myself another night to sleep and mull over my words. Will get a PM tomorrow morning. Feel flensed. By choice.
No chance for that. Will need a whole lot of other chapters to be written first
The best battle scenes I've ever read were the ones written by Bernard Cornwell, particularly in the Saxon Stories. Even giant battles (at least up to the modern age) were essentially a series of individual combats, and you were put into the characters' shoes as they fought each other.
But in modern warfare, epic battles are more a function of the overall battle plan, with the combatants often never seeing who or what killed them. In that case, you have to involve the reader into the tactics of the battle rather than the particulars. That would be tougher to write, I think.
I've been hesitant to read Cromwell's Saxon stories since I'm adressing the exact same period and place (we literally have historical characters in common) and don't want to be influenced by him.
Grammar Nazi instinct cannot be stopped!!!! AAHHH! *Addressing.
Ze next time you miztep it's off to Poland you schweinehund
Then read his Grail Quest series, and much of his other stuff. His description of the Battle of Agincourt is stunning.
And given your user name, I'm sure you'd like his series on King Arthur, beginning with The Winter King. It's as different a take on the legend as you could want.
Separate names with a comma.