1. Gallowglass

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    May 2, 2009
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    Loch na Seilg, Alba

    Battle speeches?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Gallowglass, Jun 23, 2009.

    Does anyone have a rough idea how long pre-battle speeches should be? I was thinking that a page and a half is good, considering that this is a significant event in the story, but despite my best attempts I suspect that some readers would get lost.

    So, any suggestions?
  2. seta

    seta Contributing Member

    Jun 17, 2009
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    It depends on the circumstances around the battle.

    And remember this above all else, Roman gods are watching! Make sure they are not ashamed!

    I think there are usually 3 parts to such speeches. First you acknowledge the enemy. "There stands our cowardly enemy..."

    Then you acknowledge yourself. "But we are Spartans!"

    And then you end with some overture like the first quote. Something poetic and moving. Whether each part is a sentence or a paragraph is up to you.
  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA

    I guess for starters, you could always look at the movie version of the Patton speech. Here's a link to the text and a video clip.

    Patton's Speech

    I cannot think of many battle speeches I've read. Although I vaguely recall a couple in Stephen R. Donaldson's works and Harry Turtledove's works. If you remain stalled, I may be able to find one to reference specifically. But my point is that of the novels I've read and I remember many parts of those author's works, the battle speeches don't stand out.

    If you do write it, possibly do so not through the POV of the speaker, enabling the listening/viewing character to observe and even offer his/her own insight as to the stakes at hand and the expected sacrifice.

    There is another speech that I recall from television (Babylon 5) that may give an idea as to what would be appropriate for length.

    Battle of the Line Speech

    I guess here is another one that may be of assistance:
    Babylon 5 Declares Independence

    As far as length, I am not sure that it matters as long as it is pertinent to the storyline. As for readers not getting it (getting lost), I don't know what to say to that, unless the reader would not understand the references being made in the speech by the speaker. If that is the case, then the POV of the listener as noted earlier, could be of assistance to the reader.

    A couple others:

    FDR D-Day Speech June 6, 1944
    General Dwight D. Eisenhower's D-Day Speech
    Winston Churchill: "Finest Hour"

    And Extract from Churchill's We Shall Fight them on the Beach speech

    Hope this helps.

  4. NaCl

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Apr 30, 2008
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    When I was in Vietnam, we were ordered to "take" a hill near the Laos/Vietnam border. It was rumored to be crawling with NVA and hidden tunnels. My platoon leader was honest with us about the risks and one of our new guys asked, "What should we do if the NVA overrun our position."

    Platoon leader pointed to the sergeant standing next to the new guy and answered, "Do you think you can out run him? If so, you'll be okay. Let's go."

    That was the most motivational "war speech" I ever heard.
  5. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

    Nov 20, 2008
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    This is going to be one of those useless answers, but... depends on the context: what situation your characters are in, what era, and so on, and so forth.

    And, come to that, if this is a Churchill-esque we-shall-fight-them-on-the-beaches (trying to convince a load of people many miles from the nearest gunshot that fighting is a Good Thing) or something a general might say to troops who are lined up on the ridge and about to be ripped apart by cannonballs. If it's the latter, I can't honestly see anyone giving a page and a half of speech if they're not in a movie. Things like that tend to be far more effective on-screen than on-page - are you sure you can make the emotion carry across?
  6. cybrxkhan

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Jun 16, 2009
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    Don't make it too long. Because, of course, the reader can only take so much; and plus, you'd probably be pretty close to an action scene, so the reader would want to read the action rather than a long, drawn-out rambling, in my opinion.
  7. sophia_esteed

    sophia_esteed Senior Member

    Feb 22, 2008
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    I guess I would consider the situation first, the kinda battle second, the characters involved third, then ask myself 'is it necessary for a battle speech to occur right here right now?' and if the answer is yes, I would devise my writing strategy considering those three points I mentioned. Another thing I would keep in mind is the overall style of the piece.
    Also, I would keep it short and sharp - you know, to the point.
    Oh and another variable is if it's a monologue or a dialogue.

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