1. CheeseLord
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    CheeseLord New Member

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    Preparing and climaxing a battle scene??

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by CheeseLord, Oct 15, 2010.

    Hi everybody!!

    I am fairly sure there's been a similar thread to this before, but since I didn't want to thread necromancy, I though it'd be better to start one off again (if not, then do please move it ;) )

    I'm faced with a bit of a dilemma at present. I've recently been delving into writing battle scenes, but most of my attempts come off seeming extremely amateurish. It stagnates from the start, when I become stuck on how to continue and develop the idea.

    I'm just wondering whether you guys have any advice on how to develop this sort of text.

    Any help will be much appreciated!!

    CheeseLord
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Before the summer I found myself reading Count Belisarius by Robert Graves, which had a LOT of battle scenes, of all different types (being basically the story of the military campaigns of the main character), and I picked up a lot from there... Maybe it'd be better if I just told you to go read that rather than explain, since, though I'd read a fair few battle scenes, most of my advice would come from what I learned in that book. :p I am not a military historian, by a long, long shot. Normally I get quite bored and just skim-read the battles so I know what's happening once it gets back to the good stuff. But I read that book cover to cover without breaking interest. AND can remember what happened in his major battles. :p


    Really, though, just PLAN IT OUT. The whole point of a battle is the plans and whether they work or not. And if they don't - which is a lot more interesting - how your characters react. Once you know it blow by blow in note form, you can write it a lot easier, and know where to look. Battles are the one time your characters might know as much as or even more than you - the ones in charge, if they're good.

    All you really need to remember is that everyone should always be doing something, unless they're specifically meant not to be. Don't have a long pause in action with your archers to the side just because the guys battering down the gate are where the interest is at - when you go back to the other guys, they need to have made progress or lost ground or something. Things like that.
     
  3. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure there's an especial knack to describing battle scenes particularly. I think your prose style is probably more of an issue. Ornamental writing is great so long as it doesn't obscure, get in the way of, what you're trying to say.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I have to agree with art. I find in my own reading that, with battle scenes, the less florid the language, the better. I found your beginning of "And so..." to be very off-putting; it struck me as overly dramatic. Battles are pretty dramatic all by themselves, so what you really need to do is use just enough language to put the reader in the middle of it, with a focus on your main characters' reactions. Best of luck.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually I don't think ornamental works describing a battle. For me the most effective include the human element - who screamed for Mummy who called for his God - who fiddled with his Kirpan who crawlled into a corner and rocked back and forth waiting for the end to come forward. Who ran forward shouting you ___ I am coming to get you. Who's blood came from his jugular, where did his brains go. Who survived. Do we have a relationship with someone personally invested in the battle. Those that have a human narrator with personal investment work better imo otherwise they are just a battle.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use a subjective point of view. Describe the battle from the point of view of someone participating in it. The point of view of an officer will give an overview of the battle, but the point of view of a common soldier will get you close to the actual danger, the actual blows and the actual deaths, and that's where the drama is. Or use both points of view, alternately.
     
  7. IVIilitarus
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    IVIilitarus Member

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    I've always preferred a human element, along with good, but not overly prosey descriptions. Explosions blossoming, the earth being wracked etc.

    Setup before a battle is usually nervous. People are at their places and it's just a matter of waiting for the killing to start. Climaxes can be the deployment of a massive weapon, an unexpected attack, a turnaround or just one side losing and being overwhelmed.
     
  8. Des_Maca
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    Des_Maca Member

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    Well you need to give us more information. Point of view and character are, of course, important in being able to answer your question.

    I write small scale warfare, which I feel comfortable with. Are you going with large, open scale war or something like a small team.

    While I do understand the human element in war has its place, I do feel like it is really easy to be cheesy with it.
     
  9. CheeseLord
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    CheeseLord New Member

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    Och planning...(I must admit, I've never really properly planned out anything unless the English teacher shoves it down our throats :p ) but yeah, guess that's time to sift through strategy in 'The Three Kingdoms'

    I gather that the main thing apart from planning is the usage of ornamental writing. I've been trying to gather inspiration from LotR Helm's Deep, where it feels like Tolkien packs in a fairly chunky selection of adjectives, and IMHO, rather more like a narrator before zooming onto Aragorn. I've tried that too, but like I said, my past attempts tend to fail at grasping the intensity of war. It's still at the stage of either overshooting and being too flowery or sounding like a seven year old >.<, I mean, where lies the line?? I guess it all comes down to experience, but are there any other particularly good texts and examples of battles in novels that are worth looking at then??

    Des_Maca: TBH, all I'm doing is learning to write for a large, say Helm's Deep like scenario.

    Thanks for the help and suggestions!!
     
  10. Des_Maca
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    Des_Maca Member

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    My advice would be to note of the sounds. Battlefields like that tend to make people go deaf.
     
  11. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    Battle scenes are some of the hardest to get right, but feel so GOOD when you nail them!

    You have to find the "heartbeat of the scene", which is a hippie-way of saying that your pacing needs to be perfect. Every event / description needs to hit the right beat like you're listening to a metronome - it's got to be consistent, at least for the first few paragraphs until you've found and established the heartbeat. Read the scene aloud to yourself. The duration between events or descriptions should be consistent and identical.

    Once the pace of reading has a consistent heartbeat, you have a lot of power over the reader because you can vary the level of intensity by quickening or slowing the scene's heartbeat. The reader will naturally read faster or slower, depending on how you've written it, and you can use this to build to the climax of the scene.

    Hope this helps!
     

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