1. John Marsden
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    John Marsden New Member

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    Writing a mass battle

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by John Marsden, May 7, 2010.

    I have had a stab at writing fight scenes between two characters and I think I can do that. However soon I wish to write about a massive battle between two armies and I need some help. I have two or three big characters on each side of the battle and my plan at the moment is to show little bit from each of their perspectives. Any tips would be most welcome.
     
  2. boesjwoelie
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    boesjwoelie Member

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    I find that difficult too, but here's my two cents: I think it's important to keep your writing and what's going on in the story at the same scale, if you know what I mean...
    for instance, if you write about two people fighting eachother, you describe every kick, scream and stab. But if you write about massive armies, obviously you can't do that... to keep the right mood, you must then describe hundreds of men swarming a hilltop, hundreds of horses wheeling at once ect.
    don't put too much detail in it, leave that up to the reader :p
     
  3. Reis
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    Reis Member

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    When fighting mass battles, I think it's more important to look at the leaders, be they campy or actually into the scene, give their commands, watch their strategy unfold and then the consequences in the same manner you describe...well a chess tournament in general to be more intense and epic. Ask yourself also, what was going on in the minds of these leaders?

    Fine examples are wars or World War II(I recommend Rommel vs Patton) and the Three Kingdoms of China.

    Don't focus on the grunts/foot soldiers unless that's actually a character you want them to live so the readers can feel the introspective experience (in which case it's more emotional aspect than action like The Pacific). It becomes more disappointing to readers if they die of course.

    Don't forget to add other details like what equipment they use, the terrain they are in, what the weather is like, the numbers, size and position of the armies, even the time of day. Not yet even included are explosions, the carnage, barbarianisms and typical what-nots you can expect when armies clash (or scenic lols if it's just a snowball fight :p ).

    Sorry if this sounds a little too much for you to take, action scenes/battles tend to be my strongest point in a story. XD
     
  4. 0---TY---0
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    0---TY---0 Member

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    Fight scenes are as fun as they are difficult!

    However, if done right they can be very powerful. I'm curious however, is this Medieval or more Modern? The style could differ greatly, so should it be Medieval remember that most of their equipment was moved with man power, and they walked or rode on horseback everywhere they went so the actual leading up to the battle can be a good time to have your characters each reflect or something of the like before the actual battle.

    When you get there, might I suggest looking online for video's of Medieval II Total War replays? Watching those can give you more of a sense of strategy and help you define out what happens and why.

    Hope I could help XD

    -TY
     
  5. Dermit
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    Dermit Member

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    I would think the way you write your battle scene will be largely dependent on the pair of eyes you choose to sit behind. If you're following a general, standing over the battle watching from afar, likely you'll be dealing with overarching battleplans and counterattacks and what have you.

    If, on the other hand, you choose to follow a grunt on the front lines, he'll likely be concerned with nothing more than staying alive. He won't know squat about the minutia of the battle, he'll just be following orders and trying not to get filled full of holes. And, thusly, the reader won't know squat about it either.

    Keep in mind that's not necessarily a bad thing; is it really important that the reader know the sixth battalion lost eighteen men while attempting to flank the enemies northern encampment? Or do they just need to know who lived and who died, and which side won?

    Whatever you do, please, please, please, don't give me the same fight scene six times over. I already know the outcome. Unless something amazingly important happens to that character (6 times over) I can't think of a better way to get me to close a book :)

    Personally, I say spare me your complex tactics and your intricate battle plans and give me a good character wading through the thick of things. But then I've always been a tad on the bloodthirsty side :)
     
  6. Cardboard Tube Knight
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    Cardboard Tube Knight Member

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    I would say that it would be easier to write if you were in limited third or first person, but if you're going to go for the top down view you just have to go at it and basically give them a wider shot of what's happening and describe the carnage and scale and kind of let the reader do a little of the work.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My experience in writing battle scenes comes from writing in first person POV, which it would appear, John Marsden, you're writing from third person, from several potential perspectives.

    First, as was said, it's important to pick the right set of eyes (and ears).

    Technology/communications can be a factor in relaying information to the reader via what the POV character sees, hears and learns.

    I trick, I think, is to not get bogged down in details. What does the character see, how does he and other folks around him respond.

    Really, the best way to figure out how to do it is to read an author (actually two or three might be better) you enjoy who has large battles that would be similar (in POV and scale and technology/magic etc.) as yours. Read and see how it was accomplished.

    If you provide me (and others responding in this thread) some detail about the type of battles--what's involved, weapons/equipment, army size, even terrain, we may be able to point you to some solid examples.

    Terry
     
  8. rikithasta
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    rikithasta Member

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    Like the others are saying, keep the same pov as you were using in the previous chapter. If it was in the pov of a general, keep in the pov of the general. Try to keep the general voice the same. Don't suddenly write in an omniscient voice for that one bit of story.

    Maybe if you were using multiple povs through previous chapters, and it's a major battle spanning multiple chapters, you could split different parts of the battle into different chapters with the different povs. I'm not sure how jarring this would be to read though.
     
  9. Cardboard Tube Knight
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    Cardboard Tube Knight Member

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    Well technically you can switch POVs if you want, its not as if there's any rule requiring books to be written from all third limited or all first person .
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe not a rule, but switching between first and third person POVs is a tough tramsition to pull off successfully.

    Points of view are not arbitrary. There are reasons for choosing a particular POV to tell a story, and the different POVs feel different.

    They aren't Giranimals. You can't just mix and match them without a second thought.
     
  11. 0---TY---0
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    0---TY---0 Member

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    Haha, that is probably the best analogy that I have heard thus far.

    But I stand by partially what Cogito says: different POV's are hard to pull off, however, I think that during a full on army vs army war, then it actually could be a bit easier. It all might take some experimenting.

    I suggest again looking at Medieval 2 Total War replays, and doing some tests and posting them in the Short Stories section. Tests as in, write out a small warfare scene, experiment a bit, and let us critique it. At this point, that would probably be your best bet.
     
  12. Hugo
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    Hugo New Member

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    Oh I don't know. I think you could shift POV if you had established the precedent throughout the book. For example, if you're beginning each chapter with a fictional excerpt from some historical text, and then your characters actually experience the events from the POV of someone who was there, that could be kind of interesting. The excerpt could be in the passive voice, and the story could be written in the active voice which would help the reader deal with the transition. The writer would also need to be well versed in the terminology of war so he could make a nice clinical description of the event.

    Actually, this kind of sounds like a good idea. I might do it myself. :)
     

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