Discussion in 'General Writing' started by alvin123, Sep 10, 2008.
PLease can someone help me with this.
Maybe an example
I'd suggest reading different books set in medieval times. Could you describe the scene more? Is it just two people, or part of a large battle?
go out and find examples. read examples. Lord of the rings, uhm.... the star wars novels. They typically do have some good stuff..
It depends on what righter you want to be, and how you want the scene to go. you could say "Jon looks at bob, they fight, bob dies." and be done with it, or you could Choreograph every heartbeat, which is better for when the environment is involved, like if the fighters are running around a hill or some rock structure or a room, but in an arena or whatever, its more important to express the emotion and the experience of the fight.
Er... Well, I can help you with some general strategy and advise. I fence, so I might know a thing or two. As for how to write the action scene, I think there's another thread for that.
Some of the biggest problems people get when writing a sword fighting scene is not knowing the weapons used. A long sword most likely isn't going to be used to thrust, and a foil is less likely to slash. As a writer, you're going to look like an idiot if you describe fighting with a katana like fighting with tai chi sword. Terminology, specific to the blade or generic, should also be known, like pommel, hilt, cross-guard, bell guard, etc.
Also, on a note of strategy, there's more and less that goes through a person's head than one thinks. Things like parrying, disengaging, and keeping distance are intrinsic to most swordsmen, so if you have a passage describing the mental process that goes into blocking -- something's horribly wrong, or the attack must be horribly unorthodox.
Similarly, much of the strategy isn't thought in the actual fighting -- thinking can be too distracting. A lot of the strategy is conceived in the temporary respites when neither opponent is attacking. Usually, opponents kind of test each other first, making mental notes of where they exploit exposed section A, or power through weak parry B.
Finally, a lot of swordplay relies on (besides the basics of each weapon) flexibility in style and strategy, physical strength and endurance, and deception.
Get all that, and at least you'll sound more realistic.
I have one big sword fight scene in "Betrayal" and I keep things vague to an extent, letting the reader imagine what is happening...this is to both not get too far out on the limb and look foolish as much as wanting reader involvement.
Fight scenes by successful authors seem to be more focused on emotion than anything else. They don't get into to much detail. I liked the knife fight in Dune, and the big battle at the supermarket in Swan's Song.
It is a sort of long example, but I think it is great.
<passage deleted - too long, exceeds "fair use" of copyrighted material>
I appreciate the help.
I was hoping to learn how to maybe Choreograph/show a sword fight scene in a novel, but you're right, finding examples such as lord of the rings is a good idea.
I would just practice the movements yourself. If you can embody the basics, then I think describing it will be a lot easier.
A bummer I posted part of dune for you, because you asked for examples, but it was too long I guess. But Dune has some good knife fights in it, that are treated similar to sword fights. But seeing how he writes them is great.
Please note Assasins Creed reply to my thread, it was very helpful
I would suggest you imagine the fight in your head first. Understand each movement the fighters make towards the outcome of the fight. Swords are slashing weapons prdominantly.
Just deside what style your fighters would use its like hand to hand in that way. Fencing is a style. As is Tai Chi. The blades are similar weight and design but are used very differently. so just figure out what it is your char. are doing with these blades
And settle on the type of blades one would use. How you wold fight with one of the longer sized Katana's is different from how you would fight with a broadsword. The katana is lighter, and more agile in the hand, so fights would generally be quicker paced, but being a one sided blade, you would have to flip the blade to make each motion.
There are really two aspects to this - how to write a fight of any kind, and how to write the swordplay.
The first, more general question, requires that you focus on pacing and point of view. You will write it differently if your POV is that of an apprehensive bystander, an enraged bystander, or one of the combatants. Remembering that everything is probably happening very quickly, unless the duelists are warily circling each other, feinting and awaiting an opening in the other's defense. Make the sentences match the pace of each moment of the contest - flashing blades and the ringing of metal against metal, a gasp of pain as one scores a flesh wound against the other, or perhaps sweat and heavy breathing from exertion as the two warily try to find the next opening. Short, economical sentences when the action speeds up, longer sentences when it slows.
But the other part, sword technique itself, requires research. As Kate pointed out, different swords behave differently. some swords are heavier, and more powerful in each strike but slower to meneuver, others are light and flexible, and do less damage per strike but can change the attack swiftly. Some are single edged, some double edged, some are only effective at the point. The design of the hilts also affects the style, whether it's a crossbar, a basket, or just a raised ring.
Watch the sword duel in The last Pierce Brosnan Bond film, Die Another Day, and you can see how the style changes as they change blades. Research different stules of swordfighting and swordsmithing. Watch movies with sword fights, but with a critical eye - not all of them do it well.
Research, research, research.
I appreciate your explainations. I haven't thought about the type of sword very much, but that is very important. The techinique is important also.
Some people say that short sentences are very choppy. But in a fight scene, that "choppy" rule doesn't apply, at least that's what i know, because long sentences makes the fight move in slow motion.
I am on the camp that says to keep it simple. Unless a specific move or thrust is very integral to the progress of the scene, I would keep it as vague as possible.
"The two master swordsman, meeting each other for the first time in their lives, appeared to me nothing but a whirl wind of ornate thrusts, dangerous counter-thrusts, and other mind boggling moves with the blade that confounded on lookers with their sheer complexity."
To me, describing, in detail who parried who, when and in what direction, before being over come by a slice at this angle towards this part of the body really take me out of a scene. That is the kind of detail a movie needs. In writing, I personally think it is wasted words.
1. Use technical terms from fencing to describe the fight mixed with the thoughts and emotions of the character(s).
2. Do a mix, such as "He smashed (non-term) the sword aside and followed with a (fencing term) impaling his enemy.
3. This way would answer the question, "What if I was attacked and had a sword." You're someone knows nothing about the terms, but is going to fight like hell. Then you describe things in common terms like above, with smash, block, push, thrust, or whatever.
I like this last one because who knows the terms, but everyone knows how to sword fight, not really, but you could wing it. Certainly a pirate or some similar type wasn't formally trained but got trained through the desire to survive and brutality, so describe it like that. Meanwhile, Lord Goodstuff, did get formal training, and will be using correct moves.
Hope that helps!
That did help. ALOT.
Happy to be of service.
May I ask what type of character is having the fight?
Separate names with a comma.