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  1. Dagolas

    Dagolas Banned

    Feb 4, 2012
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    How to write a combat scene?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dagolas, Nov 25, 2012.

    I'm quite bad at writing combat scenes... Any tips? (In a pseudo medieval fantasy world, so swords, bows and magic etc...)
  2. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    - Read action books that have fight scenes to gather tips.
    - Watch some movies or clips that have sword fights so you can
    catch body movements, hear the clash of swords and see how two
    fighters interact.

    - Some times I draw a diagram and take two game pieces and
    sketch out possible ground cover, hiding spots, trees and such ( gathering
    images from the internet for your battlefield helps ) and
    choregraph it.

    All in all I keep sentences short. Not too much detail but enough that I don't
    skip steps.
    - Feelings are going to bring the battle to life, the weight of a sword, two
    swords clashing - I would think the ringing would soar through your whole body.
    Tiredness, worry. Don't forget your five sences - the smell of sweat, the taste
    of blood.
    - Another good technique I like to use is stream of conscious let images flow,
    fill a page. Then start to trim and organize.
  3. captain kate

    captain kate Active Member

    May 4, 2008
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    Cruising through space.
    Battle scenes are best when written with short sentences mixed with longer. While you don't want tons of description in it, there needs to be just enough for the reader to picture the events. Other then that, it's all pacing. Short=fast. Long=slow. How the scene is paced goes back to author's discretion.
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    Find your favorite fantasy author and/or an author that wrote combat scenes similar to what you hope to write.

    Read, reread, and study how the authors accomplished writing combat scenes, be they single combat, small group combat, or large scale combat, or any combination. (It's important to find a POV like that you intend to use.)

    Watch for pacing, actions described, dialogue, observations, sentence length, paragraph length, switch in POV (if appropriate), verbs and action words, use of contractions, pronouns, etc.

    Note what worked and why. Then apply what you learned to your writing style and project. It takes time but probably the best way to accomlish the task succesfully.

    My favorites would be Roger Zelazny, Steven Brust, Stephen R. Donaldson, Michael Moorcock, with Poul Anderson and C. Dean Andersson as solid secondary choices. I could give specific novels (if you're intersted message me here). While those are the authors that worked for me, they may not be of interest or work for you.

    Good luck as you move forward.
  5. AGWallace

    AGWallace New Member

    Nov 20, 2012
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    I just finished a fight scene (not a battle) in my historical fiction novel, and found Marc MacYoung's web site to be a great resource. I also bought the e-book, "Campfire Tales From Hell: Musings on Martial Arts, Survival, Bouncing, and General Thug Stuff." There are serious formatting problems with the book, but the information is incredible.

    If you want to know what real hand-to-hand combat veterans think, this will tell you. It's a topic I know absolutely nothing about, but I want to write realistic fight scenes. One of the best passages I read is about "it" ...


    Although MacYoung focuses relentlessly on the real world, and your story is set in a "pseudo medieval fantasy world", I like what Peachalulu said -- "Feelings are going to bring the battle to life." MacYoung and the other authors of "Campfire Tales from Hell" know all about the feelings of combat.
  6. Mikewritesfic

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Apr 1, 2010
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    Princeton, NJ
    One critical factor for a battle scene is to keep the reader up to date on the overall progress of the battle while also ensuring that your character's plight and situation aren't lost in the mix.
  7. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Alive in the Superunknown

    Jun 28, 2012
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    In melee combat, almost everything happens fast. Your pacing should reflect that. Skip ornate crap and hit the target.
  8. richard02

    richard02 New Member

    Nov 7, 2012
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    If you play a master swordsman, and some novice comes up with a weird-but-effective move that you think would take your character off guard… let it hit. Don’t worry too much about what should happen, and don’t let your ego tangle you up.

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