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June 12th, 2005, 07:01 PM
I want to do a battle scene that intercuts with two pivotal fights. How would I go about doing this well? What makes a fight or battle good and what makes one great?

June 12th, 2005, 09:59 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that as you hop back and forth between the two fight scenes, make sure you leave the fight you are currently in at a tense moment; or a moment of particular danger for the hero. This will make the reader want to eager to find how its resolved, and will turn up the tension.


June 12th, 2005, 11:30 PM
I would add, make sure it is obvious which of the two fight scenes I am reading. Check your transitions and in some way 'label' your settings or characters so it's easy for me to follow.

The last thing you want to do is confuse your readers. Some of us are confused enough.


June 13th, 2005, 11:19 AM
There's lots of different ways to write a battle scene. A lot will depend on your story and how everything else has worked up until that point. The battle has to work with the characters.

Essentially a battle is either a deeper conflict that erupts into physical form, or a backdrop that draws out a specific conflict in your characters. I think its important to make sure that your characters are well motivated. And by that I mean that the reader has to understand and care about what each character's goal is. Technical details are a point of debate among readers. I would argue that you need to be able to create the illusion or realism in a battle and therefore consistent technical details are necessary, but this has to be balanced with not assaulting the reader with technical information that is not necessary to drive the story.

Michael B
June 13th, 2005, 01:20 PM
Each fight needs to have a different aspect about it otherwise you justhave two similar pieces of action mixed together. You might want to write one from the point of view of a winner and the other from a loser. That is not to say both parties aren't on the wining side though. Just that one of characters is defeated.

Also, you haven't said what the background is, but different ways of fighting may help the reader distinguish between the two, eg inside a tank vis in a foxhole or hand to hand combat vis long range fighting.

June 14th, 2005, 06:19 PM
Well there isn't one right way to do it, and I'm sure you'll get a lot of different, useful tips on it. We've got some real military experts in this forum. Here are some things you might want to consider as you go:

What do you want the two fight scenes to show? What is their purpose in the story?

What sort of writing do you like to do? Are you someone who likes to do a lot of sensory description -- the sights, sounds, smells -- or someone who likes to use broad strokes and let the reader fill in the details?

Do you want the two fights to be very different and so contrast to each other, or do you want them to be eerily similar and parallel each other?

What sort of mood do you want the narrative and in particular, these fight scenes to have? Do you want to make it hazy and dream-like, gritty and raw, or realistic with huffing-puffing and enormous fear? Is there a different emotional vibe for each fight, or are they pretty much the same?

Are you going to have any dialogue? Are you going to use a character point-of-view, more than one? If you have, say, a third person omniscient narrator, do you want that narrator to make observations or be unobtrusive? How much character point-of-view do you want involved? Are the viewpoint characters mostly just going to describe the action or will there be a certain amount of inner emotion and thoughts? How much do you want to mix exposition (inner emotion, thoughts, non-physical description,) with scenic description (physical description of the action, the setting, etc.)? You may figure out a lot of the above as you write the scenes.

Is there critical information that readers will have to know for either fight? How do you want to convey that information?

What sort of timeline exists for each fight? Do they take place more or less in the same span of time, for the same length of time?

What are the key moments in each fight? How choppy (cutting back and forth,) do you want to be? What sort of rhythm to the interlocking of the two fights do you want to have -- very fast, or varying speed as the fights heat up or something else? (Mood, your writing style, character pov, etc. may all be factors in figuring these out.)

June 15th, 2005, 12:47 AM
I think what makes a battle good in writing is to have an understanding of what is going on in the battle you are writing about. Too many writers just have throngs of barbarians run at each other, start hacking each other up, and then a protagonist ends up unconcious (so the writer doesn't have to explain what is going on).

On top of that though, there is the stress and confusion of battle that you might want to throw in there. Like I said, the WRITER has to know everything that is going on, but the character and perspective from which the story are told could be confused.

If you wrote a story about the Charge of the Light Brigade it would be beneficial to know that there is a massive friendly fire incident, but to one of the shooters, he obviously wouldn't know EVERYTHING or he wouldn't be shooting at his own guys.

Chris G.
June 27th, 2005, 08:30 AM
When I write a battle scene, I tend to choose one character to follow through the entire battle with.

That said, I then focus on the action, the moves and counter moves if its hand to hand or the former interspersed with subtle descriptions of using a complicated weapon like a firearm if they are used.

Here is an example: I have a Saurrian Warrior, also known as a "Claw" fighting an Elf armed with a "skewer".....Saurians are evoled dinosaurs with hand claws and toe scythes ala velocoraptors in Jurasic Park and a skewer is basicaly a Roman short sword.

Fenril knew a warrior’s soft spots of which there were exactly two: throat and abdomen. The chest, while wounded now, was mostly bone, thick bone, and though the stab had obviously pained Megoton, it wasn’t enough to kill him, far from it. However, it was enough to slow him down a little and Fenril was thankful for that much least. Still uninjured, he had the upper hand now. All he had to do was keep his head together and stave off the ever increasing fatigue that now threatened to defeat him even if his opponent did not.
Skewer firmly in hand he readied himself on the balls of his feet for the Warrior’s next move. With a determined roar, Megoton thundered toward him. Slightly weakened from his wounds, he cast aside all finesse and stopped short of bowling the smaller Elf and engaged him toe to toe. Striking forward with his teeth, he followed up with a swiping of his hand claws. Fenril managed to dodge the teeth and duck the hand swipe only to have the Warrior’s leg lift into his groin. Gagged and winded, Fenril flew like a kicked rag doll several feet away from Megoton who roared in triumph and charged him head on.

I hope this helps.