Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Violence: A to Z Blogging Challenge

Before I began writing Going Through the Change, I had never really written action scenes. My first novel (unpublished, His Other Mother, women's issues fiction), my short stories, my poetry and my essays had not featured things like people who could wield fire and fly, or even people who threw punches.
Writing violence well requires a different set of writing chops than I had yet developed. When I first started trying to do this, I really began to pay attention to what other writers did when they did it well (Larry Correia's Hard Magic is a great one). I also attended a writing advice panel at GenCon's Writer's Symposium called Mano a Mano that helped immensely. Lastly, I began studying German longsword. No one in my book fights with a sword, but it still helped me think about and understand body position in combat. (I'd like to think I did it well in the end, but that's for readers to say).

So, for other writers giving it a try, here are a few tips:

  • Keep logistics simple: The reader needs to quickly understand where the players are in relationship to each other and what exactly is happening. Don't lose your reader in over-detailed explanations or too-vague descriptions. 
  • Pacing is king: The middle of a fight is probably not your moment for a deep thought or flashback--stay in the moment
  • Raise the stakes: The scenes are best if kept short, but even in a short scene changing the setting to someplace more dangerous, or putting someone in direct peril can really add interest for the reader
  • Don't talk too much: dialogue can really slow down a fight
  • Characterization still matters: It's not enough to describe what everyone is doing. Your reader needs to have a pony in this race--they need to care who wins, who gets hurt, who gets away. 
If you can keep these things in mind, you can create a scene that is exciting and engaging for the reader and that forwards your plot and characterization at the same time. You can rule the world! (at least that's how it feels)

This posting is part of the A to Z blogging challenge, in which bloggers undertake to post every day in April, excepting Sundays, which amounts to 26 postings, one for each letter of the alphabet--preferably along a theme. My postings will all be about my debut novel and my experiences writing it and seeing it published.

Blogging A to Z is a great opportunity to connect with some excellent bloggers and interesting people. I encourage you to check out other participating blogs, too!

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  1. Great advice on action scenes :) If I could only write a fight scene like Joss Whedon I would be happy - fast, exciting and with one-liners in all the right places ;)
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)