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November 26, 2013

Writing About: A Battle

Here are 16 steps/tips on how to write a battle:

·         Tell your readers about the days that lead up to the battle. Describe the growing tension. How do your characters feel about the approaching battle? What are the last details they see to?

·         The day of the battle: How do your characters get to the battlefield? I’m sure they won’t just magically pop up, unless you’re writing a fantasy or sci-fi story then maybe they do.

·         Make every moment suspenseful and action-packed. Even the normally boring parts can be thrilling.

·         Do your characters have last words with each other before the battle begins? What are they?

·         Let the leader give orders to their soldiers and assign missions/tasks before the battle begins.

·         Figure out what type of weapons you want your characters to use during the battle. This can be from swords to missiles.

·         When your characters are on the battlefield, you can have them face the enemy squarely and let them charge at each other, as it was done hundreds of years ago, or you can give the enemy the upper hand due to a weapon, a surprise attack from behind, or because they drop out of the sky. Whatever floats your boat!

·         Plan out every moment of the battle before you begin writing it. I’ve written two battles and this technique was crucial to me. If I didn’t know what was going to happen at every turn, I would’ve pulled my hair out and the battles wouldn’t be nearly as good as they are.
FYI: The next three tips work best if you’re writing your story in multiple perspectives.
·         The second the fighting starts, focus on one character at a time. I had quite a few characters participating in my battle and I gave them all specific roles. I wanted them all to be seen as important players. Give all your characters a special mission.

·         Spend an adequate amount of time describing each character as they are fighting and the impact they are making. Adequate can be a couple of paragraphs to two manuscript pages.

·         When you’re done writing about one character link them to another character to switch the focus. This can be done by one character simply glancing over and seeing another character. And that’s when you’d create a scene break to start writing about that character.

·         Reveal struggle and injuries. It’s not a battle unless there are wounds.

·         Sacrifice and death. These are two things a writer may find difficult to carry out, but to make a battle convincing there has to be death and I’m not just talking about the good guys killing the bad guys, but the good guys losing their lives too. Death is sometimes needed. You don’t have to kill off anyone major, but you could consider a minor character. I killed off a minor character who had been in every book in my series. It was difficult, and sad, but it made sense for my story.

·         Danger! Even if you don’t want to kill off a single one of your beloved characters, put them into deadly situations that they may not get out of alive.

·         Finally, let the protagonist and antagonist come face-to-face on the battlefield and let them fight to the death. Let the protagonist struggle and even come close to defeat. Whether they are defeated is up to you.

·         The end: How does the battle end? With the death of the protagonist and/or the antagonist? Describe the last moments of the battle, and the moment when one side realizes they’ve won.

QUESTION: What book do you think had the best battle?


Tonja said...

I think this all applies to metaphorical battles too. :) Like a daughter's "battle" with her mother.

Kelly Hashway said...

I love last words before a battle. :)

Chrys Fey said...

So do I! In the last book my supernatural-thriller series the main character says haunting last words to her loved ones then powerful last words to her soldiers. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Definitely! I hadn't thought of it that way. :)

Julie Flanders said...

Your nephew is a cutie! I've never tried to write a battle scene before and I think it would be intimidating. I need to remember this post if I ever end up writing one.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! I am a proud auntie. :D It is intimidating at first, but if you do research and plan it out, it becomes much easier. :)

PK HREZO said...

Great tips, Chrys! I always think of LOTR for epic battle scenes.

BTW just bought your book! Big congrats!!

Chrys Fey said...

I was waiting for someone to say LOTR! Definitely the best EPIC battles. ;)

Really? :D Thank you so much!!!! I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

Denise Covey said...

Wow, this is so helpful Chrys! My hero goes to Gallipoli in my latest novel. Quite the challenge researching this now comes the battle....I'll be back to refer to this some more.

Chrys Fey said...

That is great to hear! I hope this post helps you to create the best battle you possibly can. Good luck!! :)

Unknown said...

I usually struggle with killing certain characters in battle. Although it's useful to sometimes let the good ones go, I still find it difficult. I will be very interested to see your take on whether or not to kill your protagonist. I'm always sad to learn when the good die but if the story is epic and it serves a more meaningful purpose, then so be it=( Great advice, Chyrs!

Chrys Fey said...

I struggled too. I loved the character I killed off but I realized I had to for my story. It wasn't easy though.

I'll be posting my article on killing off your protagonist in a few weeks. ;)