One of the scenes in my novels that I find most intimidating to write is battles. How much action is too much? Or am I making it too simple? The Conjurors is a young adult fantasy series, and I enjoyed a succint, informative article on StormTheCastle.com about writing fantasy battles that got my brain working. These techniques gave me a starting point, and when I sat down and wrote the big battle in my story, I found a few other helpful techniques that I wanted to share.
Keep track of your heroine.
With all of the blood and manoevers and treachery, it’s easy to get lost when writing a battle. I found that using my heroine as an anchor helped to focus me. This is still her story, so I reminded myself to include her emotional responses to what she was witnessing, as well as the action itself.
Write a battle your audience will care about.
The battle scene in a book for adult men should look different than a battle in a YA fantasy aimed at a female readership. Talk to your fans and friends to see how much detail they want you to go into on the battlefield. Personally, I tend to skim the battle scenes in books that describe tactics and detailed combat. On the other hand, when I read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, the battles kept me riveted, because it was as much about what was happening inside Katniss’ head as it was about the fighting itself.
Check out historical battle tactics.
This can get overwhelming and confusing, so I’d like to add the caveat that it’s only worth real effort if you’re writing a massive battle scene. If you’ll be battling for a few chapters, you might want to check out some information on battle strategy to make your story richer. It also helps provide a framework for your battle so that you don’t get lost in all the blood.
Choose a fighting style and read up on it.
You can even take a class. If your fighters are all using hand-to-hand combat, it helps to know a few moves that you didn’t see in an action movie. You can talk to a friend in martial arts or even read up on the basics. No matter what style you have in mind, from 21st century warfare to clashing swords, a little knowledge goes a long way toward making your story believable.
Do you have any other tips on how to write a battle scene well? I’m editing mine now and would love some tips!
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I’m REAL late to this party but I would, respectfully, suggest less is more.
I completely agree with you. The more battle scenes I’ve ready (and written), the more I realize that keeping things easy-to-follow and sticking close to the protagonist is the way to go.