Back again, dragons. We have a lecture for week 10, and you can see it right about here. It’s about all kinds of agent, editor niceness. But I’m not going to talk about that here. I’m just going to address the all important Fight Scenes part of the lecture.
Why, you ask?
Because it’s one of the most bothersome aspects of writing, when it isn’t done well, there is just nothing to look forward to. Yes, I’m exaggerating…a bit, but it really does bother me.
Brandon brings up one important difference that the author can do when writing his book that can’t be done in a movie, something very good. And here is that little tid bit of information…
Thoughts & Emotions
And what should you not do in a book? Blow by Blow (aka The Jackie Chan Method). This can become quite tedious, but of course it’s a rule that’s actually a guideline so you can do as much blow by blow as you want, you being the author, but keep in mind that it may very well bore your reader to death.
Now, when we write fight scenes we should always do a few things, no matter what. (again this rule is STILL a guide line, but do it anyway like it was a rule. lol ) We should always let the reader know where people are, we should make it short and we should make it 100% CLEAR. Always do those things.
Let’s see one of Brandon’s fight scenes from A Memory of Light.
Lan split the head of the Myrddraal in half down to the neck. He danced Mandarb back, letting the Fade thrash as it died, its convulsions twisting the pieces of its skull from the neck. Putrid black blood poured onto the rock, which had already been bloodied a dozen times.
Lan wheeled toward the call. One of his men pointed back toward their camp, where a spout of bright red light was shooting into the air.
Noon already? Lan thought, raising his sword and signaling for his Malkieri to retreat. The Kandori and Arafellin troops were swinging in, light cavalry with bows, sending wave after wave of arrows into the mass of Trollocs.
The stench was tremendous. Lan and his men rode away from the front lines, passing two Asha’man and an Aes Sedai—Coladara, who had insisted on staying on as King Paitar’s advisor—channeling to set the Trolloc corpses aflame. That would make it more difficult for the next wave of Shadowspawn.
Lan’s armies had continued their brutal work, holding the Trollocs at the Gap like pitch holding back the spray of water in a leaking boat. The army fought in short rotations, an hour at a time. Bonfires and Asha’man lit the way at night, never giving the Shadowspawn the opportunity to advance.
Finding sleep was not easy for his troops while also caring for their equipment, gathering wood for the bonfires and bringing supplies through gateways. As he surveyed those leaving the front lines with him, Lan sought for what he could do to strengthen them. Nearby, faithful Bulen was sagging. Lan would need to make sure the man slept more, or—
Bulen slid from the saddle.
Lan cursed, stopping Mandarb, and leaped down. He dashed to Bulen’s side and found the man staring blankly into the sky. Bulen had a massive wound in his side, the mail there ripped like a sail that had seen too much wind. Bulen had covered the wound by putting his coat on over his armor. Lan hadn’t seen him hit, nor had he seen the man covering up the wound.
Fool! Lan thought, feeling at Bulen’s neck.
No pulse. Fie was gone.
Fool! Lan thought again, bowing his head. You wouldn’t leave my side, would you? That’s why you hid it. You were afraid I’d die out there while you came back for Healing.
Either that, or you didn’t want to demand strength from the channelers. You knew they were pushed to their limits.
With teeth clenched, Lan picked up Bulen’s corpse and slung it over his shoulder. Fie hefted the body onto Bulen’s horse and tied it across the saddle. Andere and Prince Kaisel—the Kandori youth and his squad of a hundred usually rode with Lan—sat nearby, watching solemnly. Conscious of their eyes, Lan put his hand on the corpse’s shoulder.
“You did well, my friend,” he said. “Your praises will be sung for generations. May you shelter in the palm of the Creator’s hand, and may the last embrace of the mother welcome you home.” He turned to the others. “I will not mourn! Mourning is for those who regret, and I do not regret what we do here! Bulen could not have died a better death. I do not cry for him, I cheer!”
It starts with a blow by blow, and though it doesn’t go on very long I find I am lready, even then, for something else, because I’m familiar with Lan’s abilities in battle (and you may love it, this is just me) as well as the Malkier around him. But Brandon doesn’t linger, just sets up the scene and then breaks free at the perfect time and goes into the loss of a friend instead, something that I can relate to and a dynamic for Lan that I always like. It’s done very well, because, well, Brandon does this very well. Very, very well.
Let’s hear a few lines from some of your fight scenes so we can learn, critique, and be awed by our fellow dragons. The more scenes we all can read and learn from the better we will all be. So, in the name of getting more awesome fantasy books out there, let’s write down some examples of our writing scenes.
Talk to you soon,