Summoning Pt4


The guardsman steps into your personal space, reaching out a hand to grab at Azure’s lead as though to prevent you from running. He pats the horse’s neck, assessing you with quick and sharp eyes. He moves and assess like someone used to being active and in the occasional skirmish, but by himself he doesn’t present any threat to you, especially if you were to draw MotherKiller.

You tilt your chin towards the peasant man, grinding your teeth together as he takes a punch to the gut, despite his cowering and pleading posture. “A lot of men for one lone farmer.”

The guardsman looks over his shoulder, unperturbed by the attack, then looks back at you with an amused grin and a slight shrug. “He’s a known cheat, and owes the governor eight silver. We were instructed not to allow him to leave the city without what’s owed.”

You stare at him, unimpressed. “Why isn’t there a magistrate here then, to ensure fairness in the transaction and collect the money?”

His mouth twists into a frown as he spreads his feet slightly, as though edging into a ready fighting stance. “What’s it to you?” he demands, clearly displeased with your questioning of his and his fellows doings.

How to Construct Gripping Fight Scenes


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This one is for you, Koda.

Like a lot of my how to pieces here, this one came from my own developing of a fight scene. I used to be really good at writing them as a teenager. I used short, choppy and frequently fragmented sentences to develop the abrupt feel of a fight, choosing active words and keeping dialogue and description to a minimum unless the need to describe an object or wound arose. And while these are still things that I tend to do, fights just don’t come to me like they used to. They’re one of the things that I lost the ability to write when I stopped actively developing my technique, right around the same time that I got my first job and had to be a full fledged adult for the first time.

But fear not! As with all things that I’m working on myself, I’ve got you guys covered too. Here are my tips for constructing a gripping fight scene.

Decide your level of description. This is where you want to start as it will determine how detailed you need to be. This is the difference between the setting being an alley or a cramped, damp space with molding cardboard boxes and a trashcan with red knuckle marks against the chainlink fence at the back. This is the difference between a punch being landed and spit, blood and teeth sailing away from an opponent’s jaw in slow motion like the movies.

Research. Everything. Regardless of the details of your fight scene, you need to know everything there is to know about the little details. Things like armor, weapons, terrain, training and fighting style will dictate certain facts to the scene. Facts that you should be constructing the fight around. Men dressed in full plate armor are not going to swing at each other for hours (they’re lucky to get a few minutes before becoming exhausted). Left and right handed people have different advantages and disadvantages in a fist fight. These things are important.

Morale and mentality. Determine this for each of the fighters because this too will determine how strong they are, how capable of fighting each is, if any of their buttons have been pushed, and if they have concerns about winning or even walking away alive. Their determination and strength will pair directly with your research.

Decide on your style. I prefer nitty gritty and fragmented sentences to convey the jarring, often ugly nature of a fight, but there’s also the option of broader descriptions that can leave more to the reader’s interpretation. Do avoid description overload though; you want the focus to be on the physical actions, taking breathing moments in things like brief descriptions of objects before they’re smashed over someone’s head.

Triple check your vocab. Seriously. Your word choices here are almost as important as in the sex scenes.

Understand injuries. This one might have your search history looking kind of sketchy, but you should know the basics about injuries your fighters are going to receive in the battle as well as any that they might have had beforehand. Know how these might hinder the battle as well as what happens after the fighting stops. Always remember that every blow alters the protagonist’s chance of winning.

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Apparently a tiger after a fight in the snow.

After the fact character impact. Most people aren’t natural fighters, and even if one of yours is, there are always physical and mental exhaustion that set in once the adrenaline stops pumping. Take these into consideration, along with any injuries sustained and the impact of anything said during the fight. Keep in mind too that if the fight happened in the middle of other big plot points, the rest of the story is unlikely to wait for your characters to recover.

Don’t write a fight just for the fight’s sake. I know this can be tempting when things are progressing in a calm and boring manner. “It will showcase my character’s ability to handle surprise, or give someone a mortal wound for added drama!” Like anything else in the story, the fight needs to progress the plot, so if you find yourself inclined to write an unplanned fight scene at least tie it in.

 

Write! Take all of this and go create an epic fight scene. Right now. I’ll be back.

Other helpful articles:

How to Write Realistic Fight Scenes

Realistic Fighting Abilities in Fiction

Photo credit

Photo credit

 

Summoning Pt3


The smith leads your freshly shoed horse, Azure, out from behind his shop. You examine his work and then nod in approval, passing over a silver for each shoe. The burly man takes the silver with a grunt, hefts its weight in his hand and turns back to his smithy and the other requests made of him.

Turning your head up, you check the position of the sun: early afternoon. It is midsummer and you are likely to have six or seven more daylight hours, plenty of time to reach the portal that will take you one world closer to your homeland. With haste, you walk Azure around to several of the stalls to purchase foodstuffs and other supplies for traveling. You overpay for a bag of grain, though without much fuss considering that the frail looking boy doubtless needed the extra coin more than you. When you are satisfied with your provisions and you’ve had a bite from one of the taverns that was roasting a whole pig in the side yard, you lead Azure to the north gate. From here, if you move at a steady and determined pace, you will likely reach the portal in four or five hours, provided nothing detains you along the way. You can be home in less than three days.

As you approach the wall and guarded gate though, there is a tingling along the back of your neck. The gates are mostly closed, allowing only enough room for a single wagon to pass through at a time, and the wagon that looked to have been leaving town is stopped. A guardsman is advancing on the driver, a peasant man in common, dirt-smudged attire, who backs towards his cart with his hands held placatingly up. You quickly count eight guardsmen scattered loosely around their fellow – far too many for watching a gate in peacetimes on a market day.

Before you can decide whether to intervene in what seems unmistakably to become a physical altercation or turn Azure around and exit the town another direction, one of the guardsmen takes note of you.

“Ho, traveler,” he raises his arm to signal that you should remain still as he approaches. “Those passing through the gates must submit to an inspection of their persons and goods.”

What My Resume Should REALLY Say


Last week I was browsing through my WordPress Reader and came across something interesting from a blog I’ve recently started following: a personal narrative in the form of a “resume”; a growing up piece broken down into jobs and the experiences there. I’ve really become a sucker for personal narratives, especially when they’re engaging or have a unique format. Check out the original article here. This prompted me to take my own go:

Student: What can I say about my early education that wouldn’t be universal to most kids? I was excluded from playing house in kindergarten one day because there were already 4 kids at that station. I had a boyfriend in the 2nd grade, and he did things like try to protect me from the wind whipping up sand on the playground and get upset when I was too embarrassed to dance at the “junior prom” with him. My family moved, and I had to teach myself cursive. My new teacher told me that my writing was pathetic and that I should be ashamed.

The girls in middle school called me a fat cow and a whore. They are the ones set me on the path of hating my body, but once I was aware that I was expected to hate my body, the rest of the world reinforced it. There was the teacher who separated me from my class and pressed me back against a wall, and reached out to touch me, jerking his hand away when someone came around the corner.

Then there was the homeschooling, arguably the most informative of my years because I was left alone to process things for myself. I was homeschooled when I lost my religion, when I realized that history is always written by the winner, when I discovered that I am a feminist and when I broke my mother’s heart by not turning out to be the perfect little picture she had in her mind. Continue reading

A Small Step on a Long Road


We don’t really celebrate Easter like a lot of our family and friends. I’m sure I participated in Easter egg hunts as a kid, but none are memorable enough to come to mind. In my early 20s I enjoyed poking fun at Christians in my social circle by reminding them that their resurrection holiday is actually a Pagan day for fertility. Now though, it’s just another day. The only other thing that it could be for me is another pinprick of grief; if I linger too long looking at the pastel baby shoes and the tiny, sparkly Easter dresses it only reminds me of the what I’ve lost. If I see Easter baskets stuffed to the brim with goodies, I’m reminded of memories I’ll never have. And instead of watching my almost-two-year-old play with others her own age while discussing with other blissful moms the hardships of motherhood, I stood in the grocery store looking at flowers, wondering which one would be best to bring to her grave.

I am still terribly broken, but I’ve come a long way.

Until very recently, I had a really difficult time around small children – my sister-in-law’s children, specifically. Her oldest was born ten days before mine, and there will never be a day that I look at him and don’t see her. Just being near him, or any kid younger, was almost always guaranteed to send me into a panic attack. I knew it, and I knew this made everyone around me uncomfortable so I avoided as many of these social situations as I could. Looking at it now, I think my struggle was part grief and part resentment. It’s difficult for a baby loss mother to not find fault within herself, regardless of what everyone always says, and to see another’s healthy babies only highlights her own failures. It’s a knife to the gut. Every. Single. Time. Continue reading

Summoning Pt2


Deciding it’s better to know what’s going on rather than not and have whatever is going on bite you in the ass, you rip open one end of the envelope and slide the letter out.

Dearest….

Your presence is required with all haste at the family estate. An item that has been in our family’s keeping for several generations has been stolen and it is most urgent that it be retrieved. All the parties who must needs be notified have been, but in the interim the item remains unaccounted for, and necessity has forced me to seek all the aid I am able. –Terrin

It’s unsurprising that his first letter in over six months is a demand. Still, there are several family heirlooms scattered throughout the main house that have both magical and monetary value, and the loss of any of them would be detrimental to the family, in reputation if nothing else. Terrin’s family skills might leave much to be desired but he’s not a fool, so anyone capable of getting in under his guard to steal something of such value must be quite skilled. It seems as though your plans for the next few days might change…

WorldBuilding: How to Write a Fictional Royal Court


royal courtLemme tell you guys… this one was a doozy to write. Several weeks ago I was doing some worldbuilding and setting development for my WIP trilogy, when it dawned on me that I hadn’t spent much time developing the secondary characters that are going to be around my main protagonist. She’s a young royal, ascending to her country’s throne and the cultural seat of the world with her twin brother at the tender age of seventeen, and it never occurred to me to thoroughly develop their courts. I had their households staffed with nameless wisps, and for a story as massive and all-encompassing as it’s shaping up to be, I simply couldn’t allow these vital people to remain faceless and nameless. So I set out to develop the royal court, its many peoples, purposes and movements, and thus the notion of this article was born.  

In addition to the list of players any royal court is going to need, I also came across several scenario questions that you might want to consider, if you ever find yourself needing to develop a court like I have. Consider these: Continue reading