Great Battle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Well, I need to post something for today, and the only thing I can think of right now are more writing exercises.
I just bum-rushed the last 3 episodes of ‘Vikings’ on History Channel to catch up, and I’m now listening to Amon Amarth, and I’m more eager for epic battle or at least writing about it, but instead, I will be posting to you… so, to make up for it, ‘How I Write: Epic Battles!’ shall be woven into this glorious thing. This is mildly also fueled by a writer friend of mine, Catrina Taylor (author of the ‘Xarrok’ series that you should be reading), who asked the question of defining “epic” for a blog entry of her own. My answer used epic battle as an example and now my mind is on the glory of epic battle!
A true epic battle by my concept of what make it truly epic, is a battle that is as grand scale that any battle can be. If you can think of something that could be in that battle but isn’t in that battle, then by the gods, put that thing in there and let it scream to the heavens ‘til they rain down blood! In most stories, the climatic battle is the usually an epic battle, but not all epic battles are the climatic battle—also, squares are rectangles, but rectangles are not always squares… just sayin’…
Battle a (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I consider battle scenes to be commonly the most challenging things to write, but yet, I also find myself needing to write them often (my stories are very violent). The more going on in the battle, the greater the challenge. All those images of sword clashing, arrows flying, fists smashing, and fire spew blazing in and unending pan of fast paced chaos have to all be crammed into a little box we call “written word.”
The choice for an epic battle will actually come early in the planning of your story (even considering how little planning I usually do). The reason for this, for me, is that if I really need to have it truly, truly huge, then I need the story to have more POVs (point of views). ‘Ravenblood,’ for example, will have a few different POVs entirely for the battle I have planned for the second book (there will be fighting in the first, but I got so much fighting in the second… so much battle—but still, keep in mind the early planning bit… this is planning for a whole book later just to make sure the battle can happen at the scale that I need it to). Think about ‘Lord of the Rings’ (movies for now, I’m trying to get you to see visual scale clearer). They had at least one epic battle in each, trying to out-do the last, and for all of them, they kept jumping between POVs everyone fighting. ‘Avengers’ in the final battle did the same thing… one moment we’re in Thor smashing aliens, next we’re in Hulk smashing aliens, next we’re in Captain America… also pretty much smashing aliens… at some point a really big alien was being smash also.
The Battle of Helm’s Deep in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Don’t get me wrong, it can be done with only one POV also, but may the gods have mercy on you for trying it… ‘cause now you have to figure out how to have a whole lot of stuff happen to one guy, all in one battle, and make his survival make complete sense—completely doable, but never very simple. The end-battle in ‘Natural Selection: Elimination’ is probably the best I’ve done with it, but even now, every time I re-read it, I wonder if I could have put more in somehow (I’m sure if I had more time with it, I could have, but having time wasn’t really the point of the exercise—I had to Iron Chef that shit… make a crazy ass feast with the ingredients that were thrown at me in very little time… because you can make ice-cream out of any-damn-thing!).
The main focus, no matter the number of POVs will always be to make as much happen as you can possibly make happen. Everything.
Now… exercise… for… that… hold on… I got something… um… wait… no… ok… maybe…:
You stand in the middle of a field… you are surrounded. Who/what are they? Why are they coming for you?
Are you standing alone? If yes, why? If no, who’s with you and why?
What is your weapon—sword, ax, guns, magic, and/or fists? Same for everyone else with and/or against you, what do they have?
What comes at you first? What do you do in response? What next? Keep going…
Next time I’m going to try to talk more about my point of view on POVs in general, since this kinda will spur some thought on that (and if anyone knows anything about the writing world, this is an unending debate on how POV should be handled).
And Bonus exercise I think some of you really should try. This will be a team effort, so find a writing friend, I want you to try playing your own Flash Round with them (for you lonely types, you can just play on here with me if you like—it’s ok, I’ll be your friend). This exercise will probably frustrate the crap out of many of you because each round will not go quite in the direction you planned… there’s a double lesson learned in that: one, you will work on your ability to create in any given direction, and two, you will be inspired to write your own story in order to subdue that pain caused by someone going a different direction… and look, you’re writing.