Thursday, December 20, 2012

Writing Combat

One of the most exciting things you can write is combat.  It doesn't matter if it's hand-to-hand, ranged, or explosive, fighting is one of the most directly heart-pounding conflicts.

I've written several types of combat scenes.  While they have their own unique mechanics, all of them share a structure of short sentences, vivid language, and low dialogue.

Skirmishes for entertainment are rare, but I have written one.  It needed to be very expressive and contemplative to keep full attention of the audience while the "camera" is moved from facing directly at the protagonist, especially since it was in the first chapter (perhaps that bit isn't the most recommended).  Here is the final version of the scene (from the first incarnation/draft of The Lost Mountains, my epic fantasy, written when I was about 12): 
     "Fredric looked over the parchment he was writing upon, as he was quite an intellectual sir, whilst two men stood fighting twenty feet in front of him. He watched so intently at points, that Fredric didn’t notice the ink from his quill drip all over his cloth breeches. The two huge berserkers wielded bloodied axes and wore wolf skin helmets.  Both men were near oblivious in rage and must have wet themselves in pain and weakness, for their clothing was soaked and dripped of a yellow liquid that was not sweat or blood.  Fredric now watched, the excitement overtaking his hate for fights of entertainment. 
     The warrior’s were now in the heat of pitched battle, one man, Ergot was his name if the crowd’s cheers were correct, swung his poleaxe in a full swing to meet the others’ making him stagger backward.  Josef, the other warrior, soon recovered his footing and struck at Ergot’s thighs where no armor protected.  He was then hit on the crown of the skull with the unsharpened end of Ergot’s axe and was sent to the ground, blood spilling onto him from the Ergot’s gash.  Luckily, he had valiant battle instincts and proceeded to roll away across the field as he kept his axe’s haft in his teeth.  Ergot, the Strong some called him, charged him like a ravenous wolf and was about to make a slash over his brow, when Josef took the handle of his weapon under the head of his axe, and with a powerful jerk, ripped it from his fists.  As he was doing this, he also kicked at his attacker’s shins to knock him to the ground, and growled like a tiger in the midst of his prey. 
     Now only several moments after Fredric had started really enjoying the melee before him, Josef laid his final blow with his axe, and drifted unconscious only inches away from the blood splattered across the field, near the opposing berserker’s severed head.  Fredric returned to his parchment and wrote of what his mind was dabbling over, something he did a lot to keep his mind exercised and clear.  He had much of his scroll scrawled upon in his ebony black ink before he noticed an eerie wind behind his back.  Little conversation was spoken in the crowd of Ivorian chefs, local lords, and the Kavimeran Company, as it would later be called, whilst the King of Ivor walked proudly to the center of the war torn field where the fight had been held.  He wore garments of fine purple-dyed silk and had bronze colored hair and a light brown mustache which hid a long, thin scar which stretched across his upper lip."

Melee is shear fun.  It's also a great way to get your audience to like your characters.

Guns and firearms are great for hitting the senses.  You hear the explosion of gunpowder, smell and see the smoke (typically stinging your eyes), and feel recoil.  My short story "The Battle of Fort Dawn" uses Civil War equivalent firearms and cannon.

The only time combat is not a great part of a story is when it is done between a party of armed and a party of unarmed combatants.  In that case, it's simply horrific.

No comments:

Post a Comment