Today we’re pleased to host fantasy author TC Southwell’s virtual book tour again. As part of the tour, The Queen’s Blade II, Sacrifice, is free on a 3-day promotion, today being the last day. Grab your copy while you can (Book 1 is permanently free). Coupon Code: EN88H
Enjoy the below guest post written by Southwell, which we’re sure all writers will find invaluable.
A fight scene should be gripping, believable and fast-paced. I always write a fight scene at the speed at which it happens, so it’s ‘real time’, and the reader can, therefore, imagine it at the correct speed. You can’t add much in the way of thoughts or feelings during a fight scene, as this will slow the pace of the action and the characters will ‘pause’ in the reader’s mind while the protagonist has his/her thoughts or feelings. Aside from that, someone in the middle of a fight won’t have time to think about stuff. They’ll be too busy fighting. Feelings such as fear, panic, pain and rage should be added briefly, as they happen. Actions must be clearly described and believable.
Try to imagine the scene, and write what happens. If your protagonist is attacked from behind, you can only show the result of this, since your character only knows what happens when he or she is struck, stabbed or shot. They don’t know who did it or how, just that someone must have sneaked up behind them or attacked from a concealed position. If you’re writing from the point of view of an observer – another character who’s not fighting, not god – you can show your readers everything that happens – such as enemies sneaking up on the protagonist – but this method will distance your readers from the true impact of the fight, since an observer won’t experience it first-hand and, therefore, neither will your readers.
If possible, I like to switch points of view during a fight scene, to give a partial first-hand account and a partial second-hand account. This is because an observer can see things the protagonist can’t, and his or her feelings can be described, briefly, to enhance the reader’s overall impression of the fight, not only from the point of view of the fighting itself, but also the pathos of a sympathetic observer’s feelings about the conflict’s outcome. Make the actions believable, so your hero/heroine isn’t doing the impossible in order to survive, unless, of course, your protagonist has super-human abilities, but then these must have already been established. If not, the possibility of developing such abilities must have already been made clear, so that a sudden onset of a magical power isn’t a ‘deus ex machina’ – god from the machine – where an untenable situation is resolved through an unexpected and contrived ability, person, object or event. That will only make your readers snort and roll their eyes.
Describe the scenery before the fight starts, to give a complete picture, and add changes as they happen, such as blood, broken weapons, corpses, the protagonist’s exhaustion and injuries, and so on. In order to give your readers a true and vivid impression of the fight from a first-hand point of view, it’s important to only describe exactly what the fighter experiences. For example, if your protagonist has a head injury, he or she only knows that something warm is running down his/her face; he or she doesn’t know it’s blood, although he/she can probably guess.
It’s easier to write a fight scene between two antagonists, but if you’re describing a battle in which the hero or heroine is embroiled, be sure to take a moment every now and then to briefly describe what’s going on around him/her, as he or she would see, hear, feel or smell it. All the senses are important, not only sight. Describing smells, sounds and sensations will give your readers a far clearer and more engaging experience. Never, however, say that your protagonist saw, smelt, heard or felt something. Those words are a no-no in first-hand writing, as they distance your readers. Show the scene, don’t tell it, and never, ever, use the word ‘suddenly’! Show that something was sudden; don’t tell your readers it was.
T. C. Southwell was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the Seychelles with her family when she was a baby. She spent her formative years exploring the islands – mostly alone. Naturally, her imagination flourished and she developed a keen love of other worlds. The family travelled through Europe and Africa and, after the death of her father, settled in South Africa. T. C. Southwell has written over thirty novels and five screenplays. Her hobbies include motorcycling, horse riding and art.
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