My WIP’s Fourth Revision
Fight and Battle Scenes (1)
How many of you skim through battle scenes?
Raise your hand!
And I have a bunch in my story.
And they aren’t very good.
How ‘Bout Them Apples?
Elmore Leonard said, “Just snip the boring bits out.”
How tempting. After all, isn’t that one of the tricks of writing? Leave some of the stuff off-stage? Sure, Shakespeare had fighting, but he never had casts of thousands swinging from one pirate ship to another. Why? Because he didn’t have room on stage.
But…I hate the thought that I can’t write something, and write it well.
So, why can’t I write a heart pounding fight scene to keep the most hooked adrenaline junkie coming back for more?
Or…at least make it a little interesting?
So, What Did I Do?
I posted a fight, a small battle, and a big battle to Scrib‘s FIGHT CLUB GROUP, hoping for help.
The group used to be really active, but it seems to have gone kind of dormant, like a lot of Scrib has, but that’s a different post.
Still, Scott Bell, a published author, and several friends looked at my stuff.
…at fights because my characters fight against a blank screen with no sense of time or space. They are simply mindless puppets.
…at big battles because my POV character is distant, my stage directions are confusing, and my battle plan was childish and impractical.
I took them both down after Scott critted them.
I went back and reviewed Jordan Rosenfeld’s Make A Scene and her suggestions on action scenes. For some reason I got it in my head I wasn’t supposed to spend much time in the POV’s head, do much with the setting, and just cut and hack.
So I wrote it that way.
Except…she didn’t exactly say that
I tried to fix specific things inside the scene without examining the structure and trying to figure out why this scene would unfold the way it did.
I finally gave in and used Linda Scofield’s scheme to color the four scene layers – dialog, action beats, description, and internalities.
I went back the beginning and laid out this knife fight’s setting.
I concentrated really hard on the physical beats of the fight, correcting errors critters seized on, and added some more to the fight itself, since it was deemed to short.
My scene’s lead in had been a couple of paragraphs. This might have worked had my POV had significant stage time before this scene, but he hadn’t. So I evolved a part of the story I’d not worked on much, and came up with a subplot that will actually feed nicely into existing scenes. And this turned into a 1,500 word scene.
I turned my attention back to the POV’s internalities. I stripped away filtering, added in emotion, physical sensations, and lots of thoughts. I realize I haven’t done much with inner monologue. Is this the last layer I need to unlock to get as close to the POV as I can?
How exciting. 🙂
My new fight scene is 1,500 words, preceded by 1,500 words of suspense.
I reposted it to Scrib. I hope I’m closer than I was.
While I’m waiting for them, I will try to save my battle scene.