Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FIGHT! Guest Post By Rayne Hall

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Today, We have a great guest post from 
Rayne Hall. 
Rayne  writes dark fantasy and horror. She has published more than twenty books under different pen names in different genres, and her stories have earned Honorable Mentions in 'The Years' Best Fantasy and Horror'. She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing, and teaches online classes.

Even if you've never wielded a weapon, you can write an exciting fight scene.
Rayne will show you how, in her workshop on 
which starts on 1 June 2011: 
You can find out more about the class here

The Final Showdown
How to Write a Great Fight Scene for the Climax of Your Book

Does your novel climax with a big showdown between the hero (or heroine) and the villain?
Here are techniques to make this fight powerful and memorable.

* The fight scene during the novel's climax is longer than the other fight scenes in the book. It is also the more violent, and the more emotionally rousing.

* Raise the stakes as high as you can. The climactic fight is almost always to the death. In addition to the hero's life, something big is at stake, something he's prepared to die for: the freedom of the slaves, the lives of the innocent, the future of Earth. This big cause is probably what the hero has been pursuing throughout the novel.

* State the purpose of the fight, that big cause for which the hero is fighting. Spell it out, and keep it in the reader's mind. The more you emphasise the purpose, the more the readers will root for the hero.

* Use an unusual location for the fight, preferably a dangerous place, such as burning house or a sinking ship.

* Stack the odds against your hero (who can, of course, be a heroine): Give the villain the better weapons, better armour, better preparation. Make your hero vulnerable: he's unarmed or poorly armed, without protective armour, maybe even injured or exhausted. The more you stack the odds, the more the readers will root for the hero.

* If several people are involved in the fight, arrange it so there are more bad guys than good guys, because readers always root for the minority.

* If the villain is supported by several henchmen, let your hero defeat them one by one. The villain has to be the last one to fall, in order to keep the tension high.

* Show violence. Even if you've skirted around violence in the earlier parts of the novel, this scene will benefit from injury and pain.

* Create a 'black moment' when all seems lost. Then the hero recalls his purpose, rallies his last drop of strength and courage, and fights on until victory.

* If your hero has a special skill, find a way to use it in the fight scene, preferably in a surprising way.

* If your hero has a weakness, phobia or fear, force him to face it during the climactic fight. For example, if he fears heights, the fight takes place on the roof of a skyscraper. If he has a phobia of snakes, the villain uses snakes against him. If he's terrified of spiders, he must fight in a spider-infested cave.

If you have questions about writing fight scenes, feel free to ask. I'll be around for a week and will respond. 

Thank you so much for being a guest, Rayne! 

So, tell us your story! What do you struggle with when writing fight scenes? Rayne will be around all week to answer questions. Let's give her some!   


Romance Odyssey said...

Hi Rayne! I took your fighting writing class earlier this year and it was amazing! I loved it. I'm still working on my Bellydance fight scene. Thanks for sharing :)

Linda Graves

Rayne Hall said...

Hi Linda,
I remember, and I still love the idea of a series around a female bellydancing James Bond. This will be so unusual and entertaining. I hope to read your fight scene one day - or better still, read the first novel in the series.
How are you getting on with your fight scene? Have you put it on ice, or are you stuck with an aspect of it? If you want help, just ask.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I haven't really done a fight scene yet, but these are some great hints...and they could be applied to any other, um, climactic scene, too...

Rayne Hall said...

I agree: many of the principles of a good fight scene apply to other scenes as well, and what makes a good climactic fight scene is not dissimilar from other types of climactic scenes.
I think fight scenes have a lot in common with romantic and erotic scenes especially (although of course there are huge differences, too).
What kind of climactic scene are you envisaging for your current work in progress?

Kym Roberts said...

great post Rayne. I know about fighting first hand and when I find technical mistakes or gross errors in capabilities of weapons or people I'll put a book down. But with that being said, if the fight scenes are placed incorrectly in the story and are completely techinical with no emotional pull for the reader, than it may as well be a text book. Having both the knowledge and the literary skill makes a great book.

Rayne Hall said...

Hi Kym,

I agree: technical blow-by-blow accounts are dull. Instead, the writer needs to craft fight scenes with the same skill as other scenes, and that includes creating emotional pull.

If the novel isn't about martial arts, the writer doesn't need a great lot of technical knowledge. They just need to know enough to avoid gross blunders. If a writer doesn't know the weapon or martial art they're writing about, they can simply ask someone who does. Many people are eager to share their expertise with a writer, and to check a scene for implausibilities.

Do you remember examples of published novels you put down because of gross errors?

Have you used your fighting experience in your fiction?


Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Hi Rayne, I love a good fight scene! They're often some of my favourite scenes to write, even if I'm always worried about making them dull.

Rayne Hall said...

Hi Paul,
Wow, someone who genuinely enjoys writing fight scenes, as well as reading them! What do you enjoy about writing fight scenes?

Dawn Alexander said...

Thank you,Rayne, for being here to answer everyone's questions and comments.