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Best way to write battles?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by RogueMage, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. RogueMage

    RogueMage New Member

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    First post here, whats up?

    So I am writing my story, and in the first chapter their is a pretty significant battle that takes place (naval.) Its a pretty huge battle. How should I go about writing it without being overly descriptive, or not descriptive enough?

    That is my main problem, but if are other tips you want to give me on the topic, I will gladly take them to heart.

    edit: If I am allowed, I will post the battle here. Not sure if that's okay though.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  2. thecoldembrace

    thecoldembrace Sage

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    CupofJoe likes this.
  3. RogueMage

    RogueMage New Member

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    Thanks for that.
     
  4. Letharg

    Letharg Troubadour

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    Another thought on the matter is that it might not be a good idea to portray an entire battle in the first chapter of a book because the reader has no reason, yet, to care which side wins or loses. You could do it anyway, of course, but you need to find a powerful emotional hook so that the reader cares about the people involved.

    Just something that popped into my mind during reading.

    As for writing the battle itself, the link already provided is excellent.
     
  5. Bee

    Bee Dreamer

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    I'd suggest that the battle focus on a character, or few characters, it can help to get some of the tension across by how the characters react, even seasoned naval officers will get tense and frantic. Not saying that this the best thing to do but when I write a battle I write in very short sentences when doing the description, brief statements as if the action and terror are swinging back and forth with everything going on. Being overly descriptive can lose the impact, but the reader has to know what's happening, I will always try to focus on words that are quite powerful to ramp up the reader.
     
  6. Jerseydevil

    Jerseydevil Minstrel

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    Two things here
    First, make sure the weapons and tactics are accurate. I know that this has little to do with the writing itself, but as a military historian, I take this kind of thing seriously. Poor choice of weapons and tactics can throw me right out of the book and I lose interest.

    On a more general note, use dialogue for descriptions rather than text when possible. For example, the cannon only having three shots left could be written:
    There was only enough powder left for three shots.

    Or

    "Sailor, how much ammo is left?" the captain asked as a cannonball flew past him.
    "Three more, sir," the sailor replied. "I doubt we can sink 'em with that."

    The same information is being given, but the second flows more, and doesn't feel like an info dump. Just my thoughts.
     
  7. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    I would highly recommend reading Joe Abercrombie's 'The Heroes' for looking at how to write them. He's got some great ones in there.
     
  8. scribbler

    scribbler Dreamer

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    You might want to check out some of Terry Brooks' novels. His battle scenes always seemed clear and exciting.
     
  9. Velka

    Velka Sage

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    One thing I would suggest is don't make them too long. Pages upon pages of every.single.thing grows tiresome very fast and I find myself skimming quicker than I'd like to admit.

    Being inside a character's head, instead of omnipresence, keeps things more interesting. A focused POV helps to create immediacy on a more intimate level and restricts focus to only what they are seeing/feeling/experiencing.
     
  10. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    I recently wrote an article that may help with your situation, especially the 2nd half of the article.

    Link: Writing Warfare in Fiction
     
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    It may help if you think about what you're trying to convey to your reader.

    Are you trying to relay events? Are you trying to depict the impact of the battle on a character? Is this all backstory? There's a lot to consider, but start with what you want to accomplish & then think about what you need.

    Ninety percent of the time, I won't use backstory like this. For my writing it's generally not needed. I'm also not likely to merely depict events. I find most exposition dull, but there are exceptions. The only true requirement is that your writing interests the reader. There are many ways to achieve that end.

    For my writing, I'll handle large scale battles in a similar fashion to small fights. I focus on, not the event itself, but how that event impacts a character (or characters). Typically, my chosen POVs will have the most at stake, or the biggest emotional reaction.

    Remember too, your writer's "camera" is not static. You may zoom into a close POV and then pan out into a more distant POV to capture pieces of the battle in a grander scale if it suits the story.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
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