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Winning The Battle



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Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:06 pm
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“A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost.

Ferdinand Foch.

Intro

One of the most common things that often stump the ambitious writer who is busy planning out his epic read, whether it is fantasy, historical or science fiction, is how am I going to write that critical battle? You know what I mean. They are often more memorable in the cinematic industry – who can forget the rain-splattered defences of Helm’s Deep as the beleaguered heroes attempt to stop the hordes facing them? Or Mel Gibson’s brave defiance in Braveheart, despite being horribly inaccurate, it still chills the spine as his painted face screams for freedom? What about the “Unleash Hell” scene from Gladiator, as Russell Crowe darts through the woods in a near-suicidal cavalry charge? They stick in your mind. But in books in can still be the same, even though you don’t have breath-taking visuals to back up your paragraphs.

The strange thing is, writing a good battle scene is no different to writing a good love scene. Or any good scene. The basics are the same. Characters, plot, flow, pace, drama, making your reader care. They all apply. This article will try and help you know where and how to apply them. One of the things that scares most writers off battle scenes is the sheer work of finishing them – while a love scene can be a few pages, a huge battle scene culminating in a terrific ending can be fifty pages, or more. How do you keep the reader interested in that time? How do you make sure they still care? How do you make sure they still know what’s happening?

To completely paraphrase my old friend Napoleon, you won’t win the battle on an empty stomach. So get some food and read on.

Research – Knowing is Half the Battle

Plan

(Almost) every commander in history approached a battle with a plan in mind, so why wouldn’t you? It’s a trap that befalls many. Make a horde of Orcs, and throw them over and over again at your hero, until his sword is bloody, but they just about managed to win. It’s boring and it makes no sense. Yes, some barbarians did throw themselves forward in gigantic charges, but not always.

So what sort of battle do you want? If you are writing a historical battle, most of this won’t apply. Instead, you’ll have to research every detail of the battle, from starting positions to uniforms to orders to weather, etc. Fantasy writers need a different sort of plan. This will be generated purely from your story.

Let’s take the Orc horde against the smaller force of humans as an example, as it’s the most common. It’s a normal fantasy story – the normally fragmented Orcs have decided to group together to spill a hell of a lot of human blood just because they can. They pile over the mountains, terrorising the villages, raiding and looting everywhere they go. A small human force goes out to meet them on a plain. It sounds like fantasy, doesn’t it?

Funnily enough, it’s not. It’s based on history.

From Germanic tribes to the Mongols, groups of people have been doing this for centuries. In fact, I would say most Orc tribes are derived from the same sort of organisation of Mongols. Tribes that war with each other, living in a harsh land, considered uncivilised in the eyes of other races. The traditional view of the Mongols is that they won battles by throwing thousands of bloodthirsty axe-wielding maniacs towards the enemy. Sounds like Orcs, doesn’t it? The problem is, nothing could be further from the truth.

Quick history lesson – horde comes from the Mongol for “ordu” which simply means camp. Thus, a Mongol horde was just their word for an army, pretty much. Mongol units were incredibly organised – usually by tens. They had a basic unit of ten, a company of hundred, a regiment of a thousand. Like the Romans. And their only tactic wasn’t the charge straight at enemy. In reality, they used mobility and surprise to win. They used swarm tactics – approaching the enemy in flexible columns, which opened up to flank the enemy in several directions. They then peppered the enemy with their deadly bows, using light cavalry and cat-and-mouse tactics to annoy the enemy. Any opponent that ran out was cut off and destroyed. This amalgamation of volleys of arrows, hit and run attacks, and probes, were used to soften the enemy. Typically, the enemy force would lose morale and the Mongols would only then commit their whole army into a massive charge, butchering the retreating army.

They sound organised, rather than barbaric. So why do Orcs in fantasy stories always have no tactics? It’s not cool and it’s not original. Try and apply some sort of intelligence in to their manoeuvres, even it is simply flanking attacks, or hit and run tactics as mentioned. This leads us nicely on to the next section.

Using History

If you want to have a realistic fantasy battle, there is no other source material better than real historical battles. Is your small force of heroes trying to fight off a massive army? Look at the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans and a 1000 other Greeks held off around 500,000 Persians for three whole days, until they were cut off. Is your human force attempting to fight the Orc hordes? See the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, where the Germanic tribes ambushed the Romans in heavy woodland, slaughtering them. There is no better inspiration than to look back through the countless years where war has always been on the agenda.

The great thing about history is you can rip it off and nobody can sue you. Copy it. Take from it. Adapt it to your story. Steal great little famous quotes, nab that awesome charge, and rob that famous tactic. Nobody can do anything! So why don’t more people take advantage of it?

Compare these two battle summaries you might write up while you’re planning your big battle scene.

Small human force confronts Orcs on plain. Orcs throw themselves forward at humans, but the humans have a defensive position and hold back the Orcs. The line almost breaks but MC saves the day by fighting back a strong attack. The humans eventually charge forward, and the Orcs run away, unable to beat the humans.


Or you could do this, based on the Battle of Crecy, where a much more numerous French force could not break the smaller English force, entrenched in a defensive position:

Small human force with large contingent of archers entrenches in defensive position, awaiting the Orc attack. The Orcs are forced to slog across a muddy field, where their heavy infantry flounder in the ground. They are killed over and over by the lethal bows of the humans. Orcs decide to use Orcs mounted on wolves to attack the position. An all-out charge is made, which awes the humans. The archers still cause heavy casualties, but the Orcs make it toward the English line. However, they are forced to charge up a hill, slowing them down. The English, meanwhile, have put their spearmen at the front, which cut into the wolves and cause massive casualties in the Orc charge. The Orcs try again and again to break through, but between the volleys of arrows and the sharp spears, they can make no progress. The Orcs retreat, knowing they cannot win. The human force instantly attacks, charging down the hill and utilising their small force of cavalry to cut off the retreating Orcs. The humans encircle them and slaughter them to the last Orc.


This is not just based off the Battle of Crecy. I have utilised my own knowledge of many battles to make up this quick summary. The entrenched archers are based off the Battle of Crecy. There are numerous examples of similar battles through history, where a numerically smaller force can fight off a larger force simply because of terrain. The use of cavalry to attack a retreating army is a standard tactic.

History can also teach you the basics of battles. You can understand the unparalleled importance of terrain on a battlefield, and how it can affect the outcome. You can understand how tactics work, how different parts of an army are used.

The Intricacies of Battles – Strategy and Weapons


There is that famous quote that says a plan never survives contact with the enemy. In some ways, it is undoubtedly true, but in other ways, it’s not. Sometimes, a commander can draw up many plans, but they are completely useless when they meet the enemy, because the battle does not follow like he expected it too. Most tactics, however, can work in battle, usually when the commander does them in real-time, on the spin, rather than doing it the night before in his tent.

In essence, a battle is simply the conflict of multiple forces attempting to defeat the other. Rarely does it boil down to something so rudimentary, but the definition is useful. To achieve this victory, both armies will try their best to either win or avoid defeat. Often a commander will prefer a minor victory where his army is generally undamaged than a massive battle where resources and men are sapped to the point that any victory is useless. Thus, armies usually try to win without overstretching themselves.

To write about a battle you must understand everything. From the general fighting skills of a foot soldier, to the effectiveness of mobile and projectile forces, to common tactics. Once again we will resort to the Orc example, simply because this is the most common usage.

Let’s say the human soldier is a normal fantasy soldier – in the same sort of representation of high fantasy, which is typically based on European Medieval warfare, with feudalism as the government. Most writers would fall back on clichés and simply say this man would be using a long sword, wearing some sort of “shiny armour” and carrying a shield with the mark of his kingdom on. There might be some archers with some bows, and some cavalry.

Unfortunately, equipment and weapons are rarely this simple, and to write an effective battle scene, you won’t be able to get away with that. While it is true the man-at-arms in Medieval Europe (a professional levy in those days) carried a sword, shield and wore metal armour from head to toe, that won’t get you by. Firstly not every soldier carries a sword. There were pikemen, halberdiers, spearmen and more rarely axemen. All were used differently. Pikemen were extraordinarily effective against cavalry. Spearmen could be used effectively against both cavalry and infantry. Axemen were normally great individual fighters.

Don’t rely on the sword-shield-shiny armour cliché. Not every state in Medieval Europe had swordsmen, and neither should your world. This comes with your world-building – what is the military structure like? Are most of the men produced from local militias and levy? Is there a professional, organised army? Does your country have a tradition of a weapon? For example, in the medieval era, the English were well-known for their use of the longbow. The French, in comparison, had excellent cavalry. Not everyone is the same.

Now we need to get technical. A normal writer has no idea how fighting actually works. Most fight scenes I read have their hero simply swinging their sword around their head and chopping off heads at will. This is where your research comes in. Not only must you research historical battles, you’ve gotta research actual fighting, too. How does one fight with a sword? Not in the usual fantasy way – drawn out duels with dialogue. While this can be effective, in real life, most sword fights are finished in a matter of seconds. There may be a few blocks, but in general, you either die or win. I suggest reading up books or on the internet about how swordfighting works. Do the same for fighting on horseback, or firing a bow, or firing a gun, or artillery, or driving a tank, or whatever period or sort of technology you are representing. You have to get these basics jotted down before you can even start to write.

Moving back to the human army example, what we might see is a cavalry-centric force. There are some nobles and knights riding colourful steeds. There are some militia raised from the towns mixed with some men-at-arms. There is a small contingent of crossbowmen. The commander is a fan of cavalry, he imagines riding through the enemy, smashing his lance into their infantry. His most common tactic would be to soften the enemy with his infantry, before riding his cavalry in a massive charge. He’s not a fan or archers, so will use them sparingly.

The Orc army, in comparison, is much different. The chieftain relies on his “heavies”, the biggest Orcs grouped together into an elite unit. They are given huge broad-axes, the best armour. He has some Orcs mounted on wolves for a mobile force. He has some archers. Most of his army is made up by a mass of ordinary Orcs, armed with an assortment of weapons. His tactics will be to encircle or flank the humans with his ordinary infantry, using his mounted Orcs to hit-and-run against them, and then throw the heavies in to smash through the middle.

If I were to write a battle using these two, I would have to look up a lot. I would have to understand how to fight on horseback, the use of the lance, etc. I would have to know that the nobles would want to fight gloriously, and take home honour, so they would brave and stupid. The militia would have low morale and would be mostly ineffective troops. I would have to look up how the men-at-arms fight side-by-side, maybe creating a shield wall, stabbing with their weapons rather than slashing, because they might hit the man next to them. I would then have to know about the Orcs – I would look up how the Mongols fought, note down examples of battles using those tactics, copy these down and learn them. I would understand how fighting with an axe works, how heavy and slow it would be, how this would work in combat.

A note about technical details. Let’s say you have just looked up all the details about a broad axe from history and are using a similar axe for your Orcs. This is what not to do when writing:

Groznak grinned. His five-foot long double-headed axe, made from the tough oak of the trees from his homeland, that he had shaped with his own hands, which could smash through the toughest armour, even plate mail. Groznak knew that broad axes were the most destructive weapons in the world. However, they were also heavy and slow.

Info-dump! Like all writing, info dumps are a big no no. You need to introduce this information gradually, rather than all at once.

Groznak grinned. His hands gripped the oak handle of his long double-headed axe. Soon, he knew, human blood would be spilt over its sharp blades, despite their tough armour.



All you need to remember from all this is to research, research and research and then do some more research. There is no such thing as being over-prepared. Maybe you will never use that information you found about the Battle of Whoknowswhat, but it’s worth reading anyway. You never know what will be useful. There’s nothing worse than reading a battle scene by a writer that has no idea how battles actually work.

Characters, Motives and Narrative

Conflict and Characters

Every good story has a conflict. Battles can be used thusly: they can either firstly be a deeper conflict that, through the battle, into a more physical form, or the battle can simply be the backdrop for character-specific conflicts. In the first form, the battle is the conflict – maybe your MC had fallen in love, but then is suddenly separated from his love because of a big battle that kinda, you know, gets in the way. In the second form, the battle is in the background. That is not to say it is not in the present. Yes, the character is still stuck in the battle, but it is not actually the conflict that is troubling or obstructing the character – instead, there is something else. Imagine that the MC has had a rival who has been obstructing him all the way through the story– ruining his romances, beating him down at every opportunity. Now, this battle means his rival has ended up on the enemy’s side. This battle has now drawn out that conflict, and gives your MC a chance to finally give that rival a good ol’ kick up the arse that he deserves.

Do not just have a battle because you think you should. Battles serve the plot, just like other devices they do. Most of all, your characters must be motivated and have clear goals that the reader can understand. Your MC has a guy he really wants to kill in the opposing army. Your MC has to prove himself in battle to regain his honour. Your MC has to keep somebody alive. Clear, definable, obvious goals. Otherwise, the battle will be confusing and the reader won’t be interested. It has to affect your characters dramatically enough, and then your readers will be emotionally dragged into it all. The battle has to work with your characters, or there’s no point in at all. Obviously this will be defined by your own characters, and your own plot.

Plot and Purpose

Working your battle into your plot is a must. Battles tend towards the end of a plot, simply because they are a terrific culmination. They are emotional and dramatic and everything you would want in an ending. Having them at the end also means you can tie everything else in the plot, all the unresolved conflicts, into the final battle. You can make all your character’s goals hang on the result of this one battle. Everybody does it, and it works.

Let’s say your MC is a poor noble. His family’s name has been destroyed because of a scandal. He is bullied because of his family. He wants to find a way to regain his family’s honour. He also secretly loves the King’s niece, but can never marry a royal unless his family is once again seen as chivalric and good. Throughout the story, there has been a rich noble chasing the King’s niece, bullying your MC, and generally being annoying. The story has slowly revealed that he in fact murdered the MC’s father and brought dishonour on the MC’s family by spreading lies, etc. Just as your MC is about to solve all this, the Kingdom is torn apart by a massive rebellion. It is led, unsurprisingly, by the ambitious rich noble who killed your MC’s father. The Capital is seized, the King narrowly escaping but his niece being caught. The King’s army (with your MC) rallies and confronts the rebellious army. Look how everything hangs in this one battle – if the MC is victorious, all his conflicts are suddenly solved – he can regain honour through combat, he can win money by impressing the King, he can save the King’s niece, and he can kill the rich noble. All will help him. However, if he fails, everything he cares about falls apart. So everything hangs on the final battle. If you can write an awesome battle scene, your novel will be awesome.

A master of such a craft is Bernard Cornwell, who writes historical novels. His character always tends to go through these stories, where his conflicts all hang on a big battle. In this extract, Richard Sharpe and his battalion have just positioned themselves on a hill, awaiting a battle the next day (to be the Battle of Talavera). Throughout the book, Sharpe has suffered because of two Lieutenants, Gibbons and Berry. The French have suddenly attacked in the night:

It was chaos. Sharpe cut across the fugitives, making for the edge of the hill where his Riflemen lay hidden. He found Knowles, with a group of the company, and pushed them ahead to join Harper but most of the Battalion was running back. The French fired their first volley, a massive rolling thunder of shots that cracked the night with smoke and flame, and cut a swathe in the troops ahead of them. The Battalion ran blindly back towards the safety of the next line of fires. Sharpe crashed into fugitives, shook them off, and struggled towards the comparative peace of the edge of the hill. A voice shouted, “What’s happening?” Sharpe turned. Berry was there, his jacket undone, his sword drawn, his black hair falling over his fleshy face. Sharpe stopped, crouched, and growled. He remembered the girl, her terror, her pain, and he rose to his feet, walked the few paces and grabbed Berry’s collar. Frightened eyes turned on him.

“What’s happening?”

He pulled the Lieutenant with him, over the crest, down into the darkness of the slope. He could hear Berry babbling, asking what was happening, but he pulled him down until they were both well below the crest and hidden from the fires. Sharpe heard the last fugitives pound past on the summit, the crackle of musketry, the shouts diminishing as the men ran back. He let go of Berry’s collar. He saw the white face turn to him in the darkness, then gasp.

“My God. Captain Sharpe. Is that you?”

“Weren’t you expecting me?” Sharpe’s voice was as cold as blade in winter. “I was looking for you.”


The battle has provided Sharpe with an opportunity to solve one of his conflicts. Cornwell also uses great dramatic effect, good sentence length, and sharp dialogue to add to his clear description of both sight and sound. Some of this will be covered later, but the important bit is how he has used the battle to further his plot. It is not simply a battle anymore; it is an integral part of the plot. A lot of the time I see battles that are written simply for the sake of thinking, “ZOMG! COOL! People die and stuff.” Erm, don’t do that.


Making it Personal

Viewpoints

Generally, there are two ways, or maybe three ways, to present a battle scene. You can either do it entirely from the point of view of your main character, or you can spread it through a couple of your characters, or you can use an omniscient point of view to show the whole battle. I’m going to be frank and biased here. Use the first one, please. It is a million times better almost all the time. Some writers feel the need to use an omniscient viewpoint so they can show everything that is happening; however, there are more subtle ways of doing that. (Obviously, this is all pointless if you are doing first-person).

What are the benefits of using only one point of view? Introspection. It enables you to develop your character’s conflict better. It also makes the battle a million times more personal. We don’t see a hundred soldiers die, as you would in the omniscient POV, you see your MC’s oldest friend Jason die when an arrow hits him in his thigh. You see the anguish within your MC as he watches his friend die. It makes it personal. It makes your readers care. If you write with a big, broad style, it will be like reading a history textbook on a battle. Nobody wants to do that.

How to make you reader care

(a) Make the soldiers real. Don’t always say stuff like: “Ten men died from the volley of arrows.” Instead say, “The arrows thudded down into the crowd of men. Several fell. Henry saw one of his oldest soldiers struggle with an arrow that had buried itself into his stomach, crying and screaming. He died quickly. Henry felt sudden pity for his poor wife he had left behind in the camp, comforting their young child.” Your reader will care a lot more if the soldier is real, rather than just a word. It’s something Stephen King advises. Don’t make soldier X die. Introduce Fred, who came into the army looking for adventure, who promised his mother he’d come back, and then kill him. It makes it personal, and it makes it more real.
(b) Feed the chaos and confusion of battle through the eyes of your character. Describe all the senses – the smell of sweat, the sound of screaming and clattering weapons, the sight of blood, etc. If you can make your reader empathise with the sheer horror your character is also experiencing, it will make them enjoy the battle even more.
(c) Always remember the quote – “C\'est magnifique, mais ce n\'est pas la guerre.” War is never magnificent, so don’t make it so. Don’t take out the gritty bits, don’t pretend your character is having fun, don’t make it light. Your character won’t care if the battle is just fake, unrealistic little competition where your hero can kill people whenever he pleases and likes to do so.


The Actual Writing

There are many things to consider when approaching the actual writing of the battle scene. What sort of mood do you want to portray? What style? How fast do you want the battle to be? How choppy (switching between scenes)? What sort of rhythm?

Mood

This will be mostly decided by your writing style and/or your novel. If throughout your novel you have been portraying the world as gritty and raw, or dreamy and hazy, do so with the battle. If you’re going for the gritty mood, remember to keep describing the blood and the piss and the sweat, and go into specific deaths, however horrible it is. Remember to keep making your character hear screams and stuff. Don’t hold out. Go full on disgusting. If you want to try and make it more sort of stylistic and dreamy, or whatnot, I can’t help you.

Haha. I have no idea how to write like that. I’m a blunt, literal, gritty sort of guy. But just remember to keep with your style and don’t change just because it’s a battle.

Pace

Speed is very important. Sometimes, you need to make it so the narrative races and gets really heated and crazy and everyone’s scared and everyone’s confused and people are drying. This is great for key moments where everything’s going wrong. But don’t over do it. Otherwise, it can get annoying. Have more melancholy moments, where the battle slows down, or the enemy stops their attack, for everyone to recover, and you to put a bit of dialogue in. This not only gives them a break, but it gives your readers a break, too.

Dramatic Effect

Cliffhangers are great in battles. Chapter endings are good. Have something terrible happen, and then end the chapter. For example, the enemy has suddenly broken through the line and your MC looks over and goes, “Oh bugger,” or something. Then end the chapter. This can work even better if you have multiple POVs in your story. If you have two main characters, and you want to feature them both in the story, rather than just one MC, then make something crappy happen or really tense, don’t resolve it yet. Switch to your other character and leave that bit unresolved for now. It will make you reader want to continue to see what finds out. Like always, don’t overdo it. Don’t make it too choppy, switching too much. Let your MC resolve some things.

Another thing to do to create dramatic effect, which I do often, is to use short sentence in between long ones to make them stand out. Sometimes they can be fragments, but not necessarily. Here is an example in my story “Greenjackets”:

Savage didn’t even have to order them. Campbell led the retreat, the Riflemen gladly jogging back across the bridge toward the waiting lines of British troops and the artillery. Other Rifles from other companies joined them; some, Savage realised, hadn’t crossed yet, and others were the ones who were helping protect the Hussars. They fired a volley towards the Chasseurs, but it was at extreme range and few men fell. Now they had retreated back toward the bridge, and Savage breathed relief as his own boots clattered against the stone structure and he made it back to the safer side.

It was just in time.

The fleeing Hussars rushed past, most not bothering to use the bridge and simply traversing the water, the smashing legs and hooves throwing water here and there. They interspersed with the retreating Riflemen, some who waded the cold stream and others who had made it across but were hit by the speed of the horses and knocked over. It was chaos. Savage was pulled to one side by the strong arm of Sergeant Campbell as one Hussar bolted past. Some shots were fired loosely.


The “It was just in time” warrants a paragraph of its own, just to make it more dramatic. This isn’t the best example, but it shows how short sentences can be useful when writing battle/fight scenes. It is between two longish sentences, and so provides emphasis on the fact they only just made it.

Realism

War is bloody, whether you like it or not. People did urinate when they die, sometimes. People do scream when they’re injured, and blood is never nice to look at. Wounds look horrible. People can vomit if they haven’t seen it before. I can only imagine what it smells like. Please don’t glorify your battle, don’t make it fun, or nice, or lovely, or beautiful. If you make it realistic, it will work better. Your character will get tired. Swinging a sword around during the day makes you very tired. They never show you this in films (really) but please make sure your character is not invincible. S/he can’t kill everybody.

Make people die. Don’t have all your characters survive, because that just plain sucks. It will make your battle even more emotional, even more dramatic, when you show that a character you have built through the novel can die. Kill people your MC is emotionally attached too. Don’t kill too many people though. Just a couple of minor ones that are expendable, but still show the battle is deadly.

Aftermath – How to wrap it all up

Resolving Conflict and Achieving Goals

Like with all conflicts, the ones in the battle have to be resolved. Make that villain die. Let your MC save the woman. Let him kill someone he wants to kill. Let the battle come within an inch of loss, but still let them somehow win. If you’re not at the end of the book, or you’re allowing for a trilogy, making some conflicts unresolved is okay, as long as you resolve some. Resolving none would make for a very frustrating ending.

Remember all that time ago when I talked about your characters having identifiable goals? Well, either make it clear they achieved them or they didn’t. In the same vein as conflicts, they don’t have to be resolved, but let the reader know the result.

Most of this will be done through your writing of the actual battle, but this is just a little reminder.

Summary

1. Plan and research. Make details of each army, understand what’s going to happen during the day, make drawings for each key moment, research weapons and tactics and historical battles similar to yours. If you’re doing history, make sure you get everything right. Read different sources. Integrate technical details, but don’t info-dump.
2. Understand your conflicts and how the battle affects them. Make your characters have clear goals and make sure they’re motivated. Work the battle into the plot, making sure it has a good purpose. Make it dramatic.
3. Make it personal. Use your MC’s POV, whether it is one or two. Don’t do omniscient. Make your reader care; make real soldiers. Make your reader empathise with your character stuck in the midst of a bloody battle.
4. Consider your mood, whether it is gritty or dreamy. Stick to your style or your novel’s style. Think of pace, mix fast and slow together for the best effect. Use dramatic effect to introduce tension and suspense – swop between scenes for cliffhangers. Use short sentences between long sentences. Make it realistic. Don’t hold back. Let people die.
5. Make sure your wrap it all up at the end; show how goals and conflicts have ended up.
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Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:43 am
Aedomir says...



Wow! Thus must have taken forever! Very appreciated.
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Sun Aug 10, 2008 11:27 am
Chirantha says...



You can make a film,you know that?

You clearly had observed,reserched historical battles.

I'm not the one to write about battles and all but your tip was certainly helpful.

I thank you.
  





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Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:59 pm
chasingcolts21 says...



Wow. o.O
*saves this*
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Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:56 am
Dubaian says...



Something that reminds me of the part you explain about killing off characters and how you shouldnt kill alot of them off at once. If youve read Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series, you will be greatly dissapointed towards the end of the series.

Great Post!
  





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Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:22 am
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Ranger Hawk says...



I absolutely love this post. Great work, thank you for putting so much into it for the rest of us! Definitely learned some good pointers that I will be putting to use!
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Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:52 pm
LookUpThere says...



Thanks Firestarter! Very useful ;) There's always a plan, a la Avatar: The last Airbender. Yeah they had an army of primordial element wielding madmen and the avatar himself, but they still had a plan.
  





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Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:12 pm
Durriedog says...



Thanks Firestarter! Very helpful! Must have taken you ages to write - thanks for the effort!
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Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:44 pm
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seeminglymeaningless says...



Fantastic guideline. Bookmarked, as I can see it being very useful in the near future.

I found one mistake that I could remember :P

4. Consider your mood, whether it is gritty or dreamy. Stick to your style or your novel’s style. Think of pace, mix fast and slow together for the best effect. Use dramatic effect to introduce tension and suspense – swop swap between scenes for cliffhangers. Use short sentences between long sentences. Make it realistic. Don’t hold back. Let people die.


Thank you so much for linking me to this. It should be stickied :)
I have an approximate knowledge of many things.
  








"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
— Lewis Carroll