Writing excerpts

Does Anyone Actually Like Battle Scenes In Novels?

He swung his sword. She dodged and swung at him. Etc, etc…

He swung his sword. She dodged and swung at him. Etc, etc…

I’m back after a brief hiatus! I had hoped I would have FanFact finished by now, but I got hung up for ages working on the big final battle scene. Thankfully it’s done so I just have to finish the falling action and epilogue.

But I was hung up on that battle scene for so long that I found myself asking people if they even enjoyed battle scenes.

What are your favorite battle scenes in novels? I asked myself this question and couldn’t think of an answer outside of battles from Harry Potter. While I enjoy battle scenes through visual mediums, I’ve always found battle scenes in novels to be sort of boring, both when I read them and when I write them myself.

I hate writing battle scenes. I’ve struggled with them since I started writing fanfiction over a decade ago. And yet, I love fantasy and sci-fi novels. Inevitably I am going to end up writing battle scenes in my books.

I thought about detailing why exactly I hate writing battle scenes, but even writing in detail about battle scenes makes me frustrated, so I decided I’d just give you some bullet points instead.

  • I write from first person, so unless a character sees it directly, I can’t describe what is actually happening

  • I need a detailed outline of every battle scene

  • I never know how long or short to make a battle scene

  • How do you come up with creative ways to say “she swung her sword” over and over?

  • How do you describe multiple characters during a battle at the SAME TIME?

  • I have no fighting skills so I have no idea if the battle is realistic

  • Making the battle scene choreographed enough but not too choreographed

  • Pacing

Even though I write in first person most of the time I still find myself objectively describing battle scenes, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the thing you’re supposed to be doing. I get so hung up on what is happening that I make it my mission for the reader to understand too.

I’m still trying to figure out the balancing act of my readers understanding what is going on while also being caught up in the chaos of battle.

Another problem is that FanFact battles all involve magic, so it requires more explanation than sword fighting. A reader is going to understand more subtle language when it comes to a blade battle, but what about a battle with different types of magic? How do I describe that magic without having to use the name of the matter, element, or spell each time?

And since I’ve talked so much about battle scenes, it only seems fair that I let you read a bit of one.

The wall vanished behind me, a sudden crash of stone and smoke. I covered my eyes, a deep cough filling my throat as I crawled away from what was left of the wall. The lights in the room flickered then went dark. I heard a thud of something hitting a wall near me, but it was too dark to see what. The darkness was unnatural; so black that I couldn’t even see the outline of other people. Small flashes of color streaked across my vision as my eyes desperately tried to make sense of the darkness.

“Blane,” I called, “Blane! Where are you?”

Light filtered in, just for a moment. My eyes and head were filled with sharp pain at the sudden brightness. I glimpsed fighting; officials cornering others and trying to corral them all into one place. “Run!” I had no idea how well my voice could be heard over the rest of the shouting in the room, but I had to try. “We have to get out!”

It went dark again. I stumbled to my feet, a sharp pain radiating from my chest as I tried to gather my breath. “Blane?” It was impossible to distinguish one voice from another. I was still too scared to call out for Liam. I tried a lighting spell but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure if it was because of whatever spell was being used to make it so dark, or if it was because I barely knew what I was doing.

So...how is it?

Readers, do you like battle scenes? If you do, what do you like about battle scenes? What do you want to see most? Let me know so I can write the battle scenes you want to be reading!