There I was, cruising through my manuscript. Words were flowing, the story was moving at a great pace. I had the map drawn which made every chapter richer with content. Then out of nowhere…bam! It was time for the battle.
Well, almost. I had written up to the battle scene and realized I knew nothing about flanking, ranking, and calling out orders. Boot-camp and military training hadn’t even entered my mind. Oh sure, I’ve watched the news, and seen the horrific things that are going on around the world when it comes to war and the weaponry used, but my epic fantasy world of Maycly had not been designed for machine guns, grenades, tanks, or other vehicles. As I thought about it for a little while longer it hit me like a ton of bricks – over half the characters had never even seen a battle or heard of one.
Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.
Did I enjoy the challenge? Absolutely!
Early on, I had lined up the story as such, the rookie warrior characters needed to be trained in secret. Again – another sharp turn of events for me and I shouted out loud “Holy cow! Now the map isn’t even right.” So, back to the drawing board I went to create a secret land…but wait, I’m going to have different ranks of warriors who won’t know they have each other until they reach the battle field. Nuts! Now I’ve got to add in a second secret land. All of a sudden I found myself adding chapter after chapter to set the stage leading up to this epic battle. A “well worth it” task I might add.
New creatures came into play because as I mentioned before there are no high-tech weapons or vehicles on Maycly. This was a challenge in itself as I didn’t want the same old things to read about (or hopefully see on the big screen). There are things such as bows and arrows, and swords that just don’t seem to change, but are necessary in an archaic battle. But along with the bows and arrows and swords I created unique weaponry. Not gonna tell ya ‘cause it’d be a spoiler alert.
There are numerous things to consider to make your battle believable. You have to determine how long your battle is going to last. A few minutes? A couple of hours? A day? A week or longer? Is it going to be a battle between two main characters, or two conflicting posses of about 10 people? Or are you going for the gusto to make it epic and involve thousands? What will they eat if it lasts more than a few hours? Will there be a need for medics and a treatment center? Can everyone die, or have you set properties into place that make some of your troops immortal? If it’s fantasy with magic – you’ve got to keep the continuity of your magic’s properties and consequences.
All of these things, when taken into account, help make your written battle scenes even better.
The particular battle scene in Maycly I’m discussing is epic. It’s not reading about two main characters duking it out, but rather reading about several of the individual characters and their specific events happening in the midst of the entire battle. While writing I envisioned the entire scene/chapter as a movie, so there are “close-ups,” “mid-shots,” “wide shots,” and “panoramic” descriptions of action. The end result allows the reader to experience the battle from the ground, the air, as a warrior, as a spectator, etc.
And at that, there is even more to consider.
What about sounds? If it’s not modern day battle, the sounds will be different in many ways. For instance a beast pulled catapult’s operational sounds are far different from a gun shot. Flying creatures offer nowhere near the sounds of jets. Swords will always clank, but as an author who must describe this epic event in words, I wanted more than just clanking swords, so off to find new words I went.
What kind of elements are you fighting in? Rain? Snow? Heat? Sleet? Wind?
Is the battle during the day or at night? Will your warriors need torches, or will they need to be dressed in some type of camouflage so as not to be seen in the daylight?
What kinds of smells are present? Burning grass? Animal aromas? Fire from fire breathing dragons?
Who can see what? Is the battle field so big you can’t see from one side to the other? Is it a flat field, or are they fighting in the woods? Are there spectators? Where are they located – can they see all of the action, or do they become part of the action?
Are there obstacles? What about quick sand? Is it so dry the dirt being stirred up is causing restricted vision? Are there caves to hide in, trees to hide behind, or bodies of water? Is the terrain flat, rocky, or slippery?
What style of combat are you engaging in? What kind of clothing or armor is needed? Are there vulnerable spots that the enemy knows about, or does the enemy have vulnerable spots that can be targeted?
Hopefully these questions will bring to light the many things, or possibly even more, to be considered, studied, and weighed before you pull your battles together in style.
To wrap it up, I want you to know this didn’t happen in a day. The battle chapter alone I’m referring to in my novel Maycly took eight months for me to put together before it was even ready for proofreading/editing.
The best part; I learned a lot through the process, and am looking forward to the next battles with a vengeance. There are five more novels that stem from Maycly. My goal is to be able to imagine, create, and bring to life some of the best battle scenes, from one on one to epic, this genre’s fans have ever had the privilege of reading.
Janet was born and raised in Ohio. She and her husband, Don, moved to Florida in the 1980’s to not only escape the cold winters, but to also pursue their careers as live event and production specialists. It was through their parent company, Multi-Tech Productions, Inc, that Janet’s creativity was given free reign to soar. She was published in trade specific magazines, published non-fiction books, spoke at international conferences nationwide, and developed training classes pertaining to technical theater applications. When chronic illness stopped her in her tracks, it didn’t stop her as a creative genius. Once she was back on her feet she took over the family gourmet dog treat business and expanded it by adding a full scale bakery to the already established “BARK”-ery. Again she collapsed, and again she didn’t let it keep her down. Her creativity crested new horizons, and after putting herself through schooling at age 49 she became an epic fantasy author. Volume 1 – Maycly in her HIDDEN EARTH series was an eight year project brought to fruition by her determination, dedication, and zest for life! Janet and Don still reside in Florida. Janet is a dog lover who enjoys tandem kayaking, photographing nature, and baking cupcakes.