Write Fights Right!

Sanjuro final duel, two samurai facing each other with spectators in background

If you’ve seen Sanjuro, you know this isn’t a still, but a playing video.

I love good fight scenes. In a story, I want to feel the action. In a film, I want tightly choreographed combat. It’s fine if it’s realistic (the long tension of Sanjuro‘s final duel, and we’ll just ignore the period blood effects), fake realistic (the bloody impact of Logan), crazy physics-defying martial arts (the alternate-world movement of The Matrix), or just plain fun (Captain America kicking Nazi tail). But lame action, the writer glossing over it or the director trying to fake it with shaky cam, makes me feel cheated.

So I try to write good action scenes. And most of the time I feel I do an okay job.

But I’ve been really struggling with one scene. It’s very short, an attempted bar fight which is over in under three seconds. But because it’s so fast, it’s hard to write; I don’t want to lose flow or add length with a lot of explanation, yet the physical actions are fairly complex. I’d been frustrated by this for an embarrassingly long time. So I called in an expert, Carla Hoch. Continue reading

#WIPjoy for Shard & Shield: Music and Playlists

Today’s #WIPjoy topic is “songs on your MCs’ playlists,” which is frankly too big to answer effectively on social media (sorry, Twitter), so we’re doing it here on the blog.

I have a bonus to this post, too. First I have my own playlists for primary characters, and then I have a guest DJ Kayla, who beta-read Shard & Shield last week and told me then she had made character playlists, which of course meant I had to ask her to chime in on today’s #WIPjoy topic.

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Writer Brains and Research

Jules Verne, French science fiction writer of ...

Jules Verne, the godfather of plausible speculative fiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Fantasy is even harder to write,” I alleged recently, “because you have to make the science work.”

If the science in a story isn’t plausible — whether you actually call it science, as in hard sci-fi, or whether it’s simply background dressing or setting, as in a romance set aboard a diving boat — the rest of the story won’t be plausible, either. In the romance above, for example, even if the story is supposedly just boy-meets-girl, if the couple blithely dives hundreds of meters without special equipment and resurfaces without ill effects, I’m not going to buy the happily-ever-after. Continue reading

Beware of Writers

English: Beware of Bull Beware of Bull on publ...

This photo is not directly relevant to being cautious of writers. It’s just great on its own. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve said that people just passing through a hotel hosting a writers’ convention must be frequently alarmed. For example, I was sitting in the hall at my last such conference and overheard someone pleading for ideas on how to dispose of a body. “I tried burying it, but that didn’t work,” he said, “and I’ve thought about acid in a tub but it didn’t seem likely to clean up well. Can you help?”
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