Writing Fight Scenes

After going through my first round of revisions with my editor, I finally feel reasonably competent enough to discuss this subject! Whether it is a simple one-on-one scuffle or a full-scale battle, fight scenes are pretty integral to the fantasy genre. They make up some of the most memorable scenes that your reader will return to over and over again, if done right. Each scene should be approached with care to ensure that the scene feels natural, but intense. Today, I want to share with you my best tips to approaching a fight scene on any scale.

Tip #1: All fight scenes must move your plot and character development forward in some way. Do not include them just to have them.

Enough said.

Tip #2: Make sure you know your players.

Who is involved in this fight? Is it two people, or several, or a large multitude of characters? The more players you have, the more complex your battle is going to be. Before you even think about drafting this scene, think about each character and their fighting style. This is influenced by their size, any weapons training they may have or lack, if they are magical, etc. I also like to take into account my character’s emotions at the time. Are they fired up and ready to attack? Are they trying to escape from something, and this is the fight of their lives? There are often multiple emotions swirling around at once: fear, adrenaline, determination, heartbreak. As a writer, you have to balance these factors as you approach the actual physical process of the fight.

Tip #3: Consider the battlefield and the available resources.

Where is this fight taking place? The battle dynamics will be very different if it is taking place in an open field rather than a forest. Consider what cover is available and where would be the best place for an army to retreat to. When it comes to resources, you need to do some research into what kind of weaponry the characters involved in your fight are using. Each type of weapon comes with its benefits and its drawbacks, and in a big battle, the writer ends up showing a lot of both sides. If this is a fight between two armies, they each may have their own combat style as a group with those weapons. This requires you to understand your world’s history. Who knew so much background research could go into a battle?

Tip #4: Break down the chaos.

In actuality, a battle may only last a few minutes, or it could go on for days. Both of these situations require the writer to break down the moments into digestible pieces for the reader to absorb. That being said, by doing so, a few minutes can stretch out for pages and pages. So it is important to pick the moments to showcase and the times to step back and see more of the complete picture at once. Every movement should be written in an active voice. Make your reader feel every slash and connection of a sword to another’s body or their own. Describe the atmosphere: is the air thick with the smell of blood or smoke? The most important thing to do is to keep things active, descriptive, and fast-paced without making it too manic. Convey the chaos of the fight and the whirlwind of weaponry, bodies, and emotion without letting it all blend together too much.

I may modify this article as I move forward with writing the first draft of my sequel, which involves much more battles than the first. I am looking forward to it!

Happy writing!

Writing Endings

Alright, it’s time for me to get back to writing about fantasy writing! One of the most important elements of a novel that you have to nail is your ending. Your beginning pulls readers in, and your plot and your characters keep the reader engaged for the subsequent book. But your ending has got to bring everything home. A bad ending on a great book will leave a sour taste in the reader’s mouth. Trust me, I’ve been there. Even if you love the book, there’s something about a poor ending that can erase part of that happiness.

So, the ending is pretty important. Today, I want to talk about what it means to finish a book well and a few tips that I’ve picked up while writing Chasing Fae.

Finish Your Plot.

This seems like it should be obvious, but it warrants saying anyway for several reasons. Your ending has to wrap up the main storyline. You have to finish the main plot arc of the book regardless of whether you are continuing on the storyline in a sequel. A definitive end must be visible for your reader, or you may leave them wanting. You should also consider your subplots. If it’s a standalone story, everything must end. If you plan on having a sequel or several sequels, then in my personal opinion, subplots should come to a natural stopping place. It doesn’t have to be a positive place; for example, you can end a relationship in a tumultuous position. But I think that it’s important for readers to feel like there’s a clear pause.

Make sure your ending makes sense.

Your ending should feel natural. It’s perfectly acceptable to wrap up the main plot and then have a scene or two afterwards that allows the characters to simmer down to normalcy or the new normal after the climax. Let’s see the aftermath of the character’s decisions over the course of the book. What has to change in order for the world around them to stabilize? Does the world stabilize, or is this the beginning of a new conflict? If your main character’s world calms down, write about how they feel now that the adventure is over. Who is in their life now to stay? Who has disappeared? If your ending is going to lead into a new conflict in a subsequent book, your readers want to see the inklings of that rising. Offer some hints into what is to come, even super vague ones. One of my favorite books of all time, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, has an amazing ending that was a little strange and intriguing reading it the first time. And then when you read the second book, about midway through, I suddenly went “OH! EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE NOW! THIS IS AMAZING!” *subsequent reader screaming*. Experiment with your ending. Write it a few different ways and see what you like best. Get other writers’ or readers’ opinions.

Show Your Protagonist In All Their Glory.

Your ending does not have to showcase a triumphant moment. Your protagonist could be suffering after a horrible loss. The most important role of your ending is to show how your main character has grown internally over the course of the novel. Whether you are depicting victory and resolution or defeat and the construction of a new plan, your character’s emotions will show up on the page. In a victory situation, you will see happiness or you may see them step into a new role in their lives. There may be an aura of calm about them that is totally different from what the reader has seen over the course of the novel. In a defeat situation, there’s a lot of anger and sadness and fear, and you have a real opportunity to lay out your character’s innermost thoughts. You can attest to their stubbornness and their determination and as a writer, strongly convey that pivotal decision to get up and try again in the next book. I personally love both kinds of endings, but especially the latter. You want to know if the protagonist will get what they deserve out of life. As a reader, I crave it; I absolutely have to know. And that’s what keeps me reading and keeps me buying the next book in a series.

Happy writing, everyone.

How To Plan Out A Series

One of the most popular ways to write fantasy is through a series. Readers enjoy series because it offers them a chance to stick with the same characters over an extended period of time. They get to watch them evolve through a series of events and become very attached to their survival and happiness. Series keep us on edge every moment, waiting for the next book to come out or waiting for the final conclusion. If you’re thinking about writing a series of your own, here are a few tips to help you out.

Step One: Map Out Your Plot

One of the most important things about writing a great series is making sure that your story can be carried over several books. Now if you’re just starting out with an idea, it can seem like a lot to think about right off the bat. But if you’re looking to plan a series, I imagine you have at least some basic idea of what major events happen when. Use those to understand whether you’ve got enough story.

Think about how many books you want to write. There’s no magic number (although three is quite popular); each story idea is unique. Remember, each book needs to have its own plot arc: a clear purpose that is worked towards over the course of the novel definitively fulfilled at the end. Then on top of that, each book needs to contribute to the overall series arc. The series arc itself also has its own purpose that must be worked towards at each stage. If you can see all of these main elements, congratulations! Your idea has enough substance to write a series.

Step Two: Get To Know Your Characters

I talk all the time about getting to know your characters on an intimate level. I’ve suggested creating character profiles and conducting an in depth interview with your character. When writing a series, this is especially crucial.

Over the course of your books, you’re going to be playing around with multiple important characters and multiple big character arcs. Outside of your main character, several secondary characters are going to have significant arcs that will influence the story. In each book, your main character will go through a change. You have to clearly see that change each time you pick up the next book and introduce a new change that will begin to play out. Your secondary characters will evolve over the course of the series, and each book doesn’t have to have a specific change for them.

In order to accomplish this, you need to absorb your characters’ personalities, motivations, and goals. You need to know them better than you know yourself. Using the tools I’ve linked above will assist you.

Step Three: Consider your world.

Your worldbuilding will need to be detailed enough for your readers to learn new places and new details each time they pick up an installment. Think about the Harry Potter universe and how expansive it is, how J.K. Rowling introduced us to new places and magical aspects every time we picked up one of her books. Take the time to ask questions about your world and dive deep into everything from geography down to individual family life. Your magic system will also need to be built to last as it will be a crucial backbone as your characters move throughout your fantastical universe. Dream as big as you want.

Are you ready to start? Happy writing!

Creating Subplots

A great fantasy story must always incorporate more than just a main plotline. Smaller stories and adventures should be included to give more insight into the characters and build up to the climax of the main story. Subplots tend to show progress and growth in a character without necessarily being part of their main journey or goal. These subplots can focus on the main character and their secondary goals or a secondary character and their own storyline. All subplots should relate back to the main plot and intersect the story in some way. That could mean relating back to the main themes or showing progress in the characters that are essential to the main journey.

Types of Subplots

There is a wide variety of subplots to choose from when looking at your own novel. Here are a few useful ones to recognize:

  • One of the most common and most recognizable subplots are romantic subplots. The main character falls in love with a secondary character who in turn reveals a lot of intimate information about the former character’s motivations, dreams, and personality traits. Romantic subplots are often the easiest to incorporate into most genres; with fantasy, they tend to walk hand in hand.
  • Another solid subplot idea for fantasy is something brewing in the political world. My own book explores this in the way of political tension, subverting alliances, and the constant presence of impending war. This subplot is often a great way to bring in detailed worldbuilding and historical background into your story.
  • It is always a great idea to show conflict between main and secondary characters. This can include a conflict with a villain that perhaps exists on the fringes of your main plot or an argument with a friend or lover that changes the main character’s course. These subplots add depth to your characters and often can have a transformative effect on a character’s psyche.
  • Anything that showcases a character’s strengths, flaws, and motivations can be incorporated into the story as a subplot. You’re not limited to the types of ideas I’ve listed above.

A Tip On Identifying and Incorporating Subplots

When I finished the first draft of Chasing Fae, one of things I did was take several sheets of paper and draw out several large arcs. I then went through my book and labeled each event of the main plot on one arc. On the next few, I took some time to pick out the events in my novel that didn’t connect directly to the main storyline. Those, I then was able to sort and begin to create some subplot arcs. Wherever I saw gaps, I made notes on what to write to fill them in to make my subplots complete. The final arc I used to create a character arc so I could definitively see how Grace changed and grew over the course of the entire novel. If there wasn’t a logical jump between one point and another, I created a new event to add in my second draft and create a new subplot off of that.

I would highly recommend this method if you’re having trouble identifying what kind of subplots you want to incorporate or what subplots you already have brewing. It also serves as a great tool to break your story down and really gain a deep understanding of your characters and your plot.

I hope this has been helpful. Happy writing!

Music as Inspiration

Hello everybody! I got inspired to write a post on music from my boyfriend, Daniel, and some discussions I had on Twitter yesterday with people interested in finding what music inspired people to write.

Music has always inspired me to create. I like picking out crescendos and dips in the music in which the most important moments of a scene lies. Nine times out of ten, I will have music on when I’m writing. It helps me to focus. I created a long playlist for my series that inspire different scenes, different moods, and different environments, and it’s always helped put me in the mood.

I would like to offer a good number of suggested songs for the fantasy genre in particular to help inspire you to create something amazing. I’ve sorted everything below by the type of scene or interaction or character I envision the song representing. I hope you all enjoy my choices and interpretations!

Note: All of these song selections have come from my playlist for my series. Feel free to comment on your opinions of these songs or offer a suggestion to add to the list!

Strong Willed Characters

  • Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons
  • Bird Set Free by Sia
  • Unstoppable by Sia
  • Rise Up by Andra Day
  • Something Wild (Acoustic) by Lindsey Stirling
  • Magnetic by Jessie J
  • Yellow Flicker Beat by Lorde
  • Minimal Beat by Lindsey Stirling
  • Moments by Tove Lo

Sad Scenes That Require Your Character to Reflect and Pull Themselves Up By the Bootstraps

  • Some Nights by fun.
  • Goodnight Goodnight by Maroon 5
  • Trade Mistakes by Panic! at the Disco
  • This is Gospel by Panic! at the Disco
  • Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia

Breakups

  • Molly (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco) by Lil Dicky

Relationship Tension

  • Irresistible by Fall Out Boy
  • Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding
  • Something Better by Audien, Lady Antebellum
  • Infinity by One Direction
  • Love’s Just a Feeling (feat. Rooty) by Lindsey Stirling
  • If I Lose Myself by OneRepublic
  • Alone Together by Fall Out Boy
  • Night Changes by One Direction
  • Coming Back For You by Maroon 5

Passionate Relationships

  • The Last of the Real Ones by Fall Out Boy
  • Good Thing by Sage The Gemini, Nick Jonas

Sexual Tension/Release

  • PILLOWTALK by Zayn

Those “Prove Yourself” Moments

  • The Arena by Lindsey Stirling
  • Immortals by Fall Out Boy
  • Centuries by Fall Out Boy
  • My Song Knows What You Did In The Dark by Fall Out Boy
  • The Phoenix by Fall Out Boy
  • Viva La Vida by Coldplay
  • Just One Yesterday by Fall Out Boy, Foxes
  • No Place Like Home by Todrick Hall

Happy Ending Scene After A Long Struggle

  • Straight Into the Fire by Zedd

Underestimated Characters That Are Destined to Succeed

  • Castle by Halsey

Delicious Villains (very specific type of villain)

  • Bartholomew by The Silent Comedy

Anthems to Character Pairings (can apply to relationships or friendships)

  • Homemade Dynamite (feat. Khalid, Post Malone, and SZA) – REMIX by Lorde
  • Creatures Of The Night by Hardwell, Austin Mahone

Fight Scenes

  • Say Amen (Saturday Night) by Panic! at the Disco