Releasing your inner dragon

How to Write Fight Scenes: Avoid Common Writing Mistakes

January 18, 2024 Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake Season 4 Episode 1
Releasing your inner dragon
How to Write Fight Scenes: Avoid Common Writing Mistakes
Show Notes Transcript

Join Drake and Marie as they discuss the ten mistakes you make in writing combat scenes!

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speaking of tracking damage mental and physical and characters reactions one of the things that irks me is when a character is not focused on the fight or they are capable of these clear well constructed fullon sentences and I'm like you have an axe coming at your head the axe the axe raced toward Drake's head and he wondered did I leave the iron on when I left?

hello happy New Year and welcome to season 4 of releasing your inner dragon today we are going to be discussing the 10 most common mistakes you make when writing combat scenes so we hope you'll enjoy this episode episode just before we get into it my name is Marie meany and with me as always is my co-host Drake hello everybody okay so Drake you had the first one on our list of 10 egregious mistakes people make so why don't you kick us off yeah it's it's it is near and dear to me and it's not just in fight scenes I mean this is obviously throughout the entire thing but it's really bad in fight scenes and that is filtering and just to remind everybody what filtering is filtering is when it's it's it comes out of sentence structure so you have to understand you have to be able to diagram a sense and and don't get freaked out you only have to diagram two little simple things what's the subject and what's the action so when you have something like um I watched as the punch came toward my noes well the sentence is not about the punch the sentence is about the subject is I and the action is watched but that's not cool that's not what we're here to do so the punch race toward my nose is now the punch becomes the subject and race toward my nose becomes the action and that's what we want I mean we want it all the time you you really want to stay away from filtering at all costs almost everywhere there are a few occasions where filtering is actually better than not filtering but they are very few and far between but in a fight scene it's just horrible and whenever I get onto this there is one so there was a professionally published book that the guy was a really good writer and the story was really really interesting but the first big fight scene that I got to was this chick watching her boyfriend in a fight these guys jumped they were trying to kill the boyfriend they didn't care about the girl at all and she's not a combat person or anything like that so she was just literally standing off to the side which is fine perfectly fine to have had that as the scene but every single line was was she watched as you know one of them drew his dagger and then she saw the dagger you know slice close to her boyfriend's cheek and then she looked as her boyfriend kneed the guy in the groin and then she watched as and it's like what you're doing is you're making me look at her as she's looking at something cool and I just want to look at the cool thing and I get it I get why people do this because they're like well wait a minute now she's the POV if I don't say she's seeing it how will anybody know that she's the one seeing it and I'm like because she's the narrating character everything that is seen felt smell tasted heard is her she you don't ever once you establish that PO character as long as you hold your your POV you you you don't have to keep doing it over and over and over again so I I would like to just say what I think perhaps that author was trying to avoid uh they didn't do it well they didn't do it right but what they were probably trying to avoid was having the narrating character vanish inside their own scene right because obviously everything is now about the fight and so the narrating character kind of seems to disappear okay which you can avoid by coming back to the narrating character to describe how the fight is emotionally impacting the character you know the the emotions that are evoked in the character by watching her lover or husband or whatever brother losing the fight or winning the fight you know either way like what is going on inside her and that then keeps bringing it back to the narrating character yeah so just to to tag on to that because that is something I teach all the time it's not about describing the story for the reader it's just about describing the story as it's affecting the narrator to the reader and so yes bringing that but there's there's actually a second point to that that I didn't think about because it goes into how I teach um dialogue and talking head syndrome when you have just dialogue after dialogue after dialogue people are doing like look at me I mean I've got my hand doing this to to to do this you know I touched my hat I was doing I'm playing with my beard there's all sorts of things that I'm doing those need to be described because it'll it'll it'll Blossom the world for the reader when she's standing there yes we want to get her emotions with that's that's 100% there but she's also doing something maybe she's shifting maybe she's squatting maybe she's dasing maybe she's whatever she is doing things and so those can also be brought so not only her emotions of what she's experiencing being on the sidelines of this fight but she's physically doing something too so both of those things are ways to make sure that we keep that narrating character in the scene without having to filter one single time exactly okay so the second one is one that is near and dear to my heart and it is one and it is one that I have a particular hatred for which is odd because I run a World building Channel on YouTube so I love World building I'm all about the World building I will build in all kinds of weird stuff into my world but combat is no place to expand on World building if you have a cool magical sword and you stop the combat to give me the history of this blade before the dude swings it or as he swing or to block it I promise you I'm going to stop reading because you've just completely broken my immersion by info dumping on me in an action scene yeah you can do small things so I've I've read this before but um because I read this when we were talking about manipulating time but you know here's a scene with one of my characters that's in a fight with five dudes and this is the first time his sword has been drawn so we're several chapters into his story swords are very very big and important in the fantasy world um most are named and and they're cool or whatever you can do little things but it has to be so small doesn't interrupt the flow of the action so in this just this paragraph pivoting cus his attacker as he moved his sword slipped free from from its sheath with a whisper of metal on leather a s a steel saber forged by the essence during the war of power D roshi stood a pace long in addition to an etch guard and pommel crafted with Artful Precision it held an edge so Keen it had never needed sharpening and then he uses it like later there is a scene where he's with one of the other main characters who's a kid and the kid's very fascinated by The Sword and he goes into the detail of like well here's the history of this sword and this is you know this is what it means to have a sword that's Essence enhanced and and all this other stuff so it's it's just enough to introduce the the the sword without no one even pauses over that they read through that it doesn't slow the action down so you know ex it's exactly right it's it's the opposite of doing what I use in my training class where I say you know if if there's a Gore lab that they're fighting and we've never introduced a Gore lab you can't introduce the gore laab you can't be like you know Drake swung his sword at the gore laab Gore laabs are Wing creatures from the pit of the Abyss that are a mix between dragons and bad children that don't watch between their ears the sword cleave the door the gor laab in Twain like no and how you get around that is well the gore laab looks like something it smells like something it sounds like something that's what you get you get what it is and then later you know Drake can be like what the crap was that and somebody's like oh that's a Gore lab they're a mix between dragons and bad children like after or or find a place before but not during the other thing is so in in the same vein of World building um that and I have actually seen this and I just I I actually could not believe it so we just entered a combat and then we went into an extended flashback scene to explain how the main character had trained to use the skill they were about to use in the

combat I just to explain both the skill and how they acquired it and I was just like what yeah well and they also do it for things like like because like you did a great job of avoiding this uh in the hidden blade but when the magic is used for the first time and it's used by somebody who is skilled at it they know they're not going to think about it they're not going to think about where the power comes from and and the history of the magic and all this other stuff they're just going to use the power and I I get why authors are so they're like but but if I don't give this information to the audience how will they ever know I'm like because the guy's head exploded yeah like he pointed at him said beazle Boop and the guy's head exploded that's how they'll know that that's what this does now because they don't need to to know yet in that moment where it came from and why it works and and you know how this character got the be power and blah blah blah because that we can learn that organically as it goes or before again you can always do it before but you can also do it after you it's exactly so in the you don't turn a action scene into an exposition yeah but but it's also so like we've been working a lot on uh opening chapters in the writer room in my critique pod and the number one mistake that I'm constantly doing is hammering on does this piece of information you just gave does it affect this moment of the story because at the beginning of the story you just haven't bought the C the the the reader loyalty yet and so they're they'll they'll do this and then this backstory little I mean even like that right there with the D Roi if this was the opening page that wouldn't be in there because I have not earned my read but this is chapter 10 like we're talking 40,000 words into this book if I can't you know if I haven't earned giving you two lines of of a sword's backstory during the middle of a fight then then you really probably shouldn't be reading me because I haven't earned your loyalty At All by then so it it is you do have to think about it like that when have I purchased enough of the readers loyal loal y to get away with being able to do little things and and little thing not not like what you just describe like this in chapter 80 if you do this if you start a fight and do a chapter back flashback of where they got this power I'm out you know what the worst part is and I've just remembered it and I remembered it because it's it's almost like I almost have PTSD from this opening chapter and it was also a published book by a traditional publisher yeah there is no longer a difference between published book quality and inpress book quality yeah so and I also have to tell you like I mean this was published a while ago right so I mean this is not it's not like it's a modern book um so this we this dude gets attacked and then like it's the opening scene it's him getting attack great okay good strong start the next p paragraph goes into he has lived so many Millennia as a druid on Earth and I'm like are are you actually kidding me and that's that's a perfect example does him living for Millennia on Earth affect this moment of the story right now no it's information so don't do it like especially on that opening page that opening chapter and and that's the big thing we've been working on in the writer room is it's your you haven't earned this yet hey pardon the interruption but if you are ready to take your writing to the next level and work with a group of highly motivated dedicated writers who are all working to not only improve their writing but improve your writing plus you get to work with me on a weekly basis then I'll encourage you to check out writersroom us this is a website that I have created that I really wish I had 30 years ago it's everything a writer needs to become a better writer not only do we do weekly critique sessions both from other members as well as me we have daily writing sessions I do monthly classes q&as we have activities I do uh all sorts of learning exercises such as I do a quarterly writing prompt contest and just tons and tons and tons of things so if you're ready to get serious about your writing and you want to actually finish that novel and have a chance of it being published then I encourage you to head on over to the writer room and join me there and as a special promotion for listeners of releasing your inner dragon I'll go one step more if you would like to get 50% off for three months reach out to me there's a million ways you can do that you can do it through staring Rider any of my social media such as LinkedIn Instagram Facebook X whatever reach out to me say that you would like to check out the writer's room for 50% off and I will send you a link that will allow you to do just that so hopefully you're ready to start getting serious about writing and I'll see you in the writer's room I know it's important to you you are excited about the fact that this that your character is a druid and is live for a millennium and all the yeah that's important to you but no one cares yet you have to earn like let me watch this guy in a fight and then later go oh wow he's been alive for a thousand years okay things are starting to you know pan out here this is cool but I don't need it I don't need it during that opening moment because I'm still just trying to get to like the character and I'm not going to like a character just because he's a thousand years old that's not going to make me like anybody you know so you have to earn that loyalty before you do that so really you know my biggest advice on opening page just go back through it and every single line ask yourself is this information that I'm giving to the reader or is this something that is actually pertinent to this moment of this second of this scene and if the answer is it's not for the second of that scene then it gets cut and you're going to be like no no they must have no they don't readers are very smart they do not need that information they do not want that information it bogs them down and it's the same thing in a fight scene you know to bring it back to here World building during a fight scene they are interested in the fight they want to see the they want to see how it's going to happen they want to see who's going to survive and what damage is gonna get taken and they don't care about your Gore lab they they'll they'll learn they'll be cool on that later so and now having just said all about like don't give all this too much information let's talk about what you do need to give and this was your one uh Point Drake not setting the scene that is something that I think is the most I mean I actually it's probably a tie you give too much backstory information but even with the backstory information you fail to set the scene there is no camera in this and and this is where I come up with my drism of you're writing two books at the same time one in your head and one on on paper you can't give the audience the book in your head so just because you can see where everyone is at on the stage as they're moving around and fighting and tumbling and doing all their stuff the audience can't see it unless you paint it it has to be in the paperbook it can't be in your head book so one of the things that is I think the hardest to do during a fight scene is you have to remember that every single moment you also have to be scene setting every moment and the trick to that for me is is really just don't describe something use it so don't describe you know like he stood next to a weathered building with you know flaking paint you describe something and that's just because it was from the scene the mace whs Pats his head crashing into the the paint flaking wood of the building next to him now I can see the building but it's also during this action that's going on as opposed to me just describing the building and then describing where I'm at and then describing the mace coming at me you know it's it's about looking for organically working with the environment to also describe the action and the moment and everything and just you're constantly constantly doing this with the environment otherwise it becomes the same thing as I talked about earlier where it's just Talking Heads it's just now in a fight scene and with Talking Heads you just have lips floating in a black void if you're not seen setting during a fight scene you just have two people fighting in a black void like there's nothing around them they're just floating in nothingness and that's just horrible it's a horrible horrible thing to do to a fight scene because you can see it but your audience can't so I think that that key of it being organic is really what you should take away from this in setting your scene you want to kind of dribble the scene out you don't want to describe it all up front and you want it to be part of the action you know if there's a a outcropping of rocks or something like that have one of the characters pick up a rock and smash it into the other guy's face or something like that like use your environment to also set your seat tumble over it or you know Dodge to avoid a puddle of fish heads or whatever um when you but you know the funny thing is is yes that's very very important in a fight scene but it's also how I set the seen everywhere like most people start off with that that camera shot and that's why they're writing in free internet discourse instead of actual true limited and that's fine there's nothing wrong with starting with an establishing shot matter of fact I recommend it most of the time but sometimes and for me all the time I just have the and when I say action maybe they're just walking through a market or maybe they're just eating some pie or that's action and there's movement going on so instead of like let's say they're sitting at a table and just eating a piece of pie pie I'm not going to start off by setting up the room and showing you where the table is and showing them sit I'm just going to have them eating the pie and as they eat with the pie they're going to be interacting with the table and they're going to be looking across the room and they're going to be you know someone's going to walk through a door that you didn't know was there and and it but it's all happening organically so I'm building the room out when it's needed so that you always know where you're at and grounded at all times so I I both I agree with you and I disagree with you a little bit so I agree with you in that you must continuously build out the scene but in a non-combat scene so in a in a non-combat scene I do feel that there is some value to spending at least a sentence or two up front in giving the kind of scenario because otherwise I did say that I said you know that's that is the way you should do it yeah no no but I'm just saying like um not not have not necessarily a wild panoramic shot or whatever but if you don't establish that say the character sitting at a table with another character right in kind of the opening paragraph it can feel to the reader like the other character is ambushing you know like that's just popped into existence so you've got to be a little bit aware of how that can come across and and thanks for for that because that's what I meant I just I said it poorly um you do I mean because that becomes now a 400 foot of rope scenario where it's like the hero is stuck on a 400 foot cliff but luckily he remember to bring 400 foot of rope like no you do have to set it enough to but but like using that example I might start and this is a fictitious scene and I hate writing out of my mouth but I might start with you know Drake looked across the table at Marie um as she sipped on her wine yeah you know yes you wanna so that's how I set scenes instead of starting off with a drco Marie sat in a cafe on the corner of fifth in in Maine Marie had ordered some wine Drake had ordered some apple pie uh they had gathered together to talk about what they were going to do you know at their for their next novel or whatever like I don't right I mean there's nothing wrong with that that's a legitimate way to open the scene and set everything up that's just not I mean there's a lot wrong with that rning out of myth yeah but but but I hear you yeah yeah for me that scene would start off with you know I'd look at you and then I would just say something like exactly I can't believe this is where you want to take the story yeah like and then you're right into this conflict on the second second sentence of this opening scene and then you know the waiter's going to show up because they can show up and you know maybe whatever maybe I turn and look over the the other people that are sitting at the Outdoor Cafe at the at the ocean view Beyond like I'm going to build it that way um but you're right you can't the immediate stuff you have to immediately introduce yes um but yeah okay so also not bad to you know to do it the other way where it's you know on a on a bright sunny day Drake and Marie sat in an outdoor Cafe talking about what they were gonna I mean that that's happens a million times too yeah so we've spoken about filtering and World building and not setting the scene um so you basically about information but there is something else that you can do that seriously is not great in terms of information and that is too much stage Direction so I think that I should Define what what what I mean by the word stage Direction in this case I mean saying things like he turned to his left he picked up the sword with his right hand and then he rolled and you know there's too much like words that are would be in a stage play as opposed to Pros that just flows and leave something to the reader to think about yeah um up down forward backward left right and especially for me it's the next then like you know he did this then he did like it's it's the next sentence I'm going to read it in order so I know what's happening next because I'm gonna read this part first and then I don't need the then because then I'm going to read the next part and obviously to me that happened next like you don't need to tell me next he you know tried to stab Drake in the face like obviously so yeah those words are they're just they're just fluff and they slow the action down agreed so having said that let's talk about not writing in an action reaction way which was your number five yeah yeah and this is something I talk about in my uh anatomy of a fight scene or anatomy of an action scene class and I don't think people realize the importance of this because you know we're we're we're we're varying our sentence structures and so we're doing dependent clauses independent clauses introduction Clauses trailing Clauses all this stuff to try to make it interesting so it's not a wrote read but you've got to be careful because it really comes down to this people can't actually read fight scenes faster than they can read a a dialogue scene but we want to give them the illusion that they are and so there's a couple tricks that that we're going to do we're actually going to talk about another one next but let's just talk about the the action reaction when they do things in order their brain doesn't have to take time to build that so it's not even just Action Reaction like you know Drake got punched in the face and his head whipped back um I wouldn't write that that's terrible but as an example but it's also the reason why it's so important to write an active voice versus passive voice because in passive voice you're also doing things out of order so in other words a passive voice sentence would be like the boy was bitten by the dog now it's a very short sentence so obviously I'm exaggerating this um you have to extend it out to an entire scene but but the the B the brain basically has to build oh there's a dog I mean oh there's a boy what's the boy doing well he's getting bitten I what oh there's a dog that bit the boy and you have your brain and yeah that's a tiny little thing but when you think about it from a whole fight scene when things are happening like this you're constantly the brain do this little gymnastics as opposed to just the dog B the boy because then the brain sees the dog the brain sees the bite the brain sees the boy it's it's it's in this order so it's the same thing with your action you know we want the the action to happen and then the reaction of that action needs to happen next now at the beginning of a fight when things are confusing or whatever sometimes it's good to throw things out of order because it will you know keep the reader confused because the character feels confused so the example I always use is like let's say we're writing a story of you know four um soldiers in Vietnam walking down a trail and they're just you know they're not worried about anything and they're talking about Mama Mama's apple pie and girlfriends all this stuff and then all of a sudden one of their heads explodes and brains go flying all over the the POV character obviously I'm not going to start with the sniper who's out there and and do the action I'm G to start off with reaction but then somebody's G sniper everyone's going to hit the ground and we're going to go into that action reaction action reaction action reaction I'm a push back and say that the head exploding is the action the re the reaction is brains all over my face right you can look at it like that that's that's fine but technically there was a sniper who fired first was the action that caused the brain to explode um yeah so we don't know what caused the brain to explode until later uh so that's what I mean by that but you're right the action would be the head exploding and the reaction would be taking the the blood and gore in your face for somebody that you were just talking to about you know stuff baseball and apple pie and home and girlfriends and all of that yeah but once it gets started once everybody's scrambling and trying to get cover and firing back and everything like that it's going to be I do this and then this happens I do this and this happens I do this and this happens they do this and this happens we're going to keep it in that and that's the reason why and we don't even have it on here so I'll just mention it here that's the reason why first of all you should never write in passive voice almost never there's only a couple times where it's it's needed but it's really egregious in action scenes first of all it's an action scene you kind of want to write active voice I mean it's kind of in the title passive voice doesn't really work for an action scene but the big reason is it's just it literally does slow the brain down a little bit to have to to reformulate those sentences so they see what happens if you just let them see it as if they're watching a movie it just makes everything flow so much better so always writing in an Action Reaction method once the fight starts I think is vitally vitally important to really having the reader I mean the big thing is and this is a stupid statement at its face but we don't want the reader thinking during an action scene and what I mean is we don't want them thinking about what they're seeing sure they can think about what's going to happen and they can think about you know the excitement of it or whatever but we don't want to them going wait what just happened yeah because then have to ReRe it and gu what you're not doing if you're rereading sentences over and over again you're not flowing through the scene and I've sometimes heard people defend this by saying yes but combat's confusing and I want the reader you know to feel that confusion I'm like yes sure but you don't want to cause that confusion by having the reader need to reread sentences looking for what just happened it's still about them watching a movie flawlessly in their on the canvas of their imagination they can be confused by what's going on as long as they can still see all of it yes okay then one of the things that really irks me in combat well it irks me in general writing because maybe because English isn't my first language so when a sentence gets out of hand I get a little like wait what is going on in this sentence and and what am I supposed to be keeping track of um but in a fight scene in a combat scene run on sentences are the bane of my life like I in a fight scene I want those sentences to be short sharp clear and deal with one thing so that and the paragraph deals with one sequence so that I can flow through that scene and consume it and at least it feels to me like I'm consuming it really fast because short sentences also help with that short sentences feel read thus feel faster even though it's an illusion it's not really the scene hasn't really picked up but all of this stuff that we've been talking about really does all feed into that one thing it's the illusion of the fact that oh wow the story's gotten really fast they're reading at the same rate that they're reading before it's just that the shorter sentences they're consuming it faster um always an active voice they don't have to their brain doesn't have to do gymnastics try to figure the sentence out writing in an action reaction way they they just see this movie as it's playing out and they're just constantly enthralled by it and they're no longer having to even struggle long run on sentences is going to be the antithesis to that reaction action sentences is going to be the antithesis of that massive voice all of these things that we're talking about not setting the scene because in other words we don't like that even goes back to that like when I say I don't want them thinking I don't want thinking like wait where am I you know it's like I describe a a a boardroom that two people get in a fight and there's chairs and chalkboards and all of a sudden Drake gets thrown into the bushes and you're like wait there there's no what what but in my head they went out of the building and now they're in the parking lot but I didn't set that scene and so therefore now the reader just like bushes there's no B there was no bushes in this room matter of fact there was a line at the beginning that the boss didn't even allow plants in the building like so yeah it's all of this comes down to like literally everything that we talked about for the for the first six things all kind of tie into the don't let the reader think about mundane stuff during a

fight then you wanted to talk about not tracking damage both mental and physical yeah this is big for me because I am such a graphic VI you know action writer um to me it's very important you know any damage that I'm going to give to a character is going to affect them not just now but also throughout the story and I just don't think a lot of people really keep up with that first of all it's how it's one of the tools that I use to take some of my more powerful characters and make the audience concerned so like in the opening fight scene of um the first Genesis Book where CLA the big lion dude is fighting in the arena he's an 800 lb 7 and half foot tall lion dude fighting a bunch of people he's literally going to just rip through them and kill all of them so what do I do well I give him damage you know I look for ways for these guys to you know get in a lucky shot or whatever so like the one big final fight he takes a blow to the side of the head and the entire world goes black and you know he can't see anything he's he's you know all dizzy and deranged and and he's basically just flopping and try trying just not to get stabbed at that point and when you do that the audience is like oh okay this is how he could die you know it's actually given them that chance of failure they I mean he's a main character they know he's not going to die in chapter three um that would be a terrible story at that point if there's you know 60 chapters in the book but um it's still you know keeping up with that and then you know I've talked about this before one of my favorite movies is The hitman's Bodyguard I really do love that movie I thought it was brilliantly done but there is some things that just irk the crap out of me so like in the one of the opening scenes where the Samuel Jackson character who's the Hitman escapes custody somebody from about 15 feet away shoots him in the lower leg with a high powerered rifle yeah um just think AR-15 whatever it's not an AR-15 but you know it's a combat Rifle yeah now nothing wrong with that like he limps he's in pain all that I'm perfectly fine with because you take a bullet through the meat of your C and it's going to affect you and they did a great job with that what pissed me off was in the next scene he's bandaging himself and he takes a knife and he he pulls the bullet out of the wound the only way you can pull the bullet out of the wound at that point then is it hit the bone and if a high-powered rifle hits the bone that bone is shattered completely from knee to ankle like there is no bone there anymore there's just splinters so he's not hobbling away on that leg he's not put any pressure on that leg and I mean at the end he kicks somebody with that leg and I'm just like and the the worst part about it is it's not needed like he could have just still stitched him he still has a hole in his leg if it just went through the meat so he still has to stitch himself up and bandage it up and all that you don't have to pull the bullet out because then anybody who knows you know combat bullet go through and through right yeah like that happens all the time yeah um so that just frustrated me to know in because then for the rest of the movie I'm like he can't walk he he can't run across this field he can't K that guy with that leg like that leg doesn't exist anymore it literally is just rubber as it's flopping around because there's nothing but shards in there and so it just and it's not that hard yeah I do want to talk a little bit about mental damage and the difference between characters so my main character in in sangu Chronicles here behind me is is Louis the Assassin right and he he has a very different reaction on a battlefield to like a farm boy would have or perhaps even a soldier would have because a soldier still looks at himself as like a combatant facing other Warriors right um and it's a struggle for life and death but it's one that you face head on Louie looks at problems that you can solve with it starts with s and ends with litting their throats you know

yeah like oh this Merchant is um is taking me for more money than I want to pay him I could kill it yes I could just kill him like you know and that that is that does make of course for a very different approach to Battlefield psychology so you do but if you're going to have a character like that and it's the same with your character elith if you're going to have a character that is so divorced from violence that it doesn't bother them then you need contrasting characters because otherwise it looks like everyone in your world is like this so and you that you know un least the world is like that actually I never thought about this but Lou and aith are actually really cool test subjects because Louie knows what he's doing and doesn't give a [ __ ] yes aith has no concept of death I mean she cut someone's head off but she doesn't realize what that actually implies she doesn't know that there's a moral value to that you know she doesn't get any of that um and then if you throw CA into the mix the big lion dude he actually is offended by not killing somebody who's trying to K now he would never do anything to somebody that doesn't deserve us we wouldn't do like Louis he doesn't see death that way but like at the end of that book there's the scene where you know he finally gets the bad guy and the little child is like you know you've beat him don't kill him because that would make you as bad as him and playing kills him is like I'm better than him I'm you know I'm a kiian I'm not a human like why why would I ever insult Myself by not killing my enemy like that would be an insult to me and so again that's just a different attitude of how they face the the the TAC talent and then you're right the farm boy is going to be like it's impactful when you take a cient life for the first time it is I mean PTSD is real and soldiers who come back and have hard times incorporating themselves into society is real because this stuff takes a mental toll on people unless they're a psychopath if your character's a Psy I mean Lou's kind of a psychopath like he just is so you know he's a little bit different but if your character is this heroic you know person who's trying to do the right thing they're probably not going to be all that comfortable just taking a life um and this is this can be both here or in number nine but it's it's the reason why I loved how they finally did SPID the Spider-Man character in the new series of Spider-Man the very first one with I can't remember the kid's name whatever his name is um whatever so in the and all the others like the Toby McGuire ones and the you know all of those they never it was never Spider-Man to me it they just never because Spider-Man is one of my favorite superheroes when I was growing up and they just never captur him and this new one the reason why it made me so giddy is they finally captured the motivation they had so like at the end of the movie he needs to stop the Green Goblin HG whatever it was um and so he's fighting him and he's like I'm gonna stop you because I'm the hero and then he's like oh crap I'm hurting you wait no I'm sorry I'm sorry let me help oh wait now you're hurting me because I'm helping you no I gotta stop you from hurt no no I'm hurting you I'm so sorry I didn't mean to hurt you like and that's this beautiful innocent teenage mentality that Spider-Man was supposed to have he wants to be the hero and stop the bad guy he doesn't want to hurt the bad guy you know he doesn't want to do any damage doing it he just wants to do the right thing and they never captured that in any of the other Spider-Man's and then in this one they truly captured that beautiful innocent sure I'm a hero and I'm G to stop you but but I can't live if I hurt you that would that would be terrible for me and that's just talk about comparing him to Louie that's a very different character from that mentality so knowing your characters and then and then tracking that you know because you track it the other way with Louie where he goes less like he starts to see more of the damage that he could be doing yes Spider-Man goes you know more callous because he realizes you can't have this you know teenage mentality when you're fighting people that are literally trying to kill millions of people so that's where you get your char growth from but if you don't track it if you don't pay attention to it then it just kind of becomes the character just never grows in that aspect like Lou tet's on the brink of being a psychopath and the basically his growth Arc is retreating from it yeah retreating from that Brink now he can obviously never go back to being an innocent farm boy he is always going to be casual about taking a life right but he can be more cognizant even if it's just intellectually right yeah so um speaking of tracking damage mental and physical and characters reactions one of the things that irks me is when a character is not focused on the fight or they are capable of these clear well constructed fullon sentences and I'm like you have an axxe coming at your head a the axe raced toward Drake's head and he wondered did I leave the iron on when I left

yeah it's I think that's it that is definitely something where there and that's comes down to to to pair with your world building it comes down to the the author thinking well I've got to move the plot too I've got to grow the story no no you're in a fight your character is focused on you know everything needs to come down to this very focused moment of I don't want to die here what do I got to do to to survive this because that's what the audience wants they want to focus on that they don't want to you know they want you to grow the story of course all the time except for these moments like these moments need to be these moments yeah and they're not about moving the story and so yeah a lot of people do that and I guess that Segway us very nicely into your point number nine which is keeping track of your character's motivation and what they're not willing to do and what they are trying to do or at least looking at what they're trying to accomplish so like that scene that I just read from the D roshi being drawn he's kidus is surrounded by five dudes that are trying to kill him however he's not in that much Danger from them he's a magical fighter and they don't have the magic and so even though there's five of them they're all trained to fight this type of Mage he's really not that in much danger however what he does know is another one of his people another one of these combat mjes that's on the enemy side is also hiding around here somewhere so he doesn't he could kill all five of these guys and they are on the enemy side he literally could just sit there and like I'm just GNA kill you but that's not his motivation his motivation is I'm in a strange area I'm surrounded by by combatant that are all trying to kill me I don't know what the Trap is I have to get away I have to get away and live to fight another day and so in that moment he kills one of them injures one of them and runs like the other three you're just there like he's not going to take the time even though they're the enemy cuz because what is his motivation his motivation in that moment is to get home he's trying to get to safety and so if you don't pay attention to that and you have him do like this heroic fight scene to kill these five guys and then I'm gonna hunt down this guy even though I'm in a trap and I don't know what what's going on like it just becomes very unrealistic it it makes the person not feel like they're a real human being that's trying to have self-preservation uh on themselves so understanding what they're trying to accomplish and and and what would be logical for them in that moment and then letting them do what they want to do you know cidus wants to escape I may want to have him kill those other blood priests but who cares ctus doesn't want to do it he wants to get the crap away and get home so he can be safe Behind the Walls of his Villa because there are bad people out there trying to end his life so yeah just really understanding why the character is doing what they're doing what is their in game um and then you take someone like Louis who might be like no I can't leave any any Witnesses so I'm sorry that 10-year-old just saw me do this but I'm gonna kill them too because my motivation is no one could have seen me do this that's my motivation I'm going to follow through with it I'm going to do it and it doesn't matter you know what I have to do to accomplish my motivation um you get into Spider-Man like we were just talking about his motivation is I want to stop stop you from being the bad guy but I also don't I'm very motivated to not hurt you and so that gives you this beautiful thing to play with and realistic to play with something that really adds that character and that personality you know that audiences are going to be attracted to yeah and I think like it's also important to know what your character is willing to do in a fight like is there anything that they're not willing to do will they kill that 10-year-old or is there a line for them do they have a line where they say actually no no I I will not do that like even if my life is on the line I draw a line here yeah I mean that could be a save the cat moment for a character like Louie if he's faced with that you know I have to leave no Witnesses but now there's this eight-year-old girl that just saw me I I no not doing it I refuse you know and that's that save the cat moment where it's like oh he just murdered like 30 people but he didn't murder the little girl he's a good guy yeah my kind of guy he's my kind of cold heartless assassin so yeah I mean it depends on what you're trying to do and that's why I think a lot of people and this is off the subject but that's but just from a storytelling standpoint I think that's the biggest thing that people Miss from a big standpoint which is the character has a motivation that you're trying to do and you aren't running the character you're running the world and so what you do in the world is constantly force them to make those tough decisions to not only connect them to the reader but also drive them through that story and have them grow so if you throw a little 10 you know eight-year-old girl at at this assassin character and be like all right what are you gonna do like the story you the writer have the ability to to throw out that eight-year-old girl but you have to let the Assassin dude decide which way that he's legitimately or she's going going to legitimately go to dealing with that um obviously you're also that point so I'm being a little esoteric here because you're going to make that decision because you know the character yeah but that's my point is is that you allow them somebody at the at group last night said something that I thought was brilliant because we we were talking about some mistakes that he made in this and he's like yeah I think that the pov's character's name was Kevin he's like yeah Kevin made it really hard for me to write this scene and I love that he said that because it's like like yes that's exactly what you should be thinking the character should be making it hard on you because you're not the character you allow that character to be the character because you you know you know everything about them and you let them be true to what you've created for them and then the story is what your tool is to combat that character and so I really love that he said yeah Kevin made it really hard for me to write this story that was just awesome I literally stopped the meeting to comment on the fact that he said that because that is a great attitude to have and if you want to join the writers room and do that kind of critique poting things links down below if you want to work with me on a weekly basis and become a better writer thank you I wasn't gonna plug myself but but yes that's that's where you get access to me on a regular weekly basis so the last one that we want to raise is keeping the fight realistic for your world okay and that caveat is very important because obviously your world might have magic your people might be mircat people who have entirely different abilities from you know from our abilities it like there's a vast array of Fantastical elements at play in your world that obviously means that people could just walk off a wound or whatever but then it must be realistic for that world so for example in my world my magic users have control over their bodies they can just heal themselves this does mean that in a fight generally speaking injuries do not worry my magic users because they can just literally heal themselves so when one of them can't heal themselves that's a very big deal right um but you must keep the the fight realistic for the world like with the the bullet through the the cough of course but also in terms of what people can do like if you haven't established that everybody here is a Superman who can leap over tall buildings people can't jump I don't know you know more than 10 meters you know no they can't even jump 10 meters what am I talking about you need a pole for that crap like yeah yeah and and and it's that's one of the reasons why I like writing multi POV stories so like just in Act One the ath character who her body is really kind of this shell that she's not really attached to although she kind of is it's a weird thing but she's more of an entity that lives inside of her body um in the fight scene that she gets into they break several of her ribs and she doesn't even really think about it she's like whatever you know I'll deal with that later and that in this scene right here with the cus and the the the blood priest he takes a crossbow in the side and it is even though he is a mage that deals with you know their power is their body they're fast they can improve their strength and speed and and and they actually can take more damage but still it's a human body and so you know that dichotomy between the two characters of one that you could literally break her ribs or stab her in the gut or whatever and she's like whatever I'll deal with that later it's not even going to slow me down because that's the the magic that she has that's the type of character she is that's a realism in this world versus sure I'm a mage because they can't heal themselves there is no healing for what cius is so if he takes damage like he just takes damage he's gonna heal like any other human you know after there now he can mitigate the the the pain of it he can you know isolate it with the magic but that doesn't take away the actual damage so like there's a scene later where his one of his arms basically becomes useless he gets stabbed in the shoulder and has to finish that fight with one arm just kind of dangling there as he's trying to do his thing because he's still human he's still yes he can use his magic to go okay the pain isn't going to debilitate me you know I can just close it off but the arm's still not going to work it's still out of commission so yeah it's about being realistic and and setting your rules and then following your rules and I I do want to highlight here that you notice the difference right in in Drake World um Maes take that damage and you've got to consider that damage you have to work within the limitations of those damage in my world Mages literally just heal themselves almost instantaneously as sometimes as they take the damage right as long as everything is still in alignment because they can't reset bones so as long as it's just a wound like a flesh wound they literally just heal it it's merely a flesh wound exactly right they walk it off now the thing is that I establish that as the rules of healing in my world so I have to stick to that I cannot now give a character an injury to make the fight more realistic if that character is a mage because everybody knows you Mages just heal their body so if I want to give that kind of fight to a character I need to either magically exhaust them or remove their magic or somehow inflict a wound that they can't heal you because you still have times where you make it very difficult on your characters you don't want to make them just Invincible Supermans so what are some other things that you do so kind of so there are so exhausting them is obviously one thing like if they're exhausted they can't heal the other thing is if they are there are some substances that can separate you from your magic so you can't use use your magic then there are some kinds of weapons that inflict wounds that corrupt so fast you can't heal them um and then uh what I also use in Lou's case specifically is I actually in one scene spoilers if you haven't read duclair um I shatter his leg bones with a sledgehammer and he can't heal that because he can't put the you know it's it's it's sped up healing the body's healing as though it's just speeding it up right and and that means that when your legs are broken to that extent yeah yeah basically the point that I wanted to get to with this is whatever you do as setting your rules the reality is you want to avoid the Superman complex you can't just have your character skate through unearned that's that is a huge problem today with a lot of writers that they just give their characters too much too fast they're invulnerable and nobody they don't earn what they get and so one of the reasons why you know I've set up my magic system is literally because I can you know likeus has to fight one armed um she has even though she made her magic a lot more powerful on the healing side she still then had to go okay but what do I got to do to it's still you know we still have to make these characters earn what they're what they're getting but it also depends on the story it's it's kind of like it almost goes back to that um to the uh Sonic Screwdriver why does Doctor Who have aonic screwdriver it literally is only there because they didn't want to ever have the doctor be stopped by a locked door like because I'm just a human or you know he's a Time Lord but whatever he's still just a dude like oh I'm chasing the bad guy he runs in the building locks the door well crap I'm done like in of story like no we can't have that he's gonna pull out a sonic screwdriver and just go and the door opens so so yeah absolutely so I just also do want to um talk about the the power like having really powerful characters and working with them so I recently watched blue-eyed Samurai on Netflix which highly recommend so freaking good um but the one of the main characters there there are basically three characters that you follow okay and the the titular character the blue-eyed Samurai um when she comes onto the screen it's a really minor character that it's actually a she masquerading as a guy I mean it's that period of Japan like what did you think um so so when she comes on the screen she comes with a whack ton of deadly skills okay she is front loed as at the height of her skills this is no Farm Boy story right now her conflict and her the whole purpose behind her combat and everything else is an internal Journey about how revenge is bad so and this has got nothing per say to do with combat but just talking about like these high front loaded characters because I have the same with Louie Louie is an assassin at the height of his skill he's not you know learning new Assassin skills or anything else like that he is powerful out the box and when you have a character like that it is critically important that you have a strong internal conflict storyline that will still endure this almost merry soup character to the audience because they can feel the conflict internal to the character yep that's why I do love the dichotomy that I created in the Genesis Saga because you do have the farm boys that are just trying to do the right thing but they don't really have a lot U they've got a lot to learn and then you got the two technically three but because clytus is kind of front loaded as well but the two big ones would be the lion dude CA and a lith both are basically invulnerable when it comes to ual combat which is why combat for me for those characters are pretty boring sure they can do amazing things but they're never really challenged in a physical way CLA more than aith aith is literally not even challenged at all ever physically it's the reason why that's not their stories ca's story is he just really wants to be accepted he just really wants to fit in somewhere he he wants to be loved and that is a beautiful teddy bear kind of story and Alys I love her story because she starts with no moral compass not even understanding what that means to getting emotions and getting a moral compass and and actually understanding Humanity because it it floods into her through the story and so that's what their stories are their stories aren't and that's why that is one of the reasons why like aith is invulnerable because I just like you with the not wanting to slow your Mages down with physical damage because it doesn't help your story that's the same thing with aith ath isn't her story isn't helped or hindered by the fact that she would take or not take damage it has nothing to do with her story so I don't even want to deal with it so by making her Superman I don't have to anytime there's a because it's fantasy she it's G to be fighting there's going to be all this stuff but it's not about that it's about understanding the humanity of fighting and death and and taking lives and sparing lives and what is good and what is evil and because she doesn't have any concept of that at the very beginning of her story and so the specific reason why I made her completely invulnerable to pretty much everything is because that then it allows me to absolutely focus in on all the emotion all the mental all the internal story guard that she is she never has to even think about the external stuff it just happens um that's why one of my favorite scenes with her is where she's doing that huge fight with those three guys and she's not paying attention at all like it's like a sword swipe happens and then there's like four paragraphs of her thinking internally before the sword swipe finishes like like you have this huge disconnect of the fight that's actually going on around her because she's literally thinking about H do leave the iron on that I mean she's actually thinking about like why did I feel this last night and that works because you have other characters who don't think like that so if you're going to you know break any of these kind of 10 things that we've spoken about now bear in mind that you want to break them specifically and you want to do it on purpose because it furthers the narration the the theme and the plot of a given character so I'm I'm going to push back a little bit on what you just not that but the the thing before that yes it helps that Genesis is a you know multi-pov and I have all these different ranges of things that I can play with I could write a story with a lith by herself and have it be just absolutely awesome I don't need another character who then has to worry about dying to make her story what it what I have to do is what you said earlier I have to make sure that there's something that she struggles to earn and while that isn't physical it is definitely emotional and and mental and so that's really what it boils down to it's your characters have to earn what they are striving for that it can't be given to them and so I absolutely could write aith as a standalone story and just have her skate through physically and kill anything and everything and have nothing ever affect her because that's not her story that has nothing to do with what her story is so as long as they're earning what they're earning you're right it absolutely makes it better when I can bounce it off of the fact that I have completely opposite Spectrum characters that you also get to see struggle in these situations um it's one of the reasons why so I knew that I was never going to have CA in a lith fight they're on the same side eventually but I had so many fans after book one were like which one's better which one could win like what what would happen if they're in a fight so I do answer that question in book two I just don't do it with them fighting um basically CLA fights this thing and it basically kills him um he's only saved because a Healer happens to show up right at the end but aith is with that healer and she's like oh I'll go take care of this thing and she just basically skips over and kills it without even thinking and that's my way of saying to the audience aith would win the fight like without even question aith is so much stronger than this and she's like this 5 foot4 90 lb nothing um and I've already said he's seven and a half foot tall 850 pound lion dude it wouldn't even be a fight it would not even be a fight so that was just my way of answering that for the fans without because they're not gonna get into a fight it's not happening so those are our 10 mistakes actually y I want to add one thing that I think is hilarious to this last point this 10 point keeping it real because there is one mistake that I see especially in ya that happens all the time that really really bothers me if you're going to set up that a character is some way and then not allow them to do what you set up that they can do shame on you and so this happens in almost every vampire you know book that I've ever seen it's always a it's always a vampire Falls another a human woman who's also there's also a human love interest or whatever and so the vampire is stronger than anything and and you know faster than anything and brutal and just a killing machine and then all of a sudden you finally have that fight between the vampire and the the human love interest and he's like all right come on let's fight we're just going to fight fair like no I've never walked into my kitchen saw a roach on the floor and went all right you know let's go ahead take some time let's stand up and fight like no I'm I'm six foot tall and weigh 185 pounds I step on the roach it dies and then I just clean it up like there is no there's no discussion it's just dead it cannot stand up against a fight with me so a part of realism is also and and that's a good thing it's a good thing to force yourself so like one of the stories that I wrote for Sony there was an elf who had to kill a dragon and he has to single kill this Dragon there's no way literally no way just in a head- onhe head fight that this that this elf is going to survive this fight but he has to survive this fight and the dragon has to die so I spent probably two weeks mapping that out and figuring out because that's in my opinion the story that you're telling should actually make it difficult for you write so like that what what the guy said last night where Kevin made this really hard for me to write that's a good thing you want to have to struggle to figure it out because it's the the harder you work to finally get that solution the more enjoyment the reader going to have when they go through it if if it's just this easy thing and it's obvious where the story is going no reader enjoys that but if you got to this point you were like well crap do I save the kid like they're going to die like don't go back and change that figure out how that character is going to survive like force yourself and if it takes you weeks to do it who cares figure it out because that because then the readers are going to hit that point they're GNA be like oh well the character is gonna die and then they read through like oh I cannot believe that happened that is so amazing you know and that's where the magic comes from you want the story to make it hard on you because the harder the story makes it on you the better it's going to be for the reader it's just that simple so your vampire is just going to kill the dude or beat him to a pulp and tie him into a to a tree upside down 50 feet in air whatever however he's going to he's not gonna struggle he's just gonna do this and he's he's a vampire he's not even gonna be morally hurt over the fact that he did this so just be realistic to your people understand their motivations like it's so important in my opinion I agree so I wanted to add that on there because my vampire story really bothers me and there's a lot of people out there writing vampire stories so if you're going to make them killing machines then they need to be killing machines and if you need to save a human character from them then you're going to have to work really really hard to figure out how to save that human from that killing machine you just created agreed I fully agree with everything you've just said there so those are our 10 mistakes what do you think about them leave comments down below while you're down there hit the like button share it with a few friends you know distribute the love if you like what you heard on this and want to hear more of 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