Every writer has a least favorite type of scene to write. Some writers don’t like writing dialogue. Others don’t like the romantic bits. As for me? Well, one of my least favorite types of scenes to write are battle scenes.
Battle scenes and other various action sequences bring out my reluctant groan! “But Nikki, you said you were writing a medieval fantasy. Doesn’t that include battles?” Yes. “But Nikki, you mentioned a scifi involving bounty hunters. Won’t that have battles in it?” Why, yes. It’ll have a lot. “But Nikki, peek in all you idea journals. A lot of those plots involve fighting!” You are very right. I just like to torture myself, okay?
All joking aside, sometimes a writer’s favorite type of genre will involve something they don’t like writing. The answer as to why we don’t like writing those scenes is fairly simple: we’re terrified of messing them up.
Think about the fight scene, for example. If you have two characters going at it, you gotta be able to consider their capabilities, endurance, and the flow of the fight. You have to be able to blend in the action without leaving too much to summary. When I go back and read my novel, I like to think I have great fighting scenes. It makes me think I’m pretty good at them…until I try to write a new one. Like at lunch the other day. I’ve been working on the sequel to my novel; however, I’m stuck at a big fight revolving around my main character. Now, I’d like to think that I could just get the final draft down on paper and be done with it, but unfortunately, no one is that good of a writer. So, in my first draft, I end up skipping over a lot of the action sequences. I focus on the dialogue in the fight and the characters’ intentions–yes, I know. A lot of fights don’t involve dialogue, but I enjoy characters screaming witty comebacks at each other as they try to cut each other’s throats.
Long story short: my fight scenes take a LOT of rough drafts before they become the nicely flowing scenes in my fingers-crossed-someday-to-be-published novel. So, what are some tips to getting through those reluctant-I-don’t-want-to-write-it scenes? Well, check these out:
- Don’t try to make it perfect on the first go–it’s just not going to happen
- Focus on your character’s intentions, feelings, and personality as it’ll influence their actions
- Make it fun so you enjoy it (like adding witty dialogue. You can always cut this stuff out later)
- Think about your setting. If you’re in a fight scene, what can your characters manipulate to their advantage?
- What are your stakes? What happens if your character doesn’t win the fight or doesn’t woo the lady?
One of the most important things to remember is not lose your flow. When I write, I find myself stopping a lot and just staring at the screen, or looking away, or throwing my head in my hands because I don’t know the perfect words to write next. So, the best thing you can do is not search for the perfect words. You’ll spend too much time trying to find them that you’ll lose your motivation for the scene. When you get to a point you’re stuck at bracket it: . Use brackets to summarize what you want to happen in this part then move on. You’re going to be editing anyway, so might as well save that bit for later. I like to build an outline format as I write and fill in the details later. Like this outtake from my recent rough draft (keep in mind, it is a rough draft. I will also be using Villain and Ally in the place of other characters names to avoid spoilers):
“It is inferior to what I am!” Villain strikes back, but Justin deflects. “I am the descendant of legends and glory! What could a mere object have compared to I?! It will bow to me! All things will!” Villain flicks his gaze up past Justin and a vicious smirk shifted in his eyes. He raised his weapon and disappeared.
“What?!” Justin started back. He whirled around, scanning the battlefield for Villain, but there was nothing but the clash of crystal and flesh in the midst of the ice and snow. Then, a cry came from the top of the frozen waterfall. Villain had his weapon pressed against Ally’s throat and he back him up to to the edge of the waterfall. “How did he–?!” Justin cut himself off and he bolted for the waterfall. Villain’s intention was to throw Ally over, Justin didn’t need to be a genius to know that. He just hoped he was able to do something before Ally’s body impacted the ice.
[Justin saves Ally and makes it up to the waterfall cavern. Description. Villain is in a fight with Ally #2. Ally #2 is losing.]
“You’re the last thing in my way from total control!” Villain laughs manically, bearing over Ally #2. “With your death, your people will be mine to harvest for parts! Once your precious little eggs hatch, your kind will be nothing but animals raised for slaughter!”
“The only animal around here is you, Villain!” Justin shouts in anger. “Leave these people alone!”
[Begin the final one-on-one fight between Justin and Villain. Make it EPIC]
Like I said: a rough draft. Who even knows if I’ll stick with this dialogue or sequence, but rough drafts are important for helping you shape the story. When you stick all the pieces together you can see what’s working and what isn’t and what you need to fix. It’s important to not get discouraged whenever you reach the scenes that aren’t your favorite to write. They might need a little more marinating than other scenes, but if you keep at it, you’ll get there. You just gotta overcome the writer’s struggle.