How to Write Battle ScenesBy C. Patrick Schulze
Podcast Link is at the bottom of this page.
There are two basic types of battle scenes. There is the one where an individual combatantengages in a fight. There are also those epics where generals maneuver grand armies over thecountryside. Though both of these scene types have great similarities when it come to your
writing, today we’ll discuss a scene in which one or a few soldiers is involved.
Battle scenes are unlike other scene types as they have a trickier side to them. They utilize adifferent construction and fewer words to move them forward. These scenes are all about speed,strength and emotion.However, as with any scene, it must have meaning to the story and move the storyline furthertoward its conclusion. Does the battle offer a plot twist perhaps? Does it help the hero grow?
Might it enlighten your reader to more of your hero’s personality?
Like all writing, these scenesshould also utilize your characters
’ five senses.
about point of view either. It isas critical in battle scenes as any other. For example, how effective would an ambush be if thehero knows it was about to occur? Of course, this part of your novel must be well-written,punctuated with accuracy and all those other things novels require.Write only about the action and trim out everything not related to the moment in time. In battle
scenes you’ll employ fewer words than with your normal writing. Adverbs will be
come quitescarce as will adjectives. Also, search out specific nouns and verbs.
You’ll find great
commandover your words if you choose that unique verb or noun for the situation at hand. For example,
soldiers don’t “
across a field, they
or “rush” or “dash”
across it.The use of emotion is THE component you need to emphasize in writing battle scenes and youshould employ all your powers of persuasion at this time. Though James Bond or Patton may beyour exceptions, your characters are not indifferent to combat. Even your heroes will be utterlyterrified. And consider the emotions of those at the home front. If you fail to bring their feelingsinto play, you
e missing a powerful plot point.One powerful tool at your disposal is sentence structure.
Your sentences should imitate a swordfight; furious, short and brutal. Long passages slow down the novel, whereas short, choppy onesincrease the pace.Dialogue is another tool that can enhance, or destroy, your action scenes. First of all, you shouldwork for a bit of realism here, so please, no snappy comebacks. Keep
dialogueto the point
. When a soldier is under fire, he’s not joking
to his buddies about a YouTube videohe saw last night. Nothing is on his mind other than the events swirling around him.Now for some general tips.