Creative Writing 101 :: Critical Success

Describing combat in any story can be difficult. It’s hard to stay away from the usual things that you would say in describing the situation like “He swung his sword and cut his opponent’s arm” Or “He raised his gun and fired a shot”. The reason I mention this is because with the new D&D campaign that I am running, the first few juicy sessions will be very much combat oriented. I have my players all investigating a series of caves, in which, of course, there is plenty of bloodshed to be had. I want to try to encourage them as players and as characters to play up the violence. I’m trying to keep them away from the simple aspects of “I attack this orc with this spell” or “I throw my dagger at him”. Juicy combat only works when there is juicy description involved.

A few things that make a difference in the kind of combat that you are writing have to do with the following:
• Is it a comedy? Will there be bantering back and forth from the combatants?
• Is it a dark scene? Maybe it should be night out.
• It could be raining
• Snow is a great background to emphasize blood
• Maybe it’s a bright and sunny day and you kill off a character when the sun is shining
• High noon duel?
• Who/what is the character fighting? Zombie? Ailien? Lion? Antagonist?
• Does the character have remorse for doing harm to who/what he’s fighting?

A LOT of factors such as the ones above make a difference here. I have noticed in my own personal writing that I do tend to have quite a few of my fight scenes in the rain. For me it makes it more dramatic sometimes (other times it may have been raining all day anyway and my characters just decided that enough was enough and they were going to settle a score right then and there).

I do have quite a bit to say on the topic of fights in stories, but I am not nearly as prepared to sufficiently cover that subject as I would like to be. So, for your reading pleasure (if you so desire) below is an excerpt from my Novel-in-progress, Ethereal Heart, where Valantis takes on the remnants of an zombie-like man.

Another growl surfaced in the vampire's throat. He reared back and with a shaking fist made contact with the creature's flesh. Its face contorted backwards with the blow, pieces of loose tissue sticking to Valantis' knuckles when his hand separated from its jaw line.

Ari took an uncertain step back at Valantis' yell but made no move to flee the scene and find safety. The creature gave another eerie pain induced howl and then snarled at Valantis, pushing at him with a burst of inhuman force. His boots skidded across the snow as he struggled again to find his footing and his attention was now focused solely on his opponent's strength. An uppercut was the Vampire's next strike, the blow hitting right where a human's trachea would have been.

The creature finally tore its gaze away from Ari and regarded Valantis with a slightly tilted head. It seemed to decide that the vampire was more important at the moment than getting the girl and that, perhaps, if he destroyed the former he could attain the latter. The creature howled and dove at Valantis, all of its fury now directed towards the vampire.

Valantis snorted, "About time," and crouched low to the ground, locking his legs as they were ready to spring upward towards his challenger. His fist uncoiled, now stretched with claws out sharp. He released his power and jumped straight at the creature, poised to strike when the moment came.

The monster met him head on lashing out with its fists, its strength and speed surprising. The vampire winced as the creature clashed with him, its fist striking him in the gut. Valantis' breath was thrown from him but not before his own blow was felt on the monster. His nails scraped against flesh, tearing muscle from bone with unexpected ease.

Though the monster seemed obviously pained, the loss of flesh did not seem to hinder it much and it held up its arm, muscle dangling. It sent its next hit towards Valantis' face, aiming to claw at the vampires eyes.

He lifted his chin in time, the blow caught only the corner of his eye as its claws ripped downward, leaving a long gash that trailed to his jaw line. Valantis cursed and reared back, shaking his head and trying to get his bearings before he lashed out again. The creature, snarling, moved in once more, this time intending to take a bite out of Valantis' shoulder.

Instead of his shoulder It received his hand in Its face. Valantis' palm pressed roughly into what was left of the creature’s nose, his long fingers compressing ever so quickly against Its temples and forehead. With a roar the monster struggled against him, falling to its knees. Above the little skirmish the skies raged a battle of their own as hail began to pelt the sidewalks and the wind whipped furiously, carrying off the continued cries of Ari calling for an end to the fight.

Ice shot sharply against them both, Valantis' rage blocking out any pain that the large pellets may have caused when they scraped against his body. He snarled and narrowed his eyes, his grip becoming ever tighter on the monster as he aimed to crush its skull with all the force left in him.

Ari gave a final screech and, when neither Valantis nor the creature heeded her, she brought down a bolt from the sky to strike between them. The stunned creature lurched backwards, reeking of burnt flesh. The bolt had hit closer to it than it had to Valantis.

The vampire slid backwards, catching himself on the icy concrete with one hand as he kneeled to not lose his balance. The creature gave a final sneer then, feeling that both of his evening's battles were futile, he turned and disappeared into the night.



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