We’ve had a stressful couple of weeks trying to navigate through my father’s visit and trying to save one of our dog’s eye from infection while feverishly editing and writing. Sorry for no new posts.
I’m trying something new, for me at least. Okay I’ve got this fight scene where 8 different fights are happening one right after the other. But to the reader it will appear that the fights are all happening simultaneously. A character from one fight will “ask a question” and then it cuts to a character from another fight “answering” it. So for the reader it will all seem like one continuous fight/conversation going on. My problem comes from when I actually sit down to write it I’m getting a lot of “start/stops” like I’ll cut from one of the eight fights to another and then go, “no wait, not fight # 5. jumping to #3 would be more impactful.” Only to jump to #3 and go, “no wait”. I’ve tried mapping the scene out in notes, but that just makes me feel like I’m spinning my wheels. Maybe hammering away at the stop/starts until I get something I like is the best way to go. Or I could write out all 8 fights, take out the best bits of each of them and then slam them together. And I’ll do that if it comes down to it, but it just seems like a lot of samey work for just one scene. What I’m asking is, do you have any pointers on how to streamline the process for creating a scene like this? And if not thank you for taking the time to read this and letting me rant my writing frustrations…so much frustration.K.
I am not quite sure what you’re envisioning here. Is it one long fight with various opponents? How many people are involved?
It probably doesn’t really matter, because if the conversation is happening during a life and death struggle, then it must be vitally important. So the conversation will take center stage. The fight will become a backdrop.
Keep the fight simple and varied. You don’t need to go into great detail on the action, because the reader’s focus should be on conversation, and if you describe too many maneuvers, you will distract them too much. He buried his sword in the man’s gut is perfectly fine in this case. We don’t need to know that his opponent attacked in the pretentious phoenix stance and he parried with a northern bullshit maneuver, then responded with a self-indulgent master riposte. Short, clear, to the point.
Concentrate on big flashy moments that add to character development. The way character fights, just as the way character approaches sex, tells a lot about their personality. Is this particular character pragmatic enough to stab someone in the stomach and move on, not bothering to finish the kill, or is she going for a flashy thrust to the throat? Is he dodging the attacks or parrying them, trying to tire his opponent?
This might help:
Dina was screaming something. Maud spun, trying to parry and keep her in view, but the raiders closed in on her, locking her into a ring of bodies. Too many…
A deafening roar tore from behind the raiders. Bodies went flying like they were made of straw. The huge female vampire in front of her collapsed, blood spray flying from her ruined skull, and the Krahr knight burst into the ring, his fangs bared. He brained the raider to her right with a vicious swing, and hammered a savage uppercut into the stomach of the one on her left. The faulty armor cracked with a sound of crushed nut shells. The raider doubled over, and the Krahr drove his left elbow into the back of his neck. The blow swept the raider off his feet, sending him to the side. One moment there were two bellowing vampires. The next there was only the Krahr, brandishing his mace.
The raiders stared, awestruck for a moment, and she used every fraction of it to stab and slice as much as she could. The ring around them widened and suddenly Maud found herself back to back with the Krahr knight.
“My lady,” he said in that deep cultured voice. “I apologize for not arriving sooner in your time of dire need.”
Hell would freeze over before she would owe another vampire. “Not that dire, my lord. Please don’t bestir yourself on my behalf.”
She dropped, spinning, kicked a vampire’s legs from under her ,and stabbed her in the throat on her way down.
He smashed his mace into the shoulder of a raider with a bone-snapping crunch. “I insist.”
She parried a swing that nearly made her drop her blade and drove her dagger into the raider’s groin, punching through the damaged armor by pure luck. “No need.”
He struck at the vampire on his left, took a hit to the shoulder from another, grunted, reversed his swing, and hammered a devastating blow to the new opponent. The vampire bent forward from the impact and the Krahr drove his fist into the back of his head.
“Please, allow me this small diversion. I’m but a guest on your planet. It was a long trip and I have sat for far too much of it.”
Argh. He out-mannered her. As absurd as his claim was, he backed her into the role of the host and the laws of vampire hospitality dictated that the guests were to be indulged.
Wait, I’m not a vampire. Why does it even matter?
A male vampire kicked. She stumbled back, bounced off the Krahr’s broad back and threw herself into the fray.
barbie doll says
Posts like this make me so glad that I am not an author and so glad that the authorlords are authors. I could work on this forever and it would not be right. Thank you so much for what you do so well. I hope that all goes better with all of life’s time consuming issues.
+1, oh yeah!
Plus one again. All hail the authorlords.
Another plus 1!! Or more like plus a billionty… Authorlords Rule!
Cheryl M says
+ however many it is. We greatly admire the authorlords.
That was excellent
What they said ??
Oooh, thank you! Counting the days to SOTB!! Happy 4th!
“We don’t need to know that his opponent attacked in the pretentious phoenix stance and he parried with a northern bullshit maneuver, then responded with a self-indulgent master riposte.” I start giggling every time I think about this fight, Happy Friday everyone!
Wait, are we talking about a sword fight or a political debate?
Tina in NJ says
Not much difference when you’re talking about vampires.
Very nice, Tina!
The difference between Author Lords and wannabes!!!
This reminds me of oenophile jargon. I love it 😀
“pretentious phoenix stance”
For some reason, I keep picturing the crane pose at the end of the first (original) Karate Kid movie and wondering what a phoenix stance would look like in comparison.
Matthew Smith says
Probably much the same, but with their head on fire. ??
Kelly M. says
If you really want to read this fight, it’s in the approx 100-page prologue (no really) of Knife of Dreams in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.
I am not kidding.
(I should clarify that it’s a fight that’s focused on telling us exactly which fighting moves the participants use, and it doesn’t help at all in getting a sense of the fight. It’s educational to read it from that perspective— just to see that extraneous detail doesn’t help a scene. I believe the pretentious bird pose involved a crane rather than a phoenix, but the idea is the same.)
Is this the scene where Maud first meets Arland?
Alex R. says
She’s being an awesome hostess by sharing her kills. ???
Alex R. says
And by “maybe”, I mean “precisely”.
Are you referring to the fight where Arland takes Dina and Sean to rescue Maud on Karhari?
trailing wife says
Yes! And wheeee! This particular bit of awesomeness wasn’t in the original — how much more do we have to look forward to in the volume we’ve been awaiting for just the right amount of time for perfection to be achieved!
Alex R. says
Uhm. Maybe hitting the return button repeatedly was wrong.
I blame small keyboard and large thumbs.
Greedy Guts says
Had you repeated “large thumbs”, it would have been very funny.
Although, it’s possible I just have a perverse sense of humor.
Fun! Please, can someone fast forward us to the 16th? Please?!! No apologies needed, hope things are going better than expected for all of you. Hang in there.
My birthday is on the second, and I’m more excited about the 16th by far!
Gail G says
This is delicious! Manners matter, apparently. Go, Authorlords?
Karen the Griffmom says
FYI, I get the attached error on every comment I post. I go back to this page and reload it, and my comment is here, but I am getting this error in between.
That you, not me. 🙂
Susan Watson says
First yayyy… I loved it this.
Can’t wait until the 16th and the arrival of Maud the Magnificent! Really missing Dina, Sean, and the rest of the Gertrude Hunt crew also. Looking forward to hearing more about them in the future.
Joy W says
And healing and comforting thought for all families, including animals!?
Sending healing vibes towards the perrito.
Tina in NJ says
That was a delicious tidbit. Another little morsel of Maud on a Friday afternoon. I think this scene is more of a “what if Maud and Helen had stayed with Dina?” than part of the current storyline, but it was fun. Good luck with Dad and good luck with the pooch.
Lynda MS says
So … he pulled the “I’m just a Guest” maneuver (while fighting) and she has to let him help her NOT get killed? I love it.
Aaahhh. Welcome back. That wonderful scene was Just the tonic supercharger I needed to make it through this tough day. Huzzah!
Shana Pare says
You absolutely demonstrated your point perfectly. I could see the fight AND the conversation vividly.
Ms. Kim says
Sara T says
Now that was an awesome scene! Can’t wait for SOTB.
Bwahahaha! She doesn’t even know his name yet and he’s already irritating her! Beautiful! Can’t wait for the book!
Susan Ivey says
Awwwwww and now my patience is stretched around event horizon as time stops… AL rules!!
Ms. Kim says
For the question I had envisioned a White board with 8 numbered circles on it for each fight. Then the conversations could be choreographed from there.
Sarah Patnode says
And so this is why I obsessively follow your blog and buy everything that you wright.
Heather Langston says
First, positive and healing thoughts for the pup.
Second, I absolutely LOVE your posts about writing. I must follow a dozen different writing blogs but I always learn the most here.
The sword fighting – I agree there is too much on technical stances and movements, the dialog carries the story forward.
The dog’s eye infection, it appears similar to what ophthalmologists say about spider hair in a kid’s eye.
I hope your dad enjoyed his stay without taking anything vital apart. Or if he did, it was reassembled in a timely manner. The Texas heat was not too bad, one assumes.
Sympathy on your puppy’s problem. It is much harder to deal with pet problems, because we can’t communicate with pets. They can’t reassure us that they are taking their meds and feeling better – or tell us to try something else. (Virtual hugs to pup and people.)
Thank you for a fantastic fight scene. Gotta love vampire manners! Fabulous as always.
I’m counting the days. (2 ebooks and 1 hard copy that day. I’ll be up all night and then some.)
Delightful snippet and shoes how much you can do with dialog during the fight. Thank you!
Fabulous snippet ! It so perfectly illustrates what you said in your post.
Thankyou and , like the rest of the BDH, I am eagerly awaiting the final version of Sweep of the Blade.
I am assuming you wrote it just to illustrate your point or it was an “ offcut” from One Fell Sweep since it appears to be part of the fight in the tavern, only from Maud’s viewpoint, not Dina’s. If it is where Maud met Arland it has to be one of the most bloodthirsty “ meetcutes” in history! ( and just perfect for Maud and Arland – plenty of fighting juxtaposed with formal conversation Vampire style . ) Wonderful.
I so miss Dina and Sean and Maud and Helen and Arland and Caldenia and Orro that it must be time for a reread of the first 3 books in anticipation of number 4 coming to an iPad near me in mid July.
That scene was awesome! Thank you!
Also, ear skritches and healing thoughts for the pupfurbaby.
I Loved It !!!!!!!!
I’m sooooo missing the Sweep series!
The question feels like it’s coming from a screenplay perspective, as tv and film has a trend of having multiple duels to build a ‘boss fight’. I’ve never seen those simultaneous duels work in prose. They might, of course, but the amount of perspective shifts you’d need in that sort of action might always wind up too busy. Tanya Huff jumps perspective very well, but rarely in the midst of simultaneous action.
Good luck in your fight scene, but it does not sound like great fit for prose.
I love the Maud perspective in this fight that we might have seen from Dina’s perspective in One Fell Sweep. Once Sweep of the Blade took on a novel length, the start probably should be other than the start of the novella version, though I did quite like it.
Okay, you asked…
From an s-f standpoint, this is slightly less believable, if more fun, than the original scene, if only because Maud is more obviously fighting so far outside human norms. Arland, I can see. It only works for Maud, though, if she has an edge – if she’s in something like a half-ad-hal mode when she’s fighting for her daughter’s safety. If nothing else, time slows slightly. You’ve established, I think, that Helen is a catalyst for a hyper-mode, so it makes some sense there could be more than one level of hyper, with the mukona(?) time-st0p the ultimate one.
One possibility with slow-time is that Maud could then be the narrator for the fights, or at least the highlights, and let you tie your elements together that way.
In any case, you can think of tracking two fights, not eight; Maud’s fight, and Arland’s fight. That there are different opponents then becomes less of a factor than the coordination between those two characters in dispatching them, especially in the relatively close quarters within the roadhouse. Once they’re outside, even if Arland is still working on one or two on the way to the ship, no problem, of course.
I’m addicted to your stuff at this point, but especially Innkeeper, since I still have more interest in sf than fantasy… after 60 something years of reading both in every spare moment. Delightful stuff.
Sorry you’re having to deal with a doggie health issue! They just don’t understand that somethings are for their benefit. I’m currently dealing with a dog post surgery for swallowing a fork. No, that’s not a typo. He swallowed a fork straight down. ?♀️ The pic is from when the Cone of Shame was new (it’s barely survived the past week, but only a few more days until the stitches come out, so I’m not buying a new one!). Hope it brings a smile. ?
Darn it! The pic is too big. ?
Haha! Success! I think.
Yikes, that’s even worse that the soft toy ‘skin’ one of mine swallowed. The frustrating thing in that case was she kept partially throwing the ‘skin’ up, but then gulping it down again before either of us could get near enough to grab the end. Probably just as well as I think we’d have ended up with fewer fingers if we’d managed to grab it. Spaniels and their ‘food’ are just as bad as Labs, it ended up being a very expensive toy. Hope your boy is recovering well!
Thanks, Jazzlet! He’s doing well. Throwing it up and swallowing it again does not paint a pretty picture. Glad your spaniel came through ok! ?
Angel Mercury says
Ah, this is advise I greatly needed and I didn’t even know I needed to ask this kind of question. I have been having a lot of trouble with fight scenes, getting bogged down in details of who does what and it’s making them hard to write and slow to read. I think I haven’t been realizing that while it’s good to know what’s going on, it’s also ok to trim down the details to keep the action moving. This was really helpful.
I have to ask. What did your father decide to clean and fix this time?
Yah, July is almost here and Maud is on the way soon. The library I use is open again , so happy! I’ve had to pick books up at three different places the last six months while they remodeled. Self-checkouts now, enclosed kids area, and no more rats in the ceiling. Bleh!
Theodore D. says
This is wonderfully insightful!
Even is you just want to tell a story, verbally, knowing how to keep your listener engaged is important!
Probably the only author that I’ve seen use ongoing conversation in action scenes in Wen Spencer. But the conversationalists were not human either, they were elves who seemingly earn respect for being able to hold a debate and philosophize while in the middle of difficult situations to the annoyance of human minded individuals.
But the human minded observer did not fully appreciate nor recognize the maneuvers they were executing either, so the description was focused on the conversation as Ilona succinctly described.
For all that is worthy of a beautiful cup of tea, if this is what we can expect of your “edits” (and I loved the week by week BtW), this stands as a practical rewrite. No wonder you are mentally fatigued. You have the bones and now you are growing flesh!
I’m amazed by the amount of work you produce in a year. Selfishly would love for you to keep up the marathon pace but more selfishly would want you to take a breather if needed and you are able. Would hate for your desire to share your imagination to burn out.
I suddenly realized that I never received an email notification about this blog or the one prior. Is anyone else having issues or am I the only who suddenly lost email notices?
You’re right. I had not noticed.
I have not gotten a notification for the last two at least. I usually check every day and often have already read the post before the email comes in, so I haven’t missed anything…
Usually it shows up on my email, but I just checked and I still don’t have this one. Which is a bummer because I would definitely save it in my Ilona Andrews file.
Lenore Kester says
No notice for the last two blog posts either. Surprised I’m not having some sort of withdrawal symptom.
Not you, the RSS blog feed (what the email content is based on) is not working properly.
Seeing Maud again has made me ridiculously happy! Thank you for the (instructive) snippet?
Patricia Schlorke says
If you don’t count tonight, US Central time, it’s only 17 days until Sweep of the Blade comes out. Yippee!
Also, thanks for the snippet behind the fight explanation. ?
A question for the Authorlords and/ or the Horde: has anyone seen a site that has the paperback of Sweep of the Blade for preorder?
I have the ebook preordered but as I am one of those who collect ebook, paper copy and audiobook I have checked Amazon Australia ,Amazon US and Book Depository looking to preorder my dead tree copy, so far without success.
I know the Authorlords are negotiating to have audiobook come out later in the year so I hope it will also be available as a paperback.
p.s. Great to see SOtB is number 1 in the Amazon bestsellers for urban fantasy. Congratulations Ilona and Gordon.
I believe that they said the paper copy wouldn’t be available for pre-order because it’s self published. I think it’s supposed to be available to order on release day. ?
Thankyou Breann. I will look forward to ordering it on release day. ?
You’re welcome! ?
Suzann Schmid says
I love when you do this. Makes me smile and it makes me want more, of course. Thank you for the glimpses into your world!
Heck I am trying to write my memoir this is all just wonderful to read ,lord I love this blog!
Bill G says
Above all else, if you want to be an author you have to be a self starter and two mule stubborn. I write a little garden column. Sometimes I think I would like to develop the stories that float around in my mind. Sometimes I even start. But it will never happen because I am way, way too lazy. Dig holes like a demented groundhog for new plants? Right on it. Sit and cudgel the brain for days over how to develop a plot? Hand me the shovel. I’ll do my bit by appreciating those who have the creativity and the sheer determination to see a story through to a satisfactory end and buying their books. And thank you.
Leanne Ridley says
For criminey’s sake, you don’t need to apologise for having to deal with your life! This blog is a gift to us, but it shouldn’t be a shackle for you. I hope your poor pup’s eye heals up properly, and that you survive your Dad’s visit without (seriously) comtemplating patricide 😉
Thanks for the morning chuckle – “pretentious phoenix stance”? ” “northern bullshit manoeuvre”? Love it!!! The great snippet about Maud and Arland is the caramel-drizzled brown sugar crumble on top. July 16 can’t come soon enough!
I love these old snippets. Speaking of which, Innkeeper fans, do you wonder if Sebastian North is a throwback to this? https://ilona-andrews.com/reader-emails/
Aaaargh, out-mannered by some “elite” Krahr vampire!! …but wait, I’m not a vampire… bah, vampire men can all go suck eggs! Hee hee when Maud meets Arland on Kahari, from Mauds point of view! Yeah, at that point I’m sure she’d had her fill of (vampire) males.
Heck of a teaser–can hardly wait to read the edit-ed up Sweep of the Blade! 🙂
I love Maud. Hope all is well with pups and dad.
Brilliant! That explanation made me feel like I could write… Ok no . Made me appreciate my books more.Thank you for writing. Hope your dog stays healthy and have a great visit with your dad.
I just have to say that “He out-mannered her” is the best sentence ever. (Coming from someone who has no clue how to be that incredibly polite)
Omg!!!! I love it!! I don’t remember this from the first draft but it’s sooooo fantastic!! Aaaaahhhhhh!!! I love the two of them so much!
Ooooh did you rewirte Karhari’s tavern brawl from Maud’s POV? Awesome!
So, do you ever use Nerf swords to work out a fight scene? Or would that cause your dogs to question, very loudly, what the mom-person and the dad-person were doing? ⚔️?
Matthew Smith says
Oh Gods, I can totally see that. Part choreography, part marriage counseling. Swish, “What did you say about my meatloaf?” Swoosh, “Nothing worse than your comments about my tuna casserole.”??
It wasn’t in the book but what a nifty scene. I can see it happening.
Part in response to the reader/writer question, part in response to someone’s comment. If you’ve ever watched the movie The Fifth Element, the director made great use of cutting between different characters in widely separated places while still having a coherent conversation. Character “A” would ask a question in a warehouse, character “B” would answer it in an apartment, etc. I’m not sure how you would get the same result when writing. If the characters were already established, and the readers knew they were in different places, then just having “A” saying something in one place/fight, and “B” saying something that fits while in a different place/fight, etc., it ought to work. Good luck!
And thanks to the person who posted the link to the snippet of “Maud’s first day in high school”. That was originally posted before I was introduced to the AL and their wonderful creations. 🙂 Oh, and I haven’t gotten an email about a blog post since the June 26th post from Brandi about the pets.
What?! Maud’s first day of high school? Now I must find that post ….
Jim Franks says
Found it! https://fascinatingbook.blogspot.com/2015/12/snippet-innkeeper-chronicles-by-ilona.html
Thank you for posting! I’ve never seen this and it’s so good!!
Lynne Binkley says
i haven’t seen this before. thanks for sharing!!
Thank you for posting link! Love it!
Same here – I never saw it and am glad to read it
Kylie Aust says
I’ve always had one question about Maud and Klaus and the school scene. If they are going to a normal school which ‘Maybe I should rethink this whole highschool thing.’ implies, how come there are vampires there?
God, I hope that scene is in Sweep of the Blade.
Robert I. Katz says
It’s from 2015, so I guess it’s just background…
d lm a says
I love you I love you. I love you…. stop seriously
I love you
Wrote your posts & then forgot to post … ha!
Oooh B outed herself
Your busy busy brain is off and creating …. I tremble, truly, I am
& on the bright side 18 or so months from now! how do you spell Wa La, anyhoo… NEXT & who said it was a maud fight scene
JULY 16th Gratification Day!!!!!! Thank ya
Thanks for Maud’s point of view on the tavern fight – it was great fun to read it!
Loved the fight scene. Could totally visualize it and Maud trying to verbally weasel a way out of owing the guy anything. Too funny!
Also, thxs to the reader for the first day of HS snippet. That was written before I found this website as well. They made my day