Today on TheTattooedBookGeek I’m very honoured to welcome Marc Turner for a guest post and to be part of the blog tour for his new book, Red Tide, which coincidentally is released today!
Marc is one of my favourite authors and his The Chronicles of the Exile series is one of the best current fantasy series out there. Red Tide is the third book in the series following on from his superb debut When the Heavens Fall and the most excellent Dragon Hunters.
Now for me, this has to be the highlight of blogging so far, getting one of my favourite authors to grace my blog. Many thanks to both Lydia at Titan for arranging this and Marc for agreeing to it, it’s appreciated.
Enough of my rambling, onwards to the guest post!
Spoiling for a Fight – Writing a Good Fight Scene
When was the last time you read a fantasy book that didn’t include an element of armed conflict? Fantasy epics typically deal with high stakes and momentous events, and these conflicts aren’t the sort that can be resolved over a drink and a handshake. Take GRRM’s A Game of Thrones, for example. It’s possible that the warring factions may ultimately sit around a table and agree on a timeshare for the Iron Throne. But it’s far more likely that they will look to settle their differences with bits of pointy metal and the odd blast of dragon fire.
Over the years, I have seen a lot of articles giving advice on writing fight scenes, and I’m not going to try to paraphrase them here. Instead I would like to concentrate on what I consider to be the two most important elements.
Each fight must feel unique
“He aimed a cut at her head with his sword, and she blocked with her shield. She countered with a thrust, and he blocked.”
If a few rounds of this don’t send you to sleep, you may need to invest in some sleeping pills. Turning a fight into a blow-by-blow description of every hack and clash is the surest way to lose your readers’ interest. When I plan a battle, I look for the one thing that will distinguish it from all the others. It might be the weapons that the combatants use, or it might be the individual skill sets of the fighters. For example, in Dragon Hunters, one of my point-of-view characters, Senar, faces opponents varying from a sea dragon to a giant clad in armour consisting of metal threads sewn into his skin.
You can also make the action feel fresh by introducing new settings. I’m not just talking about background scenery here. There has to be something in the characters’ surroundings that has a material bearing on the battle. Put them on a ship where each pitch of the deck might induce a misstep. Or put them in a titan fortress where the magic deadens their natural abilities, forcing them to come up with new methods of fighting. A short story I wrote recently takes place in the upper room of a derelict house where the floorboards have been ripped up to expose the crossbeams. The combatants must duel on the timbers, struggling to keep their balance even as they struggle to defeat their opponent.
Don’t forget the characters
In the heat of the battle, it is possible to forget what matters most in an action scene: the characters. How do the characters perceive the action? Is this their first taste of combat? What does the fight mean to them? The most interesting fights I read are between combatants with history. That history allows one or both sides to play on the emotions of the other to gain an advantage, usually through dialogue. I always look to include conversation in a fight. That allows me to break up the action such that no single sequence becomes overlong or monotonous. It also allows me to escalate the stakes.
It seems silly to talk about raising the stakes in a battle. If the characters are fighting for their lives, how much higher could the stakes get?
For example, what if one of the characters was fighting an estranged friend? Or what if they were frantic to dispatch an opponent so they can go to the help of a companion? My first book, When the Heavens Fall, features a character called Parolla whose parentage has left her with tainted blood. Sometimes the power she carries slips her leash. Every battle therefore constitutes a danger. If she unleashes the darkness inside her, she risks it consuming her and the friends around her. But what if she were put in a position where she had no choice but to fight?
Curious to know what happens next? I guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
Red Tide (The Chronicles of the Exile Book 3) Book Blurb:
“The Augerans are coming. And their ships are sailing in on a red tide.
The Rubyholt Isles are a shattered nation of pirate-infested islands and treacherous waterways shielding the seaboards of Erin Elal and the Sabian League, a region even dragons fear to trespass.
The Augerans beseech the Warlord of the Isles, seeking passage for their invasion fleet through Rubyholt territory. But they are sailing into troubled waters. Their enemies have sent agents to sabotage the negotiations, and to destroy the Augeran fleet by any means necessary.
The emperor of Erin Elal seeks to forge an alliance with the Storm Lords, hoping to repulse the Augerans with a united front. But the battle lines are not as clearly drawn as it first appears, for the emira of the Storm Isles mistrusts the Erin Elalese as much as she does their common enemy. And the Augerans might just be planning a little sabotage of their own.
But nothing in the realm of mortals escapes the notice of their meddling gods; every step they take is shadowed; and every choice they make is ensnared in a web so subtle and vast, its true shape may be fathomed only when it is far, far too late.”
Red Tide is available to purchase:
About the Author:
Marc Turner was born in Toronto, Canada, but grew up in England. He graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford University, in 1996 with a BA (Hons) in law, and subsequently joined a top ten law firm in the City of London. After realising that working there did not mix well with simple pleasures such as having a life, he fled north first to Leeds and then to Durham in search of a better work-life balance. Unfortunately it proved elusive, and so in 2007, rather than take the next step and move to Scotland, he began working part time so he could devote more time to his writing. Following the sale of his debut epic fantasy novel, When the Heavens Fall, he started writing full time.
Why writing? Because it is the only work he knows where daydreaming isn’t frowned upon, and because he has learned from bitter experience that he cannot not write.
The authors whose work has most influenced him are Steven Erikson and Joe Abercrombie. Consequently he writes fast-paced, multi-threaded novels with a liberal sprinkling of humour; novels written on a panoramic scale, peopled by characters that stay in the memory. Or at least that’s the theory . . .
He lives in Durham, England, with his wife and son.
Marc canbe found:
Marc’s previous books: