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Writing Effective Combat Scenes The Stormtrooper Effect

1673 words - 7 pages

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Writing Effective Combat Scenes

A combat scene that is well-written and well thought out adds excitement and tension to a story, whether it’s hand-to-hand combat between mortal enemies or an all-out four-army control-of-the-world skirmish of Tolkien magnitude. Writing a combat scene can be a complex process that may or may not work out, following a few simple rules can ease the headache a little by at least knowing which pitfalls to avoid.

The decision to insert a fight scene into your plot should not be taken lightly. Its purpose should not only be to liven the plot, but to move it forward. If it doesn’t add to the story arc, it shouldn’t be there. Unless, of ...view middle of the document...

The hero will always have plenty and the bad guy usually runs out. Sometimes the hero will have just enough for One Bullet Left. Reloading is usually only shown when the writer wants to show what a badass the hero is. If a character is firing an automatic weapon, you can rest assured that he won’t run out until he is 1) dead or 2) has killed everyone else. The only thing that can stop him is the inevitable gun jam. In reality, automatic weapons fire rounds really freakin’ fast. One good squeeze can empty a magazine in seconds.

Keep this in mind when you’re writing your combat scenes. You have the Wide Wide World of Web at your fingertips—don’t be afraid to use it. Do your research.

ProTip! If you don’t know how many rounds a certain gun will hold, don’t just make a number up. “She fired until the gun was dry” will suffice. And if you do know, don’t recount Every. Single. Bullet. Complete with make and model number. The reader will be more interested in how you maintain tension during the scene that your intricate knowledge of the gun.

The Stormtrooper Effect

An extension to the previous section is the Stormtrooper Effect. This is where the bad guys can’t aim and then gets killed with one shot from the good guy. It actually really will add more tension and interest to the scene if there is something at risk. If you go into the scene knowing that the hero won’t get hit, it takes something away from the reader and leaves them disappointed. At least wing him.

Clip? Or Magazine?

One is a clip. And one is a magazine. They are completely different, non-interchangable terms. Though it seems that not everyone knows this. With the raging debates about gun control, you can see how often the terms are misused.

Here is the difference:
A clip hold cartridges together with a strip. This makes it easier to load into the firearm.
A magazine is a detachable container that holds the cartridges and is generally inserted into the firearm to make it function. Sometimes a magazine can be loaded with a clip.

Sometimes even the dictionary doesn’t help.

Though most people would actually know what you were talking about if you interchanged the terms, those who do know the difference will judge you. Harshly. If you’re going to talk about guns, at least know what you’re talking about.

Watch this video for more information. VIDEO: The difference between a clip and a magazine

What Did You Say?!

Battle is noisy. If your character is in a gun battle and doesn’t have ear protection, there will likely be hearing loss. Explosions and gunfire, especially in an enclosed space, are literally deafening. Write accordingly.

The Sword Is Mightier than the Pen

Know your swords. I don’t, but here are a few tips...

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