Sunday, August 28, 2011

Writing "Difficult" Scenes

When we write fiction, we sometimes have to venture out of our "comfort zone," and write what we do not know. I was faced with just such a scene recently, a confrontation between my protagonist and antagonist, and the resulting fight scene.

Now, I know nothing about physical combat, and, originally, knew even less about ancient weaponry. So, I did my research first to be knowledgeable about the weapons used in New Kingdom Egypt. The khopesh, a slashing weapon with a curved blade, and the mace, often with a heavy, carved stone head, were the most common weapons, as well as the dagger and the bow and arrow.

But, in close quarters, the bow and arrow are useless. So, on to the other weapons. The khopesh could inflict great damage, open up chest and abdominal cavities and the mace could crush bones and skulls. But, the injuries have to be severe enough, but not lethal, or my protagonist is done for. After choreographing the scene and investigating the proper treatment of wounds, I was ready to write the crucial scene.

Two men, each with their own reasons for the conflict, face off. Little is said, but the drama needs to build and be sustained with action and injury. To make sure the scene worked, I shot off a copy of the completed scene to a fellow author, Bruce Thole, who could give me the proper perspective, from the eyes of a man.

This may seem like a lot of work for one scene which is only a fraction of the total book, but the scene is critical. To shortchange the reader is just not an option. Stepping into unfamiliar territory is how a writer grows and becomes better at his/her chosen craft. And, without the support of other writers to read and critique, a good scene may be acceptable, but feedback can make it great.

Stretch your boundaries, try writing a scene you normally wouldn't write -- you may find a new genre to explore and write in.

No comments:

Post a Comment