Plotting War: And A Review of Writing Fight Scenes, by Rayne Hall

This last week, I’ve been plotting a war. I’ve never been a soldier, so my experience with warfare is limited to what I’ve seen on the nightly news or what I’ve read in books. Neither could possibly be any where close to the real thing.

I am asking my characters to do something I have never done. To take up weapons I have never touched. To ride on horseback into battle against an army better equipped than they are. To make the conscious decision to take another’s life.

War is hard. It’s ugly. People get hurt and people die. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I should look forward to writing about. And, in fact, I have sort of been dreading it.

My first order of business has been to learn more about writing this sort of scene. When I joined Twitter, I encountered the author Rayne Hall. Ms Hall has written a library of resources for writers, including Writing Fight Scenes. I purchased this book, and I’m really glad I did.

The book gives an excellent overview of fight scenes, encompassing everything from a lovers’ spat to the epic battle scene I am currently attempting to write. Ms Hall has included specific information on weapons, the different fighting styles and techniques used by men and women, as well as fight scenes appropriate for each genre. The book is full of resources and examples, and even includes blunders to avoid.

Over all, I found Ms Hall’s Writing Fight Scenes to be a very useful tool I will refer back to again and again. Even better, she also includes resources for further research. And that’s what I’ll be doing next.

As my book is a fantasy in a world with a bronze age to iron age level technology, I have a lot of research to do. I need to know more about weapons such as swords and spears. I need to learn about firing a bow from horseback, and details about how to besiege a fortified city.

While Rayne Hall’s book has given me an excellent place to start, I will be doing the rest of the research in order to write the best battle scene I can.

Do you write about battles with medieval weaponry? What resources do you use, or have you found the most helpful?

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