Friday, June 28, 2013

Writing Advice: R.A. Salvatore on Fight Scenes

I think I need to revisit what the purpose of this blog is. So far, I've been focusing on gamebooks, but there's only so much gamebook theory one can write. Besides which, as my own career branches into areas other than pure gamebooks, I'm finding that my areas of interest are broader than just that.

More on this later. I think I've got some ideas for where I can go with this blog. But in the meantime, I'd like to share something absolutely fascinating.

This post by Susan Morris of Shelfari is an interview with R.A. Salvatore on writing fight scenes. There's a lot of advice, theory, speculation and opinion floating around the internet on how to write a great fight scene, but this article takes it right out of the mouth of a master.

And what he says isn't always what you would expect.

I highly recommend this read, for anyone interested in writing great fight scenes in their own stories:

Here's a couple of choice quotes...

"Fighting is more about your feet than anything. Balance, balance, balance. Now, after so many battle scenes, I find myself spending my preparation thinking about the battlefield itself. If these guys were fighting in a ring, I'd be writing pretty much the same movements every time. Put them on a rocky hillside, or in a tight cave, or against a monster that is decidedly not humanoid, and I've got the variety that keeps it interesting for me."

"I wish I had a better answer about which point of view to choose, but honestly, I just go with my gut. I'm a product of growing up with television; I love point of view shifts as long as they're clearly done. If I have six people fighting, you might get six different viewpoints. It's controlled chaos, you bet."

"Few actual fighters would ever do a spin in a fight, of course, fearing that they'd catch a sword between the shoulder blades. Drizzt does that spin move all the time. He's just that fast, and it is, after all, fantasy."

"Believe it or not, despite scores of fight scenes in dozens of books, the top ones are easy for me to rate. In third place..." (read the article to see his full list!)

"My best writing days are battle scene days, because when I get into it, I can't stop. Then again, my worst writing days are battle scene days, because if I don't have the energy, I simply cannot do it."

As I said, I found it a great read. Both more simple, and more intuitive than a lot of the advice on the internet would have you believe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)


  1. I did enjoy that interview - many thanks for bringing it to our attention. He also reminded me how awesome Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is. I now need to look up more fight scenes from films.

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