Sunday, July 08, 2012

Fighting and writing workshop, day 2, Setting the Chessboard

This is my online workshop in writing fight scenes that I did for the Catholic Writer's Conference.  Karina Fabian had managed to draft me ... or I volunteered, I'm not entirely certain.  Either way, it was an interesting little experience.

Since most of you folks have been with me for a while, I'm going to give it to you.

Don't worry, I wasn't paid for this, so giving this away for free will hurt no one. And, few to no people wanted to show up and play with my workshop, even though there were over 25 viewers for each post.  But, I've been told few people showed up anyway for the forums, something to do with schedule confusion.

So, here is day two.... see you next week.

 Day Two: Setting the Chessboard

Before even beginning a fight scene, you should know where it is, what happens to
be lying around, and what is or is not available.

Keep in mind that you're going to have different rules of engagement for each fight, depending on the
setting and the bad guy. If you're in the middle of a fantasy universe, where the technology is pre-atomic, the moment that some random adversary pulls a weapon, your hero/ine can immediately counterattack – be it a full disarm or a quick kick where it hurts – if only because the likelihood of your character being arrested
for defending him/herself will be nonexistent (and you thought day one was a waste of time, didn't you? Heh.).

Obviously, the method and manner of the counterattack will be dictated by your character, and the situation. A civilian who knows Krav Maga will have different instincts than, say, a police officer with a gun.

Step one, of course, is your players. What is the physical condition of your character? How tall? How fat? How many protagonists vs. how many antagonists? If your hero/ine is seven feet tall, or three feet wide, it would be difficult to hide. An athlete can, at the very least, run or hide. Are either or both armed? With what?

Step two is knowing
where your players are in relation to one another, and in relation to
the environment. Fights do not take place in a vacuum. Pick a setting
for your fight. Set it up in your own home, or someplace you know
well, or someplace you've created out of thin air. Is it a place
rich with weaponry? (See the improvised weapons article.) Or is it
a place rich with hiding places?

Important note:
consider that while your paper is two-dimensional, your setting need
not be. In fact, unless you're on a stretch of highway in one of the
flatter parts of Ohio, or in a strange part of a desert without sand
dunes, you're going to have three-dimensional elements to it. Just
something to think about.

Step three: Where is your hero(es)/heroine(s)? Where is your bad guy? This will dictate many of the choices for your main character. Is it easier to run, fight or hide? Does your character need to take cover? Can s/he
get to a weapon, or will s/he have to work for it?

Assignment #2: Setting the Chessboard

Create a setting for your battle, keeping in mind everything discussed in the reading. Go as big or as small as you want. And keep in mind while your page is two-dimensional, your setting is three-dimensional.

What weapons areavailable to each character involved? What hiding spaces or cover is there? What would your hero/ine notice? What would the enemy notice?

In short: describe a room with a tactical eye. Can you characters run? Hide? What can they fight with? Throw?

For more ideas on the matter, I recommend looking at the reference link, mainly for some basic ideas on being aware.

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