Battles with magic

When I sat down to write the end of my trilogy, I knew there was going to be a big battle. You know, good guys vs. bad guys, mages vs. wizards, magic vs. swords.  I was at a loss.  How do I mix them all up?  I had a few ideas, but no one wants to be cliché. So I googled “magic battles,” and was anxiety-ridden at the multitude of sites and advice that was available.  I began to take notes and noticed that a lot people agree with each other on how it should be done.  So I threw a few together and made up some more.  Then I thought, who else wants a comprehensive list of Magic Battle “do’s?” Well, if that’s you, this is the right place.  The following is a list I made up from the many sites I visited on the web.  I would love to give credit to each one who influenced this list, but that list is even longer than the one I made up. (LOL.) Want to know what I wrote and how the battle goes? Sorry, you’ll have to buy the book when it comes out.

*Magic has rules- before you can have a magic scene, you must know the rules to your magic, and then stick to them religiously. Who can have magic and who cannot? Why or why not?

*Magic takes a lot of energy- whether your character has magic inside themselves or uses energy from nearby sources, or even an object like an amulet, the magic should be finite or have a cost. Maybe using magic can give you warts, or brain damage?

*If you are going to use elemental magic, that is, magic of the elements (Fire, water, wind, earth, or consciousness- think telepathy), then you should come up with unusual ways to use it. i.e. wind can suffocate the enemy or blow out all the windows and stab someone with the pieces, wood and metal can be controlled from nearby buildings, use of the soil can knock someone off their feet, or create a sink hole in front of an enemy, electricity can cause static energy-hair can stand on end, shocks can ignite tinder, water controllers can call the water from a person’s body and shrivel them, or freeze them solid.

*Follow the rules of leverage, force and weight as well- but never forget David and Goliath.

*Make clear before the fight, the price of your protagonist’s failure.  These are the “stakes.” During the battle you can have a little thought about it, but when fighting, there is not time to ruminate on things. Fighting is told with short sentences and quick thoughts.

*What do your characters feel? Tension, fear, confusion, inadequacy?  Do they enjoy the fight? When their moves are thwarted, do they get angry? Again, don’t turn this into a paragraph of thought right in the middle of a fight scene, keep it short and to the point to keep the action going.  (Unless you are trying to slow the action down, or give pause, then this is a great thing to spend a paragraph on.) Does your protagonist get distracted by their teammates and get injured? Keep the reader on their toes.

*No matter what your type of magic is, if it’s in the book, and you have a battle happening, then you need magic there. So, get interesting with your imagination. Are fireballs blazing? Are wizards throwing potions or chanting spells? Someone could be turning members of the enemy into other creatures, or making inanimate objects come to life?

*Use a lot of descriptive language with verbs. Do not rely on adverbs.  Maybe she stuck him swiftly with a knife and slowly drew it out, but what if you said instead that she plunged her blade in his chest to the hilt and drew it out like a sigh? Use your words carefully, and use your thesaurus.

*Magic can clear or cloud the mind of the user. And reactions to magic can tingle, burn, tire, or turn you inside out. It’s all up to you. Surprise/ create/ be unique/ be unpredictable

*Know your weapons- do your research

*Keep trash talking to a minimum- there’s no time for witty repartee in a fight scene; a sense of humor, yes, but not an analysis of what’s happening. Keep it fast and sharp.

*Brainstorm lists of how your magic does and does not work to make it authentic and believable.  Give your characters differing skill levels, as well.  Not everyone is a ninja from birth, and somebody has to make a rooky mistake now and then.

*Don’t ignore your environment. Use windows & doors, bridges and closets.  Where is your fight taking place? See the surroundings and be inventive.

*Use “subject- verb- object” structure. i.e. She threw Gasten into the wall. Battles are not a time to get fancy with language. Write each action in a chronological order, but don’t analyze the reason for each action.

*Plan the battle beforehand. Be clear for the reader.  If you don’t know what’s happening, the reader will definitely be lost. If you have to draw a crude map and put Lego people on it, go ahead, just know in your mind how the battle takes place.

*Write the scenes rough, get those words on paper. Then read it aloud, maybe ask a friend to listen for believability. Then go back to make it perfect with the help of your beta readers; and make changes that will make your readers gasp. You’ll be so glad you did.

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