Monday, July 25, 2011

Them's fightin' werds!

"Take that, old bean!"
Fight scenes... I hate them. I hate reading them, I hate writing them. Blow-by-blow descriptions of battles small or army-sized, do not float my boat. Some readers love it. Not me. If I’m reading a book, and there’s a page or two of fight descriptions, I’ll just skip those paragraphs and take up where the story left off. My boredom with fight scenes naturally affects how I write them, and I’ve just gotten a little note from my editor telling me in none so many words; “Miranda, you don’t know what the hell you’re writing about. Your fight scenes suck.” And he is 100% correct. I suck at fight scenes!

If I could get away with it, whenever my books demanded a fight-scene (and they invariably do, because I am irrevocably drawn to writing about ‘power-chicks’ who kick ass, so I’m kind of digging my own hole here), I would simply write: “She came at her opponent like a spider-monkey and kicked his jerky ass into oblivion” for a fight scene, I probably would. But I can’t, so in this special case, I have to summon the assistance of someone who can. Luckily my editor has some experience in this realm, so he has helped me get through this first one. It makes me wonder about Tinna’s Promise and how much help those fight scenes require...!

The lesson here is that if you are knowingly weak about a certain subject; don’t try to fake it because it comes off that you’re faking it. It’s why writers who don’t have direct experience about something do research and make sure they get their facts right because invariably, someone is going to come along and say; ‘dude, that’s so wrong!’ And if you haven’t experienced something, you should refrain from trying to write about it, because again, your reader who does know about this stuff will be turned off. Credibility is an important thing when it comes to writing books, no matter what the genre. Aside from comic-book ‘credibility’ stumpers, like spider-bites and falling into vats of radiation (you ever wonder how it was possible that all the vampires and demons in the Buffy and Angel series were martial-arts experts as soon as they clawed their way out of the earth/hell-chasm?), most books try to create the incredible in a way that allows their readers to suspend their disbelief. And when you have small, feisty little dark-haired women kicking the ass and taking names of anyone that dares confront them, saving the world, and raising general hell, you sure as hell better be writing it all in a way that doesn’t sound completely contrived.

I spend so much energy and time espousing the benefits of editing not because I believe manuscripts (regardless of their being independent or commercially published) should be clean and professional, but also because an editor does so much more than fix apostrophe use and fix your homonym mix-ups; they are also your consistency checkers, they question your character points of view, they call you out on your bullshit and they help you shape your story into something *they* would want to read. And *they* are the readers you are striving to sell this story to. They are your test-reader, your first audience, so for God’s sake, if your editor is telling you something sucks, do not just sit there and whine about it or assume you know your potential readers better... listen to them and fix it. And don’t think so highly of yourself that you think you have all the bases covered and you know enough about something to just fake it.

Trust me. It just won’t fly

No comments:

Post a Comment