If you haven’t already figured it out yet, I thoroughly enjoy adding realism to my stories. Emotions, reactions, physical realities…you name it. True, some liberties are taken. It is fantasy after all, but the effort is there. Which brings me to my ultimate point for this post:
How real is too real?
We all say we want the nitty-gritty, but do we really? Don’t know about anyone else, but every time in a doctor show or even a super hero adventure when they get up close and personal with grievous wounds or even simply poke someone with a needle, I’m cringing and averting my gaze. Total wuss, I know. But the distinction stands: How much is too much?
I want my scenes to be believable and relatable, so I go out of my way to add details that emphasize the underlying reality we all live in. One little problem. Okay HUGE problem. These are words on a page, not a movie with special effects and sound tracks to tell you how to feel. All I have is language, the literal written word, in which to somehow evoke an emotional (hopefully visceral) response from my reader. And if you think that sounds easy, I dare you to write an intimate scene. It can be as tame or sweet as you like, but I better feel it. In fact, you’re welcome to submit it in a private message and I’d be happy to compare notes and offer feedback. I’ll tell you right now, you’ll discover real quick that it is so much harder than you could imagine.
Conflicted man struggles with his attraction to a woman he knows he should avoid. During an impromptu night of dancing, things finally spark and he loses his battle, finally kissing the woman.
And now, Exhibit B:
She continued to dance between my arms oblivious to my struggle. Another spin. She landed too close. There wasn’t even a fraction of a second between when she landed and when my mouth mashed down on hers. I knew instantly that I shouldn’t have, that I should stop. But Night, kissing her was like falling into a kaleidoscope of color.
In case anyone is curious, that scene gets so much better after that, but I didn’t want to bog you down with too many details out of context. Hopefully, though, you get my point. Books paint a picture with words and honestly, the more abstract the better; it allows the reader to color in their own shades if you will. The author simply provides the palette, the reader ultimately chooses the colors.
But enough about that, my concern in this exact moment as I work on Hart’s Betrayal (which is now set in 2115 btw), is how the heck to write this fight scene. Full disclosure, not only am I not a fighter, I’ve never been in a fight in my entire life. I’ll avoid the cliche of saying that I’m a lover, not a fighter as I have enough anger issues to pass around, I’ve just never actually thrown a punch. So I’ll settle with, I’m a writer, not a fighter. To generalize a popular writer meme: When we don’t like someone, we create a similar character, then kill them off. Sweet, bloodless victory. For all the people who know me personally and read this, don’t worry, not you 😉
Anyway, back to the problem at hand. One of my protagonists essentially has special forces training, and for all intents and purposes, is completely lethal, especially where lycanthropes are concerned. My other protagonist is, you guessed, a Lycan, who really is a scholar, not a fighter; however, supernatural strength and all that jazz. Easy, right? Wrong. My very human fighter does not actually want to hurt his opponent (even though he may or may not have started the fight). Meanwhile, my Lycan also does not genuinely want to hurt the human. Tensions have just led to this point. So I need a legitimate fight where no one is actually trying to win….and it needs to sounds believable. Argh. That’s my only word for this mess I’ve written myself into.
So, yeah…anyone who wants to weigh in, I’m all ears.