Chekhov’s 21-Gun Salute: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Battle Scenes

I’ll tell you a secret: I’ve always had trouble focusing on battle scenes, either in movies and shows or in prose novels. There are so many moving parts, things whizzing by in so many directions that I forget what the point of it is – or else so many pages of tedious descriptions of troop movements that I forget what the point is of that, either. I like introspection, dramatic character interactions, and weird supernatural happenings. I can get spooky as hell, but I’m not much of a fighter.

But for THE INFINITE – Book 3 in the Outside series – I found myself in a jam. I’d written the story to a point where of course it needed to be solved with a big, final battle. I wanted to see the battle, the flashing lights and big sounds and drama of it all. But I didn’t know how to put one together in a way that made sense. It was a kind of scene that I knew wouldn’t come naturally.

So I set my mind to figuring out how battle scenes work. I pored over some of my favorite big battles from existing media – battles where even my battle-challenged mind stayed invested the whole way through. I broke them down into their component parts and I figured out what purpose each part served. In the process I came up with a system that allowed even me to write a final battle scene that my editors loved.

I’m going to share that system with you now.

(Read the full post on Substack)