As fantasy writers, when we come up with our own magic systems, we’re going to inevitably end up writing epic fight scenes with super powers in them.
But…how do we do that? How do we write our magic systems into our battles properly?
Today, I’m giving you 4 tips to writing to sliding in your magic system cohesively into epic fight scenes!
Let’s get started!
*Note: I will be assuming you have a magic system in place while reading this post. If you don’t, I highly suggest you check out this post I did here and at least start to feed in a magic system for your book before reading this post.
**And a huge thank you to the awesome Victoria for requesting this totally cool post! Make sure you check out her blog!
1. Let the Characters Use Their Powers
Okay, yeah, you’re probably like: “DUH MARY. I didn’t scroll down this far for you to tell me the obvious!”
Right! Well…uh…I’ll be telling you the obvious today, unfortunately. Because it’s quite a simple mistake we all make: we forget to let our characters use their powers during the fight scenes.
I know that I personally can get so caught up in clashing swords, throwing of fists, and epic battle moves, that I basically forget all about that super cool power my characters have got right there.
So, how can we make sure we’re letting our characters use those awesome powers of theirs?
Advantages and Disadvantages
The key is to remember the advantages and disadvantages.
For example, if your character’s power draws off of a depletable energy source inside of them, with after-effects of draining the user, then that character will probably only be saving their magic in battle for when it matters. This is a big disadvantage and if your character’s power has something like this tied to their power, you have to keep it in mind as it’ll determine the amount that the character can and will use his power.
On the flip-side, maybe your character doesn’t have to “draw” from anything, and it’s just an unlimited power. (Which is a big advantage). In that case, they have no disadvantage for using their power, so you should be remembering to let them use their power all the time. It wouldn’t be cool if your protagonist took a horrid beating and then was like, “Oops, forgot I have this epic power that could’ve saved me 5 paragraphs of fight-scene time and a black eye! DIIIIEEEE YE VILLAIN!”
To tie it all in, the best combo is to combine both advantages and disadvantages in a fight scene.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that your character’s magic draws from their surroundings. They specialize in their water power, and in this fight scene they’re fighting on a beach.
Guess what! There is a HUGE source of water right there for them (the ocean). This equals? A big advantage.
But what if the fighting takes the characters into the forest? Can your character then not use their power at all? In that case, this would be a disadvantage.
Or can they be creative with their power and draw from the moisture in the air? Water from inside an enemies’ body? Or maybe they can ONLY take from ocean water and so they’re 100% powerless in this situation.
- Try It! Think about your character’s power and what it draws from. What are some advantages and disadvantages you could throw your character into where their power can excel and fail? Feel free to keep a jot list handy to refer to whenever you begin writing a fight scene in your book!
2. Remember the Rules
I know, I know, these titles are screaming with such wisdom right now.
But, again, this is another seemingly obvious idea that can way-too-easily be forgotten in a battle: remembering your magic system rules.
If you’ve crafted your magic system correctly, you’ve got some really neat rules in place. Depending on your rules, depends on what can and cannot happen in a fight scene.
If your magic system relies on the character drawing from a depletable source inside of them, how much of that power can your character really use during the fight scene?
For example, is it realistic that they call upon their source which, let’s just say, allows them to draw upon the elements of the world, and they create a tsunami and can still keep going? Or will they wear out after a while? Depending on whether they will or not is a huge deciding factor in the outcome of the fight scene.
- Try It! Keep your magic system rules in your head, on paper, or on a document on your computer – somewhere easily accessible where you can quickly refresh yourself on it before writing a fight scene. This way you’ll easily remember what can and cannot happen during a fight.
3. Level of Confidence in Their Power
How different do you think a fight scene would be if you were to compare a first-ever fight the protagonist has just after discovering his powers vs. the epic climactic battle where they’ve finally learned how to control and use their powers?
I’m sure we’re all guessing the second one is going to include some epic showdowns displaying the characters’ awesome power, while the first one might include a lot of wild running and screaming in confusion.
- Depending on what level your character is at with their power, depends on their level of confidence in a fight scene.
“Levels” could include:
- how new they are to their power
- how familiar and experienced they are with their power
- if their power has a personality, a level could be how good on terms they are with their power
- when they get their power
So, let’s say your character is new to their power. Guess what! Their confidence level is looooow. (Trust me guys, if it’s not low it’s not going to blow over well with readers).
But, compare that to the ending battle where the character has gone through the course of the book figuring out their powers and now understands how to use them…their confidence level is going to be wayyyy higher here than that first battle scene!
Or, it could be a completely different story if they already have their power before the book even begins. In this case, I’d advise pulling a Captain Marvel: they have the cool power, yes, but it’s hard to control, and/or they really haven’t reached their full potential with it yet.
- Try It! Before writing out a fight scene, mentally zoom out and picture what part of the book you’re at. How many things still have to happen until you reach your protagonist’s change? An easy reference is to remember that at the beginning their confidence is low, the middle it’s somewhere in-between, and the ending it’s high.
4. Description is Key
Description is one of the biggest ways to nail down fight scenes, and yet not many writers even do it!
While I do talk about describing during fights scenes in this post here, I’m more centered around the idea of describing the powers in this section.
And yet, how do we describe without dragging down the action?
This is where we pull out all our fancy tricks!
1. The 5 Senses
Quick refresher: These are sight, smell, taste, hear, touch.
While writing, sight is always applicable unless the character is blind.
Using the 5 senses brings a vivid image to readers minds. So, what better time to specifically use them then when describing magical powers that don’t exist and therefore can be hard to visualize!
2. Figurative Language
Most people are familiar with figurative language, but hey, here’s a quick refresh: I’m talking about here things like similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, hyperboles, etc.
These also bring vivid images to reader’s minds.
3. Words Related to Their Power
If your character has waterpower, it’s not a smart idea to go around using words like “sparked” or “crackled” or “smoked”, because it would make readers envision something like firepower.
Instead, try to specifically think of words that give the image of this power. For water, you could use words like, “dripped”, “slapped”, “cascaded”, etc.
- Tip! There are certain “general” descriptive words, like “erupted”, “danced”, “spun”, etc. which are fine for using when you lack ideas for specific words tailored to your character’s power.
The goal is to just slip these specific words when describing their power, which immensely adds to the pictures you’re helping readers create in their minds.
Combining Them Together
What you have to do in a fight scene is combine the five senses, figurative language, and specific power words together all in one go.
- The fire ignited in my palm, sparks snapping in the air like a vicious animal’s jaw.
While it’s just a quick example, I’ve included imagery, figurative language, and some specific words tailored to fire.
- The 5 Senses: Hearing (sparks snapping) and touch (fire on the palm) are in use.
- Figurative Language: …sparks snapping in the air like a vicious animal’s jaw (simile).
- Specific Words: “sparks”, “ignited” (that one could potentially be used as a “general” descriptive word, but I personally associate igniting more with fire).
Magic systems are hard, but incorporating them into fight scenes can be even harder! Hopefully these tips helped you get a better understand of how to go about writing magic during fight scenes
Have you ever struggled with writing magic fight scenes?
Fun fact, this post started out with 6 tips, and I tore it down to 4. But hey, I actually have another big post idea on this same subject! So hopefully I’ll be able to get that out to you soon!
*I hoped this helped you, Victoria! (let me know if it didn’t or if you have any further questions! I know it wasn’t too in depth, so I will do my best to pull out more ideas for a second post!)
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I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment down below.
Thanks for reading!
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