Monday, June 14, 2010

Battles, fights, and general mayhem

Novels often include the most ridiculous depictions of combat. Fantasy novels are some of the worst, but the problem cuts across all genres. If we want to broaden our scope we should include all of the following movie genres: action/thriller, science fiction, fantasy, martial arts, and war (although some war films have gotten much better recently). We can also include virtually anything shown on television.

Many offenses (but certainly not all) fit into the following categories:

Stormtrooper effect/Principle of Evil Marksmanship: bad guys are terrible shots. (Even if described as being lethal killers.)

Law of the Conservation of the Ninja: ninja (bad guys) are weaker in large groups. (A single ninja is nearly unbeatable.)

One-at-a-time attack rule: Large groups of villains will only attack one at a time.

Two friends of mine have written excellent blog posts on the topic or realistic combat:

Christian Cameron writes the best historical fiction I have ever read. In this blog post he writes about the nature of warfare. (The blog thread is actually about the use of elephants in ancient warfare.)

Mike Shultz' fantasy novel, The Sword of Memory, is being published in Germany this fall. In this writing advice column (click writing advice and check out Lesson 16) he discusses rules for combat realism in fantasy.

Nothing makes me want to drop a novel faster than unrealistic action/combat sequences. So follow Mike's rules and read Christian Cameron's blog and we will all enjoy a better reading experience.

Now go out there and hurt your good guys.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've been away for a little while. What have I been up to?

My manuscript is in the hands of the German editor of my friend Mike Shultz' novel. I met Carsten when Mike and I had lunch with him in NYC last August. I'm going to put my query process on hold while Carsten has the manuscript. With no prior writing credits, I think my query letter will look substantially stronger with a foreign publication on it. Just need it to be accepted.....

I haven't been doing much writing. Mike suggested I work on the sequel to Eternal Knight, but write it as a stand-alone novel. I like his idea and have been doing some outlining.

I have also been playing some EVE Online. It is a wonderful science fiction MMORPG set in outer space. I've been splitting my time between chasing NPC pirates and playing the commodities markets. In EVE 90% of goods are player-produced. This allows for genuine market activities to occur. I'd love to find a way to include aspects of the game in the teaching of my AP Economics class.

Off to fire up the engines on the Hussar, my Thrasher class destroyer. Or maybe I'll take the Adam Smith out on a trade run. I hear there are good prices for oxygen over in the Pator system.