Guest Post with Kaya Quinsey: “Writing With Time in Mind”

Guest Post, Misc.

Kaya Quinsey - Headshot 6Meet Kaya Quinsey.

Kaya Quinsey holds her undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology. Her first novel, Paris Mends Broken Hearts, was released in April 2018. Her second book, A Coastal Christmas, was released in October 2018. Her books have sold in seven countries. Kaya’s passion for culture, travel, and psychology blend for a reading style that is fun, full of surprises, and easy to read. A romantic at heart, Kaya’s writing offers a contemporary twist to traditional love stories. She hopes to inspire women through her stories to fiercely chase their dreams.

Social Media Links:
Author Central:

Guest Post

Writing With Time in Mind



Here is some advice I’ve found helpful on how to finish your manuscript relatively quickly (and with minimal headaches). Enjoy!



1. Write first, edit later


If you start to painstakingly sift through sentences as soon as they are typed up, it is going to be a long road to get to the finished product. Some writers will type away at a blacked-out screen, so they aren’t even tempted to edit throughout the process. Get the words out, finish your idea, and don’t let yourself get in the way. This leads into my next point



2. Let go of perfectionism


It is difficult to finish writing a book if you are critiquing it the entire time. Remember that the more you practice, the better you will get. So keep practicing.



3. Write every day


I have found that writing on a daily basis has been helpful to maintain a plot driven story line. It takes discipline to stay focused, to keep writing, to have patience with yourself each day. Stick with it.



4. Set a word count


When working on a book, I typically aim for between 1000-2000 words per day. Within a relatively short span of time, you’ll have a first draft of your book.



5. Plan your plot


Having a general overview of what is going to happen in your story can be helpful so that you have a sense of direction when you are meeting your daily word count (see number 4), on a daily basis (see number 3). You don’t necessarily need to have it all figured out, but an overall big-picture idea can be helpful to guide the path.



6. Set hard deadlines for yourself 


When I say “hard headlines”, I don’t mean set difficult deadlines (e.g., “I will write a whole novel by Wednesday!”). What I mean is set goals about when you want to have Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. done by. Keep those promises to yourself. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time you write it. There will be time to go over it all when you’re done! Which leads me to my final point…



7. Schedule time to revise



Congratulations! You’ve written a book. Now comes the real fun (just kidding).


Good luck with your writing and I wish you all the best.


Rae, thanks for having me on A New Look On Books.



Thank you Kaya for stopping by again!

In case you missed it, check out Kaya’s interview here!




A Writing Tip from Traci Sanders

Misc., Writing

Meet Traci Sanders.

author photo(2).jpg

Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

“My ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through my own writing or editing works by other authors.”


TIP 233: Mastering your manuscript

This tip, and many others on publishing and marketing, can be found in Beyond The Book: Tips on publishing, marketing, and networking to build your brand, now available in digital and paperback on Amazon.

While most of the tips in this book are aimed at authors who choose to self-publish, I do throw a few on traditional publishing in the mix. As well, some authors are hybrids, meaning they choose to publish some of their books as Indies, and list other titles with agents or publishers.
No matter which route you choose, knowing how to format a manuscript is a good skill to have.

First, here are some Don’ts when it comes to manuscripts:

  1. Don’t use fancy fonts or colors. Your manuscript won’t be taken seriously.
  2. Don’t send your full manuscript unless it’s requested.
  3. Don’t forget to put your name and book title on it.
  4. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Follow the standards.
  5. Don’t embellish or lie about your experience or talents. Don’t claim to be an “award-winning author” if you’re not.
  6. Don’t mention writing accolades or published pieces, unless they were awarded or received from a notable source. (Ex: Don’t mention that you had an article published in your local newspaper.)
  7. Don’t compare your writing to someone famous. Let your writing speak on its own merit.
  8. Don’t suck up to the agent/publisher by mentioning their work. They recognize it right away.
  9. Don’t underline anything in manuscripts. Italics will suffice.

Now, here are a few Do’s for manuscripts:

  1. Do use a 1-inch margin on all sides.
  2. Do address a certain agent by name—not “to whom it may concern.”
  3. Do follow the submission guidelines – only submit what is requested. Don’t attach documents if they ask you to copy and paste it into the body of the email. And don’t send more, thinking they will “appreciate your work once they start reading.” It probably won’t make it past the slush pile.
  4. Do include a title page, but start the page numbering on the first page of the actual story. It should include:
    title of the story, approximate word count (to the nearest hundred), author’s contact details, copyright details, and agent’s details (if represented).
  5. Do include a header on each page: your name, title of novel in all caps, and page number.
  6. Do start each new chapter on a new page, about one-third the way down the page.
    Just a side note: most agents/publishers don’t want stories with prologues, but if you self-publish, you don’t have to worry about that.
  7. Do start the first line of the story four to six lines down from the chapter title.
  8. Do double space the entire manuscript, except certain lines on the title page. See images above.
  9. Do use 12pt. spacing, and Courier font type.
  10. Do use left-align for your text.
  11. Do single space between sentences.

Whether you are an Indie or traditionally published, it’s important to represent your work in a professional manner and have a manuscript at the ready, just in case. Many Indie authors have had their titles “picked up” by publishers at conferences and conventions.


This tip comes from her newly released book!

Stop back around noon today for a guest book review by Traci!

Perfect Character, Guest Post by J.M. Richardson

Guest Post, Misc.

13975376_1086235261466733_931556592892057057_o.jpgMeet J.M. Richardson.

J.M. Richardson is an American author of action, suspense, and political fiction. His works include The Twenty-Nine Series, as well as the James Beauregard novels, The Apocalypse Mechanism and The Barataria Key.

Richardson was born and raised in southeast Louisiana, near New Orleans. As a young man, he was fascinated with history, but particularly that of his own state of Louisiana, New Orleans, and its culture and lore. He attended Louisiana State University, where he parlayed that fascination into an education degree, and began teaching US and world history in public schools. Soon after, he married and moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he continued to teach, and does to this day.

He began The Apocalypse Mechanism in 2006, but with no luck in picking up an agent or publisher, he wrote a different story, The Twenty-Nine. In 2011, the novel was published by Winter Goose Publishing. Soon after, Winter Goose picked up The Apocalypse Mechanism. There are now four novels in two series, the most recent being The Barataria Key.

Richardson also enjoys playing guitar, cooking, golf, brewing craft beer, and blogging. He resides with his family in the Fort Worth area.

Social Media, Amazon, and Website

Guest Post – Perfect Character

I bet you’ve had a book like this. You got excited about it. All your friends had suggested this one. They built it up to be the next great American novel, or if nothing else, a guilty pleasure. Judging by the buzz on Goodreads, this will end up being a series on Showtime in no time, airing right after The Affair. The best part about it is you can say you read it back when it was just a novel. You get to tell people, with honest bragging rights, that the book was better than the show. You sit down to read it, a glass of wine in your hand, and maybe your dog snuggled up next to you. It starts out great, and as you finger page after page, you make some observations. You love the plot. It’s well-constructed, well written, and extremely complex. The author put a lot of effort into that. But something’s missing. You can’t seem to relate to the characters. They’re not realistic. They’re far too perfect to make any sense. If you’re like me, this might actually ruin the whole book, even with all of the other qualities in play.

Since I primarily write adventure/suspense fiction, I’ll give you a great example from my own genre. Did anyone read the blockbuster smash, The Da Vinci Code? I bet you did. The marketing was brilliant. It took off the way it did mainly because of the controversy. People were in uproar over what they deemed as blasphemy, and the more people boycotted it, the more other people wanted to read it, and I suspect that many of the protestors secretly crossed the picket line just to see for themselves what it was all about. I love the thought Dan Brown puts into his story. I love the amount of research. In my own novels, if I’m to make the content believable and accurate, before I can ever add fictional spin, I have to do the proper research, lest I look like an idiot when people actually Google what I wrote about.

I really liked Brown’s stories, but the one thing that did not sit well with me was Robert Langdon. He’s a brilliant professor; the ultimate history geek and guru of symbolism. He can interpret hidden messages in Renaissance paintings and decode complex ciphers developed by ancient cults. Yet, in his forty-something years of life on earth, the only character flaw he ever developed was claustrophobia? That’s it? He gets nervous in elevators? He fell down a well as a kid, and that was the only devastating thing that ever happened to him? Has he ever been dumped? Did he ever cheat on an exam? Drive drunk? Try an illegal drug? Come on, he’s that squeaky clean?

Maybe the author didn’t deem those things to be relevant to the story. I can see a writer skipping out on some aspects of a character’s past experiences. Perhaps no one needs to know about Langdon’s Scooby Doo undies as a kid.  I’m not looking for trivial details that bog down the story. However, I do want to see the character developed thoroughly. All I know about Robert Langdon is that he’s brilliant and finds himself in the middle of major world conspiracies. He always saves the day, and that’s fine. But I also want to know who hurt him in his world. Where are his demons? Where is his heartache. What are his vices? That, I can connect to. He’s real. He’s like me.

I’ve seen Dan Brown develop his antagonists in this way. Remember the guy that would flog himself in penance after he murdered people? That was interesting. But his heroes and heroines are completely likeable, and I don’t like that. Maybe Brown has no darkness of his own. I doubt that. I certainly have mine. I pass that right along to my main character and any other character I create. I want you to relate to their anguish. I want you to shake your head a little at the choices James Beauregard (The Apocalypse Mechanism; The Barataria Key) makes. He’s dark because I’m dark. In fact, in my first book about James, my editor and I had real conflict over just how dark he was. I wrote him as such a damaged jerkwad, that my publisher was afraid no one would like him enough to read the book. Dr. James Beauregard actually had to be toned down, and he’s still a jerkwad. But he’s real. He’s me. He’s you.

That’s the goal here. Literature is art. Just as a painting can draw you into its world, or a song can remind you of some lost love, literature is meant to evoke emotion. You read because you want to connect. It makes you feel. You find yourself sharing hurt, love, or simply whisked away to some fantasy world far away from your own troubles. As a writer, you owe it to your readers to make those characters real. The reader must relate in some way. They must feel. You’re not doing to do that with a perfect, cookie-cutter character.

Day 10: YA/Middle Grade; Carrie Cross

Guest Post, Mystery Thriller Week 2017, Uncategorized

Meet Carrie Cross.


*Partial bio taken from Carrie’s Amazon author page.

Carrie Cross is an avid reader who fell in love with books as a little girl after reading Goodnight Moon. She wrote her first “book” at age four: Blackie the Little Black Dog and the Flying Washing Machine. Carrie discovered her love of mysteries reading Nancy Drew books and The Happy Hollisters series, and after writing THE MYSTERY OF SHADOW HILLS, she continues to look for clues in unexpected places to this day.

Carrie Cross’s influences include Judy Blume, Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Lee Child. In addition to writing Skylar Robbins mysteries and reading, Carrie loves to cook, hike at the beach, go boating, and travel.

Author Links:

Guest Post – Carrie Cross’s Advice to Aspiring Writers #7: Use Foreshadowing to Create Suspense

*Reposting permission given by Carrie Cross to use for MTW. Post originally posted on 11.14.16.

Skylar Robbins.jpg

“Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story.” (

What bigger goal can a writer have than to keep your readers turning those pages, desperate to find out what happens next? Foreshadowing is a technique that can help you accomplish this objective. Remember being a kid, reading a book that you absolutely couldn’t put down, and suddenly it was–bedtime? Did you hide under the covers, reading by flashlight, because you just knew something exciting was about to happen? That built-up anticipation was probably caused by the author’s superlative use of foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing can be accomplished subtly, by using a description of the setting for example, or overtly, via dialogue and first person narration. The following excerpts from Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills are used for illustration.

Using setting in foreshadowing:

Even though I was afraid, following a treasure map and investigating caves sounded so adventurous that at the stroke of midnight I found myself following Kat outside. Creaky wooden stairs led down the rocky hillside behind her house to their private beach. Sliding my hand along the rough rail, I hoped that the worst thing that would happen to me tonight would be getting a splinter in my palm.

Silver-gray clouds slid past the moon, casting huge shadows on the sand. All too soon we reached the end of the staircase and I smelled the stench of dead mussels clinging to rocks. A cold breeze kissed my cheek as if to wish me luck. Or to warn me.

Violent waves slammed ocean water against the sand. Each pounding crash sounded like a car accident. Pausing with my shoe still touching the last stair, I wondered if there was any way to talk Kat out of this. I figured that following her was better than getting lost on the beach in the dark, so I stumbled after her, scared to death.

Would the worst thing that happened to our heroine be getting a splinter in her palm? Probably not. The cold breeze seemed to be warning her of something. What? Something worse than the car accident that the crashing waves alluded to, or to getting lost on the beach in the dark?

Using dialogue in foreshadowing:

“My new friend was amazing. “What’s Wiccan?” I mouthed.

She looked around. No one was listening.

“Witchcraft.” She waited to see how I’d react, then continued. “I’ll sleep over Saturday night and introduce you.”

“OK. I’ll ask. Introduce me to what?”

Kat looked at me. “Everything Wiccan. I know all about it. And I’ll let you in.”

A nervous tingle shot down my spine. My brain was spinning. I decided to put my plan to escape from Malibu on hold for now.

An uninvited Saturday night sleep-over where Skylar gets introduced to witchcraft? Skylar was nervous and her brain was spinning. Surely something interesting would happen on Saturday night, wouldn’t it?

Using first person narration in foreshadowing:

Heading for Malibu on a sunny Saturday in June would normally have been a good thing. I could have spent the day bodysurfing with my BFF, Alexa, and playing games in the arcade on the Santa Monica pier. If I was totally lucky I might have shared a bumper car with Dustin Coles, the cutest boy going into Pacific Middle School. Alexa and I liked to lie in the sun and watch surfers ride the waves on Zuma beach. If there were pinball and corndogs ahead of me instead of what I was in for, I would have begged my dad for a ride down the coast. But today? Not so much.

If I’d gotten out of the car right then and spread out my beach towel, everything might have turned out fine. But my dad kept right on driving.

Apparently, everything didn’t turn out fine. ‘Tween readers who enjoy going to the beach, watching surfers, eating corndogs, or playing video games should already have an affinity with the protagonist. If she’d gotten out of the car right then, everything might have turned out fine. But her dad kept right on driving. What happened to her?

Foreshadowing helps to create suspense; so whatever your genre, hinting at exciting events to come will keep your readers intrigued, staying up later than intended, reading just one more chapter.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills is on sale now on Amazon, or message me for a personally autographed copy plus a FREE pair of kids binoculars using the contact form on my website. My second Skylar Robbins novel, The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels, will be available on Amazon on Read Tuesday, December 9th. More advice for aspiring writers can be found on my website.

Day 7: Writing; Karen A. Wyle

Guest Post, Mystery Thriller Week 2017, Uncategorized

Meet Karen A. Wyle.

Wyle author photo - color - web  size.jpg

Karen A. Wyle is the author of seven novels and an appellate attorney with more than thirty years’ experience. A cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, she worked for law firms and the California Court of Appeal before establishing her solo practice in Bloomington, Indiana. Wyle has filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and seven state supreme courts. One-quarter of her novel Division is set in a near-future courtroom.
Wyle‘s “voice” as a novelist is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction.  It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of practicing law.  Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of individual identity, family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
Wyle and her husband have two essentially-grown and wildly creative daughters, as well as a sweet but neurotic dog.
Various Links:
Website for Closest to the Fire: A Writer’s Guide to Law and Lawyers:
Professional website:
Blog (Looking Around):

Guest Post – Beyond the Obvious: Hidden Dramatic Possibilities in Legal Thrillers

We’ve all seen dramatic courtroom scenes of furious cross-examination and dramatic closing arguments. Some of the ones you’ve seen are not altogether accurate: for example, almost any judge will intervene to protect a witness who’s being badgered by opposing counsel, and witnesses almost never break down and confess guilt they’ve previously denied (though plenty of them do break down, emotionally speaking). But my primary point is different. Wouldn’t it be fun to write about some of the lesser-known yet potentially aspects of criminal law?

Here are just a few ideas along those lines.
Did you know that alcoholism and other substance abuse are a serious problem in the legal and even the judicial communities? How about making your judge a secret drunk? The prosecutor and the defense attorneys may well know this secret. How would they make use of it? One could be subtly (or not so subtly) blackmailing the judge to get favorable rulings; the other could be trying to talk the judge into seeking the help that exists specifically for lawyers and judges with such problems. (And don’t be predictable about your hero and villain. If your story focuses on the challenges of catching criminals, maybe the prosecutor should be the bad guy. If your defendant is unjustly accused, maybe it’s the defense attorney who’s willing to use any tool, even blackmail, to win.)
Are you itching to write about a jury trial? Jury trials have all sorts of dramatic possibilities – but keep in mind that they’re increasingly rare. Indeed, most criminal cases don’t go to trial at trial, even before a judge sitting alone in a “bench trial.” Instead, they’re settled by plea bargains. So if your case is going to a jury, you might want to set up that fact by showing why the usual plea bargain doesn’t happen. Maybe the case is high-profile enough that one or both lawyers hope to make favorable headlines with it. Maybe the defendant is stubborn in proclaiming innocence, and/or refuses to understand how the legal system works and why a plea bargain would be advisable. Maybe there’s a comedy of errors that prevents the prosecutor’s offer of a plea bargain from being communicated or accepted.
By the way, if the defense is going to revolve around such legal points as the prosecution’s failure to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt, and/or if the defendant would make a terrible witness and the defense lawyer hopes to keep him/her off the stand, it may be foolhardy to demand a jury trial. It takes some work and some luck (including at the juror selection stage) to get a jury that accepts the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard wholeheartedly enough that they’ll acquit a “probably guilty” defendant.
Anyway, let’s say you’ve got your jury trial. Here are a few under-explored angles:
–Jury instructions: If you’ve actually sat on a jury, then unless that court has adopted what are called “plain English” jury instructions, you might have been faced with verbiage like this, read aloud by the judge and possibly included in a binder that goes into the jury room:
Circumstantial evidence is evidence that, if found to be true, proves a fact from which an inference of the existence of another fact may be drawn. A factual inference is a deduction that may logically and reasonably be drawn from one or more facts established by the evidence.Or take this example from New York:

IMITATION CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE means a substance that is not a controlled substance, which by dosage unit appearance, including color, shape and size, and by a representation, is represented to be a controlled substance. Evidence of representations that the substance is a controlled substance may include, but is not limited to, oral or written representations by the manufacturer or seller, as the case may be, about the substance with regard to: 1. its price, nature, use or effect as a controlled substance; or 2. its packaging in a manner normally used for illicit controlled substances’ or 3. markings on the substance.Throw a few dozen such instructions at the jury, and you could end up with their farcical and chaotic attempts to make sense of what they’ve been asked to do. Or, for a more serious tone, they could misunderstand some crucial element of the instructions and convict where they should acquit. (If you want to be sure the jury would get traditional, convoluted instructions, set your story before the 1970s, or check the history of jury instruction reform in your chosen court system.)

–Alternate jurors: In most jury trials, the court will seat at least one or two more jurors than are actually required, in case somebody gets sick or has some sort of crisis arise. The longer the trial is expected to run and the more important the case is deemed to be, the more alternates there will be. The alternates trot in and out of the courtroom with the other jurors and hear all the evidence, arguments, and instructions. And then they get to do absolutely nothing with all that information, unless the jury loses a juror – at which point an alternate is seated and the jury’s discussions (“deliberations”) are supposed to start over again. Your protagonist could be an alternate juror, and maybe the only juror who has a firm grasp of what the evidence means. Maybe your alternate is so determined to take part in deliberations that s/he tries to arrange for some juror to depart. . . .
–Jailhouse lawyers: Some prisoners with lots of time on their hands spend it filing one petition after another. Some end up becoming unlicensed substitutes for lawyers, offering or selling assistance to other prisoners. If a jailhouse lawyer is giving your defendant advice that contradicts the defendant’s lawyer’s approach, things could get interesting – whichever “authority” is actually right.
I can’t discuss all the possible less-exploited story opportunities or even list them, but here are a few more you could explore: appellate arguments with constantly interrupting judges;  lawyers representing lawyers; what lawyers do when a witness unexpectedly lies; a judge doubting the guilt of a defendant who pleads guilty; a defendant feeling compelled to falsely plead guilty; juvenile justice (no trial by jury, particularly galling probation conditions); solitary confinement (juvenile or adult); pressure on a parent to admit a crime for “treatment” purposes, an admission that could lead to the loss of parental rights; jury nullification (a jury’s power to ignore the law in what the jurors see as the interests of justice); a friendship between lawyers threatened by what happens in a case; witnesses testifying based on false memories (for example, memories contaminated by previous questioning and/or prior hypnosis); unavailable or incompetent interpreters; or the terrible toll that indeterminate sentencing (“15 years to life” can take on a prisoner emotionally.
Oh, and if you want to learn more about any of these (here it comes), I have written a book that might come in handy. Closest to the Fire: A Writer’s Guide to Law and Lawyers is available in (a hefty) paperback and in ebook format at all the usual online stores.
Happy writing!

Day 7: Writing; Rayne Hall

Guest Post, Mystery Thriller Week 2017, Uncategorized

Meet Rayne Hall.

Rayne Hall is the author of over sixty books, mostly dark fantasy and creepy horror, as well as editor of the Ten Tales fantasy and horror anthologies, both traditionally and indie published.

Her acclaimed Writer’s Craft series has 22 titles so far: Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing About Villains, Writing Deep Point Of View, Writing Vivid Plots, Writing Vivid Settings, Writing Vivid Characters, Writing Vivid Settings, Why Does My book Not Sell? 20 Simple Fixes, Getting Book Reviews, Writing Book Blurbs And Synopses and more. These are guides for writers who have progressed beyond the basics and are ready to take their skills to the next level, and for indie authors who want to boost their books’ success.

She has worked as a museum guide, belly dancer, bilingual secretary, apple picker, development aid worker adult education teacher, magazine editor, literary agent,  publishing consultant and tarot reader, often in several roles at the same time. Now she writes full-time.

After living in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, Rayne has settled in a seaside town in England. She enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore, braving ferocious seagulls and British rain. Her black cat Sulu – adopted from the rescue shelter – likes to snuggle between her arms while she writes, purring happily.

Visit her website, or follow her on Twitter  for writing and publishing tips.

Subscribers to her newsletter for writers get a free pdf workbook, ‘Grow Your Unique Author Voice’.  You can subscribe here:



**Copyright permission to repost granted by the author.


Do you want your fight scene to be realistic? Before you say yes, consider what your readers want. In most genres, readers want entertaining fight scenes, brimming with excitement, where heroes and villains display amazing skills. Real fights are nasty, brutal and quick.

As a writer, you may need to create a compromise: a fight scene that entertains but feels realistic. I suggest you create an illusion of reality.  Here are ten techniques how to achieve this.

  1. Spatial restrictions

Your scene will gain realism if you show how the available space limits the fighting: Perhaps the ceiling is too low to swing the sword overhead, or the cop heroine can’t risk shooting at the bad guy because he’s standing in front of the wall, which could lead to bullet ricochet and kill innocent bystanders.

  1. The ground underfoot

Inject a realistic flavour with a single sentence: simply mention what the ground feels like underfoot. What’s the ground like: Persian rugs? Concrete? Lawn? Uneven planks of splintered wood? Hard, firm, soft, squishy, muddy, wet, slippery, wobbling, cluttered, sloping? The ground may even affect the fighting: the heroine may slip on the rain-slicked asphalt or stumble across the edge of a rug.

  1. Close-up vision

During the fight, the point-of-view character sees only what’s immediately before him: his opponent’s face, his opponent’s hands, his opponent’s weapon. If he takes his attention off what’s immediately before him, he’ll be dead. Therefore, don’t show the distant sunset and an overview of how the fighting progresses at the other end of the battlefield.

  1. Little Or No Dialogue

Avoid dialogue during the fight. The fighters need to concentrate their attention on staying alive, and can’t spare a thought for conversation. Panting with effort, they don’t have breath to spare for verbal banter. Any talking should happen before the fighting starts. If you really need dialogue during the fight, use very short and incomplete sentences, because these convey the breathlessness and sound real.

  1. No time for thinking

Your PoV doesn’t think while he fights. His mind is totally focused on the action. He can’t think about anything else: not about about his loved ones back home, not about the futility of war, not even about fighting strategy. Any thinking would be a distraction that costs his life. Share his thoughts about strategy before the fighting starts, and his profound insights once the fight is over.

  1. Believable skills

The fighters can use only skills they possess. A heroine without martial arts training can’t defeat her opponent with an uppercut and a roundhouse kick. Unarmed combat and fighting with weapons requires practice. Establish beforehand what fighting skills the protagonist has, for example by showing her in an earlier scene dusting her shelf of karate trophies.

  1. Sounds

Mention the noises of the fight: the pinging of bullets, the clanking of swords, the sharp snap of breaking bone, the screams and gurgles of the dying. Sounds create realism as well as excitement.

  1. Real weapons

Make sure your fighters use weapons which existed in that period, and that they use those weapons in plausible ways. Not every sword can split a skull, not every gun allows accurate shooting at a distance. If you invent a weapon, model it on real weapons, and keep it simple.

  1. Pain

Fighting hurts. Your PoV character must feel the pain of the blows and cuts. During the fight, the rush of adrenaline may dull the pain, and the real pain kicks in when the action is over. Real fighting also leads to injuries, and your hero needs to sustain some cuts and bruises, at least.

  1. Aftermath

Once the fight is over, add a paragraph describing the aftermath: the survivors assess the carnage, mourn their friends, bandage their wounds, repair their weapons. The adrenaline has worn off and the pain kicks in. The air is filled with strong smells, including cordite in case of a gun fight, and urine and faeces because bladders and bowels give way in death.

When deciding how realistic to make your fight scene, consider your genre.  In a hard-boiled thriller, you can use a lot of realism, including brutal violence and gore, but in a gentle romance, it’s better to play down the gory aspects and create just enough realism to suspend disbelief. From these ten tips, select the ones that suit your reader and your story.

Are you currently writing (or planning to write) a fight scene? Tell us about it in the Comments section.