Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The importance of kicking ass

Back in high school when I was writing piles (and piles) of crap, I gave them all to a dear friend to read and he critiqued them (though I didn't know about critting at the time -- we're talking late 80's here). We also read a lot of books and analyzed them at great length together. Through both of these things, my friend taught me two important things (though I didn't know that at the time either):
  1. The fickleness of reader sympathy, and
  2. The importance of letting kick-ass characters kick ass. On stage. In full view. 
I am currently up against this in Disciple, Part VI. I need to write not just a kick-ass magical duel, but more than one of them. There was some magical dueling back in Part III and a little in Part IV, but now it's time for the gloves to come off. Time to kick ass.

I've been looking for reference visuals, and I've been struck by how rarely you get an onscreen, kick-ass magical duel. There are, of course:
  1. Harry Potter vs. Voldemort et al. (which had its good moments, but overall... eh.)
  2. Gandalf vs. Saruman (excellent duel)
  3. Gandalf vs. the Balrog (powerful, though it was shorter than you think)
  4. and the magical duel in Willow (was interspersed with other things going on)
Psychic dueling, a still from Akira
but I've been looking for new visuals and longer scenes would be better. This tends to steer me toward anime. Anime can do a lot of ass-kicking, when it puts its mind to it, though you may have to sift out the martial arts aspects. I find my mind wandering back to one anime in particular that I watched with my high-school friend: Akira. Which isn't fantasy, but if you've seen it you know why I'm thinking of it. Onscreen, kick-ass duel.

The literary example that my dear friend always held up as the yardstick was the magical smack-down at the end of the first Thomas Covenant series -- which I read about a thousand years ago and have only dim memories of. But it was kick-ass. I think.

Stay tuned, I've got more thoughts on this. One-upmanship is a problem in these sorts of situations. If you've got a favorite kick-ass magical duel, recommend it!


mooderino said...

Anime and kung fu flicks are seeping into the consciousness more and more, especially through movies. Matrix was very anime influenced. Kung Fu Hustle has some good unreal fights.

Moody Writing

Huntress said...

I loaded a kung fu duel between Jackie Chan and the baddie. Got it somewhere on my computer but...*checking back pockets*...don't know where I put it.

anywho, by substituting magical elements for the fist and foot, I could 'see' how to write a scene in one of my MS.

Btw, the magic duel at the end of HP and the Order of the Phoenix is the best visuals I know of.

mshatch said...

The Dresden Files might offer up some ideas.

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