Your parents might want you to take up a sport because it’s healthy for you, or you really love it. When you’re older it’s the same reason. I don’t do sports for either, I hate exercise, and I don’t have fun (except for short bits here and there). But whether you do it for pleasure or exercise, you could turn this into something more applicable to writing.
Here are four skills/sports, that not only help you do awesome stuff in real life but help you write it correctly and make the most of it in your writing.
Archery is one of the hardest things to write properly without actually proceeding with any level of training. Things many people get wrong in their writing:
- Learning (and mastering) archery over-night
- Never running out of arrows (I admit, it is an easy detail to forget)
- Archer has no upper body strength
- Plucking the bowstring dry – without an arrow…this seriously hurts the bow
- Never making a mistake with hand position, and I personally think each (inexperienced) character should skim their arm with the bowstring. Trust me, it hurts, and everybody who has tried a bow has felt it.
For reference on really well-written archery, check out the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
Things to know:
- Physics; Gravity, position, environment, physic of the character, restraints (?)
- What are the risks for certain moves? Could your character mess up, and hurt themselves?
- Does approach, matter? And if so, which ones or how so? If not….what does the character do to begin their gymnastics.
- Body type, muscle build.
- What types of people would be better at a certain area? (e.g. tall, short, etc)
There is a little more information on this one, so just based on research it’s a little easier to be accurate. Things to ask:
- How does their dominant hand affect them? Or their opponent?
- What is the environment they’re in?
- How does experience, stance, and technique affect the fight?
- How long is their weapon, how light is it, and how sharp is it?
There should be some mistakes to be avoided here as well.
- Talent (without reasonable boundaries; see Horace in Ranger’s Apprentice) makes mastery waaaay to quickly.
- Never forget about an injury (I have done this in the past, in some un-posted experiments)
- How is the (physically) weak protagonist going to heft a sword? Remember to make sure your characters have the proper body type, muscle strength or both.
This one is one of the most fun and is also the only one on the list that involves animals. You have so much possibility for the horse to have a personality (e.g. Tug, Blaze, Abelard again, Ranger’s Apprentice…)
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is the temperament of my horse?
- What is the age of my horse?
- Does my horse have any limitations such as fear or health problems?
- Is my horse of noble stock or just a cart horse from a pleasant place somewhere nobody cares about?
- Do I have complete tack?
- Do I have armor for my horse? Is armor necessary?
- Was my horse originally stolen?
- Is my character riding correctly?
- Does my character need training?
- What are common beginner mistakes?
- How fast is each gait? And how hard/easy is it to stay on the horse?
- What does jumping feel like?
- How would a fight on horseback (with swords, sticks, axes, etc) affect my ride? How would archery affect it, and how skilled do you think the rider would have to be to hit ANYTHING while on horseback? Where would the weapons go when not in use?
- How easy/hard would it be to catch someone, say in a carriage, cart, or car?
I know Boxing and martial arts are not the same thing, but they have several of the same questions so why would you want to re-read
all most of the questions? You don’t. As I thought, let’s carry on.
Questions to ask yourself:
- How does physic or even gender affect your character’s strength or effectiveness?
- How experienced are they? Usually measured in years and belts for martial artists…For boxing, street fights are experienced for scrappy secondary characters…or even your main character.
- Is your character any good at backing down (ask yourself this for any skill your character might have or even is this a defining feature of his/her’s character?)?
- How do their losses affect them? (Again, ask yourself this continually, even when regarding something other than sports/skills)
Now, if you don’t understand, use these questions when you’re writing your character. But the reason I picked these six skills is because they are the ones that come to mind when it comes to real-life activities that might enhance your action writing. Another reason why there isn’t anything magic related. I wish though… But if you are going to write something magical, you should make your own rules regarding magic in your world. *ding* Post idea! Stay tuned…(I need to get cracking on all these promised posts…yeep)I hope you enjoyed this post! I had fun writing it. I’ve only tried about maybe a year (or two) of martial arts. I have been horseback riding, but never official lessons, and I used to have a bow, but it’s super small now…
and most of my arrows are lost or broken….
Unless there is magic, inborn skills that make you a master without any training, or subliminal programming; no one is a master at any of these without practice. And during that practice, depending on the character there will often be an injury. Use that possibility to your advantage. Make them love their sport/skill but afraid of injury. Make an injury be the reason they reject or are unable to do their sport/skill. Make an injury, remind them of a mistake. Make an injury be a constant reminder and source of wisdom. A mentor character would probably have several of these things. Especially the last one.