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May 9, 2011

The First Rule About Fight Scenes

The first rule about fight scenes is not to discuss fight scenes.

Ok, well, when you end up punching your own face in a parking lot, don't say I didn't warn you.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have a guest blogger, Rayne Hall. She'll be teaching a workshop on 'Writing Fight Scenes', which starts on 1 June 2011: and she's going to give us a little taste. And no, I don't  get a kickback for signing up people for the class, I just can't stress enough how much I recommend Rayne as a writing mentor.

Rayne has been one of my online buddy friends for a while. We were both on the Online Writers Workshop together, and I also continue to belong to a smaller, more select group of professional authors that she runs, called, cleverly enough, the Professional Authors. The purpose of the group is to help authors who have made one or two sales make the leap to a full time career earning a living wage as a writer.

On Joe Konrath's blog, he was discussing recently the rule of 10,000.
I'm currently reading a book that was recommended to me by my buddy Henry Perez, called Outliers: The Story of Success. It mentions the 10,000 Hour Rule. In short, no one becomes an expert at something without having invested 10,000 hours in it.

I found it interesting to apply this to my career. It took me twelve years to become published. While holding down a fulltime job, I still managed to write over a million words during that time--roughly 15 to 20 hours a week. Guess what? That's 10,000 hours.
How do you become an expert at something? You put in the time. One way or another. Two common ways of putting it for writers are in hours and words. You write a million words. You work 10,000 hours at it. But there is one other important thing we shouldn't overlook. You also have to allow yourself time to absorb the rules of writing.

Yes, ultimately, we learn by writing. There is no substitute for BIC-HOK: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. But unless you have infinity, you don't want to bang away randomly like a mathematician's monkey aping Shakespeare. You absorb the rules of writing in two ways, by reading, reading and reading, and by analyzing what you read. You exchange critiques with other writers.

There's a point at which most writers get burnt out on writer's classes, writer's blogs, critique groups, and all that jazz. After a while, you absorb the rules to such an extent that you don't need them anymore. That's natural, and all to the good, but don't make the mistake of thinking that classes and critique groups aren't worth it. At a certain stage along your journey, study can make the difference between someone who dabbles for fun and someone who is serious about perfecting their craft.

I've taken some of Rayne's classes, and she is an awesome teacher. She will hold your hand if you need it, but also kick your ass until you deliver the best damn scene you can. I highly recommend her class,  Writing Fight Scenes.


Burritoclock said...

How do these online workshops work? Tried to find an explanation on the site but couldn't.

Rayne Hall said...

Hi. These workshops are run in the format of a Yahoo Group - are you familiar with those?
You get the lessons and assignments delivered to your inbox, and can participate via e-mail. If you prefer, you can participate via the group's website.
You'll also interact with the other students in the class, helping one another, and you can ask the instructor questions. There won't be any off-topic chitchat.
Does this answer your question? If not, please ask again.

dolorah said...

yeah, I read enough books and writing blogs to make me afraid of breaking a writing rule. Stymies the writing, if you're not careful.

I've been around long enough though, to know that what you can absorb comes in phases. Like anything, moderation helps. I don't think I'd be as skilled a writer today if I hadn't soaked up every resource - and then took a step back to determine what works best for me in my writing style.

I still enjoy the learning process though, so I'll probably check out Rayne's workshop and see if its in the budget. I'm writing fantasy, and some women's fiction, that uses some combative scenes. I'm not a person that would ever experience this in my personal life . .

Thanks for the info Tara. I've been reading through some of your prior posts and find your blog quite interesting.


Rayne Hall said...

Hi Donna,

Tara is going to post my guest blog soon. It's about how to write realistic fight scenes, and intended as a taster of my workshop. You could check it out to see if you like my approach before you invest money in the actual class.

Most of my students are like you: writers who face the challenge of creating exciting fight scenes, who've never epxerienced a fight and have no wish to.

Writing a fight scene requires different skills from fighting one.

A skilled martial artist could beat the out of me. I could write a good scene about it afterwards. ;-)

Maybe I'll see you here tomorrow: if you like, we can discuss ideas for fight scenes in your WiPs.


Burritoclock said...

Yes, that answered my question Rayne. Thank you. I look forward to the guest blog.