How to Write Close-Quarter Battles

by , Friday June 30, 2017
How to Write Close-Quarter Battles

How to Write Close-Quarter Battles

Right now we have the Battle of the Fandoms going on! Now for more on how to write those epic battle scenes


Hullo, hullo! It’s another blog from yours truly! Now I know that writing about big, medieval battles between two armies isn’t a massive thing here on Movellas, but I thought I would give this a go. I have written about a few battles, big or small, in my time. So, allow me to pass on the knowledge that I have acquired from writing my own.


The first step is to set why your battle is happening. Is it a battle to hold a castle? Who are the defenders? Who are the attackers? Why do they need this castle? How will they take it? Head on? Use some trickery to get in? There are many questions you must ask before a battle. Do the armies have cavalry? Good soldiers, or are they farmers plucked from the villages?  Who has the advantage? Who has more troops? These all factor in. For example, a medieval army with cavalry, against one without, is at a massive advantage. Cavalry barrels through infantry and cuts it to ribbons. Do they have archers though, that can possibly shoot down the cavalry before they make a charge? What tactics are going to be used to maybe take their disadvantage to an advantage? Get into the mind of your commanders, and really start to dig deep into the detail. Maybe get ideas from battles in movies, shows or books. Seeing what battle strategies they use, such as spear walls, pike lines with archers behind, or having the elite troops deployed first as the vanguard.


Next, your armies are facing each other. They are readying their match-up. What’s the air like? Before a battle, it is usually dead quiet. Unless specified, everyone is terrified before a battle. It’s a scary notion for the soldier that he or she may die. To know they are only a small piece of the army that they are with. But where there is fear, there is nothing like a good battle speech to heighten their morale. If you want a battle speech, the leader needs to be the one showing no fear. They need to stand before these men and/or women that they know fully well that they will win. They know that they will have a glorious victory on that battlefield, even if you the writer plan that they will not. A good tip is that they finish with something for their army to respond to, so that they army call back in gallant fury, ready to fight.


Now for the collision; the moment the two armies smash together and the battle begins. War maybe hell indeed, but a medieval battle is a horrid, awful experience to be a part of. Two people will stand in front of one another, neither knowing who the other person is, what they like to do, what family they may have, whether they are a good person or not; the only thing they know is that they want to kill each other. There are things you must keep in mind to display your battle as being grim as possible.


A battle is messy, for starters. The amount of people running about will kick up dirt, mud and/or dust. The troops will be filthy, covered in grime from the ground. They will be blood-slick, soaked in the splattered gore of the enemy, whether the ones they have killed or not. Lastly, the sweat from being so tired will seep through their attire and cause them to be even soggier.

It is chaos. Once two mass of people start fighting each other, the fighting is hard to distinguish. The noise is filled with screams of pain or rage, with the faint sound of clanking steel; the sight is of a sprawling, teeming amount of flailing weapons and the fighting is never orderly. Soldiers will do anything to stay alive, including savage acts, such as biting, clawing and downright overly stabbing their opponents to make sure they won’t get back up. These troops could fight up against one man, then move to the next, then be stabbed in the back. It is a free-for-all where anyone is at risk.

Lastly, as a writing technique, keep your descriptions short. Events happen in battles, it is true, which is what you want to focus on in terms of keeping your plot moving along. Perhaps the two leaders meet eye to eye and have a duel, etc. But do not drone on and on and on about what individual soldier may be doing. Soldiers are no longer soldiers with individual natures and personalities for you. They are now simply part of the army, and you want to describe what each of the armies is doing, or how the battle is going for either of them. Talk about how the armies are just obliterating the other, or how one maybe butchering rather than killing.


Finally, describe the aftermath. Just like the beginning of the battle, the field is quiet. Many, many, many lie dead. The stench of death will start to waft in the air, injured men or women may still be alive struggling to hold onto their lives. Weapons and banners may be scattered everywhere, with no clear indication of owners. The survivors may be looking for their friends, or family, hoping they may still be alive. Armies rarely celebrate after a battle. What’s there to celebrate? Whilst they won, they had many of their own slaughtered. Create a scene that is sad, so that you can feel the empathy of the survivors.

That’s all from me today. I hope this will help if you are planning to write a battle.

Please do ask me any questions down below in the comments!

Thank you to Aldrin for writing this blog

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