Saturday, 4 April 2009

Making gunfights more exciting - Part Three - Gun Battles

The staple of so many action movies, the lone hero against a crowd of bad guys. Here we can see the archetypical one, Bruce Willis' John McClane in Die Hard.
But can such massive gunfights work on paper as well as on screen? Yes, and no.
Here are some tips to help make the most of your pitched battle.

1) A Book is Not a Movie

In a movie, you can see everything that is on the set. If there is no couch in the office, and then halfway through the scene there is a couch, it wrecks the whole film. Well, maybe not the whole film, but it certainly doesn't go unnoticed.

In a book you have a similar effect. Essentially, you can't add anything into the background during a fight scene. You can't have a gun battle in a warehouse and, halfway through the scene, suddenly announce the baddies are hiding behind barrels, and then at the end make the barrels explosive.
The audience can't see the location - they know only what you tell them. You need to tell them before (or, if that isn't possible, as soon as) the fight begins.

2) Give the Baddies More Firepower
Ever noticed how, in movies and computer games, the hero usually has a handgun, and the baddies have surface-to-air rocket launchers and so on. You can build tension by having the hero outgunned as well as outnumbered.

In computer games, when the hero does finally start getting to the big weapons, like surface-to-air missiles and so on, his enemies usually start getting bigger and scarier, too, like in Metal Gear...

3) Let the Hero Get Injured/ Allies killed

Okay, no one expects the Hero to die, not really, and that is fair enough.

But you can raise the tension in a scene by letting him get injured, or killing off his allies.

Right now, that's all on gunfights.
Still to come: the Quick Draw.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Some good pieces of advice. Thanks. :)