Tag Archives: fighting

Five Striking Truths

This article originally appeared for patrons only at Patreon.

1. Strength Is Overrated  

Bulked-up muscular strength, that is. Big biceps will help you choke someone out, but don’t do as much for straight-on strikes as the coordination of muscles with tendons and ligaments and overall body alignment. And if the muscles were strengthened with isolation exercises, chances are the result will be reduced mobility, shortened reach and increased risk of joint injury.

There are indeed a few athletes who can carry their bulk with unbelievable agility, but that takes an incredible amount of skill, is really hard on the joints, and is an ability more the exception than the rule.100_2182

In storytelling, the victory of the seemingly-weak over the hulking enemy is older than the Biblical tale of David and Goliath. It endures because there is truth in it. Sure, a haymaker thrown by a bulked-up fighter can indeed break a jaw and knock someone out cold, just like a sledgehammer strike. But there’s a reason bodybuilders aren’t boxers. Lots of reasons, actually. Most of those reasons have to do with agility and coordination. While the Bulky Guy is swinging that sledgehammer of a punch, you can land a few hits to his most vulnerable targets and get out of the way before the punch lands.

Speaking of vulnerable targets… Continue reading Five Striking Truths

Sirens Is Now My Home

If you’ve read most any other person’s experience attending Sirens, you’ve an inkling of what I’m going to say.

Yes, it is an amazing few days—surrounded by women and men (why, YES, men do attend Sirens, and enjoy it immensely) who celebrate who they are, and what and who they love. The conversations are far-ranging and tightly-focused, curious and passionate, overlapping and attentive. The interactions are both open and intimate. There is space and there is affection. Questions and affirmations. Challenges and comforts. Embracing old friends and picking up where we left off last year, and embracing new friends with the anticipation of connections yet to be formed.

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Three cool things in particular, but in no particular order:

First: Conversations about grief and grieving. Not many opportunities come about in daily life for those. People close to me are much more interested in making sure I’m “all right,” which to them means I’m not expressing loss and longing. That makes it easier for me to talk about grief with people I don’t see all the time; they tend to be more curious than concerned, and curiosity is what opens doors in search of answers. Those chats are emotional gold for me—the chance to share in the hope it’ll help someone else, yes, but also the opportunity to better understand myself and the process.

Second: The Sirens Fight Club. Hooking up with women who understand the subtle and overt challenges of choosing to train—to openly enjoy—combat arts is exhilarating. Truly, I wanted another entire weekend to spend with these women, and I knew so within the first few minutes of our meeting. We’re going to plot out a proposal or two for next year. Truly, between us, we could offer a multi-day workshop!

Hmm…

Third: Laurie Marks. I’ve said before I am grateful for, and humbled by, the female fantasy writers who “raised” me in this crazy world of storytelling. Laurie was the first published writer I’d ever met, the first to teach me about critique groups, the first to give me feedback on my very first attempted novel. I was nineteen and stupid and arrogant and ambitious, and when she told me I used too many gerunds, I had to go home and look up the word (in an actual printed dictionary, no less!) because I hadn’t a clue. We lost touch a few years later, and the more years that passed, the more awkward it felt to pop back into her life with a “Hey, remember me?”

Twenty-five years passed that way.

Nervousness remained as Sirens came closer, until I passed Laurie in the hall on the second day and re-introduced myself.

And was given a full smile and a tight hug and an invitation to lunch with her and Deb. Catching up was wonderful and too brief, but there isn’t a shred of awkwardness or nervousness on my part remaining. There will not be a horrible time-gap again!

All of that was Sirens for me.

The conference will be in Colorado again next year, but this time up in Vail at a marvelous luxury resort that—and this is the incredible part—will cost little more than the rooms down in Denver.

You want to do this, my darlings. You want to do this so, so badly.

You want to come to Vail in October, when it might be clear and merely crisp at sundown only to give way to snow-covered mountainsides by sunrise. When we will celebrate the women of fantasy who not only hold power in their own right, but wield it as well. Women of strength. Women of magic.

Women we all know.

Women like you.

#SFWApro

Five Fight-Writing Tactics

100_2182This article originally appeared for patrons only at Patreon.  Because they’re wonderful patrons, they support making the articles on self-defense and fight scenes available to everyone within a month of the original posting.  So if you like it, thank the patrons, or consider becoming one yourself!

Before I hit the tactics, I want to share this most marvelous video by Karate Culture on the grappling techniques within traditional Okinawan kata.  If you’ve read my articles for awhile, you’ll know I’m not a fan of teaching throws as a universal self-defense technique because their application is limited mostly to people who are quite able-bodied, well-trained, and being targeted by a single attacker.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like, train, teach, and use grappling!  Just check out the awesomeness of that video.  You won’t regret it.

And now…

1. Applying good craft to writing fight scenes is 95% of the battle.

Grammar is about writing well and properly—a necessary skill if we want readers to sink into our stories rather than decipher odd and misleading sentence constructions.

But storytelling?  That’s the craft I’m talking about.

Continue reading Five Fight-Writing Tactics

Set A Choke, Break A Choke — Part Two

This article originally appeared for patrons at Patreon. Due to its length, I’ve broken it into two parts.  Part One can be found here, and includes discussion of the chokes in general and defensive considerations of air chokes in particular.  This section discusses defense against blood chokes, and offense of both blood and air chokes.

100_2182Being choked from behind—when the attacker uses biceps and forearm as a vice on the sides of the neck for that blood choke—is a very different experience. It can be more of a “Hey, what are doing back there?” experience because the pain isn’t always as acute as the air choke. By the time you hit the, “Hey, I feel funny…” realization, you’re halfway to any set of techniques being useless because everything below the neck will soon stop listening to you.

Continue reading Set A Choke, Break A Choke — Part Two

Self-defense and Fighting Articles — All Together Now!

By request, I’ve gathered up my fighting and self-defense related articles onto one link-y-filled page.  The page is also listed on the menu now for folks to find more easily.

It isn’t quite complete yet, so I’ll be adding and updating along the way.  And, uncertain how wide a net I wanted to cast, I didn’t include everything that touched on any part of fighting, self-defense, and martial arts.  So if your favorite post isn’t on the list, and you think it ought to be, please let me know!

 

#SFWApro

MileHiCon Is On the Horizon!

MileHiCon happens next weekend, and I am so looking forward to attending for the first time! Already the organizers have me feeling welcome to my new home-state convention. I’m so looking forward to sitting on a few panels, and sitting in on quite a few more.

Here’s my schedule thus far:

Friday, October 23

4:00 PM Inside Writing Workshops

I’ll be offering insights about Viable Paradise and Writers of the Future. Other panelists will discuss their experience with Clarion, Odyssey, and more. Come ask your questions about the different experience and emphasis of workshops available to writers looking to improve their craft and make connections with other professionals!

Saturday, October 24

9:30 AM SFWA Meeting

I am SO looking forward to meeting other SFWA members in person, and connecting with local writers. It’s a business meeting, so I’ll be sharing a bit of info on the self-publishing committee as well.

12:00 PM What Makes A Good Bad Guy?

Now, I’ll be honest here: I asked my 6-year-old nephew this question, and he said without hesitation, “His lightsaber moves!”

I suspect the panel will go into a wee bit more detail. Since I’m moderating, I’ll be asking questions about villainous viewpoints, whether sympathetic villains are preferred or expected or a passing fad, traits of villainy that are a cliché and traits that are unexpected, and all sorts of other stuff the dear folks on Twitter helped me come up with

8:00 PM Violence in Fantasy

A huge percentage of fantasy novels revolve around wars and battles, torture or at least torment. Is it necessary? How much is too much or is there a limit?

Gotta admit, I like the violence in my fantasy. (And in science fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and so forth.) I’m not certain where this panel will go, but I’ll be most interested to hear what the other panelists and audience members have to say.

Sunday, October 25

10:00AM Writing Good Fight Scenes

Reasonable/believable choreography and obeying the laws of physics and human physiology are good and necessary first steps. What other factors need to be considered when writing fight scenes?

I’m really looking forward to this one because I personally love writing fighters and fight scenes for people who understand fighting as well as for general readers. I’ve been told I’m good at it, so I hope I have some interesting things to pass along—particularly on the difference between most martial arts training and practical martial application. I’m the only woman on this panel, and am deeply hoping that’ll make little to no difference whatsoever to what we panelists are asked.

(Aside: Does anyone see a general theme in the craft-related panels I’ll be sitting on?  I think I have my own convention theme, truly. 🙂 )

There might be some last minute schedule changes, so be sure to check in at the convention’s website as the dates draw near.

In between my handful of panels, I’ll be sitting in on other panels, or hanging around waiting for the next thing. In the evenings, I’ll likely be in the bar for a bit in search of interesting conversations.

If you see me and want to talk, PLEASE COME BY AND SAY SO! I recently had a writerly friend tell me about a “pro” writer who told a bunch of aspiring writers that “pro” writers didn’t really want to be bothered at conventions. Ye gads, if you’re a reader or newer writer looking to connect, please don’t think that person’s attitude is mine. If I didn’t want to talk with other writers, I wouldn’t bother telling anyone where I’d be. I know, from personal experience, it can feel like cliff diving, walking up to someone you might know only from online interactions. In fact, I suck at it myself. Rest assured if you say hello, I’ll participate in a conversation.

So if you’ll be at MileHiCon, let me know! Let’s connect somewhere!

#SFWApro

After the Smack (or Stab, or Break, or Burn, or…)

Since I’ve just gutted the middle of Stone because the plot was moving with all the grace of a square-wheeled locomotive chugging over the Rockies, you get a Sunday blog post so I can clear my head before I resume stitching the innards back together.*

So here it is: As I mentioned on Twitter, discussion forums for MMA and other fighting sports are a goldmine of writerly information.

There are bunches of little guides out there on how fantasy writers can realistically and vibrantly portray combat.  Information on everything from edged weapons and individual duels to archery and battle formations is fairly easy to find.  But not as much hoopla surrounds the aftermath of those fights—the small injuries, the crippling injuries, and the physical/emotional life-long consequences.  It’s simple to Google for “broken leg” and come up with a pile of guidance from modern medical sites.  But that’s only part of the story.

From a storytelling perspective, it’s a mere sliver of the story.

The fun part—the part that makes plot and character development real—is what happens after the injury is sustained.

Continue reading After the Smack (or Stab, or Break, or Burn, or…)