From the Department of Ian’s Fiction #2

March 27th, 2011

Here’s another review for Blood on the Ice, posted by Jenn Zuko on Nerds in Babeland!

Some choice quotes:
“Healy’s snickering, boyish humor is a highlight of this novel—from the characters’ postmodern comments on vampiric pop culture to the hockey teammates’ constant good-natured trash talking to the wry snarkiness of the “narrator” (a lovely twist as to the identity of the narrator I won’t spoil for you, but wait for the delightful punchline) pull us through this story with tight action and a keen series of cliffhanger chapter endings.”

“Overall, this is a thrilling, funny read, and I highly recommend it.”

Get Blood on the Ice for only $2.99 at Smashwords, Sony, Diesel, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and the Apple iBook Store (requires app)

My Insane Free Ebooks Deal

March 24th, 2011

Ok, here’s how it works. You go to www.ianthealy.com, click on the Ebook Store tab, and pick any story or novel from that list. Then you click on the Contact link and tell me 3 things: (a) What piece you want, (b) What ebook format you want-I have them all, and (c) Roughly how long it will take you to read. Then I will email your free ebook to you, with the following caveat: I ask you to post a review (it can be the same review) of that piece on four websites: Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads. When your reviews are posted, let me know, and you can claim any other of my ebooks for free by way of thanks. If you review that one, the cycle repeats. If not, I’m still grateful for the first review.

What do you think? It’s a easy way to get a whole library of free stuff, which would currently cost you $13 to otherwise acquire (and I’m adding new material all the time). For me, the reviews are a far more valuable currency at the moment than the royalties.

11. Types of Action Scenes: The Battle

March 5th, 2011

The Battle
or, “War is Hell!”

The Battle is, in my opinion, the hardest type of action scene to write well.  When you have to manage huge groups of people, of which your characters are a part, it’s a tricky process to keep them from getting lost amid all the action.

Dealing with large-scale combat requires a lot of planning on an author’s part.  Most authors want their hero or heroes to be instrumental parts of the battle.  That means they must be involved in whatever group is performing the penultimate act.  For example:  your heroes may be a unit of soldiers in World War II who have to destroy a German machine gun nest so the emergency supplies can advance.  There may be several units involved in the combat, but the author needs to focus on what the heroes are doing.

When planning your battle sequence, after you’ve divided up your armies into groups and missions, determine what the important plot points in the battle are.  If you need certain events to happen at certain times, plug them into your battle timeline and write from point to point, keeping the flow of action centered on your heroes.

Do not try to describe every single Stunt in a full-scale battle.  By creating a battle, you’ve already established there is a tremendous amount of action going on all around the characters, and the readers don’t need to be told what Soldier #38 is doing when he’s a thousand feet away from the heroes.  If what he’s doing is vitally important to the plot, you should have one of your heroes do it instead.

It’s easy to get caught up in the grand, sweeping events of combat and lose your characters.  Think of it as the difference between a wide-angle panoramic camera shot and a closeup in film.  The panoramic shot shows everything happening, but details get lost.  You may see great blasts of magic razing down troops, siege engines moving along the ground, buildings shattering.  But where are your characters?  Which of those tiny figures running around are the ones you’ve been writing about?  Remember, your story is still about people, not events, and if you succumb to the temptation to show off the scale of your epic battles without tempering them with closeup shots, you will lose your reader’s interest.  On the other hand, if you stick solely with closeup camera angles, keeping the narrative focused only on the heroes, you may lose the sense of scale.  Try to strike a good balance between them, say panoramic shots used early to establish the scene, and then lots of closeups on the heroes afterward.

Things happen in a battle which are independent of the heroes’ actions.  Some of these things may be the result of their actions, and some may change their actions.  In the example above of the World War II unit, their destruction of the machine gun nest will allow supply units to start crossing a bridge, but now they’ll be expected to provide covering fire.  On the other hand, German tanks may roll in at that moment and the machine gun nest isn’t the strategic point  that it had been.  Make sure your heroes adapt to the changing circumstances in a battle.  Remember that the things which happen elsewhere in a battle may have important or disastrous effects on your heroes, even if they don’t directly witness them.

A note from management (again)

March 1st, 2011

My computer was down for about a week and I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. I haven’t forgotten about you here, though! Look for some new material this week.

Also, I have exactly one action scene left in my queue to critique, and after that I’m open. So if you have a scene you’re dying to get analyzed because you’re under a short deadline, now’s the time to submit it.