Blood and Guts

I just finished reading a book that included a large-scale war, with multiple sides fighting.  It got me thinking about the war in The Queen’s Butterflies.

There is a funny thing about the war in my novel: people either think there’s not enough of it, or there’s too much of it.

Fighting is almost a required activity in fantasy.  Battles between neighboring kingdoms, rival magical factions, bandits or pirates; it may not be the sole plot driver, but it is a critical part in the plots of most fantasy I can think of.   (Anybody know of a great fantasy novel or series that is almost entirely bloodless?)

The war between Molva and Diaea in Butterflies goes on for 4 years.  We occasionally look in to see how it is going, but it is not the primary focus of the novel.  A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten has fallen into one of two camps: either there is not enough “looking in” (the war doesn’t feel like it’s 4 years long) or there is too much of the fighting (the war is a distraction from the primary plot). 

Writing fighting is challenging – I don’t get wrapped up in the details of death and I’ve never experienced war, so I tend to keep the bloody battles succinct and pertinent.  Even in war, I focus on the characters and their experiences.  I even invested some energy into creating a few soldiers, so we’d have someone to follow throughout the fighting.

My favorite fighting scene in Butterflies is not war-related.  (Mini spoiler alert for the novel!)  Instead, it is an attempt on the Queen of Molva’s life, thwarted by her maid (who also happens to be a Butterfly).  Other than the acrobatic, clothing-tearing, hand-to-hand craziness, the best part about it is a little bloody tidbit I picked up at a Renn Faire.  Squeamish?  Skip the next paragraph.

If you grab someone’s hand with two fingers in each of your hands (left hand around the pinky and ring finger, right hand around the middle and pointer) and pull with all your strength…  *Pop!*  The hand will split down the middle like peeling a banana.  As soon as I heard someone say that in a combat demonstration, I knew it had to go in my book!

A little gruesome, I know, but a great image and one that I’m glad I found a way to include.  🙂

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