Writing Battles: Making Death Personal

What do war films, comic books, high fantasy and epic poetry have in common? Their writers must hold our interest through long battle scenes. I love a good explosion, mech fight or horde of screaming orcs as much as the next geek. But I struggle with large-scale senseless violence if it doesn't make a point. Do I care about the giant who just swept aside fifty nameless, faceless barbarians? Of course not. It looks cool for five seconds, makes a nice trailer shot, but leaves no impact on me. SPOILER WARNING: This post uses examples from Edge of Tomorrow, Game of Thrones Season 4, Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire series), Avengers Assemble, Man of Steel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Iliad. These spoilers include major character death. You have been warned! So, how do you write an exciting, enthralling battle sequence, while marking the tragedy of death and ensuring...
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Lord of the Rings: to extend or not to extend?

Yesterday, for the second time in my life, I experienced an Extended Lord of the Rings marathon. My long-suffering partner had yet to see Lord of the Rings and was thrown in at the deep end. He survived - didn't even turn into an Elf (more's the pity?). But is sitting through over eleven hours of film really worth it? Couldn't one just watch the theatrical edition? Surely the extended versions are just for nerds and die-hard film fans? Consider: 1) Boromir One of the most important reasons to Watch Extended for me is Boromir's characterisation. In Theatrical, he is a weak man, tempted by the ring to bring power and glory to Gondor. He comes across as treacherous and, while struggling with himself, he ultimately comes out on top - but is it too little too late to redeem the man? In Extended, we see a lot more of the Gondor he's left behind. He has more conversation with Aragorn and shows more concern...
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Top 5 Fictional Swords

Seeing as some search engines seem to send seekers of swords to my site, I thought I would oblige for my hundredth post: Sword #5: Watson's Sword Cane Let's open with a Holmesian example and how a sword may epitomise a man's character: Dr John Watson carries a deadly weapon concealed within an innocuous gentleman's cane. And I bet he can kick serious ass with the thing. I gleefully await the moment in SH2 when he takes out half a room with it. Without even breaking a sweat. Before afternoon tea with Mary. Sword #4: The Vorpal Sword One, two! One, two! And through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back. How can you not love the vorpal blade that destryoyzled the Jabberwocky? It would have me calloohing and callaying for joy too. So, what do we know about it? Not an awful lot - apart from that it's pretty vorpal and belongs to the Beamish Boy....
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