Dissecting Fight Scenes (Luke vs. Vader)

For the past couple days, I’ve been doing a series on fight scenes and how to make them more effective:
Part One (Will Turner vs. Captain Jack)
Part Two (Black Widow vs. Hawkeye)

And, in case you don’t have time to read those other posts, what IS the secret to a really great fight scene?

Character! 

Fight scenes, really good fight scenes, are all about character.

Today we’re going to talk about probably my favorite fight ever…

Luke vs. Vader from Return of the Jedi.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a fight scene without character stuff is meaningless: it’s just pretty choreography, and this scene, even though the fight choreography isn’t wicked intense (like in, say, the mediocre prequels with their lava battles and such) is still a totally riveting scene. Luke is trying to redeem his father; Vader is trying to push Luke to the dark side and, meanwhile, the Emperor is just being a jerk to everyone in a sort of “Let the best minion win!” kind of thing.

If Luke wins, the Emperor wins because he’ll have pushed him to the dark side.
If Vader wins, the Emperor still has his trusted right hand henchman.

This is one of the few fights I can think of where the stakes are this high, and the outcome of the fight is actually really crummy for the two combatants no matter who wins. Conflict! Character! Story! Awww, all the ingredients for a really great fight.

But, of course, one of the best moments of this fight is the moment where Luke stops fighting, where he throws away his lightsaber and says “No, this isn’t who I am”. His line, “I am a Jedi. Like my father before me” is one of my favorite parts of the movie, and it’s a really powerful choice. Story-wise, character-wise. Sometimes choosing not to fight can say everything you need to about your character.

The moment Luke chooses not to fight he wins. Because this isn’t really a lightsaber duel, it never was. The duel is just a physical symbol of the greater struggle for Luke’s soul. Luke surrenders in the lightsaber duel but triumphs in the larger battle. Even if the Emperor had killed him Luke would have won by staying true to himself. But then that choice to step back, to surrender, ends up saving not only Luke but Vader as well, when Luke’s bravery inspires his father to turn from the Dark Side and save himself as well.

You know you have a really great fight scene when the choice not to fight is just as riveting as the actual fight itself. :)

Dissecting Fight Scenes (Black Widow vs. Hawkeye)

A few days ago on the blog, I started my series about fight scenes, and today I continue that with…

Black Widow vs. Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers

(Fight starts at 2:02)

OK, I admit I might have picked this fight because I love how much ass Black Widow kicks. I love her.

But really let’s talk about the fight choreography in this because Black Widow actually fights like a girl. And I mean that in a good way. Most women can’t compete with men when it comes to brute strength, which is why most fighting styles that work for women (like Brazilian jiu jitsu, etc) are all about someone physically weaker defeating someone stronger. BW doesn’t just square up to Hawkeye and punch him. She tries a sneak attack, she uses the environment and the available weapons to attack him. She’s flexible physically and mentally. And when he’s got her in a lock and is about to stab her she bites him. Which is how real, I’m fighting for my life combat works: no such thing as “cheating”. (I’m looking at you Will Turner…)

Now let’s talk about the character stuff going on. Hawkeye and BW are partners. They have history and, at this moment, he’s been brainwashed and he’s working for the bad guys. So Black Widow is trying to incapacitate him without killing him, and Hawkeye is trying to kill her because he’s got a mission.

But this fight, beneath the surface, is also deeply personal despite the brain washing. These people are great friends (in my headcanon they’re also lovers but we can leave that for now). We just had a scene where Loki pinpointed that BW’s greatest fear is Hawkeye hurting her, killing her. And five minutes later we have a scene where Hawkeye is trying to do just that. (A+ writing, Joss Whedon)

The choreography of the fight even mirrors this preoccupation with the intimacy between BW and Hawkeye. A lot of this fight is close quarters, face to face, hip to hip. The ending is basically an embrace between them–a grunty, I’m trying to kill you with my knife kind of embrace, yes, but still: they’re in each others’ arms. Even the fight itself is underlining the intimacy between these two people. Especially when you consider that Hawkeye is primarily a sniper. He doesn’t usually fight face to face, he shoots people from far away–but not with Black Widow.

And what finally breaks the fight up? Hawkeye pulls her hair and then she bites him. Those are intimate actions, personal. No weapons, no fancy kicks or arrows. It’s still about the two of them.

Basically, the takeaway from this fight is that you can (and should) use the choreography of the fight itself to underline what’s going on beneath the surface, what the characters are feeling, what the dynamics are between them. Have cool choreography, yes, but use it to help you tell your story by elaborating on character, theme and subtext. That punch isn’t just a punch it can also mean “I love you. Come back to me.”

Dissecting Fight Scenes (Will Turner vs. Captain Jack)

Originally blogged on Paranormal Romantics

If you don’t know by now I’m a huge geek, and I love dissecting the minutiae of my geeky entertainment. As such, I thought it might be fun to talk about what makes a good fight scene for me.

OK, so…you want to know what the secret is?

CHARACTER.

Fight scenes, the good ones, are still all about character.

Turns out I have a lot to say about this so I’ll be doing this as a multi-part series over the next couple months.

First up, lets look at one of my favorite sword fights of all time…

Will vs. Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

 

This fight scene is fabulous because it’s not just a fight, it’s great character introduction. This fight tells us SO MUCH about their respective characters: Will is a fantastic swordsman but he doesn’t seem to have much actual combat experience–as evidenced by the fact he tells Jack he’s “cheating” when Jack brings other weapons into play. Will has a naive notion that a pirate who’s running for his life should still abide by the rules of fair combat. The fight also shows how good Will is, though. He may not have much practical experience, but he knows what he’s doing, and he’s pretty damn good at improvising (grabbing the hot sword, the bit with the chain, etc).

In this fight, we also learn that although Jack is a pirate, he actually goes out of his way not to kill Will–basically begging Will to move at the end of the scene so he won’t have to shoot him. So, though Jack is a pirate, he’s still a good man. Which is basically the message of the first film. And we see it acted out in the very first big fight of the movie. Good job, screenwriters. A+

So, to sum up, this scene may be a fight, but it’s also all about character. We learn everything we need to know about Jack and Will in this fight, and we manage to do all this while watching a pretty kick ass fight scene. Win win. :)

Next time: Black Widow vs. Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers.

Ta for now,

Beth Matthews

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Picture Post!

Not much to report but I did a cleaning/nesting binge today and found some of my cool old stuff that I forgot!

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We finally hung art today! These are pieces by Ursula Vernon (the two hamster pictures) and Stephanie Pui Mun Law.

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^This is an jewelry box that I’ve had for a gabillion years and I FINALLY applied some elbow grease and cleaned it properly. It’s so shiny!

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Three generations of engagement rings. From left to right: my great-grandmother’s, my mother’s, and mine. :)

I did mention I got engaged a few weeks ago? ;)

Beth Matthews engagement ring

Halloween Costume 2014– #Boxtrolls

Ever since my fiancé and I saw The Boxtrolls puppets at an exhibit in Universal Studios we thought they were adorable. The movie is really fun and cute so we decided we’d be Boxtrolls for Halloween.

I decided to be Oil Can:

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To start, my fiance got two HUGE boxes from his work then proceeded to cut them down and make head and arm holes for us. My job was the box labels.

I free-handed both using the labels from the movie as reference.

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20141030_222900(My hands after doing all the drawing.)

Then I colored them in with what limited supplies we had (Sharpies and hi-liters. o_O) I was really pleased with how well they turned out despite the rush (I did both labels on Thursday and Friday) and the lack of proper art supplies.

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I attached the labels to the boxes with a few minutes to spare before I had to head out the door to the party we were going to.

20141031_143245My fiance also polished up an old oil can he had, and he made my gold funnel hat to complete the costume:

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It was a little hard to sit, of course. LOL. But I was really pleased with how everything turned out.

 

 

Bonus Pic: My nephew loved our boxes too!

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Banter for Two #NewAdultRomance #WeWriWa

better wewriwa

Today for Weekend Writing Warriors I’m posting an excerpt from my upcoming New Adult contemporary romance Love’s Last Call about a geeky bouncer and the hot waitress he’s sure is out of his league. This week I have a fun bit of banter between the two leads.

(Disclaimer: scene–including punctuation–has been slightly tweaked to fit in 8 sentences)

“So, why is the bar called ‘Jezebel’s’?” he asked.

She tilted her head sideways to consider the question as her car glided down the freeway off-ramp. “Well, she is the patron saint of false prophets and fallen women.” She passed a hand over her body to emphasize her revealing clothing, like a lovely assistant on a game show gesturing to all the Fabulous Prizes.

“You’re a fallen woman, then?”

“Oh, yeah, loooong time ago. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

“I don’t think she was a saint.”

Hope you enjoyed! :)

Love'sLastCallKindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance
(ebook and print)

LOVE’S LAST CALL is currently available for a special $1.99 price.

You can learn more about the book and read the first chapter here. You can also add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads.

The Story:

Lucy York is an aspiring mechanical engineer working as a shot girl serving watered-down drinks to drunken frat boys at Jezebel’s Bar & Lounge. The job isn’t so bad—it pays her bills, and she’s managed to make a surrogate family for herself at the bar. But now she’s ready to spread her wings and fly north to attend a university and, maybe, distance herself a little from the all-consuming social scene at Jezebel’s.

Then her boss hires a new bouncer, Norm, a literature dork who seems like everything a bouncer shouldn’t be: tall, gangly, sweet (and, you know, named Norman). But as she gets to know him, ol’ Norm turns out to be everything Lucy never knew she wanted and the best friend she’s ever had. He’s not a bad bouncer either.

One obstacle to their happily ever after: the owner has a strict no-dating rule for employees. If anyone at Jezebel’s finds out she’s dating a bouncer, Lucy will lose her job, her surrogate family, and the money she needs to go to college.

But, if she loses Norm, is she losing her best chance at happiness?

Hope you enjoyed the snippet above, and don’t forget to check out all the other 8 sentence excerpts this week.

*

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New Release: LOVE’S LAST CALL by Beth Matthews #newadult #romance #romcom

NEW RELEASE
Love’s Last Call (Ladies of Jezebel’s Book 1)
A light-hearted New Adult love story…
Love'sLastCallKindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance
(ebook and print)

Love’s Last Call is the first book in the Ladies of Jezebel’s series, A New Adult series set at a hot LA bar. The hero is a dorky bouncer and an aspiring SF/F author. The heroine is an engineering student by day and a cocktail waitress by night.

Readers say:
“This book was charming and funny, especially because the characters are so relatable. Love’s Last Call isn’t a ‘cheesy’ romance novel- it’s smart, fun, and worth the read. (Plus, pretty hard to beat the $1.99 Kindle price!)”

“Both main characters are multi-dimensional, as are many of the characters in the background, leaving the reader wanting to know more about the world of Jezebel’s….I’d definitely recommend this!”

THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Buy the book! (Obviously. ;D But if you do, please share that info on your social network! And review! Reviews are like gold for indie authors – thank you!)
  • TWO WAYS TO WIN (paperback or ebook):

1. Leave a comment here to win your choice of an ebook or paperback copy of LOVE’S LAST CALL with a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

2. Enter the Goodreads giveaway. There are 3 paperback copies up for grabs right now.

Thank you so much for reading and helping me get this book out in the world!

Couch

It’s kind of a silly, small adult milestone–but I bought my first couch this week and it came today and I LOVE IT!

I have already taken a nap on it. As has Fat Cat. Blonde Cat took one look at the giant monstrosity that had invaded his living room and promptly ran away to hide in the kitchen cabinets.

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The amount of throw pillows on this thing boggles my mind. Why would anyone ever need FIVE throw pillows for a couch of this size and depth? smh…

Let Your Geek Flag Fly: Old School SF (A Guest Post by Veronica Scott) #SFR #ScienceFiction

Today I invited award-winning SF and Paranormal Romance author Veronica Scott to take over the blog for the “Let Your Geek Flag Fly” feature where people blog about something “geeky” that’s been a formative influence on their life.

In addition to being an author, Veronica writes the “SciFi Encounters” column for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog.*

Take it away, Veronica…

blog 1

Thanks for inviting me to visit your blog and talk about my Geek Girl beginnings! One of my favorite genres to write in is science fiction romance (because I believe there needs to be romance in everything), so I thought I’d talk about the three things that gave me a very early love for SF and set me on my path as an author.

The first movie I ever remember seeing in its entirety would be the classic SF film Forbidden Planet. My dad was an engineer on the Saturn man-to-the-moon rocket program and naturally he loved science fiction. One Saturday, when the movie came on late night TV, he sat down to watch it. I kept him company and by the end credits I was totally hooked. At the age of about seven, I now knew you could have different planets, you could travel in space (and look hot doing it–well, 1950’s hot), there were robots, invisible monsters could menace you, there were ancient civilizations out there…but if you were smart and brave and never gave up, you could survive and blast off in your cool flying saucer to live Happily Ever After. As a kid with a very lively imagination, I was now totally and forever hooked on science fiction. Every-day, routine story telling had lost a lot of its appeal for me.

blog 2After this, I soon found out the local TV station played the old black and white Flash Gordon serials Monday through Friday as part of a teeth-gritting children’s show. In fact, I even wrote a letter to the TV station suggesting they get rid of the awful show host and just run the serial every day. My first act as a reviewer! I was enthralled with the peril, romance and adventures that Flash and Dale got to experience. I loved the blasters, the flyers, the rocket-ships, the clothes (which tells you a lot about my taste as a child). I keep a still photo from Flash Gordon in a frame beside my writing desk to remind me of my early love. Being a little kid, I didn’t recognize the sheer cheesiness of the cheap productions. I was too caught up in the nail-biting action.

So, by now I was well and truly launched into Science Fiction make believe. I had my dolls and my horses and all my other toys enacting complicated SF-type adventures. But it wasn’t quite enough.

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The real breakthrough for me as an author was when my dad handed me a novel by Andre Norton, which he thought I’d enjoy – Catseye. Enjoy was an understatement. Here were some of my favorite elements of the genre, with alien planets, ancient civilizations, and a new-to-me concept of telepathy. Plus, cats LOL. I devoured his library of Andre Norton novels and moved on to all the other classics on the shelves.

And now I was inspired by Ms. Norton to put pen to paper and write my own otherworldly stories. My latest book is Mission to Mahjundar, set on one of those far-off planets, in a future galaxy-spanning civilization, where a man and a woman face life-and-death situations and gradually fall in love over the course of their adventures. Yes, there are blasters! No cats, though, still working on getting felines into the mix…

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You can find Veronica Scott on the web at:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

 

 

*Full disclosure: Veronica Scott is my mom. :)

Book Meme

I was tagged by a friend on FB to pick list at least 10 works of literature (fiction/non-fiction) that have influenced me and stuck with me over the years. I tagged people on FB already but, if you feel so inclined to do this, please consider yourself tagged. :)

1. Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
My favorite book of all time. LOVE Cazaril.

2. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley.
This is the book that helped inspire The Beauty’s Beast–the book that’s currently making me all my royalties–so it definitely stuck with me! lol

3. All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
One of my fav books in one of my fav series. Oh, I cried!

4. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
My favorite contemp romance and probably the one I have reread the most over the years when I need a pick me up.

5. Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
This is definitely another Influenced My Writing Pick. Dahl writes strong, sexually empowered heroines and she showed me I could write the kind of stuff I want to read.

6. Love Irresistibly by Julie James
More writerly inspiration. She’s crafted a really great straight contemp series without adding suspense elements. She’s doing exactly what I want to do. Also, she writes really fun banter.

7. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
Really original fantasy world that owes nothing to medieval Europe for once! A great series and AMAZING world-building.

8. Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly
A really original historical mystery series set in New Orleans with a POC as protagonist. Love this series and I love the main character, Ben.

9. One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters
Yet another historical mystery series that I love! The books are sweet and simple, and the mysteries are usually easy to figure out. But the world-building in this is so warm, so wholesome and welcoming that they make wonderful comfort reads.

10. (last one!!!) Um…The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
Heyer has some problematic elements in her writing but she’s got such wonderful wit and characters. She’s one of my favorite authors and has been since I was a kid and my mom handed me an old paperback from the 60s. This is one of my favorites of Heyer’s and I reread it fairly often (and just skip right over the whole awful Goldwater scenes.)

And that’s me! What are the books that have stuck with you?

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