Saturday, 13 September 2014

A story's not a story without a swordfight

I used to be a theatre buff.

Well, that might be exaggerating just a little. I used to go to the theatre quite a lot, but I'm not sure if I could really call myself a buff.

My parents are definitely theatre buffs. They go to the theatre all the time. For a while, back in my long distance past, I used to come along with them. Not sure why. I guess it seemed like a good thing to do. Maybe it was the pizza restaurant we always used to visit beforehand that had quite a bit to do with it.

It didn't take long for me to realise I wasn't that excited by theatre, although I did stick with it for a while. It took me a little longer to realise what the problem was, and why I wasn't so enthralled by the drama on the stage.

Unfortunately, in the end, I just couldn't get over the staginess of it all. And that no matter what ideas or themes underlined the play, and how potentially worthwhile or dramatic they might be, in the end it was just a bunch of people talking to each other.

Maybe it's just me, but I need more than that. I need more than just seeing people on stage talking to each other to really get engaged. I need excitement. I need action. I need swordfights.

That was the moment when I realised what the problem was. There just weren't enough swordfights in these plays. I want to hear the clang of metal on metal. I want to hear cries of "en-guarde!" I want to be as enthralled as I am in that amazing scene in the Princess Bride where Westley fights Inigo ("I have a secret to tell you - I'm not left-handed" - I love that).

Of course, when I settled down to write my own stories, I had to be as good as my word. I couldn't very well complain about boring plays without swordfights if I ended up writing boring stories without swordfights. That's why I was really pleased when I was able to insert swordfights into not just one but two of my novels. And even as I scan ideas for new novels, I'm constantly thinking, "How can I insert a swordfight in here?"

And before I finish, I just have to throw in one more thing that I think is kind of cool. I actually have first-hand expertise when it comes to swordfighting, because I used to work with a former Australian fencing champion. I even got a chance to put on fencing gear and have a bit of a spar with them. It was kind of frightening actually. I kept on asking if I could run away a bit more. Luckily, she wasn't too rough with me.

Have a great week, full of excitement and derring-do. 

1 comment:

  1. My wife’s away in the States at the moment and when my wife’s away there’s only me and the birdie to decide what we’re going to watch on the telly and I’ll be honest he’ll watch pretty much anything although his favourite has to be Strictly Come Dancing; he is a sucker for all that glitter. Me, I tend to save up all the action movies and watch them while Carrie’s away. She’s not anti-action movies per se but they’re not her favourites. Rarely these days do we get actual sword fights—although there was one in Doctor Who last week—but we do get the modern day equivalents: the shoot ‘em up and some variant of martial arts fighting. And I’ll be honest I do tend to get a bit tired with them. They really don’t hold my attention. And yet something in me keeps saving these films hoping against hope that there’ll be more to them than ninety minutes of fighting wrapped around fifteen minutes of sketchy dialogue.

    I’ve not been to the theatre very much. When Carrie and I got married we talked about going more often but it never really happened and I can probably list all the plays I’ve ever seen live—three Beckett, three Shakespeare, a Pinter, a night of Pinter shorts and, of all things, a Woody Allen. Not a lot, eh? I also saw Oliver three nights in a row in my last year at school and that’s covers all the musicals too. Needless to say there weren’t any sword fights in any of them although I think there might’ve been a knife fight in Oliver but don’t quote me.

    Even in novels I have to work hard not to skip over the action. My ideal novel would be colour-coded with maybe the dialogue in red and I could just read the red bits and forget about the rest. What I really hate is where there a conversation going and suddenly one of the participants starts remembering something and it’s three pages later before he answers whoever he’s talking to. I’ve completely lost the plot by then. I’ve read several books written solely in dialogue and I love them. Why more people aren’t doing this I have no idea. Cut to the case. Say what you have to say and get off the page.