I read a recent article about some of thinking that Peter Jackson uses in thinking through the epic battles. I thought I’d summarize some of the main points. The original article where Peter Jackson gives an interview can be found here.
“There’s a lot of logistics that have to be thought through,” says Jackson. “We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics.”
1. Who are the differing combatants?
2. How do the combatants culture influence their combat tactics?
3. What weapons/shields do they prefer?
4. What different patterns do they utilize?
5. What tactics do they use?
“Before we could loose the first arrow, we had to design the landscape itself and figure out, ‘Okay, if we have 10,000 orcs, how much room are they going to take up?’ ”
1. What is the landscape that people are fighting on?
2. How does the landscape affect combat?
Jackson has learned that epic warfare can be surprisingly boring, especially if you’re not watching people you care about. “We have a rule that we’re not allowed to go more than two or three shots of anonymous people fighting without cutting back to our principal characters,” he says. “Otherwise the audience just ends up with battle fatigue.”
1. Never spend too much time away from showing your audience your principle characters. Remember that people care about your characters and what happens to them.
Overall these are great tips that writers can use to help make their epic battles more impactful for your readers!