Revolving Around a Tournament: Combat and Characters

Yu Yu Hakusho

Quest of the Brokenhearted has two sides to its story.  One is the character development of Kira Grasdon from the gutter to either the grave or a position where she is happy.  The other is the central tournament that involves a series of challenging battles for a more physical development.  This is a tough setting and plot device to keep going because it’s very dependent on action.  Yet, I did find a few ways to make this work or at least stay interesting.

  1. The tournament involves more than just Kira and the monsters, which helped to increase the scale.  Other competitors turning up allows for team-ups and outside encounters since everyone wants to reach the end.  You get to see how others handle the stress and idea that death is inevitable.  This brings a contrast with Kira’s borderline suicidal tendencies because many of them want to live without question.  I also get to use these characters as fodder to demonstrate the deadliness of the situation, which helps to create a sense of weight to events.
  2. One problem I tended to have with tournament stories is that you always have some match-ups that never happen.  A character who is gone in the first round won’t get to do anything else and that means sacrifices need to be made.  I bypassed this by never showing a division of rounds.  It’s a rather loose tournament with the Shadow Earl choosing who he wants to fight at his leisure.  Other times, he lets the champions decide the who, where, when, and target of their fights.  This is decided off-screen because a lot of this is about catching Kira and the other competitors by surprise.  Since the action follows Kira, the readers know she will always be involved to some extent, so I wanted her opponents to be a mystery until they debut.  Hopefully, this creates suspense.
  3. Due to the tournament being the central event, I felt that I needed to add at least one battle into each chapter.  This way there isn’t much of a lull between the action that is going to move the main plot.  The fights also wear on Kira and force her to consider her emotional state, which is why they are more intricate than my previous action scenes.  I wanted to make sure they stood out, so every champion has a trick and each battlefield is different.  There’s a lot of back-and-forth in these fights and none of them were designed to be easy.  ‘Design’ is the best word too since I had to sit down and work out the abilities, landscapes, and obstacles before every chapter.  I couldn’t always fly by the seat of my pants because I needed the fights to flow to avoid repetition and staleness.
  4. In anime, characters have a habit of getting a reward either intentionally or by accident in a tournament.  This can be learning a new move in the heat of the moment or earning an opponent’s weapon.  I tried to do the same thing with Kira to help her evolve and be able to handle stronger monsters.  It’s very much a video game tactic as well, but it means her strategy changes with every battle.  This is another method of keeping things fresh and exciting.  It also allowed me to create a fun supporting character for the non-combat scenes.

Action scenes have been a strength of mine since I started writing.  They’re some of my favorite scenes to write, so Quest of the Brokenhearted predominantly plays to this side of my style.  Hopefully, it works as a fun summer read with just enough weight to give Kira’s story some closure.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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16 Responses to Revolving Around a Tournament: Combat and Characters

  1. You have always written the greatest action scenes. The planning you do has to be at the core of the excellent results.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    I really like John’s comment. I agree with him.

    I can’t help thinking about the Pokemon tournament episodes. Viewers have complained about filler episodes in the middle of the tournament arcs which derailed any tension. So I appreciate your careful attention to character and pacing.

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    • It’s hard to go straight battles, especially in a book. So there has to be something else. Guess some may call that filler, but I’m sure people would get tired of the nonstop fights after a while too. Reminds me of how DBZ gets mocked for the ridiculously stretched fights.

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  3. You do have great talent at writing action scenes, which is something I envy. It makes sense to have so many action scenes in such a story, I’m impressed that you could vary them so much.
    It looks like WordPress is only allowing me to like blogs on the weekends, odd.

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  4. My current project has a lot of action. I’m forcing myself to include the lulls between the action too. It makes more sense from a ship on the ocean perspective. These are good times to build character and even the environment.

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  5. Some people have compared this with Pokemon. I also think of Yu-Gi-Oh, where some massive tournament is always going on. However, with a half-hour series, that allows natural breaks between bouts and time for the reader to go off and mull the show while doing real-life things. Yu-Gi-Oh also had a group of 2 or 3 characters who were in the tourney at the same time, so bouts would switch between them.

    Of course, with Kira being the single POV, you have to work harder…

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