Trope of the Week: Mid-Battle Conversation

Trope of the Week time! As an action writer, this is always one I have to pay attention to.

break the system

Around your characters are millions of people, all of them battling with pikes and swords, maybe even laser-guns, and covered in armor to delay their deaths. The din of war swallows the battlefield, filled with shrieks of rage and cries of death. In a small pocket, somehow protected from all of this, your characters have the chance to take a breather, stand, and survey the madness around them. They share a talk that lasts one minute, two, five — and then they dive back into battle, having never been in any real danger while they stood talking.

Why this can be bad: While discussing a whole host of cliched moments in the final Hobbit movie, Screen Junkies brought up this one, which really stood out to me. It’s something I’ve always vaguely noticed, but it took that video for me to realize that, yes, this is a crappy trope. Characters…

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  1. This is kind of like breaching the fourth wall: the writer wants to do some sort of data-dump, and doesn’t want to draw attention to it, but trying to hide it in a battle just makes it more obvious.

    The way to use stressful-scene chit-chat is illustrated in these clips:

    Earlier scenes in the cross-country flight sequence have golden moments, too, and the final scene of the movie is the best example of battle-chat I can think of.

  2. Youtube examples. Great idea! The one that really sticks in my head for this is the fight between Sherlock and Moriarty at the end of ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.’ Not only because it’s the film’s sole redeeming feature, but it features a very unique conversation which is the fight itself.

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