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I am a young author writing a fantasy series and I am at the halfway point in my first book. I am so excited and absolutely terrified to write at the same time. Is that a regular thing?

The scene I am about to write is literally the turning point for the rest of the series, where my characters go from not knowing what the heck they’re doing to having a clear goal instead of just running for their lives.

In this scene, thousands of innocent people die, and the only safe place for humans in my world is completely destroyed, making my MC say, “enough of this crap. I’m gonna die anyway, might as well go down fighting.” And her goal for the rest of the book is to take down the antagonist who caused the mayhem until she realizes, “wait. That wasn’t even the real antagonist.”

So it’s a pretty big event in my story, an whenever I think about writing it I get completely freaked out. Is this normal?

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    Are you asking about your character (real battle), or yourself (writing)? – Alexander Oct 28 at 16:41
  • I’m asking about myself – The-Huntress Oct 28 at 16:42
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    I'm not a writer, I won't formally answer, but I suggest until it is published no one will know? Just write it. Then you can review and critic it and if it needs improvement do it. Or ask other trusted people to review. No need to freak out. If it turns out wrong you can just change it. You are in control. And from my unrelated work area, I suggest sometimes you can only do something and see if it turns out wrong and improve it, trying to get it right first time isn't always possible (and writing, unlike e.g. mission to orbit, you can have another free try at getting it right...) – lessthanideal Oct 29 at 11:39
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    Not to downplay your question, since it is normal to wonder about this sort of thing, but I get anxiety trying to decide what to have for dinner each night. So yes, it is completely normal to get anxiety over something that is that much more important to a very personal and important project. – Zibbobz Oct 30 at 14:05
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Yes this is completely normal. You're making a pretty big decision for the rest of your story, and you're probably just second guessing yourself, trying to figure out how to spin it after the big fight scene. Most of the time, the fight scene itself isn't actually all that important, but after all the I-shoot-you-and-you-shoot-me-and-I-shoot-you-back-etc-etc-etc is where most of the important stuff comes in. Did you capture someone who has information you can use? Did somebody important die? How does the MC killing other people change her morals/impact her conscience? All these decisions now can shape the story farther on, so you need to choose wisely.

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My thought is to examine and write down your feelings and transfer them to the character. If you feel jittery before the battle, then she feels jittery before the battle, etc. You are in a perfect place to imagine her feelings.

Also you can have the same attitude as your MC, "“Enough of this crap. I’m gonna write this thing anyway, might as well just get on with it.”

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I have read french letters to their family from the trenches of the first world war. I have read accounts of the sailors that were part of the sailor uprising in Kiel in 1918. I have read the accounts of german soldiers of both Wehrmacht and Volkssturm from the second World War, the former from early in the war as well as from Stalingrad, the latter from the end of the war. I have listened to the translation of some accounts of the Himeyuri during and after a war.

Let me tell you one thing: It is not only perfectly normal for anxiety of the telling person to end in their written text and tales, it seems to be pretty much impossible not to be anxious about the coming battle if it is clear on the horizon. Some soldiers or kids doing duty for the military might be bored out in a fashion that they coldly look into the future, but most will fear for their life in some way or another. Let me toss together a pair of examples of some soldiers' behaviors based on one french letter from WW1.

A young soldier hung his bread bag to the boot of a Boche1 soldier that died next to the trench, the stiff limb sticking into the muddy bulwark. "Hey Corporal Francois, the Alboche1 is serving us tonight!" Felix yelled over to his commander, a grin on his face. Quite some of his comrades joined laughing, throwing a few insults towards the german trenches so close through the no-mans-land.

With a sigh, the Corporal eyed up at the sudden interruption to his letter, giving the young Soldat deuxieme and his fellows a glare. How could he laugh about the misery of the dead one? Just a mile back, the land where once cabbage and leek had been planted had been turned into a field that only grew bottles turned upside down, the papers of each fallen comrade in them. Were they just trying to mask their own anxiety about the upcoming engagement he had just tomorrow he had just gotten orders for or had the months in the trenches turned their humor down this morbid way? Oh how he longed for the time they were promised to rest and recuperate their morale but which had been rescheduled again and again...

1 - Boche/Les Alboches is a typical french insult for Germans in WW1, stemming from allemand (French for German) and caboche (slang for head). It also meant pretty much barbarian

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    I think this was about the author, not the character... – Weckar E. Oct 30 at 18:01
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Yep, I'd say that's very normal. I even find myself sweating or getting jittery if I'm working on a nervewracking part. Recently I got anxious to write a scene that wasn't even a huge battle, it was just an argument - but it had a lot riding on it, as it fleshed out an important character's family history and give insight into why she views herself the way she does (that's what I was hoping it would do). Two things helped me out of it -

  • One, getting somewhat of a plan for a scene before diving in, so I didn't feel like I was throwing myself into a dark open space, if you know what I mean.
  • Two, just sitting down and starting. Remember that no one will see what you're writing until you decide to share it with them, and you can always go back and edit before that happens. Sometimes getting the words flowing helps you find a groove, and you can nail the scene. And if not, again, you can always edit (maybe ask for someone else's opinion if you're stuck on something).

Also, you can try to ride your anxiety. Like, if your characters are about to go into a battle, they're probably freaking out a little, so you can tap into your own emotions to write theirs.

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One thing you could to is to jump to the ending of your story, write the ending, and then work backwards from that. (I am told that this is how Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind.) (Also, this can help with plotting; instead of figuring out what will happen next, you instead figure out what had to happen in order for what follows to occur.)

When you write this way, the characters you kill off in your battles are dead when you start writing them and are back to life when you finish. You're not bugged about their dying because they've been dead all along.

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  • I did not know this. Very cool. I'm going to file this away into my bag of tricks... – Rrr Nov 3 at 15:45
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Oh it's normal alright. A lot of writers have the same issue. This battle is going to be a turning point for the entire rest of the series. If you mess it up, or it doesn't live up to everything you wanted it to be, it'll be disappointing. Right now I'm in the middle of a chapter that will change the course of my entire story, in fact, it's vital that this happens if I ever want to finish this novel the way I intend to. But it's hard to write something like that, especially when you're new at this like me (and probably you, judging by this question). My advice is to not worry about it. Just plan what you want to happen and make it happen. Don't think about it as anything other than another chapter.

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"Major anxiety" means an abnormal situation, one where a person would get checked in or check themselves in for a mandatory three day notice. If you use "major anxiety" to describe your emotions at the moment, you dilute the meaning of the phrase. Writers often feel nervous about their writing. Not an unusual thing.

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