Tag Archive: b

B – Battles

BA high level of nostalgia means that this year my chosen theme for the 2016 A to Z challenge is Pokemon. Whether you yourself have a similar level of sentimentality or you’ve never really gotten into it, I hope that you enjoy this month of posts as I indulge my nostalgia.

Today for the letter B we will be talking about battles. For anyone who has ever played the game, you will know that battling Pokemon is rather key to the whole concept of the game.

You have a Pokemon, your opponent has a Pokemon (in the case of wild Pokemon the opponent is the Pokemon) and the two of you use the moves your Pokemon knows to fight each other, with the aim of knocking the other Pokemon out, or fainting as it is called in game.

Pokemon fights are important because they are the primary way in which Pokemon gain experience (more on XP later this month) and thus level up, becoming stronger. They are also important, as your Pokemon Multi Trainer Battlewill battle your rival and gym leaders, and if you can beat them, you get rewards such as money (PokeDollars), badges (from the gym members) and items.

Normally battles are one on one, but as the generations went on, more different variations appeared. Now you can encounter double battles (two v two), triple battles (three v three), full battle (six v six), multi-battle (multiple trainers), rotation battle (usually three Pokemon, but only one can attack at once), horde encounters (five wild Pokemon attack you at once) or sky battles (flying Pokemon only). These can be interesting, and add variety to the game rather than it just being one v one all the time, and I have to admit, I kind of liked the sky and horde battles when they were introduced.

Pokémon_FireRed_first_battleIn the battle itself you have a number of options, such a Fight (use a move to inflict damage or status effect on the other Pokemon), Bag (go fetch an item such as a potion for healing or a PokeBall to catch a wild Pokemon), Pokemon (access the rest of your team to potentially swap out), or Run (not allowed in Trainer battles).

Everything is animated, so each fight move has it’s own graphics, and the Pokemon makes noises when they are summoned. And of course, as the games have progressed, the animations get a little more spectuacular as graphics improve. These days it’s pretty impressive.

Oh, and if your opponent manages to cause all of your Pokemon to faint, that’s bad. You ‘White Out’ and wake up at the last Pokemon Centre you visited, minus a whole bunch of cash and items. Saving before important battles and then switching off if they go horribly wrong is totally fair.


BlastoisePokemon of the Day

B is for Blastoise.

The final evolution of the starter Squirtle, this Pokemon evolves from Wartortle as like it’s predecessors is a bi-pedal tortoise-like Pokemon. It stands at 5 feet tall, but is quite weighty, to better brace itself when it fires it’s water cannons.

As I mentioned in a recent comic, growing up with Pokemon means that I am fairly attached to the original generation, all 151 of them, as those were the first, and the ones I grew up with. As such, a majority of my favourite Pokemon come from that first generation. And it includes that starters.

That, and I also like turtles/tortoises, and it has water cannons. Literally, it has cannons that can come out of it’s shell and blast you away. How cool is that?

I also have a tendency to go for the Water type starter. I think there were maybe two generations I didn’t? Although replaying Pokemon Red recently, I did choose Charmander, mostly for a bit of variety, and because all three of the original starter Pokemon are pretty cool.

starters and evolutions

B – Beats

Toothless Letter B

Beats. The term is used around the writing industry a fair bit, but what actually are they? For instance, I went through nine books that I own on writing craft last night, and although all of them mention beats at one point or another, only one of them actually has a chapter explaining what they are.

For those of you who are interested the book is Self Editing for Fiction Writers, and it’s a pretty darn good book regarding editing and how to approach it.

So what are beats? Beats are the bit of action interspersed throughout a scene. A moment of action, reaction or inaction. For instance, a character walks to a door, rubs their hands, lights a cigarette, dives behind cover, freezes in the headlights, things like that. If you think of a play, that has stage directions telling the actors what to do physically, and beats of the literary equivalent of this. Most of the time these will be physical actions, but you can also have internal beats, very short internal thoughts the character has. Or they can be internal actions or emotions, such as a character’s stomach flipping, getting butterflies, or limbs going faint, which isn’t obvious to other characters, but draws the reader into the situation.

What are beats use for? Variation in dialogue mostly. Look at a passage in a book, or something you have written. Take out all actions, descriptions, beats and otherwise, just leaving the dialogue in there. It can go on, and on, and on, and on, and get really boring and confusing for the reader, so you add in beats, little bits of action, to break up dialogue. It also helps the reader picture the scene in their head. Say you’ve got two people talking in the kitchen, add in beats such as “The foam sloshed over her arms as she wiped the plate.” and you can tell one of them is doing the washing up. “He reached the table and turned round until he had walked to the wall again.” – the other person is pacing. It gives the reader those little hints they can use to build up and picture the scene in their head as they read.

Show versus TellHowever, beats can be overused. If you provide every single little detail, then you leave nothing for the reader to fill in: “She sponged off a plate, then set it on the draining board. Then she scooped up some cutlery, dipped them in and out of the water a few times. ‘I don’t see why you have to do what John tells you to.’ She said, letting the cutlery fall to the draining board with a clatter, as she picked up the next plate.” Isn’t that boring? Overuse of beats slows everything down, they interrupt the flow of what could be some snappy dialogue, and it’s not fun for the reader. One of the hints that I have picked up in my short writing career is that secretly the reader wants to work. They might not realise it, but they want to do the work in imagining the scene, figuring out what is happening in the physical world of the book, guided by beats that highlight the important bits to them. giving them too much information limits their imagination and involvement. And besides, if it’s something routine like washing up, then most people can picture what happens pretty easily.

Something else beats can do is show character. Body language is a powerful way of conveyed a character. A shy person is more likely to have folded arms, be standing in a corner, whereas your tough biker will probably swagger into the room. So they have a nervous habit of bouncing their leg? Do they smoke? Play with their hair when they talk to people? Adding in beats here and there throughout the story with character traits can be an excellent way of showing character.

So what’s the balance that you are looking for? There isn’t a hard and fast rule, you’ve just got to look at what is written on the page and think about the impact it has on the reader. Your aiming for enough to keep dialogue lively, to give the reader enough hints to build the scene in their head, but not so much that you drag and slow the story. And whatever you do, avoid cliches. Does your reader really want to read how ‘They gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes.’ every time your two loves interests meet each other? No, they don’t. And watch out for repetition as well, don’t overuse beats. Sighing or eye rolling are two that I tend to fall into overuse with and have to cut rigourously when it comes to editing time.

bigpicture3The best way to fine tune them? Read them out loud. Yes, really, take your story, open it up, and start reading it out loud. Can be to a partner or friend, can be just to yourself, but reading it aloud gets you to hear the rhythm of the words you have written, and really is an invaluable tool when trying to get the right balance between beats and dialogue.

After reading this, you can probably see that you are already using beats in your work. Most people, myself included, were using beats far before they know the technical term for what they are actually writing. (Actually, this applies to quite a lot of what I do. I can write things perfectly well, but ask me to explain what I’m doing and you get a long line of ‘ums’ thrown your way. Kind of a reason I choose this theme, it’s helping me as much as it is helping you!) But, if you need some inspiration, pick up a favourite book, find a bit of dialogue and see what beats are used in there. Take out highlighters and use them on your own work to pick up where you have been using beats, and where you might need to cut or add some in. And really do read it out loud.

So those are beats. Tiny little portions of action, emotions or thoughts that add to (mostly) dialogue to help set a scene or character. Hope the B post was informative 🙂


Whilst there are going to be a fair few book reviews, it’s not the only thing that I am going to post about this month (although I do love that I might have persuaded some people to go and give the Pern series a read, it’s really good and you totally should and thanks to those people who have visited me/commented it’s making me really happy! *breathes again*).

Today I am going to list some of the common breeds of dragon, along with a bit of information about them.

Breeds - European DragonEuropean/Western Dragon: This is probably the image that comes to mind when we think of a dragon, a long scaly body, four legs, two bat like wing, and a wedge shaped head at the end of a long neck. Unless you live in Asia, this is the most common form of dragon that we see. These dragons were usually portrayed as evil in ancient tails, like in George and the Dragon, but in more modern times they have been seen as clever and patient, although they still have enough violent capability to eat you, your sheep, your town, and then set you on fire for good measure (see Smaug for a great example of this). The main variation in these dragons is colour, which can be any shades of the rainbow, although it will often be appropriate to the environment they live in – a mountain dragon with be a brown/grey of the rocks, whereas an ice dragon will likely be white or pale blue.



Breeds - Eastern Dragon Chinese/Eastern Dragon: The dragon which is most common in Asia, these dragons have similar reptilian features of a long serpentine body with scales, with four little legs and claws, but they have no wings. Despite this, they have an ability to fly. The main variations in Eastern dragons are the number of toes the dragon possesses, which can be 3, 4 or 5, which differs depending on region. 3 toe dragon are from Japan, 4 from Indonesia or Korea, and 5 from China. The Chinese call dragons Lung, and then split them up based on the jobs that each dragon does, protecting the heavens, the earth, the waters and rivers, of the precious metals and gem of the underworld. Eastern dragons are shown as being kind, wise and intelligent, and are considered a symbol of power. So much so that only the Emperor made it law that only he could wear the symbol of the five-toed dragon on his clothes.


Drake: Drake is a common term when talking about dragons, but what is actually refers to changes from source to source. What I have come to term drake is a smaller cousin to the dragon, with a generally European like draconic appearance, but not all of the abilities of their large counterparts, and they also tend to be noticeably smaller. Sometimes they have wings and can fly, but most of the time they may not have wings. Breathing fire is also thought to be a rarer ability among them than their dragon cousins, who all display that ability. Sometimes Drake can refer to a dragon that has not yet grown up, but for the most part they are their own, slightly different, creatures.


Breeds - WyrmWyrm: Often refereed to as the primordial dragon, or the dragon ancestor, this is a snake like lizard who has neither wings nor claws. When looking at them they do have the appearance of a snake, but the act far more like a dragon, hence why they are thought to be an ancestor of dragons. Said to prefer water, they tend to live in wells or other dark and slightly damp places, and are very good at burrowing and can move as fast as a snake can. The next step up from a Wyrm is called a Lindworm, which has the addition of two short legs and claws, which is said to be even faster than the Wyrm.


Breeds - AmphiptereAmphiptere: A dragon that has wings, but no claws or legs. Often they have feathered crests and may even have feathered wings instead of the usual bat-like appendages. The most famous Amphiptere is Quetzalcoatl, the feathered deity of Mexico, who was part of their mythology and deeply ingrained into their religion. Statues of feathered serpents heads can still be seen in Mexico today. Amphiptere’s in general are from tropical regions and thus have brightly coloured scales and feathers, like those of modern tropical birds such as parrots.


Wyvern: Seem to be related to European dragons, or at least that is where they are most widely seen. The only real difference between a European dragon and a Wyvern is the number of legs: Wyvern’s only have two back legs, and no front legs. Wyverns have been depicted in the heraldry and banners of European knight for hundreds of years, and it appears to have been a sign of strength of those who choose to add it to their banner. One other difference is that their tail is always barbed, which has given rise to the suspicion that maybe these dragons were venomous, like a scorpion.


And there you go, some bits of information about the most common dragon types as I see them. Of course the problem with types of dragon is that it tends to change from setting to setting, since nothing (apart from the first two classic pictures of dragons, east v west) is set in tone and authors will write them to fit their own setting, which is fine and makes for a lot of interesting reading if you are interested in the subject.

Hope everyone else is having as much fun with the A to Z challenge as I am!

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I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.