When writing a fight scene the most important thing to bear in mind is what’s at stake. You might have a really action packed adventure but if there’s no stakes, no risk or possibility of failure then it’s boring. You know the protagonist will win so there’s no need to worry. You might want to trick the reader into believing your protag might lose.
A few tips when writing fight scenes;
1) Make sure the reader knows what’s at stake or what is to gain. Whether he’s avoiding or starting the conflict, what is the goal or desired outcome for your character in the scene?
2) Put the action first then the reaction. “He launched a powerful fist. She staggered back.”
3) Short sentences give a sense of urgency. One of my favourite writers sometimes has one word in a sentence. This. Adds. Emphasis. But make sure to always vary the sentence length.
4) Here is a good tip I found from writing.com
“Use variation. Lots of punches will look the same after a while. Vary hand blows with kicks. However, make sure each movement will naturally follow the previous one in terms of momentum and body balance. If she steps into a right handed punch, it will be difficult for her to follow with a right front kick because her weight will be on that foot, but a left front kick would follow easily.“
5) Every action scene should have a purpose which impacts the plot whether it’s the character’s emotional arc or plot development. Make it significant.
6) Here is a good tip I found from Attacking the Page
“You don’t need to choreograph every movement. But the action should;
Use visceral detail: pounding hearts and sweaty palms. Sensory description can add to the immediacy of the action, but focus on how each touch, each scent, each sensory trigger makes your characters feel. Dialogue can increase the conflict, but it should be brief and to the point.“
7) What are the consequences to the fight? How are things better or worse as a result?
8) Throughout your book the fight scenes should intensify and climax. Higher stakes, tougher bad guys, more tension and emotion.
9) Use your environment. A fight would be made more dangerous in a constricting, or dangerous space: a burning building, a stair case, a rope bridge etc. The fight scenes in Indiana Jones films come to mind here.
Can anything in the environment be used in the fight? I love the fight scenes in Jackie Chan films because of his innovative use of obscure items as weapons. An interesting environment will make a more interesting fight scene.
If you have any tips to share for writing fight scenes I’d love to hear them.
Here’s a fight short scene from my WIP Godslayer (working title.) I hope you find it entertaining.
The hero cried as he swung his blade at me. ‘You will never defeat me!’
The clanging of swords echoed in the evening sky, cutting through our shouts and grunts.
‘We’ll see about that,’ I blocked, feeling the strike reverberate up my arm. Countering with a ferocious bite, I jumped over a clump of heather, driving him backwards. Sweat slicked my pale skin and my blade felt heavier with every strike.
Survival and victory pushed me on.
The hero’s breath was sharp as he struggled to defend against my onslaught; attacking with mad and careless strikes. He’d lost his precision and grace, relying on his anger to power through. It didn’t work. His shrill scream threw spittle at me. He was desperate. He was spent. This was my chance.
Using all the power I had in my arm I struck with a back slash so close to the cross guard I nearly caught his fingers. His sword sailed, spinning through the air and bounced into the heather with just a faint rustle.
Zeig fell to the ground. I thrust my blade into his face.
‘Now, pray to the Gods that I might spare you.’
His face scrunched and shone like a pink lantern. His bottom lip quivered.
‘It’s not fair! I’m supposed to win – I’m the hero! I’m going to tell Mamma.’
Thanks for reading!