Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writing 101: Fight Scenes

Today's post is a shorty but I hope someone finds it useful! At some point in your writing career, it's not unlikely you will be faced with the task of writing a fight scene. It might be a fist fight, a spar, or even a battle scene (especially if you're writing fantasy). Here are three things to keep in mind when you write:

1. Keep it short. I mean this both in the sense of how much page space it takes in your book, as well as how long it's lasting in the "real world." All too often I see sword fights and battle scenes that drag on and on and on... but in reality, most fights are short. I suspect this misconception comes from TV and movies, since in those cases they have to be long enough for the audience to absorb. But people obviously don't fight for fun (except in sports!) or to be flashy. They're fighting either to hurt/kill someone or to defend themselves, so they're going to be efficient.

2. Keep the plot going throughout. Oh, fantasy novels, how bad you are at following this rule! While keeping in mind that someone in a fight doesn't have a lot of time for introspection (see previous point), you do want it to be clear to the reader that the existing conflicts are still at play. You know the old adage that every word in your book should move the story forward? It's just as true for fight scenes.

3. Do some research. Probably not getting in a fight of your own, though I suppose it depends on how dedicated you are to the craft... anyway. Read first-hand accounts of the type of fight you're writing about. If you're aiming for a particular style, such as a martial art, watch videos on YouTube. You'll want to learn the facts, since unless you have personal experience, your imagination will probably mislead you. The one that always bugs me is writers describing swords as being really heavy. Swords are not that heavy! Don't alienate us pedants with those kinds of details. ;)

And that's it for now. You know, in my everyday life I'm a pacifist, but good fiction turns me downright bloodthirsty. Bring on the violence!


Holly Dodson said...

Now I feel the need to find a sword to see just how heavy it really is. :P Not that any of my own novels have sword fights, but still. I'm intrigued.

Great post, Lauren!

Marquita Hockaday said...

Nice info, here. I definitely could have used this when writing my first NaNo novel last year. I had a very difficult fight scene. Maybe if I decide to re-visit said novel, I can use these pointers to clean it up. Thanks for this!

Komal said...

Thanks for the great post! The novel I'm working on has a lot of fight scenes that I haven't been writing with too much detail. I should definitely watch some YouTube videos.

asim jofa said...
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