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The following is my 'Fight Guide' which I feel may be of some interest at this point <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


The Good Fight Guide

If there is one type of scene that a lot of writers have trouble with, it is the fight scene. Neither good descriptive powers nor great dialogue skills nor the most intimate knowledge of your character imaginable are useful when writing these, making them arguably the hardest types of scene to write.

These are the rules I use.

1) A fight scene is also a character scene.

Every character has their own approach to fighting which will inform everything they do in the scene. Some will fight reluctantly, or only at need, some will glory in battle and enjoy every moment. Some throw quips, others fight in silence. Whatever else, your character is still acting as his or her personality dictates.

This is the first rule because it is also the most important.

2) Establish the scene first.

Before you start the fight, make sure you establish the scene well. You won't have time for a lot of description once the fighting actually starts, so make sure your antagonist(s) are well described so that the reader has a good visual picture to carry into the action. Keep any back history brief, as too much will detract from the scene as a whole. A fight scene is primarily about action in the here and now.

3) Fighting is fast.

When your character is fighting for their life, s/he has no real time for reflection or a lot of dialogue. Keeping insults short (Or split up, as shown below) - and preferably in lulls in the fighting - works best without affecting the pace of the action, which is hard enough to convey in a non-visual format anyway. Huge descriptive pieces should be avoided at all costs once the action starts.

Most of all, you are trying to convey a sense of speed, that your character is under pressure and in a real battle. That all they have time and attention for is staying alive. If you do it well, your readers will be trying to read it fast too, to follow the action at a breakneck pace - so don't use very long words either.

4) Adding the speed to the action

Short sentences. Single words. Lots of commas. All useful.

Example 1: I dive, roll, leap to my feet, dodge a flailing tentacle, dive flat again as an energy beam sears overhead, singeing the ends of my hair. I roll fast, keep rolling, the smell of burnt hair in my nostrils. I'm up. Dodge. Parry. Kick him where it hurts! One down in agony - but how many more to go?

Note that the description is kept to a bare minimum - it's as all action as possible. Action, reaction, and consequence. That is the heart of a fight scene. Note also the use of words that imply speed - 'dive', 'leap', 'fast' - all give a sense of pace. This character is fighting hard for his/her life.

Example 2: I go flat, then roll in case they decide to shoot at me. I clamber to my feet, dodge a green and hideously warted tentacle that looks like it belongs to a squid that died of the pox, then go flat again as a bright red energy beam goes over my head. I only just get out of the way in time, and the end of my hair is singed. I roll in case anyone is shooting, then roll again. It never hurts to play safe, after all. I wrinkle my nose in disgust at the smell of burnt hair in my nostrils. I get to my feet again, dodge out of the way of an incoming fist, inexpertly swung by a small man in a brown outfit, then parry a knife he tries to stab me with that he is holding in his other hand. I kick him in the groin, and he collapses with a groan of pain, hands clutched around the source of his agony. One down - but how many more to go?

See how that reads? How great a sense of danger or peril do you get from it? This character has time to smell the daisies! Any reader might like the description (or not) but they won't feel thrilled by the pacing. It doesn't read like there is any speed in what the character is doing, as he 'clambers' and 'goes' and even has time to critique the fighting skills of his opponent in internal monologue.

Even if you have the world's greatest descriptive skills, this approach will never read like a fight.

5) The art of the combat quip.

Example: "You suck," I cry, punching him heavily on the nose. He grunts, shakes his head in anger, and his fist whistles forward like a piston. I dodge desperately, This guy is unstoppable! "You suck so bad," I continue, seizing his arm, using the momentum of his blow to hurl him into a wall, "That the university of suck..." He's up again? Oh great! A shower of bricks collapse around him, but he grabs one, hurls it, and I dive full length to avoid, flip to my feet on the instant. "Thinks you suck!" I finish, dodging another brick.

If you have a long insult you want to use in the middle of a fight, split it up. Intersperse it with the action. Otherwise you lose the flow. Do not forget that speaking words takes time.

6) The art of the close shave

Even if you intend your character to emerge unscathed, a few near misses never hurt. Bullets whistle past, swords slice open jackets, or debris from a nearby explosion rains over them. Anything like this adds to the sense of peril and the thought you want in your readers' minds - that the character could well get injured or even killed here! A safe fight is a boring fight.


That's it, really. That's fight scenes in a nut shell. They aren't amazingly hard - just different!

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