1. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    Fight Scenes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lord Malum, May 3, 2011.

    Many of my stories have fight scenes in them somewhere. One book is even centered on fighting. I've done loads and loads of them. Even so, I want to get some tips and tricks to improve them.

    How should the scene be structured? What kinds of words should I use? Things like that.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your biggest problem will be pace. Some battles are prolonged and practically majestic, like mutual shelling between large battleships. This pace can be conveyed with longer sentences with vivid description. The parallel smoke trails arching over the water, the detonation that echoes over the water seconds after the muzzle flash, the smell of cordite and diesel fumes, the slow change in heading as your ship turns toward the enemy to present a smaller target. You have time to hear orders called out, and to watch gunnery officers reloading the deck guns.

    Other battles are characterized by a blur of rapid activity. No one observing will be able to take in all the details, so keep the description lean and terse. Short, staccato sentences rule here, and stick to the details that the observer MUST notice. If the observer is one of the combatants, it will be where the knife is, or the hand trreying to land the punch, etc. He won't be stopping to examine the sweat on his opponent's brow, or the gleam of the setting sun making the blade's edge glow redly. It will be the low stab, the feint, the knife suddenly appearing in the opposite hand, the lateral slash.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lord Malum,

    There's no short answer. POV, the scope of the battle, they type of weapons or fighing involved, makes it even more complicated to attempt to answer except in the most general way.

    I think the best way is to find some published novels that include fight scenes similar to what you're hoping to write/include in your works.

    Read and reread, paying attention to how the authors accomplished it successfully. Note wording, pace, description, sentence and paragraph length, etc.

    Then apply what you learned/what works to your own writing.

    Good luck moving forward.
     
  4. Bran
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    Bran Senior Member

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    i agree with everything Cogito says. he is quite a genius

    and example: "Eno charged the brute with his short sword poised to kill. His opponent met him head on with his katana. Their encounter lasted only a few brief seconds, the blades clashing together so fast it took time for Valen’s eyes to catch up to the result: Eno laying in a pool of his own blood."
     
  5. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    FIGHT SCENES?! I love fight scenes! To quote a fairly infamous 'Warrior': "I only live to breathe the air that smells of combat!"

    Like Cogito has said, there are several different ways to structure your fights. My advice would be to put more time and devotion into the fights that have a significant impact on the story over the ones that establish simple points. That doesn't mean one has to be more descriptive over another. I believe I spent the better part of 1 week writing out this complex fight structure in my novel that only spanned 1,000 words or so and blew through minor confrontations.

    It's all about the presentation. If you want your readers to feel the pain of your characters, throw in some gut-wrenching details. Talk about the sound made when bone slams against flesh. Try and think about how you felt after being punched/attack and through those details in there. Someone who gets punched near or on the eye will most likely see a flash of red and become immediately disoriented.

    Detailing certain aspects of your fight will entice and intrigue your readers. Most of us have seen a fight in one form in another. But when you're writing one you want to let them know how the combatants truly feel. There's a lot of messages that slip between the cracks of battle.

    If you're looking for some more specific words, just grab a trusted thesaurus or even check out a few books with some intense fights in it to gain some inspiration.
     
  6. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    I'll give you some advice, but I'm not expert in this and this advice won't necessarily work in all cases.

    Something I read that has helped me write fight scenes a whole lot is the idea of having a ticking time bomb. Basically, something that will happen if something isn't finished in a certain period of time. Like, say, the person fighting just ingested poison and if they don't finish the fight quickly they can't get an antidote and they'll die. Just basically a time frame within which the fight has to finish.

    Also, upping the ante over the course of the scene can help, too. For instance, let's say your character is fighting a blob and that character has tried all kinds of things to kill it and its not working and your character eventually tries some dynamite and that dynamite explodes and at first the blob seems dead and then suddenly the pieces come back together and there's two blobs now because it split. Twice the threat from the beginning. I'm sorry if that's a bad example, but I was trying to think of something that had already been done.
     
  7. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    This is actually an area I think I need a lot of help in, but I do have something interesting to add. I remember reading in a writing guide recently, a horror writing guide that is quite good, that to to enhance the flow of battles or sometimes just flat out running scenes, tricks like all caps at certain moments can help a lot. Other tips included starting at a slow pace, and then building up over time.
     
  8. Velox
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    Velox Senior Member

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    This is definitely one of, if not the, hardest things for me to write. You want to describe it just how you see it in your head, just like it would be in a movie, but at the same time, you can't do that because you don't want a thousand and one descriptions slowing down the action which is supposed to surround the fight.

    Something that helps me is to outline the scene, revise the outline, write the scene, and then keep revising the scene until it sounds good; quick, but descriptive at the same time, keeping a nice balance between description and action.

    But yeah, this topic will definitely help me, too, and I'll be checking back here often.
     
  9. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    Ooooh!!!! I love fight scenes too! :D I've been told quite a few times that I'm very good with them, but I have to admit that the kind of scenes I usually write tend to be focused on actual characters fighting, not like... Epic ships or tanks or anything (I'd probably find that difficult).

    What the others have said is good advice. I'd say it's good to focus on the personality of the character intrinsic in the battle, like how they react to things individually will be different.

    For example: 'He threw himself to the left, so hard he heard the faint crack of his rib breaking underneath him- but the pain was pushed to the side as he rolled to avoid the volley of bullets. The horizon swung overhead, John's finger snatched at the trigger, slick due to his own panic' etc.

    Compared with: 'Lillian's stance remained steady as she emptied her cartrige in the direction of her enemy, her cruel smile mocking as he floundered in the dust to avoid the screaming hail of bullets. His arm jerked and she barely had enough time to register her surprise before she was knocked back, crimson blooming on her chest' etc.

    The language and pacing will be different depending on the character, as well as what they notice and what they don't- where their concentration is etc. Personally, I enjoy writing fight scenes where more than one Main Chara is fighting as it's delectible to switch between them to build up the suspense... :D
     
  10. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    With me, it is a white flash.
    ---
    I landed the scoring punch, but a split second later, he landed the knock out punch, a bright white flash in my eyes as I was hit, I hung there, time almost stopped, I see a mouth piece rolling around on the ground near by, then my eyes blur with water, my hands covering my face, before I realize it I am on the ground, people trying to pry my hands away.
    ---
    They told me I went down quick, but it seemed to take forever. He had knocked the mouth piece from my mouth.
    It was as close to a knock out punch as I want to get.
     
  11. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    All caps? I've heard that that is an amateur move like "!!!" or "!?!?!?!?". I would never submit something that had an all caps exclamation in it. Just doesn't seem professional to me. But your last tip was solid.

    My fight scenes are rarely ship to ship or involving weaponry, especially guns. Mostly it's one on one or a group against overwhelming odds in hand to hand combat. Having a military background certainly helps, but I don't know enough about other fighting styles and that's where I feel the lacking.
     

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