1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fighting Writing!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GuardianWynn, Jun 11, 2015.

    Not sure which section this should be in. So I figure when someone moves it I will know :D.

    How do you write fight scenes? I mean sometimes I suppose it is easy if you have a very clear understanding of what is going on but what if you want a scene to drag for a few minutes like a cheesy kung fu movie does?

    How do you do that without being boring.

    Also how does that change when you the POV is different. I was writing a fight scene from the POV of a witness but I found myself unable to describe as much. I mean normally I would go inside the fighters head and explain decisions but the watcher wouldn't know this. Anyone else run into this problem?
     
  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Either of them. There's no kung fu in them, but he has a fighting scene nearly every other chapter, and he does them well.

    I don't write fighting scenes though so I can't help you with specifics.
     
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  3. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    From the perspective of a witness, a fight could be describable but there would still be a distance from the fight and the person.
    The person watching would then manipulate the reader's experience of the fight, which would only make it cool if the witness thinks it is cool.

    I only used fighting scenes in my stories to imply violence (because they were dramas).
    But if I were to write a fighting scene I would double the description of senses and feelings, focusing on whoever the POV is being used.
    Rick Riordan does that a lot in series like Percy Jackson, as mentioned by @Lea`Brooks
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    First, go over to the Search function and plug in the words "fight scene". Next, brace yourself for the flood of hits that come up. ;)
     
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  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Echoing a bit from what others have said:

    Read novels with fight scenes that is similar to what you're hoping to write, especially novels you've enjoyed. POV, weapon, etc. Study how those authors accomplished it...pacing, wording, description, dialogue, shifting POV/perspective. What was the focus and what wasn't, and why?

    Then apply what you learned to your writing project and writing style.

    If you'd like something more specific on the topic, I can recommend: Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter. He is a successful author (I've read and enjoyed some of his works--and they include fight scenes) and a martial arts instructor. You should be able to google/amazon search the title to learn more about it, and Alan Baxter.
     
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  6. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I opt more for the blow-by-blow tactic, which I know isn't necessarily the most popular of approaches.
    I do keep things very short and precise, though. If it's a fight to the death, one or all of the characters involved are going to be making sure it doesn't last any longer than it has to, and the only thing more important to them than getting their opponent dead is making sure that don't get dead.

    I also look up techniques in various martial arts for getting out of certain situations/holds etc. I like to think it makes things a little more authentic.
     
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  7. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I second what @Wreybies said: we already have tons of good topics like this, so search and read.

    The only other tip I'd give at this point is that if you aren't familiar with martial arts/fighting yourself, interview people who are/run your scenes by them. Picking and choosing techniques from books at random isn't the best approach because you might not understand the proper context for each technique.
    If realism or at least appearing like you know what you're doing matter to you, it's best to either acquire 1st hand experience or discuss the scenes with someone who knows the kind of stuff you want to write, i.e. it might not be your best option to interview some Krav Maga or MMA guy for flashy kung fu choreographies or vice versa.
     
  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you everyone.

    Also @Jack Asher Thank you. You kind of gave an answer to this question in another thread. :-D
     
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  9. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Having a background in martial arts helps a lot, hahah.

    I try to sort of plan out a fight scene. Are there props I need to work into it (ie they're fighting on a landing and I want to involve the stairs), is the point of the fight to get them to a certain location or inflict a certain injury, whatever. Plan from that. Consider what each person wants - I have these two characters who literally just fight TO FIGHT because they don't like each other, and they're just goin' balls out one trying to wreck the other and the other going between defending himself and losing his cool and properly fighting back. Consider if they're struggling for something, in which case think in terms of A keeps trying to snatch it away and B's focus is to shield it or keep it out of their reach. You have to think about body types, and how this influences fighting style. The two I mentioned before, one's a lot taller so she uses her better reach as much as possible, while the other one's built like a bull so trying to force his way closer, get under her center of gravity to destabilize/throw and pin her is a good move for him.

    I like to make it clear that everything's happening pretty fast. Most fights are like that unless it escalates to a big brawl with many people or whatever. A few blows, a struggle - it's not typically going to take too long once it actually starts. Who's starting it? What opening move makes sense for what they want / who they are? Is it a blindsiding move or is the other person ready with some kind of counter? Using really strong language, like avoiding just saying 'hit' or 'reached' but using 'slammed' or 'smacked' and 'strained' or 'struggled' makes it feel more dynamic. Emphasizing someone's being caught off-guard or furious is the best way to convey emotions during a fight because you don't usually want to pause a fight to talk about how your characters feel about the context of what's going on. There's time for that later.

    Trained or experienced fighters usually don't think so much about what they're doing as much as it's instinctual, so saying something like "he saw her fist flying towards his face and dodged accordingly" or whatever isn't great, something more like "he dodged her incoming fist and ..." is better most of the time. You're more aware of shifts in weight if you're touching your opponent already, and peripheral vision stuff (your periphery is more attuned to motion, though not detail) than what you really see. There can also be these moments of clarity and slowness in a fight where you ARE aware of everything that's going on for a second but rather than using something like this as an opportunity to wax poetic, I'd focus on how the character perceives the moment, how it's odd for them to notice this or that detail. But I tend towards more minimalistic descriptions anyway so that might not necessarily fit your style.

    As for describing watching fights, you could always watch some MMA or something yourself and work from there! Again these things will often seem to be over really fast from the outside as you're not as aware of all the little things the fighters themselves are when you're just watching it - though having a background in it yourself can totally help you spot things if applicable. If you DO want a long fight sequence, definitely go for props, chases, location changes, obstacles - say what you will about the Star Wars prequels but the Darth Maul fight having to just be put on hold for a couple minutes was very cool and effective (imo).

    Finally you might wanna peruse this blog: how to fight write. It's pretty cool.
     
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  10. animenagai
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    animenagai Member

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    As with most writing, there needs to be surprises and intrigue. I've tried writing "X struck, Y dodged" kind of fight scenes, and they got boring really quickly. There needs to be something fresh for the reader, like a fighting style they don't know about, or a huge gamble that the main character takes, or new fantasy elements that pique the reader's interest. So my personal suggestion is to plan out your surprises.

    Warning: Spoilers ahead.

    In Stephen King's 11/22/63, the MC travels back in time and wants to stop a drunken father from committing a family slaughter. He knows that the culprit will come in with a hammer, because he's read about it in the future. But when he gets to the house, the father comes in with a sledgehammer and the MC craps his pants. Heck, I crapped my pants lol. To me, that was the most exciting part of the book. The twist got my heart pumping.

    Now, fast forward to the actual climax of the story, when the MC tries to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating JFK. King makes it hard for the MC, but it's all with tricks he's already used in earlier parts of the book. I found the whole supposed climax a huge letdown. I just wasn't that excited. And to me, it's because everything was too predictable.

    IMO, action itself isn't exciting. Surprises are exciting -- so when I write action scenes, I try to pot a couple of twists in there to spice it up. Just my 2 cents :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2015
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like your post. Would you be against talking about this in more detail in relation to the scene that inspired me to write this post?
     
  12. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    ^ I'm cool with that :>
     
  13. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I'd very much second the point about the fighters not being aware of what's happening in any real capacity and mainly acting on instinct.
    I've not been in fights very much, but what I have done is played a lot of video games that mimic this particular aspect of fighting. Obviously they're nowhere near a good simulation for an actual fight, but when it comes to it, your brain turns off and you just react to the situation automatically. Paradoxically, this tends to lead to better performance.

    I think anyone who's been part of an intense competition knows the feeling.
     
  14. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would advise against watching MMA. It is a sport with rules designed to prevent the contestants from being killed or crippled. No real fight to the death would look like an MMA match.

    Find full contact sparring videos from Youtube. They are still not fully realistic, but they are trying harder and fighting under less restrained conditions where the first concern is not to get seriously hurt yourself, unless you can kill or cripple your opponent in the process.

    Remember that in real life things like eye gouging, throat crushing, finger and joint breaking, strikes to nerve clusters and blows designed to damage internal organs or break ribs are the first choice, not the last.

    Kicks to the crotch are not common, because everybody is expecting that and it will leave you open to counter attack. Similarly, high kicks and spin kicks are very rarely used except as a finishing move.
     
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  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Or just videos of actual street fights. You'll even find insano kung-fu stuff with high kicks and shit, as uncommon and impractical as those generally tend to be in a street scuffle.

    You'll also notice how short those fights tend to be. Not all that epic, often quite anti-climactic. In fiction, you don't have to go for such realism, but if you are, count me in as one of your potential fans!
     
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  16. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my case my world has magic that enhance stats(including reaction time) so not likely going into realism. Then again I think I was more curious on concepts like action vs expression here(or I am now). Like is it better to describe what they did or how they felt about doing it or reacted to what had happened.

    Does that make sense?
     
  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think showing how the situation affects your characters is better than reporting the (detailed) mechanics of the fight. Sticking firmly to their experience, if you will, instead of the technical stuff. Of course you want to show what happens, but it's possible your characters experience it in a confusing way and don't catch every detail you know about the fight. They might feel a sting in their back but won't have time to check what caused it. Only later on, they may find a stab wound there and understand what had happened.
     
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  18. nrextakemi
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    nrextakemi Member

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    I think that as far as realism goes, it's good to..let it go. For example, when describing a sword fight, it's okay to go wild and write whatever.

    No one except sword maniac will notice anyway. Do not presume that the reader has greater knowledge of these subjects then you do.
     
  19. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I'd say the complete opposite, tbh. Always write for that one esoteric nerd who might be reading. But then I come from a family of esoteric nerds so that might just be me pandering :D
     
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  20. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    This strikes me as being little more than an excuse for not bothering with research.
    If you're not shooting for realism, and your target audience is not those that do (like with Space Operas, for example), that's one thing. If you intend the story to show a modicum of realism, assuming that no one will know better is a pretty sure ticket to pissing off those that do.
    And we all know why that's a bad thing.
     
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  21. Homeworkhelp
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    Homeworkhelp Banned

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    I like your post.
     
  22. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which post?
     
  23. nrextakemi
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    nrextakemi Member

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    I..see. Well, my experience has, so far, been with mostly unrealistic stuff so..yeah, you might be right about that.
     

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