1. Balmarog
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    Balmarog Member

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    How do you write a fight scene?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Balmarog, Jun 18, 2012.

    Fights, duels, combat in general... They're visually appealing in film, but how do you translate them to writing? It seems difficult to do it right without boring the reader.

    Does any one have any experience with this?
     
  2. Show
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    I typically keep fight scenes short and to the point. My characters are rarely combat experienced so I don't really look to make it too technical or anything.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've watched a lot of videos and play acted scenes. I typically write things out in great detail first, and then cut. And cut. And cut some more. I focus on the big action mainly (the hard right jab versus the dancing around, for instance) and spend more time on the reactions (thoughts) of the parties involved. But I keep everything short - I call it 'staccato writing'. Sentences typically get longer as the fight starts dying down. I've found reading out loud is particularly helpful in these scenes as well.
     
  4. Mokrie Dela
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    Mokrie Dela Member

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    A lot of my works are action orientated. I find it useful to build up the tension, so the fight itself is the relief of said tension. Fights in real life are usually short. You get tired quick. It hurts.

    When my two weeks is over i'll post some of the works (or if someone wants tosee them, PM me), but it's tricky. You have to show detail, but you have to do it quick. When the reader reads it, they'll be reading it quite quickly. Long winded sentances, like "He ducked to the side, letting the punch pass him so as to avoid injury" would not work but "He ducked the punch"...?

    The trick is to avoid repetitiveness, and of course to research; if the fighters know karate, for example, you'd better research into the moves etc.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I avoid a lot of unnecessary detail - positioning the character just so , angling his sword just so , - it bogs the reader down , usually I cut to the chase with uncluttered action verbs. Have him jump right in. Slashing out at the villain. I also try to dart out some thoughts as he's doing this. I don't think anything will make a fight scene more believable than your character feeling the danger and a rise in Adrenalin.

    And like the others said keep it short.
    You could also check out how some other authors did it - Mickey Spillane , Bourne Identity - if they seem a little dated google for some action fueled books and read up. Never hurts to learn from the pros.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are different kinds of combat. When this topic comes up (and it often does, so you may want to search for other threads), I usually recommend short sentences with active verbs and minimal descriptive detail to maintain a fast pace. Capture the chaos, keep the confusion.

    But this is for hand to hand combat, swordplay, running gun battles, and similar rapid forms of combat.

    A siege is combat as well, but it is anything BUT fast paced. It's sustained tension, watchfuillness, fear, and discomfort. Favor slow spectacle over blindingly rapid exchanges.

    Similarly, naval battles and field barrages can be devastating, prolonged, and a batle of nerves and strategies. Space combat is rarely done convincingly on screen, but has generally been treated as close quarters naval combat. In reality, space battles would involve distances of hundreds or thousands of miles between vessels. Lasers and other energy beam weapons would be invisible unless they actually intersected with a vessel or with scattered debris. Combat would take place at the maximum range the combatants could manage; the combatant with the greatest weapons range has the greatest chance of victory. These are challenges that could be better written than portrayed on screen.

    So before you write your battle scene, ask yourself what the battle's proimary characteristics are, particularly in terms of pace. Then write in a manner best suited to the chosen pace.
     
  7. Balmarog
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    Balmarog Member

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    I did do a search, but the thread titles didn't seem to be specifically what I needed. Or at least what I saw of them.

    Thanks for the advice though. It all sounds helpful. :)
     
  8. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    Great posts above. I think good melee combat should be written with detail and explanation, but not too much. If you try to map out every single action, it will likely be confusing for the reader and difficult to visualize. An overview of the sway of the fight, with details on certain movements here and there, is how I prefer to read fight scenes. A vivid picture is painted and it also leaves a little to the reader's imagination.

    Here is a good article about writing sword fights- http://martinturner.org.uk/martins-notes/art-and-society/for-writers-how-to-write-sword-fight-scenes/

    An author who understood these principles was Robert E. Howard. Try reading the short story "Red Shadows," and pay close attention to how Howard wrote the sword fight at the end. He found a perfect balance between the blow by blow of the fight, the general sway of the battle, and the emotions of the participants. He also threw in brief but effective descriptions of each of the combatants' fighting styles.

    Another author who writes good fight scenes, but frequently goes overboard in his descriptions, is R.A. Salvatore. He is very skilled and his scenes are captivating, but I think a tad difficult to visualize at times.
     
  9. ILoveWriting
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    ILoveWriting Member

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    How can I write a good fight scene?

    Hello!

    I finally started to get on with writing a bit of my story/book. I have gotten to a part where my main character-a mean, rebel and a bully- beats up a defenceless little fellow student at his college. I want to make this scene as realistic as possible but I cannot get any ideas in my head. May you please help me? I would be most grateful!:)

    ILoveWriting
     
  10. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    I have a few suggestions, varying in degrees of helpfulness. That said, here they are.

    First, and I haven't done this myself, but I do need to get around to it: There are apparently two fight scenes in Narnia, Prince Caspian. The first is between Edmund and the dwarf, Trumpkin. This is where C.S. Lewis explains the details of swordfighting. This leads to the second fight, between Peter and King Miraz, which moves a lot smoother because all the explanations have been taken care of in the first fight. I highly recommend this to anyone (myself included) who is writing a fight scene. Apparently, it really brings fights into perspective.

    Secondly, something I did for a fight scene I was writing: do it! I got my friends together with a few shinai (bamboo practice swords), and we played out a 3 on 1 fight, with me taking notes the whole time. It's difficult to write, but when you can see it, it is (obviously) very easy to visualize what's going on, making it that much easier on you. Unfortunately, the amount of movements, blocks, attacks, different angles, etc, really make fight scenes LOOOOOOONG and drawn out. Taking ten pages to describe a fight that literally takes two minutes really slows the pace of the book. Action words can make it seem faster, but as I read over my fight scene, all I could think was "this is the climax of the story, and it seems slow."

    Finally, if anyone has ever seen Star Wars, Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith, consider what George Lucas wrote about the final fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan. When the production crew read through the script, they came upon the fight between the two, which lasts a total of 8 minutes on screen. The script for this part read "They fight." Yes, even George Lucas could not come up with a fight scene. Don't sweat yourself. Do the best you can, and put less focus on it if it's difficult. If a fight scene is needed, but not the highlight of the story, show that it happened, and move on.


    EDIT: Also, I agree with D-Doc. The site he posted is where I got the information on C.S. Lewis and his fight scenes. DEFINITELY WORTH A LOOK!
     
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  11. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Depends on the type of fighting for me. Is it hand to hand combat, is it a gunfight, is it long range shooting? ( this is what I have in my story so far) each one uses different skills in a fighter so I try to describe it differently. For longer range combat I actually often slow it down, describing the shooter taking their time to aim, breathing control, trigger pull, the shot and recoil. firefights are much shorter quicker, almost responsive shooting from the characters. Recoil is less noticeable, as the characters reflexively aim and shoot. I try to depict reloading as slower as it seems to take forever and leaves them exposed. “ there is nothing loader then a click when there should be a bang”. Hand to hand I try to make even more fast with pauses as the character considers their next move.
    Some of the style I also try to change by character. A combat veteran will not be feeling the shear panic a rookie would. One of my characters is a super soldier; her experience of combat is much less intense and slower compared to others.
     

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