1. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    What do you want from fight scenes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sprirj, Jun 9, 2015.

    im in the process of writing a fight scene, and thought I'd write about power struggle, he kicks her, she hits him etc etc, but actually what I want to read is gore galore!

    So I was wondering if any one here had preference to what they wanted to see in a fight scene, or turn it on its head, a love scene etc. do people want cliches or do you want something striking?

    And I'd love to hear examples :)
     
  2. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    I never want cliches.

    I want something that will make me feel it myself, so what's happening to the characters I can feel on my own body, to some degree. Produce a sympathetic physical sensation inside of me.

    So if her teeth are smashed against a concrete curb, I want to cringe, because I can feel my own teeth being shattered. Engage all my senses. Tell me about the smell and taste of her blood. The sound of her teeth cracking. The feel of her teeth snapping backward. The view from the ground.

    Or, in a love scene, if his knuckles brush along the side of her face, I want to feel it on my own face. If he rubs a finger along her lips and inside her mouth, I want to be able to feel and taste him myself. Give me physical sensation!

    You want to engage the readers mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout the story. Fight scenes can be a lot about that physical engagement, with some mental and emotional thrown in there.
     
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  3. EmptySoul
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    EmptySoul Active Member

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    From the standpoint of a reader I want the reverse of most people's reality. I want a fast fight and long love scenes. Granted, the reverse is usually true for both but I find these keep me interested in both the plot and the scene. Also they tend to "read" more realistic.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    *puffed exhalation of air meaning "let me think about that"*

    What do I want.....

    I'm not a big fight scene aficionado, but I don't want to be a dick and say "I want you not to write it because I'm not going to read it".

    There's a fight scene in China MiƩville's The Scar where Uther Doul literally makes minced meat of his opponents, making use of his "probability sword" that lands a hit everywhere that the laws of probability indicate it might make a hit with any single swing. It's godawful in its gore. I think even MiƩville himself was a bit repulsed at what he wrote. I feel him cringe as he writes it. And it works in a horrifying way. The writing, not the sword, although, yeah... that sword. It makes Uther a bizarre character amongst a menagerie of bizarre characters, so the fight scene, which in pretty much any other book would make my eyes glaze over, out-of-focus, scanning the page to find the point where the fight is over, got read by me. It made the character fit. It was gratuitous and also not gratuitous, depending on what you were linking the violence to in the rest of the story.

    That's what I need.

    I need it to matter as much as any other part of the story.
     
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  5. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    here is my example...

    it happened so fast two Korean guys had followed jen out of the disco dean saw one of them throw money at her, he got up and went straight over
    " pick your money up" Dean said to the guy
    "what is it to you? she is a prostitute" the guy said
    "pick your money up apologize to her and leave" dean said
    the guy landed a punch at dean hitting dean on the shoulder, dean grabbed that guy and hit back with one punch to his jaw the guy drop to the ground, his friend then stepped over his fallen friend towards dean, dean then hit the next one with a right to the ribs the guy he fell down on his face holding his ribs, before dean moved another table of 5 koreans got up to confront dean, rod and james were now at his side, the Koreans were shouting korean to each other the guy holding his ribs talking to them, dean then attacked the first of the 5 this time with an uppercut to the guys jaw he fell backwards into his 4 friends then the disco security jumped in on to the fight they grabbed the five koreans and pinned them to the ground
    "what was that about?" Asked james
    "one of the koreans was pestering jen the idiot hit me that's why he's out cold" dean said
    "i saw that but the others?" james said
    "they are is friends i've been watching him they have been looking at jen like a pack of wolves" dean said
    "the guy was trying to dance with me and asking my number, then he said what's wrong with his money and threw it at me" jen said
     
  6. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    1. For them to serve a purpose.
    If it's two men dick-swinging then let it be over quickly, please. If it's the final show down, an outward demonstration of the inner workings of the story, then let it be expressive, engaging and satisfying.
    2. Let the characters fight as an expression of themselves.
    Don't make everyone skilled, heroic and brave. Don't let every punch land, or every swing be graceful.
    3. Give me someone to hate and someone to root for.
    This doesn't necessarily mean the fighters themselves. The weather, the audience, the fact life offers very little true justice, whatever you like!
    4. For women to be strong
    They don't have to be the hero, just please don't make them all pathetic
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @RachHP - I want the details of the fight to be important. If they aren't important, I don't want to bother reading about them. So if the exact step-by-step details of the fight show me something about the character, or the world, or the relationships, or whatever, then, great. I don't much care how gory they are. Too often, though it feels like the gore is the main point of the fight, and that's just kind of boring.

    And, @Lance Schukies - one of the things I absolutely want in my fight scenes is capital letters and punctuation. Maybe I'm missing some great stories because of that, but... I'm going to keep on missing them.
     
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  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Realism, although I don't mind fantastical fight scenes if they're written in an engaging, entertaining way. I've liked the fight scenes in the Witcher series even though there's way too much pirouetting and clashing swords. The same goes for Joe Abercrombie's and Brent Weeks' writing, but since they write well, I've enjoyed reading their fight scenes. If the author can do both, realistic and engaging, I'll probably write a fan letter to him/her, pledging eternal love for his/her works.

    Another thing I want is emotion. Not a blow-by-blow report of what happened, but a depiction of how it affects the character(s). This can also mean the scene is vague in description of the movements and action. Perhaps the protagonist's fear blurs his perception, perhaps his tunnel vision prevents him from seeing everything, and that's all fine 'cause, frankly, I'm much more interested in the character's experience than the mechanics of the fight.

    These are connected to the two elements I can find in every book I've liked: rich characters and plausibility.
     
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  9. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    Can I just say, much love for this thread. Awesome job, @sprirj!
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I want fight scenes to be over quickly. They're almost always boring in books, though they can be cool in movies.

    I think the most important factors in a fight scene are the setup and the aftermath. The drama leading up to the fight - the dialogue between combatants before the first punch is thrown, for example, is always, to me, more interesting than the fight itself. The aftermath of the fight - the drama of the outcome - is tons more interesting than the fight itself, whether the hero won or lost. I want to see the effect the fight had on the characters, how it changed the plot, etc. That's the payoff.

    A fight is kind of like a boring trip by air. The prelude is exciting - that's when you're planning your vacation to far-off, exotic Bali. Lots to think about, lots to talk about, lots of anticipation. Then, there's the long boring fight - I mean, flight. Then in the aftermath, you're in Bali having a great time.
     
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  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You know, flights scare me, just like fights. So, not a bad analogy. :D
     
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  12. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First, the fight scene needs justification, it requires a purpose, even if it's a random act of spontaneous street violence: how does it affect the characters and the story? What did the characters feel and experience during the fight? So if we assume the scene has a justified place in the story, the next important thing to me as a reader is realism.

    Like @KaTrian, I'm also a big fan of realism, unsurprisingly. I too can stomach some unrealistic silliness, but generally ridiculous fight scenes take me out of the story.

    I've never really understood why so very few authors have realistic fight scenes. If you have no experience with fighting in the real world or even martial arts/combat sports/self-defense, it's not difficult to find a lot of experienced people willing to share their experiences and expertise.

    Writing unrealistic fight scenes on purpose is another animal altogether, but I have to ask why? If there's a good reason for choosing fantasy over realism, such as the rest of the story being equally unrealistic, it's not as distancing from the story, it can even be entertaining if done well, but if it's just a matter of ignorance and laziness, it may even lead me to stop reading the book.
    That happened with Sandman Slim although there were other things in the story I didn't like much, but it were the horrible fight scenes that made me put it down.

    In my eyes, the worst offenders are books that go for gritty realism with everything else, even graphic sex scenes, but when it comes time to fight, suddenly we're in Disney or Hollywood territory. That clash of styles just doesn't work for me as it feels imbalanced and lazy.
    I mean, how am I supposed to take the badass secret agent/Navy SEAL/covert operative/assassin/martial arts expert/whatever seriously if they lack the skills such a person would have? Furthermore, if they're fighting a supposedly skilled, experienced enemy, yet said enemy fights like somebody whose only exposure to the fighting arts has been Hollywood action flicks, how does that NOT break the ever-important immersion? But maybe that's just me.

    Why do I love realism? Because realistic violence does NOT glorify violence, whereas many fantastical fight scenes often make violence seem cool, even fun.
    Real world violence is neither, and I don't want to encourage my readers, especially any potential easily influenced individuals, like younger people, to view violence as something cool and fun. In my opinion, fight scenes in "serious" fiction aimed at adults should make the reader feel uncomfortable, anxious, even afraid if it's written very well. That's a good way to show the ugly realism of real world violence, and if other subjects in the story are treated with due seriousness and severity, going for an unrealistic, light-hearted tone with violence is, in my eyes, insulting towards survivors of real violence be it a mugging, bar fight, domestic violence, child abuse, rape etc, as if the story was making light of such experiences.
    But, again, that's just me.

    ETA: @KaTrian and I also feel we owe it to the professionals, like soldiers and LEOs, as well as real survivors of e.g. rape or child abuse, to get it right when we portray their stories. We feel it's our job to do the leg work and we're only glad to show the respect such issues deserve even if it means countless hours and days, even weeks and months of research just to ensure that if a person who has "been there" happens to read our stories, they won't feel like we're making light of and trivialising their experiences.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
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  13. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I want fight scenes to be exciting with suspense, easy pacing, and good results.
     
  14. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    It is from my first draft and was removed so I did not fix the mistakes.

    I also use a small phone to edit it and posts here so I hope you will forgive my mistakes.
     
  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree with @T.Trian . As much as I love big dramatic battles that decides the fate of the world/universe, there has to be some sort of realism to it. The ugliness of the whole thing. Sometimes, tragic as well; something that would leave you to think that this whole thing could've easily been prevented had the two sides simply sit down and talked to each other over it.

    Understand it through the character's perspective. To them, this isn't some cool dramatic scene with faux Latin choir lyrics playing in the background. Or hardcore rock music with the characters going, "Yeah! Let's train for some more fighting!" as Dragonball Z apparently was fond of. This is a heart-pounding, painful and traumatic experience where they could very easily die. And that's not all that could happen. With their deaths, their opponent stands a very good chance at accomplishing whatever the protagonist set out to prevent. Oh, and if they're absolutely unlucky, they get to watch their friends die gruesome deaths first.

    You might also want to make it as realistic as possible. By that I mean, well, let's use my protagonist from my fantasy, Mishu Jerni. She's a sixteen-year-old girl with moderate defense training and spellcasting. This, however, does not mean she's a goddess that can demolish entire armies like she's Super Saiyan Goku. If I wanted her to participate in a battle, I'd have to think, given the skills she has, what could she feasibly do? Not that I think she's weak or anything, I just don't want readers to go, "Hold up, hold up, is this a Dragonball Z fan-fiction or something? How the hell can she possibly do any of this given what I know of her?" See what I'm saying? Every character has his/her limits. One character might be able to take down four mooks while another would struggle with just one. Think about their strengths, their skills, what they're capable of. The last thing I want to read is about a person who could take down an entire army of bad guys (trolls included) suddenly getting his ass kicked by one lousy guard; or someone who had trouble with a small group of lousy guards suddenly be able to vaporize entire armies with a snap of his fingers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  16. ArnaudB
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    ArnaudB Member

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    Proper powers levels, where characters fight as smartly and efficiently as they can. It's annoying when informed god-like abilities get screwed up by dumb bad luck or protagonist agency.

    Banter, banter is love, banter is wonderful. It has to be implanted realistically mind you, some characters prefer the silent approach by choice or to economize their forces. Still, there is little better than a dialog completely relevant in context yet equally completely innocent if taken out of the action.

    Spectacle if it's a drawn out battle, speed if it's an ambush. Use of the environment and, when available, not-strictly-weapons used for battles in creative ways. The wizard losing his bicycle while hunting a criminal in a toy shop put his feet in the ledges of plastic firetrucks and animate them like rollers to continue the chase, being completely casual about it because his mind is on the chase.
     
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  17. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I prefer to feel the emotions for the fight or the emotions of the person witnessing the fight. Is it a tragic fight, such as a bully pummeling his victim. Or is it a triumphant fight where the victim turns the tables on the bully? Is it one more thing, the breaking point, of a sad person's life? Or is it just a couple of friends burning off steam?
     
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  18. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I've found witnessing or being in a fight has left me with a lot of emotions, but primarily three things: shock, regret, and shame.

    Last time I was in a fight, though, was high school 18 years ago, and I got my ass kicked. Hah! :superyesh:
     
  19. Reilley Turner
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    Reilley Turner Active Member

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    I like variety.

    Example: hero uses Fists, All parts of a sword (pommel, etc. included)
     

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