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  1. Rumwriter

    Rumwriter Active Member

    May 11, 2011
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    Fight Scenes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Jul 7, 2011.

    How do you write a fight scene so it is really intense? I feel like if I try to write out every move then the sentences become long and sometimes complicated, and it isn't as fast paced or exhilarating for the reader. I suppose just keeping the tension and suspense between the characters might be enough just to keep the reader interested. But how do you do it? Short examples encouraged.
  2. Trish

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Mar 12, 2011
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    New York
    Personally, I like to stick with one characters view instead of giving in to the temptation of describing the whole thing like a commentator. By doing so you can focus on what that character feels, what he/she does in response, how the landed hits from the opponent feel. For it to be most effective you have to create empathy. So if it is involving a character that you CAN get in their head you want to describe the feelings, smells, sights. If it's just a random fight that your character is watching or walking by it doesn't need that much attention. Hopefully that makes sense.
  3. LaGs

    LaGs Banned

    Apr 25, 2011
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    Co. Tyrone Ireland
    The only thing I would say is avoid the long sentences, stick to short snappy ones with an occasional longer one. Just don't make it long-winded as that's kind of the antithesis of action
  4. Radrook

    Radrook Contributing Member

    Aug 14, 2010
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    When a punch, kick, elbow, or any other blow of any kind lands, describe not just the damage done but how that punch felt both physically and mentally. How the receiver of the punch and the puncher felt is essential since the fight is also on the willpower level.

    Of course the fighters' personalities determine this. So make sure that you have a full understanding of who the fighters are. As the author you, of course, determine this.

    If the encounter is a mugging, then, the dynamics are different. As they are different if it's male vs female, child vs child, criminal vs law enforcement office, person vs an alien, person vs nature, person vs the gods, person vs the system, or person vs himself via internal conflict.

    About reader interest? I'm sure that you've watched films where fights take place and you don't really care who lives or dies. Yet other films have you on the edge of your seat. Why? Because you have come to identify with some of the characters. Made their cause your own. So when they fight- you are fighting. When they are wounded- you are wounded. And if they die....

    That's the same kind of involvement you want your reader to develop and the only way is to totally emerse them in the issues at stake so that when the fight takes place they care. That determines real intensity. Otherwise they will be just two dimensionless caricatures pounding away at each other.

    Sorry about not providing examples but need to have something to eat.
    1 person likes this.
  5. Daydream

    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

    May 3, 2011
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    In another dimension.
    Yeh ditto to short snappy sentences. You should check out Joe Abercrombie. He's perfected fight scenes in my opinion. He's books are always very bloody, detailed and descriptive. I do have to say thought it's nice seeing the battle from more than one POV. I know people want to know what the protagonist does, but it's nice to see what the other characters are doing at that point to. Are they in trouble? Are they doing something that could change the sway of the battle?

    Another reason I like Abercrombie's style is that he starts with a character in a battle who then dies to another character. Then the POV switches to the new character that just killed the previous one until he to gets killed. It keeps going like that until he gets to one of the MC's.
  6. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Jun 27, 2010
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    Tampa Bay
    Appeal to all the five senses.

    Also, a key phrase here is "make the reader be the character, not see the character." In other words, don't describe [as Trish said] as though you're a commentater neutrally observing from above. This means that you want to AVOID using words like "looked," "felt," "saw," "thought about," etc because that just takes readers out of the character's head.

    Be concise, specific, vivid, and limited to one character's POV (at least at a time; doing what Daydream said is fine, just make sure it's one at a time only)
  7. Lord Malum

    Lord Malum Senior Member

    Apr 22, 2011
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    Kansas City, KS
    The bastard never saw it coming. My knuckles cracked almost as loud as his jaw. Though pain shot up my arm, it felt good to finally knock Jessie out. My vicotry was short-lived, however, as his brother rocked me with a baseball bat across my skull. The world spun as I hit the concrete.

    I threw that together real quick to demonstrate how I do it. Show the action and the reaction. Keep any descriptions to a minimum. Only show what the MC sees or knows about. An attack from a blind spot will only have a reaction until the victim can realize what happened. I hope I helped a little.
  8. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Keep the sentence lengths appropraiate for the pace. Most fight scenes need a rapid-fire pace, so keep the sentences short and choppy. Now is not the time for detailed description. The participants are too busy to notice any but crucial details, so that is how you write it. Confusion reigns, so let that come through as well. Your protagonist may not know just whose fist smacked his cheek - he is suddenly aching and seeing stars.
  9. Flashfire07

    Flashfire07 Active Member

    May 9, 2011
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    My advice for this is dependant on the genre. If you're writing a high fantasy heroic story you'll have different descriptions than for a gritty realistic story. As a few people on this thread have said you want to focus on one character and how he feels during the fight, although you can use a third party narrator if you want, it's a good idea to play up the emotion of a fight and the confusion and chaos of a life or death struggle. Of course, it also depends on WHY the characters are fighting, a boxing match is going to be very different from a high noon shootout. I would advise you to keep sentences as short as possible, a fight is a fast primal affair and it might be useful to have your writing reflect that. I would provide examples but I'm not really good at writing fight scenes myself.

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