1. ArQane

    ArQane Member

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    Making a Sword Fight Scene?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by ArQane, Jun 7, 2016.

    Hey, ArQ here.
    I find it super difficult to really make a beautiful sword fighting scene. Some of my friends tell me to use a lot of dialogue, while others tell me to read Game of Thrones (Though I skimmed over it and could not find any, just loads of sex), but I really want to write a scene for Hell's Gate that matches what I am envisioning in my head.

    Any good places to see for some brutal combat scenes? Sword slashing fury?

    Thanks.
     
  2. agasfer

    agasfer Member

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    First, you use "beautiful sword fighting scene", then "brutal combat scenes". That tells me that you find blood and guts beautiful. The suggestion for dialogue would be for other people's view of beauty, but for brutality, you would want to describe the various wounds, agony, deaths, blood, and so forth. For the suggestion about Game of Thrones, perhaps you would like Arya Stark's style. If you don't want to look through the book (which is not called Game of Thrones, but A Song of Fire and Ice), then you can watch scenes in YouTube, eg https://www.google.co.il/search?q=Arya+Stark%27s+sword+fighting&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b&gfe_rd=cr&ei=gFNWV53nDe3a8Af6gKf4CA
     
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  3. ArQane

    ArQane Member

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    Both :D Thanks for the link.

    Would this be in the book as well? I feel like it would be more writer-ish that way :D
     
  4. Janus3003

    Janus3003 New Member

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    Medieval fantasy's one of my most favorite genres, and I've written several sword fights over the years. When I started off, I was incredibly detailed about the motions. I'd describe the hero's swing and the villain's defense, followed by his response.
    I advise not doing that. Choreographing the fight bogs down the pace and hurts the scene's tension. The reader starts focusing on trying to translate text into visuals, and describing every last moment gets confusing quick. The best analogy I've heard is to try describing how to tie your shoes to someone who's never done it before, using words only.

    In my more recent work, I've begun focusing more on the emotions involved and only describing actual movements here and there. I also try to use fighting styles to inform the reader about the character.

    Here are some examples from things I've written in the past few years.
    The first story is about a medieval/Renaissance judicial duel. In this case, Hans is accused of murdering Johannes's brother, and they've ultimately gone to trial by combat.
    Johannes's method of fighting is crude and to-the-point. He rushes in with little regard for technique- just a simple strike from over the shoulder (which some historical fencing masters called a "bad peasant's blow").
    Hans shows his experience. He moves laterally, and he keeps his sword moving, making it much harder for Johannes to anticipate what he'll do. He doesn't block Johannes, he counters him, using his own offense as a defense.
    Looking at it now, I think the weakest aspect of this passage is my descriptions of Hans's movements, particularly in the third paragraph.

    The second example is from a fantasy story. Here I try to focus on character emotions (or rather, detachment from them) and try to keep up the pace, as it's the climax.

    Hope this helps, and hope I wasn't too self-indulgent.
     
  5. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Forget Game of Thrones. Instead, go to Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Chronicles, about a Norseman fighting for King Alfred's Saxon kingdom. Even Martin admits that there is no one better than Cornwell at describing sword fights in particular and battle scenes in general. Every book in the installment had a description of man-to-man combat. Go forth now, and read.
     
  6. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie has tons of good combat

    If you think you might have heard me talk about this book series before, its because I have.

    This guy and Douglas Adams are my idols.
     
  7. ArQane

    ArQane Member

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    Thanks everyone.
    I'll check out The First Law next! Watched a bit of Arya Stark, and I'm in awe. (A bit by the sword fighting, but actually more on the complicated structure of her life). I'll search the book for her, and that might get me some technique as well.
    Stay tuned! ;)
    ArQ
     
  8. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Another thing: you might want to make contact with your local Society for Creative Anachronism chapter, and have a trained sword fighter beta-read your fighting scenes. He or she might be able to call you on things that are unrealistic, and suggest better ways to "stage" the fight in a more realistic manner. With thousands and thousands of trained sword-fighters in the SCA, in nearly every major town in the US and elsewhere throughout the world, it would be a shame to waste that resource.

    Note: I wouldn't recommend that you consult fencers. Fencing is a totally different skill than sword combat ... different tactics, different principles. When swords-people see sword-fighting in older movies choreographed by fencers, they cringe.
     
  9. ArQane

    ArQane Member

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    Oh? That's a good idea. They might find it a bit cheesy though, normally swordfighting does not last quite as long as writers portray them to
     
  10. Scott K Crandall

    Scott K Crandall New Member

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    ArQane, you may already have gotten this info, but if you want spectacular visual depictions of sword fights, watch "The Duellists" with Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine from 1977. You will see some of the most accurate depictions of small sword and sabre fights ever filmed. Also watch "The Three Musketeers/ The Four Musketeers" from 1973 with Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain etc. All of them had Fight Direction by William Hobbs; anything he was Fight Director for has very accurate.... and sometimes brutally real... fight work. Another good source would be "Romeo and Juliet" by Zefferelli, "The Princess Bride" and "Rob Roy". Another resource would be to contact The Society of American Fight Directors and find an SAFD school or trained teacehr in your area, and ask if you could watch some skilled fighters; trust me, SAFD (and other) trained Actor/Combatants are very willing to provide demonstrations.
     
  11. Storysmith

    Storysmith Active Member

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    I'd recommend reading other authors more than watching films / real-life fights, because what you want is the ability to get a sword fight down on the page with decent pacing. Find ones that you enjoy reading and figure out what you like about why. Here's a example snippet from Howard, who I find wrote them very well:

    Her sword darted past a blade that sought to parry, and sheathed six inches of its point in a leather-guarded midriff. The man gasped agonizedly and went to his knees, but his tall mate lunged in, in ferocious silence, raining blow on blow so furiously that Valeria had no opportunity to counter. She stepped back coolly, parrying the strokes and watching for her chance to thrust home. He could not long keep up that flailing whirlwind. His arm would tire, his wind would fail; he would weaken, falter, and then her blade would slide smoothly into his heart.
     
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  12. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Holy necropost Batman! Nothing wrong with reopening a topic, but OP hasn't been on the boards in nearly three years. I suspect the scene has been written or abandoned by now.
     
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  13. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Contributor Contributor

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    Hello, friend. :superhello:

    I will advise you to watch some videos on youtube to undrestand the impact the swords have. What movements the shorwsdmen have to use, and of course what kind of swords the soldiers are using against each other (and here what io mean is: is the sword for two hands? one hand? heavy?), try to understand strength and weakness of your swords.

    In terms of dialogue, try to balance but seek to show more action than dialogue. Say the necessary. Maybe the enemie of your MC tries to taunt your protagonist first? How will your MC respond to that? Or will he not respond at all? What the audience seeks is to visualise the battle, not to listen to two characters talk with each other like they are in a cafe.

    I hope this helps. Keep on good work and have fun. :superagree:
     
  14. Saphry

    Saphry Member

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    Thanks for sharing. Nice pace, no complicated manoeuvres, and I could imagine the fight easily. Learned something here!
     
  15. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    The first question when writing a fight scene should be "Is the fight even?"

    If it is, then you might see a fancy sword fight as two opponents test their skill on one another.

    If it's not, then the fight is going to be quick and dangerous. Someone might get cut down in moments, or maybe the hero has to talk their way out of the situation. Maybe someone has to improvise, running away, throwing things, avoiding contact.

    Uneven fights are more interesting to me. Most readers probably don't care about the mechanics of swordfighting, more the reasons why people are fighting and how their tactics reflect on their character.
     
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  16. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    This is probably the best advice that could ever be given for writing a sword fight. By and large, regardless of the epic Revenge of the Sith style battle going on in the author's head, we the readers don't really care about the theatrics. It works in film because that's visual, but you're never going to be able to replicate that on the page, so don't even try.
     
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  17. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Well, Bernard Cornwell does a pretty good job of putting it on the page, so it's not impossible.
     

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