1. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    Your Opinion On Fight Scenes

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Xboxlover, Aug 9, 2017.

    Simple questions for you guys.

    1. What's your opinion on how long a fight scene should last depending on A. normal run of the mill characters and creatures, B. Stronger opponents like in video game terms mini bosses, and finally C. the Boss of your book?
    2. What is considered too long and what is too short? Can you sum up in pages as well, looking at small paper back formats.
    3. What is cliche and lame in fights? (doesn't matter the genre.)
    4. What you like seeing (doesn't matter the genre here.)
    5. What you find cliche in fantasy fights.
    6. What you like in fantasy fights.

    Any other opinions are welcome as well.
     
  2. Teresa Mendes

    Teresa Mendes Member

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    1. Cannot help you here, for me it depends on the particular scene. But don't drag in out just because, it will lose the impact. The Boss fight is usually longer, but not necessarily
    2. Same as 1
    3. Too much talking; villains that just give up and make it easy for the hero; one opponent attacking at a time, instead of all at the same time
    4. Smart people on both sides; using objects and setting elements; wounds having a realistic effect on the character's performance during and after battle; fight scenes that move the plot forward
    5. Way too many swords, those things were expensive and not for everyone; only slash wounds
    6. Dragons! x) ; same as 4, really, I prefer realistic fights, but with special abilities like magic, acrobatics or different weapons for example.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
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  3. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    I'm not big on lengthy fight scenes. I can't pull up my wip right now for exact counts because I'm on mobile, but I know that in writing it at least, more than ~1000w felt tedious.

    I'd also be wary of thinking in mook/boss tier terms and think more about individual opponents - the last thing you want is for reading to feel grindy. If your mooks aren't important enough for individuality, they're not important enough for a real fight scene. They can get waved off. I wouldn't want to waste my reader's time on how my cool badass character killed these jokers who don't even matter.

    That's the other thing: these are scenes. They still need to be well-paced and meaty, important for the plot and characters. IMO, every scene in a story has to justify its existence, and just being a fight isn't justification. Things other than the actions of the fight itself should be happening in the narrative, and those things might make a fight that's shorter, blow-by-blow, take longer in words count.

    Characters acting 'cool' rather than getting the job done - showboating or throwing out one-liners.

    Realism. Fighters who know what they're doing, or obviously don't and are written as such by writers who do know what they're doing.

    Hmm ... nothing specific. I guess characters using really specific weapons incorrectly, like in ways that they'd be easily broken or just ineffective. I remember a friend of mine and I yelling at that Elektra movie non-stop because she basically never held her sai right and would've ended up losing some fingers, hahah.

    I'm a big nerd about swords, mostly, but also other types of weapons and armor, and I just like seeing them treated well. I put a lot of refresher research into a ~600w fight scene just to be sure that the details I barely touched on would be accurate. I agonized for three days over the specific terminology to use for an MC's sword, and almost always just call it a sword. But I know, and I want it to check out for people as nerdy as me.

    (Apologies for any typos, don't have time to proof atm.)
     
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  4. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    1: I think in all these cases, what matters is, how important is the fight to the plot? That should be the caliber for how long it lasts. For example, if you're just introducing the hero as some local toughs start hassling an innocent barmaid in the tavern he's in and he sighs, throws off his cloak and schools them, that could do with some extra attention. It's the audience's introduction to him, so you can be a bit more indulgent in describing how he fights. Conversely, a fight against a stronger opponent might be blown past if it's not the focus of the scene (he's just holding them off so that another character can escape or complete something vital, etc)

    2: Again, it depends. In the commentary for the movie "Blade II", Wesley Snipes had some good advice on fight scenes, saying that it should never be the case that you stop the plot, have a fight, resume the plot. The scene should make a difference to the movie (if you excised it, the plot wouldn't make sense), and there should also be character or plot development within the fight scene. Don't think of "have a fight" as the objective of a scene, decide what you want to accomplish in terms of plot or character within that scene and how the fight will help you accomplish it. For example, maybe the hero reveals himself as smart and insightful when he shows a "weakness" that turns out to be bait. Maybe the hero has been beaten, but the young orphan girl he's been protecting jumps onto the villain's back with a rock. Maybe a normally cool and unflappable character goes berserk or cowers in fear when they go up against the warlord that--it turns out later--slaughtered their village when they were a child. Maybe the enemy catches the hero off-guard by revealing a secret that only his long-lost twin sister could possibly have known! :eek:

    3: Related to the above, when the fight feels superfluous. Nothing advances, nothing changes, nothing is revealed, it's just there to have a bit of action.

    4: I like it when the circumstance of the fight change and force the fighters to adapt rather than just stand there and trade blows. Maybe it's the environment they're in (in a flooding ship, a burning building, the back of a giant bird, etc), maybe it's external circumstances (there are innocents that must be protected, the enemy is an enchanted ally who must be subdued rather than slain, one side is trying to escape before reinforcements arrive), or maybe it's a revelation that puts a new spin on the whole scene (I am not left-handed!).
     
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  5. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    Thank you for your insights guys, and thanks for the fast response times. I'm really not used to this on forums. It sounds like people have pretty consistent views on how they feel a fight should be handled.

    As for izzybot your insight on Elektra and her sai I agree as well, but also need to add that sai are not offensive weapons either as they are used in the movie and comic. They were originally defensive weapons for disarming opponents from what we learned in ninjutsu when I was a kid. Which was found to be irritating by our whole class. lol XD
    I like the adapt and change that you brought up Azuresun. I'm trying to go for this in my ending fight scene with the villain in my piece I have a group of three try to tackle a witch in the area that is world renowned. And I definitely agree it should never stop the plot or be there just to be there.

    Also, your guys' work count ideas are very helpful to me. I was a little concerned about it. Azuresun I think you unconcern for word count is also helpful when you were mentioning your answer to number 1. I'll take that into consideration especially since this is the last fight of the book and a lot of character development goes on non-verbally. One character shows their true colors through self-sacrifice (not in the mortal sense.)
     
  6. Jak of Hearts

    Jak of Hearts Active Member

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    Fight scenes should be short. They are excellent for video games and movies, but are terribly boring to read. More important than keeping them short though is HOW you write them. Do not write them technically, do not Telegraph blow for blow. This is the worst mistake you can make. Make the action vague and focus on the impact of the fight. What is the fight doing to the surrounding area? To the bystanders? What is the emotional process of the heros? What are the stakes?

    What I like? Let the two get hurt. And when they get hurt, write them as such. No one has their hand broken and somehow miraculously is able to still use it.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The two fight scenes that belong in my timeline so far have shifted to one 'fade to black' (because she was NOT going to win), and "run away!" We'll see if I ever actually have to write one...
     
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  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It really varies - I've got chapters dedicated to battles which are a lot of fight scenes sewn together, and I've got fight scenes that last a few lines.

    In reality you want to put your opponent down as quickly as possible .. the long drawn out exchange of blows is a Holywood conceit, so where my scenes go on its generally trying to capture the chaos of combat rather than two individuals fighting one one one.
     
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  9. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    Haha, I accidentally did all of this. Maybe I'm over analyzing things? I'm glad I managed to write my scene including emotions and showing tension while moving the scene forward with out doing everything blow for blow. I made things vague to keep from boring me as well. I felt inclined to make the readers fill in the gaps and use their imaginations.

    Doesn't that work well for sex scenes as well? Especially if you want to be classy and not hmm erotica or even mild rom about it.
     
  10. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    Often in fiction a fight scene is used to convey much more that conflict, action, or a fight. It is used to reinforce the character. It reinforces physical attributes, smarts (thinking on their feet), conditioning, etc.
    An example from popular fiction: Jack Reacher (books not movies). Reacher fights a lot. The fights are used to-
    add minor conflict and move the story forward
    set up greater conflict later (dad, brother, boss, whoever, has to even the score)
    helps out those oppressed by the one(s) being fought
    casts him in a good light (only fights baddies)
    reinforces he has abnormally long arms
    reinforces he is 6 foot 5
    reinforces he spent his youth fighting as an army brat
    reinforces he has learned advanced fighting techniques
    reinforces he was military and fought a lot as an MP
    reinforces his conditioning
    provides a time for talking/explanations as someone tends to his wounds
    etc

    A fight scene needs to make sense in the context of the story and drive the story forward. Something always comes out of a fight- either revenge or fear.

    1 & 2. Fight scenes can be a couple of sentences to a few pages, depending on what it is and where it is. I think the situation and what the author wants to get across determines the length.
    3 & 5. Someone that pulls something out of nowhere and it makes no sense. (Someone that pulls out a (whatever) as they are losing badly just doesn't happen. If they want to prove themselves they would reveal their ace and set it aside before the fighting. If they are jumped, they would have pulled it earlier.)
    4 & 6. Realism (which is different for everybody), in fantasy settings I like to see a fight reveal something about a character.

    You mention video games and have a video game name. I have read a couple books that took place in video game worlds/servers, and can say that the beast thing about the figh scenes was that a phrase would be used (like, 'they entered the traditional temple arena with its unnatural waterfall falling through the center') that perfectly set the scene in my head.
     
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  11. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    1. It depends on the kind of fight they're having. Is it a dog fight with space ships or a fist fight? How many people are fighting? Where is it happening and with what weapons? Every fight is different. Irl, not that many blows are exchanged, so I suppose I'm leaning towards short and sweet. Ever seen fencing matches with e.g. longswords? Doesn't take long to get a hit in.

    2. Again, difficult to say. It could be over within half a page. Or if it's a war campaign, a long battle, it can stretch on for pages.

    3. There are so many things I could mention... In a book I recently read there were two gunplay things that bugged me: always straightening your arms to shoot an opponent even if they're right in front of you as if you were at the range. Clicking the safety off after threatening to shoot the guy, as if it was some kind of extra threat. Oh and a long knife fight. If you have to be in a fight, pray it won't be a knife fight. Those are friggin dangerous and all that dancing around and dodging slashes is just silly and tiresome in fiction.

    4. As others have mentioned, realism... Although in fantasy it's not that important as long as the author has established the "rules" of their fantasy universe.

    5. Swords pulled from a back strap. It looks so inconvenient. I watched this youtuber's, Metatron's, videos on the subject and it just looked soooo cumbersome. Just wear it on your hip, especially if it's long.

    6. I actually kinda like magic in fantasy fights. It's an element we can't have in the real world, so it adds something new, unpredictable.
     
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  12. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    As an add-on to what's been said: A fight is a physical extension of conflict. There is always some sort of underlying reason for a fight, never just for the sake of it. Even if it's a friendly competition between allies, it is usually something that reinforces their bond with each other, or perhaps weakens it. Even in the real world, no one fights without purpose, even if they are forced to fight. There is a message in every punch and kick thrown, therefore every fight is an unspoken dialogue between the fighters. This isn't to say that dialogue needs to be super complex: For instance, in a fight for pure glory, the only statement a fighter desires to make is "I am the greatest, acknowledge me."

    Keep this in mind when putting a fight into your story, that every action must have an impetus.

    On a similar note every action must have a consequence or reaction, however minor it may be. If there is purpose to your fight scene, then what is the result of the fight? What are all the possible outcomes and how would each outcome affect the story differently? The end of a fight might represent a resolution of conflict, but the aftermath of that conflict should be taken into account when continuing the story. Perhaps your main character sustains an injury that affects his/her capabilities in future battles, or he/she kills an enemy based on false information, and that decision comes back to haunt them later. Just as with any other activity in a story, a fight must carry weight to justify it occurring, or else you are wasting the time of the characters and, ultimately, the readers.
     
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  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm not sure thats true - the main 'message' in a lot of real world fights is "I've had too much to drink and an am now acting like a dickhead"
     
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  14. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    Like I said, the message does not need to be complex, but it is still a message, something had to have initiated the desire for the drunk to fight, and simply being inebriated does not change that they have something to say with their fists.
     
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  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    yeah but like a lot of stuff drunks say its unintelligble and won't make much sense in the morning .... as reasons for starting a fight go "he looked at me funny/looked at my girl/spilt my beer/ was wearing a millwall shirt " don't really cut it .... for the other guy his motivation will either be self defence of more "i'm drunk and think its okay to act like dickhead"

    On the whole i have problems with "must" in writing rules ... its perfectly possible to write a fight scene of no great plot import
     
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  16. MythMachine

    MythMachine Active Member

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    Looking from the outside in, those reasons don't seem all that important, certainly nothing to fight over, and perhaps the drunk people question would reflect on their actions in regret. In that moment, however, they find those reasons important enough to risk violence. A drunken message is still a message, however silly it may seem to people from the outside.
     
  17. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Senior Member

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    I think the main message is "I am irresponsible with my pride".
    That is from someone that is nearly 50, has spent most of my life fighting, still fight fools, and can goad almost anyone into a fight in a matter of minutes by simply insulting someone's pride.
    The situations you mention are pride, not alcohol, and would happen eventually, whether drunk or not
     
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  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    nah .. personally sober I'd just laugh at you and tell you to F off.... its alcohol that turns reasonable people into fuck gibbons
     
  19. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    1. How long should a fight scene last?

    A fight is a story. It should last long enough to tell the story. If your fight does not tell a story, it should not be included in the narrative. The relative abilities of the characters involved simply aren't relevant; the reader isn't here to watch the amazing stunts or to enjoy the complex interplay of attack and defense, because those things don't exist on the page--and, even if they did, only an aficionado of a given style of combat will really have any appreciation for what's going on. Either that or a pretentious jackass.

    Thinking of characters like video game bosses is a terrible error.

    2. What is too long or too short?

    If your reader is disappointed when it's over--if the story of the fight is not commensurate with the significance of the result--then it was too short. If the reader skims, it's too long. Note that many readers have an amazingly low threshold for skimming when it comes to fight scenes, because they often only care about who wins.

    The last fight scene I wrote was five sentences long. People seemed to like it.

    3. What is cliche or lame in a fight?

    Pretty much everything. If you're showing someone fighting, there's a decent chance you're showing something lame. It's easy to go overboard describing this stuff, and it gets easier as your audience ages. Younger audiences will be more forgiving.

    4. What do you like seeing?

    The best thing about combat is that it can reveal the essence of a character. A good example is the first fight scene in the film Ronin, where we discover that Mr. Special Air Service is a giant wuss and can't shoot straight. A lot of the fight scenes in Indiana Jones are similarly awesome, because they put so much of Indy's character on display. You can say the same (for the same actor, actually) with Han and Greedo in the bar.

    5. What do you find cliche in...

    I swear you already asked this, but let me talk about a specific cliche that absolutely drives me batshit crazy: I don't like finding out about new and unexpected capabilities. If this new and unexpected capability of a character is a lynchpin of the plot, ok, sure. Great. The whole reason we have the story is that this ability exists, and it's ok that we find out about it in a surprising way. But if this ability is orthogonal to the plot and it's thrown in just to raise the power level by another hundred points or so... Well, screw you, Mr. Author.

    6. What do you like about fantasy fights?

    Er. Same thing I like about any fight, but... How about this? Fantasy affords an opportunity for diametric interaction between good and evil, and that's rare in other venues, so take advantage of it when you can.
     
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  20. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    lmao I love Snipes.

    "Mother fucker, are you out of your damn mind?" :D
     
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  21. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Former fencing club member back in college, and I have a slight correction: pretty much everyone who has their hand broken is somehow (not so miraculously) still able to use it. Your hand is like 90% tendons, so the bones are just there to add kind of a general shape to what is otherwise a mass of strings--and remember that the hand has more than one of just about every damn bone in it, all lined up side by side to support one another. Unless it's a pretty bad break, it's not a huge deal--it just fuckin' hurts.
     
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  22. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    That Metatron guy is awesome.
     
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  23. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    yeah that - back in college I played about 45 mins of rugby with a broken hand... and thats just sport, if you are fighting for your life you'll have so much endophins and adrenaline in your system you won't even notice its broken till later

    This is also why in KM they teach you to go for the opponents collar bones rather than his hands - with two broken collar bones he isnt using a weapon any time soon
     
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  24. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Senior Member

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    Yeah, I find it annoying with the guns too. And how Hollywood actors will cock a gun and five minutes later recock a gun in the same scene.

    I like what you had to say about consequences. That's how wars are started from improper assassinations, or escalated.

    LMAO

    I can agree with you, my husband broke his hand punching a relative in the face during a fight but continually used it during the same fight even after the first hit which caused it to break. Heads are strong hands are delicate flowers but if your adrenaline is going you're likely not really going to notice it until everything is all said and done.
     
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