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Banjo152
09-11-2018, 10:05 AM
Hi everyone,

Iím working on a novel that includes a number of fight scenes. I cannot seem to write them in a way that Iím satisfied with. I donít think Iíve ever found a scene so challenging to write. Would love to hear of some examples or tips that others have used in creating their own work.
The biggest challenge I have is avoiding the same sentence structure of Ďcharacter does this. Character retaliates by doing thisí

Thanks everyone!

Sabih888
09-11-2018, 02:50 PM
Compare with other novels and books in which this occurs, Harry potter is one example, another would be the trilogy of LOTR maybe even a biography of Muhammed ali would have a description of how the fight went, this could all be usefull.

AW Admin
09-11-2018, 03:06 PM
I'm moving this to Research. Please hold on while the vehicle is in motion.

cbenoi1
09-11-2018, 04:46 PM
Lee Child's Reacher series is full of fight scenes. Reacher, a former US Army MP, used to do what cops do. Bar one minor difference. Every guy he arrested was a trained killer. That makes Child's fight scenes that more interesting.

-cb

autumnleaf
09-11-2018, 05:32 PM
Two books I found useful:
- Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan
- Violence: A Writer's Guide by Rory Miller

Nuwanda
09-11-2018, 06:50 PM
I sat in on a lecture about this. The speakers suggestion was short, quick sentences to keep the reader hyped up with a sense of urgency. He also suggested using simple words.

Recently talking to a black belt friend of mine about my own fight scenes, we did a character breakdown...taking into account each fighter's physicality but also their mentality. My hero is a sniper so he prefers distance and will have a fighting type that reflects this. His opponent is physically small but more aggressive and so that also shapes the dynamics of th fight.

Hope this helps.

Bolero
09-12-2018, 01:39 PM
Would suggest reading Barbara Hambly's The Ladies of Madrigyn - Hambly is a black belt in... I think karate and a trained historian. She does a very interesting set of scenes on a large male mercenary giving women fighting lessons. A lot of subtle points about size, strength, centre of mass and attitude.

Also, I used to do epee fencing and that is an eye opener on the impact of physique and mentality on fighting style.

I would also note though that there could broadly be said to be two types of fighting - individual and group. Fencing, and from what little I've seen of eastern martial arts (as in karate etc) is all about the individual fighter - with advanced eastern martial arts having individual taking on multiple assailants. In epee a lot of what you do depends on mobility and responding to what your opponent has just done. But what you don't have is teamwork fighting - as in what an army does - whether it is close quarters infantry with swords all staying shoulder to shoulder, or modern platoon covering each other as they take turns moving.

As a reader, I like fight scenes that are in part in the characters head - as in commentary. Little bits like "so glad I stopped to put my armour on", the emotion of the fight. Pure bash, crash bores me. A matter of taste, but I am also not a fan of what I think of as "rock, paper, scissors" fight scenes where there is an extensive running commentary on the relative merits of different weapons. A little bit - as in decide to pick an opponent with a weapon you could beat, OK, but not an extended discourse on the merits of every weapon present. To me, too much exposition is a bit like having a pause button - the fight starts, the narrator presses the pause button for a documentary on weapons and fighting styles and then unpresses the pause and the fight continues. If you are up on a castle wall, surveying the incoming army, yeah OK, but not when you are in a melee.

Another thought is the level of expertise of your fighter and experience of scrapping - which is not quite the same thing. If you are used to fighting in a practice room in a controlled environment, being attacked on the street would be a different experience. Separating out what is going on, and then reacting to it takes practice. So for a beginner, the fight would go by in a whirl of pictures - face and fist coming towards him, managed to duck, where did that go, oh *** where did he come from but for an experienced person they'd be picking up on who is the most dangerous, is that person lurking by the wall part of the opposing team and about to mix it or not....

CWatts
09-12-2018, 07:00 PM
Seconding the Rory Miller book. There's a lot of visceral details like how things smell. (Don't read that part at mealtime.)

The How to Fight Write blog is great as well: http://howtofightwrite.tumblr.com/

Kjbartolotta
09-12-2018, 08:18 PM
One of my favorite posts on writing fight scenes. 5 Tips For Fight Scenes (https://decastell.com/5-tips-for-fight-scenes/). De Castell is a trained stage fighter and pretty good at writing fight scenes, IMHO, with an emphasis on swashbuckling.

(I hate writing 'em, BTW, but find that times I've just done it the end result is not as bad as I thought)

Patty
09-12-2018, 09:19 PM
There's a post on AW somewhere about fight scenes (maybe 5 years old) and it shifted my thinking from writing a blow-by-blow to writing the internal reaction of the PoV character.

She threw her left fist. It connected with his jaw.
He struck back. Got her in the eye.
She kicked. Straight to his groin.
He groaned, grabbed her and wrestled her to the ground.

Might be better as:

She punched hard to his jaw and her knuckles felt as though they might shatter from the impact. No time worry about that, he was already striking back. Straight to her left eye. Pain blossomed into her skull and down her cheek. Unable to see, she kicked, her luck holding as she connected straight to his crotch. The fleeting satisfaction of hearing his groan was enough that she scrambled to stand again. But he had her, and he was stronger. She found herself on the ground, with him on top.


(This is all written on the fly to illustrate the point.)

blacbird
09-12-2018, 11:56 PM
Point-of-view is hugely important in the construction of fight (or other highly action-filled) scenes. Are you narrating from outside the fight, e.g., omniscient viewpoint, or from a participant, either as third-limited or first-person narrative? For me, as a reader, highly-choreographed fight scenes do not work well, especially in third-limited or first-person POV. Most fights are short and participants won't really know all the details of movement.

caw

anaemic_mind
09-13-2018, 12:19 AM
I am in the process of re-writing my inciting event which is a fight scene. I've got the action part written so I know who is where and what is happening. Now I need to edit it so it actually reads well. All the POV is wrong as I'm head hopping far too much so I'm reading this thread with interest.

How would you handle a change in pov in the middle of an action scene? I have various characters involved, moving around the scene, who come round or get knocked out so am having trouble figuring out how best to manage it, especially as it's not a terribly long scene.

Al X.
09-13-2018, 02:55 AM
I am in the process of re-writing my inciting event which is a fight scene. I've got the action part written so I know who is where and what is happening. Now I need to edit it so it actually reads well. All the POV is wrong as I'm head hopping far too much so I'm reading this thread with interest.

How would you handle a change in pov in the middle of an action scene? I have various characters involved, moving around the scene, who come round or get knocked out so am having trouble figuring out how best to manage it, especially as it's not a terribly long scene.

Do mean point of view (e.g. first, second and third person), or perspective (as seen through a character's eyes)? Most fiction, particularly action adventure, is written in the third person POV, but you can certainly handle perspective changes by treating them as dialogue exchanges. For example if I want to stream some thoughts from the bad guy, I'll have him mutter an expletive then narrate his thought process.

blacbird
09-13-2018, 04:48 AM
Most fiction, particularly action adventure, is written in the third person POV,

I have to question this. I've read a fair amount of adventure fiction written in first person POV.

caw

blacbird
09-13-2018, 04:50 AM
\How would you handle a change in pov in the middle of an action scene?

I wouldn't. Maybe that's just me, but I like the intensity and focus of a single POV in situations like this, and would find a switch in POV jarring.

caw

anaemic_mind
09-13-2018, 05:19 AM
Do mean point of view (e.g. first, second and third person), or perspective (as seen through a character's eyes)? Most fiction, particularly action adventure, is written in the third person POV, but you can certainly handle perspective changes by treating them as dialogue exchanges. For example if I want to stream some thoughts from the bad guy, I'll have him mutter an expletive then narrate his thought process.

I meant perspective...the whole novel is in third person selective, with a handful of characters thoughts in different scenes and chapters.

anaemic_mind
09-13-2018, 05:32 AM
I wouldn't. Maybe that's just me, but I like the intensity and focus of a single POV in situations like this, and would find a switch in POV jarring.

caw

This is my worry. It's a very intense scene, and not long so I want to keep up the tension in it. It starts with secondary characters dealing with the aftermath of a fight and then the antagonist starts fighting again. My main issue is my MC who's the main focus of the fight is unconscious at the start of the scene so I need to find a way to switch to them halfway through it when they come round.

spork
09-13-2018, 06:09 AM
Is it important for your MC to be fully unconscious? If not, you could have him/her be knocked down and observing the fight, which keeps part of the focus on your MC while the secondary characters are interacting with the antagonist. Also, if your MC if disoriented, he/she isn't likely to notice all the fine details and actions of the fight. Instead of "John punched Jane in the cheek," you could put something like, "Bob's fingers twitched toward Jane as she collapsed, his vision spinning along with her spiral to the ground."

anaemic_mind
09-13-2018, 06:47 AM
Is it important for your MC to be fully unconscious? If not, you could have him/her be knocked down and observing the fight, which keeps part of the focus on your MC while the secondary characters are interacting with the antagonist. Also, if your MC if disoriented, he/she isn't likely to notice all the fine details and actions of the fight. Instead of "John punched Jane in the cheek," you could put something like, "Bob's fingers twitched toward Jane as she collapsed, his vision spinning along with her spiral to the ground."
I could have them come round slightly earlier...that might work for some parts. But they would definitely be unsconsious for a little bit due to their injuries. The disoriented problem is the crux of it because even conscious they're unable to hear properly at first and can't see anyway as their glasses were knocked off in the previous fight. I have some conversations and observations that happen before that point. Once the MC is conscious that's when the action starts, as they start fighting who they think is the antagoinist...but it's actually one of the other characters...then the antagonist starts up again, takes out the other characters and the rest of the scene is entirely focussed on the MC fighting off the antagonist so it's all their actions and thoughts.

anaemic_mind
09-13-2018, 07:33 PM
Sorry Banjo152 I seem to have hijacked your thread a bit :e2paperba

Al X.
09-14-2018, 02:21 AM
I have to question this. I've read a fair amount of adventure fiction written in first person POV.

caw

I will say there is a fair amount of literary fiction written in the first person, but I have not personally seen it in action adventure, but we obviously read in different circles. 50 Shades of Grey comes to mind (yes, I realize it is not action adventure) and it is, in my opinion, written very badly, and I've talked to others that have the same opinion. It is written in the first person. Daniel Defoe can pull it off. EL James cannot.

D. E. Wyatt
10-19-2018, 06:33 AM
What I like to do is to start the fight with a quick blow-by-blow to give a sense of style, and technique, and work some character into a fight. IE is one character strong but slow? Another quick and lively? Are they equals or does one grossly outmatch the other? Is one toying with the other? Is it a playful sparring match between friends? An earnest duel to the death? After the first exchange I'll switch to something more abstract; one character driving the other back defensively, the mood of any witnesses, (flinching at the crash of swords, a nervous friend wringing their hands) the sounds, scents, and sights, what the fighters are experiencing, (IE an extended exchange may leave their arms burning, sweat dripping into their eyes, or their lungs aching for breath. Fighting is TIRING work!) that sort of thing. Usually when I conclude a fight, I switch back to a blow-by-blow for the final stroke.

WeaselFire
10-20-2018, 12:46 AM
Two books I found useful:
- Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan
- Violence: A Writer's Guide by Rory Miller

Two votes for these. Though take what works for your scene, some of the advice can be incorrect for many situations.

Jeff

starsknight
10-25-2018, 07:03 AM
I recommend making a list of your favorite fight scenes from books--the ones where you were totally immersed in the action, where you felt the adrenaline hit you as if you were right there with the characters. Pull those books off your shelves. Read the scenes, and break down exactly what the author did to make them work. On a sentence-by-sentence basis, examine the writer's craft. Take notes. Where is the writer painting a picture in broad strokes? Hyperfocused on detail? Are the sentences short? Long? Varied? How does the sequence of action, thought, and reaction flow? How has the author structured the scene? Which senses come into play? Et cetera.

Then take all that you've learned and apply it to your books.