What Was That? You Wanna Fight?

When starting this blog I asked friends what they would be interested in seeing from a blog based around writing. One of the biggest requests I got was writing fight scenes. So… how do you write a fight scene you say?

Beats me.

I wish I had some clear advice to give, but honestly I’ve winged every one I’ve ever written. So far what I’ve been told is that they’re good to read, but who knows if that’s a bias. The way I go about it is generally thinking back to other authors, but also what you tend to see in war movies as well as novels based on war.

Yep, I said movies (Good movies mind you). I don’t mean the ridiculous amounts of Michael Bay-esque explosions or the dramatic stunts and heroes who live through wounds that are blatantly fatal. I mean the chaos. You are going to be writing from the perspective of a character, so make sure to keep it that way. Keep the scene to what only they see and experience. They are not going to be aware of who is flanking who if they are in one of the center Companies unless they’re an officer made privy to that information.

A lot of books on the World Wars often tend to relate the horror of war as well. Do not be afraid to get vicious with it. War is not a pretty thing. There will be blood, guts, broken bones, and mud. People get trampled, there is friendly fire, people panic, and others fly into a blood lust.

Of course, how it plays out will vary a lot based on what kind of fight we are talking about. A one on one fight is far different than a soldier on the battlefield. On the battlefield there are mass amounts of information to take in so chaos is your friend. Short sentences to the point tend to create more tension. Focus will constantly be shifting from one threat to the next and the unexpected is expected to occur.

One versus one generally is “calmer”. There is only one target to focus on; one goal. I allow myself more room for observation here. In this situation my character is far more likely to notice a twitch preluding an attack or catch onto a feint than on the battlefield where there is no time for that.

A battlefield is sensory overload where as a duel is all focus. The more opponents the more likely your characters attentions will fray in multiple directions.

I suppose my main goal is not to focus too heavily on just the actions of sword slashes and magic casting, but to give the reader a sense of atmosphere. Does the battle appear to be going well? Is all hell breaking loose? What are the sounds and the sights around? Or is it all coming in so fast the character can only process it in short bursts and flashes?

For a one on one I delve more into the thought process; the calculation behind attack and defense. Character thoughts are allow to stray to something beyond just survival.

Hopefully this is of some aid. I still feel like a novice on such a subject. At the very least I hope this gives the wanted insight into my process that was requested even if it does not necessarily help.


One thought on “What Was That? You Wanna Fight?

  1. Mark says:

    Good advice there. I’ve also read somewhere, just like you point out, to keep the sentences short during fighting scenes, so as not to spoil the flow, where sometimes long-winded descriptions don’t help.

    David Gemmell, author of Druss the Legend and Waylander was a master of battlefield and fighting writing.

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