Write On! 5-31-23

Write On! 5-31-23

Posted on 5-31-23


How to write a great fight scene?

Start with the bare bones, and it won’t look pretty—at first.

To start a fight scene, think about the reason for the scene. What is the final achievement of this scene? What makes this character want to fight, need to fight, have to fight, consider a fight, forced into a fight? Does the hero fail? Does the hero kill the villain? Is it a draw to fight another day? Is it a training exercise?

Fight scenes can be, ironically, a two-edged sword. Too many fights get boring. Not enough fights get boring. Where there should be a fight, none happens.

Of course, every book is different and the needs for fighting will come at different stages.

First, think of your outcome with this fight. Then write how you see it play out in your mind—the bones. Once you’ve done this, go back and fill it in, flesh it out, so to speak. This is where you add more movement. This is where you add dialogue, if needed. This is where protection or survival mode kicks in… or doesn’t kick in.

Now this is important when constructing your fight scene: When you first write a fight scene, it will be all telling. Ahh, the old showing versus telling.

But we want our readers to experience the fight. We want them in the middle of our greatest fight scene ever! So when you flesh out your scene, you’ll switch it into showing using the five senses.

Well, I know boxing, martial arts, street fighting… you say.

Great! Use it. But don’t tell me about it. Show me. Put me into the fight.

Now, if you do know how to fight and you use it in your fight scenes, make sure you stay away from jargon others won’t understand. And if you don’t know how to fight, don’t go looking up fancy words to use in your scenes.

If I tell you I used the Three Step Arrow on my opponents, do you even know what that is? Chances are, no.

Now if I tell you I used a palm strike, or a roundhouse kick. Do you know what those are? Chances are, yes.

I’ve used palm strike and finger strike in my fight scenes. Why? Because I don’t have to explain these technically. If I tell you I palm-strike his nose, then you automatically can envision that. Make the moves believable and make them easy to understand.

And don’t forget the dialogue.

Internal dialogue can be helpful in fight scenes, too – self-doubt, ‘am I good enough?’ or ‘oh, no, he’s getting one over on me!’ Especially if your character is still learning.

External dialogue can also be helpful. Especially if you have a snarky character, or a disdainful character.

And this will add to the overall scene making your characters come to life!

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to…

Write On!


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