Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fight Scenes

I freaking love writing fight scenes. I find it very challenging, though. To write a good fight scene, you have to keep a few things in mind.

1. Variety

Verbs in fight scenes are really crucial, since that's basically how you're going to get all the action across. If you use the same verbs over and over again, like "punch" and "kick," it gets really dull really fast. Of course, you have to use those words a few times, but after one or two uses the reader will get that the characters are punching and kicking each other. I try to use words like "smash," "connect," "blast," and "puncture" to keep things interesting.

2. Choreography

You have to know exactly where in time and space these characters are fighting. What's around them? Is there anything lying around that someone could use as a weapon? How are they going to move around the setting during the fight? Is one character a lot stronger than the other, pinning his opponent down and pummelling him, never allowing him the chance to get a punch in? Or is the fight more evenly matched, more dynamic, with more back-and-forth?

3. Emotional Impact

This is by far the most important. Why are they fighting? Why is a physical fight the best way for these characters to interact right now? If these characters don't have a good enough reason to be fighting, we're not going to care who wins. If the issue could be easily solved with a negotiation, why are they beating the crap out of each other? It has to make sense. When two characters come head-to-head for a real reason, when there are real stakes and the emotions climax, that's when your reader is glued to the page. If the emotions between the characters have been slowing building, getting hotter and hotter, and they finally come to a head and everyone breaks out into the most animalistic kind of fighting, that's when the fight works.

Think of fight scenes as love scenes. Is there a connection between the characters? Is there a lot of build-up? Are the emotions coming to head in a way that makes sense? Is the choreography easy to follow? How graphic do you want it to be? Wow, fight scenes and love scenes have a lot in common! ;)

Do you like writing fights? Or do your characters solve their problems in more civilized ways?


  1. LOL fun post. Actually, my most recent WIP is a dystopian from the male pov and there is a substantial amount of fighting and weapons. It is kind of fun, I'll admit:)

  2. I've written plenty of emotional/verbal fight scenes but few physical fight scenes and I think I have a lot to learn with writing physical fights. My next WIP will have more fights so it's definitely an area I need to develop some writing muscles in. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Just wanted to say, Becca C... I love seeing all your thoughtful comments on Absolute Write... You have a powerful presence, and you manage to always be helpful yet positive with everyone... I've been checking in on your blog occasionally for a little while... Figured I may as well make it official... ;)

  4. Thank you, Lisa Ann! :) Glad to hear it. I love AW.