Fights are hard to write, because they require wide-ranging details for visualizing the action, which needs to be fast-paced. The pacing is the first flaw that usually points to a clash between the writer and his subject. One way to overcome the problem of pacing is to be meticulous about what to include in a fight scene.
Fight scenes should not be cluttered. The readers will have difficulty following the action if too much description of the action is squeezed in one scene. In addition, while describing the fight scene, writing short sentences will speed up the action and long ones will slow it down.
One approach to look at a fight scene, especially a street-fight type of a scene, is from the personal point of view. Most people have not fought physically, let alone hit a person, in real life. Unless the writer interviews someone who is an expert in this area and learns from him, he may write the fight scenes by giving weight to emotions rather than to the details of the action. He might pad up the action scenes with the rule of three, which is: Every sentence of action can be followed by two of description of emotion or reaction. Example: Jennie’s fingernails screeched across the intruder’s face. The blood came out in tiny spurts, dripping down on his white shirt. The man’s eyes narrowed in anger, and he raised his fists, ready to hit her.
Another way to enhance a one-on-one fight scene is to blend in the audience or what is going around the fighters into the scene; for example, mentioning the furniture knocked out or broken, the expressions on the onlookers’ faces, or the traffic stopped etc. This will add another dimension to the action.
Fight scene circumstances are endless. To define them properly and to point out the differences between two fight scenes, the surroundings and where the fights take place should be varied when the story contains two or more fight scenes. The objects of the fight or the arms used by both sides also matter, and these need to be researched well. If the writer makes a Roman soldier hold up a chariot with an AK-57, his story will not be credible, unless it is a spoof.
In writing the war or battle action, the point of view can make all the difference. If the story is written from a single person’s subjective point of view, that character should not be thrown in the thick of fighting, unless the plot dictates him to be killed or seriously wounded. He should, instead, watch the battle and witness other characters’ actions from a strategic point in the area.
Another method is to switch among the objective third person points of view of two or three people. The added benefit to these multiple points of view is that they make the battle story read like an epic.
In fight scenes, as in love scenes, each motion needs to be choreographed to become believable. If a fallen down knight on the ground sticks his lance into a giant’s eye, the reader will not be able to picture that action, but if the giant kneels down to look at the knight and then the knight sticks the lance into the giant’s eye, the action will be more imaginable.
It is crucial that fight scenes do not depict one violent act after another, and wars, one battle after another. To avoid the boredom from continual action, a mix of story tools and character development can be used. These will add to the drama and move the plot forward. To achieve this objective, the writer can weave the fight scenes into the fabric of the entire story, especially highlighting the characters.
In their essence, all stories revolve around characters. Even true-to-life battle stories deal with specific characters, and the greatest battles star individuals; for example, in the Second World War, Hitler vs. Churchill or Rommel vs. Montgomery. This logic also applies to the supernatural characters, because fiction is a personal creation, and in all its forms, it represents the truths of human beings.
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