Fight-Scene Mechanics

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Learn to master suspense, and you’ll have your readers literally squirming to turn the page.  This is particularly true with fight scenes.  The build up is the perfect place to lay down what is truly at stake for your characters, to make clear the price of failure.

Don’t underestimate the value of this phase.  A good build up will often last longer than the fight itself, and rightly so.  Take Gandalf’s confrontation with the Balrog in the mines of Moria, for example.  The actual fight didn’t last long.  It was the build up to that moment which made it great – the lore, the menace and the darkness, the chase through the mines, all of it culminating with the breaking of the bridge.

Sometimes there’s not even any action in this phase, because you don’t need it; everything is implied.  That nasty, serrated hatchet the goblin is shaking at your character speaks for itself.  You can just imagine the damage its rusty edge would do to unprotected flesh, and oh no, your heroine isn’t wearing any armor either.  Small details can help differentiate the impending conflict from a run-of-the-mill battle by increasing tension and upping the stakes.  It can also be a great opportunity for horror.”

To read all fight-scene tips from, click the image, or click HERE.


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How to Write a Fight Scene

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“Among the typically difficult scenes writers face in their stories, the fight scene definitely ranks high on the list. Below you will find several resources with tips for writing a good fight scene.

  • Action with a Side of Zombies: One of our articles focused specifically on writing action scenes. Bonus:  the examples all include zombies.
  • ArchetypesAndAllusions: An article on the three main types of fighters and their various approaches to kickin’ ass (or not).
  • Alan Baxter, speculative fiction author, gives some great advice on characterization, setting, martial style, and cliches.
  • A PDF that takes you through writing a fight scene step by step by Randy Ingermanson, compiled by Bryce Beattie.
  • An extremely good guide to writing fight scenes. This guide includes tips on character viewpoint, mapping the fight, and tricks for writing each type of fight.
  • This site is an interview with famed fantasy author R.A. Salvatore on how to write great fight scenes.
  • TheBusinessOfWriting: C. Patrick Schulze gives some good, solid advice on identifying and writing your fight scene.
  • Marq McAlister explains how to make a fight scene pack some serious punch. This article is good for fine-tuning.
  • Martin Turner: Focusing specifically on sword-fighting scenes, Martin Turner writes in great detail on every conceivable detail of this type of time-honored fight scene.
  • Susan tells you about the three types of fight scene writers and explains how to fix the problems that arise for each type.
  • David Alan Lucus: This multi-part guide gives advice in exhaustive detail on how to write an awesome fight scene.
  • NightFoot: This Tumblr post offers some great tips for writing fight scenes.

These links provide advice specifically for writing battle scenes:

  • Gerri Blanc: eHow’s article on battle scenes is a basic step-by-step list for you. It’s a good introduction to writing battle scenes.
  • This article takes you through an in-depth guide on how to write battle scenes for fantasy stories.
  • Rhonda Leigh Jones: Jones lists some dos and don’ts of writing battle scenes.

Other resources:

  • List of Martial Arts: Looking for a fighting style? Find it here!
  • List of Weapons: Every type of weapon you can think of is listed here.
  • List of Military Tactics: From troop movements to siege warfare, this list has got you covered.
  • A few examples of awesome battle tactics from history.
  • Get some inspiration for awesome fight scenes and fighting characters from this compendium of badassitude.
  • Thearmedgentleman: Austin has offered to share his knowledge on weaponry with any writers who have questions. Thanks, Austin!”
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