How to write fight scenes in books

Thanks for visiting the site, in this blog post I’m going to be expanding on my earlier one about the next two stages of writing a fight scene.  If you have not read the first post please do as it will make much more sense.  To do so, click here.

In this set of blog posts I am going to give you some of the points I consider when writing a fight scene.

Step 1 – Consider who is involved, Step 2 – The Environment we covered these earlier in the first article.  Now for the next bits.

Step 3 – Equipment

So who has what… Generally realism is my preference (as much as it can be). The Jason Bourne movies I loved as they were gritty, sharp and fast with Robert Ludlam doing a great job. The use of everyday items added a real feel to the action. It also showed the elite level combatants and how different styles worked.

This said, fantasy or sci-fi books give you far more license to be as creative as you want. We don’t know if a Vad Fusion Pistol can melt through a ships bulk head and if it’s a weapon in your book then, maybe it can!

Axes don’t work well with women characters in many settings, as a weapon of opportunity they are fine for anyone to use though. Outside a log cabin if a zombie grabs a woman’s daughter, yes by all means brain it with an axe.

Using one in a fantasy scene, for me, doesn’t cut it. It isn’t a nimble weapon in fact it is very slow and clumsy for most people.  It offers a good attack but it’s almost impossible to use a single handed one to defend yourself from an incoming attack, it’s a clumsy weapon.

Female characters seem more plausible with small sharp blades, as it’s just more believable. My wife has done a fair bit of martial arts training herself and preferred training to use small weapons, knives and a cane length staff etc.  Why, well not being sexist it just suits her frame better.  She even went far enough to say she found a normal length Katana hard going because of it’s weight.  Then, add to that the weighted head of an axe then it wouldn’t be easy.  Also, the follow up attack with an axe is often a difficult thing to do well as it relies on the weight of the head to do the damage.  This, then makes it harder to control for a second attack.

The equipment can take centre stage though. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is obvious and Jason Voorhees is always best with his trusted machete and hockey mask but variety for a hero is often as good as familiarity.

Remember these few ideas as a guide.

  • Bullets run out.
  • Body armor can but doesn’t always stop bullets.
  • Stab proof vests don’t protect the face!
  • People get tired.
  • Kevlar vests and Olympic style acrobatics don’t sit well with one another.
  • Cyborgs and Mutants ignore realism and these rules!
  • For most people fights are really scary, hurried and manic events leaving you shaken afterwards.
  • Most people will go down after two good hits in the face.
  • Wounds scored earlier will have an impact on how someone performs later.
  • Most military (British anyhow) do almost no hand to hand training – they have guns.

As with the others this isn’t an exhaustive list at all and I will write something deeper on this subject later.

Step 4 – Style

Magic and other powers ignore the rules and can make for great storytelling.  Gun fights can often be pretty clean, you get shot – you die.  So, don’t have heroes taking too many .50 cal shots unless they are Ironman and then in his armored suit.

Contrasting styles work well also. We all love two elite experts sparring away with perfect form but also contrasts work, they really do. The slugger vs the poised professional or someone who has a reason to hold back.  This can also be very memorable.

Give some thought to this earlier, fear and many other points will come into it.

Tension is a must for a memorable scene.  We’ve all had it when you walk home from a bar and some big, tough looking guy heads your way.  You feel it, the possible threat of violence but chances are the guy or group just walk on by.  Or, even he/she is as worried by your presence as you are of theirs.

Thank you for reading and if you want the third part of my blog on how to write fight scenes.

Also please remember sharing is caring, please share this post and your thoughts are welcome.