Writing Fight Scenes
Now, before you begin writing your epic, action-packed fight scene, you must learn the basics of pacing. Fighting in real life is a mixture of various strides. If you have ever been in a street fight, which I hope you have not, you will know that they happen quickly, and they are suddenly over in matter of minutes or seconds. This is the difference between professional fighting and street fighting.
If you have watch professional fights, these trained fighters’ battles seemingly go on for hours. However, as different as they may seem from street fighting, they have many similarities in writing, contrasted with the pacing.
For example, let us take your average person with no knowledge of fighting, battling against someone who is exactly as inexperienced. When writing this fight, you will most likely have more dialogue. Let’s face it, humans tend to be arrogant. In addition, someone who has never experienced something but seen it will think it is as easy as it looks. Therefore, before the fighting begins, I suggest writing a lot snarky, arrogant dialogue. (Note: The previous statement is dependent upon the person’s emotion, goal, and personality.)
However, before I get too ahead of myself in fighting dialogue, let me redress the difference of pacing. A good rule of thumb is that fewer sentences (or and with fewer words) equal faster pacing, and more sentences (or and with more words) equal slower pacing. Take for example, a sword or lightsaber duel. In these fights, the swordsman or Jedi use formulated styles, or forms and tactics. Mace Windu using his aggressive style will most likely use less sentences to convey the speed of the action. On the other hand, someone like Obi Wan Kenobi will use more sentences to convey a slower, defensive form. However, because it is a duel, you must find a balance between the varieties of pacing. This sells a fight!
Inexperienced Fighters Pacing and Dialogue:
I want to go a step further with pacing. As I mentioned above, someone lacking fighting experience will tend to be cocky. However, this fight’s pacing will most likely be a quick, chaotic rumble. In addition, there will be certain moments of freezing, pausing, etc. This shows inexperience. To sum it up this fight will use fewer words or sentences more often.
Trained Fighters Pacing and Dialogue:
I must say there is a huge difference with trained fighters pacing and dialogue, essentially because it depends upon the specific form of fighting. If you have a trained fighter in a bar fight, he/she will tend to talk less or not at all, showing their experience. However, because of their vast differences of styles, the method of their fighting differs. With my comparison of Windu and Kenobi, I highlight an example of the different methods. Therefore, it is up to the writer to research the movements, tactics, and gestures a fighter does within a particular style.
This is the tricky part of writing fight scenes. In a fight like swordsmen or Jedi, these tend to be duels. Before these duels begin, fighters either commence a standoff, examining their opponent. This will be an overdrawn analysis using various, long sentences, until everything shifts in speed. Before that shift, the dialogue depends upon the character. For example, if you have someone like Kenobi in a standoff, he will attempt to avoid fighting and reason his way out. If you have someone like Anakin, he will be brasher in his reasoning and more up the idea of fighting. The amount of dialogue depends on personality and goals.
However, these changes occur upon the way you want to begin a fight. If you desire an ambush like beginning, it should start quickly, with zero dialogue or a sudden transition through interruption of dialogue.
Using the environment:
Within a fictional or nonfictional world, objects need to be in the action. When a fight takes place, you should provide the reader a sense of the environment slightly beforehand, and then add little more displaying the destruction. If you give the reader a sense of a living and breathing environment, they will be in awe or feel a sense of fanaticism.
Role of bystanders:
Most fights do not involve only two people. If you remember a school fight, you will mostly gain an audience. They will support their friends, instigate the fighters, take out their phone, and do anything for excitement. I once had a friend who, every time a fight was about to start, was the first one to run off to see it. Some people have a dangerous attraction to violence. Sometimes they will join the fight, try to stop it – call the police or try to break it up themselves. It is important to make it known where, when, and what they are doing. Sometimes bystanders are there before the fight, there after the fight, or come when the fight is in progress. This is something that can definitely add realism to a story.
A battle is not only physical but also emotional. It is a battle between strategy, goals, or simply anger/ jealousy. People are protective in nature; they attempt to defend their friends or family members against anyone trying to harm them. It is important to display the reasons why they are fighting. Most people do not fight for no reason, unless they are insane or have bloodlust.
The shift of emotion is vital. When you write a story, it is important to include the shifting of anger, or someone staying calm. This is a difference between trained fighters and non-trained. Going even further, this shift can mark a characterization or goal. For example, in Star Wars, when Qui Gon dies, Obi Wan bursts in anger. This establishes the importance of his relationship with his friend, master.
Sometimes if we have a solid base of the relationship of the characters, it is important to intensify the emotion as the fight slowly progresses. The person begins hitting harder, stronger, and his/her adrenaline is pumping.
This depends on how long of a fight you plan. If you want a long, epic battle scene, this is your redeeming quality or your doom. If combat stays the same from beginning to end, – the fighter still trying the same aggressive attacks repeatedly – either provides a sense of characterization or bores your reader. Transition is important in any form of writing.
Difference between Metaphysical and Realistic Fighting:
Superhero fighting: There is a huge difference between the different medium of fights. From the damage to the environment to the injuries, things are different. Superhero fights appear dramatic, powerful. In addition, they change based upon the powers or skills.
In realistic bouts, you are under the laws of physics. I do not expect anyone to know everything about physics; however, the basics are important. You must know if someone bends his or her leg a certain way, it will break. You must know if someone is punched hard enough in the temple, they will mostly be KO’d. If you break these things, you should not be calling this real.
Aftereffect of the fight/after the fight:
I remember one day in high school, after a guy fought another for breaking up with his best friend, he head-butted the clock hanging on the wall. This was a release of extensive anger. By no means do I suggest trying this out in real life, but little bits like this make a story more interesting. In addition, blood or injuries are must have. It is highly unlikely someone gets out a fight unharmed. Sometimes people injuries are extensive. In addition, you can provide a lot of characterization with after fights dialogue. For example, after a fight, a person says, “I’ll get him next time.” This provides a sense of being a sore loser or hurt pride – because they know, there will be no rematch.
Watch swordfights, boxing, any martial arts, street fights, or anything highlighting the different styles of fighting. However, it is important to understand the difference between visual mediums. Not everything you see can be written the same.
Secondly, I recommend listening to music with contrasting tempos to symbolize the pace or transitions in your mind.
Thirdly, show the struggle. The best advice I ever heard about the hero’s struggle: “Remember that the hero must barely survive each kind of attack, and he must start running out of options. Especially in the final showdown, the hero must be forced to go beyond his abilities and must face some element of his ultimate fear. He must do what he considers unthinkable or impossible to win.” - Marilynn Byerly
Finally, I suggest planning your fights. Document key locations where something important happens. This is a key reason why professional wrestling is popular; they pre-choreograph certain moves.
A/N: This is my tips for other Fan Fic writers, which will be put in the tip thread.