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Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! Chuck Sambuchino July 27, Fight scenes are dangerous territory for writers. In reality, though, readers tend to skip over fight scenes — skimming the long, tedious, blow-by-blow descriptions in favour of getting back to the dialogue and character-driven drama that truly engages them in the story.
This means having to ensure that every piece of action is vital and engaging; it means that every duel must draw the reader in and not let them go until the end. So how do you keep the pacing, flow, and more importantly, the drama moving forward with so many fights?
Sebastien is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter.
Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in the US to receive the book by mail. Column by Sebastien de Castellwho had just finished a degree in archaeology when he started work on his first job. Four hours later he realized how much he hated archaeology and left to pursue a very focused career as a musician, ombudsman, interaction designer, fight choreographer, teacher, project manager, actor, and product strategist.
The swashbuckling fantasy was recently praised by NPR. Connect with the author on Facebook or Twitter. Make every fight advance the plot No matter what you might think, violence is actually boring.
Only when one of the brutes is smaller, weaker, and trying desperately to stay alive long enough to let his people know that the enemy is coming does the action start to matter to the reader. Sometimes the fight provides a crucial piece of information about the antagonist such as a particular type of cut they make that could explain the wounds on a victim the protagonist discovered in the previous chapter.
The fight might also wound your protagonist, slowing them down in later scenes and giving you a chance to make their lives harder and therefore increase the suspense. Reveal character through action The way your protagonist fights — and when they choose to fight or walk away — tells the reader a great deal about them.
Your hero might be a skilled but retiscient warrior or they could be an amateur but with a bloodthirsty streak that comes out when confronted with violence. Think about what the action reveals in those watching the fight.
Does the seemingly helpful mentor figure suddenly become enraptured watching the blood flow? Do the innocent bystanders just sit there or do they scramble to help? Fight scenes that reveal character are by far the most compelling ones for readers — they get to investigate your characters by seeing how they deal with violent situations, allowing you to follow that classic dictum of modern writing: But perhaps your genre is gritty historical fiction.
If so, the last thing you want to do is break suspension of disbelief. You have to carefully ensure that the weapons and fighting styles are true to your era note: Make every fight unique I read a YA fantasy recently in which almost every fight involved the main character jumping up and spinning in the air to kick opponents in the face usually two or three.
By contrast, think of a movie like The Princess Bride, in which every fight is special — every conflict is resolved using different means, whether trickery or skill or simply iron-willed determination.
Let the reader choreograph the action If you describe every action of the fight, not only will you bore the reader but your pacing and flow will fall apart.
So think of your job not so much as having to meticulously choreograph the fight but rather to give the reader enough insight into the action that they can build the scene in their minds.14 thoughts on “ 5 Essential Tips for Writing Killer Fight Scenes ” bradenwriting May 21, at am.
Great insights. I’m writing a first draft and got stuck on the logistics of a fight scene and this article really helped me pin down what I wanted to get across in it and how to make it work. Story abouth a amazon bbw and a litle guy.
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