Writing Fight Scenes

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Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Robin » 17 Nov 2010, 18:16

Having some issues writing this fight scene. How do I move away from: Good guy does this, bad guy reacts. Bad guy does this, good guy reacts.
This is so frustrating.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby cheekychook » 17 Nov 2010, 18:20

Robin wrote:Having some issues writing this fight scene. How do I move away from: Good guy does this, bad guy reacts. Bad guy does this, good guy reacts.
This is so frustrating.


Depending on the pov you're using for the scene you could show the internal reactions of one person or the other. In any case you could try describing the sights/sounds/smells/tastes involved rather than just the action. But then I don't generally write fight scenes, so I could be wrong.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Down the well » 17 Nov 2010, 18:38

A trick I use (I'm writing in first person) is to include small details that only my MC would notice -- like the smell of the other guy's breath and knowing what he had for lunch, or seeing something odd like an untied shoelace or undone button, or maybe recognizing the cologne on the other guy and relating it to someone else the MC knows. Sometimes juxtaposing something odd or quirky or really personal against the violence adds an interesting layer. Anything to break up the monotony of describing just the action.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Moni12 » 17 Nov 2010, 18:52

Another good method is to use short sentences. I heard it before and tried it myself. Just try not to describe too much in one sentence, somehow it works.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby polymath » 17 Nov 2010, 19:12

A fast paced action fight scene might portray a few exchanges of feints, parries, and blows. Action and reaction sequences might have an intervening sequence of refusals or strategic temporary withdrawals, boasting exchanges--dialogue--and taunts.

In another action and reaction sequence a viewpoint character might internally appraise the opponent's committment to the fight, abilities, weaknesses, strengths, and compare them to his or her own. Also, the viewpoint character might internally express commentary about the fight, anything topically relevant, the stupidity of violence, violence as a last resort, mano-a-mano dueling for superiority, and so on.

An expanded general action-reaction template might include reporting a sensation, visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, perhaps gustatory (at least the taste of blood flowing from a mouth wound), and then cognitively processing the sensation or noncognitively reacting to the sensation, or then reacting to the cognitive processing.

A more complex template might be action perceived by sensation, cognitive introspection processing, conversation, feint action reaction, refusal to engage, cogntive introspection, parry, reparte, and so on. One swish of a cutlass could encompass a paragraph or more of narration and conversation.

But if I recollect correctly, you're working on a fight scene that's over quickly with the viewpoint character losing. I have a sense the fight scene is also incited quickly, like out of the blue as far as the viewpoint character is concerned. I feel the viewpoint character would be confused and trying to make sense of why the fight happens while it's unfolding and still trying to make sense of it after it's over, over before defensive fight or flight survival instincts kick in.

I think in that case dramatic irony is indicated. Readers know why the fight happens, the viewpoint character doesn't. The fight is pending, not certain, until the viewpoint character under assault makes a comment or gesture that is the triggering event that precipitates the assault. Prepositioning causal reasons the attacker wants a confrontation would fit that bill.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby cheekychook » 17 Nov 2010, 19:48

Down the well wrote:A trick I use (I'm writing in first person) is to include small details that only my MC would notice -- like the smell of the other guy's breath and knowing what he had for lunch, or seeing something odd like an untied shoelace or undone button, or maybe recognizing the cologne on the other guy and relating it to someone else the MC knows. Sometimes juxtaposing something odd or quirky or really personal against the violence adds an interesting layer. Anything to break up the monotony of describing just the action.


Right, that's what I meant about bringing in other senses rather than just describing action. Fight scene/love scene/etc---any type of high emotion/high tension moment will have other elements that are noticed. It brings people's senses out more dramatically---time can slow down or speed up, you may notice odd things that you might not notice otherwise (a scent, the sound of your own breathing). Basically anything that adds to the description of the moment will help to break up the play-by-play of the action part of the scene.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Robin » 17 Nov 2010, 19:49

Cheeky- Thanks!
DTW- Grrr!!! I wish I could do that, but unfortunately, My MC is watching 2 guys (one good, one bad) fight.
Moni- Short sentences, yes!

Poly- Knew you wouldn't let me down. Thanks!!!
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby polymath » 17 Nov 2010, 20:56

Okay. Three characters in the scene, a bystander, a good guy, and a bad guy. If the bystander is the main character whose viewpoint observes the fight, that would mean either a first person overt narrator reporting or a third person covert narrator reporting the observer's perceptions and cognitions. Although not an absolute, for simplicity's sake, that would mean the observer is the one whose thoughts, observations, cognitive actions and reactions and judgements about the fight and perceivable emotions and surface thoughts of the fighters takes precedence.

A basic template: visual and aural perceptions causing cognitive thought effects (introspection) about actions, sensations, and conversations.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Quill » 18 Nov 2010, 08:06

I'd borrow a pile of action books out of the library and read a bunch of fight scenes. See how those authors did it.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Steppe » 18 Nov 2010, 11:41

What is the outcome of the fight is the main strategy question.
Are the both bullying for position with neither willing to kill the other.
Is one already prepared to kill if necessary and the other unaware of the conflicts level.
Does the MC have enough attachment to either combatant, emotionally or financially, to enter the conflict.

I put my best fighter (attitudes) resources up in a .pdf holder.
I would post portions but they go beyond fair use do to length.

https://sites.google.com/site/intraphase/documents

Fighter-01 & Fighter-02

The dynamics of bullying and various counter strategies is best handled by file Fighter-01
A lot of good emotional understanding of what it means to be violent and use violence in Fighter-02
Close combat is not pretty and involves groping until you get control of a death/disability point.
Stand off fight and runs where both characters struggle for control of a battleground is good form of theatrical writing.
Also the characters can have their monologues without giving a hint of the outcome and suddenly one executes.
Most murders between rivals occur suddenly to gain the coveted prize of *the element of surprise* that leads to a successful kill.

Fight scenes are important. Violence in modern literature (is in my twisted opinion) a surrogate form of sexuality.
That's why a professional gets it over quick, wears gloves, and immediately drops the gun if up close to escape; or packs and leaves
after approaching the target from a sniping distance.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 Nov 2010, 14:38

Fight scenes are like fighting itself.

Practice, practice, practice.

They come with time, focus, learning, and re-writing them to be better. :3
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Robin » 18 Nov 2010, 15:09

sierramcconnell wrote:Fight scenes are like fighting itself.

Practice, practice, practice.

They come with time, focus, learning, and re-writing them to be better. :3


Thanks... if thats the case, I feel like the Karate Kid (or Kung Fu Panda on bad day)

;)
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 Nov 2010, 15:13

Robin wrote:
sierramcconnell wrote:Fight scenes are like fighting itself.

Practice, practice, practice.

They come with time, focus, learning, and re-writing them to be better. :3


Thanks... if thats the case, I feel like the Karate Kid (or Kung Fu Panda on bad day)

;)


Do you have any books you could read with fight scenes in them? Maybe analyze the details there?

I like to describe weapons, clothing, and gory things like how they wound. I'm also guilty of explaining movement in glorious ways. Sound effects, smells, sights, and barbs. Those help break up the action.

What sort of fight is it? Swords? Are they using long swords, short swords, katana, rapiers? Do they have jeweled hilts, carved hilts, wooden or metal? Are there chains on them? Are they sparkly or dull? Do they have a smell to them?

What about the clothing? Are they ragged and worn? Are the men tired? What does the person see? Dancing? Jerking movements? Exhaustion in one man and a sure victory in the other? Is it beauty in motion? Sunlight glistening off the armor of the man who is most certainly a devil in disguise?!

[cough]

I love detail.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Todd Packer » 19 Nov 2010, 09:35

What may help is watching real fights online and imagining what the people, I almost typed "characters" :) are thinking/feeling. Sadly, (or not, depending on your perspective), youtube has thousands of real life fight videos. Plus, you'll get a more realistic look at what fights are like in real life between people who aren't trained professionals - they're quick, violent, sloppy, etc.

I recently wrote a climatic fight scene from a dog's POV, and as much as I didn't want to, I knew I had to see clips of dog fights to know what happens.
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Re: Writing Fight Scenes

Postby Down the well » 19 Nov 2010, 09:38

Todd Packer wrote: Sadly, (or not, depending on your perspective), youtube has thousands of real life fight videos. Plus, you'll get a more realistic look at what fights are like in real life between people who aren't trained professionals - they're quick, violent, sloppy, etc.


Yeah, youtube is great for research. I watched dozens of videos of self-defense tactics when I was putting together a one-on-one fight scene that comes at the end of my novel. Learned a lot.
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