Fight scenes, like action scenes, can be tricky to get right in a novel. You only have your own imagination to work with and, most often, knowledge of martial arts, guns or any other weapons your characters might be using. This means that you must visualize your fight scene first – down to the most miniscule detail before you sit down to write it. You don’t want your readers to get lost during the scene, or to stop reading or skip it, especially if that fight scene is important in moving the plot forward and helps with the development of your characters. This is why we’ve gathered several tips on how to make your fight scenes blockbuster like and as realistic as possible.
1. Use the setting
A fight scene has to be clear in the mind of the reader. They need to know what is happening, where the fight is taking place, and who is doing what, which rarely leaves time for you to describe the setting of the fight in detail. This is why you should use a place that you’ve already described previously in your novel, like your protagonist’s house, or their workplace. When the fight occurs in a setting familiar to the reader, then it becomes easier for you to describe the movements of the characters, because you don’t have to focus on giving specific descriptions – you’ve already given them.
2. Build the suspense
When a fight occurs out of the blue, it can be exciting, and usually, the fight scenes at the beginning of your novel might, and probably will be like that. However, those fights scenes are just a build up to the climax fight scene, and that one needs plenty of suspense beforehand. The fight itself might not last long enough to induce tension and adrenaline, but when paired with a good buildup of suspense and, depending on the protagonist’s emotions, a little fear, then the fight scene becomes superb. This is especially the case, if the antagonist (or whoever your protagonist is fighting against) not only does the things the protagonist feared, but goes further and shows great power, making the protagonist fear for his life.
The following banner is an affiliate one. That means Writing Tips Oasis receive a small % of the sale if you purchase The Novel Factory, but at no extra cost to you:
3. Characters’ credibility
Following that, in a fight scene, your characters have to fight with their strengths and use the antagonist’s weaknesses against him or her. Your characters cannot simply find power or martial arts ability out of the blue – if your protagonist is a peaceful person that has never held a gun, you cannot have him or her fire one, and hit a crucial mark on the target. That would make the character lose credibility, and the readers will not believe in the reality of the fight scene. Also, even if your character is a person that can hit a target, and fight with a sword, they still will not be able to cut their way through multiple opponents – unless you’ve previously shown that they have the training and the skill to do that.
4. Use stark language
A fight or an action scene is not the place for metaphors and long descriptions. You should also avoid using the passive voice, adverbs and adjectives – because they slow down the pace. The language has to be stark, and the movements of the characters described with as little adjectives and adverbs as possible. However, this doesn’t mean that your sentences have to be short and to the point – in fact, a good fight scene might begin with short sentences, with them getting longer as the action increases, until it stops. The longer sentences actually speed up the pace, leaving the reader breathless when the scene ends.
5. Mind the consequences
A good fight scene will leave consequences on your protagonist. He or she will have to take a few hits and might be left injured. No character can be super powerful and avoid all blows – and while no reader would like to see the hero or heroine die, if they avoid injury in every fight, then your fights will lose credibility, and the reader will not believe the hero, or heroes, are in any life-threatening danger. Often, even the characters themselves have to be reminded of their mortality, regardless of their skills and power. A close call with death will serve this cause, and will make your characters think twice before they get into another fight, which adds to their character’s arc and growth.
Image credit: Jonathan Kos-Read on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic.
As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.