Friday, December 18, 2009

Fight and Battle Scenes

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my biggest blocks in writing is fighting and battle scenes. Especially battle scenes. I related this information to my sister yesterday, and apparently she loves writing battle scenes, so hopefully she’ll mentor me over the Christmas break. (I, by the way, completed my finals yesterday at 8:30 p.m. and am therefore very happy.)

I’m coming up on the last four [long] chapters of my novel, minus the epilogue. These chapters are chock full of battle scenes—one-on-one and multiple people. I want to write these scenes as well as I can, so I’ve been looking around online for information on it. Here’s some of what I found:

Season 2, Episode 21 of Writing Excuses
-Play to the strengths of your media/genre. If you’re fight scene is in a novel, don’t write it like it’s in a movie.
-Include lots of emotion. Emotion = tension & conflict
-Multi-task, if possible. (Like fighting during a conversation)
-Need to be able to visualize what’s going on without turning the scene into a blow-by-blow
-Don’t be afraid to show a character’s motives, thoughts, and goals as he/she fights

From Ezine Articles
“There is a fine line, however, between creating enough description and creating so much that it takes away from the pace. Fights are fast, furious and often over within minutes; if you drag it out too long, your reader will get bored. Keep the pace flowing by intermixing your description with the mechanics of the fight.”

From Fight Scenes 101
-Keep a careful tally count of your characters from both sides of a big battle.
-Location plans are especially useful for mapping out who is where on the battlefield.
-If the prospect of writing a battle is daunting to you, go for the limited point of view option which will allow you to break the battle up into some little one on one fights.

And it’s about at this point that I realize there aren’t a lot of decent sites about this particular topic. I may check my Orson Scott Card book when I get home to see if he ever touched on fighting scenes—it’s been a while since I last read his How to Write Sci-Fi and Fantasy.


  1. David Gemmell does excellent fight scenes. Legend is one of the best books I've ever read. As for the advice, I disagree about the multi-tasking--I think if you try to do something else too much, it will distract from your fight. It has to be inseparably connected.

  2. Funny, I was reading my copy of Card's How-to book on the way home on the airplane. I don't recall it saying anything about fight scenes though...

    I personally think there needs to be good reason for every scene, and that includes fight scenes.
    I also think that something fresh needs to be happening in every fight scene. It's no fun if they're all similar to each other, in my opinion.