Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction

I finally managed to get through my notes from Jonathan Maberrry’s (the author of the popular Rot and Ruin series) workshop at Context 27 and man did I have a lot. So much that it looks like I’ll have to break this down into a five part series (sorry). But I think it will work better that way because it will allow me to break it down into specific sections. I will start with this introduction, then part 2 on physical differences, part 3 on hand to hand combat, part 4 on weapons, and lastly part 5 on psychological warfare. Oh and make sure to look for the Fun Facts at the end of each post in this series!

So let’s get started as we look at some very basics of fight scenes and fighting information in general. The very first thing to remember with ALL fight scenes is…

The more logic you have the more believable the fight scene.

Some other helpful facts…

  • In combat principle matters more than technique.
  • Combat must make sense; therefore a fight scene must make sense.
  • Every fight has a pattern in how it is played out.
  • Fights usually only take a few seconds to actually happen, but can still take pages to write it all out. In print, a fight will take longer in order to build up and build suspense.

Three purposes of martial arts…

  1. Most martial arts are sports.
  2. Some marital arts are used for spiritual growth.
  3. Actual combat martial arts is rare.

Martial artists can get their asses kicked because they were trained to not to actually hit anyone. They are trained to stop right before contact. That hesitation can mean the difference between winning and losing to a more experienced fighter.

Most fights have six acts (in a progressive form to finally beat attacker).

  1. Neutralize (find a way to neutralize the attack)
  2. Stun (stun the attacker in a move that’s jarring or unexpected)
  3. Damage (hurt or damage the attacker any way possible)
  4. Disable (make a disabling blow)
  5. Take-down: (break bone, make attacker unconscious, make sure attacker stays down)
  6. Finish (end of fight)

Making the Story Better…

Anytime you can make things difficult for your character its gold.

Make sure thoughts of a character fits the scene (and that inner thoughts are needed for that particular moment in the fight). Shorten pacing, and try to put certain information that reader needs to know about the fight or character beforehand if possible.

There’s a lot of build-up to a fight before the fight actually happens. Make sure tension can be sustained throughout the scene of fight. And maybe a little after.

It’s very difficult to bull through a gun shot injury, so be cautious of when in occurs in a fight. This kind of wound can be a fight ender, or be something to bump up a scene’s intensity.

A scene while a character is injured can be very suspenseful, especially if you focus on the pain and shock.

Fun Fact…

Fatigue would kill you in a zombie attack…. People get tired and can only endure so much forceful attacking and defense.

Look for Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Differences next week.

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4 thoughts on “Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction

  1. On fighting must make sense – I hate it when a character sustains massive injury – and then gets back up to fight again!

    Example – I book I just read about a sorcerer. It’s suggested he is just a guy with magic. His healing power is good but it takes time (like hours or days) to recover.
    He faces down the Ultimate Bad Guy (UBG) – who kicks him through a BRICK WALL – and the main character gets up and chases after him.

    Say what? A normal person does not get kicked through a brick wall and get back up. He certainly doesn’t then get into a foot race!!!!!

    It totally ruined the ending for me.

    Oh – and the MC absorbed some souls (something he hadn’t done before and there was no suggestion he had that ability before hand) – healed in seconds later in the fight. Gah

    • Wow. Yeah, that sounds just the kind of book that would tick me off too. It has a good premise, but totally lacks in believability. The author should have taken a Jonathan Maberry class. 😀

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