Writing Tips

8 Ways to Write Better Fight Scenes

Fight scenes can be difficult to write. Here are 8 ways to help you write better and more impactful fight scenes.

1. Give Your Characters weaknesses

Do not make your protagonist untouchable. Readers won’t be worried about your characters because they can beat anything without much effort. And that’s isn’t what you want. You want readers to worry that your loveable characters could die at any moment. It keeps readers invested in your story. In order to do this you need to give your characters weaknesses. Don’t allow them to fight effortlessly, or readers will lose interest.

2. Work the scene around your characters abilities

If your characters have magic or powers try to work the fight scene around their abilities. It can take more thought, but it’s worth it in the end. Do not take the easy way out, by not having your characters use their abilities. If they have powers why wouldn’t they use them? The only reason they shouldn’t be able to use their powers is if you can come up with a valid reason as to why they can’t. And it better be a damn good reason and it better make sense. This isn’t something you should do often. Otherwise, it’s lazy writing and shows that more thought wasn’t put into the scene when it could have. The same can apply for weapons.

3. Don’t show every motion

Don’t you wish you could portray those awesome fight scenes from movies in your book? Too bad. You can’t. And if you try, your fight scenes will suffer. You can’t show every single movement the characters do or it will negatively affect the scene’s pacing and flow.

Example of showing too much: She wound back her right leg and kicked him in the shin with her foot.

Most of this is filler and can be shortened to: She kicked him in the shin.

You can’t force readers to see exactly what you see. Leave as much to the reader’s imagination as you can.

4. Use Short Sentences

Fight scenes happen quick and what better way to stay true to that is use short sentences. It keeps readers on their toes. Long sentences can slow the scene down and should be used for breaks in the action.

5. Fight scene length

This is debatable. Some people actually like longer fight scenes, others like myself don’t. I find that long fight scenes drag and they can get repetitive. Reading a fight scene is not the same as watching it in a movie. I recommend keeping them short but sweet. Hand-to-hand combat is tiring and usually only lasts a few minutes. Obviously if it’s war, the scene could last longer. The best way to tell if your fight scenes drag is to have others read it. Enlist beta readers.

6. Utilize your character’s senses.

Adding sensory information will strengthen your fight scenes. Describe the taste of blood, the pain of the character’s injuries, or the cracking of bones. Readers will be far more engaged, and it will help them feel like they are in the middle of the action.

7. Avoid repetition

All of your fight scenes SHOULD be unique. Putting your characters in different situations and areas can help. Picture yourself in the scene. Think about what is around your characters that they can use to their advantage? Have them use different weapons or none at all. Unique fights keep the reader interested and they will anticipate the outcome.

8. Practice and Research is key

Avoid making your characters do outrageous moves that are not possible in real life. It will be silly to the readers and they might have a hard time picturing it. If you’re not an expert, research is vital.

Writing fight scenes can be challenging. If you’re having trouble don’t give up. Keep at it. You will get better. Rather than struggling to write it perfect the first time, let the scene rest and return to it later. You will notice what’s wrong and be able to fix it. You might not get it right the second time around or the third, but that’s okay. It will happen with time.

Image source: Max Pixel

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