Tuesday, October 8, 2019

10 Tips for Fight Scenes

Fight! Fight! Fight!

I write fight scenes way more often than I write sex scenes. Matter of fact, my published books don't have sex scenes--unless the protag walks in on an intimate moment. A kiss here and there, sure. My stories do, however, have fight scenes. Lots of fight scenes but not too many; I'm not writing the Expendables. ~rimshot~ Plus, kicking ass is exhausting and characters need time to recover.

10 Rules of Fight Club Scenes
(Okay, they're not rules; they're tips)
  1. The types of fights should escalate over the course of the story. Don't deploy the full arsenal early unless your story is about what comes after the fight (aka apocalyptic aftermath).
  2. Bigger isn't always better. The climactic battle doesn't have to be El Cid's army charging down the mountains. Sometimes it's two gals in a doorway and only one knife. 
  3. The protag's ultimate goal is what matters in the fight. The question isn't who's the better combatant; it's can the protag get what they're after.
  4. Fights should reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Physical, emotional. Privileges, biases, even caste/class if that's part of your world.
  5. Weaknesses should absolutely be used against the characters until they become strengths.
  6. Consequences must happen, both personal and environmental. Something changes within the character and in those around them. That ought to include negative consequences. 
  7. The costs are way more interesting than the celebrations. Personal costs and mission costs.
  8. The hero cannot always win.
  9. Winning leads to bigger problems.
  10. Don't punch down.
There you have it, my 10 Tips for Fight Scenes. If your challenge is visualizing the conflict and putting it into words, then turn on the TV. Find a few shows that have scenes similar to what you think you want to write, and describe out loud the blow-by-blow action happening on the screen. Start with the set, then the staging, then the attire, then the action, then the actor's reactions. Don't forget the smell that's probably there even though Smell-O-Vision hasn't happened yet. Every detail, you put into words. Definitely want to do that writing exercise at home, alone, with the remote in hand. Feel free to get up an reenact what you see. Yes, it's hard to put into words what we see and hear coming from our entertainment centers. 

Good luck!