Conquering Fight Scenes (Part 1) with K. M. Fawcett
If you have a fight scene in your romance story, ask yourself the following questions. Why is it there? Is it essential to the plot?
Fight scenes, like love scenes, must drive the story forward. They must serve a purpose. They must create change either by resolving something or by complicating something. Change advances the story. If your fight is gratuitous, cut it.
Keep these points in mind when creating your believable and exciting fight scenes.
Pacing: Fights are dynamic and fast, so the action should be conveyed quickly. You want the reader to feel they are a part of the fight or at least watching it. Taking too long to describe an action slows down the visual image in the mind’s eye, therefore, slows the pacing. Using short and medium length sentences rather than long, complex ones gives the illusion that the action is unfolding in real time. Be careful not to structure all sentences the same, though, as a lack of variation could lead to choppy, robotic and monotonous prose.
Action – Reaction: Action comes before reaction. Cause is followed by effect.
Ex. 1 (Reaction first) Blood gushed from his nose when she decked him.
Ex. 2 (Action first) She decked him. Blood gushed from his nose.
In example 2, the reader experiences the action as it’s unfolding, and will have an emotional response to it right along with the characters.
Clarity/ Word Choice: Be straightforward and to the point. Describing your fight choreography in minute detail also slows pacing. Avoid getting too technical so your fight scene doesn’t read like a training manual.
If you want to showcase a particular technique in the final battle scene, explain it or refer to it earlier in the story, perhaps in a training session. For example, in the original Karate Kid movie, we saw Mr. Miyagi practicing the crane technique. Daniel asked him about it, and we learned that, “If do right, no can defend.” Daniel practiced it, and when he got into the crane stance in the final scene, we knew this awesome move would make him a winner. Another example is the five-point palm exploding heart technique in Kill Bill. If these techniques weren’t explained until they were used in the story, the pacing would halt and/ or their significance would be lost.
Use expressive words and strong action verbs to paint a clear image and to evoke an emotional response in the reader. A fight should create reader urgency so they keep turning pages to find out what happens next. The reader should feel the excitement and energy of the action, not confusion over the words used to describe it.
Emotion: Be sure to include your character’s emotional response. What’s at stake? What will it mean if she wins the fight? What will it mean if she loses? Emotion creates suspense. It connects the reader to the characters. It makes the reader root for a character’s success or demise. Emotion can be demonstrated thru dialog, physical action, internal sensations, and thoughts. Warning: Too much introspection can slow your pacing.
Dialog: Combatants are not going to engage in a long discussion while fighting. That can come pre-fight when they are gearing up for the confrontation (sizing each other up and down, posturing, etc) or post-fight when the opponent is no longer in a position to attack. There is room for terse dialog in a heated battle. However, no fighter will waste precious energy and breath by waxing poetic.
Climatic Battle: The main fight against the villain should come at the climax, and should be the biggest, most difficult fight in the story. If the most exciting fight is with a minion earlier in the book, it makes the climax appear dull in comparison. Many times the hero has to fight the villain earlier in the book, but at that point the hero hasn’t grown yet. He shouldn’t be able to defeat the villain until he has completed his character arc.
Thank you FF&P for hosting me on the blog today. I’ll be back on July 8th with more on fight scenes, including the use of setting, characterization, choreography and improvised weapons.
CAPTIVE (The Survival Race #1)
AN IMPOSSIBLE JOURNEY
The last thing Addy Dawson remembers is a blazing inferno and freezing river water overtaking her lungs. When she awakens, Addy finds herself on a strange, alien planet, trapped in a cell with no doors, no windows– and to her horror– a naked warrior who claims to be her mate.
AN UNDENIABLE PASSION
An alpha gladiator, Max is forced to breed and produce the finest specimens for the Survival Race, a deadly blood sport created by the alien rulers of Hyborea. To rebel means torture-or worse-yet Max refuses to become the animal his captors want him to be. But their jailors will not be denied, and soon Addy and Max find themselves unwilling players in this cruel game. Pushed to the limit, they will risk everything for the chance at a life free from captivity. And though fate brought them together as adversaries, Max and Addy will discover that when they’re together, there’s nothing in the universe that can stop them.
K.M. Fawcett writes sci-fi/ paranormal romances, and enjoys stories filled with adventure and strong, kick butt heroes and heroines. She holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree black belt) in both Isshinryu Karate and in Ryukonkai (Okinawan weapons). She and her husband own Tenchi Isshinryu Karate Dojo in NJ. When not writing or working out at the dojo, K.M. is home with her two children and two cats.