Conquering Fight Scenes (Part 2) by K.M. Fawcett
This is a continuation from June 20th’s blog post on Conquering Fight Scenes (Part 1) in which we discussed pacing, action-reaction, clarity/word choice, emotion, dialog, and the climatic battle. The following are more points to keep in mind when creating your fight scenes.
Characterization: How a character reacts to a confrontation depends on who he or she is, what’s at stake, and their attitude or philosophy about fighting. Are they aggressive or do they use force only when necessary? Knowing the character’s background is key. Is your character an experienced fighter? What kind of instruction does he have? What is his skill level? Someone with no training might fight back, but he won’t use complicated techniques an experienced fighter might use.
Keep in mind there are many distinct systems of combat practices, and each has unique emphases. A boxer fights differently than a karate man. A karate man fights differently than a grappler. A grappler fights differently from [insert your style of choice here]. Does your character have police, military, or combat training? Are they comfortable wielding a knife, a broadsword, a semi-automatic weapon, a death ray, or perhaps a magic wand?
Understanding your characters and their philosophy, their fighting system, and their skill level will allow you to write realistic fights scenes.
Setting: Location, terrain, lighting, and weather conditions are important to consider when planning your fight scene. Avoid describing the setting in detail, though, or your pacing will slow. Include only what will affect the fight. Your character probably doesn’t care if the dawn’s golden light casts a warm glow on his opponent’s pox marked face. However, he does care if the light–whether too bright or too dim–compromises his vision or depth perception.
Use the location to create unique fights. If your characters are outside a home, they can throw each other into the side of the house, a tree, a car parked in the driveway, the rose bushes, a swing set. This is your chance to create an exciting and unique fight scene. Have fun with it.
Is the terrain rocky, slippery, or wet? Unstable footing may change the way a person fights, or perhaps your characters slip and fall and have to continue battling it out on the ground. The character may also take note of his surroundings as he looks for an exit, added danger, or a weapon to utilize.
Improvised weapons:Just about anything can be used as a weapon. If you’ve watched a Jackie Chan Movie, you’ve observed many unique improvised weapons from ladders to bicycles to jacket sleeves. Why not make your fight scene unique too? Adding a little razzle-dazzle with an improvised weapon can make an ordinary fight scene exciting and memorable. First, think about where your fight takes place. What are some common (and perhaps some not so common) items available in your setting?
Let’s use the good old bar brawl as an example. What’s available? You’ve got all the old standbys: bottles, stools, chairs, tables, and pool cues. Maybe a pinball machine or a jukebox or a window someone can get thrown into. These have all been done before. Now…think of some unique bar items a character can use as a weapon. The glass tip jar, a roll of quarters from cash register hidden in a fist. What about using the neon beer sign’s cord to strangle someone? Think outside the box. Make a list of what might be available in any situation and then choose something interesting. Make your scene stand out.
Choreography: Do you want your fight to be a quick exchange of a few blows or an epic battle? If a character wants to sneak up on his victim and quietly knock him out, he might use a chokehold until the victim passes out. For more action and movement, you can choreograph a fight scene with punches, blocks, kicks, and throws. Or maybe your characters are weapon-wielding gladiators. The specific techniques the battle calls for will depend on the character’s training and skill level.
Pay attention to the characters’ distance from each other. If they are further away, they might use weapons or kicks for reach. When closer they can punch, block, and slug it out. If very close, they can uppercut under the chin, into the neck, or into the groin. Elbows and knees are good for in-close fighting. Maybe a character takes the other guy down and they start grappling (wrestling). Arm bars, locks, or chokes can be used either on the ground or standing. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Remember your fight scene must drive your story forward. The fighting must be within character and believable. If you aren’t sure something will work, get out of the chair, find a willing partner, and experiment with your fight choreography together.
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. Fawcettwrites 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.
Attacking The Page blog: www.attackingthepage.wordpress.com
My website: www.kmfawcett.com