forum Fight Scene help?
Started by @maglo-the-stressed-person language

people_alt 61 followers

@maglo-the-stressed-person language

Yeah, here's an excerpt and a half.

With that, he was off running straight into the fray, slamming his swords against the axe. With a strong swing, she knocked Raiki back a distance and gauged him.
He dashed forward again, swing his blades in a alternating pattern, practically like a spinning twister against the axe. She ducked under one, and swung at the ground.
Just in general, the way I envisioned it was much more of a dynamic visual kind of thing then I feel I can really express here. Plus, I'm probably just writing it poorly in a general combat sense.


I'm not very good at writing fight scenes, so I can't give you advice on how to write a good one, but I can make observations as a reader!

  • I think the main thing about a fight scene that you have to do is maintain momentum. I like what you have in terms of making me feel on the edge of my seat, but I would probably insert a period in a place or two or even just rearrange the sentences to reduce commas. For example, you can change the second sentence into "She knocked Raiki back a distance with a strong swing. She gauged him/she sized him up." Or something like that. I've felt that when sentences are short, it feels like the narrative is moving faster!
  • Is Raiki the "he" in this scene? That was a little confusing to read because it felt like three people were there suddenly. But that could just be because it's an excerpt.
  • I think you have a typo at "swing his blades." Should be "swinging his blades."
  • "Spinning twister" is redundant, since a twister already spins. But also I think twister might not be the best word for a fight scene because it's a little goofy imagining a human looking like a tornado, haha. I'm not exactly sure what to replace it with, though. Maybe just say, "He dashed forward again, swinging his blades in a alternating pattern, practically spinning against the axe."
  • Also, is he like spinning around to the point where he's turning his back on her and her axe? Because that might not be the most practical, as turning your back to your opponent is risky, and spinning can make you dizzy. I'm not saying you have to cut it though, you could probably get away with like a half spin so that after one blade strikes, since he's twisting his body the other blade comes around the same direction to strike, and then he could twist the other way? I'm not very familiar with how sword fights realistically go, though, so that could be a silly idea haha.
  • And then when you say "swung at the ground," I had trouble imagining how she was swinging the axe. My first thought was "why does that help prevent the tornado of blades that are up in the air and not on the ground?" If he had fallen to the ground, that would make sense, since then she would be making her axe to come down on top of him. Or are you trying to say since now she's squatting, she's trying to sweep his legs with the axe?

Now since we're already here talking about battle/fight scenes in story, can I subject you to some musings? Sorry in advance lololol.

This isn't what you asked for but I thought I might see if you relate as a reader yourself, but for some reason I don't really like reading very detailed fight scenes and prefer to read words that give the general impression of what's going on. Things that tell me the noises and the smells and the general emotions that are going on. For a battle scene, words like "the crashing of shields and swords" or "the men were in a frenzied state" or "hacking down the enemy bit by bit." However! For a one on one battle moment like this I think describing each detail is riveting. It just shouldn't be done too many times in the story from my perspective because then it takes away from the epic-ness of a highly-described fight scene and then also feels like I'm watching a movie instead of reading a book, if that makes sense.

Also because I love this excerpt from my favorite book, I thought I'd share it with you cuz it's sort of related to writing fight scenes but not really haha. It's when someone is in a non-battle situation that reminds them of an actual battle situation they found themselves in, and it was just so poignant to me for some reason. It really made me feel the mOment even though it's so simple.

“I have seen something like it happen in battle. A man was coming at me, I at him, to kill. Then came a sudden great gust of wind that wrapped our cloaks over our swords and almost over our eyes, so that we could do nothing to one another but must fight the wind itself. And that ridiculous contention, so foreign to the business we were on, set us both laughing, face to face - friends for a moment - and then at once enemies again and forever.” - Till We Have Faces, CS Lewis

UGH so good.

Anyway hope I wasn't too ranty and that my observations help haha.


Hi sorry I got food poisoning

I agree with Masterkey, especially about the details bit. People in combat don't have time to take in every detail. As someone who trains in martial arts, when things are going at a fast pace, you generally only notice the result, not the reason. For example, if I'm being thrown and land wrong, all I really know is I hit the ground and it hurt. I didn't have time in the moment to think 'ah, because I stepped off with the wrong foot, I couldn't complete the rotation, and I landed on my back."
It's a lot more like "I attacked my opponent, and they threw me, and the landing really hurt."

One of my favorite things to do in fight scenes is to just cut any context and go straight to what's happening. To use your example, your second sentence:

"With that, he was off running straight into the fray, slamming his swords against the axe. The retaliating blow sent him staggering."

In general, the shorter and choppier the sentences, the more dynamic and punchy it's going to feel. Vocabulary can be huge as well, finding the right, visceral words can add a lot to a scene, and do a lot of work. In my opinion, one really well chosen descriptive word is worth five or six explanatory words.

I hope that helps!