Writing a fight scene is easy to get wrong. It’s also easy to get right. This blog post is adapted from a classic article I wrote in my Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine back in October of 2006. That’s a long time ago, so I thought it was worth updating and posting on my blog.
We’re going to get down into the details in this post. Fight scenes are really easy, if you know the rules. And what are the rules?
Some Fight Scene Rules-of-Thumb
- Show, don’t tell
- Make it happen in real-time
- Enforce causality
- Show sequence, not simultaneity
- Favor completed verbs over continuing-action verbs
- Show the fastest stuff first
- For every action, show a reaction
- Use interior monologue and dialogue to set the pace
These rules of thumb all exist for the same reason. The reason is that your reader wants your fiction to show them a movie in their heads. The rules of thumb force you to do that.
A Wretchedly Bad Fight Scene
I could explain all the rules in boring detail, but that would be Telling you. Right now, I want to Show you. So here’s a wretchedly bad fight scene that violates all the rules. Read it first, mock it all you want, and then let’s analyze it to see why it’s so awful. Read more “Writing Fight Scenes”