Since I write fantasy, I guess it is expected that at some point there will be a sword fight or other battle taking place. With each additional book in my trilogy, there seem to be more battles. One of my reviews for Summoned said that I wrote, “awesome fight scenes.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do have a few tricks that I use when developing a fight scene. These hold true whether it is someone using a knife, a sword or their fists.
1.) Visualize – This might not be an easy step for some but a lot of what I write is what I visualize in my head. I can picture what is happening and just describe it as I see it. However, if you have trouble visualizing a fight (say because you have never been in one – and that would probably be most of us), consider the next tip.
2.) Watch a fight – Pick a movie or TV show with a good fight scene. (For a TV series, my husband suggested Buffy the Vampire Slayer and for movies, his suggestions off the top of his head were Under Siege, Bourne Identity and Batman: The Dark Knight and for sword fights, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But there are many more options out there.) Of course these may not be the most realistic, but you can pick up some good ideas from them.
You also might try looking at videos of sparing in martial arts. I actually used this technique for a knife attack in my current work in progress, Destiny. I wanted to see how a person attacking with a knife would move.
3.) Draw a diagram – When I am writing a particularly involved battle scene or one with many participants, I like to draw a map of where everyone is at the beginning of the battle. It helps me keep track of where my characters are and who (or what) they are battling. Pretend you are a basketball coach and draw x’s and o’s on your paper. It really can help you keep track of everything.
4.) Act it out – When all else fails, grab a partner and act out the fight scene. This can give you an idea of how each participant would react. For the same knife attack that I mentioned above, one of my characters was going to surprise someone by stepping out of the shadows and stabbing another character in the back. To figure out how she would stab her victim, my husband and I did a little role playing. This let me not only figure out how the attack would happen but what type of injury would occur.
Once you have your fight scene laid out there are a few more things to remember. You want to watch your pacing – fight scenes need to be fast paced. Keep your sentences short. You want to keep the reader’s attention by showing action but don’t include a lot of detail. And remember you don’t have to write every blow that happens.