How to Write a Fighting Scene

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Part One

  1. Details are necessary in a fight scene. Therefore, you should first establish the setting.

»A. Is this a place where people fight normally?

I.         Where are they fighting? Each environment possesses a different event. For example, fights at a school will be broken up by teachers as oppose to cops on a street.

II.          Is it a schoolyard scuffle or a karate match? How about a wrestling championship?

III.     Combat is when people try to kill each other by any means necessary. So is your scene about combat or is it something more mild?

Example 1:   We met in the best place for a fight. The woods had trees to block out the sun, allowing me to see and focus on Eric Bradshaw. A stone path led to a clear opening just in case we wanted more space. No one was around to stop us from finishing one another. No buildings. No people. No authorities. Yes, I knew the area like the back of my hand and from what I could tell; I definitely had the upper hand. Strength, power, agility, knowledge… yep, this would be an easy match for me. What made it better was that he didn’t know about it.

Write a(n): Airport Scene      Car Chase Scene     Battle Scene

 

»B. What are the motives of your characters? Vengeance, love, betrayal, anger, hatred People don’t randomly fight each other unless, they have mental problems.

I.      Wherever the setting is can depend on the intensity of the fight. Sober, and fighting on the street can be quite brutal and the punches would be perfectly directed. Fighting in, let’s say, a club can be lazy and unorganized (missing punches here and there) due to someone’s drunkenness.

II.          Unless your character is a superhero or ninja, they won’t know jaw-dropping moves and they will want to stop after a while. Keep it simple. Make it relatable.

Example 2:   Couldn’t wait to kill him, though. He stole my wife and then cheated on her with another woman. Asshole. He deserved what he had coming to him. My opponent stepped forward, his steely gaze never wavering as he spoke, “If I can do it again,” he said, “I would in a heartbeat.” That was the last straw. I heard enough. Growling with fury, I raised my fist, but he was faster. He sidestepped the move, grabbed my wrist, and stepped behind me. I felt his foot sink into the back of my knee. I fell to the floor and rolled away before he could act again. Before I stood on my feet, he slammed into my back with full force. In agonizing pain, I rammed my elbow backwards, feeling it connect to something boney.

Write a(n): Running Scene      Dream Scene     Driving Scene

 

»C. Do they use objects? (Baseball bat, crowbar, or plain fists)?

I.       How do they use the objects? Do they manipulate the object to their benefit? Bend it, break it into two?

Example 3:   He fell to the floor, rolled over and lunge to grab my leg. I kicked his hand away. Grabbing a loose branch from a nearby tree, I kneeled over him, raised my makeshift weapon and slammed it in his ugly face.
 

**

Part Two

  1. People are drawn to fights. Talk about the people surrounding them. Are there any witnesses?

»A. Generally compassion doesn’t come into this scene. If someone is on the ground they will get kicked and punched ruthlessly. It is highly unlikely that bystanders will help unless it’s someone they know personally.

I. If there are witnesses, describe how people crowd/rush in to see, blocking the view from authorities. They may take out their cell phone and start recording the action, or chant the person who they want to win’s name.

Example 4:   The only audience we had were the creatures roaming around minding their own business. If they heard one of our limbs crack, they’d stop collecting food, look, and stare— but not for long. To them, we were odd beings, who would never live in harmony… And they were right!

»B. How are the characters holding up? If this is at night they might be tired and have less energy than if it was morning.

I. Is the fight fast pace and chaotic? Then write short choppy sentences, and fragments to speed things up.

II.What about if it isn’t fast and you want to create a slow motion feel. Simply change up your sentence structure, your choice of words, and their order.  Longer sentences with more description establish a slower pace.

III.Most fighters take a classic loose boxers stance (which uses less energy), also they might tape up their hands and wrists. Kicks are generally aimed low for the legs. You never turn your back on your opponent. Punches are aimed for eyes, nose, temple and neck. Head butts are not unheard of, chokes are more common.

Example 5:   Night time crept up on us, though that didn’t discourage me. I punched at his smashed face. Eric’s head bounced to the left, my fist slamming into the cold, unsympathetic stone ground. He banged his forehead into my nose, pushed me off and rose to his weary feet. We glared at one another, circling at a steady pace, neither of us broke eye contact. Secretly we were trying to rebuild our stamina. This intense fight had us both breathing hard. “Matt,” he growled, “are you really going to make me wait?”

»C. Add sounds in the mix. If someone was to give a punch, you would hear the sounds of a pow or a loud “ow!” by the victim.

I. What about the audience’s noise? Are they cheering, saying anything? Is anyone calling the cops or just buying tickets and popcorn to enjoy the ‘entertaining show’.

Example 6:   The wind seemed to echo annoyingly in my ear. And the blood… the blood dripping down my nose (thanks to Eric), didn’t help the situation at all. “Shit!” I said, wiping it away. I momentarily looked around the woods. The trees’ leaves swayed from side to side and I heard the soft chirping of the distant ravens. That should help me regain my determination, my strength, my anger. Killing Eric wasn’t my mission or assignment anymore: It became my destiny.

**

Part Three

  1. Don’t forget the time. What if the scene lasts an hour (in your fictional world) and the fighters are wearing each other down?

»A. Fighting is not easy. Constant adrenaline takes a lot out of a person. Putting every single ounce of effort into winning means that characters are exhausted after more than about thirty seconds.

I. The character should also have been affected by the pain, which will make them even more tired and even discourage them. Have your character talk to themselves, pumping themselves up and cheering themselves on. If they have supports, then have the supporters coming in with a quick glass of water, a cold towel for the character’s forehead and a few words of encouragement.

Example 7:   I attempted to make another move with the little energy I had, but it was useless. Being mortal sucked. Why did this happen now? The nasty wound I’ve received eventually made me light headed; I needed a Band-Aid, damn-it. Great, I knew my clock was ticking – it would be less than five minutes before I fainted. This happened last time I battled a creeper. Don’t you dare quit, I thought to myself, you’ve come way too far.

»B. The characters are not immune to pain and so, when the opponent manages to hit them, write about the pain as well.

I. Pain can have a direct influence on the character’s physiological aspects as well. Maybe the pain reminds him of why he’s fighting. Or maybe the pain makes him realized how stupid the fight is and he stops.

Example 8:   What I believed were tears fell from my eyes. The thought of what he did pissed me off.  Suddenly, Eric stepped quickly into my circle, placing his left hand on my shoulder and thrusting his knee into my abdomen. Effortlessly, he hurled me to the floor with a tremendous THUMP, causing a huge concussion to form on my skull. As I lay there gasping for air he looked down at me with a clear smirk across his face “I won,” he said. And with that he began to walk away, leaving me alone in the woods.

»C. Here are the finishing touches. Wrap up your scene. If you want to make the fight scene longer, you can, but consider breaking it up into two parts to give your readers and characters a breather.

I. In a novel you don’t have to write everything down. You could describe some of the movements and then narrate that “the fight carried on with neither characters gaining the upper hand for long over the other”…. or something similar to that.

Example 9:   Defeated? Me defeated? Furious, I scrambled to my feet, ran up to him and jump on his back, choking him with both my hands. Before he could elbow me I got off and aimed my fist at his stomach. He doubled up, wheezing. Again, I grabbed the back of Eric’s neck and pulled it forward, so that he crashed heavily to the stone floor. He lay there, groaning and pleaded for his miserable life. Anger, grieve, and hate soon left me as I realized I had won. The worthless man was dead alright, I could tell by the way he stared up into the sky without blinking and without so much as a sound.

**



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7 Comments

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  3. Officer Morello and Kye wailed at a boxing match that aired the small, satellite box-television screen.
    ‘Awww c’maaaan!’ Said Morello, tipping his beer to the side and throwing a burger wrapper at the television. A twenty-four hour patrol, and this is what the police officers did at evening; it was a brawling bout at the Southbridge Arena that aired every Sunday. ‘It wasn’t even a hard blow!’ He proclaimed.
    ‘T had it coming to him! – He may have the skill, but he ain’t got the brawn’, said Kye. Switchy.T was a lightweight boxer from Santa Marta Colombia. They called him Switchy. T because when he made the crowd think he was down, that’s when he would switch up the game. He was up against Kendrick Fly – or what they called ‘The Flyswatter’. The Flyswatter was a titleist, and a cash cow for his bosses. He was a fairly husky black man, and they called him the Flyswatter because he swatted his opponents like flies.
    ‘Get up T! Get up’, Morello shouted to the TV screen. Switchy.T resurrected halfway through the countdown, with only one minute left to go. ‘Yes!’ He elevated himself with a few joggs on the spot and blowing the sweat from his lips. After false hope and an uproar from the arena, Fly stepped back into center of the canvas until the opponents were toe-to-toe. Fly allowed T a jab on his jawline then pawed the next, just in time for him to left hook and take a swing into T’s liver. The impact was vague, and the fighters starting to clinch tugging at each other’s necks. The referee had to cut them through. He clapped his white gloves together – start again.
    ‘I think the Flyswatter’s gonna win’, said Kye. Morello’s eyes were glued to the TV with suspense – his money was on Switchy T.
    ‘I bet you – ten dollars T’s gonna win!’ retorted Morello, still fixated on the square canvas ring. ‘C’maaan – the swatter’s gotta give someone else a chance in the arena – he always wins’.
    ‘What about you, Sergio?’ Kye asked slapping the back of my shoulder ‘who do you bet on?’
    ‘Errrm…’ I said, with Kye and Morello’s eyes now on me. Honestly I wasn’t that interested on who would win; I was watching entertainment for entertainment’s sake. ‘Switchy. T does have skill for an upstart’.
    ‘Exactly!’ said Morello, scorning at Kye.
    ‘But – the Flyswatter always wins’, I reassured.
    ‘So what side are you on?’ rowed Kye.
    ‘Flyswatter’s, I guess?’
    ‘Ehhhe’, whined Morello.
    ‘If Flyswatter wins, that’s ten dollars to me and Sergio!’ said Kye.
    ‘But I’m not in the –’.
    ‘Ten dollars to both of you my ass! – I’ll spilt it in half! But if Switchy.T wins – tens dollars from you both!’
    ‘But –’.
    ‘Deal!’ barked Kye, even though I was out of the deal. They sat and continued watching Switchy.T and The Flyswatter circle each other toe-to-toe on the fighting grounds. T threw a double jab at Fly’s face, but Fly pawed both jabs and went in for a triple bolo punch in T’s face. T slipped the third punch then kept a crouch to attempt an uppercut or liver shot, but again Fly parried them out, and it was now a rope-a-dope. Switchy kept the combinations coming, which were shelled by Fly.
    ‘That’s it Switchy – show ‘em some blow!’ cheered Morello. Switchy was expected to switch up the game at this point, but his efforts were thwarted after waring himself out. He stepped back with a meek blow, and out of nowhere The Flyswatter hammered him to the ground. A knockout. It was a move so cold, so unexpected. The referee knelt to Switchy.T, who was now in the same position as from the beginning of the match, and started the countdown.
    ‘Ten! Nine! Eight!’ said the referee, the crowd joining in. Everything fell down to what T would do next. For he was dazzled by the impact.
    ‘Awww shucks! Come on T – Get up!’ punted Morello. Switchy.T was bent forward, crouching over the ground. He jittered as he attempted to get back up ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’, but swatting force and after-effect threw him back down ‘No! no! no!’
    ‘Six! Five! Four!’ The crowd feuded in the mists of what would become a classic knockdown. T attempted to get up again. ‘Three! Two…!’ Switchy T jittered again meekly, but it was pointless; he was done.
    ‘And… That’s why they call him the Flyswatter!’ said the commentator. A swarm of maddened and excited people jumped through the ropes a tugging for The Flyswatter.
    ‘Ha! – We win the bet!’ shouted Kye ‘you owe us both ten dollars each!’
    ‘Ha ha! You ain’t gettin’ a penny!’ replied Morello.

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