Wednesday, May 1, 2024

2024 - May - Four Types of Fight Scenes


When writing a fight or high-action scene, that scene likely fits one of the following four categories:

1. Hand-to-hand combat or fisticuffs

2. Fights with weapons

3. Fights on the run

4. Fights involving superpowers

Hand-to-hand combat and fisticuffs rely on the limits and abilities of the human, or not so human, bodies dueling with each other. This encompasses the bar-room fist fight, martial arts, the wielding of magic, and even brawls. It's basically good guy versus bad guy be it one-on-one or with multiple fighters.

Fights with weapons depends on the era of the story and the technology of that era. The weapons might range from the primitive (stone or spears or clubs) to bronze and iron age swords, to the industrial age of guns, to magic wands, and advanced military hardware or science fiction weaponry. Skill plays a part, so does training, and in the end it often culminates in violence regretted or one winner-takes-all. 

As to fights on the run? There is nothing like the chase scene in movies and in books. Of course, the chase depends on the era from running from the Neanderthal with a club to dodging bullets or ray guns to magical bolts and spells. It's often about the good guy chasing the bad guy, but somewhere along the plot line it might be the bad guy going after the good guy culminating in a do-or-die clash (or climax of the story).

Fights involving superpowers means there is an endowed superhuman, or alien, or magical person involved. In this case, the fight scenes highlights the awesome power of the menace of the super-villain and the strength of the superior hero or heroine they go up against.

No matter which category, there are basically two effective ways to showcase an action or fight scene.

The first way is to limit the scene to the narration of one of the major combatants POV and Viewpoint (which are two different things, by the way).

The second way is to work out the actions in a logical, cause-effect format. For example, in a fight scene I have in the draft of my fantasy-medieval romance, I used spools of thread (I sew and have collected a number of different colored spools). Each character in the scene became a color of thread. I then drew a floor plan of the fight area, marking in the furniture with highlighters. As I started placing spools and moving them for the combat, I found flaws in my idea of how the action should play out. For instance, a piece of furniture was in the way, or a character couldn't easily get to the doorway. It took a bit of trial and error, but discovered the layout that best gave the fight advantage to the story's villain.

Since believability is at stake, finding out such things makes for a far better first draft and saves tremendously on rewrites. 

Have you ever played out your fight scene using a floor plan or props? If not, do it today. See if the reality matches your fantasy fight. Feel free to share your findings in a comment.

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