In movies and especially in real life, fights scenes go by quickly. Sometimes a conflict in a novel, short story, or movie produces so much tension that it culminates in violence. Fight scenes are a subgenre of action scenes, which are characterized by their focus on physical activity rather than dialogue.
In literature, fight scenes can slow the pace. That’s because you have to write all of the details and the reader has to reconstruct the action scene in their minds.
When tensions are high, honor is questioned, and lives may even be at stake, you know what time it is: time for a killer showdown. You’ve been building toward this explosive moment for pages, maybe your entire book, but now you come to a screeching halt — you have no idea how to write a fight scene!
This and lots more have been explained in this article. Read it up!
Meanwhile, the table of content is right below.
How do you write a fight scene with powers?
To write a powerful fight scene, you have to use creativity, not just mindless fisticuffs. Write to show off the combatants’ personalities. Use the fight scenes to create character development. Show what they’re fighting for. Call their motives and morals into question. Don’t pad the battle.
How would you describe a fight scene?
A fight scene is one where you go beyond the physical aspect of the characters. Tease your readers with a glimpse of the character’s soul to keep them intrigued.
A fight scene can also be a chance for you to shed light on other characters besides the protagonist and antagonist who are witnessing the action. The way they react can be a way for you to create a more engaging fight scene.
One of the best ways to describe a fight scene is to activate every sense possible. This includes sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Think of how you can use these five descriptors in your writing to immediately transport the reader to the fight scene.
Sight is perhaps the most obvious. You’ll describe exactly what the characters are seeing and what the reader should pay attention to in the scene.
Hearing is a little more delicate. A fight scene is a perfect time to introduce onomatopoeia into your narrative. Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like what it is describing.
How do you choreograph a fight scene?
Effective fight scene choreography ties together filmmaking principles, safety protocols, and proven production techniques in a seamless dance.
Choreographing and directing a fight scene is no easy task. There are many moving parts involved, and it all has to sync up and look believable. Even simple fights can be dangerous, so be sure you work with your stunt coordinator to execute every move as safely as possible — especially if you involve weapons.
Fighting scenes in movies breaks down into about three categories. You have the street fighter, the skilled martial artist, and the master.
The most realistic is the street fighter, and the most stylized and staged is the master.
- Street Fighter
They’re typically fast, dirty, and tangled with people. They’re not pretty, and it’s difficult to really make out distinct techniques in fight scenes.
- Skilled Martial Artist
The skilled martial artist is well-trained and highly skilled. Here we are still simulating a realistic fight, just with a touch of flair and coordination to raise the stakes and intricacy of the choreography.
- The master-style choreography relies on fast and clean delivery of techniques and excellent stance and form. Your actors and stunt doubles need to really know the style and have excellent muscle control. Rarely does this character’s form slacken when they get tired.When looking for a martial art, you can pick nearly any style.
Well-detailed 10 step-by-step guidelines on how to write a compelling fight scene
Writing action scenes can be challenging, especially the first time through, but with practice and an understanding of the form, writing a good fight scene can become second nature.
Here are 10 step-by-step guidelines on how you can write a compelling fight scene.
1. Try to Reveal More About the Character Through Action
Rather than a blatant description of a character’s skills or traits, you can use fight scenes to reveal more insight about the character and explore its dimensions.
You could have a character who is a master in combat, yet they tend to avoid physical confrontation and bloodshed as much as possible.
On the other hand, a character could be a mere amateur yet they have a hunger for violence when presented with conflict.
2. Create Motivation for Your Characters to Engage in a Fight
You can’t just have your characters start to throw punches out of nowhere and expect the reader to buy it. This is why creating believable motivation is key to a successful and engaging fight scene.
Your character can fight to defend a person, a principle, or a combination of both like many great fantasy novels, such as the popular series of J.K. Rolling Harry Potter. Honor can also be a good motivation for characters to fight.
However, it can cause tragic consequences, especially when insults are exchanged. Think of honor as a culprit for duels in Shakespearean novels and stories with kingdoms, royalty, and family feuds.
3. Use Fewer Adverbs and More Verbs
Fight scenes demand sentences that are short yet deadly. Such stimulating briefness means you should ditch using adverbs as they add unwanted length to sentences.
Instead, go for strong verbs that’ll make your readers feel the adrenaline pumping through their veins. If you really want to master this aspect of writing, you’ll need to feed your vocabulary by studying different verbs/adverbs combos and their corresponding one-word verbs.
A simple example would be the verb “hit” and its adverb combo “hit hard”. Instead of these two forms, you can use stronger verbs such as “smack”, “strike”, “pound”, or “bash”, depending on the amount of force you’re trying to communicate.
4. Include Sensory Aspects
One of the most effective ways to make sure your readers are completely immersed in the scene is to add sensory details to your writing.
Hitting the reader with all the senses can be quite powerful, as it lets them have the full impact of the confrontation taking place.
When I say all the senses, I mean all of the five senses. You can describe what the characters are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and even tasting.
5. Control the pace
Though you want to give your reader a sense of immediacy in a fight scene, you don’t want to rush through it or bog it down with too much description.
In a nutshell, you need good pacing.
A helpful rule of thumb for writing a fight scene is that it should take about the same time to read as the encounter would in real life.
6. Infuse with emotion
By this stage, you have your description and pacing down pat, and your fight scene should be smooth and engaging. But something’s still missing: emotion.
Even the most action-packed, nail-biting fight scene isn’t complete without some emotion behind it.
Your readers will sympathize with a good guy getting beaten to a pulp, but they’ll empathize when he’s doing it to protect his loved ones.
So, even though they should already know that character’s motivation, make sure to thoroughly infuse it into your fight scene.
Don’t spend too much time on inner monologues, which can detach the reader from the action. Focus on the jagged, instinctive thoughts of an adrenaline-filled fighter, whose reasoning may not be entirely logical.
7. Resolve the Conflict (Even if it’s Temporary)
Once you reach the end of your fight scene, don’t leave it unresolved. Yes, this particular fight may not be the end of your story, but you should have it resolved, at least for the time being, so you can move on with the plot.
This means cooling down the heat of the action and constructing a logical transition to the following events. Show the effect of the aftermath as well the impact of injury, loss, or gain on the characters, be it physical or emotional.
8. Make the result clear
The opposite of writing a fight scene, but something worth considering in many cases, is to skip the violence entirely.
It depends whether you’re trying to provide action or communicate violence, but for the latter, this can be incredibly effective.
9. Make Sure the Style Suits Your Novel
Your novel has a special tone and style that needs to extend throughout every scene, including fight scenes. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be flexible, but this flexibility should complement the overall style of the rest of your work.
For example, if you tend to use descriptions throughout your novel, then don’t stop it when you’re writing a fight scene. Carry on with the general style.
10. Study the Works of Great Authors
Studying how great authors do it can help you get inspired into writing a scene just as great, or perhaps even better! But not just that, you may also find yourself leaning toward a certain style of portraying fights.
Works of amazing authors such as Robert B. Parker, John Connolly, Patricia Cornwell, Elmore Leonard, and many others can provide you with the insights you need to shape up your own writing.
How much do fight scene writers make?
Fight scene writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $61,240 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On the low end, fight scene writers and authors earned a 25th percentile salary of $43,130, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,500, meaning 25 percent earn more.
Writing a fight scene can put a lot of pressure on the screenwriter.
It’s hard to know how the fight will look on the page. You don’t want it to go on too long, and you don’t want it to be so short there’s no tension. However, the tips provided will guide you through perfectly.
Here are some tips:
Write in shorter sentences. Mix action with dialogue. Don’t focus too much on what’s going on inside the character’s mind. Keep the fight short.
FAQs on How do you make a fight scene?
What is a fight scene?
Sometimes a conflict in a novel, novella, short story, or film produces so much tension that it culminates in violence. This violence manifests as a fight scene, in which characters physically battle each other using weapons, vehicles, or their own two hands.
Why are fight scenes so effective?
These scenes are interesting because they’re interactions with consequences, and those consequences are usually what makes the action exciting.
What makes a fight scene interesting?
A good sense of time flow means properly depicting the time gap between each movement, the duration of the fight, etc. while keeping the characters’ speed and agility in mind, and the flow of time.
How much do fight choreographers get paid?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fight choreographers, in general, earned a mean annual salary of $53,560.