So what's your approach to fight scenes? Do you try to provide a blow by blow description, or an overview of whats happening, and let the reader imagine the rest? Which authors write the best fight scenes, in your opinion?
February 17th, 2003, 11:00 AM
I loved the simplistic style of REH. He didnt give blow by blow accounts but instead gave a description of the style of the fighters involved and how they tried to adapt to each other.
Conan (for example) came up against far better trained fighters than himself, but often succeeded due to a combination of killer instinct and brute force.
February 17th, 2003, 02:09 PM
K.J Parker.. Fencer Trilogy
Janny Wurts, Light and Shadow series plus her work with Raymond E Feist in the Daughter of the Empire series.
Most of Feist's work is pretty good.
Bernard Cornwell's Arthur series and his Sharpe...
Martin is ok, Goodkind is a could do better *g*
REH is good.
Thing is with writing a fight you have to balance action, story and character. Detail is good, too much puts your reader to sleep. But at least try to have the weapon you chose for your hero used in a manner that is possible for the human body to perform.... And NO sword weighs 10 lb!!!
February 17th, 2003, 02:55 PM
I think the basic fact to remember when writing a fight scene is that you're not scripting a movie (unless of course you're writing a screenplay) - you're describing a physical conflict with prose.
The blow-by-blow thing won't work well for long because these days any kid reading your stuff can go plug in his playstation and and watch ten times as much action in a fraction of the time. The trick, in my opinion, is to give the reader something he or she can't get out of a movie or video game - things like strategy, emotion, and physical sensation. (Well, you might find all of those in games & movies, but a novel can present them on a level that's not as restricted.)
Much like Holbrook made the argument that real swords don't weigh ten pounds, likewise, real people don't fight hooked up to wires. In a real fight, things start happening before you're ready for them, and even if you're in great physical condition, you're out of breath in about two minutes. Fighting in real life is dirty and ugly.
February 17th, 2003, 03:53 PM
I think this is short enough to get by Erebus's law on posting a large amount of story on this board, it helps show what I was trying to say:
Jack threw himself down the last few steps, taking two men with him, bounced and shoulder rolled. Snatching up an abandoned sword, he plunged into the kitchen and hoped for an unguarded open door. A large frame, almost bursting out of a badly laced leather jerkin, stood there, smiling.
The skin round Jackís mouth tightened in reply and he angled a blow forward with his blade, simultaneously sweeping the dagger up to defend a high blow from his opponent. The dagger caught the manís sword, twisting it away, as his own blade sliced through the leather jerkin.
The large frame bellowed and slammed forward with his dagger. Jack arched his torso, stepping back, catching his heel on an abandoned copper pan. He stumbled sideways and leather jerkinís dagger still bit deep, cutting into his side.
Jack dropped to one knee, fighting the blinding pain, his eyes on the gloating face above him. He thrust hard, taking his sword from the floor straight up into leather jerkinís neck, then stumbled up, pushed the manís remains away, abandoned the blade with the corpse and shot out into the night.
February 17th, 2003, 06:15 PM
Like with most things I think authors all have very personal styles when it comes to describing a fight scene, I'd be hesitant to go for a blow by blow account, but then again depending on how you do it could make all the difference.
Bernard Cornwell's Arther series is excellent and one of his Sharpe books in particular has a fight scene that stands out in my mind, for those of you that have read it I think it's in Sharpe's Triump when he saves first saves Wellington's life in India. An event that is mention throughout the other books but wasn't actually written until most of the others were finished and so had some definate expectations to live up to.
I also like the way Robert Jordan uses the names of 'moves' when Rand fights, its been a while since I read any WOT but I remember always liking it when he strung a lot of those names together in a fight scene as they give you a sense of what's happening but allow you to use your own imagination as well.
February 17th, 2003, 07:25 PM
I like Holbrook's scene. There's a fair amount of detail--enough to visualize the action--but not enough to slow down the story.
I agree that the key with fight scenes (and indeed with all writing) is to achieve a balance. Either too much detail or too little and the scene loses its power. And there has to be a balance among the different kinds of detail--most fight scenes I've read that I thought were weak contained too many thrusts and punches and not enough sweat, fear and pounding hearts. That is, the psychological states of the opponents should be touched on as well as the physical.
I'm not as widely-read as some but I thought that the fight scenes were pretty good in Williams's To Green Angel Tower--when young Simon was out there on the battlefield with his new sword having his first taste of war, his mixture of exaltation and absolute disgust was well portrayed. The physical details were well described too but that's not what sticks in my mind, it's the raw emotion of it all.
February 17th, 2003, 11:25 PM
I usually go blow by blow, but at the moment my fights scenes are small. In a larger fight/battle I would add more tactics.
February 18th, 2003, 03:28 AM
It depends on what the story calls for. Does the fight explain part of the plot, or is the fight just a filler? Are the details of the fight necessary to the story, or does the fact that the fight occurred at all satisfy the reader?
I just did a large fight scene that took about 5 pages to describe because I did a blow-by-blow, but it was essential that the reader see that the bad guy is really bad ass, but can still be defeated, even if the losses to do so are extreme.
February 18th, 2003, 04:10 AM
Firstly, I don't write fight scenes, except if they have something to add to the plot. This is because fights are meant to be dangerous; if they are used too often, if your characters get away from too many fight too often, then they loose their charm. You already know the character's going to survive and, possibly, s/he is not going to be badly hurt. Or, if they are badly hurt too often, how do they recover and fight again? Too many injuries hamper the body after you have received a few of them; you can't fight the same as you fought before.
In short, I think fight scenes are a bang with flash, sound, and color that needs to appear at the right moment in a story, or loose its effect.
As far as descrition goes... As others have pointed out, each writer has his/her own style in that. Personaly, I try to be as realistic as I can in the moves of the characters, and give their toughts and feelings to the reader as they fight. They watch their oponent move -- what do they think? how do they judge him? a fair fight? an easy victory? a tough fight? Also, their suroundings: you think a lot about your suroundings when you fight -- where is the best place to stand? are you trapped? escape routs?