Whether you’re writing contemporary action, swords and sorcery fantasy, or science fiction, most authors will come across a fight scene or twenty during their books. Most of us, though, don’t have any actual fighting knowledge. It’s not like we’re out there swinging swords at people on a daily basis (unless you’re a LARPer, which is awesome). This means we need to cross over that mistaken idea of “write what you know” into the territory of writing the unknown. How, though?
It starts with knowing your characters and the purpose of the scene. What do you need to accomplish? Does someone need to get injured? Does someone need to save the day? Write towards that. Also know what kind of style your characters will have. Their builds and history make a lot of difference in how they’ll fight. An archer or marksman won’t have the same hand-to-hand skills as an assassin.
There are also a lot of misconceptions about what’s important in a fight. It’s not all fists and feet. You also need to consider what’s around the characters that may hinder or help them. Listen for more tips as Ley and Leigh discuss what really matters in a fight and how to work through one even if you don’t have any combat experience.
First aired December 13, 2021.
This is an example grid from one of Ley’s current works. Use the columns to track people and objects, and the rows to track beats in the story (what everyone is doing in each key moment). Just because it’s in the chart doesn’t mean it needs to be written into the scene, and not everything needs to be doing something every moment.