Fight Scene Questions?

Do you have questions about your fight scenes? Or about writing action? Or how to create believable martial arts characters? Maybe you’re wondering what your heroine would do if the villain grabbed her from behind.

I’d like to dedicate today’s blog post to answering any questions YOU may have about your fight scenes. Leave your questions in the comments section.

~ K.M. Fawcett

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11 responses to “Fight Scene Questions?

  1. How would a smaller (weaker) person go about taking a larger (stronger) person, and is there a different strategy to use when fighting one compared to fighting more than one opponent? Thanks!

    • A smaller (weaker) person would need to use his strengths to his advantage when defending himself. For example, utilizing his speed, upsetting his opponent’s balance, using his opponents weight against him, striking weak targets like knees, groin, throat, nose, eyes. If your character has martial arts training and is small then he needs to have good technique and good body mechanics. Many times a bigger stronger person doesn’t have good technique because they rely on their strength. The little guys need to be efficient in their techniques and body mechanics to gain all the advantage they can. Now if you have a big, strong person with awesome technique, watch out! Another option is to use a weapon. Check out this post on improvised weapons.

      Hope this helps!

  2. when taking on multiple attackers, how do you choose which one you should defend yourself against first?

    • When defending against multiple attackers, it’s ideal to fight one at a time. In the movies, the attackers usually wait their turn. :) However, in a real fight you need to position yourself so that attacker #1 is in between you and attacker #2. This might require a lot of movement on the defender’s part, as attacker #2 will keep trying to get around his buddy to get to you. Also, if you know the skill of the attackers, it makes sense to fight the less skilled person, keeping him as the barrier (of sorts) between you and the more skilled person. If you don’t know their skill level, you have to make a judgement call. Does one appear to be less aggressive than the other? Slower? Weaker? Your character probably won’t get to pick though, he’ll just have to defend himself against the first guy who throws the punch.

  3. Kathy, May I jump in on this one from a different aspect? I used to train a guy ( and his kids) who was high up in the ATF and a swat team trainer. This is where this info came from. Usually in a group situation you have the true leader, the “goon” or” Bubba” who will protect the true leader no matter what, the” want a be” leader who wants to “prove” something to the group then assorted others. Usually in a gang or mutilple opponent situation if you take out the “goon” first you are left with the leader or want a be leader. When the situation gets rough and you are controling the “goon” the others back off or leave or”chicken” out. Other then the first three the others only jump in if you are losing to “get their piece” of the actions. Usually it changes peoples attitude if the “goon” or leader is “taken” care of. This applies in smaller group situations also. Just my perspective.

    • Awesome, Linde! Thanks for your input on group/gang fighting!

      • Oh let me add one more thing about fight scenes in fiction. The main fight against the villain should come last at the climax, and should be the biggest, most difficult fight in the story. If the most exciting fight is with a “minion” earlier in the book, it makes the climax appear dull in comparison. Many times the hero has to fight the villain earlier in the book, but at that point the hero hasn’t grown yet (character arc) – and shouldn’t be able to beat the villain until he has. Think Rocky movies.

  4. Also in a gang situation, you may have to take care of the biggest threat first because this person may arrive before the others. The biggest threat does not mean the size of the person. Also, one strategy is for the defender to move into a position where the attackers can’t attack from the rear. I know moving into a door way may restrict one’s options but it could force those attacking to come at the defender one at a time. Other options is to have a wall to your back or even a corner. The defender should keep some room between the wall or corner in order to maneuver. They are not ideal fighting positions but it is better than being out in the open and surrounded.

  5. I do have a question. I think I know the answer but I would like to get someone else’s opinion. How specific should one describe a fight scene? My answer would be “use general terms and to not get tied down with the technicalities of the martial arts.” I would like to know how you treat this. I’ve read fight scenes in the past but don’t remember the titles of the books at present time.
    Thanks.
    Clark Stone

    • Good question. You definitely don’t want to get too technical or your fight scene will read like a training manual. Not too mention too many details will slow down your pacing. Fights are fast and you want your action to read quickly so you can elicit an emotional response in the reader. He needs to feel the excitement of the fight, not confusion over the words you use to describe it. I would keep to general terms. If however, you want to showcase a particular move, explain it earlier in the book during a training session, and then use it in the finale, as was done with the crane technique in the original karate kid. Or the drum technique in the second movie when they went to Okinawa).

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