Writing Fight Scenes

In her last guest post, Rayne Hall gave us great tips on how to create a believable, bad-ass heroine. This time, she will show us how to make our fight scenes as exciting as any in a movie.

For those of you “meeting” Rayne for the first time, she has published more than thirty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), Six Historical Tale ss Vol 1, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3 (mild horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes and Writing Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).

She holds a college degree in publishing management and a master’s degree in creative writing. Currently, she edits the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies: Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft and more.  http://www.amazon.com/Rayne-Hall/e/B006BSJ5BK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Her short online classes for writers are intense, with plenty of personal feedback. Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing about Magic and Magicians, The Word Loss Diet and more. https://sites.google.com/site/writingworkshopswithraynehall/

Photo used with author’s permission.

Creating Exciting Fight Scenes

Hearing, more than the other senses, creates excitement. You can stimulate the reader’s sense of hearing by describing sounds. This works especially well in a fight scene. Help the reader to hear as much in their imagination as possible.

Describe the noise of the weapons: Swords clank, clang, tang and chink as they hit blades, shields and helmets, and if swung fast, they can hiss through the air.  Cannons thunder or roar. Bows twang, fletchings whisper, and arrows hiss and whoosh past. Loading a gun makes a clacking noise, and the cocking sounds like a chu-chunk. Firing a gun, depending on calibre, may create a sound like a small pop or a deafening roar. Flying bullets, depending on size and speed, may buzz, ping, or crack like a whip. A blade pulled out of flesh can make a sucking sound.

Depending on the type of fight and the terrain, there may be chariot wheels creaking and screaming, boots squelching in mud, horses’ hooves thudding and clopping, vehicles crashing.

In unarmed combat, punches and kicks may thud against flesh. In wrestling, there may be panting breaths, and the sound of breaking bones, which can sound like celery stalks snapping.

You can also mention screams and curses, as well as the groans, howls and gurgles of the injured, although this depends on how much gruesome reality you want to include in your scene.

Of the other senses, you’ll probably use the sense of seeing most in your fight scene. Describe only what the fighter sees during the action: this is probably his opponent’s face, his opponent’s fist, his opponent’s knife, and not much else. The sense of taste plays no role in a fight scene, unless you want to mention the coppery taste of blood. The sense of smell usually kicks in when the fighting is over: there may be strong smells of cordite, urine and loose bowels. For the sense of touch, you can describe what the ground feels like underfoot, and don’t forget to mention pain, because fighting hurts.

Rayne Hall’s book “Writing Fight Scenes” shows how to create an exciting, believable fight even if you know no martial arts and have never held a weapon. http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Fight-Scenes-ebook/dp/B005MJFVS0

Share This Post

Share your thoughts

4 Comments on "Writing Fight Scenes"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
I like the points she makes.

First of all, thank you for posting about this. Executing a fight in text is tricky, but so beautiful when it’s done well. A fight scene really ‘does it’ for me when I can see the action. I want to be able to mimic the footwork and strikes, live, from reading the text. Timing-wise, short, to-the-the-point sentences (bam. Bam bam. Bam!) are the best tools here. More than three moves per sentence diminishes the urgency of the words. Think about good fights you’ve seen in movies. Every time the camera angle changes, it’s either a new sentence or a new… Read more »

Thanks for the tips, Setsu. I’ll check them out. I second your sentiments.


[…] Writing Craft: Creating Exciting Fight Scenes (nadineatomlinson.wordpress.com) […]