Jun 1, 2011

On Writing: How To Write A Fight Scene

Many writers and even authors don’t know how to construct a well-written fight scene. If you have scenes in your book that require combat (or if you’re just interested) then read my take on How to Write a Fight Scene.

Action and Reaction

A key thing to remember when you are writing a fight scene is that it’s centered on these two things: Action and Reaction (In that EXACT order).

When a character gets hit they don’t just automatically start hitting back. They feel pain or they stumble backwards or they fall down…they REACT. Telling the readers the reactions of the characters will make your fight scenes much more believable.

Example of Action & Reaction
  • Harry zaps Malfoy with his wand, Malfoy will react by stumbling backwards.

Do NOT say:

 Malfoy stumbles backwards when Harry zaps him with his wand.
  • This is an example of Reaction to Action—which is a big no no. Show the action first, then show what happens because of that action.

Sentence Length

Another thing to pay attention to is sentence length. In fight scenes fast paced writing is a must. A mix of both short sentences/phrases and long sentences are needed to make it sound complete. Short sentences=faster paced writing. Just make sure not to have too many short sentences, or too many long sentences.

Too many short sentences:
Harry zaps Malfoy. Malfoy stumbles back. Harry zaps again. Malfoy dodges.

Too many long sentences:
Harry zaps Malfoy using the new spell he learned the day before in class. Malfoy stumbles back, falls, and curses loudly. Harry zaps again, this time aiming for his Slytherin badge. Malfoy dodges the attack just fast enough to miss it.

See the difference? Fight scenes require both long and short sentences although it is primarily made up of short ones.

A combination of the two:
Harry zaps Malfoy. Malfoy stumbles back and curses. Harry zaps again, aiming for his Slytherin badge. Malfoy jumps to the side and dodges it.

Extra advice:
Start with the fast pace stuff first, then as the fight dwindles down you can go back to a more normal pace.
The best way to really describe how a fight works is to watch one yourself. Pull out a favorite action movie of yours and pay close attention to the Actions and Reactions of the fighters. Take down notes! Also if your MC is using a weapon to fight make a list of your favorite weapons and chose one (or more) that you think your character will need. (You might want to make sure no one gets the wrong idea about it…having a favorite weapon list can seem kinda creepy :D). There are many different types of daggers/swords/guns. Do your research and search them up! Google holds the answer to everything. Or, you can design you own weapon.

Extra Resources:



  1. I like writing fight scenes. Just wrote an intense one where a girl fends off her would-be rapist. Satsifying to write.

  2. @Catherine- That sounds extremely intense!
    I'm sad I won't get a chance to read it.


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