Writing Fight Scenes

Fight scenes are amongst the hardest types of scenes to write. You have to get across the nature of the actions to your reader, but you need to avoid boring them. At the same time as keeping your detail vague enough to keep pacing up, you need to be including enough detail to express how brutal the fight is and the impact it’s having on your character.

The purpose of this post will be to equip you with points to keep in mind when writing your next fight scene. But first, we’ll be going into what your fight scene should contain in relation to your characters and their skills.


Know your characters

Firstly, you need to establish who will be fighting in your scene, and how skilled they are. An amateur scuffle between a couple of drunkards will look completely different to an acrobat fight between two Krav Maga experts. Consider these scenarios:

  • Two drunkards getting into a brawl in a bar.

  • Two kung-fu masters facing off in a dojo.

  • A secret agent facing off with an enemy henchman.

These are all plausible scenes you may find yourself writing, but, as you can imagine, they would all play out entirely differently—details of which we’ll get into later. And on that note...

Fight, Flight, or Freeze.

This is another aspect of your character that you must keep in mind. Not all characters will react to confrontation in the same way, and the way your scenes pans out can affect things further.

Let’s say your character prefers to flee (flight); if confronted by an aggressor, their first reaction will be to look for an escape. If they can run, great! But what if they can’t? If they’re stuck, they’ll more than likely dodge their assailant’s attacks whenever they come, throw things to keep them away, or try to push them over, all the while keeping an eye out for an escape.

How about if your character freezes? This type of person may curl into a ball when confronted, perhaps surrendering immediately and begging for their life. This character will lose the fight pretty quickly and will probably need to be saved by another.

And if your character is a fighter? They’ll not hesitate to get stuck into the scrimmage.

So what does the fighting look like?

For a WIP of mine, I specifically mention that my character is being trained in Krav Maga—this is due to her trainer being ex-CIA (Krav Maga is the chosen combat style of government agencies). As an author, I didn’t know the slightest about Krav Maga, so what did I do? I looked up beginner tutorials on YouTube. I learned how experts stand, their fighting philosophy, how they move, and the terminology of certain moves.

While you don’t need to be extraordinarily detailed when it comes to writing your scenes, doing some research will help you keep things authentic. Here are some basics for you to keep in mind when it comes to certain fighting styles...

Amateur (no training)