How long do your fight scenes last?

I'm just asking cause I'm wondering if my fights are a bit too short. Usually my fights will last anywhere from 1000 to 1500 words and can be summarized into just a few sentences. The longest fight I've written was one that lasted 2 chapters, but it was just four fights happening at the same time, each fight lasting a thousand words and two per chapter. I just want to know if I'm making them too short to stick out or anything.

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

I think short is good personally. 
If it's a fight between two characters then I try to keep them short and sweet. Whether this is something I actually do is another story, but my intention is always to keep them short. 
In real life fights don't last long. They feel like they do, believe me- and I know we're not talking about real life, but the adrenaline and genuine fear and instinct, all that kicks in and fights aren't actually that long. 

So with even my superhero characters fighting with their.. powers, I try to keep them short and snappy, and if there's a large battle going on with multiple characters, I'll flick between the action, only spending a bit of time with each 'fight'. 

...If that makes sense. 

Them being short as well gives you the opportunity to explore the consequences of the aftermath too. Dig into the impact and point of what the fight was for. 

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

As long as they need too.

I know that answer is cryptic, but it's the truth. Writing action sequences is a bit of an art. There is an Eb and Flow and if you mess it up, then the fight either seems hurried, without consequence, or needlessly drawn out.

Variation is the spice of life. If a character does a particular power swing, then make the sentence slow. "His muscles bunched up as he pulled all his strength in. Breathing heavily, he threw his back into lifting the two-handed claymore, dropping it down upon his foe. As it hit, it cleaved flesh and bone from body with a sickening screech of the blade slicing bone."

If it's quick, then fast sentences. "He thrust forward with his rapier. It punched through his enemy's clothing. Strike and strike, he rained the blows into his foe. Blood pooled on their clothing. He finished his enemy with one final thurst. It punctured their heart.

Now in an actual fight scene, some blows will be powerful and some will be slow. Mix and match the sentences and your fight scenes will sing.

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

Any scene can stretch as long as there is tension, as long as the advantage swings back and forth or there are unexpected twists, and as long as something meaningful happens. And yes, you can have great dialogue during a fight scene. 

Far too many writers write action that is no different from still life. This blow happened and then that blow happened and then another blow happened. Who cares? After you've read a few books, you start skipping boring fight scenes for more meaningful content. Action without purpose is not meaningful. 

Ideally, we want to try to build plot and character development into a plot scene. The protagonist struggles against their fears as they fight the villain. The villain unveils a shocking revelation that shakes the protagonist. The protagonist rallies but is betrayed by an ally. The actual sword and gun and fist movements don't matter. Especially as they don't come across on paper like they do in a movie. 

RA Salvatore is well-known for intricate action details in his fight scenes. And at the beginning, it seems cool. After three books of reading about every single swing of the scimitar, you start skipping ahead. Especially when so many fights are one sided where the protagonist just carves their way through villains without stop. At no point are they backed into a corner, it's just another hundred orcs on the ground. Dull. 

On the other hand, you've got certain anime series where one fight scene lasts 20 episodes because it's broken up with taunts, dialogue and revelations, flashbacks and emotion. And people are enthralled.  

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

I had a one-on-one fight scene last about 1,200 words. It was a heavily inner monologue, and the actual descriptions of the fight itself took a backseat for it more or less. 

Another one lasted for 200 words more or less that was more direct: the deuteragonist rolls out of the way from a big dude boutta punch her. She makes note of the massive dent in the metallic chassis she was just standing next to and worries about leaving the future of her faction in good hands.

Other than 1v1s, I had large-scale space naval battles last about 25ish chapters that were back-to-back, broken up by some intermittent ones that developed some characters and consequences of battles.

But to really boil it down I focus a lot more on inner psychological aspects of fighting, then, well, the fighting.

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

It depends on the scale and scope for me. If there's a lot going on, two side fighting a big battle, or an extended engagement? Could last a whole chapter. If there is one MC getting his butt handed to him? Could list three sentences. It's a sweet three sentences, but it would be that short non-the-less.

Now, while scale and scope are like 95% of what I base my fight scenes on, there is one more factor. The smallest part, but potentially the most important.


How does the fight scene make the reader feel? Does something happen that makes me tear up? Do I need to elaborate to get more emotional investment out of someone reading that part? What kinds of curve balls should I throw in, if any?

It's all about the feels.

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

It depends on the genre you are writing. In my case, the fights are currently half a chapter long at most, usually just a couple of paragraphs (considering the chapter length is about 1.5-3k words). But if you are writing xianxia, the genre usually requires epicness and fights drag for chapters on end. If the "fight" is a military operation or a large-scale event consisting of multiple skirmishes, then it can also last for more than a chapter.

Re: How long do your fight scenes last?

I personally prefer shorter fights in fiction. Writing out every technical detail on a blow-by-blow basis is a bit boring to me and I'll tend to mentally summarize the entire section as "they fought" and skip ahead. Since reading is less visual than movies or TV, I tend to get less satisfaction from a fight scene than I would from those two mediums. 

If you want to make it last longer, pepper in details to keep the reader interested. Maybe the protagonist is having an inner monolog during the fight. Maybe you want to add gory detail, like an arm snapping. Maybe you want to copy the old trope of the two fighters having a debate/discussion while they fight.