Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#1
I noticed writing a fight scene was that my writing was a bit jerky. It was like

"Person 1 does attack (describe the attack."
*sentence that describes the response or feeling of getting attacked*
*Person 2 does attack (same formula)*
*repeat*

Is there any way to change it up to make it flow smoother? I noticed it most in my latest chapter for one of the fiction I was writing.

Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#3
I am no expert in writing fight scenes but I do have some suggestions. I would recommend elaborating on the MC’s thought process while he’s engaging in the fight. You don’t have to elaborate on what each attack does. I think it’s more important to highlight what the MC thinks during the fights.

Eg. There are only a few options MC had. Fireball and Mind control was out of the question seeing how Enemy already took the necessary countermeasures. 

“Damn it! I let my guard down! I didn’t think he would go so far as to analyse my  attack patterns. Do I really have to use that?“

Before MC even had the chance to process and sort out his thoughts, the (Enemy Move) delivered the finishing blow to MC’s stomach. Every rib inside cracked from the intense vibrations that resonated across his entire being. As MC’s consciousness started to fade, he no longer had any reserve strength to suppress what’s within. What he was about to unleash was nothing less than a catastrophe.

The above is just an example I created to illustrate that fight scenes doesn’t always have to be about exchanging blows. The dynamics behind each character’s thoughts and actions can make up a very good chapter too. You may want to consider posting on the “Writing” thread in the future for more elaborate discussion. I would be happy to hear what you think. And here’s a free +Rep! Hope this helps! Cheers! 

DrakanWine

Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#5
With fight scenes, the best and safest option to go for would be to simplify things. A fight doesn't have to last four seasons, cause a catastrophic apocalyptic event, and go over-budget if it only has to last ten seconds, enough tension, and good imagery. 

Making good use of the character's thought process can also work, albeit without the long drone out "Should I just shoot him? No, he's too close" or something close to that. That can break the immersion of the reader and you can guess where that can go.

Let's use your example of A do this, B does that:

Arthur slowly put a hand to the gun in his shoulder holster, his mind running through different scenarios. He knew, without a doubt, that he'd be dead if he pulled it out now in the middle of the alley, yet as the knife-wielding man approached him, he could think of few options to escape his predicament. Gritting his teeth, he pulled out the gun just as the man charged at him, intent on at least going down with him.

The crack of gunpowder echoed within the alley, causing Arthur to wince as the man collapsed to the floor below, blood spewing from his leg where the bullet had pierced through. Screams thundered in the alley as Arthur looked back, looking at the smothering barrel of the pistol flash once more as Betty pulled the trigger, sending the bullet into the rising man, killing him where he stood.

---

Here, the "fight" lasted two paragraphs. But it tells a lot. Arthur would've died if he drew his pistol, likely due to the time taken to draw it. The scenarios in his head are left up to the reader, and the conclusion too can also be left to the reader to imagine. It's a simplified fight, yet a reader can fill in the gaps with any details that they can think of.

Therefore, you should look into how you write your fights, then identify which parts should be left out in favour of more flexible imaginations to take hold.

Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#6
I would also add that the pacing of your fight scenes is also important. If it's meant to go very quickly, but takes entire paragraphs to get through, that might not give the reader the right pacing. Check out this quick example which starts off slow-paced and then moves into a faster pace.



They circled one another slowly, each crouched, ready to pounce. Helene gripped the baton in her hand, hoping the rain would not cause it to go flying out of her hands, and studied her opponent. Pandora moved with a grace and solidity that Helene could only envy. This was the woman who had stared down the enemy and come back alive. This was the legend who had protected an entire town single-handedly - who bore the scars to prove it. They twisted up her arms and neck like thorned ivy on her skin. Yes, this was the warrior Helene had admired.

And now she was facing her in combat. Helene tried not to let her mind wander - to let herself get distracted by the fact that she was facing down a legend who could and probably would wipe the floor with her. Instead, she held her baton tight and mirrored the woman's stature as the two of them circled and circled, measuring each other up.

Helene barely registered the flicker of movement. A thunderous whack! resounded through the arena as Pandora's baton came down on hers, and Helene was pushed to her knees.

Pandora glared down at her from where she stood, and for one small moment, Helene thought she would end it here. She could. Instead, Pandora pushed back, retreating. Embarrassment reared its ugly head, and Helene could feel her cheeks burning. How easily she'd been overpowered. Helene stood, ignoring the small burn in her arm.

Pandora did not wait. In one fluid motion, she was attacking again, and it was all Helene could do to lift her baton to protect, tilting it this way and that against the furious barrage.

Left. Up. Right. Down. Side. Up. She scrambled to defend herself, limbs burning and heart pounding.

Always one step behind! she growled at herself. At this rate, I'll be--

The blow came unexpectedly, and the pain flooded through her head like wildfire. Helene crumpled to the floor, disoriented, her vision closing in on her.

Pandora's glare was unforgiving as she stood over her. Helene succumbed to the darkness.




It needs some editing for sure and it's not perfect, but I think it gets the idea across. If you compare the beginning of the scene and the end, you'll see a difference in the pacing.

I've found that pacing is where things can be changed up for a fight scene to make it feel more fast-paced when it needs to, and to slow things down when it's called for. With every fight, there are lulls, moments where it slows down a bit. Those are good times to let the characters do some deeper thinking and get more detail in there. But when the opponents clash, things are usually happening so quickly that detailed descriptions and thoughts will only slow down the pacing for the reader, which might result in a bit of an incongruous scene.

I hope that helps!

Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#7
Fight scenes are all about the action. The worst mistakes an author can offer with action scenes is to make them prolonged, stilted and confusing. Who's fighting, what are they fighting, what kind of weapons are at hand, etc. - those details should be presented quickly and without unnecessary adjectives (such as "the razor sharp sword" or "a six foot spear") - does it matter that the sword is razor sharp and further - was the term razor even common in the story's time period? You want the reader to envision the action - to use their own mind's eye to fill in all the details that would otherwise bog down an action scene. Here's an excerpt from Blackgloom that might help you. Good luck with your writing.

* Blackgloom’s Lower Level *

“This way,” Sabritha indicated, pointing to a long corridor that led to a set of steep, winding stairs. “He’s up there, somewhere. I feel it,” she said.

“Look out,” Toobar cried out. “Ogrerats—behind us!” He reached for his flute and blew it for all it was worth, but without effect.

Cale turned and hollered, “What’s wrong with you? Blow that damned thing!”

“My flute’s bent!” Toobar screamed. “Must’ve happened in the fight.”

Cale pushed Sabritha behind him and stepped out to face the first ogrerat, now only a huge, hairy blur as it charged out of the darkness. Toobar ducked when the beast launched itself from half way across the corridor. The animal slammed into Cale, sending him crashing against the wall. Cale’s helmet flew off with the impact and he dropped his halberd. It was all he could do to jam his armored forearm into the beast’s massive jaws to stave off its gnashing teeth. Sabritha grabbed the loose helmet and began beating the animal on its rock-hard skull, with no effect.

Toobar managed to engage the second ogrerat with Cale’s halberd. That quickly proved to be a mismatch. The diminutive little man had neither the strength nor the skill to battle the monster for long.

Cale struggled to pull his dirk from its scabbard, but the weight of the ogrerat made that all but impossible. Sabritha ran to the end of the corridor, jerked down a lantern and poured its oil into the helmet. She ripped a shred from her gown and lit it from another lantern, then rushed back to the fight.

“Cale! Cover your face,” she screamed. Hesitating only a second, she threw the oil on the ogrerat’s back and ignited it.

The animal’s fur burst into flame and it bellowed in agony, its scream releasing Cale’s arm. Cale had the chance he needed to draw his weapon and in a flash, he slit the ogrerat from belly to throat, almost drowning himself in the creature’s foul smelling innards. The huge animal groaned once more and collapsed on top of its killer.

Toobar was quickly losing his fight with the other ogrerat, but he had inflicted several bloody wounds on the beast in the process. Sabritha helped Cale escape from under the blazing carcass and get to his feet, though they were an instant too late for Toobar. With one mighty leap, the ogrerat toppled the Ferret, bending him over backwards and snapping his spine like a twig. The beast stopped only long enough to tear a great chunk from Toobar’s throat, thus finishing its helpless prey.

Sabritha screamed again, then wilted against the wall. Cale had only time enough to unsheathe his broadsword as the animal catapulted from Toobar’s lifeless body. Fortunately, the broadsword was well aimed, penetrating completely through the creature’s neck, severing its jugular and killing the beast instantly. Cale fell backward under the weight of the monster.

Just then, a horrible, unearthly wail emanated from the stairwell somewhere above them. The sound echoed time and again through every hall of the Blackgloom keep.........

Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#8
Here are older forum threads covering the topic of fighting scenes:
https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/105160?page=1#pid870938
https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/105693?page=1#pid876721

I will repeat my advice from the second thread:

Quote:No matter how you decide to present your fight, beware of the danger of over describing. What you have is not a movie but a lot of words on a piece of paper. Describing every move, the angle of the blade, the exact position of one's foot, can easily drag and become boring. A fight is an action scene. This means that the sentences can't be super long. Shorter sentences, ellipses, and a lot of verbs give a fight scene more life and a faster pace.  
Another important part - show, don't tell. 

Here is a little example. 

The 'bad' take would be: "His left arm stretched out. His fist landed on his opponent's nose, breaking it in the process and forcing blood to gush out like a fountain. The other man fell on the ground unconscious."
Why is it bad? Rigid/repetitive sentence constructions. It tells the reader the end result plainly and it feels somehow dry. The used words are boring. At least one sentence is too long.

Now, let's try to re-write it: "His fist flew forward. Bone met bone, followed by a loud crunch. Blood gushed everywhere. His opponent dropped on the ground - limbs twitching, no longer able to get up."  

I hope that this will be helpful. 


Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#9
One trick that might help you is to pick a character and try to consider it from their perspective. Maybe you, the omnipotent omniscient author knows exactly what happened in the fight in a blow-by-blow fashion, but do the characters in it? Do the characters watching? What emotions do they have?

For example, what if you write the fight from the perspective of a non-fighter who cares deeply for one of the competitors:


Quote:Gareth watched the fighters clash, his eyes struggling to follow the flashing blades. He couldn't tell who had the upper hand until he noticed that Cassandra kept losing ground.

Does your protagonist have a good enough grasp of fighting to follow it blow by blow?

Quote:
Block! Block! Parry! Block! Cassandra struggled to keep up with her opponent. She hadn't yet taken a hit, but she needed to find an opening! She'd never win if she couldn't attack. 


Maybe the entire fight is beneath them.


Quote:Vitessa frowned as she pushed her foe across the arena. Another challenger, and still no one could pressure her? How tedious. This was disrupting her whole schedule. 


What does the fight mean? What's interesting about it? How much does your reader need to know?

Re: Making Fight Scenes Flow Smoother

#11
Good advice I read somewhere here on the forums but can't seem to find it now.
Zoom out, zoom in, repeat as required. 

McVega was too slow and fell behind the rythem of the fight. Blocking another slam made him acutely aware of his bunrning muscles. At this rate, his charges may die before he reached them. Dousing the air with a pepper shaker of refined time, Timekeeper McVega expended days from his life to rewind his enemy a few seconds. One viscous stab and he was free to rescue the children.

This is now a tool in my toolbox. Not for every situation but it does so much work so efficiently I find myself gravitating to it.