Classic Being a Better Writer: A Beginner’s Guide to Fights

Welcome, readers, to a returning feature: Being a Better Writer- Classic Edition!

Yep, that’s right. Given that there are over five years of BaBW posts that have come by, it only makes sense to dig back into the past from time to time to revisit the wisdom of old. Today we’re looking at fights! You want combat? Broken bones? Riveting fight scenes? Here’s how to get started!


 

Anyway, let’s dive right into today’s topic, since my brain is definitely drawing a blank for welcoming chatter. Today I want to talk about fights. Because this is a popular topic posed by beginning writers just about anywhere. You search the forums of a writing site such as this one? Questions about fights. You go to a creative writing class? Questions about fights. Even a writing convention like LTUE … odds are, if there isn’t a panel about fights—and sometimes even if there is—this is a question that will pop up with regularity.

Because as both readers and writers, we enjoy fights. Fights are fun. They’re exciting! They’re a chance for the protagonist to show off their skills and talents, a chance for the reader to be tugged along by a rapid, dangerous, and exciting narrative. They’re a moment of tension, a moment that can thrill both the author and reader. And writers—even the new ones—understand this. For some of them, this may have been why they wanted to be a writer in the first place. They had some idea, some concept for some really cool scene, and they wanted to let the rest of the world experience it. Then they say down at a keyboard and discovered that writing is hard.

But, never one to give up, they push forward, and before they realize it, they’re sitting in a forum somewhere, their hand raised in the air, waiting to ask the question “How do I write a fight?”

Well, today, I’m going to do my best to answer that. Today, we’re looking at the act of writing and figuring out fights for beginners. If you’ve never written a fight scene before, or have and have felt/realized that it could be better, or even if you’re just looking for a constant reminder of the basics of what you should know for a fight scene—this is the post for you.

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Being a Better Writer: Writing Warfare

Welcome back, readers (and by extension, writers). It’s time for another Being a Better Writer post. The topic for this week? It’s another request, and an interesting, if complex, one. Today, we’re going to discuss how to write a scene of warfare. Not a shoot-out, or a simple fight, but a full-on war.

Alright, let me clarify. This isn’t going to be a simple “here’s what you write.” At least, not the way most people (including the commentator who asked this question) think. Most people, upon reading the topic, likely promptly thought of one of their favorite battle scenes from a book, movie, game, or other form of entertainment. Scenes of fantasy armies clashing, magic flying around, spaceships shooting one another, muskets being primed …

Uh-oh.

Yeah, see, here’s the thing. All of those different things described up above? They’re all different battles … and they’re all going to be different types of warfare. Which means that each one could be written differently, or focus on different aspects of war. The magical warfare, for example, could be a type of war in which anyone not under a magic shield becomes a bloody mess of human remains, leading to armies only moving around under special shields, or possibly being reduced to just some elite cleaning crews and a bunch of magic users flinging destruction back and forth trying to catch a shield off-guard. Meanwhile, a scene of musket warfare would be bloody, gritty, and close, with clouds of smoke covering the viewpoint and obscuring the battlefield, cannons firing volleys, lines of men frantically reloading as balls whiz past them, and lines of cavalry sweeping in from the flanks.

All of these different kinds of war are going to lead to—you guessed it—different scenes of war, and therefore different things to write about. And that’s not even mentioning our viewpoint, be they front-line infantry, commander, narration, or some other perspective that could be bearing witness to the whole thing.

If you’re getting the idea that writing about a scene of warfare may be a complicated, messy business, then good. I’m doing my job. I’m not trying to discourage you, but rather point out that there are a lot of things you’re going to need to take into consideration before you start having two factions throw down.

What are those things? Well, now we’re getting somewhere.

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