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Writing Fight Scenes by Marie Brennan

Writing Fight Scenes

by Marie Brennan

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Ah, fighting scenes. How I hate them.

I learned how to write fight scenes in the absolute worst way. I focused on details, actions, blow-by-blows. Everything would stop so we could talk about stances, weapons, blows, details, and battles were everywhere, as if my characters lived in a JRPG or a tabletop roleplaying game.

It was awful. I'm better now (I hope.)

I read Writing Fight Scenes because I wanted to read how someone who liked fight scenes went about them.... And because, hey. Mine could be a lot better.

This is probably the most important message to get out of this book. Thankfully, it's also on page 20!

...The details of how to fight are possibly the least important component of a fight scene. The crucial components are the same ones you're already grappling with in the rest of your writing--namely, description, pacing, characterization, and all that good stuff.

I adore that philosophy. That's perfect.

Despite this, Writing Fight Scenes is mostly about the technical details you might consider when writing a fight scene. It's a lot of "If your character is using a slashing-type weapon, here is the kind of damage they can do." There are lists of details about the benefits and drawbacks of weapons, the physical attributes that can affect the fight, and the kinds of things in the environment that can affect a fight. These are all sensible, but they're also the kind of details you'd get sucked into if you were... writing a blow-by-blow fight.

I understand why this happened--even if you don't WANT an author, philosophically, to write blow-by-blow battles, you want writers to be armed with the basic information they need to make the fights not stupid. But this book focuses so much on character stats and technical details that it sometimes sounds like it's encouraging blow-by-blows.

The advice is fine, it's just not what I expected. I thought this would be a lesson on how you shouldn't write blow-by-blow battles because the plot should be the focus. That's still the basic message, but it's less "Don't focus on fighting for the sake of fighting, focus on the plot" than "Here are all the details you could possibly consider to make a vivid, accurate, technically correct battle scene--but use them wisely and strategically, because the characters are the focus."

Mind you, that's still good advice. It's just not what I was looking for. ( )
  ef_spencer | Nov 30, 2017 |
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"Have you ever: Held a sword? Taken a karate class? Punched another person in the face? Even if your answer is ""no,"" you can still write a good fight scene. In this guide, fantasy novelist Marie Brennan will show you how. Drawing on her experience with fencing, stage combat choreography, Okinawan martial arts, and above all writing, she lays out the components that turn the strikes into a compelling story. From purpose to tactics to prose, Writing Fight Scenes walks you through the anatomy and execution of combat on the page."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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