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Great writer's resource!
on May 30, 2011
You're making great progress in writing your novel and then you come to the climactic fight scene. You know how it's supposed to go. You can see the whole thing in your head, blow for blow, until the bad guy is down on the ground, bruised, bloody and unconscious with the hero standing over him, fists clenched, barely breathing hard, not a hair out of place. The girl runs into the hero's arms, they kiss, end of story.
So you write it, and somehow, on paper, it's not as good as it was in your head. Or your critiquers put voice to your fear: "Sorry, it's just not realistic." So you rewrite and rewrite and you just can't get it. You need experience, you figure, but you've never been in a fight in your life. You've only watched them on television and in movies. How can you write what you don't know? Short of starting a barroom brawl, what do you do?
Start by reading this book.
Alan Baxter is a writer and martial arts instructor. He knows how to write and knows how to fight. He wrote this book to help you and me, the non-fighter, write our fight scenes with confidence and accuracy so no one can tell us, "Sorry, it's just not realistic."
The book is broken out into small chapters that cover the various techniques of fighting as well as reactions and outcomes. It also includes a cheat sheet checklist and a sample fight scene.
"This book won't teach you how to fight, but it will teach you some of the things you need to know to write convincingly about fighting."
As you read this how-to-write book, keep paper and pen handy because you will want to take notes. Some of the information seems obvious, like "nothing is more important in fighting that footwork," and "it's hard to hit a moving target." We know those things already (right?). But how about "when you fight, you will get hit." We may not want a single hair on our hero's head to be disturbed, but in a real fight, his opponent will land blows and he will get hit. He has to, if you want to keep it real. And getting hit hurts. It hurts everyone, even the most intrepid of heroes. He may even feel like crying after being hit, which is a natural reaction. Add these facts into your story, and the realism starts to come. Readers will start to believe your fight scenes.
(But of course, we'd never allow our hero to cry. Let the bad guy be the blubbering baby after the hero delivers a crushing right cross.)
"When two tigers fight, one limps away, terribly wounded. The other is dead." - old Chinese proverb.
You can't learn fighting from a book, but with this book and your fertile writer's imagination, you can factor in elements you may not ever have considered and make your fight scenes realistic, so readers will think you know what you're talking about. And they'll want to read more. That's the hallmark of a good story.