LESSON How to Write Engaging Fighting Scenes

Discussion in 'REFINING WRITING' started by Sakura, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. A Palonis & Sakura Special!

    Battles & fight scenes are common in action, adventure, drama, or fantasy roleplays, but they can be found in a variety of other genres, too! Whether your roleplay has scattered fight scenes or needs particular scenes at climatic points in the story, you'll need to keep them flowing and fresh! In order to do that you'll have to understand the basics of fight scenes as well as the planning required to establish a great battle.

    Start by planning what kind of fight it's going be!
    In a given scene, characters will all be moving independently. Organize your characters. What will each of them be doing before the fight start?
    Some of them might be circling around, others advancing, others backing off to get a good shot. To better visualize this sort of movement, we prefer to reenact the scene on our desk using models, having them all move around in increments of five seconds. If not, you could always try a sketch of stick-figures! Make note of the order of attacks, the type of attacks that your characters will perform.
    Don't forget to organize the opponents, too!
    On that same note, realize that describing the enemies in action can be just as interesting as describing what the heroes are doing. What kind of enemies are they? How are they reacting to the heroes? Some of them may scramble away or try for cheap shots from behind. Others may run off to sound an alarm or call for reinforcements. Putting details like that in gives a degree of personality to the enemy.

    What kind of powers do your characters have?
    In a battle between two storyline characters, on the other hand, a method we like to use is to consider all the various applications of the characters' respective powers and have them vary their attacks accordingly.
    If a character can manipulate fire, then have them launch it in ricocheting balls, waves, columns, or if they're that sort of fighter, have their fire take the appearance of some form of majestic creature.
    If a person uses a sword, then you've got all sorts of moves you can have them do, including feinting, parrying, sweeping, stabbing, and a variety of slices from all directions.
    Consider also the environment !
    Design the area that the combatants are fighting in. A good way to give some details is to describe the damage to the surrounding area caused by the battle and how that affects the combatants themselves. A classic way, for instance, to show how dire an attack with a sword would have been is to have the sword go cleanly through something like a table or a wall. In some cases, the heroes can even use the environment to their advantage, like taking cover behind storage crates to evade enemy gunfire.

    Don't be afraid to be short in words.
    You don't need to make every instance of a specific attack a different word. All you really need is three words you can alternate between to avoid having the writing look too stale. The important thing is to make your writing clear, and sometimes simplicity of vocabulary is better.
    For example, the word Stab can be switched out with Lunge, Thrust, or Impale, and then you can go back to saying Stab again.
    Remember to be creative!
    The only limit in a fight scene is your imagination. The ultimate goal of any battle in an RP is to make it look stylish, and so variety is key. Unless there are some rules against it, feel free to have your characters intersperse attacks with something other than their fists during the fight. After all, in some cases, the opponents would be too far away or too close for a good punch, so you might need to put in some kicks, elbows, shoves, and grabs too.

    Using the Human Body.
    The human body is one of the most varied weapons in the world. You've got your head, shoulders, elbows, palms, fists, fingers, knees, and many other means of attacking your opponent, especially if the two people are both skilled at martial arts or street fighting. Just like with fire or swords, just think of the various means by which people can use their body as a weapon.
    In a fist fight, you've got multiple ways to dodge and move. People can block attacks, grab limbs, duck, step out of the way, and all other sorts of things. If it's a more frenzied fight, people could attempt to trip their opponents, push them over and then beat on them while they're on the ground, throw them, snap their limbs (although it's best not to describe that a lot of the time, in case there's someone squeamish in the audience), and multiple other things.

    Using Magic.
    Magic is part of any fantasy roleplay. It comes in varied forms and applications. It can be long-ranged or close-combat. Keeping all these things in mind, use your character's magic in a way that suits it best.
    Elemental Magic is one of the most versatile forms of magic. Depending on the skill level of the user, elemental magic allows for the manifestation of one's element. You can create ice blades on your arms and attack directly. You can shoot fireballs or toss a mini tornado at your enemy. The most important part about writing elemental attacks is describing the imagery. Since there is just so much that you can do with elemental magic, it's that important to imagine exactly what your character is doing! Be creative, use your imagination and come up with varied attacks. Include your characters body movements, the color of the magic and anything else that you might find important.

    Physical Magic is anything similar to elemental magic - a form of magic that can be seen or felt should be described by those attributes! You should be able to read it and practically imagine what it would be like to cast that kind of magic.

    Non-Physical Magic
    could be things like telepathy or hypnosis. This is a tricky type of magic simply because there's not much to describe. In this case, remember that your character is not only casting the magic, but you have to describe the effect it's going to have on your opponents. Try to describe the 'feeling' of this magic.

    Using Weapons.
    Weapons are also common to roleplays! Weapons reflect the creativity, combat style, and skill of the character. They can also give insight into the character's personality! (:
    Damage Control is important no matter what kind of weapon your character wields. It's great to describe the hit on their opponent, but also describe, if any, damage to the environment.

    Combat Style would be the type of weapon being used. If you're using a bow&arrow, for example, which is a long range weapon, your character is more concerned with the view of the battle from far. If you're with a sword, your character needs to be switching from defense and offense modes. Make use of the combat style and use it to your advantage.

    Type of Weapon is my favorite part of battle descriptions. Pull an arrow out of the sack, unsheathe the sword sweeping it through the air, twirl the wand. There are lots of adjectives to describe different kinds of weapons. You can twirl a wand or twirl a gun. You can flip a blaster out of a holster and pull a trigger. Don't be afraid to experiment with words!

    Using Creativity.
    A battle doesn't always have to be the same! If your character is a traveling swordsman, he doesn't have to use the same combination of front slash, dodge, thrust over and over again! He can use the hilt of sword to bash someone in the head. Or he can mix some fire magic onto his sword and impale his enemy. He can try a running slash or leap from a tree branch and thrust his blade towards the enemy.


    Exercise One: Write out a fight scene between your character and an NPC.

    Exercise Two: Partner with another player to do a fight scene back and forth.
    #1 Sakura, Jun 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2013
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  2. Exercise One
    Characters: Okami (Me)
    Draggor (NPC)
    Enviorenment: Woods
    In the deep of the woods, the rivality between these 2 personalities has broken families, houses, trees and rocks.
    Okami, staring at Draggor takes out his dagger and holds it in a back point posotion (With the point leaning backwards).
    Draggor with his eyes watching directly at Okami’s face unsheates his longsword and they both proceed to a battle position.
    -Okami uses his high speed to get cover behind a high tree out of Draggor’s sight.
    -Draggor looks at the trees looking for any sign of Okami’s presence, he furiously starts slashing trees with a sole move of his hand.
    -Okami jumped from a tree behind Draggor, with complete decision Okami lands and rushs towards Draggor, before Draggor could even realize it Okami was already at his back with his blade inDraggor’s neck.
    -Draggor used his elbow to hit Okami’s stomach, seeing the entry Draggor swings his sword, Okami made it to see the slash but Draggor was able to slash Okami’s right arm, leaving him on the ground.
    -Okami fastly get up and jumped back, “Tsch, I see that you have been training” He said.
    -“Of course, now prepair, you are going to die by THESE hands” Draggor replied while running toward Okami to give him the final blow.
    -Okami slide through Draggor’s legs and jumped to behind a tree.
    -Draggor, angered and full of rage started swinging his sword in every possible direction.
    -Okami using his agility and stealth sorrounded Draggor though behind the trees, Okami started thowing knifes at Draggor’s back.
    -One of Okami’s knifes stabed Draggor’s back, but, Draggor blinded by his rage didn’t even realized of his wound, he reacted and slashed in the direction wich the knifes were coming.
    -Okami made it to avoid Draggor’s attack and prepaired his special technique, Okami climbed the highest tree and jumped toward Draggor with his pointing forward converting his body in a projectile.
    -Draggor, blinded by his fury didn’t realized what was happening in that moment and received the complete strike of Okami’s technique.
    Now with the floor painted in red and the leafs of the flowers too, this rivality has reached the end, by the path of the blood.