Special Guest: Rayne Hall on Fight Scenes

The fabulous Rayne Hall has graciously provided this post on Writing Fight Scenes. Enjoy!

woman with swordThirteen Mistakes Writers Make With Fight Scenes
by Rayne Hall

1. Nothing at stake…. as if the characters put their lives at risk without purpose

2. Absence of emotion… as if the fighter didn’t feel fear, fury or despair

3. Generic setting… as if the fight took place in ‘white space’

4. Making it easy for the hero by giving him a superior weapon, superior armour, superior strength
and superior skills… as if he couldn’t rise to a genuine challenge

5. Fighters holding a leisurely conversation with long, carefully articulated sentences.. as if they had plenty of breath to spare during the swashbuckling

6. Implausible fight skills… as if the situation instantly granted the Regency damsel a black belt in

7. Inventing a fancy weapon for the hero… as if a gimmicky-shaped sword stood a chance against a
blade of tried-and-tested standard design

8. Long sentences… as if fighting was a leisurely, slow-paced activity

9. Lots of adverbs… as if any sense of speed created by a verb must be squashed instantly

10. Weapons from the wrong period … as if an ancient Greek would use a medieval greatsword, or
a Norman knight a 19th century cavalry sabre

11. Weapons performing tasks they can’t do … as if an epee sword could split skulls or a small
pistol stop a running target at a thousand feet

12. The character thinks deep philosophical thoughts… as if fighting off deadly blows were so easy
that he could concentrate on something else

13. The fighter observes what his mates are doing at the other side of the battlefield and the sun
setting on the horizon… as if the immediate danger didn’t require all his attention

Rayne Hall caricature by KuokeRayne Hall is professional writer and editor. She teaches online workshops for intermediate, advanced and professional level writers.

Even if you’ve never wielded a weapon, you can create fictional fights which leave the reader breathless with excitement. You will understand different types of weapons and how to write about
them, and apply the six-part structure of great fight scenes. Decide how much violence your scene
needs, how to describe the terrain, how to create reader emotion, how to combine fighting with
dialogue, which senses to use when and how. Learn about female fighters, improvised weapons,
self-defence moves to get your heroine out of trouble, battle scenes, building suspense, adapting
your writing style to the fast pace of the action, and much more. Write a fight scene so entertaining
and so realistic that it stays in the reader’s mind. If you wish, you may submit a scene for critique at the end of the class.

April 2012 Lowcountry RWA: http://www.lowcountryrwa.com/online-workshops/

July 2013: Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal: http://www.romance-ffp.com/workshops.cfm

For an up-to-date list of classes with Rayne Hall visit: https://sites.google.com/site/writingworkshopswithraynehall/

Image Credits:
Female Pirate with Sword, Illustration by Paul Davies. Copyright Rayne Hall.
Author portrait (Woman in Blue) by Kuoke. Copyright Rayne Hall.


17 thoughts on “Special Guest: Rayne Hall on Fight Scenes

  1. I like the site, Celia! The dark back ground and the cityscape is completely appropriate for your genre. On to the blog entry–great points. Things my critique group taught me the hard way, lol. Great site, glad to be here:)

  2. I took Rayne’s class last year and loved it! I received loads of feedback and suggestions. One of the best parts of the class was having video as reference guide. Knowing the weapon that your hero or heroine is fighting with will make your scene much better.

    After all you wouldn’t take a knife to a gun fight unless you were unprepared OR you knew how to throw Chinese fighting stars while dogging a bullet at the same time. *giggle*

    I highly recommend Rayne’s classes. You will not be disappointed.

  3. I’ve taken her magic class and her word loss diet classes and my writing benefited greatly from them both. Have also read her Writing Fight Scenes reference book — will post my review of it on the blog, soon. Yay, Rayne!

  4. I think writing a fight scene is hard. I am very pleased to read this blog. Thank you for sharing. I’ll check out the classes.

    • I agree, Mary.
      Fight scenes are among the hardest to write. The first fight scenes I wrote were…. ahem… “cringe-worthy” is the gentlest description I can think of.
      Fortunately, there are techniques we can learn and apply, and if you manage the avoid the above thirteen blunders, you’ve won.
      What genre do you write? Have you written any fight scenes yet, or are you shying away from them?

  5. Great post. One of the guys in my writers group actually acts out every fight scene so he can get all the movements right.There’s a lot more to fight scenes than a lot of people think. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi A.M.
    Acting out fight scenes may not always be practical, but it helps getting the spatial consideration right. For example, you’ll soon find out if there isn’t enough room for your characters to do what you want them to do.

  7. Pingback: Book Review: Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall « celiabreslin

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