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Writing Fight Scenes with a Ninja

Please welcome our newest Dwarf, Ninja. Yes, she really is a Ninja, with all the skills required. She’ll be introducing herself soon 😉 so be nice while I wrangle the zombies and make sure they don’t bite.

Fight Scenes

*From the dark shadows appears a short figure, clothed in black and brandishing a sword. Enter Ninja Dwarf.*

Fair warning, this is my first blog post so I’m expecting it to be like the first draft of my chapters – completely horrible. Here’s to hoping it’s not.

Given my new name (sincere thanks to The 7 Evil Dwarves for that), I thought a good first topic would be the exhilaration and difficulty of writing fight scenes. Fight scenes are some of my favorite scenes to write, but also some of the most challenging. The simple key to writing a fight scene: act it out.

I know, easier said than done. I mean, who would act it out with you (because it works exponentially better with a partner)? Where would you do it? What if people see you and stare? Here’s my answers to those questions…

I grab anyone I can to work through the scenes with me. Friends, family,  or strangers who don’t look too homicidal (in all honesty, don’t ask strangers to fight with you). I beg, coerce or blackmail as necessary.

I’ll fight anywhere that I have enough room and won’t cause a problem. Backyards are great, as are large family rooms. I’ve also used my office and even public parks – though that requires a bit more discretion and less yelling.

Lastly, yes, people have stopped to stare at me. Some have said what I was doing looked awesome. Others have hurried past with averted eyes and edgy glances over their shoulders. They just wish they were as cool as me.

By the way, the first time I tried to write a fight scene, it was my good friend Mr. Fox (no, not his real name) who … eh-hem… “encouraged” me to act it out.

We were both math grad students and we shared an office with six other grad students. We happened to be the early birds of the group and were usually the only ones in the office for the first hour or so each morning.

Foxy already knew about my writing at this point. I complained about the fight scene I was trying to write. In response, he stood up, told me to do the same, and then told me to make the first move. We took it move by move, slowly determining each strike and counter strike as would be appropriate for the characters.

Yes, the other grad students eventually showed up, one by one. Sad to say, they didn’t seem to care about the fighting. I guess they knew me too well by this point. Ninja and Foxy play fighting? Meh, *shrug* just another day.

Almost forgot my last point. It really doesn’t work to act out a fight scene with someone who actually wants to fight you. I have to act out the scenes slowly, really thinking through each move. That becomes much harder when someone throws a punch at full speed. So no brothers for me.

If anyone else has experience or strategies for writing fight scenes, I’d love to hear about them!

*Ninja Dwarf swings her sword a few times and then fades back into the shadows*

Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. Welcome to the Swamp Ninja Dwarf. The zombies are running amok due to my recent bad attitude. My Give A S*#% is on the fritz. I’m going to have it serviced soon. So keep your sword sharp and close by.
    With regards to acting out fight scenes; I’ve attempted to get other people to act them out for me so I could observe, and you stay out harms way. It’s never worked for me, but I bet you’re a lot more persuasive with that shiny sword.

    Reply
  1. Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 5 | I just don’t know how to say no | Write on the World

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