Writing Fight Scenes

So, you would like to write convincing, engaging, exciting fight scenes, right?

Allow me to share with you one of my scenes from my Barbarian story: This takes place after he has been with his captors for all but about 6 months or so of his life. At this point, he could be about 16 or 17. He had been beaten for insubordination several times and had never given them the satisfaction of hearing him cry out, let alone cry. The antagonists are called the Shandan Nomads, for they scoured the Shandan desert in search of those they could conquer and pillage. Our protagonist has not been given a name, and is just called “Boy” or “Slave”. When the Nomads are set upon, the top two leaders are resting in a wagon, and the number 3 man tells the slaves to rally and set up a defensive line.


{The blond young man turned his eyes to the approaching riders. Lowering his head and with furrowed brow, he looked back at Shenkar, his eyes hardening. “No.”

The Nomad wheeled to face him. “What did you say to me?”

“I will not. This is your fight.”

Shenkar grabbed for his whip, flicking his wrist forward, then drawing back to deliver the blow.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl to the young man, and he moved with the agility and speed of one who had been fighting all his life. As the attacker pitched his weight forward, the boy swiveled his body to his right, his left arm crossing himself and arcing across. The tip of the weapon wrapped around his wrist as he rotated his hand to catch the throng, which he pulled as hard as he could and stepped up with his right foot. The handle jerked out of Shenkar’s hand, the strap taking some skin off with the sudden, unexpected move.

Looking at the boy with disbelief, Shenkar’s hatred hardened and he drew his sword and rushed. He aimed a thrust at the boy, who stepped to the side to avoid, grasped the hilt and shoved his open hand under Shenkar’s armpit, lifting him as he used his hip and the other’s momentum to hurl him away and relieve him of his weapon. Shenkar landed upside down and the snap of his neck gave the boy some satisfaction.

He sensed more than saw two others rushing him from behind. Spinning around, he slew one with a level slash, causing the carcass to fall into the other and knock him off balance. Before the unfortunate Nomad could recover, his sword was ripped from his grasp, and not a moment later his head was split in twain.

Footsteps behind him alerted the young rebel of the rush of a dozen more. However, the attackers seemed hard pressed to defend themselves, let alone get a scoring blow past the blurring speed of the slave armed with two blades.

It wasn’t long before the boy stood alone, huffing for breath and splattered with his opponent’s blood, surrounded by the corpses of those who had abused him and so many others for so long.

The invaders had neared considerably in the time the mini battle took, and the remaining Nomads rallied against overwhelming odds.

They were set upon from all sides as, bolstered by the youth’s defiance, the rest of the slaves joined the attack, with the boy‘s trainer in the lead. The Nomads fared poorly against so many foes, and soon had all been killed.}


Now, I have to admit; when I first penned that scene, mostly as it is written here, I had to get up and go have a cigarette to calm down. So riled up with adrenaline, I was.


The way I figured this and the other scenes involving fighting was to see it in my mind, much the same as the fighting and action sequences in most of the movies I like to watch. Slow it down and, when appropriate, give a blow-by-blow accounting of it.

In some of my other scenes, he does get injuries; at least once (thus far) he is overwhelmed and captured. I mean, let’s face it, if your hero goes through every battle unscathed, he would have to be some kind of supernatural being. That is not my man. He is human, with an innate sense of right and wrong and a fierce dislike of those who use force to get the better of common folk. Who wouldn’t, under the same circumstances, do the same thing if it were possible?


When I first contemplated writing a fight scene, and knowing there would be swordplay involved, I did a Google search to try to learn various moves: You know, parry, how to block, stances, ect. But I realized that, unless one who has also done that research, or has actually taken part in such activity, most of the terms would throw the reader off track, for they would have to do their own research to figure out what the heck I was describing. How many times have you stopped reading a tome in order to look up a bunch of terms you did not recognize in order to “see” the action? (One of the reasons I do not read Hard Sci-Fi: I do not know, nor do I care to, how the machinery works, as long as it does)


So, that is my suggestion; slow the action down in your mind, base it on scenes you have seen in movies that have really gotten your heart racing, and write it a step at a time. After you are done, take a break. Put it out of your mind since it is now on paper (or in the computer file). Come back to it later to see if it flows well; if it still gets you excited, it will get the reader just as excited!

Categories: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I like the scene above, but I admittedly have no experience with that particular type of scene. All of my written fight scenes have involved guns and hand-to-hand combat.
    I always get cranky when writing fight scenes. In my head I picture James Bond and Jason Bourne type stuff, but as I’m writing, if what I put down on paper does not look that way, I close the computer. These scenes are tough, but I like yours.


    1. Thanks, again, Allen! I guess the main suggestion I would give is to know your weapons; the weight, the kick, recovery times, ect. One must duck, be showered with debris, near misses and an occasional impact. Maybe you could try to practice by taking the actual scenes from the movies, going through frame-by-frame and writing that, including the emotions and concentration seen on the actor’s faces.


Comments are closed.