On Writing Fight Scenes, Part 2

That really depends on what your goal is. There are way too many ways to write a fight scene to boil it down to simple advice. Like any other scene, it’s all about pacing, word choice and scene goals.

Some general advice to follow is that you can control the reader’s pace in a scene with the length of your sentences. Use long sentences when you want the reader to get an impression of time moving slowly, or to focus their on a particular moment. Think of it like slow-mo or instant replay on TV: it emphasizes a particular moment, usually a dramatic one. They give the audience a chance to catch their breath.

Use short, abrupt sentences for quicker pacing. Frequent breaks generate a sense of motion. They help build up a sense of confusion. Keep them simple. Don’t use compound sentences. It feels like a lot of fast edits in a movie. They keep the audience focused.

Paragraph breaks are another big one. The longer a paragraph, the more drawn out it seems. The shorter, the less so. Variate between short and long sentences and paragraphs to create a rhythm to the scene. Abrupt changes can be good for creating clean breaks. Like the classic example of a long series of sentences in a long paragraph followed by a single short sentence in its own paragraph right beneath. It creates an abrupt “break” moment, good for climaxes and hope spots and turnarounds.

Build intensity as the scene goes on, towards a climax.

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