It’s been almost a month since a random discussion with my hairdresser inspired me to have a try at writing fantasy. My initial plan was to give it a couple of weeks and then decide whether to carry on. I’m pleased to report that while the story is still a hot mess of fragments, impressions and loose ends, it’s shaping up well and I’m absolutely loving it.
Last Sunday’s discussion about baddies was super-helpful. It gave me just the nudge I needed to figure out that my story does indeed have a shadowy Big Bad. I haven’t figured out the ‘who’ and the most fundamental ‘why’ of him yet, but I’ve figured out what he does, and it’s not good. It will probably take my hero and heroine more than one book to bring him down. There’s also a good chance he might be a stooge for an even Bigger Bad.
I’m hoping I can get another boost today. I’m in uncharted waters, and I’m looking for tips and hints, from real life, or the interwebs, or fiction, that will help me write good fight scenes. I got some good expert advice this week with a promise of more, but I’m going to need all the help I can get if I’m going to make the story credible.
At the moment my fictional world has no guns, though it does have explosives, swords, crossbows and other traditional weapons. My hero is a career soldier, and so is his father, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m writing from my heroine’s point of view. She has some interesting skills including a lifetime of martial arts training, but she’s never been in a real fight in her life. I put her in one this week 🙂 .
I’m not writing some action-packed, testosterone-loaded adventure story with pages of blow and counter-blow, and I’m not aiming to get all specific about weaponry, but there is fighting and I’d like it to ring true. I’m also thinking a good fight scene (in my kind of story, at least) might have something in common with a good sex scene – it’s more than a detailed account of interacting body parts.
A couple of days ago I had tea with the husband of a good friend. He’s a martial arts expert and he kindly choreographed the moves of my heroine’s first fight. He also told me a few interesting things:
- real fights typically don’t last very long, a few seconds, or minutes at the most, though they seem longer when you’re in them as time seems to slow down;
- almost all the most effective moves which will win a street fight are banned in most ‘pure’ martial arts disciplines;
- another reason fights don’t usually last very long is that the opponents are rarely equally matched. Usually one side has a gang of supporters and the other person is solo, or one is an experienced fighter and the other is a novice, or one is armed and the other is not.
- an experienced fighter will try to distract their opponent. Talk to them, or somehow draw their attention away from what is about to happen;
- an experienced fighter will often hear their opponent’s body making a move (and will respond accordingly) before they see it;
- when a trained fighter is relaxed, flexible and loose, they may strike with heavy power that feels almost like a feather-light blow to the person delivering it, though not to the person on the receiving end.
I used almost all these points in My Girl’s first fight scene and I think I did a decent job of it, but it made me realise how much more My Girl and I need to learn. I’ve been looking for inspiration on my bookshelves.
There’s plenty of great fighting writing in Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. It feels totally authentic, and I assume it’s because Gordon Andrews is ex-military. I love Kate, the heroine, but she’s too expert to really get my Girls speculating – she’s a mercenary and her skills have been honed from childhood in the most ruthless manner; plenty of the other characters are skilled and deadly, and weapons abound.
Probably closer to what I need is Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer’s contemporary romantic adventure Don’t Look Down, because the heroine, Lucy, is a movie producer who has no fighting skills but who finds herself embroiled with plenty of people who do, including the CIA, her Australian Special Forces ex-husband, and her Green Beret movie adviser. I’m sure the fighting stuff in this book was written by Bob (who’s an ex-Green Beret himself), including a brilliant bar fight scene. My treat for this evening is to re-read DLD and pay attention to the fighting, which I have always skimmed in favor of the romance, comedy and snarky dialogue.
Does anyone have any experiences or know-how they’d care to share, or suggestions for other good books, movies or any other fighting resource for a romance-loving softie like me?