WRITE-A-FIGHT with V.M. Sawh

Welcome to the Write-A-Fight Club with V.M. Sawh. The First Rule of Write-A-Fight Club is, you DO talk about Write-A-Fight Club. No… really. This is how we learn about fights and writing fights as a result. Now I’m not going to Tyler-Durden-you and advise that you aspiring fight-writers go out and get yourselves into brawls. Save your fists, you need to type.

As a writer with more than a decade of martial arts training/teaching experience, a black belt, several books on weapons & guns, a ridiculous library of Eastern and Western fight movies and a penchant for dissecting fights in every movie I see… I am here to help you figure this out. I’ll be referencing author Rayne Hall’s book Writing Fight Scenes (Writer's Craft Book 1), which I’ve found to be an excellent resource for writers looking to get more information. After you read this piece, I highly recommend you pick it up.

Now, some of you may be thinking: “Why is this important? I don’t read books for the violence, and none of my readers are going to want a blow-by-blow description of the action. Besides, I’ve never been in a fight in my life!”

Right, but the hook of any good plot is conflict. Period. End of story. Whether it’s the emotional violence done between Victorian characters or the the face-wrecking inflicted between cage fighters. Violence is usually the way people resolve things, at least in a way that makes things interesting. Sure, your characters could sit down for tea and talk things out, but if everyone could do that, there’d be no wars. Even in our relatively safe modern society, there are still numerous movies & sports (both combat and team-based) serving as entertainment-based ciphers for us to get our need for violence and aggression out. So it is with this in mind that I want you to approach your potential fight scene. This is conflict-resolution for your characters as well as entertainment for your readers.

All other things being equal, your reader will need to be invested in the characters in order for the fight scene to matter. If we do not know or care about who is fighting, then the fight itself becomes largely irrelevant. 

Let’s say you’re on your way to an important appointment and you see a fight break out in the street. Are you more likely to care if the combatants are:

  1. Two random MMA fighters getting ready to throw down?
  2. Your mother trying to hold off a man who is hitting her in the face?

Feel that tightening in your gut? Even though these are just words on a page, I’ll bet you had an immediate response.That’s a instinctual reaction brought on by a rush of brain chemicals preparing your body to either fight or flee. Whenever we see violence being done to someone we care about, our bodies go through the same response. We either get ready to Run Away/Run Get Help or Lay A World-Class Smackdown. In psychology, this is known as “Fight or Flight” response usually occurs when a person feels that they are in danger. You need your reader to have that same reaction for your character. They need to be the either rooting for your hero to win or rooting for your hero to get away. The way you do that is by ensuring the reader is invested in the characters involved in that conflict by building up the circumstances leading up to that fight.
 

Background/Inciting Events

The first question you, as the author, need to answer before you write your fight scene is WHY?

  • Why is this fight happening? 
  • Why these two (or more) characters?
  • Why at this location?
  • Why now?

In order to figure this out, you will need some more information.


Getting a Feel for your Fight

Author Rayne Hall believes that there are two main kinds of fights: The Entertaining Fight and the Gritty Fight. In her book, she provides a succinct definition of each type:

The GRITTY fight scene This type shows violence as it is: Nasty, brutal and quick. The typical gritty fight scene could be written in three words: Slash. Gore. Dead. In this type of scene, the actual fight is over quickly. The build-up to the fight is slow and suspenseful, and the Aftermath is prolonged. The fighters sustain terrible injuries, with spurting blood and welling gore. The Aftermath is horrid, with mutilated corpses, guts spilling from slashed bellies, and people dying in their own excrement. The gritty fight scene invites the reader to feel revulsion and horror. Its purpose is to shock.

 Hall, Rayne (2014-01-07). Writing Fight Scenes (Writer's Craft Book 1) (p. 13). Scimitar Press. Kindle Edition.

The GRITTY fight scene will almost always end in a gory, bloody, horrible death.

The ENTERTAINING fight scene This scene is heroic, spectacular, exciting, acrobatic, entertaining, theatrical, fun. It allows the protagonist to show honourable behaviour and display impressive skills. The fighting Action is prolonged while the Aftermath is often non-existent. Entertaining fight scenes can be unrealistic: The hero finishes off five attackers without breaking a sweat. There’s little blood and no gore, and wounds are mere scratches. If there’s any blood, it blooms like a red rose on a white shirt. The hero may get a slash on his cheek which will heal into a fetching scar, while the loser limps off with a couple of bruises and lives to fight another day. Death is rare. Even if someone dies, they finish as decorative corpses. The entertaining fight scene uses the location creatively: fighters leap across gorges, slide down banisters, jump onto tables, somersault across motorbikes, swing from rafters. The Action involves jumping, spinning, whirling, twirling and acrobatic feats. The entertaining fight scene invites the reader to feel admiration for the fighters’ skill. Its purpose is to entertain. Critics say that these scenes fight scenes glorify violence.

Hall, Rayne (2014-01-07). Writing Fight Scenes (Writer's Craft Book 1) (p. 13). Scimitar Press. Kindle Edition.

The ENTERTAINING fight scene is least likely to end in death, and if it does, it will be bloodless and/or comedic. Often ends in a knockout, escape, surrender, or is interrupted by a third party.

I`ll expand on that and add a few more categories because I believe there are a couple more different styles.
 

GRITTY/ENTERTAINING:

This is a mix between the first two types of fight. This type of fight scene mixes the elements of both the gritty fight scene and the entertaining one. There is violence, the stakes are generally high and there are injuries sustained, which may linger. There is more blood present than what would normally be considered an entertaining fight scene, but the resolution is often quick and there are no deadly consequences. This type of mixed fight also opens up the possibilities for an artistic flourish on the part of either fighter, where they show off their respective skills. There are also more quips in this type of fight, where the opponents do trash talk each other, often ending the fight with a snappy one-liner. Think of this as a more violent form of the ENTERTAINING fight. The goal of this type of fight scene is to portray the fighters as both flashy and dangerous. Generally ends in a satisfying knockout or a non-gruesome death.


INTENSE (WITHOUT GRIT):

This is the mix between the two different styles, and it’s one that’s become very popular in the past decade or so, as the forms of entertainment with the most fights have all become centred on the PG-13 demographic. With more and more teens reading books and watching movies with violence than ever before, authors and film-makers have had to straddle a very fine line in order to produce fight scenes where much action occurs, but few consequences of violence is shown. For example, whereas a Gritty fight will focus on the action, the injuries sustained, the fighters’ pain, the danger, and the aftermath, the Intense fight scene will focus on the action and the danger, with little or no attention paid to the rest of the elements. There is no talking in an intense fight scene. The goal of an Intense fight scene is to elevate the pulse and grab the audience’s attention without repulsing them or making them cringe at the fight’s true effects. Think Hunger Games, Mission Impossible or Jason Bourne. Generally ends in an escape, violent knockout or a non-gruesome death. 


EMOTIONAL: 

This one is an important category to consider because it is the most character driven of all the fights. The participants in an emotional fight will definitely know each other and have had previous interaction supplying background context for this type of fight. In an Emotional fight, the focus of the writing should be on the complexity and depth of feelings on the part of the characters in the fight. While this may seem counter-intuitive, given the adrenalized nature of most fights, it is the nature of the fighters’ relationship that will motivate how and why this fight goes down. This fight’s stop points are more likely to be different from the other kinds of fights as the resolution to the fight comes from an emotional breakdown or breakthrough. The goal of the scene is not to entertain the reader or viewer, but to invoke a sensation akin to seeing a car crash in slow motion. The fights are likely to have a shift point once blood is spilled, as a line has been crossed which much be addressed in an Emotional fight. Fights are likely to end once one party has been hurt or gives up. There is more room for verbalization in this type of fight from either fighters or the third party. Some examples include scenes of domestic violence, fights between family members, and those between mentor & protégé. We’ll discuss an example below.
 

EROTIC:

This type of scene is very tricky to pull off, as our society frowns on violence between the sexes or between sexual partners. As Rayne Hall describes:

Genuine fights aren’t erotic - but they can build up an intense sexual charge. Many law enforcement officers, women as well as men, find that after a dangerous fight, they get seriously horny. This is probably caused by the hormones which get injected into the bloodstream, combined with stress and the instinct to procreate when one’s life is threatened.

Hall, Rayne (2014-01-07). Writing Fight Scenes (Writer's Craft Book 1) (pp. 158-159). Scimitar Press. Kindle Edition. 

However, with the goal of escalating or exploring erotic tension, this fight can function similarly to both a flirtatious scene and a sex scene. The goal with this fight is to titillate, arouse and/or amuse. The audience is invested in the characters and want to see them together, so an erotic fight can serve this function without having the characters sleep together. The violence is usually playful and light. Blood is usually non-existent, unless the scene is very erotic… or between vampires… or between very erotic vampires… but I digress. The injuries are usually glossed over, if mentioned at all and sometimes, the fight can lead to sex. The level of violence is usually commensurate with the level of steaminess in the rest of the book or scene. Erotic fight scenes will not end in death, unless well… there’s vampires again, or… zombies, I guess? But that’s kinda gross. Anyway, teasing talk, double entendres and moans/groans, sighs and gasps are all par for the course. Fight usually ends with an escape, comedic knockout or sex scene.

The most important part of understanding how to write a fight scene is this: the fight must tell a story. Yes, there are tons of movies and books with well-executed fights scenes, but the ones that resonate with the readers are the ones where the stakes are clearly defined and the fight contributes to the overall story in a meaningful way. With every fight that I read or watch, I look for the story within that fight. This is what we'll explore a little later on, but here's something to remember: A good fight scene reveals as much about the characters involved as a well-written scene with dialogue.


Location: 

This is one of the overlooked aspects of writing a fight scene. Where the fight takes place can have game-changing effects on the characters, flow, turning point and climax of the scene. Describing the locale should occur before the actual fight takes place. As Ra’s Al Ghul says to Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins in the clip below, you must always learn to mind your surroundings. Choosing the ice field as the location for this fight allows for multiple environmental effects and complications in the fight. The ice underfoot heightens both the danger facing both combatants, making Ghul’s skill as he outmanoeuvres Wayne all the more apparent. The deep rumbling sounds of the glaciers moving around around them adds a sonic texture to the fight that heightens the viewer’s sense of unease. The ability to slide across the surface, as Wayne does to evade Ghul’s strike, and retrieve his sword is something that is unique to this locale. And finally, when Wayne seizes the upper hand, it’s swiftly undone because he neglected to ensure that the ground beneath him was secure, allowing Ghul to completely reverse the outcome with a single strike from his back.

The location of your fights should fit in with the theme, setting and tone of each fight. A skillful writer knows that each fight should have it’s own distinct flavour. Reading about the hero mowing down waves of cannon fodder in a single room is not very interesting, unless it’s his or her’s last stand. 

Here’s a thought experiment for you that will help you understand why the location of the fight is extremely important. I want you to outline the Sights, Smells, Sounds, Textures and Potential Complications for the following fight locations:

A: On a winding staircase in a Victorian House.

  1. During a thunderstorm.
  2. While the house is on fire.
  3. While the house's aged foundations are crumbling

B: On top of a modern bullet train.

  1. That`s stationary in the train yard at dusk.
  2. At night while the train is rushing through the countryside.
  3. On a snowy day when the train is just getting started

C: Next to a volcano.

  1. At its base, while it's active, spewing lava and pyroclastic material.
  2. At its rim, while it's dormant.
  3. On the slope halfway up the side, when the first eruption hits.

Each location and sub-location has its own set of variables that you must consider when you are writing your fight. You should be researching the location before you settle down to write your fight. 

Here`s a nice rule to remember: If your fight can be moved to another location and have it be written EXACTLY the same, then you`re not utilizing your location to its best potential.


Understanding The Players In Your Fight

Hero/Protagonist: 

What kinds of skills or experience does your hero have? As the writer you cannot simply rely on instinct and/or punching to get your character through a fight. You and therefore your reader has to know if that character has ever balled a fist correctly before. If they never have, and decide to throw a punch, the character is likely going to do it wrong and it is going to hurt. 

As the author, you need to communicate facts about your hero’s height, weight, build, body type, stance, strength and other physical attributes before you get to the fight. A broad-shouldered man is going to move differently than a small-waisted woman. The power and weight distributions are different, even when they take the same actions. Fight training can bring these more in line, but keep in mind what kind of history & exposure to violence your hero has. A professional fighter is going to have different lines of attack and movement than a street fighter or someone who’s taken a self-defence class. Someone who’s been in fights before is likely to be aware of what strengths they have.

As Tyler Durden said: “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”


As Tyler Durden said: “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

You can also use the fight to reveal things about the hero that were previously unknown ie. an old injury, an artificial limb, or a bad memory of another fight. How your hero reacts in a fight situation says a lot about who they are.

A note on creating a likeable hero: even if your hero is the best fighter in all the land, you must ensure that the opponents are at least challenging enough to be interesting. Nobody wants to see Wolverine fight a panda.


Opponent/Antagonist:

Now, how much you reveal about the antagonist or opponent can vary, but when writing a fight the one thing you absolutely must include is how much of a threat they are. The threat level can vary anywhere from a kid with a gun to an expert assassin and everything in-between. 

If your opponent is just another stormtrooper, then you need to have either a previous scene or a character react in a way that lets the reader know what the threat level is ie. “Oh no the stormtroopers are here, which means the Imperial Star Destroyer is in orbit. We’re all gonna die!”. Think of what Peter Jackson did with the Orcs in Lord of the Rings. Yes, they appeared to be an endless horde, but he prepped their inclusion by showing how fearsome they were beforehand. This way when Legolas peppers them with arrows, we understand that it’s because Legolas is a badass, not that the Orcs are made of kittens and incompetence.

If, on the other hand, your opponent is somebody like Voldemort or Vader, then it is vital that both the hero and the reader understand what the stakes are for the fight and how dangerous their opponent is.The more formidable the villain, the greater the triumph when the hero wins.

Should your antagonist defeat your hero, then it has to be done in a way that your reader still empathizes and roots for your hero to come back. This can be a very effective way of building up the threat of the villain.


Third Party/Witness: 

This character is actually a very important piece of the fight, if they are present. In some of the fights we’ll be discussing below, there is a third party who either interrupts or lends context to the fight. Remember during a fight, the two or more parties involved can`t stop and talk about their feelings! Your third party can act as a cipher and allow the reader access to more insights than either protagonist or antagonist can deliver during the fight. The third party character can help tell the story of the fight or be a plot device to break up or end the fight. This can serve the function of demonstrating the badassery of both your hero and the antagonist without having either one lose.


Structure of a Fight

  1. The Build Up/Suspense: This is everything that leads to start of the fight. The key here is Rising Tension. Everything that happens during this point should lead to the two characters coming to blows. While some fights happen spontaneously, fights between protagonists and antagonists rarely occur without a series of escalating events or dialogue. Anticipation is everything, so get your reader rubbing their hands together.

  2. Kick-Off: Oh here we go! the first strike is everything. Who throws it? What kind of strike is it? That sets the tone for the fight. How it’s answered sets the pace and tells you something about the person being struck. Do they block or take the hit? This is the pay-off for the Build Up/Suspense. This is what the fans have been waiting for, don’t let them down. 

  3. Escalation: At this point in the fight, things have to get worse. The fight has to get increasingly harder or faster. The pace has to quicken in order to show the reader that the fight is progressing past the opening volley. As each fighter uses more of their tricks or grows more desperate, the blows and counters have to reflect that. 

  4. Turning Point: If your Location is going to play a role in the fight, here is where it steps in. The roof collapses, the fighters slip on the ice, a stream of lava bisects the fighting area. Alternately, the stakes are raised when either of the fighters gains an advantage, either through skill, chance, power, weakness or any combination thereof. This can be reflected in the fighters’ increased determination to end the fight. You may choose to re-iterate the reason for the fight or the reason why one of the characters believes they should win. This can be the hero’s lowest point, where they fall to their knees in defeat, before rallying back for the win.

    Note: A good fight can have multiple Turning Points and Escalations as the fight progresses. This can be an inventive way of keeping your audience at the edge of their seats.

  5. Climax: The final blow, the last strike, the Hail Mary, the lucky blow, the last ounce of strength. This is what separates the winner from the loser or it’s the biggest blow, the big action point. When neither party wins, this climax point can be an emotional breakdown, a revelation or an intervention of the third party. A really satisfying fight nails the climax by making the deciding factor something that’s intrinsically tied to one of the fighters or features a callback to the relationship between the two fighters.

Now, are you still standing? Ready to go another round? 
Let’s look at some examples. I’ll give you the breakdown for each fight as we go.

Notes: 
While I could easily populate this entire list with any major Eastern Action star (Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa,  etc.), I’ve chosen clips from popular, accessible Western Action movies which may make it easier for everyone to understand the storytelling aspects of each conflict and relate to the characters.

For simplicity’s sake, I went with one-on-one fights so they are easier to follow. If you enjoy this WriteAFight article, let me know and I’ll do another one including group fights.

Spoilers Abound!


THE ENTERTAINING FIGHT

Avengers: Iron Man vs Thor:

Background/Inciting Events:
  • Iron Man & Captain America have apprehended Thor’s brother Loki, after he tried to enslave humanity.

  • Thor retrieved Loki from their custody, intent on making him face Asgardian justice.

  • Iron Man is set on taking Loki back to Shield HQ

Location Factors:
  • A temperate forest at the base of a rocky cliff.

  • The forest allows for the fighters to show their strength and power through destruction of the forest without worrying about any human casualties.

  • The surrounding trees and cliffside allow for a natural setting that invokes the feeling of two bulls going head to head.

Hero: Thor

Super strong Norse God, brave, loyal and fierce

Antagonist: Iron Man

Genius, Playboy… Armoured Anti-War Weapons Manufacturer turned Energy Baron

3rd Party/Witness: Captain America

Original Super Soldier and all-around stand up guy

  1. The Build Up/Suspense:

    • Iron Man tackles Thor off the cliff top where he is having a conversation with Loki, who gets a quip in.

    • They land in the forest, relatively unharmed when Thor warns Iron Man against further aggression

    • Iron Man snaps back, equally cocky, unwilling to back down.

    • Quips and barbs are traded, Iron Man calls Thor a tourist, to which Thor replies by...

  2. Kick-Off:

    • … hurling his hammer, Mjolnir, at Iron Man. The impact sends Iron Man crashing through some trees and landing on his backside.

    • Iron Man’s fire is lit, as he responds with an “Okay,” through gritted teeth.

    • Thor starts to spin his hammer, but Iron Man hits him with a repulsor, following up with a flying kick to the sternum. It knocks Thor back and he loses his hammer.

  3. Escalation:

    • Thor demonstrates the ability to call his hammer into his grasp. He uses it to call forth a towering pillar of lightning, which he sends toward Iron Man.

    • Iron Man is unable to avoid the blast and his armour takes the full brunt of the blast.

    • But the lightning ends up boosting Iron Man’s power cells, which he then utilizes by blasting Thor with repulsors and launching them both into the air.

    • Iron man slams Thor into the cliffside, flying higher and higher until Thor pushes off from the cliff and they rocket back into the forest.

  4. Turning Point:

    • The two square off again in a hand-to-hand show of strength, with neither side backing down.

    • However, Thor uses his superior grip to crush Iron Man’s gauntlets, further damaging his armour. Iron Man is visibly disconcerted by this.

    • Iron Man tries to retaliate with a blast and a headbutt, but Thor responds in kind, and sends him hurdling back.

  5. Escalation Two:

    • Iron Man uses his speed to charge at the Norse God, grab him by the previously mocked cape (setup & payoff) and slam him into a tree.

    • Thor turns the tables, picking Iron Man up and body slamming him into the ground. Momentarily triumphant, he calls for Mjolnir.

  6. Turning Point Two:

    • Not wanting to get caught by that hammer again, Iron Man rockets out of the way, causing Thor to faceplant with his swing.

    • Iron Man uses his speed and aerial maneuverability to deliver a dive-bombing rabbit punch, knocking Thor down.

  7. Climax:

    • Having fought back to an equal standing, the two square off again, only to be interrupted by the third party, Captain America, who appeals to their better natures and calls for a cease-fire.

    • Iron Man quips a warning and Thor hits him out of frame

    • Thor refuses to back down and charges at Cap, who raises his shield. Thor hits it full force, causing a backlash which knocks them all down.

    • The three rise together, each displaying a newfound respect for each other’s merits.

FIGHT ANALYSIS:

At the end of this fight, no one was hurt, injured or upset. We’ve learned that Iron Man is cocky, even in the face of physically superior foes. He’s determined, but sometimes finds himself in over his head, and relies on his technology to pull the win.. Thankfully, being the genius he is, he can quickly improvise and won’t give up until he’s defeated his opponent.  He will always make a quip, even in the heat of battle.

We’ve learned that Thor did not initially wish to fight, but was provoked by Iron Man’s disrespect and arrogance. Once the fight started, Thor was fully engaged, pounding and crushing Iron Man’s chassis with cudgel-like blows. He depends on his hammer for his best strikes and will not back down when called to reason, unless he respects the third party.

As for Cap, this fight showed that he was absolutely fearless when faced with two other powerful opponents. He is calm, rational and gutsy, willing to put himself in the line of fire in order to defuse a situation. He is somewhat impatient and annoyed by the other two’s inability to follow simple instructions.


THE GRITTY FIGHT

THE HUNTED: L.T. VS AARON:

Background/Inciting Events:
  • L.T. originally trained Aaron in military survival and combat skills and became a pseudo protege

  • Aaron became a Black Ops soldier carrying out clandestine missions for the US government until he suffers severe PTSD from his time in Kosovo

  • Aaron returns to the states and starts murdering people

  • L.T. is asked to track him, but then becomes Aaron’s target

  • Aaron and L.T. both craft improvised knives to fight with, but while L.T.’s is a wooden shiv, Aaron’s is a large metal blade

  • L.T. is caught in a trap and wounded, then escapes.
     

Location Factors:
  • The riverbank straddling the treeline, next to a rushing waterfall, on a bank of slippery, moss-covered rocks.

  • With the water nearby and L.T. barely surviving drowning, the feeling of danger is ever-present.

  • The rushing sound of the river adds to the adrenalized movements and the viewer is worried that one or both men may end up in the river again.

  • Furthermore, the slippery rocks and cold, wet stone heighten sensations upon the skin. For example, think of how your skin feels when your clothes are wet vs dry.

  • Coupled with the inherently deadly nature of knife fighting, this location suits this fight well
     

Hero: L.T.

Aged Civilian Combat Instructor
who never killed anyone

Antagonist: Aaron

Black Ops soldier in his fighting prime, mentally unstable

3rd Party/Witness: Captain America

None until the end, when Special Agent Abby arrives by helicopter.

  1. The Build Up/Suspense:

    • L.T. tracks Aaron in the woods, using all of his senses to try and ascertain where the inevitable attack will come from.

    • He hears the creaking noise too late to realize it’s a distraction and ends up with a wooden pike in his thigh and a noose around his ankle, hanging above the freezing rapids.

    • L.T. manages to survive and crawl ashore - cold, wet and exhausted, he finds Aaron waiting for him, like a panther ready to strike.
       

  2. Kick-Off:

    • The first strike is a brutally effective one, Aaron steps to the side and cuts the tendons on the back of L.T.’s hand, rendering him unable to use that hand.
       

  3. Escalation:

    • The two roll and tumble, with Aaron trying to slash open the side of L.T.’s neck by forcing his own hand.

    • L.T. is able to reverse this by slicing Aaron’s arm above the elbow, but pays for it when Aaron cuts upon his cheek.

    • Both Aaron and L.T. check their injuries, but Aaron uses the split second to throw some of his pooled blood in L.T.’s eye, buying an escape.
       
  4. Turning Point:

    • Aaron binds his wounded arm, tosses a spare shiv, which L.T. deflects and attacks again.

    • L.T. is able to wound him in the leg, strategically limiting his movement, but moreover, during their exchange L.T. is also able to stab Aardon under the clavicle.

    • The major cost to this is that Aaron breaks L.T.’s shiv, leaving him defenceless.
       
  5. Escalation Two:

    • Now unarmed and facing an incensed Aaron, L.T.’s desperation grows.

    • Aaron presses with the knife, using his free arm to block L.T.’s view as he cuts open the older man’s torso

    • He presses his advantage by going for the neck once again, which L.T. is forced to defend, at the cost of the tendons in his left hand.

    • Aaron grows more aggressive by slicing diagonally across L.T.’s existing wounds - a particularly brutal cut as it intersects the already bleeding wounds and tears both open even more, ensuring that any potential recovery is even more difficult, if not impossible.
       

  6. Turning Point Two:

    • Aaron’s bloodlust and desire to cause L.T. pain makes him strike, stabbing up through the older man’s tricep as he tries to keep Aaron at bay.

    • L.T. knows that if he doesn’t act immediately, Aaron is likely going to kill him with the next strike. With one arm disabled, L.T. knows he does not possess the strength to stop him.
       
  7. Climax:

    • L.T. distracts Aaron by pretending to go for the younger man’s throat. When Aaron pulls back, L.T. yanks the knife out of his arm and stabs Aaron through the sternum, using a knee strike on the hilt to drive it deeper.

    • Special Agent Abby arrives as Aaron falls to the ground, mortally wounded.
       

FIGHT ANALYSIS:

At the end of this brutal fight, we’ve seen the payoff of both Aaron’s training and L.T.’s instruction. Because Aaron is psychotic, the audience never sees him react to his wounds with the pain, hurt or fear that L.T. displays. We are encouraged to root for L.T. as he is older, more vulnerable, cautious and has a less effective weapon. As he is wounded before the fight starts, the odds are even more against him. He fights a strategic, defensive battle, whereas Aaron’s approach is one more akin to ‘death from a thousand cuts’. He methodically dismantles L.T.’s defenses instead of using brute strength or speed. One gets the impression that Aaron is trying to beat his mentor at his own game. When L.T. gains the initial strikes, Aaron reacts with anger, slashing his teacher across the face and throwing blood in his eye, as if he was insulted by his teacher’s prowess.

Since Aaron was using his skills to hunt L.T., to have his supposedly decrepit prey fight back and actually gain a hit must have been a blow to Aaron’s pride, something his psychosis could not allow. L.T. is forced to kill for the first time in order to survive and collapses from exhaustion and his wounds at the end. Were it not for the arrival of Special Agent Abby, L.T. would likely have died right there. In a way, Aaron succeeded in showing L.T. the horrors that his training can cause. Neither L.T. nor Aaron communicate verbally during this entire fight. There is no music and the audience knows that this is to the death.


THE GRITTY/entertaining FIGHT

THE matrix: - subway fight - Neo VS Agent smith:

Background/Inciting Events:
  • Agent Smith hunts the free users of the Matrix, the ones who plug in and try to disrupt the system.

  • Neo, being freed from the system and previously interrogated by Agent Smith, is now on the run, having been rescued by Trinity from the Agent’s clutches

  • Agents have never been defeated.
     

Location Factors:
  • Inside the Matrix virtual reality system, where users can perform superhuman feats, if they believe, but Agents are programmed to be stronger & faster than the average person.

  • On a empty subway platform with no human collateral.

  • The concrete surroundings make for a harsh, if familiar environment, as most people have been on a subway before.

  • The supporting pillars and the walls give the fighters a place to interact and visually show the force of their blows.

  • On oncoming train provides both visual and auditory cues to both fighters, who can time its arrival to use it as a trap to eliminate their opponent.

  • A lone newspaper blows by during the initial face-off, invoking a western feel.
     

Hero: Neo
Hacker turned freedom fighter. Trained by Morpheus and via brain download of multiple fighting styles

Antagonist: Agent Smith
Undefeated hunter program of the Machine world. Able to regenerate and exceed all programmed limits
3rd Party/Witness: Morpheus and Trinity,
From the real world.

 

  1. The Build Up/Suspense:

    • Neo and Trinity have escaped the clutches of the Agents and whisked Morpheus away to safety via the phone exit in the subway.

    • Trinity wants to tell Neo something (that she loves him) but the train interrupts her moment, so she reluctantly takes the phone exit as well while a homeless man looks on.

    • Just as Trinity jacks out, she spots Agent Smith taking the homeless man’s place and shooting at her. She makes it out just in time, and urges Tank to send her back but the phone has been destroyed.

    • Neo turns to face Agent Smith, who greets him with aplomb. Morpheus and Trinity are panicked, knowing Smith’s formidable nature and question why Neo won’t run.

    • Neo makes the choice not to escape and instead, turns to engage Smith in a tense standoff reminiscent of a gun-slinger’s duel.
       

  2. Kick-Off:

    • The initial kick-off occurs when Neo pulls his Beretta 9mm and starts firing, using a pillar to leap into the air.

    • Smith mirrors this action with his Desert Eagle and intercepts Neo in mid-air, though neither is able to get off a clear shot

    • They land together, with both guns empty, which they acknowledge and leads to…
       
  3. Kick-Off Two:

    • They stand and straighten, preparing for the hand to hand combat they both know is coming.

    • Smith straightens his tie and then Neo attacks

    • Smith counters effectively, driving Neo back against a pillar, which Smith smashes with his fist.

    • Neo rallies, driving Smith back with kicks to the torso and finishes the initial exchange with a spinning crescent kick which drives Smith back against a pillar. It’s revealed that his ubiquitous sunglasses have been broken - a sign of vulnerability.
       

  4. Escalation:

    • Smith acknowledges this verbally before taking the sunglasses off and attacking with more ferocity, driving straight, powerful punches and kicks into Neo’s body, knocking him off balance.

    • Smith demonstrates his speed and power by sending Neo smashing into the subway wall.

    • Neo knows he’s in trouble now, so redoubles his efforts and attacks Smith with greater speed; Smith takes several blows without flinching before countering Neo’s attack and trapping his arms.

    • Neo eats several headbutts from Smith (a particularly crude move, which indicates Smith’s rage) before the Agent drives him back with more powerful punches.

    • Neo is forced to dodge more strikes and tries to rally back but Smith blocks his blow and lands a huge blow to Neo’s chest, sending him flying backward.
       
  5. Turning Point:

    • Neo lands hard and skids across the floor. He gasps in pain and spits out blood (both in the Matrix and the real world) indicating that he’s injured internally.

    • Trinity moves to nurse his injured body in the real world, indicating that Smith is killing Neo.
       
  6. Escalation Two:

    • Instead of giving up, Neo rises and poses, demonstrating his determination and unwillingness to quit

    • With his circular body language, Neo reasserts himself into a position of confidence, referencing his time in the dojo with Morpheus, telling the viewer that he believes he is facing a similar situation against a more skilled opponent and that he believes he will eventually triumph

    • Neo taunts Smith, which causes the Agent to attack. Note the way Neo ties Smith up and delivers a series of headbutts back - he’s answering Smith’s attack and giving him tit for tat.

    • Neo presses his momentary advantage and engages in more wire-fu style acrobatics, showing off the more flashy aspects of his downloaded knowledge.
       
  7. Turning Point Two:

    • Smith isn’t going to play this game however, and catches Neo’s leg, slamming him into the wall, creating another crater not far from the first.

    • Smith utilizes the full strength and superior speed of his Agent form to pummel Neo, and send him pitching back into a wooden stand, injuring him further.

    • Hearing the sounds of the oncoming train, Smith drags Neo out like a limp piece of meat and tosses him upside down into the tunnel wall.

    • Neo is now completely helpless.
       
  8. Climax:

    • Smith taunts Neo more, grabbing him in a rear naked choke and pinning him to the subway floor. He intends to sacrifice himself to kill Neo when the subway hits them both.

    • Neo responds to the taunt with “My name… is Neo.” and jumps up, sending Smith into the roof.

    • The land in a heap and Neo backflips out of way of the oncoming train, which pulverizes Smith.
       

FIGHT ANALYSIS:

This one is quite the doozy, with Yuen Woo-Ping’s brilliant choreography doing a lot of story-telling for us. It is complimented by the dialogue and performances of the actors. The fighting styles of both Neo and Smith are completely in line with their characters. Every strike, movement, evasion or trap reflects the opposing nature of each fighter. Smith’s movements are machine-like in their precision, while Neo’s are more kung-fu flashy. Neo is only able to pull out the win because he refuses to give up and improvises an escape which causes Smith to fall victim to his own plan.

Note that while this scene is incredibly violent, and there is blood, the fighters stop several times to taunt each other and egg each other on. While Neo is visibly injured by Smith’s attacks, those injuries do not linger. In fact, the blood around Neo’s mouth completely disappears and never reappears even when Neo is injured even more. Contrast this with the GRITTY fight scene where the escalation takes a toll on the fighter’s bodies. Also pay attention to Neo’s kung fu flourishes during this scene, something that would never fly during a GRITTY fight scene. And while Neo and Smith do talk to each other during the scene, they do not swear or scream at each other, lending their threats a certain lightness, even as their fighting is fierce. This is what separates the GRITTY/ENTERTAINING fight from the others.

Neo’s victory over Smith does not result in the permanent death of his antagonist and Neo, despite the beating he took, does not appear worse for wear afterward.


The intense fight

captain america: the winter soldier: - highwAY FIGHT - cap VS winter soldier

Background/Inciting Events:
  • Winter Soldier has already attacked and ‘killed’ Nick Fury in his first appearance.

  • When Cap pursued him from his apartment, Winter Soldier was able to stay ahead and even catch Cap’s thrown shield, something that had never been done before.

  • With Black Widow, Falcon and Cap on the run from corrupt Shield agents, they are ambushed by Winter Soldier who attacks them on the highway.

Location Factors:
  • City street near some wrecked vehicles.

  • Winter Soldier is firing automatic weapons in a crowded city street, civilians are fleeing. Potential for casualties is high

  • Blowing up vehicles is a good way to show the effectiveness of the attack while confining collateral damage.

  • Cars, vans and trucks allow for multiple levels and launch points for attacks as well as cover to hide from weapons fire.

  • Open public area near highways and buildings allows for aerial attacks from above as well.

Hero: Captain America
Original Super Soldier and all-
around stand up guy… now slightly more suspicious of everything
Antagonist: Winter Soldier
Brainwashed assassin with a bionic metal arm, armed to the teeth and very intense.
3rd Party/Witness: Black Widow and Falcon,
Black Widow and Falcon, the former for the suspense portion, the latter for the climax
  1. The Build Up/Suspense:

    • Opens with a running gun battle on multiple levels as Cap takes cover behind a car. Without his uniform, he is slightly more vulnerable.

    • Falcon offers cover fire, giving Cap time to escape

    • Winter Soldier is hunting Black Widow, his stride is confident and assured as he uses the grenade launcher on his M4 rifle to take out a cop car.

    • He stalks Widow but is faked out by her cell-phone trap. She surprises him from behind and attempts to choke him out with a garrote, but he easily flips her onto a car.

    • He retrieves his fallen M4 but Widow disables his bionic arm with a taser disk before running away (an act which, in and of itself, reinforces how dangerous Winter Soldier is if Widow is running from him)

    • Widow frantically tries to get bystanders out of the way, but Winter Soldier shoots her from behind. She falls and crawls to cover, but he’s already spotted her and takes aim...

  2. Kick-Off:

    • Cap leaps into action, charging up the car towards Winter Soldier, who stops him in his tracks with a bionic punch to his shield.

    • Cap is forced to brace himself against the blow, which Winter Soldier follows up with a kick, sending him falling down to the asphalt. Before Cap can recover, Winter Soldier fires a burst from his M4, forcing Cap to duck and cover.
       

  3. Escalation:

    • Cap tries to engage Winter Soldier hand to hand, but the latter pulls a Skorpion machine pistol, forcing Cap to retreat.

    • When Cap closes and kicks the weapon away, Winter Soldier pulls a SIG pistol and continues firing

    • Cap finally get in close and disarms Winter Soldier, striking him with his shield however...
       

  4. Turning Point:

    • While trading some rapid over/under punches, Winter Soldier grabs hold of Cap’s shield and rotates, spinning Cap in mid-air and stealing the shield!

    • He knocks Cap to the ground and holds the shield up. Cap is now at an even greater disadvantage.
       

  5. Escalation Two:

    • Cap charges in and Winter Soldier throws the shield into a van, just barely missing Cap’s head.

    • He also pulls a combat knife, once again shifting the odds in his favour

    • Winter Soldier and Cap trade rapid-fire blows as Cap tries to keep his enemy off balance until he eventually disarms him with a powerful spinning back kick.

    • He presses this advantage with a flying knee and a judo hip toss

    • Unfortunately Winter Soldier responds by...
       

  6. Turning Point Two:

    • … grabbing Cap in a bionic choke, which Cap can’t conceivably break. Things look bad for Cap.

    • Thankfully (sort of) Winter Soldier chooses to throw him over the hood of a jeep instead of choking him out.
       

  7. Escalation Three:

    • Now the bionic arm is emphasized in the attack as Winter Soldier piledrives his fist into the road, causing the asphalt to crack.

    • Winter Soldier leads with his bionic arm, driving blows into Cap’s side and pressing him up against a van.

    • Winter Soldier shifts the odds again by pulling another combat knife with his non-bionic arm, giving him an additional weapon.

    • Cap is forced to evade and use a German Suplex to drive Winter Soldier head-first into the ground.
       

  8. Turning Point Three:

    • The balance shifts again when Cap is able to retrieve his shield to even out the odds. He uses it to block Winter Soldier’s strikes.

    • With his shield, he is able to hack at Winter Soldier’s bionic elbow joint, block another strike and then flip him over, causing Winter Soldier to lose his mask...
       

  9. Climax:

    • With the mask now off, Cap sees that the Winter Soldier is none other than his childhood friend Bucky! The shock is palpable on Cap’s face, as he thought his friend had died in the war.

    • Winter Soldier is distracted by this revelation long enough for Falcon to literally swoop in and dive bomb him before he can shoot at Cap.

    • Black Widow doubles up the save by firing a grenade at Winter Soldier, forcing him to retreat.
       

FIGHT ANALYSIS:

This back-n-forth scene is a really great example of how Escalations and Turning Points can lead to a very INTENSE fight as each side tries to outmaneuver the other. Note that each turning point changes the rules of the fight by removing or introducing elements, whereas the escalations capitalize on strengths and weaknesses. Also note that while the blows being delivered to either party should leave significant bruises and cause horrific bodily damage, both parties emerge relatively unscathed. The violence of this fight is mostly in how the intensity of the conflict is emphasized ie. the speed, power, danger and intent of the opponent vs the will, heart, and resolve of the protagonist. Intense fights should get the reader/watcher’s heart pumping!


THE Emotional FIGHT

warrioR: - final FIGHT - brendan VS tommy

Background/Inciting Events:
  • Brendan and Tommy are both sons of an abusive, alcoholic father

  • Both were trained in MMA

  • Brendan left Tommy, his father and his terminally ill mother behind to escape the abuse and marry his girlfriend, Tess.

  • Tommy resents Brendan for the abandonment and Brendan resents their father for the years of abusive behaviour.

  • Brendan and Tommy both start fighting professionally, Tommy for the family of a murdered soldier and his own guilt for deserting his squad and Brendan because his family is experiencing money problems and are about to lose their home.

  • Tommy has left a dominating streak of wins on his journey to this fight, whereas Brendan has had a much harder time, relying on skill, endurance and luck to make it this far.

Location Factors:
  • This fight takes place in the Octagon at a UFC-type event.

  • There is a sizeable crowd present, as it is a major sporting event with multiple camera coverage and screens high above the octagon, so the crowd can follow the action.

  • The ring posts are lined with padding and each post is connected by a metal fence.

  • Because this is a professional fight, there are rules to the engagement and a break between each round. This location offers multiple opportunities for announcers, onlookers, the fighters and even the coaches to weigh in on what’s happening.

Hero: Brendan

Brendan, Tommy’s older brother
and High School teacher who’s
turned to fighting to save his
family’s home.

A calculating counter-fighter with jujitsu experience.

Antagonist: Tommy

Tommy, Brendan’s younger
brother, who’s deserted the military after watching his squad die.
He saves another squad and is inadvertently hailed a hero.

He fights as a devastating
powerhouse with an indomitable
will.
3rd Party/Witness: Tess, Frank, Paddy & the crowd

Thousands of witnesses, as this is a major sporting event.
Brendan’s wife, Tess is watching from the crowd.
Brendan & Tommy’s father, Paddy is also in the crowd.

At ringside, Frank - Brendan’s trainer is coaching.

  1. The Build Up/Suspense:

    • Brendan makes his way to the octagon first, with Tess looking on nervously from the crowd. Brendan dances around the ring, clearly battered from his last fight, and apprehensive about the fight with Tommy.

    • By contrast, Tommy emerges from the locker room with a dour expression, clad in a black hoodie and walking with a purposeful, determined gait.

    • As Brendan catches sight of Tommy, he grows more anxious, as not only is he about to fight his own brother, but Tommy had previously indicated that he would not be showing Brendan any mercy…

    • A fact that was communicated the night before during a verbal confrontation.

    • Tommy eyes Brendan with a predatory glare, but does not show fear of any kind.

    • During the stand-off Brendan appears reluctant, asking Tommy about their father, but Tommy just walks away. Their emotional states are completely different before the round begins

    • Brendan makes eye contact with Tess, and the sight of her reminds him of his reasons for doing this, so he musters up the courage to fight his own brother.

    • Tommy raises his fists with hungry anticipation and charges in...
       

  2. Kick-Off:

    • Tommy batters Brendan’s midsection with heavy, clubbing blows, driving his older brother up towards the cage wall

    • Brendan is immediately in trouble, so he slips out from the assault, with one hand outstretched to try and make some distance.

    • Frank calls out, urging Brendan to relax
       
  3. Escalation:

    • Brendan knows he must get his head in the game, so he rallies back with clean punches and a kick, which Tommy absorbs.

    • Frank gives the viewer a warning that something bad is about to happen with his fearful cries just before…

    • Tommy tackles Brendan to the ground. In MMA, being on your back with a heavy, muscular ‘ground & pound’ fighter is the worst place to be!

    • Tess reinforces this point with her alarmed reaction (cupping her hands over her face).

    • Frank calls out for Brendan to breathe and stay calm, even as Tommy picks him up and slams him down to the ground repeatedly (listen for the crowd’s excited response)

    • Tommy continues to pound on Brendan, while we, the audience watches from Tess’s point of view. She tips us off to what we should be feeling with her frantic words at this stage ~ especially when Tommy lands an illegal hit.
       
  4. Turning Point:

    • Frank plays a critical role here, trying to remind Brendan of his game plan, but his eyes are on his brother, who refuses to sit down.

    • Frank is telling both Brendan and the audience how he must fight in order to survive, but Brendan isn’t listening because he is too busy watching Tommy.
       
  5. Escalation Two:

    • Tommy goes on the offensive again and lands a heavy blow to the head (the crowd reacts) and follows up with an high knee to the temple, further stunning Brendan

    • Tommy increases his pace, forcing Brendan back against the fence, continually raining down blows on him while evading Brendan’s submission attempt.

    • Tess reacts by telling the audience what they should want Brendan to do: “Get off the fence!” Everyone is worried now, even Frank’s instructions have a note of urgency to them.

    • Tommy grabs hold of Brendan and slams him down again, hard enough to shake the octagon and rains down more vicious blows on him.

    • When the bell sounds, Brendan calls Tommy out for his rage
       
  6. Turning Point Two:

    • The fight continues with Brendan on his back, absorbing more of Tommy’s heavy hands until he switches up his strategy, trapping Tommy’s arm in a desperate gambit to stop the assault.

    • He’s able to twist his body and roll out, trapping the arm in an omoplata shoulder lock. This demonstrates Brendan’s JiuJitsu knowledge as he’s aiming to submit Tommy and end the fight without further violence.

    • Tommy resists, striking Brendan with powerful elbow until the latter is forced to dislocate Tommy’s shoulder entirely. Tommy has now lost the use of that arm.

    • Knowing the extreme amount of pain Tommy must be in, Brendan stops to check on him, but Tommy reacts violently, choking his brother and throwing him up against the fence.
       
  7. Escalation Three:

    • Now the bionic arm is emphasized in the attack as Winter Soldier piledrives his fist into the road, causing the asphalt to crack.

    • Winter Soldier leads with his bionic arm, driving blows into Cap’s side and pressing him up against a van.

    • Winter Soldier shifts the odds again by pulling another combat knife with his non-bionic arm, giving him an additional weapon.

    • Cap is forced to evade and use a German Suplex to drive Winter Soldier head-first into the ground.
       

  8. Escalation Three:

    • Now the bionic arm is emphasized in the attack as Winter Soldier piledrives his fist into the road, causing the asphalt to crack.

    • Winter Soldier leads with his bionic arm, driving blows into Cap’s side and pressing him up against a van.

    • Winter Soldier shifts the odds again by pulling another combat knife with his non-bionic arm, giving him an additional weapon.

    • Cap is forced to evade and use a German Suplex to drive Winter Soldier head-first into the ground.
       

  9. Turning Point Three:

    • What happens in the corner on both sides is very interesting, as Brendan wants to stop the fight, but Frank reminds him why he came. Brendan insists that he’s hurt Tommy already.

    • Tommy, on the other hand is alone in his corner, and watches the soldiers that came to support him. He believes he can’t let them down, because his entire self-worth is wrapped up in doing right by the men who died in combat. He’s experiencing survivor’s guilt not only from his family, but from his experiences in the army.

    • Tommy emerges from the corner, ready to fight to his last breath.
       
  10. Turning Point Four:

    • Paddy arrives and watches his sons fighting. He’d had a relapse the night before after many months of sobriety.

    • He sees Brendan pleading with Tommy to give up, because Brendan knows he’s fighting a wounded man and he doesn’t want to win.

    • Tommy refuses to back down, urging Brendan to continue beating him, even goading him on.

    • Brendan catches sight of Paddy, and they share a moment of acknowledgement, that their family is broken and this is the end result of Paddy’s inability to parent.

    • Tommy cries in his corner, because he knows he’s about to lose this fight, despite all of his strength and the beating he put on his own brother.
       
  11. Escalation Three:

    • Brendan recognizes that Tommy won’t allow himself to simply give up. He watches as his brother limps on in agony and knows he has to end the fight like a real fighter.

    • He lands a brutal head-kick on Tommy, sending his younger brother to the mat.

    • Brendan jumps on him, pummeling away before deciding to switch things up, trapping Tommy in a rear-naked choke, a move he cannot escape with his wounded arm.
       
  12. Climax:

    • Through sweat and tears, Brendan pleads with Tommy, begging him to surrender as he squeezes with all of his strength.

    • He holds his brother tight, telling him “I love you Tommy! I love you!”, reminding him that even in this moment of combat and carnage, that they are still brothers, and that he doesn’t have to fight anymore.

    • Tommy taps.

    • Seeing this, Paddy starts to cry.

    • Brendan puts his arms around his brother protectively and leads him out of the arena as the crowd cheers.
       

FIGHT ANALYSIS:

This is one of those fights that doesn’t come along very often. The emotional fight between men is a rare one, as men in modern society are trained to believe that victory in a fight means utter dominance over your weaker opponent. This is why when wars are fought, both sides try to demean the other, as they both want to consider themselves the heroic party. However, when you are fighting a family member, as Brendan finds himself here, the lines become blurred and the emotions are much more conflicted.

There are many things going on in this fight that make it quite complicated. The long, tragic history between these two brothers means that this confrontation was always going to be about their feelings about each other, not who wins the fight. Tommy is physically stronger, a veritable beast, but looking at his situation one wonders if his size and fighting style isn’t more about trying to control the fight in a way he couldn’t control the actions of his father and brother in life. Abandoned in both cases, Tommy struggles to find any sense of warmth or compassion for either man when he returns to them as an adult. This fight is more about Tommy punishing Brendan for what he sees as selfishness. Brendan left his young brother behind to care for their dying mother, under the harsh rule of his alcoholic father.

This type of backstory is unlikely to be present in most fights, which is why the EMOTIONAL fight is more character driven than many of the others.

Brendan, on the other hand, learns much about Tommy in this fight. He recognizes that Tommy is in deep, emotional pain and that fighting is his way of dealing with the situation. When his pleas fall on deaf ears, Brendan comes to understand that Tommy won’t allow himself to fail, as he saw both Paddy and Brendan as failures.

Brendan realizes that he has to bear the brunt, the result of Tommy’s pain because he is partially responsible for it. The only way for he and Tommy to reunite is for Brendan to physically put him down, defeat him, to prove that he could take all Tommy had to give and still be his brother.

This fight was an emotional expression of a conversation the two men couldn’t allow themselves to have. At the end, they are reunited as brothers.


THE Erotic FIGHT

the mask of zorro: elena VS zorro

Background/Inciting Events:
  • The new Zorro infiltrates the abode of Don Rafael Montero to steal a map containing the location of a gold mine.

  • Zorro has already defeated several fighters in both hand-to-hand combat and sword-fighting

  • Zorro previously met Elena when she caught him stealing a horse, where she swooned a bit over him.
     
Location Factors:
  • The stables attached to the hacienda.

  • Multiple compartments for horses (which never play a role, but theoretically could)

  • Lots of hay and straw which can be used to trap or distract, along with horse-riding equipment within easy reach for defence.

  • Porthole windows allow for rays of light in the enclosed space and offer a romantic ambiance to the setting.

  • Stable is sealed off with only one exit, once Zorro closes the door.
     
Hero: Zorro

Zorro, or rather, the new Zorro-in-training, former thief

Antagonist: Elena

Elena, daughter of the original Zorro, accomplished fencer

3rd Party/Witness: None



 
  1. The Build Up/Suspense:

    • Elena confronts Zorro about having stolen something from her father, which he has.

    • Their mutual attraction is evident from the way they greet each other and engage in smiling banter, that is… until Elena draws her rapier and puts it under his chin.

    • Zorro responds by running his fingers down the end of her sword and drawing himself out to the tip of the blade, before swatting it away, and dismissing her as a threat

    • Elena responds by reaffirming her skill with the blade and sliding back into an attack stance and giving him a challenging look.

    • Zorro um… rises to the challenge as his sword pops up suggestively
       
  2. Kick-Off:

    • Zorro and Elena engage in an initial flurry which ends in a draw

    • They give each other a look of appreciation, presumably checking each other out as they circle around.

    • Zorro smiles but Elena wants to be taken seriously
       
  3. Escalation:

    • Elana leads the flurry this time, increasing the pace of her jabs, stabs and strokes as her face lights up with glee.

    • Zorro is forced back against the fence as Elena takes the upper hand and cuts his shirt with a cry of triumph

    • She poses with her sword with a prideful, yet playful expression on her face. She has proven herself a threat.

    • Zorro is annoyed by the damage to his clothing so they remove their outer layer, ensuring that the next exchange will be more … free-flowing.
       
  4. Turning Point:

    • Both partners engage with equal speed this time, with Elena trying to press her initial advantage early on.

    • This advantage is negated when Zorro slices a slit in her skirt, revealing her leg. She appears amused by this, at first.

    • He builds on this moment by drawing close and stealing a kiss from Elena, which causes her to gasp.
       
  5. Escalation Two:

    • Zorro, now with the upper hand, takes out another piece of Elena`s clothing - one of her straps, which falls revealing her shoulder.

    • Now unbalanced, Elena charges again, which Zorro sidesteps and steals another kiss
       
  6. Turning Point Two:

    • Enraged, Elena engages in a back & forth exchange which sees her disarm Zorro and approach him with menace. Note her wild hair and heaving … um, breaths. Clearly this fight has gotten quite heated.

    • She charges at him while he quips and takes cover in the loose hay.
       
  7. Turning Point Three:

    • Zorro manages to disarm Elena when she thrusts her sword and he allows it to slide through a harness before dislodging it from her grip.

    • Now disarmed, Elena runs for his fallen sword but he catches her in a vulnerable position and beckons her to rise from her kneeling position.

FIGHT ANALYSIS:

Can I just go ahead and say it? This fight is all about sex. Sexytime sex and all the kinds of sex you can’t show in a PG-13 movie. So, the way this fight is constructed is through suggestion. None of the things Zorro and Elena are doing are overtly sexual. There is no nudity, nor foul language nor any mention of sexual acts. Nonetheless, this is a great example of an erotic fight that can easily translate to a book. Note the lack of blood or violence in this kind of fight - very similar to the ENTERTAINING fight, except that this has the added sexual tones.

The eroticism is subdued and suggestive only to those who really know what’s going on. Zorro and Elena never actually hurt each other and both leave the scene completely intact. What started out as a confrontation, turned into an evaluation of each other as skilled partners in a sort of mating dance. The end result was that in each other, Zorro and Elena found worthy adversaries that they’d like to meet again. She may no longer care what he’s stolen and he may no longer care if she tries to stop him.

The purpose behind this fight was to show courtship and raise the audience’s anticipation of Zorro and Elena meeting again. This type of fight can be a very good way to show chemistry between two characters without either of them having to address it directly.


WRITTEN EXAMPLE:

I’m including a short example of how a fight scene can been described on the page.

Excerpt from V.M. Sawh’s short story - HONTAS:

One of the fools came rushing from the car, pistol barking.

She sent her first arrow through his eye.

Another fool leapt through the window, screaming as the flames took him. Another bolted out the door, firing wildly. The one in flames took a shot through the neck and crumpled. Hontas jumped to one side, but felt a bullet lance across her back nonetheless. The pain drove the air out of her. She flattened to the ground. A few more shots dug into the dirt before Hontas heard the familiar click of an empty chamber. She looked up to find that this fool was the one had one of her Colts. Her eyes narrowed. Hontas rose, nocked her final arrow and took aim. The fool started to run. Hontas let out a breath between her teeth and adjusted her aim. The arrow flew. It hit the fool in the back of the shoulder and knocked him down.

She was on him in an instant, pressing her knee into his neck. He tried to raise the Colt but Hontas grabbed hold of the arrow. Hontas went to pull it out, but he rolled suddenly, throwing her on her side.

She cried out as impact jarred her wound. Her head swam. She felt nauseous, like she was going to puke her guts out right there. She felt her bandages, fearing the worst.

Her chest had started bleeding again.

The fool was hauling himself to his feet, reloading quickly. The arrow’s shaft had splintered, causing it to hang down from his back. He raised her Colt and pointed it at her head.

Hontas threw herself to one side. Bullets chipped into the ground. Her hand closed around her hatchet and she swiped at him as hard as she could. The hatchet cracked on impact. Her shoulder lit up burning.

Blood sprayed across the hatchet’s handle, soaking her hand. She heard the fool gurgling. Her Colt sank to the dirt. The fool tried to clutch at his hand, now hanging from bits of skin and tendon at the wrist. But the arrowhead in his other shoulder made that impossible. His knees buckled and he fell screaming.

Breathing raggedly, Hontas let the broken hatchet drop from her bloody hand. She lay there a moment, panting, feeling her chest pulse with every breath. It took some for her world to stop spinning. After few long moments, she got to her feet and picked up the Colt. Its weight was familiar and comforting, as if she’d found a piece of herself, but also put an uncomfortable strain on her arm.

The fool was still screaming when she pressed it to his forehead.

“No! No! Don’t!”

The Colt kicked once. The fool’s brains sprayed.

Hontas panted hard, feeling her chest pulse with every breath. The smell of burning wood and flesh filled her nose. There were a few scattered pops as gunpowder from the weapons in the burning car ignited.

Her vision blurred slightly as she checked the remaining bullets in the Colt. For a moment she thought she had six left instead of three. She raised her head, thinking where the Colt’s twin had gone.

Empty anyway, she thought with a huff, and don’t have time to look for it, John ne-

She didn’t hear the door slide open from down the train. She didn’t even hear the shot until after she saw her leg pop with blood where the bullet had gone through.

***

And With That, The Fight's Over... Stay Down!

This brings us to the end of this first Write-A-Fight article! I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself, and picked up a few helpful tips on how to go about writing your own fight scenes.


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