At the heart of good fiction is conflict, and the most obvious form of conflict is the armed variety — mano a mano, steel to steel, to death or to glory. As an author of historical fantasy and sword-and-sorcery, I write a lot of fight scenes. The best illuminate character, evoke emotional responses, and move the plot forward; the worst drag my narrative down like a weight around a drowning man’s neck. Really bad scenes, which I try to avoid, can cost me readers.
So, how do I write the good scenes? Good question. Before I begin, a caveat: this is what works for me. This may not help you in the slightest; worse, it may come across as utter bollocks. Such is the nature of writing advice — you find what works for you and the rest be damned.
I arrive at my best fight scenes through a mix of spur-of-the-moment…
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