How technical should an author get when describing fight scenes?
The answer may depend on who your readers are. Fans of military thrillers might have a different level of fight knowledge than fans of women’s fiction or YA. An author would be wise to take reader expectation into account when writing.
Regardless of genre, though, I would advise against getting too technical. You don’t want your fight scene to read like a training manual. Describing your fight choreography in minute detail will also slow down the action and pacing.
If you want to showcase a particular technique in the final battle scene, explain it or refer to it earlier in the story; perhaps in a training session. For example, in the original Karate Kid movie, we saw Mr. Miyagi practicing the crane technique, Daniel asked about it and we learned that, “If do right, no can defend.” Daniel practiced it on his own, and when he got into the crane stance in the final scene, we knew this awesome move would make him a winner. How about the five-point palm exploding heart technique in Kill Bill? If these techniques weren’t explained until they were used in the story, the pacing would slow, and the significance would be lost.
Fights are fast, so fight scenes should be quick reads. You want the reader to feel they are a part of the fight or at least watching it, not reading a commentary. This will help elicit the correct emotional response from the reader. He/ she should feel the excitement of the fight, not confusion over the words used to describe it, or boredom from it taking too long.
Do you have any favorite techniques from books or movies you’d like to share? Have you read any books where the fight scene reads like a how-to manual? How about books with awesome fight scenes that were handled flawlessly? I love hearing from you. Please leave your comments below.
Codes are all around us: computer codes, genetic codes, building codes, zip codes, Morse code and bar codes. The military has codes, professionals have codes, even pirates have codes (though I hear they’re more like guidelines than actual rules.)
So what is a code? According to the online Free Dictionary a code is…
- A systematically arranged and comprehensive collection of laws.
- A systematic collection of regulations and rules of procedure or conduct.
Basically, codes are the rules we use to govern the way we want to live. Our codes of honor, ethics and conduct make up our conscious. They give us a moral compass for orienteering our way though life. Right or wrong, we all have a philosophy by which we live. And so should our characters.
We enjoy stories of heroes with a strong moral code; Yoda (Star Wars), Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid), William Wallace (Braveheart). We also enjoy stories of heroes with codes that rival the rules of society. Who doesn’t love a wronged hero who takes matters into his own hands, even if that means going against the law? He’s redeemable in our eyes as long as he is 1) true to his own moral philosophy and 2) that moral philosophy doesn’t stray too far from our own beliefs.
Were you cheering for Dr. Richard Kimball (Harrison Ford) in The Fugitive? Why? He was an escaped convict. How about Rambo (Sylvester Stallone)? He killed cops and blew up a town. What about Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) in Romancing the Stone? He was a mondo dismo.** 😉
Even though these heroes weren’t always heroic, they had a clear code of conduct they believed in and followed. That glimpse into their psyche enabled the viewers to understand their actions, to justify them and sympathize with the character. That emotional connection between character and reader is exactly what we’re striving to achieve in our writing.
Have you given your hero and heroine a clear set of codes to live by? How about your villain?
In the comments, please share which characters (books or movies) you believe have a (not so secret) code of conduct. And why you find them intriguing.
**Joan Wilder: You’re a mondo dismo!
Jack Colton: I’m… what am I? I’m what?
Joan Wilder: You’re a man who takes money from stranded women!
(I love that movie! :))
Posted in General blog
Tagged braveheart, character, code, conduct, ethics, heros, honor, karate kid, mondo dismo, moral, rambo, romancing the stone, star wars, the fugitive