How to Write Fight Scenes

Let's face it. Conflict abounds in the world. Whether your world is a faraway planet's moon, a medieval dungeon, or the coffee shop around the corner. And many conflicts escalate into fists and weapons. 

But you, the writer, might be the most peace-loving, conflict-avoiding, petal-tossing person around. You've never hefted a sword, pulled a trigger, or gripped a grenade. It's hard to write what you know, when you don't know much.

Last year at a writing conference I took a workshop where the instructor demonstrated a variety of fighting techniques. You might want to join some classes, if hands-on and visual learning is more helpful to you.

For the rest of us, in the interest of writing our fight scenes more realistically, here are some links I've gathered to help your conflict sound more convincing.

Award-winning fantasy author Jill Williamson has written several posts on this.

Writing the action/fight scene: 3 questions to ask yourself

And specific for fantasy writers: The Wizard's Duel: considerations for magical figthing points out the need to watch your sentence length during fight scenes.

Marilynn Byerly posted a comprehensive guide to fight scenes and how to map them out before writing.

To avoid repetition in fight scenes, FictionPress lays out a list of synonyms to use in fight scenes.

And Marg McAllister helps writers answer the question: Do your fight scenes pack a punch?

If you need more visuals, check out this YouTube video from Alan Baxter, a speculative fiction and thriller writer with 25 years experience as a martial arts instructor. A quick search on YouTube will bring up many more videos for all genres of writing.

How do you write fight scenes? Do you act them out yourself? Watch videos? Read written scenes?


  1. I avoid writing fight scenes. If I ever decide I need one, it looks like there are lots of resources. I attended a Write Brain once on the topic. Fun.

  2. Being an action and fantasy movie and book buff, I've watched and read a tonne of fight scenes - which has helped me ever so much in my writing.

    I pull my fight scenes out of thin air (read here: a subconscious conglomeration of all the fight scenes I've seen and read... and there are a lot) when I write.

    It helps that I take equestrian martial arts, as well as Chinese martial arts, and I own a number of swords both Asian and European that I regularly play around with...

    That said, my action sequences could always use work!

    Great resources, as always, Debbie. Thanks ever so much for this!

  3. This is great stuff! I've never written a fight scene but boy it would be a great exercise to write one. When I find some time I'm going to write a fight scene and a steamy sex scene (one must find balance) as I have never written one of the either;) Great information once again!

  4. @Stacy: I avoid them, too, if I can help it. Is it because I'm a conflict avoider?

    @Sonia: With all your activities, I'd probably pick your brain if I were ever brave enough to include fight scenes in my novels!

    @Leah: It's a great idea to force yourself to do the scenes you might otherwise avoid! I may have to consider that...


  5. The things you think of to post about, Debbie ...

  6. Beth, it's to remind me to try it someday!


  7. Funny you should post about this. I just called my brother the other day because I needed to write a fight scene with a wizard and all I could think of was the emperor on Star Wars and how lightning shoots out of his hands. My brother ended up helping me rethink my entire plot. All because of one fight scene!
    I actually popped over here to tell you that I tagged you for a writerly quiz. No worries if it's not your thing.

  8. That's too funny, Evangeline! I hope you figured out your scene. I'm heading over to check out your quiz!




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