Epic fight scenes are one of those must-haves for a good portion of modern movies. The inspiring hero music and expertly choreographed stunt moves gets our hearts pounding, and we leave with the feeling that something truly heroic has taken place.
But how do we depict an epic fight scene in a book? We can’t rely on music to stir our feelings, and we can’t describe a ton of stunt moves because—let’s be honest—it would bog down the narrative.
Here are a few tricks I use to create an epic fight scene.
- Describe individual moves when needed, but only when needed. Remember that part about bogging down the narrative? We can’t get too caught up in the minutia if we’re going to create a sense of rapid occurance.
- Include point-of-view narrative. Just because it’s action doesn’t mean we can forget about the POV we’ve been following. Thoughts and feelings will help us get a sense of how the action is affecting our character.
- Include the character’s expectations. Does something happen exactly the way he/she thinks it will? Or does it take him completely off guard?
- Add key details that make an impression on your character. Not just physical motion, but also sound, color, or whatever other sensory details your character notices.
I just finished writing a multi page fight scene in my WIP Doctor and King. The main character, Gervaise, is fighting a lop-sided duel against two of the villains. Here is an excerpt—see how many of the above points you can identify.
Brute strength does not come much into play in a friendly match, but it can be a vital asset in a deadly duel. Clara was strong, for a woman, and fierce, but I could strike heavy when I wasn’t afraid of the result it might have. Even with the leverage she had with her sword, I found If I struck hard and true, I could beat down her guard. My gauntlets scraped across my own blade as I used the entire length to block and then shove Clara backward. She recovered herself, and I saw her dart a glance aside, breaking her focus on me. As I sprang forward, she retreated and circled back. She set her jaw, then renewed her fury, which I blocked with equal energy. Calvin was right: skill with heart was better than skill alone.
I cannot say which I heard first: Vannie’s cry of warning or the sudden command in my soul—move! Either way, I understood both at once, and whirled away from the combat. I barely avoided being stabbed by a dagger with black etching on the blade—I saw it as it whisked past my chest. Carl bared his teeth in a snarl of rage as he struck past me. Treachery!
What are your favorite epic fights? Tell me in the comments.
P.S. Need a FREE short story to enjoy? It doesn’t have any duels, but it is epic. Click here to read The Sea Near The Moon.