Confession #3: My Romping Kittens Provide Inspiration for Fight Scenes

Celebrating Friday the 13th with a picture of my beautiful Cuddles.
Celebrating Friday the 13th with a picture of my beautiful Cuddles.
She's trying to print things like she knows she's not supposed to.
She’s trying to print things like she knows she’s not supposed to.

Good morning my amazing friends! I apologize for the cute-kitty montage; I hope you survived the Squee (which, for those of you who don’t know, simply means you go “Squee!” in excitement because of something that is 110% adorable). It is now the 13th of November, so we’re almost halfway through, and I’m currently at 19,748 words, which makes me only 250 words behind. I hope you are doing similarly well on your NaNoWriMo story.

Anyway, so for those writers out there who have at least tried to write a fight scene before, you know it’s not a walk in the park. Unless that walk in the park leads to a fistfight somewhere, and then I suppose  you could dub it as a walk in the park. Nonetheless, as I’m not one who generally gets into fisticuffs on my walks (or ever, really), fighting scenes can be a bit difficult. They are fast-paced, and you have a whole bunch of different limbs on a person’s body that could be moving at the same time: legs, arms, hands, feet, head, etc. It can be a bit of a nightmare, keeping track of all that.

But, I mean, I move my arms and legs and hands and feet and head on a daily basis. I know, in general, their capabilities and limitations. I can guess how fast they can move, and can imagine how much it would hurt for a fast-moving fist to land on a stomach versus a head versus a ribcage.

However… Consider having characters who are not human, but animal. Or who can at least change into an animal. You can probably imagine how their limbs would be able to move, but of course there’s no way to be exact. Simply put, their bodies generally move differently than ours do. Not to mention that animals have a different fighting style than humans because of it. Example:

*in documentary voice* The massive Bear pins back his ears, challenging his lithe sister to a duel.
*in documentary voice* The massive Bear pins back his ears, challenging his lithe sister to a duel.

The twins (Bear and Cuddles) often do the whole arching-back-and-pinning-ears-to-head thing without actually pouncing. And then one would pounce, the other would throw them off, and then they’d chase each other and start all over again. The little fighting they actually do usually consists of kicking each other in the face, and sitting on each other’s heads. It has a surprising lack of aggressiveness.

But it makes sense, because animal don’t like to fight to the death. It doesn’t take long for one animal to assert their dominance over the other, and whatever remaining conflict there is is simply the non-dominant animal trying to get away.

While people do fight for fun, I think that most fights are really just people getting beaten down and picking themselves back up and starting all over again. They don’t quit, is what I think I’m trying to get at here. Which, as a human, I can understand, soI can usually get some semblance of a believable fight scene in my writing. But when my characters are no longer human, I take a page out of my cat’s book, and integrate their moves in the fighting.

And then there is another difficulty in writing a fight scene: the brains-versus-brawn scenario. My twin cats are always having a go at each other (in a friendly way, of course). Cuddles (the black cat) is smaller, and has a bit of a fat pouch if I’m being honest here. Bear (the tabby) is MUCH larger, and he’s basically all muscle. You’d think he’d win all the time, right? Wrong. I’d say it’s about 50-50, usually favoring whoever started the fight to begin with. But anyway, while Cuddles is not as muscular and large as her twin brother, she’s lithe and graceful and usually smarter than Bear. So big muscles don’t always equate to winning a fist-fight, or any fight in general.

Suffice it to say, sometimes it’s easier (and more entertaining) if you don’t do a blow-by-blow account of the action.

So, fantasy writers out there (or anyone who writes fight scenes, no matter the genre), what do you use to conjure up good scenes? Your imagination? Experience? The World Wide Web (which totally works, of course)?


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