Tag Archives: writing reference

Tip: Fights Start For A Reason

Often in novels and television shows, it can seem like fights start for no reason at all. The author bases their fights around a moral stand point, the other character is a bully, they are a bad person, or evil, and there are often no follow up consequences.

It’s actually rare in life to find a living person who wanders around randomly spoiling for a fight. Now, they do exist, I know people who’ve met a few, but the amount that they actually appear in fiction is actually rather ridiculous.

Someone who’s planning to start a fight will actively assess several different factors. Here are some basic ones:

-They will weigh their chance of injury and death versus success

-They will look at the numbers advantage (does their opponent have more people than they do)

-What is the target’s social connections

-What fallout will occur with victory and defeat

-What they can gain from the fight versus what they will lose

-The cost of victory

Even if your villain is a minor character, spend some time with them, and examine what their motivation is. The same is true for your hero. Most victories are won in combat without ever firing a shot and someone trained and untrained will notice (sometimes subconsciously) the difference between a character who is pretending they know how to fuck someone up and a character who really does.

What one character knows about another will change the underlying reasons for why they are fighting and remember, no fight  is free. There are always consequences.

Tip: It’s necessary let your character be afraid.

Fear may be the mind-killer, but it’s a very necessary component of any character. For an action hero or any protagonist who deals with power (physical, psychological, spiritual, supernatural) how they approach fear will be the deciding factor in whether or not they will fall into the category of a bully.

For any true combatant (who isn’t a psychopath) overcoming the instinctual fear of harming themselves and causing harm to someone else is a key part of their training. How they handle the prospect and reality of causing harm to another, especially if that person falls into the category of “us” as opposed to “them”, will be a defining part of who they are. Combat is a terrifying, brutal, and uncomfortable place that is as much based in psychological willpower as it is a physical action.

Remember, fear is much more important than anger. Does your character face their fears? Do they run from them? Or do they inflict their fears on others?

Tip: How do you know when the actor in the show is an inexperienced fighter?

You watch their feet.

Hollywood Action Movies can fake a lot of things when it comes to actors and combat. The one thing they can’t is footwork.

You want your character to be an experienced fighter? Learn to watch the feet.

Fight Write: Pulling Piercings

It may sound odd to the uninitiated (and weird if you’ve read Divergent), but the one thing you do not want your character to have when they fight is piercings. Why? Because piercings are often put in nerve sensitive places: the ear lobes, the eyebrow, the nose, the lips, or simply embedded in the skin.

Combat is revolves around causing a damage to the opponent as quickly as possible. Ripping out someone’s piercings means that they will be put on the defensive, meaning that your character can move to the offensive by distracting their opponent with blood and pain (it’s difficult to fight if your eyebrow is leaking blood and clouding your vision or into your mouth). Pain in one region of the body, will distract the mind from pain in another, so while the opponent thrown back by the shock of “Oh god, you just ripped out my piercing!”, your character can be spending that time hitting them in the groin or the throat, or grabbing them and slamming their head/temple into a wall/table. Honor is a nice sentiment, but it has no place here: the highest priority in any combat situation is survival. Always take the advantage when it lands in your corner.

Studs are smaller and more difficult to grip, rings and any larger pieces are simply an excellent distraction piece.

Military Tip: For the most part, the Military outlaws piercings for men. It allows studs for women if they are in a non-combat position, however, it’s a bad idea. The only setting I’ve ever seen really get away from the piercing problem in a legitimate way is Warhammer 40k and their Space Marines. However, the Space Marines piercings are bolted into their skull. So, you know, good luck getting those out.

Protip: You usually don’t haul someone around by their piercings, they come out too easily and besides, that’s what hair is for.

reference for writers: When you need to do a lot of research on something

reference for writers: When you need to do a lot of research on something