Blocking Fight Scenes

I always seem to run into the problem where I lead a protagonist into a situation against a giant monster/beast/enemy thing and then have to figure out what to do about it. Seriously, out of the 4 books I’ve written (counting the one I’m currently working on), it’s happened in 3 of them. I like fight scenes. I like watching fight scenes. But when it comes to writing them down, I hit something of a wall. I want a rampaging beast, but my mental space is totally blank.

There’s your backstory for what happened today. I’ve known for months now, that this particular fight was going to happen but all my notes say is something like:

– Abe shows up and ambushes Gus

– This is Abe’s last chance to redeem himself. He’s desperate

– They argue like brothers. Fight breaks out

That’s it. My next note is for what happens after the fact. Oh, and Abe is a werewolf. I should probably have mentioned that. In order for this scene to be interesting, something needs to happen. There needs to be danger and conflict. I realized yesterday that I couldn’t accurately visualize the fight because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Just like outlining the story itself, I needed to outline the fight. And that meant blocking.

I’ve heard of blocking fight scenes before. I meant to create a bullet point list of events, but I soon ran into the issue where I wanted to expand on things. Then I’d get lost and end up trying to figure out what was coming up next same as I would if I just winged the fight scene like usual. So I had a better idea. My experience with theater and role playing led me to this:

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I drew the layout of the room. Luckily, I had these two vinylmation guys at my desk to help out. And my wife said they were useless! We have Captain America there as my protagonist, Gus, and Oogie Boogie as the werewolf, Abe. I still kind of made the fight up as I went along, but I kept this little playset right by my computer. I just acted it out. I’d jump from the figures to discover the next action/reaction and then back to the keyboard to write about it and describe all of the emotional stuff.

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It helped so much! Not only did I get a clearer picture of what was happening, but by drawing in the background, it showed (if only to me) that this wasn’t happening in a white room. I had props and obstacles and just stuff that could help and hinder my characters. I’m really happy with the outcome and it’s definitely something I’ll be doing with fight scenes from now on. I have a big one coming up at the climax that’s going to take a map D&D style! I can’t wait to set it up and play – er, I mean, manipulate my models – to see what happens.

On a side note, I really hope this book gets published. That way, when you read the scene I’m talking about, you can picture these vinylmation figures duking it out instead 🙂

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