Original Fic Tip: How to Show Character In Fight Scenes
Today's tip comes from Barnes and Noble's excellent blog about Sci and Fantasy. This is just an excerpt from this excellent article on how to use fight scenes to show facets of your characters:
On a fundamental level, every kind of fight scene uses the same tools and presents similar storytelling opportunities. You write the personality of characters through the weapons they use, when and how they talk while they fight (or never speak), what style they use, how they do or don’t use their environment, and so on.
Probably, the most narratively important aspect of a fight is the conflicting agendas and approaches of the different parties. You convey these priorities through the action, show the characters struggling to keep to their agenda/approach when faced with overwhelming force or when the opponent can claim the advantage because of what they’re willing to do that others are not.
...When Ojo (one of the main characters) fights his rival Lavinia in the first episode, we saw that we could showcase them as well as their heated relationship through how they fight. Ojo’s command of a two-weapon style shows his versatility and focus, Lavinia’s aggressive style shows her arrogance and terrifying level of skill. We also wanted to show that these characters had fought one another several times, with Ojo losing most of their duels over the past few years. Because of this, he tries to change the fight by trying to use different sigils and applying his skills in grappling.
In the fourth episode, Kris (another main character) is challenging for their nation to have a seat on the Warder’s Circle, which requires getting the approval by diplomacy or duel. In practice, this means they need to beat a warder from each of four or more of the six nations. Each of these nation’s representative has a different attitude on the prospect of Kris’s bid that would color how they approached the fight as well as their own fighting style (both sword & sigil style).
Ojo supports Kris’s bid, but refuses to throw their fight – he must keep up his reputation with the other warders and doesn’t want to appear desperate – so he doesn’t push himself against Kris in the way he does fighting Lavinia. When Kris faces Warder Penelope of Vania (legendary for her two-handed longsword style) Kris displays strategic thinking and bladecrafting skill with a complicated sigil to create a second blade. This gives Kris versatility and allows Kris to change the shape of the duel as they try to use one blade to trap/bind Penelope’s while the other goes for the winning blow.
Now go forth and write!