I’ve talked about writing action scenes before and people still ask for some tips. Today I’m going to give a few that center on knowing your character. Some might be repeats from other posts, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it again if you plan on doing a lot of action.
- You really need to know the limits of your characters. The above picture shows that Spider-Man may be strong, but Juggernaut is stronger. The writer/artist know how to work such a fight without going outside the limits of the characters. You would lose readers if Juggernaut starts doing nimble backflips or Spider-Man hurls the big guy into the next county. As powerful as they are, each one has a limit.
- Not every weapon can penetrate armor. I thought of this when I caught part of a movie that had two knights fighting. They had platemail and it ended with a simple slash across the chest. There was no mark on the other warrior that you could see since he fell face down, but it got me thinking. How often do authors focus on the weapons and tend to forget the armor? You can get so caught up in the offense of an action scene that you ignore the defensive side beyond a few blocks.
- Being a warrior doesn’t mean you can use EVERY weapon created. Check out the heroes of Windemere and you’ll see that each one has signature weapons. If they grab something else then they tend to wield it like their favored weapon. The idea of a ‘Weapons Master’ is common in fantasy, but tends to be reserved for ancient characters that take the role of mentor. A young hero like Luke Callindor shouldn’t be able to use more than his sabers, a range weapon, and a few simple things. Though his level of skill would vary. Remember that practice and training is necessary for a character to develop even if they’re a natural.
- If you describe a character as having long legs then kicking might be more useful than punching. I always wonder why some fight scenes exclude any moves from below the waist. If the character is a skilled fighter then they you can believe they would play to their strengths. Powerful and long legs shouldn’t be ignored. I’m not talking only kicks to the head too. Injuring an opponent’s legs will slow them down, so shots to the knees and ankles should be considered.
- Height, weight, girth, etc. is something that I try hard to remember. Case in point, a halfling or gnome is a shorter target. A taller warrior would have to stab down, swing low, and alter their fighting styles to handle a ‘below average’ height. The trade off is that shorter characters need to find ways to reach more vital areas on their enemies, which is where stealth and range come into play. Yet, there is another side of this and that’s allies remembering this fact. There’s a fight scene in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower where Nyx and Nimby are back-to-back. Nyx takes advantage of having a shorter ally and ducks high strikes without worrying about Nimby getting hit. Same goes for archers being able to shoot over shorter allies.
Those are what came to mind and I’m sure there are more that I forgot. I’ll probably revisit this if I can think of any others. As usual, I’m always up for suggestions and questions that can create other posts.