I recently finished writing a scene where two characters have their final showdown. It’s a very brutal fight with broken bones, punctured organs, bleeding, and a wonder that both of them didn’t die. The reason it came to this is because this isn’t their first battle, which meant the stakes and severity had to keep going up. I reached the point where they simply got angry and agreed that it was time to end it without holding back. Similar to Spike and Vicious from ‘Cowboy Bebop’ and we know how that ended. Or do we? (Yes. Yes we do, anime conspiracy person.)
Now as I wrote the scene, I wondered if I was going too far. Then I realized that this felt more real while worrying that readers would find it gratuitous. Especially given the characters involved. I’ll say it to clear things up: I wrote the final battle between Nyx and Trinity. This isn’t much of a spoiler because anyone who has read the book or the blog knows that this was going to happen. And it’s destructive. Still, I’ve gotten a lot of heat for having a brutal scene where I describe the injuries during a fight. (Though never when it’s Luke taking the beating.) For some, this seems to pull them out of the moment. Yet I also hear that a fight scene with no injuries or only minor wounds makes little sense.
Personally, I don’t mind reading that a character has a broken arm and continues fighting. In fact, I fall into that second category because an injury reminds me that a character can be killed or crippled in the scene. If it’s all punches and kicks without bruises and some bleeding then it might as well be a slap fight considering how little impact the strikes are making. Is this a hunger for violence? No because this is in stories that require a fight scene and if you have one then you need to show the results of said violence. Also a hero fighting with an injury brings more gravity to the situation. This can show a lot of the character’s mental toughness and determination too. I enjoy a character who takes a beating, drags themselves back to their feet, smirks, and says ‘try it again, Princess Limp Wrist’.
So, that’s my personal opinion on a bloody fight that doesn’t skimp on the details. Though I will say too much information takes away from the actual action. As usual, balance is everything.
What do you think of fictional fights that get brutal and bloody?