Designing a Fighting Style for Your Character


Last year, I wrote a trio of posts that gave tips on three categories of fighting styles.  This was just a general overview of Strength, Agility/Speed, and Counters/Thinkers, which most styles can be fit into.  Of course, this is boiling things down to their essence and ignoring the nuance.  In Quest of the Brokenhearted, Kira is definitely a fighter who depends primarily on Agility and Speed.  Yet, she will repeatedly use tactics that depend on brute force and aggression, which leans towards Strength.  Due to the tricks in the battles, she also needs to Think a lot.  So, it is probably better to say that every character has different levels in these three fields with one being primarily and the others being secondary.

Creating a fighting style for your characters can be difficult because of this issue.  If you make them solely one category then they can become two-dimensional and have no adaptability.  A character built entirely on strength can be defeated by a more well-rounded opponent as well as a full thinker.  You can get away with give them a primal instinct that helps them avoid traps, but this still falls into that third category.  Again, we’re looking at nuance here and that means layers.

Since there are so many ways to go with a character, I’m going to step away from the long-winded explanation and doing something else.  When I make my characters, I ask myself a variety of questions.  Not always intentionally or clearly, but my mind goes to certain aspects when deciding on fighting style.  So, I’m going to share and maybe this will help people out.

  1. Is the character going to be a combat one?
  2. Do they have any experience with fighting?
  3. What is their weapon?
  4. What is their body type and state of physical health?
  5. What is their personality like?  Aggressive or passive?  Arrogant or team player?
  6. Do they wear armor?
  7. Are they willing to kill?
  8. How easily do they deal with pain?
  9. What are the chances of them losing their temper?
  10. Are they observant enough to figure out patterns while on the move or are they a little dense when fighting?
  11. Is there a history of warriors in their family?
  12. Are their goals in combat typically to survive, help others, claim victory, get loot, or fun?

The list can keep going and changes depending on the characters.  For example, I would go further with questions of family history with Luke Callindor and focus a lot on level of restraint with Clyde.  This actually makes #5 a very important question that can lead to others.  In fact, it probably should be #1 in terms of priority.

So, are there any questions you consider with action characters?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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29 Responses to Designing a Fighting Style for Your Character

  1. Olivia Stocum says:

    Hey, Charles, hope you’re doing well! I had a character in one of my books with an injury, so I always had to keep in mind how he used his body and his mind to make up for any deficiencies.


    • I’ve had that many times. One character in my first book had old injuries that made it hard for him to move fast for long periods of time. So, he developed a more defensive style and used the stronger limbs more often. If the injuries are old enough then I can see characters developing special techniques and strengthening other parts of their bodies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember the older posts. This is so interesting, because I’ve been doing this in my current project. I even have a bit of unused backstory that might make a fun novella one day.


  3. Thanks for this great list, Charles.


  4. Cool list. (Among other cool lists that you have published) I think you ought to put together your character lists and do a self-help book.


  5. Great list, hope you don’t mind if I copy it for my personal use, I can see getting a lot of use out of asking myself those questions.


  6. Reblogged this on DSM Publications and commented:
    Check out this great post from the Legends of Windemere blog on the topic of designing a fighting style for your character.


  7. I think your last one is possibly the most important. Why are they fighting? Someone could come from a long line of warriors, be well equipped and experienced, but if they don’t care about the fight, it’s just like training. Borrring! But a complete novice with no weapon but a broomstick, can still fight like a tiger if protecting their own child or the temple where they worship.


  8. Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide and commented:
    Very useful, Charles!


  9. RS says:

    Great post!


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