Do I recommend it? I definitely do! Specifically, to every writer who thinks there might be a fight scene in their work (be it either a bar brawl or a battle between elves and dragons).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
According to Penguin Random House, Carla Hoch is a writer and trained fighter with experience in nearly one dozen martial arts and fighting styles. She is the blogger behind FightWrite.net, a blog dedicated to teaching fighting to writers, and regularly teaches classes and workshops on fight writing as well as fight techniques for writers.
My review is going to let you know how it does so.
But before all that, I have to admit that this book has been written by an amazing author who not only has immense knowledge of her expertise but she’s someone who knows well how to make a reader keep reading even when it’s not fiction.
Now let me tell you why you need to read this book and keep it handy on your shelf. As a writer, this book is going to be extremely helpful for you. More so, if you’re writing a fight scene or planning to write one, and you have no clue as to how to show it or what are the technicalities of a scuffle or shooting a rifle or riding a dragon while going on a battle. This book will fly off your shelf and land on your desk to come to rescue you whenever there’s a chance of such a scene and your characters are just standing face to face, clueless and confused about what to do next.
Basics of a fight scene:
This book will first cover the basics of a fight – which includes a questionnaire of sorts.
- What is the fight about?
- Why is it happening?
- How are the characters fighting?
- Where is the fight taking place?
- What do you want the results of this fight to be?
- What will happen if this fight does not take place at all?
- Why is this fight important to your book?
The first section of the book will make you think about your story, characters, scenes, backstories, and a lot more by asking questions like above. It helped me personally to get back into my work-in-progress after a long hiatus.
Little Tip: Whenever coming across these questions while reading the book, keep a notebook handy. Try to answer as many of them as possible. These notes will be quite significant for your progress with that novel you’re trying to write.
What role does your brain and body plays in a fight?
Next comes the functions of your body and mind – before, during, and after the fight scene. This section will make you understand your characters better as well as their intentions. Is your character a sadist psychiatrist? A scared high school student? A confident pick-pocket? Or an angry bartender? Or maybe a soldier in the army?
More questions will attack your writer brain:
- How will the high-school student react when she’s slapped by her fellow classmate? How will her body respond? If she decides to not react but walk away, why is that?
- How is the pick-pocket going to steal that expensive gold watch from your protagonist’s wrist? Will the protagonist notice? If she does, will she kick the pick-pocket or punch him in the face?
- How will a dragon react to a spear coming right at him? Will it be able to move fast enough to dodge it? Or will it melt it with his fiery breath?
- What was the bartender thinking about before he smashed a bottle on his boss’s head?
The second section will tell you about what goes on in the fighter’s mind and how his or her body should move as per the scene.
Fighting Styles & Techniques:
So you think you’re character might be a black belt in karate? And you have no idea how is she going to move about if a guy in the street tries to attack her?
Or maybe your character has magically landed in a medieval era and has no idea how to swing a sword let alone hold it?
Then fear not, the next section of this book will take through all the fighting techniques there are. Hand to hand combats, on the ground, uppercuts, hooks, jabs and a ton more technical terms were not only explained in this book but it was also showed how to use them in our writing. And of course, there were pages of explanation on several fighting styles such as jiu-jitsu, karate, taekwondo, boxing, sword fighting, etc. Everything has been touched upon on the basis of your character’s size and strength as well.
Weapon Of Choice:
After introducing you to the various fighting styles and techniques, the author will walk you through the wide array of weapons that can be used in a fight. Starting from a folding knife to a long sword to a pistol to a vial of poison, she had presented a huge glossary of all weapons we might think of using in a scene. The book not only shows pictures to explain how a knife and its parts look like, but the author also explains how to use them. I mean, enough to use that information in our writing.
What did the fight result in?
Last but not the least, the book will touch upon the injuries that are a vital part of a fight scene – or rather after one.
- What kind of punch will cause a jaw dislocation?
- How will it look like?
- What will it feel like?
- How is your character going to continue fighting for survival when he has already been stabbed in the stomach?
- What happens when your character is bitten by a snake?
- How much blood loss can cause a human to die?
- Why does someone faint when they see their own blood?
This part will help you understand the biology of a fight and its after-effects. Apart from providing you a mini medical dictionary, it will help you visualize your fight scene in a better and vivid way. As a result, you’ll be able to write believable fight scenes for your reader.
This book contains a plethora of information and I’d recommend you get a physical copy as it would be a LOT easier to refer from when needed. I’m glad that I came across this brilliant reference book and I will continue to refer to it whenever I want my characters to fight. What made this read a hell of a lot more fun was the humour in Carla Hoch’s writing. I was laughing out loud while reading some parts, to be honest. I totally became a fan of her after this book.
Trust me, when you see a fight scene on screen or read one on the page after reading this book, it will be through a new and enhanced lens.
Quick Question: Which is your favourite fight scene on screen or on the page?