Thinking Fiction: Fighting in Fiction

Here is a useful post about shoot-outs in fiction, something many of us try to pull off with limited or no experience and a bit of research.

An American Editor

by Carolyn Haley

I edit a lot of genre novels, and many of them include funny fighting. Not the ha-ha kind of funny, but the eye-rolling, groaning kind of funny caused by absurd or impossible situations. I believe some authors create such scenes because they have lived secure, nonviolent lives, and gained their impressions of battle from media. Young writers, in particular, are prone to composing fight and chase scenes that come across like video games. But young or old, many authors’ combat scenes show either a lack of direct experience or a failure to do research. As a result, the ordinary heroes they strive so hard to make human and believable suddenly become idiots or superheroes when faced with violence.

Editors sometimes allow fighting bloopers to pass unchallenged because they, too, have led secure, nonviolent lives. Editing is a desk job, and the types of people drawn to it…

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5 comments

  1. Audrey, thanks for this. My next two novels, The Douglas Document – Betrayal and a sequel, The Douglas Document – Retribution, (unpublished) have several action and fight scenes of various types, and it has taken a lot of time, research and personal knowledge and experience to make them believable. I once read a novel by an A – list writer who wrote a scene with the hero rescuing a heroine trapped in a car submerged in a fast moving river at night. Being an experienced SCUBA diver, I recognized that such a rescue would be impossible as described. It took me right out of the story and I haven’t read her since. Being technically correct is certainly important, but much information is available on the internet – just make sure that the source is reliable. For example, most police forces use Glock Model 21 with 13 round clips and detailed information about these weapons is readily available – just Google ‘Glock’.
    Making sure that actions and reactions happen in the right order is another important consideration. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re furiously writing action scenes.
    My Victoria Writer’s Society critique group has been invaluable in pointing out action issues and inconsistencies.

    Liked by 1 person

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