Friday, May 26, 2017

Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall – Book Review


"Success in a fight depends on three factors: Strength, Strategy, Skill. To win a fight, your protagonist needs at least one of them. Otherwise, a good outcome is implausible."

Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall is an encyclopedia of writing tips, tricks, and knowledge about the writing fight scenes regardless of the genre you have in mind. It's truly a gem and an excellent reference. 

Hall even provides a scene from her medieval-set dark epic fantasy novel Storm Dancer and challenges the reader of Writing Fight Scenes to pick out what they have learnt from reading the book in the sample.

Before Writing Fight Scenes begins, Hall notes that she alternates the hero between male and female in order to give examples for both. The book is also filled with story ideas and prompts, making it a writing resource at all levels.

"If your heroine defends herself with a garden hose, a toilet brush or a curling iron, the readers will root for her and enjoy the fight. This works especially well in 'entertaining' fight scenes."

Comprised of 34 chapters on anything and everything you can think of, the book handles topics from male and female fighting techniques to nautical and animal warfare (each has a separate chapter).

Hall begins from the beginning, what type of scene is the author interested in writing? "Gritty or Entertaining" marks the first chapter, followed by the selection of "Setting", "Structure" then moves on to weapons with chapter dedicated to "Swords", "Knives and Daggers", "Staffs, Spears and Polearms" to "Improvised Weapons" and more on the topic.

"If the thought of brutal violence makes you sick, and if you can't stand the sight of blood, don't attempt to write a gritty scene."

One of the things I truly enjoyed is Hall's "Blunders to Avoid" at the end of each chapter which as the name says are items to be avoided while writing and which act as a summary to the chapter.

Chapters in Writing Fight Scenes are fairly short, making the leaning process easy and enjoyable. While the book handles quite a massive amount of content and information, Hall ensures that you get the gist of the trade without getting bored.



"To create additional suspense immediately before the fight, describe some of the noises of the location: the croaking of a bird, the slamming of a door, the roar of a lorry on the nearby road."

Two of the most important chapters – for me – in the book were "Make the Reader Care" and "The Final Showdown". An important aspect I personally might have overlooked when writing. Another is the "Genres" chapter in which Hall mentions almost every popular genre and how fight scenes are handled in them.

Other important chapters were those on "Pacing" and "Euphonics"; the latter involves creating a sense of foreboding, fear, victory or defeat in your writing.

Hall also provides YouTube links to videos to help writers navigate what she's saying and see some 'live' samples.

Overall, Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall is a highly recommended read. For me, it will remain an important reference to go back to whenever I want to write a fight scene or whenever I need inspiration for such a scene.

"If a novel contains several fight scenes, then the last one (the climactic showdown between hero and villain) is probably the longest."

Writing Fight Scenes is also the first book in the Writer's Craft series by Rayne Hall. 

Overall rating: 10 stars  

Feel free to check out Nadaness In Motion's other book reviews of Rayne Hall's books: The Colour of Dishonour (short story collection set in the Storm Dancer world), Writing about Magic (Writer's Craft series Book 7) and Thirty Scary Tales.

Keep up with Rayne Hall via Twitter