Posted in better writing, character development, good writing, great writing, how to write, Johnathan Maberry, learning about writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, workshop, writing, writing advice, writing fight scenes, writing workshop

Fight Scenes Part 5: Psychological Warfare

Whew! We made it to number five! If you missed the other four parts of this fight scene series you can catch up Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction, Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Differences, Fight Scenes Part 3: Hand to Hand Combat, and Fight Scenes Part 4: Weapons. Here is the last, but certainly not the least installment of the series. Check out how to get the upper hand with messing with people’s heads, or how a fight can mess with a your (main/other) characters head.

Something to remember... When you fail to do something in a fight, it can be a serious psychological blow.

The arrogance of power assumes they will always be successful and can’t be stopped. They also feel entitled to seize anything they can take.

Some psychological elements are…

  • Experience
  • Temperament
  • Desire/ intent
  • Mental state
  • Emotional state

A person’s primitive reaction is fear.

Know the difference… A warrior understands the philosophy of fighting. A fighter only understands the technique.

In panic, we tend to over do it (unload an entire clip into the attacker, keep punching after the attacker is down, ect.), which can be a very good thing in a fight, but bad if there are any witnesses.

Play is up… There is a seduction to suddenly having so much power after winning a fight ( especially when you aren’t used to having that kind of power).

Don’t get surrounded. Work from the outside and take on each person individually.

If a person does something smart and continue to do something smart is good (readers love mart characters), but person needs to be injured after a fight to be believable. And stay injured through the rest of the story without any miraculous healing.

If a character gets hurt in a story have it with them all through the rest of the story. Make the injury part of the story.

Something to think about… Most women lose a fight because they don’t know how to use what they have.

Outrage is a tremendous element to lash out and fight back.

Alcohol takes away coordination but does not hamper emotional outrage.

Social conditioning can be a terrible thing and cause hesitation and fear in a fight. Example… most men are taught not to hit a woman. Hesitating in hitting a woman attacker can be detrimental to a fight.

A lot of times a person will fight for someone else before they fight for themselves.

Sometimes a fight scene is about what is felt not about the actual fighting.

Interesting fact… People get more scared as they age because they become slower and less able

If you are successful in a first fight it can morally cripple a character in the next fight, especially if they are very moral. The person sees how much damage they can do and it scares them, they don’t want to do that again, or be that kind of person.

Intent of a character drives the tension in the scene to write a convincing scene.

One of the common adrenalin reactions is tears.

Mental state is often tied to chemical reaction (adrenalin).

Fun Fact…

Did you know? Going ape-shit over an opponent is the most believable way for an inexperienced person to win a fight.

I hope all my notes help with your fight scenes and make them kick ass! I know I will enjoy adding these guidelines to my own writing.


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