First Rule of Fight Club – Writing Action & Fight Scenes

The first rule of Fight Club, don’t talk about Fight Club.

Describe it!

Fans lined the road as the riders charged up the slim strip of tarmac. A few spectators, some practically naked, ran next to the cyclists, holding signs or flags, screaming in their faces. Riders jostled for position, elbows jutting out to push away competitors and fans alike.
Loren’s shoulder had already made contact with one body, knocking him out of her way and her fury gave her energy. As she jumped out of the saddle to attack, a running spectator in front of her became tangled with the flag he was carrying and fell. Without thought, Loren dropped her hips back while pulling up hard on the handlebars and hopped over the tumbling man’s legs. The flag pole swept around and smacked her hard in the mouth, throwing off her balance.

“What a show of skill by Mackenzie! Instead of swerving into the pack and causing a crash, or off to the right and to end up in that ditch, she jumps over a falling man in a banana suit!”
“I can just imagine how many times that highlight is going to be Tweeted!

Loren wiped her gloved hand over her chin, soaking the leather with blood. Motherfuckingsonofabitch! That fucking hurts! As she caught up to Elsa, she reached down for her water bottle but her hand met only open air.
“Shit, I lost my bottle.”

The Italian handed over hers. “Will you be alright?” 
“I’m fine,” Loren grumbled. She squirted water into her mouth and spit it out, staining the dirt gutter dark red.

In Wheeler, Book II, Loren is the lead-out rider for her Italian teammate, Elisa Rinaldi, climbing the San Luca during the Giro dell’Emilia Internazionale Donne Elite in Bologna, Italy. 

The cycling action has been easy for me to write as I have first-hand knowledge. Cringing as a squirrel runs in front of your wheel; another rider falls in front of you; a car horn blast and the screech of tires from behind you – knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The rattle of your teeth as you hit the pavement and the feeling of a high-torque sander peeling your skin off. Slamming your head onto the tarmac. Not knowing what your name is, where you are and how you got on the ground. Yep. I know that.

For fight scenes, I’ve never gotten down to real fisticuffs so I’ve had to rely on second-hand experience. If it’s hand-to-hand combat, I reach out to my buddy Luke, who is a Taekwondo master or I go to Youtube and watch Krav Maga experts. I’ll even use my husband as a pell to figure out what my MC needs to do to defend or attack.

Real fights are brutal. It’s not like live theater fights or in the movies. Watch any MMA event and you’ll see that while there are some set moves, it’s a battle of split second reaction. There’s blood. There’s real pain involved. If something gets broken, they scream.

Weave into your narrative what your characters are seeing and feeling together with the environment. If one character gets knocked in the face, was it with an open hand slap, a closed fist or a mackerel? Falling to the floor, is it cold tile or splintered floorboards?

Take your favorite action movie, watch the fight scenes and describe the action. What are their expressions? How are their bodies moving?

Put yourself in their shoes and hit it, hard.

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