fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMax Gladstone writes the CRAFT SEQUENCE which we love not only for its unique characters, world and plot, but for its awesome cover art. The most recent CRAFT book, Last First Snow, was released last week. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet (can’t wait!), but I’m assuming it’s got some amazing fight scenes in it because that’s what Max is here to talk about today: Writing fight scenes!

One commenter with a US or Candian address will win their very own copy (including awesome cover!) of Last First Snow.

Fantasy writers and readers spend a lot of time talking about action. We want cool fight scenes! But what do we mean when we say that?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsFights are tricky. We think we know what a “good fight scene” looks like, most of the time, because we know what a good fight scene looks like in films. Punches! Kicks! Spin! Speed! Jumps and spins! But try to write a scene like that way, and you’ll often as not choke your reader on choreography and dance steps. Some few writers can sell this marionette approach to fighting — but most end up tangled in their own strings without telling the story of the fight.

What, then, are we to do? Some writers double down on the blow-by-blow. Some abstract a fight to the point of poetry. Some avoid writing fights entirely, depending on their point of view character’s perspective. A lot of noir heroes find themselves in dust-ups so regularly they don’t bother to describe anything about the fights but how fast they end, and what that ending is.

I wrote about this in much more detail on my blog a while back, but I’m curious about your favorite fight scenes in literature. Were they choreographic? Short and punchy? Poetic? Suggestive, or precisely detailed? Off-screen entirely? Ornate, or bare-bones? Bloody? Abstracted? Does your preference change from book to book? Are there any true dealbreakers?

Readers, one commenter with a US or Canadian address will win a copy of Last First Snow.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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