5 Ingenious Ways To Fix A Fight Scene 

I’m revisiting and revising a fight scene from my novel Past Lives, the first book in a series of the same name. In this post, I thought I’d share with you five ways I’m improving it. 

Fight scenes are typically associated with thriller, mystery and fantasy stories. However, all genres include them. 

All Stories are Conflict Stories

Stories evolve from conflict. Story IS conflict. So every story is a conflict story with *fight* scenes of one kind or another. A romance has romantic or relationship (emotion and dialouge) fight scenes. A comedy has funny fight scenes. A drama has dramatic fight scenes. A horror story has scary fight scenes. 

My Past Lives novel is a mix of mystery, horror and thriller.

The fight scene in question happens near the end of the story, so I’ll be short on specifics (so as to not spoil the story) and long on principles you can apply to your own story. 

5 Ingenious Ways To Fix A Fight Scene 

  1. Explore don’t ignore: One of the problems with my original scene is that it is too short. The reader has been anticipating this fight for most of the story and it is over quickly. This seems to be an issue with many fight scenes, even in bestsellers. Not every fight scene needs to be epic, but your *main* fights scenes better be! For my novel, I’m making the scene longer (more words) so that the fight has room to escalate. 
  2. Upsize Me, Please!: Because my fight scene is short, it only has limited space to grow. So giving it more story space (making it longer) also allows the fight to be bigger. More things can happen and those things can escalate and expand over the course of the scene.
  3. Explore don’t ignore II: Part of making my (or any) scene bigger is exploring the setting. A fight scene in a grocery store will (hopefully) be vastly different than a fight on a golf course. Or in a hospital delivery room. For my scene, I’m exploring a kitchen and balcony in rural Southern Indiana. What can I use? How can items found in those locations be used in unique, creative ways? 
  4. Twists and Reversals: While I’m adding words, exploring the setting and my characters tussle around the balcony, I’m going to add a few twists and reversals. One moment my hero will win, the next my villian. I’ll add a few back and forths, keeping the outcome in question – who will win? Maybe not who’d you expect. That’s just it – playing with expectations, setting up surprises, twisting and turning the scene. 
  5. Plumb the (Emotional) Depths: A fight scene is just two tangled bodies unless there is a *deeper* reason for it. This goes into motivation, character arc and emotional conflicts. What emotional conflict does the fight represent? How can I emphasize this emotional aspect or highlight it for the reader? My fight scene is really about choosing between two natures – evil past life serial killer and present day good guy – which, as it happens, is what the story is all about.

Apply it to Your Story

  • Every story is a *fight* story 
  • Explore the space, character and story theme in your fight scenes
  • Include twists and reversals so the outcome is in question 


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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Posted in Writing

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